weekend open thread – February 4-5, 2023

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: Lolly Willowes, by Sylvia Townsend Warner. An older woman who has always put her controlling family’s needs before her own decides to move out and become a witch.

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

{ 1,070 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A reminder that the weekend posts are for relatively light discussion — think dinner party or office break room — and comments should ask questions and/or seek to discuss ideas. Recommendations or one to two updates on things you received advice about in the past are fine, but “here’s an update on my life” personal-blog-style posts are not. The full rules are here.

  2. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Share what you’re reading, and give or ask for recs. All reading welcome.

    I read Heads In Beds by Jacob Tomsky this week. It was a memoir of life in the hotel business. I wasn’t crazy about the author, or his insistence on bribes, but it was otherwise interesting. (When I say I wasn’t crazy about him I mean some of his life choices, not his writing style.) I also read Lifting As We Climb by Evette Dionne, which was a YA nonfiction book about black women fighting for the right to vote. The formatting of the paper copy was hard to read, but otherwise I liked it.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I read The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and listened to Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Heavy stuff. Next up is the The Obeslik Gate by N.K. Jemisin, but I think I need something lighter before I start on it; the first book in the series wasn’t exactly uplifting…

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        What did you think of The God of Small Things?

        It’s one of my all-time favourite books and I’m always thrilled to hear of others reading it too even when they don’t enjoy it as much as I did.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          I overall enjoyed it (language and style), but there’s one thing near the end that made me roll my eyes. So it was a mixed experience.

      2. Mangofan*

        Gosh the God of Small Things is indeed *heavy* — I read it in high school (so… like, 15 years ago?) but still remember that.

        Good luck finding something that gives you a break!

      3. Cookies For Breakfast*

        I’m reading Bournville by Jonathan Coe, which was a Christmas gift.

        I used to enjoy his books more when I was younger, now I wouldn’t go out of my way to read them. But my mother always thinks of me when she sees a new book is out, and it’s kinda sweet that she remembers (even though she gets me translated editions, and I now prefer reading English-speaking authors in original language, because I have easy access to that in the UK).

      4. Josephine Beth*

        I love N.K. Jemisin – the writing is phenomonal – but it’s very heavy and I made the mistake of trying to read some of it during early pandemic. I think alternating with lighter reads is a good idea!

    2. Cookie*

      I just had a “look inside” Lifting As We Climb on Amazon and I’m curious about how the formatting was hard to read. From what I can see, it looks a bit like a middle-school textbook in terms of formatting. Was your copy just printed badly maybe?

      I haven’t read anything all week except Alison’s job-hunting advice. But this weekend I’m starting Madhouse at the End of the Earth – the Belgica‘s Journey Into the Dark Antarctic Night, by Julian Sancton. I do love a doomed ship tale.

      1. Jackalope*

        It’s hard to explain without showing you, but I’ll try. The book contained several mini biographies of different important historical figures, which was all well and good, but the main text was a white page with dark text and the mini biographies were a dark background with white text. Some of the pages had a 2 page spread where there would be 2-3 paragraphs at the top of the “main” text, with the rest of those 2 pages being a mini biography. Plus, the people in the mini biographies would just be mentioned in the main text with no context, presumably because the author assumed you’d be reading the mini biographies, but sometimes because of the formatting they’d appear in the main text a page or two before their bio and you’d have no idea who this person was. It was astonishingly hard to follow the thread of the main writing with all of the mini bios. I can see how this could be a good format in a textbook with larger pages, but here there just wasn’t enough main text to follow what was going on.

        I finally decided to just read ahead through each chapter, get all of the mini bios (and other mini sections; not all of them were bios), and then go back and read the main text, ignoring the dark sections w/ the white text. Once I started doing that it was easier to follow and I was able to enjoy it. But I think it would have been better to either a) include the mini bio info in the main text instead of separating it like this, or b) have a section (at the end of the chapter, for example) that had all of the mini sections (since it was YA the chapters were short, so there were 2-4 per chapter, not that many) instead of breaking up the main text.

          1. Jackalope*

            I’m a paper only fan (I have to stare at a screen for work all day, don’t want another screen when I get home), but a friend who reads eBooks looked it over and said it looks like it would be much more readable in eBook format, so we were guessing maybe someone didn’t make that transition to paper books well? The author has done most of her writing from what I could tell in electronic formats so maybe that was something she didn’t think of? Or maybe her editors laid it out that way and didn’t give the paper version enough thought? I don’t know, but it made a lot more sense considering it as an eBook that was then eventually released in paper form.

      2. fposte*

        Oh, I just downloaded the Kindle of the Sancton–I missed it when it came out and I’m Antarctic-obsessed. I’ve read Cook’s account of the experience but this sounds like it’ll have more context and dimensionality.

            1. Jamie Starr*

              I read this last year. Even though nautical adventure isn’t something I’d said I like, I really enjoyed this book. I was watching a documentary on frozen regions of the Earth last week and every time they were showing penguins I thought of this book and awful penguin “meat” was.

      3. GoryDetails*

        Another doomed-ship fan here! Madhouse at the End of the Earth was quite riveting, in part because I knew less about that expedition than about the more famous ones conducted later on. Seeing how the young(-ish) Cook and Amundsen got some harsh but invaluable training in the care and handling of crews during polar winterings-over.

        Other books I’ve enjoyed include:

        In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette, by Hampton Sides, an 1879 Arctic expedition that included such things as experimental Edison lightbulbs, but that did not include adequate preparation for the perils they would face.

        And a thought-it-was-doomed-but-it-wasn’t ship:

        Resolute: The Epic Search for the Northwest Passage and John Franklin, and the Discovery of the Queen’s Ghost Ship, by Martin W. Sandler, an account of one of the many (many, many) expeditions that went in search of the lost Franklin expedition, with most of them coming to grief one way or another. This one included more caught-in-the-ice issues, and resulted in the abandonment of the Resolute as they thought the ice was about to crush it. To universal surprise, the ship eventually floated free, and was found drifting along by itself some 1400 miles from where it had been left. [The US Presidential desk in the Oval Office is made from some of its timbers; cool fact!]

    3. Pippa K*

      I’m about halfway through Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West . It’s very good – beautifully written, worthwhile reflection on the experiences of displaced people. But I’m going to need something light and breezy after this.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m listening to “A Darkness at the Door” by Intisar Khanani and enjoying it. I read the previous two books quite awhile ago before this one was published but I’m remembering things pretty easily.

      Also re-reading “Every Day” by David Levithan, I haven’t done much fluffy YA in the past few years so it’s nice to read something quick and cute!

    5. Not A Manager*

      I’m reading The Hopkins Manuscript by R.C. Sherriff. It’s an apocalyptic tale written just before the advent of nuclear weapons. So far it’s a send-up of middle class British life between the wars. I’m really enjoying it.

    6. Rara Avis*

      Just got Demon Copperhead (Barbara Kingsolver) from the library. From the first few chapters it looks like it’s going to worth the wait on the hold list. I’m probably going to need to read David Copperfield next.

      1. Readings recs*

        Ooo, that’s on my TBR list. I read Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible, years ago –– one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking books.

      2. Sparkly Librarian*

        I started around 143 on my library’s hold list for Demon Copperhead… now all the way up at 28, so it might be this month! Everyone says it’s worth it.

        I am also #27 (of 46) for Foster by Claire Keegan. Not sure whether I actually will like it, but one thing I am resolved to do this year is say no to books that don’t engage me rather than force myself to finish them.

    7. Ally*

      I started “Belly Woman- Blood, birth and Ebola” by Benjamin Black last night.
      It’s written by an obstetrician who worked in Sierra Leone during the 2014 Ebola outbreak. Lots of stories about the women, children, the hospital during Ebola, the entire community and what happened during the worst Ebola outbreak. It’s terrifying but so fascinating.

      I (cliché alert) couldn’t put it down, I stayed up till 0200 and am just about to start it again after breakfast (AAM is my breakfast read).

      I cried on the train reading it, and yelled out loud at one point in shock, which is absolutely not my normal vibe! I also realized I hadn’t looked at my phone for hours , again, sadly, definitely not normal .

      Looking forward to reading the rest of it today but so far recommend it 100%!!!

    8. Amey*

      I’m reading The High House by Jessie Greengrass which is a literary novel about three people who survive the climate crisis while the rest of the world perishes (at least that’s how it seems so far!) Beautifully written and incredibly believable which makes it really frightening to contemplate. Reminds me a bit of Station Eleven which I adored pre-pandemic.

      Also still making slow progress through The Book of Dust: The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman which I’ve been reading in bits and pieces. I don’t know why I’m finding these so slow to read. Was initially really enjoying this one but feel some bits are heavy handed and too metaphorical (in a similar way to The Amber Spyglass which I haven’t reread since I first read it as a teenager).

      Also reading Cary Grant biography by Scott Eyman (good, sad though) and Green for Danger by Christianna Brand, a light Golden Age mystery.

      1. AY*

        I, too, loved the Golden Compass books as a preteen. I enjoyed the Book of Dust as an adult, but I’ve never been motivated to continue the series. I think I enjoy my memories of reading the OG trilogy enough not to seek out more.

      2. GoryDetails*

        I’m reading The High House, too! Definitely a slow, often melancholy story, with the multiple viewpoints and timestreams adding perspective.

      3. Rudebeckia*

        I loved the Golden Compass but did not care for the Secret Commonwealth books. Maybe my expectations were too high but they just fell a little flat and the romance arc in the second book felt a little… icky, for lack of a better word.

    9. Vio*

      I’ve started reading The Strange Case Of Doctor Jekyll & Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. I was intrigued to learn that the identity of Mr Hyde was originally a shocking twist (now probably even more widely known than Rosebud) so I was curious to see how the original story presented things and it’s making for a fun read.

    10. Hotdog not dog*

      Just finished The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver is next up. I have so far liked everything I’ve read by both authors.

    11. Loopy*

      I just started the Hands of the Emperor by Victoria Goddard based solely in all the recs I’ve seen in weekend posts. Weirdly I’m having a little trouble getting into it but I’m still soooo early on, I’m hopeful it’ll happen soon.

    12. germank106*

      “The Empress of Bright Moon” by Weina Dai Randal. Set in the 7th Century it’s part 1 of a fictional account of China’s only Empress. It doesn’t talk a whole lot about China’s history, but it talks extensively about social norms. Part 2 is called “The Moon in the Palace.”

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      I just started Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Spare Man. Clearly aiming to hit The Thin Man, But In Space; not sure how well it’s actually landing that? But perhaps the snappy banter will pick up.

      I have very fond memories of the Thin Man movies but haven’t watched them in quite some time. I really enjoyed the Calculating Stars series by this author.

        1. Pippa K*

          Glad you mentioned this! So many people were raving about this one, and I like both the Thin Man movies and Kowal’s other work, but I just …didn’t like this one.

    14. fposte*

      I remember reading Heads in Beds; it was while I was traveling and staying in hotels, which added a layer. An entertaining read but not one I kept once I got home. Which is a perfectly acceptable category by me.

    15. AY*

      I just finished a really lovely graphic novel by an Egyptian artist/author named Deema Mohamed called Shubeik Lubeik. It’s about an Egypt with a whole economy of wishes in a bottle. Lots of themes: depression, colonialism, religion, aging, regret.

      I try to read 1-2 graphic novels a year (always by women), and would love more recommendations! I read Ducks by Kate Beaton last year and loved it.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Cancer Vixen by Marisa Marchetto, a New Yorker cartoonist. About getting breast cancer. Read it from library new books when it came out; bought and reread it and loaned it to my daughter when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

      2. Mitchell Hundred*

        Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life by Ulli Lust. Autobio comic by an Austrian woman about travelling around Italy in the mid-’80s with no money. Very good, but be warned that it features depictions of sexual assault/rape.

        Aya by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie. Slice of life comic from France about life in Cote d’Ivoire in the early ’80s. The writer is a black woman from northwestern Africa and the artist is a white French man.

        Wet Moon by Sophie Campbell. Slice of life comic about a group of friends going to college in a small town in Florida. The ending volume is a bit underwhelming, but I enjoyed spending time with these characters so much that I didn’t care.

        Castle Waiting by Linda Medley. Comic about the other inhabitants of Sleeping Beauty’s castle trying to make a life for themselves and support each other after she leaves and marries Prince Charming. It’s a lovely little story about finding community, although as an indie comic it’s frustratingly not finished yet.

        The Nameless City Trilogy by Faith Erin Hicks. This one’s more of a YA story, but it’s still really great (reminded me of the TV show “Avatar: The Last Airbender”). It’s basically about a city that’s strategically important, and so has been repeatedly conquered by various powerful nations. Very explicitly anti-war/imperialism.

        Sorry if that’s too much, I’m a big fan of non-superhero comics.

        1. Jackalope*

          I really enjoyed Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks as well. Also YA, involves a young woman who’s been homeschooled her whole education, the youngest of her siblings, and then at high school she is sent to public school. Homeschooling was generally a good experience for her, but this is completely different. It’s fun and I enjoyed it.

          1. Mitchell Hundred*

            Yeah, I’ve got that one too. Probably my favourite thing about her is her affinity for platonic friendships between women and men (or girls and boys). It’s very refreshing, and made me notice how that sort of relationship is relatively uncommon in media. The central character dynamic in The Nameless City books is like that, which is one of the things I love about it.

      3. AGD*

        Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke. Though a note that the ending is a bit jarring/incongruous.

      4. Patty*

        Just finished The Keeper by Kelcey Parker Ervick. It’s about her experience playing soccer mixed in with the history of women in soccer and motherhood. Sounds a bit complicated, but it worked for me.

      5. word nerd*

        Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (one of my favorite books) and The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua

        1. Mitchell Hundred*

          I love both of those! I heard a couple of years ago that Jake Gyllenhaal’s production company is making a movie out of the Fun Home musical (with him as Bruce), which sounds like it’d be great.

      6. anyjennywaynest*

        Highly recommend “Widdershins” by Kate Ashlin – you can read it online (search for widdershins comic) and get pdf or printed versions for a very reasonable price. She is now on the last bit of the story arc, but first seven volumes form a complete story. Diverse characters, especially strong female leads, in an alternate pre-Victorian magic setting.

    16. Stitch*

      I read The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches and found it to be a nice cozy world building book.

    17. carcinization*

      Reading a book that I forgot that I received for Christmas, This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub. Kind of a light time-travel book… the (fictional) protagonist in the book was born the year before me, so I can relate to some of the stuff from back in the day but not other stuff (I did NOT grow up rich, or in NYC, haha!).

    18. Mitchell Hundred*

      “Godslayer” by Jacqueline Carey. It’s the second half of a series from the mid-naughts. Basically she gave “The Lord of the Rings” the “Paradise Lost” treatment (after changing enough of the characters and story to avoid getting sued, obviously). I’m liking it a lot.

    19. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Just finished “How Not To Drown in a Glass of Water” by Angie Cruz. It’s an easy read. I liked it – didn’t love it. Don’t feel compelled to read any more of hers. Not sure what’s up next for me. I’ve been on a non-fiction kick lately and I may dive into a book by Daniel Okrent about the building of Rockefeller Center. Or maybe not.

    20. Readings recs*

      Just finished Frederick Backman’s Anxious People.

      I’d expected something much different, people cornered in an apartment and quarrelling with each other, and it was really about people forging unlikely friendships and finding there is much more room for hope in their lives than they think. I will likely read it again –– I don’t think once is enough to fully process the book.

      1. Vanellope*

        How did you feel about the writing style? I loved the story, and the characters, and the twists and coincidences, but it absolutely drove me batty how the narrator kept breaking the fourth wall. (“Now you’re probably wondering why so and so would do such a thing” and all the little interjections – can’t remember specifics as it’s been a while). I am usually a staunch “the book was better” person but I kept thinking I would rather just watch this story play out on screen rather than deal with so much of the written narrator’s voice.

        1. Readings recs*

          Hmmm, I liked the fourth wall breaking! I thought it was inventive and called attention to some of the choice-making and artistry of the novel; I’m not sure I would have noticed as much about the book without the narrator’s voice.

          But, I have two degrees in English literature and tend to be a person who appreciates when things are made direct and clear. I acknowledge I am not all readers. :)

        2. bright as yellow*

          I read the book as a recommendation from a good friend, and was very much looking forward to reading it. I finished the book, I liked the story, I like the message. We could all do with more compassion, these days, and any book with that message is a win. But the writing style… I felt the author was too busy trying to be clever, and it was getting in the way of actual good writing. The whole breaking fourth wall, going back and forth between past and present, showing the same moments with multiple povs. It drove me batty. It’s probably a personal preference, but please, just write that story simply without embellishments.

    21. happybat*

      Finished it a while ago, but “Lolly Willowes” is one of my favourite books that I found in adulthood – I would love to know what 15 year old me would have thought of it. Really, genuinely subversive and odd.

    22. Sigrid says Hey*

      This week I finished In My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Wow, what a human. The world is better because of her life’s work.
      Currently reading A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith. For February my book club is revisiting teen and YA fiction that impacted us during our youth, this is one of my picks.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I loved “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”, I’ve been meaning to give it a re-read for awhile

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

      Re-reading the James Bond novel *Diamonds Are Forever*. Content warning for racism and homophobia, though.

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

        About to start re-reading *As You Like It*, as a friend is teaching it.

    24. Sutemi*

      Just finished Babel by RF Kuang which I stayed up way too late to complete. Magic, colonialism, language and friendship themes which I found very immersive.

    25. Bluebell*

      Thank you to whoever recommended Remarkably Bright Creatures- I loved it! I also read a light mystery- The Smile Beach Murders- fine, but not amazing. Now I’m in the midst of Kashana McCauley’s The Survivalists, and waiting to see how the plot works out.

    26. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I just started _I’m Glad My Mom Died_ by Jennette McCurdy, and the first part is the author talking about her childhood, while her mother was still alive, and so far it feels like a textbook case of a parentified child.

      Before that, I read Josephine Tey’s _To Love and Be Wise_, a mystery novel from several decades ago, in which a charming stranger turns up and befriends several members of a family, then vanishes while on traveling around England with one of them. I liked it, and it’s a a definite example of the observation that “charming is a verb.”

      1. Just Another Cog*

        Just started “I’m Glad My Mom Died”, too! What a sad, dysfunctional person her Mom was. Not only for the author, but also the entire family.

    27. GoryDetails*

      Currently reading:

      ENTANGLED LIFE by Merlin Sheldrake, a lovely, deep look at fungi and how they affect so many aspects of our planet – sometimes in rather chilling ways, and often in ways that turn out to be essential. [Given that I’m also watching the HBO series “The Last of Us,” which features a world in which the fungus that creates “zombie ants” crosses over into humans, with apocalyptic results, reading the book is… interesting.] The author ranges far and wide, joining in a truffle-hunt or harvesting apples for cider or spending ages trying to map out the tiny filaments of fungus that associate with so many different trees and other plants…

      On the lighter side, Guy Kennaway’s BIRD BRAIN is fun: it looks like a cozy mystery, what with the talking dogs who are better at solving crimes than the human police, but it’s very snarky and often realistically blunt: the dogs (who can converse with each other and can understand human speech, but whose own speech is not understandable by the humans) often talk about the delicious stench of their late master, or how piquant a butt they sniffed today… Throw in the plot-twist that the dogs’ late master – a blunt, single-minded and avid hunter of pheasants – is reincarnated as a pheasant himself, only to learn what life’s like from the other side of the shotgun, and it’s pretty wild.

      On audiobook, I’m listening to David Sedaris’ HAPPY-GO-LUCKY; as usual, there’s a mix of deeply poignant personal memoir (with humor) and laugh-out-loud humor (with occasional poignance and/or political nudges).

    28. Rosyglasses*

      Finished a couple more books in the Bruno, Chief or Police series by Martin Walker (and concurrently gained a few pounds with french omelets and croissants as I am wont to do when I read his works).

      Reading The Maid on my Kindle upon recommendation from a friend, and also trying to get through Moonflower Murders which has been a bit of a slog, surprisingly.

  3. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Everyone share what you’ve been playing this week. As always, all kinds of games are welcome and not just video games.

    My D&D DM has been running a mystery for us the last few weeks. This week we finally (I think!) figured out whodunnit, and it wasn’t who I expected at all. (Although it’s not 100% wrapped up so we could still be wrong.) I’ve also continued with Fire Emblem Engage; I’m starting to get into it more and figure out how it works.

    1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      Someone here mentioned Redactle recently and I am quite enjoying it. I recommend using Redactle Unlimited though, it’s better at handling plurals and such and you can play a random game in addition to the daily one. I was so proud of myself for getting one in one guess!

    2. Doc is In*

      Microsoft Flight Simulator. They recently added a helicopter! Still trying to figure out how it works but it’s pretty cool.

    3. Wordnerd*

      Getting into Board Game Arena to play games with friends from out of state! It’s honestly an excellent resource, premium membership is real cheap, and it’s clearly crowd-sourced, so no ads, just good content.

    4. Ann Non*

      Someone recommended Dreamlight Valley and it is the first video game in years that I have purchased!

    5. Can't think of a clever name*

      I’ve been playing Urbek a lot this week – I love city builders, and really enjoyed the old-school SimCity vibe. The twist here is that it’s resource management rather than money – if you want to build houses, you need enough food to support them, if you want to build industry, you need to have work and materials, but you can’t build houses (add work) if you don’t have enough food… it’s more of a puzzle game than I’m used to, and it’s a lot of fun.

    6. Overeducated*

      I’m joining my first D&D campaign with neighbors on my street! We start this week. I’ve been character planning so far.

  4. Cookie*

    Anyone here a minimalist/barefoot shoe person? Do you wear them all the time or just for certain activities, like working out? What brands have you tried, what do you like?

    I really want to try these after years of being uncomfortable in conventional shoes, but as a hypermobile person I have very wide forefeet (because they just spread so much when I’m standing) and I’m having a hard time finding any that are wide enough in my size. Really hate sandals but I might have to buy some this summer as they are more forgiving of width than closed shoes.

    1. Cedrus Libani*

      I am, and I wear them full-time. Mostly, I’m in it because my gross motor skills are below average – minimalist shoes force me to walk with proper mechanics, because it quickly starts to hurt if I get lazy, and also the stronger foot muscles help me recover in situations where I might have previously tripped over myself and landed in a heap.

      My go-to brand is Softstar Shoes. In a conservative color, they can pass in a business casual office, which is not the case for most zero-drop shoes. They’re a bit pricey, but I can put in 10K steps a day for at least a year (I do buy the thickest sole they sell).

      A cautionary tale: at my grad school, there was a professor who wore his Vibram five-finger shoes every single day. He’d gone nose-blind to his aroma, but the rest of us could smell him coming. Don’t be that person. At least buy two pairs, so they have a full day to air out.

      1. Cookie*

        I’ll be wearing them with toe socks or tabi socks! As a former shoe store employee, I just am too grossed out by shoes without socks, haha.

        Thanks for the recommendation. I tried Softstar Primal and I kept tripping over the toes, though they were the correct size. I had to return them. Softstar basically said “we can’t help you, good luck!”

    2. anon24*

      Xerox shoes are designed to be wider. I have… a lot of pairs and they are all great. I wear them pretty much any time I don’t have to be in work boots or want to be in dress boots. They have sandals, casual shoes, running shoes, hiking boots, fancy boots, nicer shoes for the office, and they just released a medical type shoe. If you aren’t used to barefoot shoes there is a learning curve, essentially your body has to “relearn” its stride because you walk differently, but I’ll never go back to convential shoes.

      1. Cookie*

        I did try these on at my local REI, which is the only retailer that has any barefoot shoes in my area. Alas, they were not even close to wide enough. They were more than half an inch too narrow, which is a LOT and kind of defeats the purpose, right?

        But thanks for confirming, because I’m still really interested in making this happen!

        1. Fiction Reader*

          FWIW, my Xero Prios are definitely wider than my Xero hiking boots, so it may depend on which shoe you tried on.

    3. Indolent Libertine*

      Oh!!! I have nothing useful for you, but you just explained to me why my feet are so wide! I am super hypermobile and have always had a terrible time finding shoes to fit my very wide forefeet with narrow heels. Finally makes sense!

      I don’t know whether they carry what you’re looking for, but I have bought shoes from Hitchcock online; they only do wide in varying degrees. I’ve had good luck with the Propet brand, but again not sure if they do a minimalist shoe.

      1. Cookie*

        Isn’t it “fun” to shop for these feet? People who don’t have this will never understand…it’s like trying to put duck feet in human shoes.

        BTW I did try Duckfeet Shoes but they weren’t wide enough in the forefoot. Very cute though. If you aren’t as wide as I am, you might like them. The boots are heavy but look like they’d last forever.

        I really want a minimalist, thin sole. I feel and move best when I can feel the ground under me. Propet unfortunately are not minimal and also – when I have tried their super wide shoes, they were a touch too narrow in the forefoot and too wide everywhere else. I always say if I win the lottery, I’ll have shoes made to fit.

    4. Angstrom*

      I’ve used the Merrill Vapor Glove as a gym shoe for a few years. I really like the stability that comes from the low heel and feeling the floor. This year I’ve started wearing them more as a walking-around shoe to help keep my feet strong. Also got a pair of Altra trail runners for something with a barefoot shape but more cushioning.

      1. Cookie*

        Thank you! I’m thinking of doing a very long hike where terrain will be somewhat rough in the next couple of years, and eyeing the Altra trail runners for this. Saucony trail runners have always fit me reasonably okay, but they are tapered, and I’m done with tapered shoes.

    5. Blue wall*

      I’ve worn barefoot/minimalist shoes for 8 years or so.

      You will really want to prepare your foot for the transition; Katy Bowman has info about this in her books (Whole Body Barefoot: transitioning well to minimal footwear). I’ve also found Petra Fisher to be a good resource.

      My foot shape has changed over this time, so while I used to wear Toms and Merrel’s Vapor Glove they are too narrow for me.

      Currently I mainly wear Lems sneakers and Earthrunners sandals in Warner weather. There are lots of options! If you want a deep dive, Anya’s Reviews has great shoes lists.

      1. Cookie*

        I’ve been on Anya’s Reviews many, many times, and also The Barefoot Shoe Review. I keep waiting for a shoe option to pop up that doesn’t require $30 shipping back to Europe if it doesn’t fit…my budget can’t take too much experimenting.

        I’ll check out the recommended reading, thanks so much. :)

      1. Cookie*

        Keen have a pronounced toe spring that really hurts me, so unfortunately that’s not an option. I had nice warm winter boots from Keen that were wide enough but after wearing them my body hurt from toes to mid-back, and after a while I had to ditch them.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      I always wear barefootesque shoes. (Or else my leg muscles freeze up.)

      Ugg boots
      Teva sandals
      Merrell barefoot trail runners are my workhorse for dry weather–a light fabric shoe on a super flexible sole–though I did the “I like this–I’ll buy a couple of backup pairs” thing several years ago.
      I’ve got snow boots by Behr.

    7. Ranon*

      Have you looked at Topo and Altra? Both are designed with a wider forefoot. OluKai is more hit or miss in shape but has a few as well.

    8. Alice*

      The obvious answer is just don’t wear shoes

      Assuming that isn’t an option, I see lots of good answers in the replies. But let me add another – Crocs. I don’t like to walk any great distance in them but for being sat at a desk most of the day they’re nice and wide as well as easy to slip off.

      For walking longer distances I’ll either go properly barefoot or wear my Xero Genesis sandals

    9. ildrummer*

      I’ve worn Vibram Five Fingers (the quintessential “toe shoes”) for running, working out, and hiking for about a decade. Also wear New Balance Minimus (Minimas?) which are lightweight and don’t have a heel-rise as my non-work everyday shoes.

    10. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      I wear minimalist shoes nearly all the time, usually Merrells of various models. I only wear my Five Fingers when running on the treadmill after straining a calf muscle during a race (I was wearing the Five Fingers that day).

      My only complaint about Merrells is that the instep tends to tear, starting just behind the ball of my foot. Maybe I just have a weird gait?

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

      I like these really wide SAS sandals with an adjustable strap across the lower part of one’s toes. SAS usually has some good options for feet that like to feel more free.

    12. My Brain is Exploding*

      As another commenter, I also have Xero shoes. I have 3 pairs of tennis shoes, a pair of dress flats, a pair of hiking boots and a pair of winter boots. I tried sandals but returned them – the straps were too long for my skinny ankles! I know you have tried some, but you can check the website and even chat with someone about your needs. They could direct you to the style of shoe best suited to your foot. I have a pair of softstar slippers and I think I had to trace my foot and send the tracing in with my order. Seconding the info from Katy Bowman. She lists shoes on her website.

    13. Generic Name*

      This is sort of a crazy suggestion, but I’ve seen stalls at my local Renaissance Faire selling custom made leather boots with thin leather soles. They have different styles, and they may be willing to do a low boot or regular shoe style, since they’re custom. They aren’t cheap, though.

      1. Clisby*

        I’ve never tried these, but I’m retired so spend a lot of time at home, where I just go barefoot 8-9 months out of the year. This time of year, even in SC, I need socks, but not shoes. Maybe I should look into barefoot shoes, though. My most comfortable walking-around-outside shoes are the Vans my son gave me last Christmas.

        1. Cookie*

          Vans are so narrow I get cramps all the way up my leg just from trying them on! Ha!

          And I live in an urban environment where it’s currently near zero F for days/weeks, and even the warm friendly summer outdoor surfaces are littered with broken glass, dog poo, etc., so barefoot is reserved for showers and the rare beach visit in summer.

      2. Cookie*

        I’ve seen those people on Instagram! I think a boot like that would be fine in the house, but they are known to be really slippery if they get the tiniest bit wet, so outdoors probably is impractical. Might be a great place to find house slippers, though.

  5. Lena Clare*

    What meals are you cooking this week?

    I’m thinking of a veggie and bean chili, and a cauliflower and chickpea curry, which I can eek out with different sides over the week.
    And for lunch I’m not sure yet but probably soups, salads, and wraps. I need to plan that this weekend before going shopping.

    1. Filosofickle*

      I’m thinking corn chowder this weekend, because it’s raining and it’s the only soup (so far) that my dad likes. If not, then a sauteed chicken with mushrooms and cream for our dinner. Or maybe chicken & dumplings?

    2. Missb*

      Spinach and roasted squash orzo

      Red lentil dal

      Leek and potato soup with Irish wheaten bread

      Cornbread chili pies

      Roasted Sweet potatoes with lime crema (and black beans, pickled jalapeños and sautéed onions/peppers)

      Manicotti

        1. Missb*

          The orzo recipe is from vikilinka. Super easy but I usually sub spinach instead of kale, throwing the spinach in last minute. Nothing against kale, just usually have lots of spinach.

          The dal recipe is from kiwiandbean but that site seems down. Recipe is called white girl dal and is at copymethat.

          The leek soup and bread recipe is from the Oregonian foodday section from many many years ago. I can still find the bread recipe by googling foodday Irish wheaten bread. Easy. Lots of recipes for the soup pretty much anywhere.

          The cornbread chili pie recipe is from thefoodinmybeard. You have to make the chili a day ahead.

          The sweet potato recipe is from budgetbytes

          And the manicotti recipe is from the box!

    3. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I have a week of cooking for myself, and it took ages to make a meal plan (I don’t love eating alone for days in a row), but I finally got it.

      – A Thai chicken green curry that will yield 4 portions
      – A couple variations on salmon on toast (with poached eggs and with avocado)
      – A couple pasta recipes, because I have stuff in the fridge to use up to make pesto (spinach first, mint and pistachio next)
      – Stir-fried noodles with Brussels sprouts (which my partner would hate) and a peanut butter & soy sauce dressing

    4. lam*

      Last week I made a chicken lettuce wraps that was inspired by a Table for Two recipe. It was supposed to be a PF Chang’s copy cat recipe but we used what we had.

      I used shredded chicken, store bought shredded carrots and green onions instead of the ground chicken, mushrooms and water chestnuts. The sauce though is what kills it. So simple. 4T soy sauce, 4T dark brown sugar, 1t rice vinegar. So. Good. I threw a batch of it into the “filling” (hindsight could have used half) and divided another batch as dipping sauce for the lettuce wraps.

      10/10 Will most definitely make again next week. Maybe with a few tweaks.

    5. Ally*

      Black lentils stew with carrot and beetroot

      This famous NYT chickpea and coconut milk stew

      Kale and broccoli salad (with almonds and red onion)

          1. Ally*

            Oh my gosh Cookie how did you know this was it!! Amazing. I didn’t know it was actually “famous”, I just saw it had the most likes on the NYT app.

      1. Clearing the cache*

        I made the nytimes chickpea stew last week. It was very good, though I don’t see what makes it the apparently top recipe on the site. Below are the ingredients, you can probably figure it out from here. First I cooked dry chickpeas in my IP; I used only 1 can coconut milk, had no mint leaves, served with brown rice.

        1/4 cup olive oil
        4 garlic cloves, chopped
        1 large yellow onion, chopped
        1 (2-inch) piece ginger, finely chopped
        Kosher salt and black pepper
        1.5 tsp ground turmeric
        1/2 tsp red-pepper flakes
        2 15-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
        2 15-oz cans full-fat coconut milk
        2 cups vegetable stock
        1 bunch Swiss chard, kale or collard greens, stems removed, torn into bite-size pieces

        Suggestions to serve with:
        1 cup mint leaves
        Yogurt
        Toasted pita or other flatbread

    6. germank106*

      Two of the granddaughters (5 and 7) are here this weekend. They want to learn to make Pasta, so we’ll make Ravioli to eat right away and Fettucine to put in the freezer. Not sure if I’ll show them to make Manicotti. Making the shells is tricky and I don’t think they have the patience for it just yet.

    7. Cookie*

      I’m so very not in the mood to cook right now, and I live alone. Fortunately I have lots of congee in the freezer, which can be any meal of the day depending on what else I put with it. Today I really must freeze the leftover stuffed pepper soup, to be eaten when indecision strikes. I have some leftover canned tomatoes I want to make into a pureed soup with carrot, celeriac, some kind of stock, just need to get to the store. I’m hoping to just do this in the instant pot. And I think tonight I’m making soboro don, my favorite easy dinner. I use this recipe: https://norecipes.com/soboro-don-chicken-rice-bowl/

      I make pizza at least once a week, usually not planned in advance. I have some leftover dough in the freezer so I can exercise this option whenever I want it.

    8. fposte*

      It might be time to do a new batch of the Cook’s Illustrated Simple Beef Chili. That’s one of the soup/stew items I almost always have some of in the freezer but I’ve been making other things so have taken up all the freezable soup containers.

      Oh, and on the strength of a recommendation here I did a Rancho Gordo bean order! So I’ll have to decide which recipe gets dibs on the empty containers.

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        Ha, I am making a turkey chili with some Rancho Gordo beans tomorrow! (I might make it today if time permits.). It was painful to plan this week’s meals. Here is the lineup so far:
        Sun—chicken tacos (filling cooked in slow cooker)
        Mon-turkey chili plus cornbread
        Tuesday-leftovers
        Weds—breakfast for dinner (probably pancakes, fruit, & sausage)
        Thurs probably takeout
        Friday frozen pot pies from local place

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Trying things from the cookbook I got from the library last week. (Healthyish by Hunt, seems to be no relationship to the Bon Appetit site.)

      Soft tacos with rotisserie chicken: One of those easy to assemble meals that you don’t need a cookbook per se, but you do need to be reminded of the option. Shredded a rotisserie turkey breast, mashed an avocado, made tomato salsa, simple pickle on red onions, arugula and radish, and heated some flour tortillas on the griddle. Simple and satisfying.

      Toast with miso butter and 9 minute egg: Dead simple miso butter–2 parts butter to 1 part white miso–makes a great savory spread for toast. I use South River miso, a local brand I get at whole foods that was a real “OH. This is what they’re talking about” in terms of it being a real star ingredient on its own, rather than a vague umami paste.

      Tonight I’m going to try the bahn mi rice bowl–flavors of bahn mi but with brown rice rather than french bread.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Oh wow they all sound amazing. I particularly like the miso spread and báhn mì rice ideas. I love báhn mì but always make the Isa Chandra-Moskowitz’s vegan version on French bread.

    10. Stitch*

      My kid kept asking for carrots soup so I made a basic roasted carrot soup (sautéed onions and celery, vegetable broth then blended it). It turned out okay but if I made it again I’d try maybe adding an apple? My son ate two bowls of it so that’s all that really matters.

    11. Chauncy Gardener*

      A really nice haddock soup (since we get such great fresh fish here). Sautee bacon, remove from pan. Add chopped onion and shallot, add broth (I use chicken), chopped peeled potatoes, the chopped cooked bacon, s&p. Simmer until potatoes are cooked. Add haddock, bring to a boil, then simmer until fish is cooked. Perfect for cold weather!

    12. Zephy*

      I’m making a batch of chicken salad for next week’s lunches tomorrow. I also need to make another baked oatmeal; I think I’ll go savory this time with a “veggie supreme pizza” flavor. I’ve got olives, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and cheese. I’ve done savory baked oats before, it’s a nice change of pace from sweet oats.

      Next week’s dinner menu will include steak salad as well as some variety of hamburger helper-type meat-and-pasta dish. I’ve got some thin, quick-cooking macaroni noodles that should work pretty well. I do need to get some milk at the grocery today, I might swoop through the seasoning packets aisle and grab something there rather than trying to freestyle. Make it easy on myself, you know?

        1. Zephy*

          Yeah! I mix up about 6-8 servings of quick-cooking oats with a few eggs for structure and whatever other mix-ins strike my fancy, then bake at about 375 until done, usually takes about 30-40 minutes in my oven. Any kind of fruit obviously works great, especially frozen fruit; but I’ve also done double chocolate (chocolate chips and cocoa powder), s’mores (chocolate chips and marshmallows), gingerbread, and pumpkin pie flavors. I’ve also done another savory one in the past, with crumbled sausage and cheddar cheese.

          1. Elle*

            Whoa. I’ve seen a savory sweet potato baked oatmeal but haven’t worked up the courage yet. You’re idea sounds really neat.

    13. PhyllisB*

      Made lasagna for a family at church yesterday. (She just had a kneereplacement.) Also made small casserole for the hubby and me.
      She texted me later that night to tell how much they all enjoyed it; even the 1 year old granddaughter wanted seconds!! Unfortunately, ours wasn’t as good because hubs reheated too long and it got slightly burned. Still edible, but he doesn’t usually make mistakes like that.

    14. carcinization*

      Next week I’m making a version of some zucchini/ham/ricotta fritters from Smitten Kitchen (I guess kind of in between her version and the original recipe), Lentil Bolognese from Budget Bytes (a vegan recipe, haven’t made this particular one before) and Braised Thai Coconut Curry Chicken Thighs (also from Budget Bytes). I am also thawing out some leftover black beans and pork shoulder from a previous slow-cooker meal, which we will probably have with some leftover spanish rice I made earlier this week.

      1. Lena Clare*

        There is a really nice lentil bourguignon and butter bean mash recipe on Mr Organic1585’s YouTube channel this week. I want to make that at some point.

        1. Camelid coordinator*

          Last week for company I made a bean-mushroom bourguignon (from the Cool Beans cookbook, recipe also widely available on the web), and it was delicious. We served it over mashed potatoes. Kiddo only ate a few bites, otherwise I’d make it again soon!

    15. Pippa K*

      Our new oven is finally installed and I can bake again! Weekend agenda: pretzel rolls, a harissa chicken traybake, and either a sesame cake or a Bakewell tart. By the way, thanks to whoever recommended Nuts dot com here a while back – now I can easily get the nut/seed baking ingredients my supermarket doesn’t stock, and they’re usually better/cheaper than supermarket versions anyway.

    16. Clarbar*

      I made a veggie “lo mein” with spaghetti noodles, tofu, and all the random leftover veggie odds and ends in the crisper drawer. The sauce was a super easy homemade hoisin sauce from the Omnivore Cookbook website. Excellent “need to go to the grocery store tomorrow, but still need to make dinner tonight” recipe.

    17. Elle*

      Add me to the chili group-I’m making Ellie Kreiger’s with beef and beans. Cornbread on the side. I’ll also do a chicken enchilada bake, chicken cutlets, and some kind of udon tofu situation. I’m doing baked muesli instead of baked oatmeal for breakfast.

    18. Jay (no, the other one)*

      We do our menu planning on Sunday. The past week was disrupted by illness so some of those meals were postponed. Tonight we’re having company – Greek beef stew and homemade foccaccia (both new recipes because I am either confident or an idiot. Time will tell). Lemon drizzle cake for dessert. Tomorrow probably pernil and beef Kerala on Monday.

    19. Elle*

      Last week I made a great meal prep meal. The Smitten Kitchen’s Roast Yam and Chickpeas with yogurt. It held very nicely in the fridge for lunch over a few days.

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

      Having a plan for the week is beyond my executive function these days, but I did manage to make some cornbread from the Jiffy mix. I had some fresh blueberries I tossed in the batter.

    21. Cooking for 2*

      I was inspired by last week’s thread about cooking cabbage and made a batch of Ethiopian cabbage – it also includes potatoes and carrots — in the Instant Pot. It was new to me, and was really good. The entire recipe made a big batch – definitely 6 servings – so the leftovers would be good for lunches.

      I was initially intimidated by its “Ethiopian” title as I’ve long believed that their cuisine was very hot, but was reassured by the comments, and indeed it was on the mild side. My assumption about Ethiopian food came from a long-ago experience when my adventurous teen-aged son ordered something in an Ethiopian restaurant that was marked very hot, and the waiter warned him, but he ordered it anyway, and after the first 2 bites he couldn’t eat it, it was so much hotter than he could handle. I extrapolated that to the entire cuisine, silly me.

    22. Bluebell*

      Last night I made a lot of pasta w broccoli sauce, so those leftovers will reappear Monday. Tonight is udon egg drop soup since I made a nice veggie stock yesterday. Later in the week I’ll probably do something with chickpeas, and I’ll make fried rice. Last week I was pleased w myself for roasting beets and red onions, and serving them over couscous w feta cheese and walnuts. I just checked out The Weekday Vegetarian from the library, and it has so many good recipe ideas.

    23. California Dreamin’*

      Going out for Mexican food tonight because I have my mom for the weekend and she likes to treat the family to a dinner out (which tonight will include teenaged daughter’s boyfriend.) But the rest of the week includes homemade tomato soup with grilled cheese, broiled chicken with Buerre blanc, we do taco Tuesdays so this week is chicken salsa verde tacos, an Italian sausage and cabbage stir fry, and a New Mexican enchilada casserole from NY Times that’s become a family favorite. And Fridays are almost always pasta of some kind.

    24. noncommittal pseudonym*

      Tomorrow’s my birthday, so I decided to spend it cooking a gigantic (mostly) vegetarian Ethiopian feast. Picked up the spices and injera today.

      Fatimah’s Salad (potatoes, beets, carrots, bell peppers, eggs)
      yemiser w’et (lentil stew)
      yetakelt w’et (mixed vegetable stew)
      ayib begomen (cottage cheese & collard greens)
      ingudai w’et (mushroom stew)
      ye’assa w’et (fish stew)
      ye’denich atakilt (creamy potato salad)

    25. Lena Clare*

      Thank you! Thanks for all the recipe ideas everyone.
      I think in addition to chili I’m going to make a cornbread loaf too.

  6. Lena Clare*

    The question I asked above made me think of this next question.
    I’ve seen this posted every now and then and I know I’ve asked it before, too…

    How do you balance work- home stuff-finances- family time/ caring responsibilities- exercise? There don’t seem to be enough hours in the day!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        “Turn off one burner” was how David Sedaris phrased this, and it really resonated with me.

    1. HannahS*

      I don’t. I pick a few. At this stage of my life, work and family are pretty much it; I walk to work which at least gets me moving; I have an minimal social life and almost no time for hobbies. The apartment is a mess; we eat pretty well (too much cheese?). It’s a teeter-totter.

      My only advice is to batch things. I walk to work (nearly 90 minutes a day) = exercise + outdoor time + saving money. At night, chat with husband while knitting (just kidding, I’m too tired to do that but theoretically I guess I could?) I like craft projects so I decided that making dumplings every few months is a good craft project, then it’s crafts + cooking.

      1. Lena Clare*

        I think I am pretty similar. I do know enough to realise that no one has got everything done to a high standard at all times, and that good enough or less is fine.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I pick one thing and try to get enough done to feel like I accomplished something, then panic about how I dropped too many other balls for minimal achievement. It’s not effective!

    3. Double A*

      Balance means that not all things are top priority at all times, but that they get handled as needed more or less.

      I recently made a weekly rotation of chores divided up by different rooms in my house and check off days when I finish them. This way I know things have at least been given a once over in the last few weeks and I don’t spent time thinking, “When was the last time I…?” I also am starting to add quarterly, biannual and annual tasks to the list.

      Food is the bane of my personal balance. I always feel like I’m doing a bad job feeding everyone, but I also married the one person on earth even less interested in food than I am, so I mostly handle it. In general food has been the biggest bee in my bonnet for the last year and I am right now paying it more attention than I like in an attempt to get myself to a better place regarding it. My approach is to attempt to write a cookbook from the perspective of someone who hates cooking? I dunno, this is a fairly unhinged solution so I got nothing for you there (until my cookbook comes out, lol).

      I try to have a “business day” once a month where I handle all the mail and administrative stuff of life. In terms of finances, I have a spreadsheet with our general expenses for the month and I review that once a year at least and make sure where the money is going still makes sense.

      Exercise… it’s catch as catch can. When no one is sick, I can make it happen once a week. But I have little kids so there’s a lot of sickness. My husband and I do really try to give each other opportunities to exercise because it’s important.

      Then work…I mean, it’s 40+ hours what choice do you have? I give too much time to it at the expense of all the other things. I try to take some personal time.

      I’m almost 40 and have gone through periods of getting various aspects of my life on shape, which actually sets you up for autopilot pretty well I’ve found. So like my finances are okay because there was a period I spent really learning about finances so now I spend way less time on it. Right now I’m in my Food Era it seems.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Saaaaame – I am really struggling (and always have) with the food aspect of things. I am trying really hard to cook a couple of big pots of stuff to have seconds and thirds of throughout the week, but I just…don’t always do that, then end up buying supermarket ready meals because convenience.

        1. Cookie*

          Maybe cooking ahead isn’t the solution for you right now, but having a good pantry is? My sister pointed out some TikTok trend to me about the “ingredient house” – did you grow up in a house with readymade food or was it a house with ingredients for making food. Although I love green chili-cheese tamales and will never make them myself (thus they are in the freezer), nearly everything else in my kitchen is an ingredient, a habit I suppose I learned as a kid. If you don’t have easy quick-cooking ingredients in the house, it’s so much harder to get dinner done quickly!

          I don’t have a family living with me now but when I did, I always had pasta, rice, protein, frozen vegetables, aromatics (onion/garlic/chile) and some kind of tomato product handy. And eggs. Even now that I live alone, this is still my kitchen. Last night I had no dinner plans but I cooked brown rice in the instant pot while I worked out, washed the pot and kept the rice warm elsewhere, put a rock-hard frozen salmon portion in the pot and pressure-cooked it while heating some frozen peas and spinach (I love these together with a little butter). This is something my daughter would also have eaten, as she loved fish. My ex also grew up in an ingredient house, and a fast dinner for him was often smoked sausage with bell peppers and onion, quickly sauteed, add some jarred pasta sauce, serve over cooked pasta – and I have served this to friends when we suddenly need food while hanging out or working on a project. I’ve been known to bust out a Spanish omelet or quick buttermilk pancakes for dinner, especially when my daughter was small and I was tired!

          Nigella has a whole section on her website of “storecupboard recipes.” Things to make from ingredients when you haven’t cooked ahead. https://www.nigella.com/recipes/storecupboard-recipes

    4. Double A*

      Balance means that not all things are top priority at all times, but that they get handled as needed more or less.

      I recently made a weekly rotation of chores divided up by different rooms in my house and check off days when I finish them. This way I know things have at least been given a once over in the last few weeks and I don’t spent time thinking, “When was the last time I…?” I also am starting to add quarterly, biannual and annual tasks to the list.

      Food is the bane of my personal balance. I always feel like I’m doing a bad job feeding everyone, but I also married the one person on earth even less interested in food than I am, so I mostly handle it. In general food has been the biggest bee in my bonnet for the last year and I am right now paying it more attention than I like in an attempt to get myself to a better place regarding it. My approach is to attempt to write a cookbook from the perspective of someone who hates cooking? I dunno, this is a fairly unhinged solution so I got nothing for you there (until my cookbook comes out, lol).

      I try to have a “business day” once a month where I handle all the mail and administrative stuff of life. In terms of finances, I have a spreadsheet with our general expenses for the month and I review that once a year at least and make sure where the money is going still makes sense.

      Exercise… it’s catch as catch can. When no one is sick, I can make it happen once a week. But I have little kids so there’s a lot of sickness. My husband and I do really try to give each other opportunities to exercise because it’s important.

      Then work…I mean, it’s 40+ hours what choice do you have? I give too much time to it at the expense of all the other things. I try to take some personal time.

      I’m almost 40 and have gone through periods of getting various aspects of my life on shape, which actually sets you up for autopilot pretty well I’ve found. So like my finances are okay because there was a period I spent really learning about finances so now I spend way less time on it. Right now I’m in my Food Era it seems.

    5. Rara Avis*

      There aren’t enough. Currently not exercising or sleeping enough. Laundry and dishes are the chores that get prioritized.

      1. anonymous mole, fox, and horse*

        I just read How to Keep House While Drowning, targeted towards anyone having a rough time. I appreciated the gentler approach to taking care of oneself and/or family. Basically, prioritizing things, being kind to yourself, and setting up systems that work for you.

      2. Lena Clare*

        I tend to prioritise those too, otherwise the kitchen can smell bad. And hard same on the not exercising or sleeping enough for me too.

    6. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I don’t feel like I do a good job of it, to be honest.

      I tend to do the things that must get done first (work, cooking, chores, finance) at the expense of fun. That’s a lot of time accounted for. And I say that as someone who loves cooking – the time some recipes take and the cleaning after it makes it feel like a slog sometimes, especially on weekdays.

      By the time I’m done with that, I have far less energy than I’d want and have to choose between hobbies or exercise. Which often means I choose neither, because the things I enjoy in both those spaces require regular commitment to be truly satisfying, more than the once a week I can currently manage. So I end up sulking on the sofa about how I feel I’m so sedentary and never getting good at anything (or, at best, reading a book, which is great, but there’s a lot more I’d love to be able to focus on).

      This is the year I want to change that mindset, because it’s exhausting, but I’m also realising I don’t know how to start rewiring my jerk of a brain, short of finding completely new hobbies.

    7. Angstrom*

      I found I had to make exercise a priority because without it I get cranky and everything else(and everyone else) suffers. You can’t always make yourself the lowest priority. “Sweat therapy” makes it easier for me to deal with the other stuff.

      1. Lena Clare*

        That’s a great way to look at it! I am trying to prioritise eating better (and cooking/getting organised around food) as eating convenience foods make me feel lethargic and pretty awful.

    8. Hotdog not dog*

      There aren’t enough hours! I just muddle through as best I can, and remind myself that I’m human. Some days I am a marvel of efficiency, and some days I find myself with a head full of soup. (Which is my new favorite description, thanks to AAM!)

    9. The butler did it*

      I also remind myself that the system (at least in the US) is broken. Humans weren’t meant to do all these things, without support. My grandmothers were SAHM and had relatives in the neighborhood to help with the kids. My mom worked but my grandma lived with us and was willing and able to provide day care. And neither generation cared the least about exercising. Now here we are, with everyone working, no close by relatives, more expectations, and few support systems. So we muddle through, and acknowledge that the patriarchy, capitalism, and neoliberalism have set us up to fail. That actually helps, psychologically.

      1. Ampersand*

        For real. Sometimes it takes a major life disruption (kids, illness, unemployment) to realize how broken our system is, but once you experience one (or more) of those, I feel like it really brings into focus just how broken this system is.

        I remind myself daily of everything you said re: prior generations and being isolated and not having support. It helps me not feel failure-y, though it also makes me sad that this is the state of things!

        So yeah, you just do the best you can.

    10. fposte*

      It was retirement that forcibly brought home the fact that there really aren’t enough hours in the day to balance the way we’d like to while spending 8 hours at work; I don’t have the work anymore and I can still barely balance it. I think what most of us do is balance in a way we don’t feel is ideal while feeling we should be able to do it better, when we should be congratulating ourselves for doing as well as we are.

    11. Elderberry Jam*

      Another vote for “I don’t.” Sometimes I look at everyone around me and wonder what they know that I don’t, but I can’t swing it.

      I have a happy family life, a good job, and not a bad social life. However, my house is a mess, I don’t keep up with things like routine dentist appointments, and pursuing a healthy diet & enough exercise is a constant source of failure and frustration. I’d love to outsource things like cleaning or grocery shopping to make more time, but I don’t have the money.

      When I exercised regularly and was far more healthy, I was very unhappy in my job and gave it minimal energy. When I had caretaking responsibilities, my marriage suffered. *Shrug* No answer, I guess, just solidarity in failing at the elusive balance.

    12. the cat's ass*

      Divide and conquer! Hubs does the bills, i do the long range financials. Exercise is all over the place and maybe a couple of walks a week at lunch/after work if possible;sometimes the Y on weekends. We finally hired a yard service so that’s the outdoors part dealt with. Cleaning is a real struggle and generally one of us does one room/bathroom per week, so the house is never perfectly clean all at once, but it’s all clean enough. We also have family meetings weekly where everyone lines up the week in terms of stuff we have to do. We’re trying to get better with cooking especially as kid was shockingly diagnosed with DM last week so nutritional meals just moved up to first priority. So meals and family time are really the most important things and i feel like i’m always a little bit behind with everything else, but hey, I’m doing the best i can.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Thanks for sharing and sorry to hear about the shock with your child’s diagnosis. Understandable that food prep and nutrition is taking first priority. Lots of luck with it :-)

      2. Person from the Resume*

        I’ll just say I’m currently on a nutrition plan/diet and that’s eating up the hours. Measuring and tracking food (even when iPhone apps make it so much easier than it used to) and healthy meal prep (even when before I used to mostly cook at home too) is taking extra hours per week.

    13. ThatGirl*

      On any given day some things are a priority and some aren’t.

      I do not have kids, I am able-bodied, neurotypical, married, with basically no commute and a decent income. So I’m lucky that way. But still: sticking to a schedule helps – three set times to work out each week. Every Sunday we make a list of dinners for the week and I shop. I have dinners that are relatively quick and easy for me to make so most of them are done in 30-45 minutes. We do laundry and cleaning together.

      And yet. Sometimes it just doesn’t all get done, because that’s life.

    14. Cheezmouser*

      Like others, I try to rotate priorities and multitask. The kids get one hour of screen time after school, so during that time I’ll clean, cook, or exercise.

      For cooking, I spend 2-3 hours throughout the day on Sunday cooking. This usually lasts us until Thu or Friday. The trick is to not make whole meals but interchangeable components of meals. For example, for veggies I’ll slice a bunch of bell peppers and onions, toss with taco seasoning, and sauté. For protein I might make meatballs and chicken breasts. Then during the week I mix and match. Monday night is chicken burritos, with sliced chicken, the bell pepper/onion mix, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, and a can of black beans wrapped in store bought tortilla. Tuesday night is pita sandwiches with the meatballs, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, and the bell pepper onion mix stuffed into store bought pita bread. Wednesday is Mexican chicken bowl with the sliced chicken, the bell pepper onion mix, diced tomatoes, a can of black beans, and shredded cheese over brown rice. Thursday is Mexican fish bowl, which is the same as the chicken bowl except with fish sticks from the freezer. Friday is spaghetti with the leftover meatballs.

      Granted, this takes some meal planning, but you kinda develop menu groupings that work. The trick is to spend your time on the weekend making the veggies and proteins, cuz the carbs are easy, you just need to turn on the rice cooker or boil the pasta or make sure you have tortillas in the pantry. But because you did most of the cooking on Sunday, you just need to assemble the meals during the week, which should take 30 minutes or less.

    15. My Brain is Exploding*

      Multitasking…another thing Katy Bowman is good at. For example, walking with your kids = family time + exercise. Also finding lots of ways to add MOVEMENT to your day, throughout the day, which is different than and as important (maybe more so) than exercising. Automate what you can (things like bill pay). When our kids were around we definitely had one or two nights a week that were easy meals that everyone liked (taco Tuesday! -also I could make a big batch of taco meat, and freeze it in meal-sized portions. Listing off the MOST IMPORTANT household chores to do and have a specific time to do them (and household chores, like dusting and vacuuming, are LOW ON THE LIST, or on MY list). So clean the bathroom (for sure the toilet) used to always be on Wednesday. Vacuuming was…maybe when there were fur balls rolling around the hardwood floors like tumbleweed.

    16. Person from the Resume*

      I’m tired a lot because sometimes I over schedule, overcommitted, or overdue. I would not say balance. I work (40 hours) probably about as much as I sleep. Everything else is gets less time than that.

      Prioritize what’s important today, this week, this month. Schedule, routine, commitments to others helps me stick to things I have planned.

      Scheduled rest/lazy days and breaks too because if you don’t you’ll run out of steam anyway and end up putting off things you had planned to one day.

    17. allathian*

      I’m lucky in that my official working hours are 36 hours 15 minutes per week, or 7 hours 15 minutes per day, but that I have lots of flexibility both in how much I work on a given day, or a given week, as long as I more or less balance things out on a biannual basis. Because I’m in Europe and we have long vacations, slack periods are built in, so if I absolutely have to, I can work 45 hours a week for 3 weeks and then 32 hours a week for a month after that.

      I still work from home most days, which helps because I don’t have to commute.

      Our son is a teen, and a very low-maintenance one at that (so far at least, he’s 13…). He gets himself to and from school on his own. He’s an introvert like both his parents, so he only does scouting once a week because school is more than enough socializing for him. He likes gaming with his friends, and reading, neither of which require much effort from us.

      My hobbies are watching visual media, reading, hanging out on various online forums (including AAM) and playing games on my cellphone. I sometimes do other stuff for fun, like jigsaw puzzles and baking, but none regularly enough to count as a hobby.

      Before the pandemic, I used to see my friends about once a month. Now I’m lucky if I get to do that a few times a year, but those times are very precious to me.

      About once every quarter, my husband and I discuss our family finances.

      My husband has a lot more energy than I do, so he’s our main cook. My biggest priorities are dishes and laundry, and keeping the kitchen and bathrooms clean.

      Before the pandemic, my husband and I used to go on date nights about once a month or every 6 weeks, starting when our son was about a year old. Since March 2020, we’ve had two date nights with our son sleeping over at his grandparents’ house. I do miss that, and we’re planning another date night in a few weeks.

      I admit that exercise is very low on my priority list, and pretty much always the first thing to drop off it when I’m out of spoons (even if I know that exercising more would give me more spoons in the long run). My husband’s a long-distance runner and likes to lift weights, so we have exercise equipment at home. I try to lift weights once a week, and go for at least a 15-minute walk every day, unless the weather’s so bad it’s actually dangerous to be outdoors. In the summer we go on bike rides, although I don’t ride in cold weather because my eyes water very easily and that’s dangerous.

      We’re currently introducing our son to shows and some of our favorite movies that he’s old enough to watch, and that’s a lot of our family time. My husband and son spend a lot of time together exercising on the weekends (cross-country skiing when there’s enough snow, running or walking when there isn’t, lifting weights).

      My FIL’s in a care home for people with dementia, but my parents and MIL are still independent. Sure, my husband and I will help them with tech issues and moving furniture, etc. when necessary, but it’s not a daily or weekly chore that has to be scheduled.

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

      I love them also! This is yet another one that would make a great framed family portrait.

  7. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

    Inspired by the post about hop tea earlier this week, what are some of your favorite non-sweet non-alcoholic beverages? I don’t like sweet things, so I generally drink black coffee in the morning, switch to water in the afternoon with perhaps also a glass of milk, and then beer, whiskey, and/or water after work. (Most evenings it’s just water, because I usually have things I need to accomplish that evening after work, then get distracted until it’s too close to bedtime to have alcohol. If whiskey was not made of alcohol I’d drink it every night, though.)

    I’d love suggestions for non-sweet things to drink that do not have either caffeine or alcohol in them. As-is, when I get bored with water on a day that it doesn’t make sense to have alcohol and it’s too late in the day for coffee I end up drinking about a quart of milk.

    1. Fizzy*

      Cranberry juice? Or grapefruit juice? I love a very tart juice+ sparkling water mocktail. There’s some great non alcoholic beers in the US now too.

    2. Aphrodite*

      I love milk, especially hot milk in cold weather, so that sounds good. But I also love TJ’s sparkling plain mineral water.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Speaking of hit milk, when my kids were young, I used to make what they called spicy milk. It’s just hot milk with a bit of sugar and a dash of cinnamon. It’s one I came up with when I ran out of cocoa and on a day they wanted hot chocolate, and they decided this was their new favorite!!

        1. PhyllisB*

          As for the non-sweet, non-alcoholic option, I no longer drink alcohol, but I used to occasionally like a gin and tonic. I would drink tonic water with a wedge of lime and never missed the gin.
          Now if I could only find a good substitute for chardonnay. I loved my wine. It’s been five years and I still miss it sometimes.

    3. Generic Name*

      I enjoy kombucha. Tomato juice is good. V8 makes a ginger beet juice that isn’t too sweet. It’s very beet-y so you have to really like beets.

    4. Mangofan*

      Athletic Brewing Company non-alcoholic IPAs.

      Nettle tea or mint tea, or chamomile tea if you want something relaxing / soporific (I have to drink the latter sparingly as I am mildly allergic to it given I have hayfever, lol).

    5. Our Lady of the Cats*

      Tomato juice is nice, especially if you add some Bloody Mary mix and a stalk of celery (if you like that sort of thing)! I find the Bloody Mary mix too spicy for me, so I like to just squeeze in a bunch of fresh lemon, sprinkle some celery salt, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, and of course the celery!

      I also like a strong ginger tea–I like Taylor’s ginger-lemon tea.

      Then there’s also a big frosty glass of chipped ice, Vernor’s ginger ale, a whole lime squeezed in, and a splash of bourbon! Sugar free Vernor’s works perfectly well too! It’s just a SPLASH of bourbon!

      1. Grits McGee*

        V8 makes a spicy tomato juice/veggie juice blend that I really enjoy, although it’s quite filling.

        1. fposte*

          I went through a big V8 period (just the plain) where I’d add a crushed garlic clove and some tabasco. It was lovely.

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

          Mmmm, V8! They make a low-sodium one too that I like. They make it with potassium salt, so it still tastes appropriately salty.

    6. Helvetica*

      Generally a very intense sparkling water. I live in Belgium and Spa Intense is my jam.
      Other than that, love a good pomegranate juice – not too sweet but perfectly balanced – or a kombucha, either original or we have here pineapple/chili flavour which is great.

      1. fposte*

        Wow, I’ve just looked that up since I hadn’t heard the “intense sparkling water” term before. I didn’t know there were degrees of sparkle! That’s wild.

      2. Nihil Scio*

        Late Boomer here! If I ever drink any pop, it’s cut with 2/3 water because they are all so sweet and seem to be getting sweeter by the year. Has anyone else from my generation noticed this? I can actually pinpoint when San Pellegrino upped the sugar in their beverages 10 years ago.

        My daughters introduced me to Bubly sodas. No added sugar or sugar substitutes, just some flavouring. Not bad.

    7. Redhairedrunner*

      Barley tea can be made ahead and chilled or kept warm on the stove. It’s made from boiling roasted barley and has a similar flavor profile to coffee. You can find it in any most Asian grocery stores.

      1. Neurodivergent in Germany*

        We drank Caro as kids: it’s a blend of chicory root and roasted grains ground fine.
        You pour over hot water and it’s mildly bitter, a bit like coffee.

        1. Lutheran wool socks*

          This use to be a coffee substitute in Europe during the wars when real coffee was restricted

    8. Just a Name*

      I’ve been drinking club soda with bitters. I have a bottle of blood orange bitters that gives the soda a bit of flavor without being sweet or tasting like a sugar substitute. I was looking for low acid non-alcoholic beverages when I saw this. It does violate the no bubbles rule for those with stomach issues, but it is a lesser evil than my favorite bourbon.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I may try that!! I quit drinking tonic water when I realized how much sugar it has. (You wouldn’t think something so bitter would have that much sugar!!) And sugar-free tonic water is disgusting. I used to also drink club soda on occasion with a bit of lemon but stopped because of the sodium. I guess I can substitute sparkling water. Or just make it an occasional treat.

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          I’m glad that I can’t tell the difference between regular tonic water and sugar-free tonic water! I like tonic water. I should get some from the store today…

    9. Ghostlight*

      Culture Pop Soda. The lemon ginger is my favorite. Refreshing and not sweet and kind of tastes like a cocktail. (And supposedly good ish for you because of probiotics but whatever, I feel like those claims are dubious.)

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      Iced tea, made from the good quality teas I drink. (Herbal, black, and oolong). Sometimes as simple as “Hmm, a mug of tea on the counter that I forgot. I shall pour it in a glass and put it in the fridge to have with my next meal.” For no caffeine I shall recommend Republic of Tea’s Cardamom and Cinnamon, and Tea Pigs’ Lemongrass Ginger.

      Cucumber water tastes good! I make a pitcher of it in the summer.

    11. just another queer reader*

      I’m also a big milk fan so I greatly appreciate your post!

      I’ve gotten really into sparkling water (Lacroix, etc). I think it’s an acquired taste, lol – I used to not like it!

      Also I guess this gets into sweet territory, but I really like mixing sparkling water with various fruit juices. Maybe you’d enjoy adding some lemon, mint, or cucumber to (regular or sparkling) water?

      I also love tea. Chamomile and mint both taste really good without any added sugar. There are lots of other types and blends out there too!

    12. mreasy*

      I drink a ton of seltzer and herbal iced tea. I also love lemon or other fruit slices to jazz up boring water. Though getting a giant water cup with a straw has made it easier for me to drink just water through the day too.

    13. Anon. Scientist*

      We have a carafe that always has cold brewed tea in it: it’s about 1/2 gallon and we put in one “boring” plain green tea sachet (neumans own for us) and two sachets of something herbal. Or 2 regular green teas and 1 mint because the mint is overwhelming. Leave them in for at least 4 hours in the fridge and then toss the tea. You really can’t overbrew it.

    14. Chaordic One*

      I like hot chicken or beef broth during cold weather. Every once in a while, usually when googling for recipes, I run across an old print ad (I think it might be from the Campbell’s Soup company) from the late 1960s promoting cold beef broth as a beverage. It doesn’t really sound very good.

    15. Bluebell*

      Decaf chai with a splash of milk and no sweetener tastes interesting, but isn’t sweet. Gerolsteiner mineral water is good, and at many supermarkets, plus Trader Joe’s. I used to drink Spicy V8, but don’t nowadays.

    16. ronda*

      if I am tired of the water, I add just a little bit of juice to it. I prefer cranberry, but you can do with any juice. I think regular juice is just too juicy so I always water it down.

      the local Thai restaurant puts fresh herbs in their water, I think basil, but maybe something else too. It is strained to serve it (sits in the pitcher for a while and they add more water when it is getting empty). Wasn’t really my thing , but maybe it sounds good to you.

      I tried a bottled non-alcohol “cocktail”. I tried curious elixirs (there others). I am glad I tried it but it wasn’t my thing so I have not tried it again.

      They are not flavors I like, but you can look at a lassi (Indian, usually mango) or horchata (Mexican). see if the recipes appeal to you.

      1. ronda*

        you also made me think of a juice diet I tried. my yoga teacher made these, but maybe they will give you some ideas. you can also get the commercial juices, but she bad mouthed those as full of apple juice :). I really loved the cashew one. I imagine you need a juicer to make these, I only ever got them from her.

        1: all organic: celery, cucumber, green apple, nero cavolo, romaine lettuce, spinach, parsley, meyer lemon, regualr chia seeds

        2: green juice smoothie: all organic: cucumber, cilantro, onion, celery, avocado, Hemp seed hearts, garlic, lime juice, filtered water, REALSALT and a hint of cumin
        tip:you can pour it in a tall glass, or a bowl/spoon think: cucumber soup/gazpacho, or you can dilute it the water )

        3: same as #1 no chia

        4: all organic: cucumber, spinach, green apple, pineapple, mint

        5: all organic: celery, cucumber, loads of fresh organic dill, rainbow swiss chard, beet with beet greens, lemon with the peel(the peel is anti-microbal/anti-viral/anti-fungal), oregano, marjoram, ginger, garlic
        tip: some people find this one challenging, others crave the healing power… if you must, you can pour it over ice or try squeezing some extra lemon in it- drink! its the powerhouse of the cleanse

        6: all organic: cashews, spring water, fresh soaked dates, cinnamon.

        7: NRG SOUP: radish sprouts**, broccoli sprouts** alfalfa sprouts**, wakame* Kombu* nori* , Spinach, kale, chard, gala apple, avocado, pineapple

    17. gsa*

      I keep seeing ads for a nonalcoholic whiskey. Next time I see it, I’ll save it, maybe buy some and post a review.

      I drink water all day long every day. A cup or two of coffee on the weekends, and whatever I’m in the mood for after work, as far as alcohol goes.

      gsa

    18. Junior Dev*

      I got really into quart jars of ice water with the juice of a whole or lime last summer.

      I also think it’s nice to have sparkling water with a splash of fruit juice. It is a tiny bit sweet but not a lot. You can buy unsweetened juice.

      For teas I really like rooibos tea with a splash of milk for a non-caffeinated option. I also drink coffee and tea with milk.

    19. Llama face!*

      I drink a fair amount of plain sparkling water, either just the regular perrier-style fizzy water or club soda. I really dislike the taste of water and the fizz seems to make it more tolerable to my tastebuds. But I hear the carbonation can be rough on teeth? (I haven’t verified if that applies to these drinks or just pop/citric-acid-containing drinks)

      1. Llama face!*

        Personally, I find club soda to be on the sweet side but several members of my family find it bitter and think tonic water is sweeter. I think the tonic water is bitter- which makes more sense imo because of the quinine taste- but apparently they don’t taste that? Tastebuds are strange.

  8. RLC*

    Both flavored and unflavored sparkling water are my all-day beverages, especially in a hot environment. I’ve found the less carbonated brands to be more to my liking, tried many before finding favorites. When it’s cold, peppermint, rooibos, or chamomile tea instead.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        I have a Soda Stream and I like that I can adjust the level of fizz in my water. Highly recommend if you drink lots of fizzy water. I drink about one 1 liter bottle a day.

        1. Cookie*

          Me too. I’m always surprised that people buy so much sparkling water when you can make your own and control the level of fizz!

      2. RLC*

        I’ve found Liquid Death and S Pellegrino to be the least “fizzy”. Best prices for both are at Costco in my area (western US).
        For a more widely available option, Clear American (Walmart store brand) seems to be less carbonated than others such as LaCroix or Waterloo.

  9. Not A Manager*

    Acrostic help!

    I really love The New York Times acrostic puzzles online. I was never able to do them on paper with a pencil, because of all the transporting letters and then having to double erase wrong entries. I’ve been happily working my way backward through their archives.

    Now they have a banner announcing that the online version will no longer be supported as of March 1, but you can still print them out. Can anyone recommend another site or app that would have a digital version of acrostic-type puzzles?

    1. Lore*

      Puzzle Baron has online acrostics. They have
      punctuation which sometimes makes them easier than the Times, but still good.

      I’m sorry to hear about the online NYT shutting down. I get the print paper on Sundays largely to do the puzzles on paper but I’ve liked to do it online when traveling.
      https://acrostics.puzzlebaron.com/

    2. Our Lady of the Cats*

      Hi Not a Manager, I too love the NYT puzzles, although I’m more of a Crossword and Spelling Bee fanatic, but I can totally relate to your distress. I actually just spent some time looking to see if I could find other acrostics online, and here’s some of what I came across:
      This subreddit for puzzlers–the comment section talking about just this very thing. Some of them might have suggestions: https://www.reddit.com/r/crossword/comments/10r0306/nyt_will_no_longer_publish_digital_variety/
      And also, I wanted to suggest looking “across the pond.” UK newspapers have a long tradition of complex puzzles, so they might, hopefully, have some online. Forgive me if I’m off base here, but is “cryptic crossword” the same as an acrostic? For example, the Guardian has this: https://www.theguardian.com/crosswords/series/cryptic
      Hope this is of some help, or leads to some good leads!

      1. GlowCloud*

        Yes! Glad to see some love for The Guardian – their puzzle section is excellent!

        I have The Guardian puzzles app. You can get two free puzzles a day (one crossword or codeword, plus some form of Sudoku), or you can subscribe for access to the full archive. I love cryptic crosswords, and Everyman is my favourite setter.

      1. Not A Manager*

        Thanks so much for this suggestion. I tried the site, and when I click on a box to enter a letter, it just minimizes the puzzle size. The default cursor is the little plus sign (for zooming), and I can’t seem to get a regular cursor instead. Is this a bug that you’ve encountered? I tried two different browsers.

    3. Jay (no, the other one)*

      The Wall Street Journal runs one acrostic a month on a Saturday – no subscription required. Sue Gleason has a page – not posting the link to avoid moderation but it will show up with her name in a Google search. I haven’t done many of them. I am a serious crossword-er (I compete in most of the major tournaments) and am VERY VERY annoyed by this. I get the Sunday Times on paper and will do the acrostic on paper even though it’s much much more annoying because they are really good puzzles. Just ugh.

    4. GlowCloud*

      Christine Lovatt is the puzzle queen – she has all kinds of word games. It’s an Australian site so very occasionally, I’ll be confused by a clue that involves regional knowledge, but it’s usually very accessible.

      The website has great advice that will teach you how to solve cryptic crosswords, and is pitched at an easy level for novices.
      https://lovattspuzzles.com/online-puzzles-competitions/daily-cryptic-crossword/
      There are also ‘American style’ puzzles, which might be what you’re after?
      https://lovattspuzzles.com/online-puzzles-competitions/play-free-american-crossword/

      The Independent has always had a great puzzle section for solving on the train, but they’re also owned by a Russian oligarch, so I’m not so inclined to support the publication these days.
      https://puzzles.independent.co.uk/games/daily-crossword

      Happy solving!

  10. Double A*

    What are some staples in your kitchen that are somewhat less common, or that you have adopted more recently, and what do you make with them? I’m looking for ideas of what people eat and I feel like this could be an interesting way to get some insight. I’m not thinking these will be super esoteric type things, just things that a decent amount of people might not buy on a regular basis.

    My example is buttermilk. I always have it on hand, and make buttermilk biscuits at least once a week. I also use it for pancakes and cornbread. I try to swap in while what pasty flour for at least some of the flour in these recipes, so I guess whole wheat pastry flour is another.

    In the past 5 years or so smoked paprika has become a staple; I don’t know what I did before! I use it on meatloaf, on veggies, and in Mexican spice mixes for burritos etc.

    What are some of yours?

    1. Not A Manager*

      Fancy anchovies! I use tinned anchovies in cooking sometimes, but then I stumbled on thick anchovy fillets packed upright in a little glass jar. They are amazing. You can serve them on a charcuterie board alongside smoked meats and stuff, or just eat them on crackers. Now I always have a jar on hand and use them in salads and on hardboiled eggs and tuna salad.

      1. Lutheran wool socks*

        Anchovies for sure. You list many ways we use them also. They are also great in stews and sauce. You melt them in oil or butter when you start the dish. It gives a lot of umami

    2. Samwise*

      Spicy chili crisp aka chili crack haha. Add to stir fries, bbq sauce, ramen, put on eggs. My favorite: toasted English muffin, sunny side up egg, chili crisp. Or toasted English muffin. peanut butter, chili crisp.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        My husband started making his own chili crisp last year and it is sooo good! I put it on everything and them get annoyed when we run out and he doesn’t have time to make more right.now.

    3. OyHiOh*

      I always have shelf stable gnocchi in the cupboard. And I cook a lot of middle eastern and Indian dishes so I have ground sumac, fenugreek, and cardamom (both green and black) in the spice drawer.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Same on the spices, we have a shelf in the kitchen and a separate box full of packs that didn’t fit on it for the same reason. And on the Middle-Eastern cooking side, there are always jars of harissa and tahini around too.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Also you can’t beat Buttermilk for a wonderful pound cake!!
        Also pie. I decided to make an old fashioned Chess pie last week for church, and everyone loved it and begged for the recipe. However, I decided it had too much sugar so cut it by half a cup.

    4. Neurodivergent in Germany*

      I have Sriracha and shelf stable gnocchi, too.
      And premade ginger and garlic paste in a jar in the fridge.
      Instant couscous, canned chickpeas, pouches of ready to eat red cabbage, frozen edamame.

    5. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      Hoisin sauce, I use it with various combinations of meat and veggies in a stir-fry.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        I also like hoisin sauce. I mix it with ginger juice (another staple) and strawberry vinegar and use it as a marinade for grilled salmon.

    6. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Tajin is one of my favorite things. It’s cheap and delicious on so many things. It’s just salt, dried chilies, and dehydrated lime. Heavenly on eggs and corn, but I use it instead of salt in or on so many things, both savory and sweet. I haven’t tried it yet, but my niece-in-law says it’s the best thing ever on popcorn. And of course, use as a substitute for salt on margarita glasses.

      1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

        Seconded. Taijin is also good on bagels topped with provolone, browned lightly under the broiler.

      2. TX_TRUCKER*

        This made me laugh …not the flavor, but the idea that tajin isn’t a kitchen a staple in some homes. It’s on our dining room table, next to the salt and pepper. But I will admit that before I moved to Texas, I never heard of it. But it’s everywhere here (even the gas station) and I’m a solid convert.

        1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

          Me too! My midwestern colleagues give me strange looks when I put it on my food during lunch breaks.

          And yes, it IS fantastic on popcorn…and sliced apples.

      3. ThatGirl*

        I always have adobo or sazon and tajin in my cupboard, I know they are very common in some houses but I’m white :P I also keep garam masala, and a bunch of other seasoning. Nobody would ever accuse me of not seasoning my food.

        In the fridge I have sesame oil, chili crisp, harissa, Japanese barbecue sauce… I have a bit of a condiment problem…

    7. Amey*

      Ordinary jarred pimento-stuffed green olives and capers. I add them to pasta dishes, salads, risottos, sometimes things like sautéed kale and garlic on toast. I had a point where I had the realisation that I was an adult and this could be a staple part of my weekly shop if I wanted it to be!

      More recently, I always have sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and various nuts in my cupboards. They go in a variety of things, mainly breakfast, but also as snacks and in baked goods or topping for soups and salads.

      1. Helvetica*

        I also put capers on most things! Such a great way to add some acidity, especially to heavier or creamier dishes so all my pastas go with capers now. But I also add them to a tuna salad where I think they belong.

    8. DistantAudacity*

      Ras-al-hanout spice mix. Especially for rubbing into chicken, but also works as vegetable spice mix! Harissa, to a lesser extent.

      And Cholula hot sauce is “my” sauce, it has a slightly broader flavour than say, Sriracha.

    9. Helvetica*

      Furikake! It’s Japanese seasoning of dried seaweed (nori), sesame seeds, salt. I put it on soooo many things and it is delicious, the perfect little salty treat.
      I also really love mustard and Pommery mustard goes well with so many things, in my opinion. Love the little seeds.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        I love furikake too! It is a great inducement for my kids to eat vegetables. Cucumber with “sprinkles”!

    10. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      Mushroom salt! I buy it from a gourmet mushroom stall at a market, they have a few different varieties with porcini, truffle, etc. It makes mushroom dishes mushroomier and gives a delicious earthy flavour to things like cream sauces, avocado toast, etc.

    11. Angstrom*

      Za’atar spice mix. A pinch of za’atar and a splash of olive oil is a good quick way to liven up all sorts of vegetables. Harissa or Berbere spice mixes are also nice options.

    12. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Mine is attieke!! It looks like small grains, and is West African fermented cassava that’s been pulped and dried and ground up.

      I use it in place of rice or noodles, and my fav is in tomato soups. It is very mild and tastes faintly like sourdough bread. Good source of fiber too.

    13. RLS*

      Ha! I was searching for whole wheat pastry flour yesterday. Ended up with spelt – probably not that uncommon but apparently a good sub. Would like to try pastry eventually

    14. Cookie*

      Toasted sesame oil. It turns any vegetable into a delicious vegetable, just drizzle it on after steaming/boiling.

      Ajvar. To be used instead of mayo on sandwiches, as a crostini or toast topping, as a dip, whatever. Dang, I love ajvar.

      Maldon salt. Many things go better with a little of this sprinkled on top – almond butter toast, chocolate cookies, baked sweet potato.

    15. Falling Diphthong*

      Ume Plum Vinegar–a Japanese vinegar that is pink, salty, and a bit floral. Sprinkle on chopped cucumbers for a dead easy salad.

      Fig Vinegar–a nice alternative when dark vinegar is called for in a recipe.

      Pomegranate Molasses–got it for a meatball recipe and it’s a great complex tart option for any Middle Eastern recipe. (“Pomegranate molasses or lemon juice” being a common recipe line, so use it like you would lemon.)

    16. Falling Diphthong*

      Chili garlic sauce as a sub wherever fresh hot peppers are called for.

      I’m hyper sensitive to the oils in fresh peppers, and have decided chopping them just is not worth it.

    17. RussianInTexas*

      Super spicy Russian mustard by Zakuson brand. I use it all the time, partner is a bit afraid, lol.
      Curry ketchup – we do a lot of air fryer sweet and regular potatoes fries and I like this so much better than regular ketchup.
      Tiny Tabasco peppers by Cajun chef. The go really well with eggs, rich sauces, hot dogs, etc.
      I switched to Better than Bullion in jars from the cubes recently and I am never going back. I am not the person who will even make homemade stock of any kind, and BTB is so much better than the cubes.
      Frozen garlic, ginger, cilantro – you get it in the supermarket frozen vegetables section. Super convinient.

    18. carcinization*

      I also keep smoked paprika on-hand and agree that it’s become a staple! I guess the weirdest thing that I have all the time and have for years is kecap manis (thick sweet soy sauce). I bought a bottle at an Asian market over a decade ago on a whim and started using it sometimes when I made fried rice, and kept doing that for years until finally something clicked for me when reading a recipe that said it was adapted from another recipe that used 3 kinds of soy sauce (dark, light, and sweet), but was simplified for using one kind plus water and brown sugar… I realized that with some tweaking, if a recipe calls for soy sauce plus brown sugar (so many do!), often I can use kecap manis. So that’s been cool. I’m sure there are other weird things I keep around, but the only other one I can think of now barely counts, Luxardo cherries. We only use those in drinks, I actually bought them because in a book I was reading someone sweetened their tea with spoonfuls of cherries from a jar. But I’d had cocktails with them included when out for drinks, so we also use them in cocktails when we remember.

      1. carcinization*

        After reading through other folks’ replies, I guess I’ll note that I also keep sriracha, sumac, both types of cardamom, tahini, hoisin, furikake, za’atar, toasted sesame oil, and pomegranate molasses on hand, haha! Some of those I don’t consider that unusual though, like, I thought cardamom, toasted sesame oil, and sriracha were straight-up staples, I guess! Anyhow, just wanted to comment on one “different” thing I do with pomegranate molasses — we make a takeoff on a Tequila Sunrise that we named a “Drops of Jupiter” due to the appearance — the pomegranate molasses is substituted for the grenadine. It is not a pretty drink but it tastes great!

    19. PoolLounger*

      A bunch of Chinese staples— chili bean paste, fermented tofu, Sichuan chili oil, dark vinegar, Chinese sesame paste, fermented black beans, preserved greens. They’re all great for mixing and matching in stir-frys, braises, steamed dishes, noodles, etc. Easy to make lots of quick, flavorful meals. Most veg + any meant/tofu + intenses flavoring, serve over rice or noodles. (MSG is also The Best.)

    20. MissCoco*

      Lemon pepper is not that unusual, but we use it on so many things. Pretty much every vegetable, chicken, fish, etc.
      Also white balsamic vinegar. We got some lemon infused a few years ago (can you tell I am a citrus fiend?) and that is my favorite for doing any kind of glaze, or as a simple dressing.

      We also make “special popcorn” which is drizzled with white balsamic and sprinkled with lemon pepper. The sweetness of the vinegar gives it a kind of kettle corn taste with a little acidic punch too, and the lemon pepper gives it a salt and vinegar/salt and pepper twist as well

    21. Clarbar*

      Healthy Boy brand (Thai) mushroom soy sauce. It’s saltier, thinner, and lighter than something like kikkoman, has MSG, and goes well with literally every savory dish we’ve used it on. It is ridiculously versatile and SO GOOD.

    22. RLC*

      Colmans’ Mustard Powder. Easy to keep on hand instead of prepared mustard and works especially well in deviled eggs.

    23. HBJ*

      I don’t keep buttermilk on hand because I don’t use it enough. I always do the milk + lemon juice and let it sit for a few minutes trick.

      The only unusual thing I have that I can think of is homemade spice mixes. Family members have come with their own for various ones that are often available commercially, and they are so good!

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

      I always have Grey Poupon mustard, Worchestershire sauce, and garlic powder, just in case I need to broil a lamb chop. That seasoning combo also works on steak in a pinch.

    25. Anon. Scientist*

      A staple that I use as a substitute for so many things is plain yogurt. Around my way, plain yogurt (no thickener or other additives) is a lot cheaper than the other stuff. I substitute it for basically any creamy dairy product and it adds creaminess to thicken lots of other things. I also eat it with granola for breakfast and it doesn’t really go bad if you keep it in the fridge.

    26. Chaordic One*

      Capers, anchovies, dijon mustard, Lea & Perrins Worcester sauce (other brands often contain soy, which I’m allergic to and avoid), Mrs. Dash salt-free seasoning, coconut aminos (a good substitute for soy sauce), and banana sauce (aka banana ketchup, a good substitute for tomato ketchup since I’m also allergic to tomatoes.)

      One product that they’ve stopped making, or at least stopped distributing in my area, and that I really liked a lot was “Lea & Perrins Marinade for Chicken.” It was originally sold and labeled as “Lea & Perrins White Wine Worcester Sauce.” I emailed Lea & Perrins about it, but they never responded. You think they’d at least reply with a canned response along the lines of “we’ve discontinued the product, blah, blah, blah.”

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I’ve also been looking for the white wine worcestershire sauce and have been unable to find it. I guess it’s just gone, then.

    27. Snell*

      It’s winter for me now, and I prefer eating seasonal when I can manage. I recently got back into rutabaga, of all things. Years ago I cooked with it once and really liked it, but since it was a special “try a new recipe” moment, I never went back to it. But for the last few months, I’ve been watching a new (To me. They’ve been around a bit.) Youtube food channel, and they cook with it quite a bit. They’re British, and as I understand it, rutabaga is much more popular over there than in the U.S. When I started watching them more regularly, it reminded me of that time I cooked rutabaga and really enjoyed it, so I figured I should give it a go again. This is the best time of year to have them.

      My favorite preparation is baking or steaming it, making a rough (or smooth, depending on my mood) mash of it, then baking the mash with a crispy oil + herbs/spices + breadcrumbs topping. Definitely still experimenting with other preparations, though. Note that if you don’t prefer strong, pungent flavors (olives, strong mustard, licorice, etc.), make sure to fully cook your rutabaga. When raw, it has a vegetal flavor, and is spicy (they are a turnip). When cooked, it becomes very sweet and not at all spicy. That sweet taste is what I remember from years ago, and what I returned to this winter.

    28. Bluebell*

      Chili garlic sauce, sesame oil, gochujang paste, and rice vinegar for tofu marinade, fried rice, and various stir fries. Chipotle in adobo and TJ’s Everything but the Elote and Chile Lime seasonings for wraps and other Mexican-ish dishes. And ginger frozen cubes for Asian recipes and ginger tea or mixed w seltzer.

    29. librarymouse*

      Garlic confit!! I make it a few times a year and it lasts in the fridge for months. Basically I just peel 5-6 heads’ worth of garlic cloves, toss them in a pot and cover with olive oil. Bake in the oven at a low temp for 3-4 hours. The garlic gets roasted and soft enough to already on toast like butter (best garlic bread!). I also use it in sauces, soups, really anything that needs a subtle garlicky flavor. Plus, I save all the oil the garlic is cooked in and I have a jar of garlic-flavored olive oil that I can use wherever olive oil is called for. It’s the best!

    30. All Monkeys are French*

      Preserved lemon and preserved lime. It started as an interesting way to use citrus from my trees, but now I use it for lots of things and hate to be without it. You get bright acid flavor along with salt and a little fermented funk. What’s not to like?

    31. Kaylee*

      Gochujang – korean hot, sweet & spicy paste it’s great in curries or soups or even on mac n cheese!

    1. Mochi*

      I feel like I’ve lost touch of how to behave around people that I haven’t been friends with for several years. For example, I never bring desserts when I go over to any friend’s home because I know they’ll say they’re on a diet or only eat a tiny sliver of the dessert.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Well, joining a new friend group is a fairly gradual process. So I’d say it’s expected to be more a follower than an initiator for a little while.

      Observe the dynamic. Participate in conversation and be a good guest if you’re invited somewhere (even if everyone is paying their own way). Use good general manners.

      In some groups, inviting one or 2 people to meet up for lunch or coffee can be a good way to get to know them and deepen your connection. But this is a know-your-audience thing, because some groups/people feel like that is exclusionary.

      I’d say you probably want to wait till you get invited to at least 3-4 things, and then it would be cool to organize something or suggest an activity.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Observe what other people do and fit yourself into the existing rhythms. (e.g. type of humor, and if that humor is usually at a 3-4 level don’t be dialing it up to 10.)

      Balancing that, don’t be so passive people feel they need to do the planning for you–the group will evolve over time and that’s normal and this is a way you help guide that.

    4. grocery store pootler*

      Not sure this is a common thing, but it rubbed me the wrong way when a friend-of-a-friend who I started inviting to things automatically assumed she had a plus-1 for everything. In my mind she was almost a plus-1 herself, so assuming that she could bring someone I’d never met (and not just once) seemed pretty cheeky, like it’s plus-1s all the way down! When we started tentatively doing things in person again as the pandemic calmed down, I did not invite her, and made sure the mutual friend knew invites were only for her (not her and the plus-1-er), since I really didn’t want an unknown third party turning up with little warning. So, I guess ask about bringing another person to an event, don’t just tell your new friend group that you’re going to (if it’s something you’d like to do).

    5. Tio*

      Bringing food usually endears you, although you should have a general idea of what people can/can’t eat and make sure the host is ok with it

  11. Weekend Warrior*

    After 30(40?) years Neutrogena discontinued their Anti-Residue Shampoo in 2022. It’s the only shampoo I’ve ever found, other than TriSwim, that doesn’t make my scalp itch. This includes the grapefruit scented “replacement” product from Neutrogena. Major itching after one use! Is any one else in this fix and what alternative(s) have you found? (The TriSwim shampoo, the other non itcher for me, has also disappeared from sale!)

      1. Kiki*

        +1 for vanicream, I have super sensitive skin (including on my scalp) and all of their products have been a game changer for me.

      2. TigerPants*

        Came here to suggest this! I have a very fussy scalp and Vanicream is the only shampoo I can use.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      This might be an obvious suggestion, but have you already ruled out sulphates as possibly contributing to it?

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I’ve just looked up the ingredients for that shampoo, and it uses a very mild sulphate because it’s a clarifying shampoo. I used to use a clarifying shampoo occasionally to reset my curly girl routine with a clean slate, but I had to take it easy with scalp psoriasis because even mild sulphates make me itch. I now use one that’s sulphate free, but seems to clarify and remove build up better than any I’ve tried: Kinky Curly Come Clean. If it’s the clarifying action that helped your scalp, I would say it’s worth trying.

        1. Weekend Warrior*

          I have “thine” hair, absolutely bone straight. It will make me smile to get to use a shampoo for curly hair but yes, the clarifying angle makes it worth a try. Thx!

        2. the cat's ass*

          thank you so much for this rec-i loved the Neutrogena product too and wondered where it went! I’m ordering come clean to make me feel like my scalp is clean again.

    2. Llama Llama*

      I use Garnier whole Blends Oat Delicacy for similar problems.
      Every once in a while I get in a kick of trying something new, therefore have a whole slew of other shampoos that didn’t work for me.

    3. Plantgoblin*

      I was getting itchy scalp after years of using the same products. I switched to Ethique bars and the itchiness went away. I assume it’s because of sulphates based on the other comments. Bonus, they’re plastic free.

      1. Reba*

        Ethique products do contain a sulfate as the surfactant. I don’t mean to say this as a gotcha, though, I love Ethique products and use quite a few of them!

    4. Weekend Warrior*

      Thanks for all the suggestions! Vanicream up next for testing.

      I don’t think it’s a sulfate issue as the shampoos I can use did have sulfates and their itchy replacements are “sulfate free”. Probably a question of the added fragrances and moisturizers. My itchy scalp (and eyes) takes me back to high school and the Herbal Essence craze. Shudder.

      The shame is that the Neutrogena grapefruit clarifying shampoo makes my hair look and feel good. Oh well, husband has now inherited a lovely shampoo for his buzzcut. :)

    5. Weekend Warrior*

      Thanks everyone! I posted a reply that got lost so apologies if both show up. I don’t think sulfates are my problem; the shampoos that worked for me had sulfates. Probably it’s the added fragrances and moisturizers. Will try Free & Clear next!

    6. anon for this*

      Thank you so much. I’ve been wondering why I haven’t been able to find Neutrogena Anti-Residue – it was my go-to for at least a decade!

      I’ve switched to Herbal Essences Tealightfully Clean – if you can stand tea tree oil, this is the closest match I’ve found. Most other options leave my hair feeling either slimy or sticky.

    7. workswitholdstuff*

      I have a finicky scalp that will flake if I use anything else but Lush’s Rehab long term. (I can also use their Wasabi Shan Kui shampoo as an alternate) and I’d cry if they stopped it…

      It also smells delicious and is cruelty free…

    8. BuildMeUp*

      I like Ouai’s Detox Shampoo. It does have a mild scent though. They offer a travel size that’s available at a lot of Ulta stores if you want to try it.

    9. MechanicalPencil*

      Well that explains why I can’t find it anymore!

      I switched to Bumble’s Sunday Shampoo. It seems to do the job, but I’ve never really had issues with itchy scalp in the past. I have more productive buildup problems.

    10. BreakingDishes*

      I’ve long had problems with itching due to shampoo and any hair products. I now use Johnson’s all over baby wash. That works for me. I understand your frustration – you find something that works – it gets discontinued- you have to search for a replacement … Repeat. ..

    11. JSPA*

      In a pinch, I use Marseille olive oil soap. The big cube of brown-green soap. The real version apparently has enough oil that it’s not as impossibly drying and frizz-making as other soap bars. I’ve never used it for many days in a row, so can’t speak to residue, but I imagine a dilute vinegar rinse would take care of any buildup.

  12. Bones TV series*

    I realise this is quite niche, but hoping at least one other person has thoughts to share! I started watching the TV series Bones over the past few weeks (currently in season 7). I watched it a bit when it was first on TV but not all of it. I’m enjoying it, but some things have not aged well. The comments to the Muslim intern, the treatment of the NB Japanese character and the trans murder victim, even the way Dr Brennan’s nuerodiversity is portrayed. It’s hard to believe this series is only from 15 or so years ago!

    And yet, the writing and characters are very likeable, the mysteries are engaging….

    Anyway, I’m interested if anyone else has recently watched Bones and has thoughts about it. I read a comment here a couple of weeks ago where someone referenced watching it (and was unimpressed by the NB Japanese episode) so am hoping I have at least one kindred spirit!

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I was the one who mentioned it before! I’ve been rewatching recently and there are so many things where I’m like “did I … not see the problem with this just a couple years ago?” It’s a great show but sometimes it’s a mess lol. They’re frequently crappy about the later intern, Finn Abernathy, too.

    2. Rara Avis*

      We have also recently rewatched it with our 14yo. (We had actually never finished — dropped off around season 8 due to parenting said child.). I enjoyed it, but felt compelled to point out to the kid so many skewed workplace norms. (They all basically live at work and all their romantic attachments are there.). My kid is non-binary and had plenty to say about the Dr. Tanaka episode. We haven’t watched many recent shows set in the real world, so I’m wondering if media has gotten better at avoiding playing non cishet people and relationships for the shock or humor factor?

      1. Bones TV series*

        I’ve been watching/rewatching greys anatomy (maternity leave) and the NB character in the most recent season was treated really well (as far as I can tell, no special expertise here) so I think things are improving.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I love Kai! Helps that the actor is also nonbinary. Greys gets a lot of scorn but I think the show has been really purposeful about inclusivity.

    3. Vio*

      I’ve not seen it yet, it’s one of many shows that have been recommended to me but I haven’t gotten around to watching. I do find it fascinating though with older media how the presentation of certain traits and/or cultures changes. I remember when I read the Dragonriders of Pern series on a friends recommendation I noticed how badly the gay characters were portrayed (eg: all gay males were very feminine to the point that dragons treated them as women, a gay woman angsts over how her sexuality means she can’t have babies so she eventually has sex with a man) but since the books are quite old, this was actually considered very progressive at the time they were written since just having openly homosexual characters who weren’t villainised was a huge deal.

    4. Mirin*

      I remember being sad about that episode.
      I really appreciated though that Jack did not end up miraculously healed, because that’s a really really common Thing that bugs me so much. Life as a disabled person can be improved by so many other things rather than magically becoming abled.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      I watched it a long time ago, but drifted away before the end of the series. I liked it but feel that Bones was quite mean to Booth about his belief in religion. I’m an atheist now but I don’t make fun of family who believes and finds comfort in it. Since I never watched through the end, I don’t know if she ever got better.

    6. WellRed*

      I just always had a hard time with the concept of a forensic anthropologist going undercover with Booth. In fact I randomly watched an episode this week and yep, undercover.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        But the undercover episodes are so good lol. They make NO sense but they’re such fun to watch.

    7. Charlotte Lucas*

      I liked the show & watched the entire series through. It’s been in reruns lately, & I agree some things they did were even problematic for the time. (How has Cam, who worked in NYC never seem to have interacted with a Muslim before?!? But I grew up in Chicago, with a large Muslim population.) Overall, the characters are likable (except some of the later interns), & the mysteries are good, but you can definitely see some of the changes in cultural attitudes. (There are also times when Bones talks more like an anthropologist from the 1930s than from the early 21st century.) I appreciate the idea that science is important & that women are capable scientists.

      Don’t get me started on how nonsensical the Palant storyline is. By the end, he seems to have magic powers.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I’m watching the Palant storyline right now, so over the top. Personally I love how Angela went from an artist who took a few computer classes to a programming genius with all these extremely powerful tech abilities

    8. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I’m not familiar with Bones, but I’ve seen that sort of culture shock in a lot of other media. I think it’s good to remember that our understanding of how to be compassionate and representative of people has made huge leaps forwards over the last decade. Sometimes it’s good to say ‘we’re better, now – we’ve learned’. Glory for learning!

    9. fhqwhgads*

      Bones is one of my “didn’t love it when it first aired but still watched it all, and now can always rewatch it”. Asbolutely agree a lot of it is cringe (and too me was then). I had no idea why but if it’s on, I watch it. There have been at least three different channels marathoning it recently, and if I don’t have the brain energy to decide what to watch, if I find that, I watch that. It’s sort of like a peanut butter sandwich to me: not even close to my favourite, but it’s always sufficient and I’m never not in the mood for it.
      Except the Pelant episodes. I can’t rewatch that.

  13. They Don’t Make Sunday*

    Those of you who read NSFW by Isabel Kaplan (one of Alison’s book recs), I’m interested in your opinion on something. (Spoilers ahead!)

    Who do you think she calls at the end of the book? I’m fairly certain that her first call has to be to the Times reporter to talk candidly about Robert. But what does she do about the job opportunity? She can’t talk to the press AND keep her job or realistically hop to a new job working with her assailant, right? Unless she talks on background to the Times reporter? But from all the momentum and the way her name has already been used in the media, I’d think she’d go on the record. Which leaves her without a job? What are your theories?

  14. pb*

    Has anyone ever gone on a long roadtrip (on the order of weeks or months)? If so did you gain any insight from it, or become more confident in yourself? I’m at a point in my life where I’m feeling ambivalent about most things and not sure what I want. Lately I’ve been fantasizing a little about taking time off from the place that shall not be named and visiting different cities, friends, family members, and people I haven’t seen in a long time. I’m wondering if this might bring me some clarity on what I want and can do but it’s a big leap. I’d love to hear any experiences anyone here would recommend (or strongly not recommend) – doesn’t have to be travel specifically!

    1. peanut butter*

      I’ve done months long solo cycling trips. It really was good to have the time to just be in my own space, sort my thoughts out, and slow down. My goals were not projects over months or years but hours or a day. I would 100% recommend. I don’t know if that’s the sort of road trip you had in mind.

    2. E*

      this road trip sounds great if you’re craving connecting to people. If you’re seeking more introspection, meditation retreats or a hiking trip if you’re physically able are other good options!

    3. Squidhead*

      Family members did this and found they needed a good balance between “visiting things by ourselves” and “staying with friends/family”. It gets tiring (and expensive) to eat in restaurants and sleep in hotels all the time, but it also gets tiring to be on your best “guest” behavior all the time and learning the quirks of many different households.

    4. Pocket Mouse*

      My partner and I did this! We were in our early 20s and on the road for over two months, mostly staying with family and friends but had a few nights in hotels and a few nights camping. We were consciously frugal (see above about early 20s) and had one long stay with family in the middle of the trip. The experience did clarify for us that we had a good partnership, and we got to meet a lot of each other’s people as a bonus.

      A friend of mine did a ‘solo’ long road trip a few years later- I say that in quotes because I joined her for about a third of it. We were consciously frugal on that trip too, camping every night. If you’re thinking of going solo, would recommend seeing if anyone you think you’d travel well with would like to join for a section. Otherwise, it is a lot of time alone in the car.

      I would highly recommend doing a trip like this is you have the time, money (including buffer for a period of unemployment afterward), and connections along a reasonable route, but I’d caution against doing it out of the belief it will help clarify what you want in life. It may do that for you, but for me, I found that the trip itself was something big I wanted to do in life, and it was then easier to go back to daily life (and a job search/new job) knowing that I had had an experience that for a lot of people stays a dream rather than a reality, and knowing what it would take if I ever wanted to do it again.

    5. Old Plant Woman*

      Husband’s a retired truck driver, and I used to ride with him in the summer when I was off work. Saw and thought about things I will never ever forget. Rural poverty. How do people survive driving 60 miles past farm land in weeds to get to a grocery store, and then the car breaks down? New York City. Wow! Amazing. People thrive there, but it’s not for me. Parked on the edge of a swamp. Great food, but I didn’t recognize any of the night sounds. Southwest desert. One long straight road to the horizon and no traffic. I can still imagine that, and every but of tension just rolls of my back. So, yeah, I loved the road trips. And I think it gave me a good bit of perspective on my regular life.

    6. WoodswomanWrites*

      I love going on road trips by myself. Mine are a mix of time on my own and visiting family and friends, and I build in a lot of solo time in nature. I’ve definitely gained insight on these trips away from my routine. I wasn’t specifically looking to answer any particular questions. It was more the creation of an open space that allowed these insights to arise.

      On one trip, I recognized how much happier I was away from my job and to seek a new one when I got home. I successfully did that and I’m definitely more content overall. On a different trip, I realized that after actively seeking a romantic partner for a long time, I no longer want that and I’m most comfortable being single.

      My trips are less than a month, so they are financially feasible using accumulated vacation time from work.

    7. Longtime Lurker*

      I did a six week road trip 30 years ago, before cell phones, before internet and it was the best thing ever. These days I have a hard time even taking a long weekend. Might be time to do some thinking….

    8. Blythe*

      I have only gone on standard-length road trips before, which I have enjoyed. This summer I am considering a month long road trip across the US. I don’t expect it will be transformative, but I am sure it will be fun!

    9. Sam I Am*

      I did loads if road travel in my 20’s & 30’s. Learn to trust your gut, if something feels off just excuse yourself and split.
      That said I met wonderful people all over. Locals know the best spots to eat/ sleep/ check out. I made it a habit to visit “public lands,” which are super easy to find on an atlas, scanning the map (they’re often that brown color) and so many of them are just small places that often have a little bit (or a great deal, depending on how developed it is) of historical information about the area. Some places you could spend days at, others are a nice stroll to break up the car ride.

  15. anna*

    I hope this isn’t too work-related for this thread. It mentions work but it’s really about your non-work life.

    I saw a comment this week asking about how your job has changed you outside of work and I thought it would be interesting to discuss here. For example, I always wonder if hair stylists and makeup artists have trouble turning off the part of the brain that figures out how to make someone look their best. For me, I do project management and I definitely am sometimes way too organized about projects at home to the point that my spouse has had to tell me to stop project managing him!

    1. Neurodivergent in Germany*

      I teach highschool and I have a hard time switching off the part of my brain that feels responsible for keeping rambunctious teenagers safe. I.e. when out with family and friends, I run around like a sheep dog trying to keep the group together. On a visit to the Grand Canyon, my first thought was “This is a teacher’s nightmare! Selfies near the edge! Arghhhh”

      I am also a know-it-all, but I think I was before I started. But yeah, a general feeling of having to be in charge tends to linger

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Yes! I’ve seen groups of teens like at a park or something and had to remind myself they’re allowed to be there and I’m not responsible for them. Also, when I worked at a daycare I was so used to doing head counts that I would do it in any group of more than 3 – family, friends, just constantly making sure we were all accounted for lol

      2. Irish Teacher*

        Yeah, that tendency to give the “teacher look” to teens pushing and shoving or smoking or otherwise behaving in a harmful or inappropriate way.

        At my friend’s hen night, her 18 year old cousin was with us and I spent the night checking to make sure she was with us and safe. Never mind that her mother and aunts were there!

      3. Damn it, Hardison!*

        I manage information for a living and my paper and electronic files absolutely reflect that. I am an organizer by nature and profession, so most everything in my house is organized. My electrician gets a kick out of my basement, which houses 3 shelving units with clear plastic bins and labels (made with my label maker).

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I work with ED coding for my hospital system. A few years ago my husband did something dumb and went to one of our EDs (completely unnecessarily, like I knew for a fact what was going on and he did not need to be there, but anxiety is not sensible and it is what it is, he didn’t tell me he was going until he was already there) and he stopped mid-unrelated-conversation with me and was like “Stop adding up my bill in your head.” (When he got the bill I was within $100 :-P )

    3. Cendol*

      I now read financial newsletters and short-seller reports *for fun*. I spout “fun facts” about antitrust enforcement at the dinner table. I write speculative fiction about eldritch hedge funds…

    4. Helvetica*

      My ex was a journalist and I definitely had to tell him sometimes that his conversation was a bit too intense – very pointed questions, like I was being interviewed and he was trying to catch me out on something. He could do normal conversation too but sometimes it just was too much.

    5. Skilled Up*

      In my late twenties I did a few years of a job that involved facilitating groups of people – groups from a wide variety of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. It massively improved my small talk skills. I can now chat with sincerity and lightness (and listen, and throw the ball back and forth) with anyone who wants a chat. I feel so proud and happy to see them laugh and relax, and know how far I’ve come.

      Before that I had been more like how my 26 year old niece is now – in casual conversation (outside her peers) she just clams up and it’s like getting blood from a stone. You ask her a question, she answers, and SHE DOESN’T ASK QUESTIONS BACK! So the ball is dropped again and again and it all awkward silences… I remember the utter dread I used to feel if I had to make chit chat.

    6. Hotdog not dog*

      Compliance for a large financial firm, and I catch myself measuring risk all the time. Even when there isn’t any of consequence. The good news is that I can run through it pretty quickly and make a decision, but the downside is that my friends and family find it irritating.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I’m in financial audit – I find myself pretty much incapable of reading any comment section on any finance section because my blood pressure starts going up to the point of being unhealthy. People are sometimes a) profoundly ignorant and more worryingly b) profoundly angry.

    7. fposte*

      As an academic and book reviewer who read almost entirely for work for decades, retirement has meant I genuinely have had to relearn how to read books for pleasure. It may sound grimmer than it is–it was mostly figuring out I didn’t have to finish in a sitting or even have a protracted sitting at all, and I didn’t need to verbalize what I thought of a book.

    8. Yet another librarian*

      I’m a reference librarian and I find myself piping up all the time in public spaces when strangers ask questions out loud like, “Where is the milk” in a grocery store or even, “Didn’t Van Gogh cut some body part off” in a museum. I love a ready reference inquiry- even if it’s just by eavesdropping! A little bit stranger is that strangers often ask me for directions in stores and other public places. I’m not dressed like the worker (no red shirt and khakis while in Target, lol), but my partner says I give off a “reference/help desk” aura.

      1. fposte*

        I cannot break the infosci habit in retirement. But I’m also reminded of when at work we got a polite but very wrong number and of course puzzled out exactly where the nice caller had gone wrong and what they needed to dial instead.

        1. Yet another librarian*

          I’m an academic librarian and for a while we kept getting calls meant for just about every other department on campus. Turned out the person at the university general phone number would forward any call she didn’t know off the top of her head to the reference desk. “You all are so helpful to everyone,” was her reasoning. Well, yes…

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

        LOL, yes! I was a reference librarian for a bit in a former life (best job EVER!), and I too have that impulse to help people I randomly run into in public find stuff/learn stuff.

        And I too get asked for directions by strangers ALL the time, even when I’m in places where I’m not a local.

    9. Ranon*

      Architecture means among other things I’m a) very good at guessing where the bathrooms probably are and b) once in the bathrooms will absolutely analyze which toilet accessories they chose and which things aren’t ADA compliant. I’m not doing as much with finish selections anymore but I used to also be pretty good at identifying which solid surface was chosen.

      Also my family likes to take me to buildings for my color commentary, generally.

    10. The OG Sleepless*

      I’m always watching dogs are the park thinking “that dog is limping. That dog has a flea allergy. Whoa, look at that lateral saphenous vein! I could draw blood from that with my eyes closed!” I do NOT share any of my thoughts with their owners, and I never give pet advice to anybody but my clients (and my family if they bug me).

    11. Mimmy*

      I teach keyboarding to blind and visually impaired adults, so I emphasize touch typing and, if they have usable vision, not looking down at the keys. When I first started, I would often evaluate (in my head of course!) other people’s typing skills. When my husband and I are watching TV and we see someone typing at a computer, he will sometimes ask, “How’s their typing?”. Also, he has his own typing methods, so I’m always teasing him that if he ever had to learn non-visual typing, he would not like me very much LOL.

    12. Generic Name*

      I manage projects and deal with strategy at work. I just cannot play games like dungeons and dragons because it feels like doing strategy and project management. Too much thinking. Once upon a time I was a field biologist, and I still find myself automatically identifying plants or birds. For the most part I enjoy doing it, but I just can’t bring myself to write anything down. Because then that’s work. I don’t have a life list for birds (I’m sure I’ve seen in the upper hundreds of species), and I don’t do citizen science stuff like the Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Maybe when I retire.

    13. HannahS*

      Oh yes, I asked that! Thanks for raising it, I think it’s an interesting question. I’m in medicine, still early career.

      On the plus side, it’s made me more efficient, more attuned to reading people, more able to identify subtext; the questions people aren’t asking me but want me to answer. I’m better at communicating clearly and succinctly. I’m better at small talk and putting people at ease. I’m better at solving problems than I used to be. I’m much more confident, though some of that comes with age.

      On the minus side, I’m…”harder” than I used to be. It’s something I recall being shocked by when I started training, and I remember vowing never to become hardened to peoples’ suffering, and then it happened anyway. When I reflect on it, it’s inevitable (to a point) and necessary (t0 a point,) because you can’t spend all day every day with a compassion-induced stomach-ache. I receive positive feedback from colleagues, supervisors, and patients about my warmth and the comfort I offer people, so it’s not like I’m brisk and snappish. But I do mourn my softer-hearted earlier self.

      I do find that the lessons I learned at work have bled over. For better and worse, I’m much better than I used to be at setting personal boundaries. A lot of people who go into medicine have a bit of a “rescuer” complex, and I have learned several times over that rescuing people doesn’t really work*; I no longer try to solve other peoples’ problems unless explicitly asked, and when they reject my suggestions I shrug and politely decline to join in circular agonizing discussions of “what are we going to do about [friend/relative/situation]” when the answer is, “Clearly nothing until the natural consequences of this play out.”

      *Metaphorically. Obviously we can and should resuscitate people :)

    14. the cat's ass*

      NP here, and I’ve lost count of the times someone in a short sleeved shirt has reached past me to grab something in the produce aisle in the grocery and thought,”What great veins! I could draw blood/get an IV in there no sweat!” I don’t say it out loud, tho.

    15. Filosofickle*

      I was a teen lifeguard and whenever I visit a pool I find myself looking for hazards and monitoring kids. I also always count the seconds between lightning and thunder to see how close it is :)

      1. 1LFTW*

        Same. And it took me years to fully stifle the impulse to should “WALK PLEASE” or “NO RUNNING” every time a kid ran past me… even if they were outside… at a park or playground.

    16. Anonymous cat*

      Not mine but a chiropractor said that he was at a bachelor party once and suddenly realized he was checking out the stripper’s spine!

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        LOL! We’ll be watching a movie or show with a friend who is a chiropractor and he comments on the same thing.

    17. Cheezmouser*

      One of my responsibilities was proofreading things, so I would notice errors on signs when out and about. My favorite is a grocery store with a gigantic banner declaring its “Re-Grand Opening.”

      1. Cheezmouser*

        Oh, and I’m an extremely slow texter because I just can’t bring myself to use things like “r” for “are” and I always use punctuation.

      2. allathian*

        I’m a translator and proofreader, and I can’t force myself not to notice typos and grammar errors. But I’ve learned not to comment unless it’s my job to do so.

    18. Anyone*

      Customer service. I am definitely losing my sympathy for (what I think of as) stupid decisions made by family and friends. Also losing patience with people telling loooooooooonnnnnnnngggggggg stories.
      I … can’t actually think of anything good that has transferred to my personal life from there.

    19. Blythe*

      There are many ways in which being a teacher bleed into my non-work life, but the less obvious one is about what I WEAR. I teach middle school and never wear a swimsuit locally anymore (and get anxious about it even when I’m traveling). I also own a t-shirt that I LOVE that says “I’m the teacher Fox News warns you about.” (I’m a social justice teacher and run our GSA.) I never never never wear it outside of the house.

        1. Blythe*

          It’s fantastic– and I wish I could wear it everywhere all the time, especially as it was a gift from a former student. The fact is, though, that it could Cause Problems in a way that would not be productive. So I reluctantly abstain.

    20. anon24*

      I’m a student right now, but I was in EMS for awhile. There’s a joke that EMS/firefighters shouldn’t be allowed in public, and it’s true. My “normal” calibration is totally off. My poor husband used to be very sensitive to blood and gore, but after years of listening to me casually chatting about traumatic injuries and bodily fluids while shoveling food in my mouth has gotten him very used to it! I also struggle to hold normal conversations. My old captain told me once that it was hard for him to talk to his wife sometimes because she’d be complaining about office drama and he’d have just come home after dealing with a dead child. So many things that seemed to be a huge deal to me are now like “whatever, no one is dying so who cares.” One of the first things we are taught is scene safety. It’s hammered into us over and over because our job by definition is to go into people’s homes and by nature it isn’t always safe. There are people who want to hurt us, either knowingly or because of a medical condition/drugs interfering with their thought process, there are natural hazards (I’ve been in homes where the stairs sagged beneath me or the floor had holes) and you have to be really good both at picking up on hazards and avoiding them and knowing when situations are about to deteriorate. In public I’m hyper alert to the general mood, anywhere I go I know my exits and the quickest route to the door and what my plan is if something starts to go bad. I can pick up on fire/general safety hazards quickly and have refused to go into places I don’t feel are safe. And of course, the biggest thing is the ebony black sense of humor. We joke about some things that would absolutely horrify normal people but it doesn’t bother us at all (note, I have a super dark sense of humor but I also don’t tolerate racist/sexist/jokes against marginalized groups. Not ok).

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Ha. Veteran here and I have some of the same things. “No one is dead or injured, so what’s the big deal?” = my baseline of whether or not everything is OK. I also have major situation scan and analysis skills

    21. Girasol*

      Retired project manager. I revel in having a calendar of home chores so that I can enjoy the feeling that everything is under control. Cleaning and maintenance and repair chores always felt like a huge anvil over my head when I was working and everything piled up because there was never enough time. At last I enjoy a home where everything is in order. Also I take from work the habit of breaking tasks into small pieces. When I haven’t a clue how to fix the porch lamp or the leaky faucet, I put “find youtubes” on the calendar, watch several, and then list the steps as tasks for other days so that everything gets done but no job is so daunting that it gets procrastinated. So for me, not being able to hang up work habits at home has been a good thing.

    22. workswitholdstuff*

      I work in museums, and I’m always looking at how things are displayed, mounted or interpreted….
      I *know* I’m not the only one. I often holiday with a group of friends and there’s two of us working in adjacent fields (the rest are teachers, IT people and another normal jobs), and we’re *always* the ones at the back of the group pointing out interesting interpretation techniques, mounts, etc etc.
      And we’re not the only ones – check out #Dullmuseumsnaps on twitter for lots of people doing exactly the same….

    23. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I’m a doctor, now (mostly) retired after 35 years of practice. My work has affected everything in my life – how I assess risk, how I set priorities, how I interact with the world, how I communicate and build relationships, and certainly how I mange my own health. I’m a third-generation doc so even before I started med school at 24 I was the go-to person for medical advice among my friends.

      I have made a real effort over the years not to define myself by my work or my identity as a doc. Compared to my dad, I’ve been successful. Compared to what would be best for me….dunno.

    24. Pieforbreakfast*

      I was a picture framer for many years which bled into judging framed art in businesses and notice framing in museums before the art sometime. I still will notice empty walls through picture windows on my neighborhood walks and think “what a waste”.

      1. Paralegal Part Deux*

        I was a framer, too, about 25 years ago now and still notice framing and how the picture is mounted. I also catch myself looking for dirt and whatnot in framed pictures.

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

      I find myself repeating directions to others more than once. I think there’s a saying that if someone tells you something three times, they’re probably a teacher.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        My mother is a retired elementary school teacher, and she tells people how to do things slowly and kindly with several basic steps. It drove me crazy when I was younger, but it’s just how she does things.

    26. MeepMeep123*

      I’m a lawyer, and I know I like arguing for fun. Though I’m not sure it’s all due to the job – I liked arguing for fun looooong before I went to law school.

    27. GardenGnomic*

      Yeah, I love doing horticulture professionally, but now I find it hard to garden as a hobby without going into “work mode”. Plus everyone asks for advice on every single thing…

      I have a notebook where I keep a written task list, or do my planning for work, and I try to make sure that once it’s on the page, it doesn’t stay rattling around in my head, but I still find myself thinking about where I’m going to plant various shrubs and things while I’m having dinner at home.

      I sometimes point out badly-pruned trees when I’m driving suburban roads. I once attended a fancy outdoor event, and couldn’t stop noticing the flowerbeds needed weeding.

      I could really use a new hobby to take my mind off of gardening – even I think it’s a bit obsessive!

  16. Tea and Sympathy*

    There are so many cat lovers on here that I thought it would be a good place to ask for help. My brother’s cats love me, but lately they’ve been obviously, reluctantly avoiding me when I visit because I seem to be full of static electricity. I give them constant little shocks when I pet them. Does anyone have advice on how I can stop shocking the poor things? The internet suggests a humidifier, but my brother and sister-in-law have one in their bedroom, and don’t seem inclined to set up more just so I can pet their cats. I air dry my clothes, so I don’t use dryer sheets, which the internet also suggests can reduce static cling. I have a smell sensitivity, and I haven’t found any dryer sheets that are truly scent-free.
    Does anyone have any other ideas? The cats and I all miss our petting time!

    1. RagingADHD*

      Have you tried putting on lotion? The moisturized your skin is, the less shocks you get/give.

      You can also look at what sort of clothes and shoes you’re wearing that might be more or less likely to build up static. For example, a wool sweater and rubber-soled shoes is a recipe for more static.

      You can also try grounding yourself by touching metal before you pet the cat.

      1. Cookie*

        When I’m petting my cat, we can both get shocks. I have a metal end table and will stop to touch that and ground myself, every few seconds, so he keeps getting the pets he so richly deserves.

        Also I don’t use fabric softener, I do hang a lot of my clothes to dry, and my house is FREEZING so I wear unnatural fabrics…because I need to stay warm and cannot afford 100% wool clothes. Fleece is working well for me. I just ground myself to avoid shocking my furry pal.

        1. tangerineRose*

          I run a hand against something wooden, and that seems to deal with static, at least for a bit.

      2. Tea and Sympathy*

        My skin has been especially dry this year, so maybe that’s why I’m having this problem. I’ll make sure to apply more lotion right before seeing them.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      It’s probably your fabrics. Do you wear natural or less natural types of fabric? I’d experiment on that score. My other suggestion is water. If you smooth the fabric down with wet hands you can remove some static from it. This only works if the fabric itself is not 100 per cent inclined to static though. I used to have problem because my tights and skirts were both inclined to cling and get static, so the water trick didn’t work. If I switched out one it would work though.

      1. DanaScully*

        A thin layer of hairspray on your tights works a treat for static cling with a skirt or dress. Another trick is a small safety pin placed somewhere inconspicuous on the skirt’s seam or hem!

    3. Not A Manager*

      Before you settle in for a cuddle session, use a small spray bottle and mist yourself all over.

      1. Tea and Sympathy*

        My sister-in-law is using the spray bottle technique to try to stop the male cat from scratching the furniture. I’m laughing at what his reaction will be when I pick up the bottle and mist myself.

    4. Ali G*

      Have you tried the wool balls in your drier? I am allergic to most drier sheets and these have been a lifesaver.

      1. mreasy*

        Seconding these if you do have the option of machine drying. They are so great! I get mine from Trader Joe’s and they last for ages. (Bonus that when they wear out, you can repurpose into cat toys!)

      1. Tea and Sympathy*

        I’ve tried this. It just helps somewhat. I bring a cup of water to set beside me to dip my hand in. The cat eventually either drinks out of it or knocks it over if it doesn’t have enough water left in it.

    5. Tea and Sympathy*

      Thanks! I’m going to try all of these ideas. The cats love being petted, so it’s torturous to be right next to them and not able to pet them.

  17. Lilas*

    If anyone’s looking for an interesting workplace-related video/doc, I’d recommend the YouTube channel “People Make Games” ‘s recent expose on the structure and culture at Valve. It’s really interesting even if you know nothing about the company, and all I could think is that I’d love an article by Alison analyzing the Valve handbook.

    Basically, Valve nominally has no bosses or job titles, claiming to have a totally flat, egalitarian structure. How that actually plays out seems to me a nightmare of stack ranking and bias.

    Anyways, I found it really interesting!

      1. FashionablyEvil*

        Yeah, they did. I think the problem is that even when people say, “there is no hierarchy!” one still emerges because of personality types and asymmetrical access to information, and the fact that people need some sort of structure to get stuff done.

        1. fposte*

          I was an an alternative high school program that governed by consensus, and I found exactly as you say.

    1. Generic Name*

      My company used to be like this, except it was when there were like a dozen people. It was the owner and then everyone else. It did work for a while, but then we grew, and it’s really hard to fairly allocate work when there is no management structure.

    2. Spearmint*

      Interesting, I haven’t seen this. I think a lack of formal hierarchy just leads to people who are the most charismatic or with naturally dominant personalities to become unofficial leaders, even though they may not always be the best people to be leaders.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      I used to know someone who worked there and my impression from how they talked about it is that if you’re in a niche role, it can be a really great opportunity to do some interesting work. My friend was in this category – the company created a role specifically for them and now they have a small team and they’ve really enjoyed working there.

      But, if you’re in a common role and competing with a bunch of other people doing similar work, it’s much more likely to be dominated by the loudest voice in the room. I just participated in a year-long committee of ‘equals’ that was clearly dominated by a few voices. I can’t imagine what it would be like if my whole job was like that for every major decision.

  18. Aphrodite*

    For cat own … uh, cat servants. Do your cats like to claw the stuffing out of the underside of your bed, sofas, chairs? Does it affect the wearability of them? Were you able to discourage them or did you just give up and let it happen?

    It doesn’t seem to me–and, god, I hope I am right–that infuriating as it is, the furniture can continue being decent because the stuffing is not what is holding it all together. Am I right or wrong? Anyone connected with manufacturing furniture is especially encouraged to voice their opinion.

    1. Asenath*

      Mostly I just give up, but I don’t have a lot of upholstered furniture, and only one loveseat is now really a target. It doesn’t seem to affect the structure or comfort of the thing. (The double-sided carpet tape on the side of it, and my recline, on the scratched parts, and the large sheet thrown over the rest of it to collect cat hair are far more noticeable.) For my bed, I put either an old fitted sheet or a loose mattress cover on the bottom of the box spring, which seems less attractive to cats than the bottom of the box spring itself.

    2. StellaBella*

      Use a staple gun or other means to line bottom of the chairs or bed with a large plastic trash bag. I have one on my bed underside and the cat does not scratch any longer

    3. Cat and dog fosterer*

      I gave up with the bed and it has been fine for years, but it’s different because they scratch at the box spring and not the mattress itself. Another cat fosterer complained that their cat kept pulling off the bottom of one specific chair to scratch at it so I suggested that they put a box under the chair to make it physically impossible to get at the area.

    4. aubrey*

      I don’t know anything about the furniture side of this question, but I want to mention that my friend’s cat once ATE a bunch of material out of the underside of her bed and had to have emergency surgery. So, blocking access in some way would be a good idea for both the furniture and the cat.

    5. No Tribble At All*

      We put our box spring directly on the floor so the cats can’t hide there/ claw on it. I also trim their claws pretty frequently.

      Their favorite scratcher is a rope-wrapped part of the cat tree, but it’s getting pretty worn. I have some natural fiber rope. Any advice on how to re-rope the tree? I don’t want to staple it, but is glue sturdy enough?

      1. Squidhead*

        We re-roped one and used high-temp hot glue to hold down each loop (so basically put a line of hot glue blobs in a line down the length of it, but each blob has to get applied just before you wrap the rope over it). Seems to be working so far!

    6. just another queer reader*

      A friend was dealing with this, so they did some light carpentry to either cover up the bottom of the couch with wood, or make a wall down from the edge of the couch to the floor so the cat couldn’t get in there.

      As an interim solution, you might try repelling the cat from the area by putting aluminum foil around. My mom used to use it to keep cats off of surfaces – supposedly cats don’t like the noise. Not sure how well it worked tbh.

      Also: double check if your cat is getting all their needs met, especially enrichment/ things to play with! Good luck!

    7. KatEnigma*

      The stuffing at the bottom of a seat helps it from starting to sag. We lost several chairs that way,

    8. Daily AAM Fan*

      I covered couch arms with aluminum foil for a couple of weeks. The cats learned it was uncomfortable to scratch AND I provided a scratching post nearby. After a couple of weeks I removed the foil and they ever bothered the furniture again. Both cats came as young rescue cats but not kittens (~3-4 years old) and lived to be 18+ years old

  19. just me*

    Hi. I use an iPhone. I am looking for recommendations for a timer app. I would like to be able to set several different timers to run at the same time. I also need the app to be able to run in the background. The problem with the apps that I have tried so far is that if they are running in the background, I do not get an alarm when the timer is done. I am willing to pay for this functionality (i.e., the app does not have to be free).

    Any suggestions?

    1. Amey*

      Are you sure the standard iPhone clock/timer doesn’t do this? The standard Clock app on Android lets you set timers as well as alarms and you can set multiple of these (with labels saying what they’re for) at a time. They definitely go off when running in the background, they even bypass headphones (which I find quite annoying, to be honest, although this might be something I could change if I’m too bothered.)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        It doesn’t – the built-in iPhone app can do multiple alarms but only one timer. I personally get around this by using alarms via Siri – “Hey Siri, set me an alarm for 20 minutes” and so on.

        1. KatEnigma*

          We use Alexa for this. We have a Show in the kitchen specifically for hands free timer setting.

    2. londonedit*

      Possibly unhelpful but my Apple Watch does this. I can set multiple timers on my watch and they all count down independently and ding at the appropriate time. It was brilliant when I was cooking Christmas dinner and needed one timer for the potatoes, another for the veg, etc!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        WHAT REALLY??? I didn’t realize the watch could do multiple. Awesome. (Now it REALLY doesn’t make sense that the phone can’t :-P )

    3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I like Timer+, because it lets me run several different timers at the same time, and will beep when each of them reaches zero.

      You can create and save multiple timers for later use, and there’s also a “quick timer” option for things you don’t expect to reuse often. Right now, I have half a dozen saved timers, include three different ones for timing how long it takes to steep different kinds of tea.

  20. Our Lady of the Cats*

    Hi Not a Manager, I too love the NYT puzzles, although I’m more of a Crossword and Spelling Bee fanatic, but I can totally relate to your distress. I actually just spent some time looking to see if I could find other acrostics online, and here’s some of what I came across:
    This subreddit for puzzlers–the comment section talking about just this very thing. Some of them might have suggestions: https://www.reddit.com/r/crossword/comments/10r0306/nyt_will_no_longer_publish_digital_variety/
    And also, I wanted to suggest looking “across the pond.” UK newspapers have a long tradition of complex puzzles, so they might, hopefully, have some online. Forgive me if I’m off base here, but is “cryptic crossword” the same as an acrostic? For example, the Guardian has this: https://www.theguardian.com/crosswords/series/cryptic
    Hope this is of some help, or leads to some good leads!

  21. Bibliovore*

    Planning a writing/ grief retreat in Desert Hot Springs for 10 days in March. I will be on my own and will have a rental car. Planning on writing in the mornings, sitting in lots of hot water and adventures in the afternoon.
    I won’t be far from Palm Springs.
    Any recommendations for outings?
    I love to eat so am looking for restaurants ( will probably do take out)
    Staying at a spa so that sort of stuff is taken care of.
    Bookstores?
    cafes?
    Cultural?
    What to avoid?
    Concerns?

    1. Stripes*

      That sounds like an amazing retreat.
      If it was me, I’d prepare for the possibility of feeling alone/lonely at times, and see how I can alleviate that.
      What social contexts could you find if you needed to engage with another human? (A local public meeting of some kind?)
      I know that being alone might be exactly the thing you crave! For me, when I’m in extreme life situations I can feel like that but then still need to have some human interactions.
      Enjoy your beautiful retreat…

    2. fposte*

      A friend was just in Palm Springs and really enjoyed it. The library looks gorgeous and apparently has an interior koi pond (don’t ask me how they control humidity).

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I went once for a work trip several years ago, the art museum was fantastic if you like art.

    3. HannahS*

      If you’re at all interested in a not-too-challenging hike (meaning, it’s a true hike and not a walk on flat ground, but I did it with non-athletic family members in their late 60s and my brother wore my toddler on his back,) I strongly recommend Tahquitz Canyon, and going specifically on the Ranger Walk, where a park ranger teaches you stuff about the nature and the history of the Indigenous peoples from the area.

      The Palm Springs art museum is really fun and I suggest doing it on the day of the downtown street fair, so that you can see the downtown at it’s best. The Living Desert is a pretty great zoo and botanical exploration. El Paseo shopping district is not as good as it used to be, but interesting art shops to pop in and out of. I’ve hear good things about taking the cable car up to the top of one of the mountains that has snow, but I’m from Canada so never bothered because snow isn’t a novelty to me!

      1. Bibliovore*

        oh these are great suggestions. I am looking for alone time. My oldest friend is meeting me there for the first few days then I am on my own. Mr. Bibliovore and I went to this spa 4 times. I would sit in hot water and he would go hike and adventure (cable car) It is one of my favorite memories. I am supposed to remember our happy places and make new neural pathways. I am hoping to find a reform congregation for services. The Ranger walk sounds like right up my alley. And of course I will need to visit that library.
        We were there during desert X last time and there is a picture of me in the mirror house that is Mr. Bibliovore’s phone screen saver. (still don’t know what to do with his phone except to keep paying for it.)

        1. HannahS*

          I can’t remember if it’s reform or conservative, but one of the synagogues has a nice choir!

    4. KR*

      If you take a day to go up to the high desert, there are little used book stores up there. Ravens Used Books in 29 Palms, Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, and the Cactus Wren Book Exchange in Yucca Valley. I lived up there for a couple years. It’s a fun place to window shop and get a bite to eat, especially if you like thrifting and used books.

    5. Pocket Mouse*

      Check out the 29 Palms Inn restaurant in Twentynine Palms if you’re up that way, and Pappy + Harriet’s in Pioneertown – they have (or had, assuming they still have) a large outdoor space. If you’re into outdoors stuff, there’s the Joshua Tree National Park, Oasis of Mara, and ‘King Clone’ (off Bessemer Mine Rd north of Pioneertown).

    6. mreasy*

      If you are a hiker at all, there are some great trails in Palm Springs, including one that takes you to a great view of the Bob Hope house. Palm Springs is also just a great place to walk around neighborhoods because the homes are so beautifully picture perfect MCM! If it’s in your budget, Mr. Lyons is a great dinner experience, and I also recommend Tac/Quila. Just make sure you stay hydrated!!!

    7. Bibliovore*

      These all sound great. Thank you! My plan is to write/revise in the mornings and do one adventure everyday.

    8. Sungold*

      Shields Date Garden is in Indio, an easy 30 minute drive away. There’s a shop with fresh dates, stuffed dates (delicious!), and all sorts of other nuts and dried fruits. The dates are so much better than anything I’ve found in grocery stores.

      Eat a meal at the cafe or just get a date shake to go. Watch a 1950s-vintage presentation on date farming in the theater. Go outside and look up at the date trees. I was last there a couple of years ago, but ordered a bunch of their products to give as holiday gifts this past December, and they were as good as I remembered. Shields has a website if you want more details and the cafe menu – just plug the name into a search engine.

    9. Jean (just Jean)*

      No travel suggestions; just good wishes for a good trip. May you find peace and comfort and may your writing be productive.

  22. Cookies For Breakfast*

    Has anyone tried any apps for meeting new friends? Was it worth it? (Bumble BFF or similar – I don’t know what others there are in the UK).

    I’m in a place of such discontent with not having many friends as an adult, I’d be willing to try. I read a book by a fellow introvert who tried Bumble BFF for similar reasons, and some of the experience sounded as frustrating as I’d expect (profile writing, the automated swiping, matches that don’t go anywhere, etc.). But the author did meet people she liked, and at least one she pursued a longer-term friendship with.

    I have no experience with similar apps (never had to use one for dating, which I feel lucky about). I know a lot of suggestions in this area revolve around finding Meetup groups to attend, but that hasn’t quite worked for me, as I do better at 1:1 interaction or smaller groups, and tend to only quietly observe at larger events. When I work up the courage to turn up, that is.

    Really, what I’m hoping for is meeting people in my area who would enjoy going out for coffee and a chat (in London, most people you know end up living an hour away, and organising time together has to happen months in advance). And, of course, avoiding people who only want to pitch their MLM.

    1. Lena Clare*

      I have used Meetup successfully in the past although I’m really bad at going on there, since the holidays this/last year because of time constraints. But you could give that a go! I would imagine London has lots going on. I live near to a big city and everyone I met lived in the city, not where I was, so I had to commute. I suppose there are pros and cons.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Yeah, with Meetup the commute is less of an issue than the crushing feeling of trying to break into a group where everyone already knows each other (or has an easier time introducing themselves to regulars, or is already such a pro at the activity they know what to do and say). I end up going a few times, trying to make conversation with a few people, getting the impression they’re not that interested in keeping it up, and never showing up again.

        In a bout of insomnia early this morning, I found a Meetup group with local people and will keep an eye out on their events.

        1. Spearmint*

          I have had success with meetup, but the trick was to keep trying new groups until I found one that I vibed well with. That meant going to a new group two or three times before judging it, and forcing myself to talk to people there. It took 2-3 months of this to find my people, but when I did it worked well.

    2. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      A friend of mine had some great experiences on Bumble BFF so if you’re a 1 on 1 person that’s probably a solid option.
      For a small group, a local bookclub maybe? Your local library probably offers something.

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        I did Bumble BFF and really loved it! I set my age settings really broadly because I wanted to meet up with people outside of my age group.

    3. Misty Outside*

      Hmm, meetup is what has worked for me. I’ve found with meetup that it depends on the group and the activity. I’ve used meetup in London and elsewhere. Meet-ups in the pub in the evenings didn’t work for me (some people assume it’s a sort of singles event – no, thank you!)
      A slightly crazy yoga meetup with a vague, self indulgent leader didn’t work for me.
      A small craft gathering in a cafe did work for me.
      And walking groups worked for me – mostly nice people, and I never made friends quickly but over time I did connect with a little group that started meeting up independently and became friends.

      But I hear ya that you want something more 1-to-1, and sorry I can’t help!

    4. RLS*

      I made 2 great friends on bumble BFF and we even did things all together, it was really nice (until they moved away lol). I know others who have met good friends on there too! Keeping up a profile and swiping can be annoying but I personally found it less intimidating than for dating

    5. londonedit*

      If it just so happens that I don’t live an hour away from your bit of London (totally hear you on that!) I’d be happy to meet up for a coffee or something sometime.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Oh, that’s so nice of you to offer, thank you!

        I’m in West London, with fairly easy access to Central, but not those South-East / East areas everyone I know seems to live and hang out in :P

          1. Cookies for Breakfast*

            Well what are the odds! If there’s a way to message you that you don’t mind posting or giving a clue for here, I’d be happy to get in touch to arrange getting coffee some time.

            1. londonedit*

              I’ve got a slightly more impersonal email address – minimoomin81 at gmail dot com – feel free to email me there!

    6. Sunflower*

      Try Facebook groups esp if there are some neighborhood specific ones. In NYC at least, there are always people posting looking for friends for casual hangouts like this and it usually ends up that 4ish people are available for a certain time. The thing you have to keep in mind through all of this is when you’re dealing with random folks with little connection, the flakiness level is super high. It’s unavoidable and all part of the process unfortunately so you’ve gotta just let those roll off your shoulders in hopes you’ll find a few good ones that stick. Also know it’s totally normal and OK to be uncomfortable and feel a bit awkward at these!

      I have to say it’s very true that you’re more likely to stay connected if there is a common hobby or interest in the meetups. I am not someone with a lot of hobbies so it took me a while to figure out where to look. I’ve ended up leaning on Childfree and personal finance interest groups. If you’re into coffee, books, wine, etc- try looking in those spots vs general interest groups.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Yeah, the neighbourhood specific groups are part of what I was hoping would help. I’ve seen a few on Facebook, but not yet any connected to my hobbies, and the one I expressed interest in isn’t meeting at times I can make. I’ll keep looking for sure.

        I have half an idea of setting something up myself, because my area has many coffee shops that look worth trying and I’m sure others would like to join…but the struggle to be the host at a meeting of people who don’t know each other is real :P

    7. marvin*

      I am currently on a journey to meet new people, and I’m planning to try a bunch of different methods and see what clicks. I’m also planning to try doing some one-on-one online friend-dating, because I tend to get along better with individuals than groups. But I’m also doing some volunteering, taking classes, and joining a writing group, to try to connect with people who I have things in common with. I suspect the key is just to meet a lot of people and hope that one or two of them are people you get along with.

    8. WoodswomanWrites*

      I had the same desire to meet friends I could spend time with one on one, and I’ve had great success with Meetup. In my case, I started my own group and the parameters I created attracted people I already had something in common with. Out of those gatherings over time came individual friendships with people I now see one on one. Seeking individual friends online would feel too much like online dating to me.

        1. Cookies For Breakfast*

          That’s ok! It’s reassuring to hear you started your own group, because that may be the one way Meetup would work for me. I’d love to start a writing group, for example, or one dedicated to trying local places for coffee and cake. I don’t entirely trust myself to be engaging or sociable enough for others to want to join me, but it might still be more comfortable than trying to join established groups.

    9. Mierin*

      I’ve used Bumble BFF with great success, can definitely recommend it! Have made six good friends through it, I hope it works well for you if you give it a shot!

    10. Sabby*

      I have used Bumble BFF successfully. I met one long term friend who introduced me to a full on social group. I went back to the well and recently met someone closer to me who I just took a road trip with. There are other people that don’t seem to always stick which can be fun even if they eventually wander off.

      I haven’t had the same experience with meetup because it seems like you have to attend groups regularly enough before people want to strike up a conversation even but if it is an interest for you, maybe that would work out.

  23. Lena Clare*

    Oh my gosh I’m so sorry – I completely missed your 3rd paragraph about Meetup! I don’t have any other suggestions apart from that one.

  24. Gatlinburg*

    Last minute weekend Gatlinburg trip.

    Recommendations for things to do and eat with young kids.

    TIA

    1. AY*

      Piggybacking off this! Assuming things continue to go well, I will be in Gatlinburg this summer about 8 weeks (give or take) after baby boy is born. It’s a family trip for my dad’s 70th, so we will have lots of help. What are some fun things for me to do with a newborn? I imagine I’ll be spending lots of time in the house with baby, but I’d like to try to do a couple of short activities.

    2. Girasol*

      The highlight of my trip there ages ago was the old waterwheel grist mill at next door Pigeon Forge. They’d start up the whole huge thing and the wheels and belts and the millstone would turn and cornmeal came out. I can find the town on the map now but not the mill. Anyone know if it’s still there?

  25. Snow Flower*

    I want to learn to knit so I’m looking for tutorials/books/websites that can get me started. My goal is to be able to knit headbands for my friends as gifts. Any recommendations?
    I understand there are two knitting styles. Does it really matter which one I learn?

    1. Neurodivergent in Germany*

      Sorry I can’t recommend any tutorials.

      But once you’re started, look into joining ravelry.com: lots of free patterns and very helpful forums.

      As for knitting styles: I knit continental, never knew anything else existed when I was learning. For me, purling is a non-issue, but I have trouble with stranded color work.
      Maybe try both and see which one suits.
      Or go with what knitters around you do, so they can easily help you.

      Welcome to knitting!

    2. Lexi Vipond*

      Only if you mind whether other knitters around you are likely to be doing the same thing with their hands, I think. Or if you’re looking for instructions in a continental European language, I would think they would be more likely to describe the continental styke.

      But it’s not like crochet where there are two different sets of names for the stitches, and you have to find patterns which use your names, or translate them – you still make a knit or a purl stitch with the same result, you just hold the wool differently while you’re making it.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      On the two styles – not really, so long as you know which one you’re doing for when you try to find references for some technique or another. A video for how to do thus and such in a throwing style won’t be as useful if you learned in a picking style, at least as a beginner. I could probably convert in my head but I’ve been knitting for 20+ years and I know both styles, even if I only ever use one regularly. (Personally I think most of the tutorials available and the beginner books and such teach picking, which makes way more sense to me. Throwing is quite inefficient, especially as you get into more advanced techniques like double knitting, color work and cables. But there are folks who prefer it anyway.)

    4. I heart Paul Buchman*

      Highly recommend the community run (free!) site Ravelry dot com. Glorious for the yarn crafts.

    5. Nitpicker*

      YouTube, YouTube, YouTube. There are so many videos out there. I crochet but I’m left-handed and the books, classes, etc. treat that as an afterthought if they cover it at all. I went to YouTube and found a treasure trove- for example innumerable videos for lefties on how to crochet granny squares. Now that YouTube knows I’m interested, all kinds of new patterns/instructions pop up.
      And enjoy the knitting!!

    6. RagingADHD*

      Which style you use is only a matter of what teacher you vibe with, what makes sense to your brain and is easy to learn, and what feels comfortable to your hands.

      I originally learned the American or “throw” style, but then got more into crochet for many years. When I wanted to start knitting again, I found Continental (or pickup) style felt more natural, because the movement and tensioning of the yarn is more like crochet.

      But I taught my kids American style, because it was easier to break down into steps they could see and execute with elementary – age motor skills.

    7. HannahS*

      I learned from a Klutz book as a child, but when I need a reminder of how to do something, I like Very Pink Knits on YouTube for demonstrations. I started learning English-style/throwing/tossing as a child and learned continental-style/picking about a year ago. I think that continental knitting is slightly harder to learn, but once you learn it, it’s faster and IMO more ergonomic. It also lends itself better to more complex technique.

      1. Anyone*

        Second Very Pink. Really good explanations and easy to follow videos.
        I honestly don’t know which style I use, I just do it the way I was taught when I was a little kid. I went to a class one time and was told I was doing it “wrong,” or maybe she said “backwards”? I tried do do it the way the instructor insisted was right and my fingers kept getting tangled up in the yarn, but I have no problem finding videos where the yarn is held the way I hold it and the needles move the way I move them, so ???
        (I have won prizes at fairs for knitted things, so apparently the judges think it’s okay!)

    8. The teapots are on fire*

      I like Continental because it’s easier to switch between knitting and purling, but I learned English first and it wasn’t that hard to switch.

      I liked the long tail cast-on as a way to cast on stitches that aren’t too tight. I think I learned knitting from knitting.com, and I learned Continental from a Craftsy class, but there are plenty of free sources, so don’t bother with Craftsy. Have tremendous fun!

    9. Christmas Carol*

      If you learn both styles from the onset, American “throw” and Continental “scoop” two-color knitting will be a snap down the road, you just put one color yarn in each hand. Continental tends to clik better with crocheters since you hold the yarn with your left hand. If you’re left handed, the same holds true, and it’s easier for a leftie to knit Continental than it is to try to convert American directions to knitting left-handed. American seems to be more popular, and seems to be a little easier to teach, but I find I can knit Continental faster.

    10. Mediocre Knitter*

      When I wanted to learn to knit about 10 years ago, I went to the children’s section of Barnes and Noble and bought a book/kit. I assumed directions intended for kids would maybe be simpler/more my speed than books written for adults. I used directions in the book to get started, and then looked up tutorials on YouTube for stuff I couldn’t figure out with text/photos alone. This works best for my brain, I can’t rely on videos alone because backing up and replaying constantly gets frustrating. I like to have the written instructions in front of me, and rely on video only for the tricky bits. But everyone is different!

      This is the book I bought (and still have!). It’s not perfect, and it doesn’t seem to really be available anymore, but I’m sure there are plenty of books just like it at book stores and used book stores. https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/knitting-learn-to-knit-six-great-projects_anne-akers-johnson/368798/#idiq=2394182&edition=4499236

  26. Pronoun musing*

    Removed because this discussion has become one that requires a moderator and I’m not available to do it on the weekend. – Alison

  27. LGP*

    I am American and my wife is Dutch, and in the process of discussing baby names, we discovered there seems to be a cultural difference in name-related expectations. For example, if I meet someone named Ron, I assume that their full name is Ronald. My wife says that this wouldn’t even occur to her and that she would assume their full name is just Ron.
    So I’m interested to know other people’s thoughts about this: where are you from and how would you regard these types of “nicknamey” names?
    (P.S. I want to make it clear that this is only about what goes on in my head. I would never call anyone by something they didn’t ask to be called. If Ron tells me his name is Ron, I will call him Ron, end of story. I simply find it interesting how my wife and I have different thoughts on this.)

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I absolutely agree. If someone is using a shortened version of a name I assume it’s a nickname.

      Even though I have a nibling named Alex – not short for anything, just Alex.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If someone tells me their name is Ron, I assume their name is Ron unless something comes up where I have to put their legal name down, like tickets where they’ll have to show ID, at which point I ask them what name I should put down for them.

      I’m ND and generally fairly literal, plus when I was in my early 20s the thing that finally prompted me to do the legal name change I’d been putting off was my then-boyfriend’s parents buying me plane tickets in the nickname I’d gone by for 12 years because they didn’t know it wasn’t my legal name. (In the jurisdiction where I lived at the time the name change was actually cheaper and less hassle than the ticket change, so I took it as a prompt from the universe that it was time and made the jump. Never regretted it.)

      1. Zephy*

        Wow. Maybe I don’t know enough about changing plane tickets, but from what I’ve heard from friends going through name changes, that’s a capital-P Process.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          In a lot of places it is, but I lived in King County, Washington state at the time, and the process was that you fill out the form and bring a check for the fee (which at the time I did mine in 2004 was $75), and they had some generic court running every day at 1pm for name changes, I think adoptions, a few other simple things. As long as you submit your form by noon, you got in the same day unless they were really slammed, and when it was my turn I raised my right hand and said yessir nosir nosir nosir yessir and that was it, I left the same afternoon with my finalized name change order. I looked a couple years ago and that was still how it worked then, though the fee was higher of course.

          The ticket change would have cost $175 :-P

          1. Zephy*

            Dang, for some of my friends it sounds like a badly-designed RPG quest, where they’re having to somehow get document A in order to get document B, but you need document B to update document A, etc etc. You know, slay the dragon guarding the door to the vault where the sword of dragon-slaying is kept, that kind of thing.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              In some states, it’s a totally bananas process, takes weeks or months and requires publishing nonsense in newspapers and such. But mine was cake, like I googled Tuesday around 11am how to do it and the only reason it wasn’t done until Wednesday was because I didn’t have time to get down there by noon on Tuesday.

          2. Blythe*

            I changed my name in King County, WA this summer and it was slightly more complex than that (more expensive, had to wait for a court date), but it was still very easy! All the stuff that came AFTER, though… New driver’s license, etc etc etc…

    3. Janet Pinkerton*

      I’m from the mid Atlantic US, and I do not assume “Ron” is a nickname. But then, my mother is a Cindy and always got annoyed when someone thought it was short for Cynthia.

      1. Lil Bee*

        I’m in the Ozarks of Missouri and here you can usually assume that most Ricks are really Ricky and most Bills are really Billy, not William.

    4. No Tribble At All*

      Shoutout to my friend Jimmy whose immigrant parents named him Jimmy legally because they didn’t know it’s usually a nickname in English :)

      He’s totally a Jimmy not a James though, so it works for him. But he absolutely gets people who insist that Jimmy can’t be his legal name.

      1. Anyone*

        I know a person who cannot get a Real ID because his legal name is Jimmy, but when he was filling out his social security card application in grade school (when the US govt decided everyone needed a card, not just people who were filing taxes/working), his teacher insisted his name must be James E and made him fill out his application that way.
        He is debating a legal name change just to get his social security card corrected, since social security tells him a court order is the only way to get it corrected to his actual legal name.

        (He tells people who ask what the E stands for “Nothing” and then grey rocks them. It’s fun to watch.)

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          It shouldn’t take a court order to correct an error on a Social Security card. If Jimmy is what’s on his birth certificate, then that’s all it should take to get a corrected card issued, because the Social Security Administration looks to a person’s birth certificate for their legal name. It’s when you want to change your Social Security card to a name that differs from your birth certificate, that’s when you need a court order or paperwork around a name change due to marriage.

          Source: I’ve done name and gender-marker changes for clients in my law practice

    5. RLS*

      I usually default to thinking it’s short for something I may know too but like you said I’d always address them as they introduced themselves. My friend was named Kaitlin and she always *hated it* and went by Katie, and when she got married and changed her last name she changed her first to Katie too! I always thought that was cool.

    6. fposte*

      I’m surprised at all the people saying they wouldn’t assume it was a nickname; I’m with you and would assume that Ron, Jimmy, Bob, Liz, and Kat, for some examples, are all nicknames. I’m aware that sometimes they’re not but I’d definitely default to believing they were. I wonder if this is generational? I know people have grown less likely to use nicknames with names that commonly had them in the past, so maybe if you’re younger you’re less likely to expect a nickname?

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I think it is a bit, because I used to think the same way. However we get full names of students in schools on the local authority system (we ask their preference too) and the past couple of years it’s always Jimmy not James and Alfie not Alfred.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        Bob, Liz and Kat, I would assume to be nicknames. Jimmy I would assume to be the name on the person’s birth cert (I know it can be a nickname for James, but it’s enough different and frankly, in my experience, more common, that I would assume it was what they were names). Ron…could go either way. I don’t think I’d make an assumption one way or the other.

        I’d guess it’s both generational and region specific.

        1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          My father-in-law was James, called Jim; oldest son was James, called Jimmy when he lived at home, then Jim; his son was James, called Jimmy almost all his life by most family members, more likely Jim by his peers, and HIS son is James but he has been called J.X. (middle name initial) since birth.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        For me it absolutely depends on which name we’re talking about. Alex, Ron or Liz, I would not assume it’s a nickname but would realize it might be. Jimmy, Bob and Kat I probably would assume were nicknames.

    7. Stitch*

      It’s interesting because one of the super popular boy names in the US for a few years was “Liam” which can also be a nickname for “William”.

    8. KatEnigma*

      Well, I don’t assume, but it’s certainly my preference to give babies names that are adult names, and not to stick them with a “nickname” forever. I acknowledge that others feel differently, so.. I just call people by the name they introduce themselves as, regardless.

      1. Buni*

        Me too – I absolutely use the name people give me, but I’d rather name a kid the full version just so they’ve got options when / as they grow up.

      2. Nihil Scio*

        I, too, purposely gave my daughters longer names that can be shortened so that they could choose what they wanted to be called later in life.
        Before I retired, I used my longer, more formal name in business. It just looked … better?

        1. Nihil Scio*

          Oooh. My father was Dutch, and my brother got, as a middle name, *Cornelius* which is shortened to *Kees* (pronounced *Case*). Awesome for both formal and nicknames.

          1. Tiny clay insects*

            This is a little off-topic, but literally right now I’m working on my final edit of my mystery novel to give to my literary agent, and part of it involves a Dutch man named Cornelius going by Kees and the main character not knowing it’s a nickname! It is wild happening upon your comment right now!!

        2. KatEnigma*

          And at the ripe age of 5, my son prefers the full name (although we can use one of the nicknames associated with it at home) and was Quite Firm about our neighbor (also 5) not using any variation of it one day on the carpool home. She kept saying she was going to call him this variation or another, and he kept repeating “No, please call me Firstname” I’m really quite proud of how he politely but firmly sets boundaries with her- about this and other things. I’ve always said it would be his choice once he was old enough to have an opinion on it, and for now, that choice is the more formal name.

    9. MissCoco*

      Also American (Midwest), my husband and I hyphenated, so we want to limit any children’s total name length, and we discussed giving a child this type of name, like just Will or just Ben. We polled our friends with the long forms of these names, and they said they somewhat consistently get asked “short for x?” In their daily life, mostly around forms and record keeping, but sometimes, especially when younger, just as a topic of conversation. So I do think most people in my part of the US assume most of these are nicknames.
      There are some exceptions to this, like I know just about an even split of Marks who are Marcus vs just Mark

    10. londonedit*

      I’m in the UK and generally I’d assume Ron was short for something (probably Ronald). I have known quite a few people in my time whose names on their birth certificates were ones that are traditionally shortened forms of other names – like Jessie, Tom and Katie. They definitely had a lot of ‘but your full name is Jessica/Thomas/Katherine, right?’ growing up. There are also names like Jack, which traditionally was a diminutive nickname for John, but now Jack on its own is a really popular name.

    11. FashionablyEvil*

      I think it kind of depends on the name—I would assume that names like Ron, Beth, Bob, Jim, Maggie, Kathy, etc. are all likely to be nicknames, although I have noticed more of a trend towards giving nicknames as first names (e.g., someone is just named Maggie and it’s not short for Margaret.)

      I think it also depends on your culture and experience—I watched TSA hassle an elderly gentleman (in a wheelchair, with a WWII veteran’s hat, no less) about the fact that his ticket said “Bob” but his ID said “Robert.” Fortunately, a supervisor came over and cooler heads prevailed, but I think the original agent just had no idea that Bob was short for Robert.

    12. A Girl Named Fred*

      I’m also in the “assume it’s a nickname for something but address them by it regardless unless told otherwise for a needed reason” group. My dad has a name that’s like a nickname (after a relative who specifically said the equivalent of “If you’re gonna name a kid after me, call him ‘Jim’ and not ‘James’ for Pete’s sake!”) and we know when mail for him is junk because it’s always addressed to the full version of his name lol.

    13. Anonymous cat*

      I knew a guy named Phil whose name was just Phil. He said that when he was a boy, teachers always called him Philip. They wouldn’t believe a little boy was really named Phil.

      The problem went away when he got older. Apparently Phil is an adults-only name!

        1. Voluptuousfire*

          I knew a Just Jeff as a kid and we had a junior high home room teacher who would make a point to call him Jeffrey every day when doing roll call. Jeff would correct him and they’d go at it every morning. JJ could be an asshole but that teacher would always pick on him and escalate the issue. For some reason, my junior high seemed to have a higher level of jerky teachers who were 10 years from retirement and were riding it out and didn’t give a crap.

    14. HBJ*

      I think it depends on the name. For example, I know multiple Katies and none of them are short for anything else. And really, does it matter? If I assume when Ron says “Ron” that it’s short for Ronald, I’m still going to call him Ron, not Ronald.

      1. Blythe*

        Ha, didn’t see your comment until after I commented (below) and it’s funny how we are saying the same thing (name dependent) but with different experiences for the name Katie. I guess it just goes to show how varied this is.

      2. LGP*

        You’re right, it doesn’t really matter. But the reason it came up between my wife and me is because there are some names where I like the nickname but not the “full” name. And my wife said we should just name our kid the nickname then, and I was like, “No, because then they’ll always be correcting people that they really are just Ron and not Ronald.” And I see from several of the comments that that does indeed happen to people. But apparently it’s not really a thing here in The Netherlands; people don’t assume that your name is short for anything. Which surprised me, and I was curious if that’s the case in other cultures too.

        1. Neurodivergent in Germany*

          At least here in Germany it’s a generational thing: people over, say, 40 tend to have formal given names plus somewhat standardized nickname, whereas among the younger generations, kids are more often named the nickname.
          Nicknamey names were a trend here some 20-10 years ago, e.g. Tim (not short for Timotheus, that’s an exceedingly rare name), Tom, Nick, Finn…
          Some names are popular in both long and short form (Max/Maximilian, Ben/Benjamin), but teachers just generally ask what kids prefer.
          So I think the problem was prevalent at some point but it isn’t any more. Names are also way more diverse and people just don’t know what some name or other might be short for

          1. Random Bystander*

            Funny enough, it seemed like a generational thing here (part of the US that is technically in the north, but has much more in common with the south), but more in the opposite direction. People my parents’ age (born in the 1940s/early 50s) would have birth certificate names like Betsy (not Elizabeth) or Kenny (not Kenneth), and so on. That transitioned to around my generation (mid 60s/early 70s) with either formal birth certificate names like Elizabeth and Kenneth but being called Beth and Ken. Then, by the time I was having children (90s/early 00s), the trend was to the long formal name and calling the child by the long formal name … at least until such time that the child in question wants a nickname (should that ever happen … my older two sons are adamant about only being called their “full value name”, my youngest son’s name is only one syllable so can’t be shortened (all three get their names from the New Testament).

            My daughter, on the other hand, ended up with a nickname almost immediately, but that was because she is a twin to my youngest son, and my middle son at the time they were born was 3 and could not say her name, so he called them “Baby [name]” for my youngest son and “Other Baby” for her … and I was not going to have “Other Baby”!

    15. Blythe*

      As I think about this more, I think it REALLY depends on the name. I tend to assume that Katie or Liz are short for something, but that Molly isn’t necessarily a nickname for Mary, Lily isn’t always short for Lillian, etc. I have a student this year named Maggie, which is how it appears on my roster. I have never wondered if her given name is Margaret. These are all feminine name examples, but I can think of examples across the gender spectrum.

    16. RagingADHD*

      If someone appears to be a native English speaker and has a fairly traditional English name, I would probably assume that a common nickname is a diminutive, because I know how the patterns work (Betty or Liz for Elizabeth, Bob for Robert, Ron for Ronald, Trey for a “third” in line of the name, etc.)

      I don’t know the diminutives in other languages, so it wouldn’t occur to me. I expect that your wife would probably assume that common Dutch diminutives are related to longer names, because she knows the patterns.

      Did you only ask her about English forms like Ron, or did you ask her whether she associates Bep and Truus with Albert and Geertruida?

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        Yes, agreed. There are a few nicknames that have slipped into their own right (as above, Molly for Mary, Sally for Sarah, Larry for Lawrence, Carrie for Caroline) but by and large if someone has a pretty traditional English nickname I’ll assume it’s short for the longer form until told otherwise.

      2. LGP*

        I did ask her about Dutch names, and she said it depends on the name. Which, as many commenters have pointed out, is also true for a lot of English names. I guess it’s just that, in general, people seem less attached to the idea of “nicknames stand for longer names” than I’m used to as an American. Like, some commenters have talked about people who’ve had to argue with teachers/security/whoever that their “short” name is their full name. That kind of thing is apparently very unlikely to happen among Dutch people.

    17. Chaordic One*

      One of my friends married a man, “Bill,” from Texas. She always assumed that “Bill” was a nickname for “William.” Bill’s middle initial was “L.” He comes across as a pleasant, intelligent middle-class white guy and they seem to have a strong marriage. After several years of marriage, for some reason, she ran across a copy of his birth certificate and discovered that his legal birth name was, “Billy Lee”. “I married white trash!” she confessed to me in mock horror, followed by a hearty laugh.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        My Dad’s middle name was Joe, not Joseph, and it embarrassed my Mom for some reason. I don’t know why, since her parents were immigrants and unfamiliar with American name nuances most of their lives. Dad, born in 1910 in the Midwest, had an uncle not too many years older than he was who was named Tony Zack. Not Anthony, not Zachary. Just Tony Zack. I like it.

    18. Improbably Bob*

      I spent 6 years as a travel agent. I’d estimate more than half the people I booked trips for introduced themselves with one name and had a different name in their passport. (This was the UK and New Zealand.)

      The vast majority were common diminutives like Dave/David or Sue/Susan. Some went by their middle name. Some were completely different – it was always fun to hear those origin stories!

      So, to answer your actual question: I don’t assume anything. And, really, it doesn’t actually matter in most cases until you’re booking something like an airline ticket.

    19. Hopefully, not too work-related.*

      Well, I usually do assume that many names are nicknames for more traditional western European names, but it isn’t always the case. In my job as a CSR, because of identity theft, a big part of our jobs is verifying our customer’s identity, before we can provide any account information to them. I’ve written about this before in the work thread. It is shocking to me how so many people will open an account under one name and then not remember that name.

      We ask our customers for their full legal name when they open an account, but frequently they will use a nick name. Then when they call us, maybe years later, they tell us their full legal first name. Or sometimes they’ll open an account under their full first name and then provide us with a nick name. Men will include suffixes, like Jr., Sr., III, or IV and then not remember that. The names don’t match and we have to ask a whole lot of other questions and they get mad. It really wastes a lot of our time. We have to ask them, “Is there any kind of suffix after your last name, any title?” If they say, “no,” we ask them, “Do you have any children? What are their names?” or “What was your father’s first name?” hoping to trigger an appropriate response.

      Then there are the women with their multiple marriages, divorces, and name changes who don’t update their account information and get mad when we can’t provide them with any information. I’ve had some who couldn’t even remember the last name they provided when they opened their account. Sometimes an account will be opened by someone other than the person named on the account, like a spouse, parent or child, so they account-holder doesn’t know what name the account is listed under. Business accounts have another set of other questions that need to be asked before account info can be given.

      Of course, we don’t want to give information to people who shouldn’t have it and could do shady things with it. But still, people call in for a simple matter and it takes 5 minutes or more, just to verify that they are who they say they are.

    20. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      My parents gave me a legal name that’s often a nickname for something longer. Inconveniently, there are at least three common spellings of the nickname, which means I don’t just have to tell people that my name is just Vicki, I also have to make sure that it’s spelled right on various sorts of paperwork.

    21. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      In English Ariel is a girl name, but in Hebrew it’s a boy’s name. Some people will assume Ari is short for Ariel, but it can be used as its own full name. So… Lots of assumptions with that one.

      1. allathian*

        My husband’s name is Ari. It’s a fairly common man’s name in Finland, at least among Gen X and Boomers. Here, Kari is a masculine name, but in Norway it’s a feminine one.

        There are no truly standard nicknames for most Finnish names. Mika (like the former F1 drivers Häkkinen and Salo) is a fairly common masculine name on its own, but it can also be a nickname for Mikael/Michael.

        I tend to assume that the name I hear is the person’s name rather than a nickname, but there’s one exception, Make (pronounced “MAH-keh” rather than “make”). When I see that, I assume it’s a nickname for Max/Marcus/Markus.

    22. Unemployed in Greenland.*

      Interesting!
      bc my mom was called Sietske, but her real name was Siets – before they moved to America and it got changed to English. Same w/ an uncle Henk, whose real name was Hendrik. Anyway, I don’t know if it’s that this branch of my family is Frisian and that the expectations for nicknames / diminutives are different up there than in the Neth proper – but there are definitely some name differences in that province.

    23. Searching*

      I’m really surprised your Dutch wife said that. Being born and raised in the Netherlands (but now in the US), I was used to Dutch birth announcements that would announce the full name and then also say “we will call him/her XYZ”. For example, “We are happy to announce the birth of our son Johannes Theodoor – we will call him Hans”. The Dutch even have a word for that “roepnaam” – and that name (“Hans”) will then be used in daily life for everything but legal purposes (like passports, taxes, etc).

      1. allathian*

        I have a friend in the Netherlands. I’ve always known him as Hans, I was surprised to learn that his legal first name was Johannes when I visited him 20 years ago.

      2. LGP*

        Well I think that’s what I’m trying to get at: it’s not that the roepnaam is never a short version of a longer name; it often is (in fact, my wife’s dad is named Ronald and goes by Ron). But it’s that it seems like Dutch people wouldn’t automatically assume that it is, the way that Americans tend to do. That’s what I find interesting, the difference in expectations between our cultures.

    24. M*

      I’m Dutch and I’m wondering if it’s because traditionally in Dutch you’d have a “doopnaam” (baptism/christening name) and a “roepnaam” (the name you used every day). Your christening name might be Rosemary but your every day name was Romy, so there’s like a built in kind of nickname.

      I also think people are less like to introduce themselves with a shortened name, so if you are named Ronald you introduce yourself as such and then later might tell people to call you Ron.

  28. L. Ron Jeremy*

    Is anyone out there using ChatGPT? Any opinions pro or con regarding its use and AI in general? I think AI is going to be bringing dramatic changes to society, potentially negative with regards to employment, but we’ll have to wait and see how it all flushes out in the future.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I just don’t see why people are so excited about it, lol. I keep seeing AI used in fan stuff and it’s… so boring? People will go “haha, look at this AI generated script for an episode of this show” and it’s like yes, that sure is a generic TV scenario with recognizable character names! Or “fan art” that is just a random person that doesn’t resemble the character or include any references to the show. I don’t understand why people seem to think really generic and mediocre content is clever or funny! I can see it being useful for things where personality or insight is unnecessary but that’s about it.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Yeah, ESPECIALLY for creative writing it’s like just use one of the GPT bots that doesn’t have its creativity deliberately stifled by the “personal assistant” framing!

      2. Anon for this one ;)*

        Because I am writing my entire compliance manual for my state with AI! It’s amazing. Nothing that requires flare or talent, just the dredge you have to do for the state. Saving me a ton of time and I just don’t care what it sounds like (no one will ever read except possibly a state regulator), and it can be dry as dust.

        I’m also writing blog articles with it (i.e. comparing a roth and traditional IRA) and it gives me a boring generic article, which I can doctor into a better voice. Just an amazing time saver! Love, love, love it!

        Of course, I am also an academic, and yes, we are going to have to change a lot to accommodate it. :( So I don’t love it in that world. But as a business owner it is all good.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I keep having to explain to people that it is not actually a research tool, and you can’t trust that the content of anything it says it accurate.

    3. YesIAmRetired*

      I don’t know if businesses are using them extensively, but I could swear that a number of them are, even when I ask if I am speaking to a real person. Because some of the answers to questions I ask, have little to do with my question. So IDK if I happen to have an inattentive person not paying attention, a non-native English speaker trying to do Customer Service, if these businesses make everyone do a standard script regardless of the question, or what. It’s to the point I am not using the online Chat function of businesses At All, I am instead sending an email that hopefully a person is reading.

      If it’s made clear up front I am using a bot, I don’t mind. In fact, I would use a different, simple sentence structure, and make sure I am not using slang or other words that could possibly misinterpreted. I

    4. MissCoco*

      My husband spent an evening goofing around on it. He said it wrote code that would have started some kind of endless loop and never finished running, and some other code that was functional for simple tasks, but that it couldn’t do the hard part of code writing, by finding and fixing errors.

      Then we had fun with having it write stories about our guinea pigs as a pair of masked super heroes who shot lasers out of their eyes.

    5. Cambridge Comma*

      I think it’s great as a starting point for very formulaic letters or emails (although after about 10 lines repetition creeps in) but as soon as you ask it to write on a topic on which you have a lot of expertise its limitations become very apparent. The trouble is that people are using it on topics on which they aren’t well informed so because it reads fairly smoothly they think it seems fine.

  29. No Name Yet*

    My 7 yo kiddo has just expressed an interest in a weighted blanket. We haven’t had one before, but he likes to have us lay on top of him for the pressure, so it’s not super surprising. Any suggestions for places to look, brands to focus on/avoid, or other tips? Thanks!

    1. Doc is In*

      I have one that I used for a while, now it sits in a chest. Mine was hand made by a friend. You can get them anywhere on line, different weights and sizes. You might ask around if anyone has one you could borrow to try out, though child sized might be harder to borrow. I just might get mine out again.

    2. just another queer reader*

      I got mine at aldi for about $30! But it was one of those limited time specials.

      I am under the impression that there are “child” and “adult” versions, and the child versions are less heavy, so definitely get a child version!

      But yeah, if it were me I’d just get one from Target.

      Tips: consider how you’re going to wash it (do you want to add a cover to it); also consider where to store it if not in use (I have a cloth bag by my bed).

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I was recently gifted one! My biggest suggestions:

      1. Pick the weight carefully. I have a 15lb one and it feels a lot heavier than you’d expect.
      2. Get a nice duvet cover for it. Laundering them is A Process and a PITA.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Max 10 % of his body weight.

      The more channels or divisions, the better, because it keeps the weight even and makes it easier to fold or turn back.

      Definitely get a washable cover or 2, and the more anchor points inside the cover, the better. If you’re working with a twin-size, I’d say you need at least 4 anchors down the long sides. On the short ends, you can get away with one at each corner, but if you can get an extra anchor in the middle, that’s better. Trying to deal with a cover when the weights are all bunched up on the other side is a PITA.

    5. Neurodivergent in Germany*

      We have a child version for my daughter. Just a random one off Amazon (there weren’t that many to choose from), which cost around 70 Euros.
      First we went with the suggested 10% of body weight, but now we are up to 20%, because she wanted more pressure.
      For the summer, we use an elastic sheet instead (like an elastic sock that goes around the whole mattress and the person crawls inside).

    6. Anon teacher*

      I know many people who swear by them for their neurodivergent kiddos (and also weighted vests during the day). My only tip would be to consider the weight carefully and monitor your child for a while after starting it (like at least three-four weeks). I tried one myself and initially loved it, but eventually realized I was feeling a little achy in the mornings for a while after waking up. Mine was maybe 8-10% of my body weight, so I was surprised that it caused that effect. It was very subtle, too, like sore muscles after a strenuous workout, and started at least two weeks after I started using the blanket, so I’m not even sure a young child or a child with any type of language delay would be able to express what was they felt or connect it to the blanket.

      1. RagingADHD*

        They help with restlessness when you’re sleeping, but sometimes your body overcorrects and doesn’t move enough (or at all) because it’s too much effort.

        That can lead to soreness and stiffness, because we are supposed to move around and change positions in our sleep.

    7. California Dreamin’*

      We just got one for our teenager from Bearaby that is very nice, and I seem to remember they did a child’s version. It’s supposed to be 10% of body weight but we got a 15 lb blanket for our very slim 110 lb kid and she likes it a lot.

    8. No Name Yet*

      Thank you all so much! I really appreciate the practical tips on buying them, and also what to keep an eye out for once we start.

  30. International travel tips (Denmark), please!*

    I will be going on my first international trip this year (to Copenhagen for work) and am starting to plan. Any tips for things I should do to get ready? I’ve only every traveled in the US, so I’m sure I won’t think of everything myself. And if you have suggestions for things to do in Copenhagen, I’m all ears!

    1. just another queer reader*

      I visited Copenhagen a very long time ago! A few things I remember loving –

      – all the beautiful parks!
      – wind turbines just off the coast!
      – the bridge to Sweden!
      – visiting the little neighborhood grocery stores and figuring out what all the food was
      – lots of cool museums!

      I also remember it being very expensive! Hopefully this won’t be an issue for you since it’s a work trip :)

      As far as international travel goes – make sure you bring your passport and arrange for a visa, if necessary, but otherwise, it’s not too different from domestic travel. Many people in Copenhagen speak English, and your smartphone should be able to translate the rest (Google translate app with camera is magic – recommend downloading Danish dictionary for use offline!) (But also, consider learning a few basic words in Danish, like hello and bathroom!) Check if your phone will work in Denmark and if you’ll be charged exorbitant fees. And check the climate so you can pack the right clothes for the season.

      Have fun!

    2. UKDancer*

      Copenhagen is lovely to visit. If you’re going now it’s probably on the chilly side (about 3-4 degrees) so take warm layers if you’re going to be outdoors a lot. Make sure you have your passport and any visas you need in good time and take out travel insurance. Ensure you can get access to money (Denmark was mostly cashless when I was there so you probably need cards that will work overseas) and note that the currency is the Krone not the Euro.

      Most people use public transport around Copenhagen (which I know can be a shock to people from parts of the US without a good public transport system) and I’d advise strongly against trying to hire a car. Have a look at the map for the public transport and work out how to get from the airport to your hotel and then around the city.

      In terms of what to see and do, I love the Tivoli Gardens which are a combination of a garden and a theme park with lovely traditional rollercoasters. I also love wandering around Nyhavn by the canals and seeing the pretty buildings and boats. Copenhagen has some nice museums (national museum, national gallery and the Charlottenborg palace) as well. Denmark can be quite expensive (at least it is to a Brit, I’m not sure about the comparison with the US) so budget accordingly.

    3. tab*

      My husband and I loved our visit to Copenhagen in 2011. However, it’s the most expensive city I’ve visited in Europe. We dealt with it by booking an apartment, and eating out for lunch only. We cooked breakfasts and dinners in our apartment. It was still crazy expensive, but this way we got to enjoy a meal out every day. Also, I was surprised to learn that the Dutch think it’s bad manners to eat a sandwich or burger with your hands. Everyone used a fork and knife, so that’s what we did too. Maybe that’s changed in the past decade… If you have time, we enjoyed a train ride to Malmö, Sweden. It’s a quick trip, and a delightful city to spend the afternoon visiting. Enjoy your trip!

      1. Searching*

        The Dutch do often use knife and fork for sandwiches (a bit of a culture shock when I bring my American husband to the Netherlands), I didn’t know the Danish do this as well.

      2. Danish*

        I don’t know about the Dutch but as a Dane that depends on the quality/price of the sandwiches and burgers, it’s fast food vs. restaurant. (though I wonder if by sandwich you mean smørrebrød/rye bread with various toppings? Because you cannot eat that without fork and knife if there’s more than one topping on it.)

        1. Searching*

          I agree it depends on the setting! So the Dutch and the Danes are probably alike in that regard. And part of it may be generational – my Dutch dad even at home still eats his sandwiches at home with knife and fork. I do think using a knife and fork is probably better for the digestion as it slows the process down! ;)

      1. E*

        I wouldn’t bother with global entry unless you anticipate several other foreign trips in the next few years. It saves time in long run but the cost and effort to set it up wouldn’t be worth it to me if you’re only traveling internationally, say, 1-2 times per year.

        You may want to call your bank and credit card company now-ish to see what their foreign transaction fees are like to prepare. Closer to the trio (like day or two beforehand) you can call (or sometimes do this online) and put a travel alert on so they know it’s you and not fraud when they see spending in Denmark and don’t freeze you out.

        I second the idea of finding out what your cellphone plan covers in advance. It might be worth a paid upgrade to get faster data (eg my T-Mobile plan has free 3G in most places, but it’s soooo slow that if you’re relying on it to look up an address or something you’ll be frustrated.

    4. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      Get the Rick Steves guidebook for Copenhagen. I’ve not been there but his books were invaluable for my trips to elsewhere in Europe. It will have all the places-to-go stuff as well as useful tips about what to pack and generally how things work there.

    5. Kathenus*

      If you can get there, check out Møns Klint, the white cliffs of Denmark, less than 2 hours from Copenhagen. And definitely try to go on a troll hunt! These are the trolls by artist Thomas Dambo, hidden around Copenhagen (and numerous ones now in different parts of the world). Made from all recycled materials they are amazing and absolutely worth seeing.

    6. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      If you have enough time to do significant sightseeing, the Copenhagen City Pass is worth the money since it includes all the major attractions (Tivoli, museums, palace).

      If you have time to get outside the city via train, Roskilde has both a Viking museum with an intact ship and the church where all the royal burials are plus it’s a cute town. Also just outside is the world famous Louisiana art museum.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I found Copenhagen quite expensive too, but there are various cafe chains which do deals on breakfast, and the open sandwich restaurants often have a lunch time special.

        A harbour trip is interesting (in combination with a Hop-on Hop-off bus) and whilst everyone wants to see the Little Mermaid, it is very underwhelming.

  31. Riding the Crimson Tide*

    Hello! I anticipate I’m going to get my period soon for the first time in ~ 8 years. There are tons of more eco-friendly options now! I don’t want to invest in period underwear bc hopefully I’ll be pregnant soon, so everything will be a different size, and I’m not interested in a diva cup. I was mostly a tampons + panty liners person back in the day. So, what’s everyone’s favorite brand of reusable pads / panty liners?

    1. anon7557*

      There are reusable pads made of cloth, with plastic liners inside to protect your clothes, on Etsy. I have a short one but prefer the longer ones I bought since. Mine snap under the crotch so they have wings but they aren’t lined so sometimes I have had some leaks.

    2. Pop*

      For another eco-friendly option, I’ve always used OB tampons – they don’t have an applicator, so the waste is much less. (And as a side note, I wore the same underwear throughout my whole pregnancy, so don’t discount buying a pair of period underwear if that’s what you really want!)

      1. Stitch*

        Yes my experience was that underwear size didn’t change during pregnancy. You kind of get bigger higher up.

        I tried specific c section underwear after my c section but didn’t like it.

      2. Pocket Mouse*

        Same, and having absorbent underwear was a bonus during that time. Hanes has gotten into the game so the financial barrier to entry has become much lower.

      3. HBJ*

        My experience, too. I never bought specific “maternity” underwear either. My opinion – it’s a scam. Unless you always wear very high waisted underwear, regular undies are fine. And if you do have all high-waisted underwear, you can always just buy a basic non-maternity pack of bikini cut instead of paying more for the “maternity” label.

    3. GlowCloud*

      When I used reusable pads, I made a batch of my own, using layers of T-shirt cotton, flannel, towelling, and blackout curtain fabric (for waterproofing), with a press-stud fastening that I could use to secure the wings around the gusset of my undies. I think I just used one of my disposable pads as a template for the pattern, and left a little extra seam allowance, plus some for the wings to overlap for the fastening.
      If you have the time and the inclination (plus maybe a sewing machine), it’s a fun little project for a weekend.

      I have to say, they lasted me for a few years, and I don’t think I ever had a problem with them staying in place and catching everything they needed to, so…

    4. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      I got custom pads from someone on Etsy. I sent her one of my preferred disposables so she could make the exact size and shape. My biggest recommendation though, is the wings with a snap. If anyone still makes them without that, make sure to add it or pick someone else.

      I did eventually move to a cup and menstruation undies combo, but OB was my tampon of choice before that.

      Depending on why you don’t want a cup, you could try the disposable cups. They’re more like a flexible rim with an unstructured “cup”. Holds more than a tampon, no worries about sterilization, and pretty conducive to cleaner period sex.

    5. Kay*

      Period Aisle is an amazing company (formerly Luna Pads), super inclusive and have both great reusable liners as well as period panties. Highly recommend all their products – including their soap stick.

      You said you didn’t want a Diva cup – depending on the reason the Flex reusable disc might be a good option (I found the Flex disc more comfortable than the Diva cup).

      1. anxiousGrad*

        Sustainable AND trans inclusive?? That sounds awesome. Do you need to wear a pad or tampon with the period underwear or is it enough by itself?

        1. Kay*

          Oh they are so amazing!!

          For me, it really depends on the situation. I typically have one day where my flow is heavier, and I can either use a Flex disk, Diva cup, or one of their reusable liners in addition to the period underwear and I’ll have zero transfer to my clothing. The rest of the time I can usually wear one pair for the day without issue, then change for the night.

          If I need to feel a little more confident (I’ll be out for a full day, meeting w/clients or yoga class) I’ll choose to use a 2nd method in addition to the period underwear, but since going 100% reusable I’ve been thrilled with my options (so need to work on donating my leftover supplies)!

      2. Melody Pond*

        Seconding Period Aisle! I’m wearing a pair of their Boost briefs right now, in fact! (As a backup to my very-valued Nixit disc.)

        And I also agree with the reusable disc mention. Depending on OP’s reasons for not being interested in a cup, a reusable disc could be something to consider. I’ve successfully converted my sister in law to the Hello disc, I’m in love with the Nixit disc as I said, and one of my sisters is newly using the Saalt small disc.

        But aside from that… @OP – Yurtcraft cloth pads and Homestead Emporium cloth pads are both wonderful and both available on Etsy (last I checked). I love them both, just not quite as much as my Period Aisle undies.

      3. Pocket Mouse*

        Seconding Flex. I can’t speak to how well the discs work, but the cup design is the best I’m aware of, super easy to remove.

        1. Kay*

          Oh the discs are fabulous. I started with them when they first had their disposables but paused when I decided I really wanted to stick with sustainable. (I do recommend figuring out how to use them at a time when you are scheduled to be at home) Once they came out with their reusable I was on board and have been really pleased. I find it much more comfortable than the cup, even though the cup was still a great option.

    6. AnonMomma*

      I’m a big fan of the absorbent undies. I bought several pairs of Knix when I left my last job & I had extra flex money to spend. I still use tampons on heavy flow days, but I’ve been able to significantly reduce the number of tampons I use each cycle, so I call that a win. It’s been said already, but you’d likely be able to wear the same underwear during and after pregnancy. And absorbent underwear would come in handy for more than just periods (especially for the post pregnancy time when you might pee a little every time you laugh or sneeze….)

  32. No Tribble At All*

    Another product recommendation request — best replacement for disposable safety razor for shaving leg/underarm hair? I’ve seen a lot of hype about metal straight razors, but you have to specially moisturize, & reviews say you have to go much slower than with a safety razor. Is it hygienic to use an electric shaver on your armpits? Do they get a close enough shave?

    1. Courageous cat*

      Maybe technology has changed in the past 10 years but electric shavers will eat your armpits alive IMO

    2. Squidhead*

      I’ve grown to like epilating and then touching up with tweezers. It’s not as fast as shaving, but the skin is nice and smooth for a couple of weeks, followed by softer hairs I can mostly ignore. When the firmer hairs start coming back it’s time to tweeze them (oddly soothing) or epilate again. Or if I let it go too long (> about 3mm) I’ll shave and then epilate after a few days. (1-2mm seems like the best length.) It *is* tricky to get every angle with the epilator, but with practice and good lighting I’m doing okay. I exfoliate and moisturize afterwards to reduce the chance of ingrown hairs. (I rarely get them in underarms. Bikini line is a different story, and makes it not worth it!). Epilating my legs takes too long and I just shave them when I feel like it.

      1. Me, too!*

        I was going to suggest epilating, too. I’ve done it for years, and now there’s almost nothing there to epilate. My legs, though, definitely still need it. And yes, it takes a while, but then I’m good for a few weeks, so it’s worth it to me.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I get Dollar Shave Club– I get replacement blades for my razor handle every 6 weeks. Works pretty well for me. I wouldn’t attempt a straight razor (too many curvy parts!) and the idea of an electric shaver… eh. I’d rather use a fresh blade.

    4. Indolent Libertine*

      My hub has a Harry’s razor, which is a permanent handle with disposable blades. It works well and stays sharp for a long time. Still generates trash, but less of it.

    5. Chi chan*

      I really like Brio rechargeable razor and use it on arm pits. If I feel like it, I sometimes go over a second time with a Venus razor.

  33. Another making-friends-as-an-adult question*

    I’d like to meet new people/make more friends, but don’t do great with either really big groups (which most of my local Meetup groups are) or one-on-one stranger meetups ala Bumble BFF. Does anyone have any ideas for volunteering or community groups or other activities where you are spending a fair amount of time with 10 or less people and conversation tends to happen naturally? I’ve done classes/group art activities in the past, but found that there wasn’t enough interaction with other participants to really make new connections.
    I am in the DC area, if anyone has local ideas or opportunities they could point me to! 

    1. Not A Manager*

      If you do any kind of handwork, there are a variety of charities that make blankets, hats etc. for people who need them. I do believe that there are organized groups where people get together to craft them.

    2. carcinization*

      I don’t know how old you are of course, but years ago Captain Awkward had a post about just this, and the Jaycees were the best recommendation from the comments for me. The only thing is that Jaycees sort of stands for “Junior Chamber of Commerce” so it’s for folks under 40. I am over 40 now so can no longer be in the Jaycees, I’d have to join the regular Chamber of Commerce which is more expensive and I’m assuming more of a true business networking thing than a social thing like the Jaycees was. Anyhow, when I joined the Jaycees I was in my early 30s. I do not have a business to promote, you don’t have to in order to be a Jaycee. The meetings are for everyone and then one can decide to join through paying minimal yearly dues if one wants to. Anyhow, I made some good friends in the Jaycees that I still hang out with even years later. When I was active in the organization we did volunteer projects around the community as well as stuff that was purely fun. So… that’s my recommendation!

      1. carcinization*

        Reading over the question again, the volunteer opportunities were usually smaller than 10 folks, though the monthly meetings were usually quite a bit larger. But even at the larger meetings it wasn’t difficult to talk to people even as a mild introvert, people seemed to really want to mingle and talk to others.

    3. grocery store pootler*

      Maybe this off-base as to your area’s meetups, but here at least some groups have larger events, but folks naturally split into smaller groups, like to play board-games. I agree that I won’t get to know anyone at something like a huge bookclub meeting where it’s one big discussion, but a large meetup with subgroups where over-the-activity socializing can happen I find somewhat more do-able (though I’m still quite slow to really make friends at meetups).

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      If you’re somewhat outdoorsy, Young Members AMC is a good group for hikes and trips (under 40 is the age cutoff).

      DC area maybe get involved in something political as a volunteer (favorite cause or someone’s campaign)?

      Also, depending on your interests, libraries sponsor book clubs, you can volunteer at an animal shelter, local hobby stores often have info on groups (LARP, video games, knitting), adult Ed classes, gardening club in your town or join a community garden plot, Rec sports, etc.

    5. just another queer reader*

      In my experience, small/niche/local groups seem to be more friends-oriented compared to the large ones. And maybe this is skewed by my (quirky) neighborhood but there are a lot of grassroots orgs that are good ways to meet people.

      So like, instead of volunteering at a food shelf for a couple hours, volunteer at the mutual aid group. That sort of thing.

    6. GlowCloud*

      Gardening is a really good activity for being able to chat while doing something at a gentle pace, that also has many health benefits. Plus, it’s a constantly changing environment, so there’s always something to comment on like wild birds, or the weather, or how the garden is responding to the weather…
      Lots of places (especially heritage sites) welcome garden volunteers. I know nothing of DC, but garden volunteering would be my number one activity recommendation.

      Declaration of interest: I am a horticulturist who works with volunteers in a public amenity garden. ;)

    7. E*

      Is there a cooperative grocery store near you that has member labor? At mine people are usually quite chatty on the shifts

    8. Frankie Bergstein*

      Running club! (Also in the DC area)
      Organizing your neighbors to meet up for a happy hour
      Work happy hour

    9. Neurodivergent in Germany*

      If you are into quilting (or other kinds of fabric/yarn crafts), maybe try to find a store where you get along with the owner and join their get-together.
      I’ve been made very welcome at fabric stores even though I was just a tourist passing through.
      Crafting lends itself to chatting, because you can always discuss your project and a lot of the work is repetitive and doesn’t need your full attention. And craft clubs often make stuff for donation.
      Also, in my experience, a mix of ages/at least some older folx is easier than a group of age peers.

  34. Falling Diphthong*

    Anyone use America’s Test Kitchen website, and have recommendations for maximizing the usefulness?

    I did a free two-week trial because I wanted to see one recipe, didn’t use it much in practice, but when I went to cancel at one week they were featuring congee! Which I love. (And the recipe worked.) So I waited to cook a few things and cancel at the 2 week mark, and then forgot. Figured I’d roll with the year, and gave the log-in to my daughter. (Who is a hobby baker, and will be moving in with her boyfriend in the next months and so more motivated to cook for two.)

    I am a good home cook; adapting to cooking for two older adults without the teenaged athlete in the mix.

    1. Not A Manager*

      That’s literally the only website I pay to be able to access. I don’t really “maximize” it, though. I use it as a resource for things like product reviews for kitchen appliances and gadgets, ingredient reviews, and then basic recipes. Usually I’ll compare the ATK recipe to several other free sites just to evaluate if if the recipe is heading where I want it to go.

      I mostly use the recipes from Cooks Illustrated, and I find that they are generally reliable but tend to run middle-of-the-road and a bit bland. That’s why I use them for basics like “chocolate cake” or “crispy chicken” and not more exciting things. Since I do compare them to other recipes, I’ll sometimes pump up the spices or add a flavor based on what another site recommends. But the site provides a good roadmap in terms of general ingredients and techniques.

    2. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Currently cooking their Greek beef stew. I don’t know that I’ve “maximized” it. I always look there for product reviews both for food and equipment – when we changed over to an induction range that was the first place I went to figure out what cookware to buy. We use the NYT recipe site more often for day-to-day cooking out of habit. When I’m looking for something specific that I haven’t made before, I go to ATK – last month I made chicken pot pie for the first time. They had four or five different recipes and techniques that I read through to figure out how to do it.

      Maybe look for one recipe a week to try and see how you like their search and favorites function?

    3. 00ff00Claire*

      I only recently subscribed, so I wouldn’t say that I have found the most efficient usefulness, but as a new user, I’m trying to get the most out of it. I consider myself a decent home cook and cook almost all of our meals, although we eat some things that don’t really require “cooking” per se – like sandwiches. Currently, I have a collection of go-to recipes from various websites and about 3-4 websites other than ATK that had been my first stops for inspiration or something “new”. Now, I make ATK my first stop for inspiration, and it’s been helpful getting out of a bit of a planning rut. I like how many of their recipes include “why it works” and they have videos and how-tos for certain things. I’m planning to use those features to either try new things (pierogis!) or see if I can improve on things that I can already make but would like to get better at. Right now, 1-2 recipes for each week’s menu I choose from the ATK site, but I try to make sure at least one of those is easy, like instant pot carrot soup. I save the recipes on the site, plus I print them to PDF and save them, so if I don’t renew after this year, I’ll still have the recipes. I think saving the recipes to favorites on the site helps because now I get suggestions too, and I’m interested to see if that will help me try new things. I’ve also noticed several “For Two” versions of recipes when I have searched for things; maybe those would be of interest to you.

  35. Courageous cat*

    Do you use table salt or sea salt at your dining table/when eating? I am reading more and more lately about iodine deficiencies causing more issues these days due to people eating so much sea salt. I have a sea salt grinder myself so am thinking about switching back to be safe. Curious if this is on anyone else’s radar or if anyone’s had issues with iodine deficiency.

    1. sagewhiz*

      I use iodized salt in cooking, which is where most of it goes. The sea salt grinder is at the table for the last little finesse.

      Also, be sure the table salt you buy is iodized! Many brands offer salt without that added protection, so look closely at the label.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      My understanding is that the majority of the salt in most people’s diets comes from prepared or processed foods and that’s likely to be iodized salt. The salt that you add at the table is usually a nominal contributor to sodium intake. I think it also depends on the overall quality of your diet and whether you’re getting iodide from other foods or a supplement.

      (Personally, I use Diamond Crystal kosher salt for everything; at this point iodized salt just tastes a bit off to me.)

      1. Courageous cat*

        Welllllll now that’s intriguing to hear. Because I require my freshly cracked pepper, but it’s a real bitch to find a salt/pepper set where the salt is a shaker and the pepper is a grinder.

        If I can grind up iodized salt that may be my favored option…

      2. Generic Name*

        I’m the same. I use an old fashioned wooden crank pepper grinder. Which is making me remember the matching salt and pepper set my parents had when I was a kid. Dark wood. Salt was a shaker, pepper was a grinder. I’m sure it was from the 70s.

    3. Jay (no, the other one)*

      If you eat fish and/or seafood, you also get iodine from there. Also eggs, dairy, and a variety of vegetables and essentially all processed foods, which include iodized salt. Unless you’re eating a very restricted diet, you’re probably fine.

      We use non-iodized kosher salt for all cooking and have sea salt in our grinder at the table. When I bake and the recipe calls for “regular” salt, I use iodized table salt but I can’t imagine 1/2 tsp of salt in a recipe that makes 24 cookies does a whole lot for me. I had bariatric surgery so I have vitamin levels and other lab work done every six month and everything is fine. Not sure this is actually a thing; I’d check your source pretty carefully.

    4. Snell*

      I don’t salt at the table at all, but when cooking, I do try to use iodized salt. Before I started using iodized salt, I hadn’t run into any deficiency problems, but as you say, it’s a legitimate concern. Sea salt isn’t a great deal more expensive that other regular salts (which I gather is not always the case depending on where you are), so it still gets regular use.

      My biggest concern when using iodized salt is making sure it actually makes it to the food. I’ll use it on oven-roasted veg and even in soups where you’re going to be drinking the liquid, but I’m salt pasta water with sea salt. The benefit of using iodized salt is the iodine. I don’t want to pour all that iodine down the drain.

      1. Snell*

        *Sea salt isn’t a great deal more expensive that other regular salts where I am

        **I’m going to salt pasta water with sea salt.

        I have no idea how these two slipped by me. I have a clear memory of having the thoughts and choosing to put down those thoughts in a comment, but after posting the comment, see with my own eyes that those thoughts didn’t make it in!

    5. E*

      Yes I became slightly hypothyroidic during pandemic and strongly believe it was bc we were eating nearly all meals from scratch at home and cooking with kosher salt exclusively, plus I’m vegetarian so don’t get iodine from fish etc. I now buy and mostly cook/season with iodized table salt. I also am on synthroid, which is not a huge problem but is a pain with timing of eating and taking other meds– so I highly suggest having the recommended iodine intake to try to avoid this if possible!

    6. Esprit de l'escalier*

      I use all un-iodized salts — Diamond Crystal for most cooking, a fine salt to add to boiling water for eg pasta or steamed vegs, Maldon flakes for the table — and take an iodine-potassium supplement. That way I get what I think is a cleaner taste but also get the iodine.

    7. Observer*

      I am reading more and more lately about iodine deficiencies causing more issues these days due to people eating so much sea salt.

      I’m kind of skeptical – as others have noted, most of the salt people use comes from commercial sources, which tends to be iodized.

      1. Clisby*

        Don’t the non-iodized salts mostly come from commercial sources as well? I buy both kosher salt and sea salt from my regular grocery store – they’re both from Morton, which also produces the regular (iodized) table salt that I mostly use. I buy kosher or sea salt for the larger grains, not because they’re non-iodized.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          “Commercial sources” in this context meaning “premade foods purchased that already contain salt as an ingredient” – that salt is almost all iodized. And most restaurants are using iodized in the kitchen too.

  36. Rosie*

    I just started OrangeTheory and Pilates after a long hiatus from regular exercise – aiming to do 3-4 OTF classes a week, plus one private and one small group pilates equipment class (at least for the short term; will likely switch to just classes once I get the hang of Pilates because $$$). Does anyone do OTF/Pilates combo, or one or the other? What are your thoughts? I chose these because I like the high intensity of OTF, and the core strengthening of Pilates (which I desperately need). I do worry however that I’m missing out on more intense strength training.

    1. Parky*

      I’m not sure how you find more intense workouts than those 2 combined. I’ma pet serious gym rat and OTF is brutal for me, although I am competitive and push myself. Pilates classes I’ve taken have always been intense as well, although they ones I go to incorporate barre so maybe that’s why.

    2. Oreo*

      I can’t speak for OFT – but depending on the type of Pilates studio you go to (are they all about the Classical Pilates method, or are they more contemporary with Barre-style workouts and such?) – you should be working on more than just your core. For example, there’s a whole side series that works hips, thighs, as well as the powerhouse. There’s also tricep dips and pull ups that can be done on a variety of equipment. You can also supplement some of the traditional movements with small weights if you feel comfortable with that.

  37. Person from the Resume*

    Following from my question last week about my passport application being lost in the mail. Thanks everyone. Before I visited the post office, I checked the department of state website and my application was received by them the day it went “missing” from the USPS tracking service. The USPS still shows it at a Philadelphia post office, but clearly it left there and was delivered to the Philadelphia passport processing center without that being tracked.

    I’m grateful because even though the process was easy, I was worried that without my old passport I’d have a harder time and have to provide more proof of who I am.

    1. Broken scones*

      I’m glad you were able to find an answer! Sometimes it’s as simple as someone not scanning something lol. Thanks for the update.

  38. Fancy Pants*

    If you mail someone a gift and they never mention it and don’t thank you for it, would you follow up about it?

    Asking for my friend, Anna. Anna’s friend, Jamie, moved to another state into her first house a couple months ago, so Anna sent mailed her a box of house warming gifts a few weeks ago. The gifts were all very thoughtful and useful. (As examples, Jamie enjoys loose leaf tea, and kept telling Ann last year that she loved Ann’s Cuddl Duds throw and wanted one herself. So the gifts included fancy loose leaf tea and a Cuddl Duds throw in Jamie’s favorite color.) Anna sent Jamie the tracking number for the package, so Jamie knew the package was coming and to look out for it.

    Anna didn’t hear from Jamie for three weeks, and was worried that maybe Jamie didn’t like the gifts. Then Jamie sent a bunch of texts yesterday, with photos of her new couch and her “tea and coffee” corner in the kitchen.

    Anna feels very hurt that Jamie never thanked her for any of the gifts. She also feels stupid for spending all that money and time on the gift package since she thinks it wasn’t appreciated.

    I told Anna that if getting some sort of acknowledgement about the gifts will make her feel better, she could just text something like, “Sitting on the couch, bundled up in my Cuddl Duds blanket and thought of you. Hope yours is keeping you warm!” or “Did you get around to trying the new loose leaf tea? I was wondering if you liked it–I was thinking of ordering some for myself!” And then maybe Jamie would say how much she loved the tea or blanket.

    But Ann says she can’t mention the gifts because that would be like fishing for a thank you, and she shouldn’t have to force someone to thank her.

    I don’t know what else to tell Ann. How do you guys handle not getting thanked for gifts?

    1. Rosie*

      It sounds like Jamie knows that Ann sent the gift, since she gave her a tracking number. Otherwise I’d think maybe it got lost in the mail, or it was not clear who it was from (ie forgot to include a card). Perhaps Jamie sent an “old fashioned” snail mail thank you note, and that got lost?

    2. fposte*

      I personally have no problem fishing for an acknowledgment. It doesn’t have to be a thank you, but the person at least should say “I got the package–looking forward to opening it when I have a moment.” I don’t think it’s that big a deal to say “Hey, did you ever get that package? Was the tea okay?”

      I think Anna should either steel herself and check that the package arrived, decide that it doesn’t matter enough to ask it doesn’t matter enough to brood about, or decide this means something really important to her isn’t important enough to Jamie to continue the friendship. I personally dislike the “shouldn’t have to” locution, as it suggests that everybody came equipped with the same rules; I do, however, think it’s legitimate for Anna to say to herself that she put thought into this and she feels hurt by what seems like a dismissal of what she hoped was a meaningful gift.

      Right now she’s taking the worst possible option of stewing and thinking bad things without choosing a course of action. I think Jamie should say thanks, but Anna’s the one pushing this into a drama place when she has the choice of easily getting more information and understanding.

      Gift-giving is also fraught in that, IMHO, a gift means more to the giver than the givee something like 80% of the time. It can help to keep that in mind rather than feeling shortchanged.

      1. Fancy Pants*

        “Gift-giving is also fraught in that, IMHO, a gift means more to the giver than the givee something like 80% of the time. It can help to keep that in mind rather than feeling shortchanged.”

        That’s so true! Anna spent a few weeks choosing, ordering and then making sure the gifts were delivered to herself. Then had to package them up securely and take them to the post office to mail them to Jamie. So she has a lot of time and emotion invested in this. Whereas it probably took Jamie five minutes to open the box and go through the gifts and think, “These are so nice! I’ll have to text Anna later” or whatever. Jamie could have been busy at the time and just forgotten about it.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Generally the day after a package I sent is due to be delivered, I check in – “Hey, I sent you a box, did you get it? Cool, just checking!” And after that, I am generally unbothered by whether they explicitly thank me for it or not. Like, if I sent a box of tea and my friend sent me a picture of her tea corner, including the stuff I sent, then I can reasonably assume that she liked it, whether she said thank you or not. (But if someone routinely doesn’t even acknowledge gifts, even when I specifically check to make sure they were received, I would probably stop sending them gifts.)

    4. Not A Manager*

      Did the photo include actual items that Ann sent? If so, I would almost consider that the thank you. Like, the person is literally showing that she is using the throw and the teas so obviously she is communicating that she likes them. A picture is worth a thousand words. If I were Ann I’d text back, “great, I’m so glad you’re using the comforter and the tea!”

      If the photos didn’t include that stuff, then for sure I’d ask about them. “Sofa looks great! Did that tea and comforter I sent you ever arrive?”

      1. Fancy Pants*

        The gifts weren’t in the photos Jamie sent, which Anna picked up on, so it made her moreso think Jamie didn’t like the gifts and wasn’t using them (though the blanket could be anywhere in the house, and the tea could be in a cabinet or drawer, so I don’t think them not being in the photos means anything.)

        (Also just realized I switched between “Anna” and “Ann.” Sorry! I made up names to help with anonymity.)

        1. Not A Manager*

          Okay, there are three possibilities I can think of.

          One, the package never arrived. Sometimes people are weird about following up even if you gave them a tracking number. If Jamie is busy with her move, she might literally have forgotten about the package.

          Two, Jamie is thoughtless. She got the package, maybe she put it in a pile and forgot to open it, maybe she opened it and forgot to text.

          Three, Jamie is horrible. Under Anna’s interpretation, she received a very thoughtful and loving gift, and she not only didn’t acknowledge it, she went out of her way to send a passive-aggressive message that she didn’t like it. I find this very unlikely.

          I think the best response to any of these is a text that says, “I love how you’re nesting! I hope the comforter and the tea that I sent help make your new place into a lovely home.”

          1. Fancy Pants*

            I would bet it’s just number two. Know Hanlon’s razor? The rule that you should “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”? Seems like you could replace “stupidity” with “thoughtless” (or “forgetful” or something similar) for this situation.

    5. Double A*

      I don’t understand. Why wouldn’t she just text back something like, “Lovely pics! Hope you’re settling in! Also just checking, did you get the package I sent?” That’s not fishing for thanks (although you should be thanked for a gift!!), it closing a loop. It’s disrespectful to Jamie that Anne’s first assumption is that Jamie is being rude because there are a million other explanations.

      1. KatEnigma*

        But if Anna sent Jamie the tracking, Jamie knew it was coming. If it hadn’t arrived 3 weeks later, wouldn’t she say something? It’s pretty fair to assume Jamie is just being rude/lazy. All those things that COULD have happened are just fantasies.

        1. fposte*

          Because Jamie isn’t going to prod Anna about the whereabouts of a gift? It’s just as much a fantasy to consider her rude, really.

          I dunno, I’m very much Guess rather than Ask, but this seems like a big Use Your Words situation rather than a time to play chicken where the winner is the one who’s most silent about something. Does Anna want to be friends with Jamie or not? If she does, she’s going to have negotiate friction spots with her, because that inevitably happens with people, or else she’s going to have to be okay with letting them go. Right now she’s doing neither, and a quick text to Jamie could clear the whole thing up. There’s no victory in a standoff, especially when it’s likely only one person knows it’s a standoff.

          1. Observer*

            but this seems like a big Use Your Words situation rather than a time to play chicken where the winner is the one who’s most silent about something

            Exactly!

        2. WellRed*

          Yes Jamie should send thanks but maybe she’s busy and overwhelmed with setting up a new house in a new state. What’s Jamie normally like us the big question for me.

          1. Double A*

            Presumably since Anna likes Jamie enough to send her a thoughtful gift she also would want to look at the situation in the most generous light and presume goodwill from her friend?

            I would not be interested in remaining friends with someone whose first thought when I did something thoughtless or forgetful is, “Well Double A is a rude boor but I shall never speak to her of this and shall just silently resent her from now on.”

            As a mom with young kids I don’t know what to do about gifts half the time. I want to teach my kids to write notes but that is a whole production (the oldest is 4) that is currently a LOT of work for me. Is thanking someone when they give the gift good enough? And then for events with lots of gifts it’s SO easy to lose track of who gave what and if I said thank you…ugh. The best gift someone can give me is grace so I can let go of some of my Mom shame when I inevitably mess up.

        3. Observer*

          If it hadn’t arrived 3 weeks later, wouldn’t she say something? It’s pretty fair to assume Jamie is just being rude/lazy.

          Absolutely not. A lot of people would not say anything.

          *I* would almost certainly say something. And I wouldn’t tell my mother. Because she would be APPALLED at my (in her eyes) abysmal rudeness. Most people are not as extreme as my mother. But most people I know would probably not say anything.

    6. Tired of Working*

      This is why I stopped sending gifts to certain people.

      It isn’t fair to accuse me of fishing for a thank you when I want to be notified that the recipient has received my gift. I just want to know that they did in fact receive my gift, because I have up to 60 days to report to my credit card company that the merchandise I ordered was not delivered. Once I was emailed that a gift I had ordered was delivered to the recipient on his birthday. “Great!” I thought and promptly put it out of my mind. I was very surprised when the recipient (a teenager) called me six weeks later to thank me, saying that he had received the gift a few days ago. I asked him when he got it, and he mentioned a date that was three weeks after his birthday. Then he said, “Oh, I guess it wasn’t a few days ago, was it?” I had a feel that his mother had yelled at him and said, “You mean you STILL haven’t thanked Tired of Working for her gift?” And then they decided that he would pretend that his gift had arrived only a few days ago, but he messed up when giving me the date his gift had supposedly arrived.

      After I sent his teenaged sister a birthday gift and heard nothing, I called and left a message asking if she had received it. The mother called and told me that she had received it, but she was in the process of writing thank you notes, and she wasn’t going to mail them until she had finished writing all of them. Okay. So I waited for the thank you note, which never came. Maybe her mother told her, “I already told Tired of Working that you received her gift, so you don’t have to send her a note.” Or maybe the plan was never to send notes to anyone, and if the gift-givers happened to call, they would be told what I was told, and left to assume that since they already knew that their gifts had been received, no thank you notes would be forthcoming.

      I personally mailed a gift to another teenager and heard nothing. I eventually called and left a message asking if he had received it. A few days later, he called when I wasn’t home. My father answered the phone, and the teenager told him “Tell Tired of Working that I called.” I figured that the teenager would call me again a few days later, but he didn’t, so I called again and left another message. His mother called me back and said, “Honestly, he swears up and down that he called you.” I said, “He did, but I wasn’t home, and he told my father to tell me that he called. I couldn’t figure out from that whether or not he received my gift.” His mother said that boys were so silly, and that the two of them would be going away for the weekend, and after their return, he would call me. He never did.

      I mailed him a gift the following year and again heard nothing. Again I called and left a message. His mother called me and said that yes, he had received it, but he was just too busy to call me.

      I’m not a stickler for wanting a thank you note. A call takes less time. All I want is acknowledgement that the gift arrived.

      1. Double A*

        I am noticing you are leaving voicemails for teenagers. I promise you they will not listen to them. That’s just the reality. If they ignore your texts, that’s rude. If they ignore your voicemail, and your are aware that is not something they check, we’ll…it’s still rude but you’re also contributing to the problem.

        Try switching to texting the teens and see what happens (also, you can send a group text to the teen and their parents). It’s my job to communicate with teens, and voicemails might as well be shouted into the void but a group text is very effective.

        1. Tired of Working*

          I left voicemail messages on the family landlines, not on the teenagers’ personal cellphones. In the first instance, I didn’t even call, because I had been emailed that the gift arrived on the birthday boy’s birthday. As I said, I promptly put the matter out of my mind, and I was surprised when he called me six weeks later and told me that my gift had arrived a few days ago.

          In the second instance, I don’t know who listened to my voicemail – the birthday girl or her mother – but I was told that she would send out thank you notes after she had finished writing all of them.

          In the third instance, the birthday boy knew that I had called, because he called me and left the message with my father “Tell Tired of Working that I called.” And his mother said that he swore up and down that he had called me. I said that I was unable to figure out from his message whether or not he had received my gift.

          I don’t think that texting would have made a difference.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            Texting would make a difference even with me and I’m 44. I try to disable voicemail on both cell and landline wherever possible because it’s hard to pay attention to the one random message you get occasionally. It’s difficult to prioritize it when you get out of the habit of seeing it as a main source of messages, when hardly anyone uses them; communication systems have changed. Teenagers also frequently see the family landline as having precisely nothing to do them, and to them it’s almost as though you called someone else.

        2. Clisby*

          Heck, voicemails left on my (Boomer) landline are shouting into the void. Every once in a while I glance at the phone and realize the blinking light tells me I have 4 new voicemails. It’s almost never an actual human. If somebody really wants my attention, they’ll text.

      2. Observer*

        It isn’t fair to accuse me of fishing for a thank you when I want to be notified that the recipient has received my gift.

        Except that Anna is fishing for a thank you. Not that it’s the worst thing she could do. It’s understandable that she wants more than a confirmation of receipt. What’s not ok is getting on your high horse that someone is not reading your mind. Sure, it’s the polite thing to do, but if someone doesn’t realize that you want them to verbalize an acknowledgement you can either let it go or let them know. “They should know on their own” is generally not a good way to operate. (And if Jamie were the one writing in, I would absolutely say “Do NOT wait for someone to ask you – you should express appreciation without being asked.” But Jamie is not the one writing in.)

        On the other hand, if Anna REALLY only wants to make sure that the gifts showed up, then making this about fishing for thanks is on her. Reasonable people don’t take an inquiry into whether a gift has shown up as “Ugh! they are demanding thanks!”

        Unless Jamie has a pattern of being unreasonable or of making people feel bad about being thanked, the person making unwarranted assumptions here is Anna.

    7. Liassjous*

      If it’s a gift sent snail-mail I would follow up after a reasonable amount of time to check that it has actually made it to the recipient! We sent a large parcel to a friend internationally with lots of presents in it; 13 months later it still hasn’t arrived, but we didn’t realise this until a couple of months ago because we didn’t follow up. (It was for a new baby, so we all just went “oh they’re busy and exhausted!”)

    8. Fellow Traveller*

      There was a Carolyn Hax column this week on Wednesday about this. I thought that she had an interesting take in that, given the ease and proliferation of accumulating “stuff”, gift giving is kind of an outdated ritual, one that can feel like it checks a to do box rather than truly express the value of a relationship. So if one wants to truly cultivate a relationship, maybe think of other methods or learn to give without expectations . I know gift giving is a love language so maybe this isn’t easy for some people, but I thought it was an interesting re-frame.
      If I myself don’t get thanked for a gift, I just let it go. I’m not giving gifts to be thanked; I’m giving gifts to make someone else happy. If not getting thanked bothers me then that’s a sign to me that I should not be giving that person a gift. Even still, I think calling and checking to make sure something has been received is well within bounds. I mean I’ve had tracking information be wildly inaccurate. When people call me to ask if a package has been received, my first thought isn’t “Oh they’re fishing for a thank you.” It’s “Oh, OOPS i got busy and forgot to let them know.”

      1. Ice Bear*

        “I’m not giving gifts to be thanked; I’m giving gifts to make someone else happy.”

        I get that, but if they say nothing at all about the gift, how do you know whether or not it made them happy? I love it that my best friend will tell me how much they are enjoying a gift I gave them, not because I need to be thanked (although that does feel nice), but because it lets me know I made a good choice.

        If I don’t get an acknowledgement at all, then I have no idea if I’m just giving them something they don’t like which, as we’ve learned from other discussions about gift-giving, can be a burden itself because now they have to figure out what to do with something they do not want.

        Personally, if I give someone a gift and get no acknowledgement at all, I’m going to assume they didn’t like it. If the lack of acknowledgement becomes a pattern, I’m going to take that as a hint to stop giving them gifts at all.

    9. Ellis Bell*

      Both sides here are guilty of my two biggest pet peeves! I hate not knowing if a gift has been received, or to not get the briefest of thank yous, but I think I have an equal hatred for “I shouldn’t have to say how I feel, you should just know”. If the other person ‘just knew’ you were hurt, or knew your expectations, then they would have done what you wanted already! Yes, it would be easy for Jamie to text and say she loves the tea and the blanket, but something has either gone awry with the delivery or Jamie’s memory, or both. The world is not perfect, nor are people, and we can assume Jamie is not doing this on purpose. It would also be easy for Anna to help jog Jamie’s memory about the gifts, which may have gone missing while she was busy, or she may have stored them out of sight while busy, or she may have gotten their places ready for when they do arrive; hence the pictures! Anna is now deliberately deciding to keep the misunderstanding and the drama going indefinitely. It would not cost her anything, nor would it be fishing, to text: “I never heard what you thought of the blanket and tea, I hope you got them okay”. I think it’s ridiculous to send a really thoughtful gift and then try to pretend you aren’t invested in it.

  39. Yoga/Pilates studio question*

    Hello! I’ve recently started going to a new yoga/Pilates studio. I generally like it (close to me! good schedule! those terrifying but effective reformer machines!), but their pricing is odd. I’m used to class packages that have a decreasing cost-pre-class scale the more you buy – like, it costs $15/class if you buy a package of 5, but $13/class if you buy 10. But this studio is doing the opposite: a package of 5 reformer classes is $80, and a package of 8 is $160. There’s some other weirdness too – like the rolling contracts are the same deal or worse as the packages of classes, so there’s no incentive for me to sign up for a longer term contract.

    I want to ask about it next time there, but I’m not sure if (1) how to raise it (I don’t want to come off as “do you not understand math and/or basic economics”) and (2) there’s some clear advantage to this I’m missing. Has anyone run into this before?

    1. Rosie*

      That is bizarre! I’ve been to studios where there is no advantage to buying a package vs individual classes (ie a class costs $30 no matter what), but never where there is DISADVANTAGE. I’d definitely ask about it. They either made a mistake/typo and need to fix it…or if it was intentional !!! they should be questioned/called out.

    2. Anyone*

      Part of me wonders if it’s intentional, because they see that a lot of people don’t get that they’re paying more. They just see “sale” and don’t do the math so they’re taking advantage of that.
      Like when the small package at the store is on sale at $2/6 and has 12 things in it, but the big package contains 24 and is $5. People buy the sale and pay an extra dollar.

    3. WellRed*

      It’s like they want to do extra paperwork by encouraging people to keep singing up five classes at a time.

    4. MissCoco*

      I would ask about the package pricing. It does seem odd. I think I’d bring it up as an open ended question. Something like “could you explain more about why the package pricing is set up like this?”
      The two things I can think of are:
      1. This is a clunky and probably ineffective attempt to appease regular clients who complain if too many classes are filled and they can’t get “their” class, I’m guessing there might be less retention with a smaller package, which would keep the overall clientele numbers down.
      2. Cash flow problems are so bad that they can’t float longer stretches between package renewals. This one seems kind of unlikely if it seems like it’s otherwise a functional business.

      Also have fun with the reformers! Bounce board sessions are my favorite.

      1. Yoga/Pilates studio question*

        Oh! So it is a new location of an existing studio, so I bet something in the realm of #2 with the startup costs impacting things. And maybe figuring out how to price the reformer classes since they don’t have those at the other studio. I totally hadn’t thought of that.

  40. anonymous potato*

    I think it’s rude but maybe becoming more common? My niblings (some are adult age) can’t even be bothered to send a thank you text… I do get tracking but sadly they live in an area where package theft is common, and it’s not a guarantee they got it.

    I don’t need an elaborate card or anything. At a minimum, acknowledgment of receipt should be the minimum, a thank you would be nice, and ideally if they liked it or not, if not something specifically asked for, so I know if I should get things like it again.

    I’ve also learned that picking out gifts that fit someone’s tastes is a skill for me and a olive language. I’ve started scaling back my efforts where it’s not reciprocated, too.

    1. Morning reader*

      Hm, I am trying to pick a gift to send to someone and now I want to find an olive of the month club, or assorted olive basket. This could be my new olive language.
      Thanks for the idea!

    2. Roland*

      I have a relatively who used to send Hanukkah money to me and all my siblings as kids and kept it up as adults (a very respectable amount). One of the sibs never sent an acknowledgement and so that sibling no longer gets money. Natural cause and effect imo.

    3. Fancy Pants*

      I don’t expect cards or elaborate gratitude either. I appreciate if someone tells me they liked a gift and are using it, but I just expect an acknowledgement, even if it’s just “Got the gift. Thanks!”

      1. allathian*

        Yes, me too.

        I’m honestly not a big gift giver, and the hassle of buying gifts for others is always bigger than the enjoyment I get when people give me stuff, so I’m glad that my family decided to skip gift giving among adults for Christmas and birthdays. If we get anything, it’s flowers or candy/consumables.

        That said, I’m lucky enough that I almost exclusively receive and give gifts in person, and in that case, a verbal thank you is all I want or need, and the people who give me gifts feel the same way.

        That said, I must admit that I’ve appreciated getting thank you notes from high school graduates and married couples. At least here in Finland, the thank you notes usually include a photo.

  41. Ali G*

    Kimchi!
    So my doctor has me eating pro- and prebiotic stuff to support immunity (I am in immunotherapy for my psoriatic arthritis). I bought some kimchi and don’t know what to do with it. This morning I scrambled it into some eggs. It was fine, but not great.
    I’m also avoiding gluten and most dairy, but I am open to all ideas, since I can figure out subs for those. Please help!

    1. Not A Manager*

      I put kimchi on top of brothy soups or rice dishes, to add zing. Try not to heat it up too much or you could destroy the beneficial bacteria. If I remember, I bring a portion to room temperature before putting it on my hot food.

      1. Not A Manager*

        Also, non-heat processed sauerkraut has similar benefits. I like the Bubbe’s brand. Bring it to room temperature and use it as a bed underneath grilled meats or as a sandwich topping. Definitely squeeze it out, though, if you’re putting it on a sandwich.

    2. PoolLounger*

      You can use it with eggs, chicken, on noodles, chopped in mac and cheese, on grilled cheese, in beans… check out Bon Appetit’s kimchi ideas and the book Korean American by Eric Kim.

    3. PoolLounger*

      For another probiotic food, try miso—miso + Japanese mayo is an amazon veggie dip, and it makes a quick and easy soup or even broth you can use for more substantial soups

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Kimchi is good on leftover Asian takeout, especially rice + protein in a sauce.

      Consider saurkraut?

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I make kimchi noodles, often with an egg– kind of a variation on kimchi fried rice, which I love. There’s a recipe on the NYT Cooking site that mixes kimchi into tuna salad and it’s very good. I make my own kimchi and add it to all kinds of things. It would probably be very good as a baked potato topping.

      When the weather is especially cold, I like to make kimchi stew with tofu. I usually use Maangchi’s site for Korean techniques/ideas, I just omit the meat in our household.

      1. Overeducated*

        I love kimchi Ramen! I also like it chopped small and mixed into Mac and cheese, it’s weirdly delicious. The cookbook “Everyday Korean” has a lot of kimchi and cheese combinations like that. (Also other gluten and dairy free ideas, like a kimchi and pork stir fry.) You can also use it to top shredded meat tacos or rice bowls, mixing it up with some raw cabbage, scallions, etc if you want more of a slaw.

    6. Fellow Traveller*

      I love kimchi! I often just eat it plain, out of the container.
      I make kimchi ramen. Instead of the flavor package that comes with the noodles, i add kimchi to flavor the broth. You could probably do the same with rice noodles if you don’t eat ramen.
      I also eat kimchi mashed with uncooked tofu for a quick snack.
      Also- I prefer daikon radish kimchi over napa cabbage kimchi, (though I love both) so that might be something to try.

    7. londonedit*

      I really like sauerkraut. Also I’m not sure if Symprove is available where you are – it’s expensive but it’s one of the few probiotic products that’s proven to genuinely reach the gut alive and make a difference. My sister has an autoimmune digestive condition and her consultant recommended it to her. It’s a drink that you take in the morning 10 minutes before you eat or drink anything else.

    8. BadCultureFit*

      My favorite meal: I sautee some chicken, make some brown rice, and top it with kimchi and a drizzle of sesame oil and sesame seeds.

    9. Snell*

      I have no real advice for you, just heard you were talking about kimchi. I personally don’t need to “do” anything to kimchi to enjoy it. I can eat it on its own or as a side dish to accompany a meal. I will say, I had a friend who, in childhood, snuck out one afternoon with one of those gallon jars of kimchi, and between her and another friend, polished off half the jar. Her parents got mad at her, but she had a good time, haha.

      It might be that the kimchi you have isn’t really good. Store-bought especially widely varies in quality (I am happiest when eating the kimchi that I made myself). It also might be that kimchi itself just isn’t to your taste. It’s a pickle, sure, but it has a specific flavor, not a generic pickle flavor. If kimchi just isn’t for you, I’d try looking for other fermented pickles

    10. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Live pickles (often sold in the fridge section or make your own!) are another option for live probiotic foods. Or kombucha.

      Trader Joe’s has a pickle/sauerkraut mix in the fridge section that’s really good.

    11. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      You could use it anywhere you might use relish or pickles. My local Asian grocery has gallon jars of house made kimchi that is truly amazing. We throw it on eggs, rice, and fish. It’s also fantastic in ramen, and I’m sure that would extend to rice noodles and whatever sauce fits your needs. I sometimes sub homemade broth for less salt, or just spicy peanut butter.

      A farmer I know grates leftover beets, carrots, and radishes and does a super simple lacto fermentation. It’s not hard to do and let’s you control things if you want less salt, no fish sauce, more/less garlic or peppers, etc. I’d totally do that if I couldn’t just buy it from him.

    12. Ellis Bell*

      I hope this is not a derail, but this is fascinating to me because I control my psoriasis through diet, in spite of failing to get a doctor to help me with that. Whenever I speak to an NHS doctor I get told it’s only topicals/light therapy/corticosteroids and because I am controlling it really successfully by not consuming gluten and alcohol they are very shruggy about the need to help me at all; I’m concerned I’m developing psoriatic arthritis though and I’d love to read up more on immunotherapy (and what it is?) and probiotics; you don’t have a good link by any chance?

  42. Prospect gone bad*

    Do you celebrate or acknowledge other peoples anniversaries? What’s the etiquette on it? I’ve been googling this and getting a mixed bag of answers.

    My mother makes a stink every year about people not acknowledging their wedding anniversary and it’s awkward every year. Among other reasons, because my parents fight a lot and my father rolls his eyes because he doesn’t want to celebrate it every year.

    In my opinion a wedding anniversary is between the couple, shouldn’t involve the whole family. I don’t know if my mothers opinion hinged on the fact that my grandparents had a party for their 50th, but that was just an excuse to have a party, it was literally because of their anniversary.

    I’m actually curious what other people do. I asked somebody in real life and got the sort of cliché to just do what other person wants to get rid of the situation because it’s not a huge deal when you just look at this one thing in isolation. But the problem is that this week it’s the anniversary next week it’ll be something else next week it’ll be something else. It doesn’t actually solve the long-term problem of certain people making life way more complicated than it needs to be while looking for reasons they have been slighted

    1. Pop*

      Anniversaries are really important to some people, in the same way that birthdays are for others. My spouse and I always wish our parents/grandparents happy anniversary, and will do something special for one set for their 40th this year – because it’s important to them. Presumably your parents have been married for…a while? And your mom is making it clear that it’s important to her that you do something for her anniversary (in part perhaps because your dad doesn’t seem to care). You definitely do not have to, but it’s not an outrageous or weird request.

    2. CTT*

      I don’t usually acknowledge wedding anniversaries. The one caveat is that since I have all my photos in a cloud system with an “on this day” feature, I will get reminders of recent-ish weddings. If there’s a picture from that wedding that’s particularly sweet or funny, I’ll send a text like “happy anniversary, this is such a good picture!” But otherwise, I think it’s outside the norm to expect third parties to remember your anniversary and acknowledge it.

    3. Filosofickle*

      I always acknowledged my parents. I didn’t do anything unless it was a milestone but I’d text or call.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      Our parents sometimes text us or send a card on our anniversary but that’s about it. I don’t expect anyone to remember or care about a milestone in MY relationship!

      It sounds like maybe your mom cares because the marriage isn’t great so she needs some external acknowledgement/validation? I wouldn’t normally acknowledge someone else’s anniversary but I’d do it for my parent or sibling if I knew it was a big deal to them.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I think I sent a card to my parents because my mom was really into cards for every occasion.

      I am not that way, and only my spouse is involved.

    6. French Twisted*

      When Dad was alive, I always sent a gift, flowers and a card for their anniversary. Since his death I make a point of acknowledging the day in different ways with Mum (take her out to lunch, or to a movie, or buy her flowers etc), since that’s what matters to her now. I would feel like a terrible daughter if I didn’t mark that date! It’s important to her and I want her to feel valued, cared for, and loved.

    7. MissCoco*

      If I know the couple cares, I will call or send a card.
      For my friends, I try to do 1st, and 5 year intervals afterwards, and we have a few cards still on our fridge, and if I happen to see it’s their date, I’ll send a text

      In this case, it sounds like the real issue is that your mother will find something to be annoyed about regardless of what you do, I have a parent like that, and generally if I can find a way to do the thing without getting into a conversation about how awful it is that I have previously not done the thing/other people didn’t do the thing, I’ll do it, otherwise, I don’t bother.

    8. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Acknowledging someone’s wedding anniversary with flowers and a card seems like a pretty low-effort thing, to me, in the scheme of things. I think the “cliché” about acknowledging it if the other person wants it acknowledged is simply nice. If it’s something else next week and something else the week after that, then, again, it seems low-effort to send flowers and a card.

      In my family, I give my parents an extra phone call on their anniversary. If I’m in town, I’ll stop by and help make a nice dinner. They don’t do the same for me or my sibling, because (for our family) it doesn’t feel like it should go that direction. We’re the children of their marriage, so celebrating their anniversary also celebrates our existence, if that makes sense. We’re here because they got together, but there’s no vice-versa.

      1. Prospect gone bad*

        I don’t know if anyone else here watches real housewives of new York city. But about two years ago Bethenny Frankel went on a rant at Luann Delesseps who always wants everyone to celebrate her and they had a fight becuase Luann was complaining they didn’t go to yet another one of her cabaret. Bethenny was done with it and it was awkward, seeing her explain she didn’t do cabaret again because she has a life

        I’m feeling the same way. We just came off holidays and multiple birthdays and I can’t be buying cards and flowers and candies for random people every two days. At some point I need to just live and have space to do that. I feel like at this age this need to start being mutual, like we occasionally skip a year doing something because it’s understood everyone is overwhelmed with home and work and responsibilities. I’m also humble in this regard and don’t expect stuff from other people so it feels like a burden to always have to buy gifts constantly and praise people when I don’t like getting it myself. And the older I get I feel like the time between all these events is getting shorter. I’m legitimately confused at times thinking we just celebrated somebody’s birthday and then it’s happening again and I almost forget because I feel like it just happened last month

        1. Maggie*

          It sounds like you’ve already made up your mind. If you don’t want to spend any money, a phone call is free and a card is $3-5 or less if you buy bulk blank cards and fill them in or purchase from the dollar store. Also, it’s not a random person, it’s your mom. But again, it’s your choice. Personally I would opt for a call/text and a card. Under $5 per year and it’s acknowledged and a memento has been given. I mean it just kind of sounds like you’re burnt out and resentful towards the people in your life, which fair enough! You aren’t alone in that I’m sure! Some people enjoy gift giving, celebrating one another, and getting together. It’s ok if you don’t. For the anniversary issue, I think a simple call and card is a workable solution.

          1. TPS reporter*

            Hmmm yeah what you do with your mom is one thing versus your wider friend/family circle. It sounds like with your mom there’s some resentment there for a lot of reasons that unpacking in therapy might help. With my own parents I get them a little birthday gift always. If they remind me that they had an anniversary I do say happy anniversary but I’m not expected to do anything more. If they wanted to have a milestone anniversary party, that is pretty common and I would contribute to organizing a truly big milestone like 50.

            For my close friends I do try to remember and acknowledge their birthdays with a quick text. If they organize a party or dinner I’m there and let them have free reign on the venue.

            Other than birthdays of a close circle I don’t think you’re obligated to more annual events or acknowledgments. One offs like first babies and weddings and such should wane over time.

            Again if someone wants to organize some celebration for themselves and it’s a reasonable ask (i.e. not too expensive, not last minute) what’s the harm in going, getting a free plate of chips and saying congrats on your dog’s weight loss?

        2. Observer*

          In other words you’ve come here for validation. Which is fine. But be clear what you’re after.

          Also, whatever your issues are with you mother, it’s kind of ridiculous to lump her with “random people.” And the fact that you are doing this is almost certainly clear to her, and probably plays in, in a big way, to her always finding something to be offended at. Because she knows that you don’t consider her more significant that some rando at work or the like.

          I’m not saying that your issues with your mother are not legitimate. How could I? I AM saying that your current approach is not reasonable, realistic or healthy. I agree with the suggestion of therapy. Figuring out reasonable boundaries and how to set them would probably be very freeing.

    9. KatEnigma*

      I acknowledge my parents and in laws with “Happy Anniversary” – and we went on a cruise with my parents in celebration of their 50th-they paid the bulk of their own way. And when FB reminds me that it’s my SIL’s wedding, because I posted those pictures X years ago, I’ll say Happy Anniversary. But that’s where it ends.

      Does your mom want a text/call or does she expect gifts or a party and a whole To Do? Because I agree that “placate the crazy/demanding person” is not something I normally take part in. I don’t do things just so they won’t throw a fit, because, as you say, there will be other things to throw fits over. I do what I want and consider reasonable, and if they have melt down, that’s on them. BUT, I will point out, that not giving in to them doesn’t stop the melt down next week, either. Probable mental illness can’t be reasoned away. So if a call or text would make her happy, I’d probably do it, because that’s low stakes for me and a true “no big deal” But if she’s just going to demand presents or a party, then no, don’t do it if you don’t want to.

    10. RussianInTexas*

      I don’t know anyone’s wedding anniversary. If they post something about it on social media, I’ll acknowledge it, but otherwise, it’s not something I would even know about. Even parents.

    11. Rara Avis*

      We are usually visiting my parents at the time of their anniversary, and we take them out for dinner , or more often lately have the grandkids bake a cake. For their 50th we made a really big cake and invited lots of friends to share it.

    12. WellRed*

      Unless it’s a milestone I think it’s weird to celebrate someone else’s anniversary. I mean if you like doing it, awesome.

    13. The Other Dawn*

      Yes, I always acknowlege anniversaries of friends and family members. I don’t send a card anymore. I just text or post on social media to say “Happy Anniversary.”

    14. Fancy Pants*

      I don’t celebrate or acknowledge anyone’s anniversaries. My parents’ marriage wasn’t the best, and they never celebrated it, so I grew up not thinking it was important, I guess?

      Overall, I feel like there’s too many holidays and too many celebrations, and the older I get, the less I want to have to deal with them.

    15. RagingADHD*

      Milestones like 50th or 70th, yes. Otherwise, no.

      Does your mom celebrate other people’s wedding anniversaries?

    16. Samwise*

      If your mom cares about it and your dads a jerk about it, you should be nice about it and send her a card. And flowers if that’s in your budget.

      Doesn’t really if you think it should be within the couple— it obviously would mean a lot to your mom, it’s not hard to do, and it’s not ethically objectionable.

      I am not a letter writer, I find it boring and irksome. But I send a short letter in a pretty card to my mom and to my mother in law every week. Because it makes them happy.

      Please do this easy thing to make your mom feel better.

    17. That One Girl*

      Your parents’ marriage is the reason you exist. Do you really think it’s too much effort to say, “Happy anniversary” to your mother?

      I mean, I get that some people seem to want everyone to make fusses over every occasion, and it’s irritating, but this isn’t some work friend talking endlessly about their “birthday month.” It’s your mother. Unless she’s refused to ever wish you a happy birthday or celebrate any milestones in your life, I don’t see why you can’t just send a text acknowledging that your parents have been married a number of years now, and that she is proud of that.

    18. Buni*

      I send my parents flowers, but it’s a low-stakes thing and the one year I forgot they didn’t notice. For their 40th and 50th *they* took everyone (3 kids, 2 kids-in-law, 3 grandkids) out for a nice lunch.

    19. Generic Name*

      It sounds like you’ve been looped into your parent’s marital disagreement(s), which is not cool. Looking at the situation from someone who is on the other side of a bad marriage, I can tell you that one tends to fixate on the small things when it’s really the big things that are a problem. If I had to guess, your mom doesn’t exactly feel loved and cherished by your dad, so she fixates on their anniversary as a way for her to feel loved and cherished and maybe that their marriage matters to him. And then she extends it to the rest of the family. Maybe she’s hoping that they will acknowledge a day that she has imbued with a ton of meaning for her. It really kind of sucks that your dad has decided that his desire to not inconvenience himself outweighs his wife’s desire to feel cherished by her husband. And it sucks that you have been brought into that dynamic.

      And maybe I’m totally off base and projecting.

      All that said, I do not celebrate anyone else but my own’s anniversary.

    20. Sigrid says Hey*

      In previous generations our family tradition was to celebrate milestone anniversaries with a party of some kind. Rent a community hall for a potluck supper and dance for a 25th anniversary and invite friends, family and neighbours. 40th often a nice dinner for the family. 50th and 60th would be an afternoon tea. The parties get smaller the higher the number being celebrated for sure. They become an opportunity for a family reunion.

      In my generation only two of the cousins hosted events for their 25th anniversaries and only one couple has had gatherings on their 40th.

      I used to phone my parents to wish them happy anniversary each year. Now I phone my siblings and siblings in law on theirs. Other than that I don’t keep track of anniversaries at all.

    21. Esprit de l'escalier*

      We only lightly acknowledge our own anniversary after all these years – pre-Covid we’d eat out, but no gifts for many years. When anniversary #50 was coming along I did, um, make sure our children were aware. What I wanted was a phone call on the day, which we got, and that was fine. Otherwise, no, I don’t mark other people’s wedding anniversaries and don’t expect them to mark mine.

      I never had to think about this for my parents as my mother never disclosed when their anniversary was. After she died my father told me that they had lived together before getting married and in her mind their anniversary was their move-in-together day, but she wasn’t about to share that with me. She probably made that day somehow special for the two of them but I never knew.

    22. fhqwhgads*

      My in-laws’ anniversary has always been something that whole family celebrated, and still is. They are literally the only people I’ve ever met who do this. Sure, I’ve known others who had a Big Number Anniversary Party involving lots of people, but other than that, every single year? It’s just between the spouses. I’m still a little baffled by adult children being expected to send their parents an anniversary card annually, but that’s their thing so I just roll with it.

    23. LilPinkSock*

      I do, especially if, like your mom, the day is special to them. A text or a social media message usually does the trick. I guess I’ve never thought that acknowledging something important to my loved ones is particularly onerous.

    24. allathian*

      Nope, my dad’s gone completely antisocial in recent years, so he doesn’t celebrate any holidays or acknowledge any of our birthdays. When my parents got married, it was 2 days short of my mom’s 22nd birthday, so now we just celebrate her birthday and acknowledge the anniversary.

      My MIL and her husband got married about a year after my husband and I did, and I’ll acknowledge it if they invite us to celebrate, but otherwise I wouldn’t think of it, if I’m honest.

      I don’t expect other people to celebrate or acknowledge our anniversary, although we try to schedule a date night on the nearest weekend, if possible.

    25. Ellis Bell*

      My parents were very happily married and always made a big deal of their anniversary. So much so, that we kind of got swept up in it, if that makes sense? Like if there was anything we could do between the three of us that would add to their plans, like show tickets or a gift we knew they’d both like equally, then we would buy it between us. Sometimes it was just a matter of buying a card and getting out of their way if they wanted to celebrate at home. Now that my dad is gone, I know the anniversary date is really difficult for my mother, so I try to do something nice for her just to support her because it’s a lonely day for her. I think it would be very difficult to joyously celebrate an anniversary when the couple fight a lot and one half of the couple isn’t into the anniversary thing at all! I would probably translate your mother’s request into a simple request for support. It sounds like she wishes her anniversaries were more like her parents; I know a little something about that because my first marriage just paled into comparison with my parents, especially on key days. It’s lonely! I don’t think it’s your responsibility to manage this at all, but its why I think anniversaries are probably difficult for your mum.

    26. Observer*

      In my opinion a wedding anniversary is between the couple, shouldn’t involve the whole family

      So, don’t involve others in your anniversaries. Your mother is entitled to feel differently about it. And if you care about her, it makes sense to handle things more in the way SHE likes for HER anniversaries.

      Now, the fact that your father has a different take complicates this. But it’s still easy enough acknowledge the anniversary to her, and even do something small (eg a card or phone call.)

      But the problem is that this week it’s the anniversary next week it’ll be something else next week it’ll be something else. It doesn’t actually solve the long-term problem of certain people making life way more complicated than it needs to be while looking for reasons they have been slighted

      The old slippery slope excuse. Yes, it’s an excuse.

      The way to deal with the long term problem is to figure out what you can reasonably accommodate (eg the anniversaries) and what you can’t. Do what you can and let the drama over the other stuff roll off your back. Explain the basics of why you cannot do X if you can and then refuse to engage in the protracted “discussions”.

      I get it – this is easier said than done, of course. But it’s a lot more reasonable than the tack you are trying to take. And ultimately it’s going to be a lot better for your mental health I suspect.

    27. Clisby*

      We don’t celebrate our own wedding anniversary, so we’re not bothering to remember anyone else’s either. (When my parents were alive, I would occasionally wish them a happy anniversary, but inevitably the only reason I remembered the date was because my 2nd brother was born on their anniversary.) We kids did throw them a 50th anniversary family party.

    28. NeutralJanet*

      I acknowledge my parents’ anniversary because their relationship is immediately and obviously relevant to my life, but not really anyone else’s unless it comes up organically–like, if I ask someone if they have plans and they say they’re going out for an anniversary dinner, I’ll say, “Happy anniversary.” It sounds like you have some issues with your mom beyond this, though, so I feel like the anniversary question isn’t really what this post is about.

  43. But Not the Armadillo*

    Longer-duration cat sitting solutions: any experience or advice? My partner and I will be out of the country for several weeks later this year, the longest period by far that we have been away from home since moving to our current location (thanks, COVID). We have a cat sitter whom we have engaged a few times for daily food/water/litter cleaning while we are out of town for a weekend, but will need someone to give the cats more attention since we’ll be away for such a long time. We don’t have any close friends here and the only nearby relatives whom we might be able to ask to help have allergies. We don’t need someone to stay the whole time we’re gone, but some combination of a few overnights and longer and shorter day visits would be great. I’m not sure how to go about finding such a person or people – especially when my partner wouldn’t be comfortable with strangers staying here while we’re so far away, so just using a service is out. I have a work colleague who is also a cat lover but maybe it would be weird to ask? Help!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Do you have any connection to the local supply of elementary/middle schoolers?

      My current cat sitter is the much younger sister of one of my son’s friends. My cats love her, and she plays with them.

      Since we live on a route kids take walking to school, if we lost her I would probably go with flyers near the house.

            1. But Not the Armadillo*

              Sorry for the confusion! I’d ideally like someone to stay overnight a few times – my parents miiiiiiight be willing to – but it would have to be someone we know as my partner wouldn’t be comfortable with a stranger staying over. I think what I am looking for is pretty impossible, to be honest, but wondered if there was something I haven’t thought about.

              1. KatEnigma*

                The only solution I can think of is just to board the cats. Depending on how big your metro area is, there may be boarding places that specialize in cats only. But if you don’t have any nearby close friends or relatives, I don’t know how you’d find non strangers to stay overnight on an intermittent basis.

                1. Clisby*

                  If I were leaving for a matter of weeks, I would definitely board our cat rather than look for a sitter. I know it’s unlikely, but I have a fear of a cat-sitter getting injured in a car wreck and hospitalized and unable to be with my cat, or something like that, and the cat would be left alone. Over a weekend, that’s not disastrous, but over weeks, it could be. I also like that the boarding place I use is connected to an animal hospital, so if there’s any emergency health issue the vets there are available. Now, if it’s a cat-sitting service where they can just send in person #2 if person #1 is sick, that might work out fine – but I don’t personally know of a service like that here.

    2. KatEnigma*

      We were gone for about a month for our wedding/honeymoon and we paid someone to come in- the good ones won’t agree to anything less than twice a day. Pet sitting services don’t default to staying in your home- especially ones that cater to cats. They really just want to stop by and feed/water/litter and play with the cat, and be in and out in an hour or so. So I think dismissing services on that basis is a misunderstanding on your part. If he doesn’t even want strangers coming into the house, then I’d suggest asking him how he expects to handle it.

      But honestly, I’d just start with your regular sitter and ask for more attention for the cat, if possible.

    3. fposte*

      Overnights are a big ask. It sounds like you’re wanting two things–an amount of time that would cost a whack of money to cover, and an eligible pool narrowed to the already known. I don’t think you can get both of those things. I especially think it’s going on the wrong direction to lean toward people you wouldn’t pay to do even *more.* Are you thinking you’re combining catsitting and house-sitting? House-sitting is a PITA so you really want to factor that into what you’re likely to need to pay and how big a request this is if that’s in there.

      I would let go of the overnights, go back to the regular catsitter, and ask what they would charge to spend, say, two hours a day (or whatever would satisfy you) there in addition to regular duties. If they can’t, ask if there’s someone they’d recommend. Vet schools and vet practices can also be places to find people.

      I don’t know your cats, but you’ve described them in the plural, so they’re likely to be fine with their own company for most of the time. To give them the amount of human contact they have with you would probably cost you more than your vacation; go with something more manageable and just be patient with the likely readjustment when you get back home.

    4. just another queer reader*

      Maybe I’m a callous cat person but my family leaves cats home alone all the time! When it’s longer than a few days we have someone come over every day or every other day for food, water, and litter box. We also try to leave out plenty of toys and enrichment: my mom leaves the radio on; once I set up a long video of squirrels and such for my cat.

      1. Squeakrad*

        Check with your vets office – many vet techs are underpaid and even if they aren’t they often love doing Cat sitting. We have a combination of Cat Sitter’s for longer and shorter trips. For longer trips, we can’t afford to have someone stay over as they charge quite a bit, but she does come in twice a day. For shorter trips we have, a local neighbors person who will stay over while we’re gone.

        We are found all of our cat sitters through our neighborhood Facebook page so if you have anything like that, you might start their period

    5. TPS reporter*

      The colleague could be tough, because what if something happens and you have to work with them? I personally wouldn’t mix colleagues with personal life unless they are a true friend.

      You could try Nextdoor to ask locals for help. I had success finding a sitter there.

      What about neighbors? Anyone with a teen who likes cats and is responsible? Some kids who aren’t allowed pets would love the chance to hang out with a cat.

      Boarding is not ideal, cats don’t generally like leaving their own space. I did once however leave a cat with a relative who had other friendly cats and it went really well.

      If you do with the sitter for more frequent/longer visits, you can also add enriching things to the cats environment- an aquarium, cat TV, different toys that are on a timer, treat finders (ask your sitter to load them when they leave). And leave some items of worn clothing around in their favorite spots so they can virtually snuggle with you.

    6. Doc is In*

      Our cats sleep most of the time and they are fine with someone coming every day or two. Never occurred to me to have someone stay overnight! Once when our kittens were very young we boarded them at the vet’s.

    7. MissCoco*

      I would ask the work colleague what they do for cat sitting, and also your vets office if anyone there has interest/availability, or just if they know of resources, some offices even offer boarding. You may also want to see if your usual sitter would be willing to do some overnights.

      How well does your partner need to know someone to feel comfortable with the overnight stays? Would a young-adult child of a friend or neighbor be close enough?

  44. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

    Drawing Program for PC?

    Hello, I have a new laptop and I need a simple drawing/image editing program for making things like flyers – ie: something where I can add text and borders and pictures and save it as a .png file. I have previously used Microsoft Visio for doing those things but it fairly expensive and is more for technical diagrams than just making flyers. I have Inkscape but that is way more complex than I need (it takes me too long to create a simple thing in it.) My husband suggested using draw.io but that again is more for flowcharts than what I need it for. (Microsoft Word does what I need with the exception of being able to save it as an image file that I can then upload to facebook or whatever.)

    Any suggestions or hacks (like to turn a pdf or word file into a .png) Thanks so much, this commentariat always has the best ideas!

    1. A Girl Named Fred*

      Maybe Canva? It’s in a browser rather a standalone program, but it’s free, easy to use, and has some good templates as starting points (or you can easily start from scratch.) Not sure if it’s exactly what you’re looking for but it seems like it’d be worth checking out, especially if your main end goal is uploading to social media sites!

      1. workswitholdstuff*

        Another vote for Canva – I use it a lot for work stuff when I’m doing quick notices etc.

        You can download in a number of different formats too which is handy.

        I love how easy it is to get stuff lined up, and the free elements etc are good enough for what I need to use it for.

    2. AGD*

      Microsoft Publisher? It’s a lot like Word, and if you create a new document and make a full-page text box it’ll be basically indistinguishable, but you can move things around more easily and say as more types of files (including I think PNG).

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      There is a free Adobe program called Adobe Express, which is meant to be their equivalent of Canva. If you search for “alternatives to Canva”, you can find info about other programs, both free and paid.

    4. just another queer reader*

      Very not-fancy but if you have something in Word, just take a screenshot and save as a picture?

      Also I’ve done a thing in Firefox where I can save a page of a PDF as an image.

    5. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      Thanks for all the suggestions.
      I tried Canva and I think it will do what I need it to do.
      I also googled for a site to convert Word documents to images and found one that I like (its called Convertio)
      I do a monthly newsletter using an online service – you have to use their HTML editor which is very basic and you cannot cut and paste anything that is not just text from Word into it. I used Canva to make a couple of pretty images with text and the convert program to take calendars in a Word format (sent to me by other people) into an image.

  45. Something other than mayo*

    What do you use instead of mayonnaise, especially on sandwiches or in tuna? My tastes have changed & suddenly I … hate … commercial … mayo. I don’t know why. Should I try making my own?I’ve liked some sweet hot mustards. Any other ideas?

    1. Moon Moon*

      I’m not a fan of commercial mayonnaise either, but I love Japanese Kewpie mayo. I also love a good Dijon or honey mustard on a sandwich.

      1. the cat's ass*

        came here to second the rec for Kewpie! It’s awesome but really rich. I’ll frequently thin it out with siracha/rice wine vinegar, or mustard. YUM!

    2. Bluebell*

      Definitely try making your own mayo – it’s very easy w an immersion blender. You could also flavor mayo w sriracha, mustard or adobo sauce. Greek yogurt can be an alternate base for spreads/dressing. I made a Caesar-ish dressing this week w yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce.

    3. Kathenus*

      I’ve started making tuna salad with diced celery/onions, sometimes other veggies and/or olives, and using dill relish with some of the juice – no mayo at all. You can also leave a little of the tuna water in versus draining it all out if desired. It’s really great! And if you prefer sweet you could do the same with sweet relish I’d guess.

    4. Something other than mayo*

      Thanks for the great ideas. I did try Kewpie mayo & I think it had been on the shelf too long & tasted like rancid oil. I’ll try some of the other ideas.

    5. Filosofickle*

      On a sandwich I use nothing because I don’t like mustard or condiments much in general, but for tuna I use olive oil.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        I don’t like mayo or mustard either. There’s a vidalia onion relish that is awesome. Sometimes I’ll add a little blush vinagrette to the greens on a sandwich. You could add it to tuna too, I’m just off tuna due to mercury and the over fishing :(

    6. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      Some sandwiches taste very good with either a vinaigrette or Italian salad dressing. Italian subs in particular but you can also use it with ham, turkey or chicken. It is best when you have lettuce and tomato on your sandwich.

    7. My Brain is Exploding*

      Other good ideas here, but here’s a thought. Not all mayos taste the same! Kraft is different than Miracle Whip (which calls itself salad dressing) and there are regional mayos, too.

    8. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I use ranch dressing on sandwiches, mostly because it’s easier to get in a squirt bottle. That way I don’t have to dirty a knife when I make myself a quick sandwich. Any salad dressing will do.

      The main purposes of mayonnaise are to provide flavor, glue and moisture, so any flavorful gloopy food will work as long as it tastes good with the other stuff. BBQ sauce, ketchup, various relishes, teriyaki sauce or chutneys. I’ve had some SCRUMPTIOUS sandwiches made with leftover Thanksgiving turkey and gravy. Cranberry sauce is also traditional with turkey. You could probably do some fun things with jam and the right meat. Ham and jelly maybe?

    9. fhqwhgads*

      Depending on what else is in the sandwich:hummus, avocado, tahini, guac, cream cheese, balsamic vinegar, butter, lebni, tzatziki

    10. Observer*

      For things like tuna salad, or almost anything where you mix the mayo in, oil tend to work just fine. For most things, my preferred oil is Olive, but it’s mostly a matter of taste.

      For sandwiches, hummus, butter, avocado and tahini are all nice alternatives.

  46. MechanicalPencil*

    I am looking for meanings of flowers. Depending on which source I look at, information can be conflicting. Is there what amounts to a floriography dictionary that is well known and considered definitive?

    I have searched the internet and have mostly confused myself. Hoping you lovely people have some ideas.

    1. NeutralJanet*

      The Royal Horticultural Society published a brief history of floriography including meanings of virtually every flower you can think of, as collated from their multiple papers. Some sources list different meanings for the same flowers, because that’s kind of the nature of this type of thing, but this chart lists several different sources so you can compare them yourself. Link in reply.

      1. MechanicalPencil*

        You’re my hero! I have no clue how I missed this resource. Hoping it answers my questions and satisfies my curiosity. I think I chased my tail for a long time on this.

    2. Texan In Exile*

      I just learned recently that everyone in Shakespeare’s time would have known that Ophelia was giving rue for abortion – that she had been pregnant and Hamlet hadn’t done right by her and that’s why she killed herself, a plot point that until that moment had always confused me so much.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        And there was an Agatha Christie murder mystery where the secret spy signals were done via flower catalogues

    3. Sunshine*

      I saw a post on internet that was the bouquet equivalent of telling someone where to get off.
      There was a fictional book called the language of flowers I liked a lot and sent me down the same path. I agree with the complexity and contradictions but I think that leaves you latitude to say it means what you want it to.
      Happy flower messaging to you!

    4. Jamie Starr*

      The symbolism/meaning of flowers in paintings/art was discussed frequently in my undergrad art history courses. You could also look for an art history type of book that might discuss this.

    5. Broken scones*

      I don’t think this is a definitive guide but it is beautifully illustrated. It’s called Floriography: An Illustrated Guide to the Victorian Language of Flowers
      Book by Jessica Roux

  47. Just a Name*

    I’m hoping for some suggestions for what to pack for a cruise. I am a 60 yo female about a size 18. We are starting in Barcelona in May and end up in London. I’m not too worried about the day visits to port, more worried about the “country club casual” for dinner/evenings. They don’t have a formal night on Oceania. We are going with my in-laws and a couple of their friends. I tend to repeat outfits, not wear dresses. My initial thought is black pants with assorted tops and a cardigan type thing, with my loafers. I worry that I will be underdressed or repeating too often. I shouldn’t really care, but pulling together outfits gives me a great deal of anxiety, including waking me up last night worried about it. I used to have a decent business casual wardrobe, but it’s been 3 years (and a few lbs) since I needed one. I also hate shopping in stores, go figure. :). Any suggestions?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Have you sailed Oceania before to know that’s deinitely the dress code? Or rather, that people abide by that dress code? Have you checked the Oceania board on the Cruise Critic website? There’s also a Cruise Fashions & Beauty board under the Cruise Discussion Topics section. I always see a lot of clothing and packing tips there. I haven’t cruised in a long time, but I’ve read enough of that website to know that even on nights billed as formal or gala, people still dress casual without any issue.

      1. Just a Name*

        First big cruise. I don’t think our 16 passenger ship in the Galapagos counts. That was very casual. I’ll check the cruise board you mentioned. Thanks.

        My MIL has so many outfits. She’s a huge shopper of boutiques and a fan of Chicos. With coordinated accessories. I have never mastered that skill. Oh well. It will all work out.

        1. Esprit de l'escalier*

          Does your MIL ever comment on/appear to notice what you’re wearing? If so I could see why you’d be waking up at night. If not (hopefully!), I think your idea of black slacks and some nice but not elaborate tops would be fine.

          Actually, even if she does seem to be monitoring your appearance, let that be her quirk and not anything that should affect you. Let her do her (her hobby is shopping) and you do you (that’s not your hobby). Don’t worry about repeating items – you’re on a cruise living out of a suitcase, not in front of your presumably better stocked closet at home. Don’t go out and buy stuff you’d never wear at home unless you live in sweats/jeans.

    2. Smart casual*

      Nordstrom carries Eileen Fisher smart casual clothes that would be perfect for cruise dinners. They’re pricey but their sizing will totally work for a size 18.