weekend open thread – April 1-2, 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: Sam, by Allegra Goodman. This follows Sam from age seven though young adulthood as she navigates a father who comes and goes, a mother who desperately wants Sam to avoid making the same mistakes she did, the attention of an older man, and her own sense of self. There’s something almost trance-like about it.

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

{ 1,091 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. Daily reader, rare commenter*

    Looks like Olive’s discovered the catnip stash. That zoned-out kitty smile is hilarious :)

      1. RLC*

        At our house we call this pose “the anglerfish” as unsuspecting tummy-touchers are being lured in for an attack.

    1. Roland*

      I made one (though my recipe was for grated not sliced) and it was… okay. I didn’t really see the appeal even though I’m a big potato fan. I wouldn’t do it again unless it was for Passover or for someone who can’t eat gluten or something.

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I made one years ago and really liked the end result. However, slicing and arranging the potatoes in the tin is time-consuming comparing to rolling out store-bought pastry, so I ended up never making it again.

      1. Doc is In*

        I used a mandolin to slice the potatoes. You can even leave the skin on if you like.

    3. just another queer reader*

      Yep, many times! This is how I usually make quiche actually. It’s a great option if you don’t have dough on hand or are cooking gluten free.

    4. Missb*

      I’ve also used roasted sliced carrots and roasted sliced sweet potatoes as a base.

      Glutenfreegoddess has a recipe, iirc.

    5. Esprit de l'escalier*

      I tried it one time and didn’t enjoy the result, but I have shredded potatoes in my food processor for a crust several times to make a gluten-free quiche and always enjoyed it. I don’t think it was any more work than making a home-made pastry crust, just different work.

    6. Single Noun*

      I’ve found that the quiche just kind of melds with the potatoes so instead of distinct custard and crust you have a crustless potato+whatever quiche, but hey, still tasty. (Thawing potato puffs and squishing them between two pie pans has a similar problem but less so, maybe because it’s more solid so pouring the egg in doesn’t disturb it?)

  3. What's your secret?*

    What is your favourite brand of pantyhose? I started wearing them again after MANY years of not wearing them. I’m back into wearing skirts and dresses, so I need something on my legs in the non-summer months. I find the quality of pantyhose has gone down a lot. I’m lucky to get one wear out of a pair of Secret brand pantyhose and I pay about $8 per pair. What is the best brand? What do you wear instead of pantyhose that is sheer enough? Thank you!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I do not go bare-legged by personal preference, and right before Covid, I splurged on a pair of Sheertex tights. They are unrippable. The review I read, the reviewer had put them on and had her husband try to pick her up by the tights – she and husband gave up before the tights did. When I got mine, they came with a spare piece of the material for you to try to damage. I gouged at it with multiple sets of dog claws, cat claws, my engagement ring and other pointy jewelry, the buckles on some shoes – nothing at all. They are truly indestructible. And if you google “CNN Sheertex tights” they apparently are on sale today.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        “To skip to the question we all want answered, are these tights actually unbreakable in human hands? Absolutely, yes. I pulled on them as hard as I could, as did my partner — who is much larger and stronger than I am. We pulled on opposite ends of the tights in what was perhaps the potentially most expensive game of tug-of-war that has ever been played. He even tried to pick me up by my tights, and though the results were suboptimal, we failed before the tights gave in. At the end, we were both sweating and defeated, but the tights were still free of any rips, tears or holes.”

        The review cracked me up.

      2. UncleFrank*

        I actually DID manage to rip my sheertex! I picked up something with velcro and the velcro stuck to the tights, and they ripped a hole getting it off. That said, the hole (about the size of a nickel) hasn’t run at all and it’s high enough up on my leg that I can still wear them with more midi-length dresses so I would totally buy another pair!

        1. Loreli*

          Evil Velcro. I hate coats & jackets that have Velcro closures over the zipper. Ruined several scarves & spouse ruined some ties by snagging the fabric. Not to mention tights and knit leggings.

        2. MsOctopus*

          I ripped my with a jagged fingernail the first time I put them on, huge bummer:( Everyone else I know seems to have had good luck, though!

      3. What's your secret?*

        Thank you for telling me about Sheertex! I just ordered two pairs in different colours and am excited to give them a try. I hope they’re as amazing as they sound. :)

    2. Blythe*

      I love tights and don’t wear pantyhose. But my favorite tights brand also makes pantyhose. Snag Tights!! Affordable, comfortable, and stand up well. Loooonnnng shipping times in my experience, though.

      1. Madame Arcati*

        Could I just recap a language question I think has come up before? In British English everything is tights if it covers you from toes to waist, but in the US tights = thick/opaque and pantyhose = the sheer sort that ladder easily (bonus Brit term there, you get a ladder in your tights not a run in your pantyhose). Is that correct?

        1. Lilith*

          As a British person, yes that is exactly how I’d use tights. I don’t think we have a way to differentiate between different thickness of tights without using the denier.

          1. Madame Arcati*

            Yes I’m a Brit too and I used to think pantyhose = tights and that was it but I learnt differently from this commentariat!

        2. Anonyme*

          Yes. although in Canada I also see tights to mean thick, opaque, footless (waist to ankle or mid-calf) as well as seeing leggings used synonymously for both footed and non-footed items.

          1. I care too much about tights*

            Leggings are heavier knitwear, have side seams, no crotch gusset, and a sewn waistband usually containing a different material like elastic, and are footless and can be worn as trousers. They should be truly opaque.

            Tights are usually single-layer, have a non-enclosed waistband that is just a thicker weave or a sewn-on band, a crotch gusset (or at least a seam), no side seams and feet with a toe seam — even the most opaque tights are not meant to be worn as trousers and are technically an undergarment.

            Footless tights are tights with a simple ankle hem instead of…you know.

            Pantyhose are very sheer fleshtoned tights and are the disposable descendant of silk stockings, which fell out of fashion in WWII as silk was reserved for the war effort; the development of nylon resulted in nylons, tubular construction with no sexy calf seam (alas!) and the supermarket pantyhose that we all largely ditched as disposable razors got better/cheaper and more women started wearing trousers in workplaxe.

            1. Reba*

              I agree with your definitions except some athletic wear brands have moved to calling their leggings “tights,” or even offering both nearly-identical leggings and tights, really confusing the issue!

        3. BeeMused*

          For decades, yes, that was the distinction. As a little girl I had tights in several bright colors, and felt so grown-up when I switched to sheer pantyhose in my teens. Pantyhose were mostly in shades of brown and black, and had the option of “control top” reinforcement. But for the last 10 years or so, I’ve seen covert pantyhose being sold as “sheer tights,” often with control top. I think it must be a marketing aversion to the word pantyhose.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I think you’re exactly right – people love to hate pantyhose so marketing has shifted to “sheer tights” in the hopes of avoiding the flak.

        4. FD*

          This is interesting because I (US Midwest) would have said that tights are something that covers you from toes to waist whereas pantyhose only go up to above your knee.

          I would say tights refers to opaque hose whereas stockings refers to translucent hose.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I’ve lived in the Midwest for 3/4 of my life and never heard anyone say “pantyhose” and not mean, well, hose that cover your panties.

            1. Clisby*

              I lived in the MW for only 9 years, but that’s the only way I heard anyone refer to pantyhose as well. To me, the difference between “pantyhose” and “tights” is that pantyhose are sheer (although they can be colored, you can see skin through them) and tights are not.

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                Yep. If my tattoos are visible through them they’re pantyhose, if not they’re tights.

          2. RussianInTexas*

            I would say tights are opaque and cover from waist to toes, pantyhose are sheer and cover from waist to toes, stockings only go up to or over the knee, and leggings are opaque and don’t go over your feet.

          3. RagingADHD*

            I would call the above the knee kind “stockings,” as in “garter belt and stockings.” Or hose.

            Pantyhose are hose attached to a panty.

          4. fposte*

            Oh, interesting on the “stockings”–I think that’s an older usage from the garter belt days, and it may just have stuck around in some places.

          5. FD*

            Huh maybe I picked it up wrong at some point then! It doesn’t come up in conversation that frequently.

          6. JSPA*

            Etymology: hose are just another old word for stockings, and can be of any length…but hose that incorporate panties are, panty-hose, dehyphenated to, pantyhose.

    3. Refgirl1*

      Why do you feel that you need to wear hose during the non-summer months? (I live in the South and we don’t have non-summer weather, if that is what you mean) In the winter, if I really have to, I wear something that will look good with tights.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I assume because they *want* to, and therefore need to buy some. Because you generally can’t wear pantyhose that don’t belong to you.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        I assumed it was weather related. I live in Ireland and also wear skirts and my legs would get really cold most of the year if I didn’t wear some form of tights with them. In the really cold months – like November to February – I wear the 30 or 40 denier ones, but most of the rest of the year, I wear 20 denier ones. When we get really warm weather, I don’t wear any tights, but some years, it doesn’t get that warm at all and it would be unusual to be able to do that in the autumn and spring.

      3. Ellis Bell*

        Because it’s cold when it’s not summer? Generally? Also, the new types of tights they have now are as comfortable and long lasting as leggings only sleeker and more wearable with choices of sheerness. I like to wear footless and Capri tights well into spring and summer.

      4. The Other Dawn*

        I wear them because I hate the look (on myself) of being bare-legged. Without pantyhose, my legs are practically the color of Casper the Friendly Ghost and I now have spider veins. But even before the veins, I’ve always worn them. It’s not an outrage to like and want to wear pantyhose.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Yep. Us Ladies of A Certain Age certainly need all the help we can get. To me, sheer hose are like foundation for the face; it enhances and minimizes imperfections.
          I like colored tights in the winter too of course, but I’m talking about in the warmer months.

          1. anonanonny*

            Please don’t generalize — your preferences are yours and you are more than welcome to them. However, I’m also a “woman of a certain age,” and I certainly do NOT need help to consider my legs acceptable for display.

      5. I'm A Little Teapot*

        You’re cold. You may have tattoos which you want to cover. You may have religious reasons to limit bare skin. You may feel self-conscious with bare legs – due to skin conditions, bruising or injuries, scars. You may need compression for medical or comfort reasons. You may prefer it for entirely subjective and personal reasons. You may prefer the aesthetics with a particular outfit. You may be wearing something difficult to clean, so protecting the clothing from skin oils is helpful. There’s a lot of reasons.

    4. OyHiOh*

      I like Capizio semi opaque dance tights in whichever color matches my skin best for season. They are sturdier than department store pantyhose and last a lot longer. I can usually get about 3 months wear out of a pair.

      1. Ampersand*

        I got some Capezio tights for a ballet class and wow are they tight! I’m on the smaller side and even the XL feel like they’re strangling me. I know they’re a good, well-known brand…I may be in the minority with this problem. They’re definitely sturdy. That’s probably part of my issue with them.

        1. OyHiOh*

          I wear an XL in most bottoms. The compression is certainly part of what I like about that brand. The tricky part for me is the waistband – some of their models have really super comfortable non binding/pinching waistbands, and some are much less comfortable.

    5. JN*

      I have got a couple pairs of Snag tights. No control top so I don’t feel like sausage. And fun colors if you’re into that. NYT just posted a review of the best tights, worth reading.

      1. Madame Arcati*

        Facebook advertises snag tights to me every three seconds so interesting to have a ‘real’ person’s opinion; I take it you like them? They seem dear over here but if they last well it’s worth considering. Most ads seem to feature the ones with cut-outs so the effect is more like wearing stockings and a suspender belt (which is the opposite of what I want out of tights; a chub-rub guarantee!) but they do normal ones as well?

        1. Lilith*

          I have only good things to say about Snag tights (and also their clothes, I bought one of their skirts a while ago and love it). I’ve never bought any of their stockings/novelty tights, but their bog-standard ones are a staple of my wardrobe and last for ages and ages.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          My Snag product of choice is their chub rub shorts and those are wonderful as well.

        3. Laura Petrie*

          I love them. I have opaque black tights but also an array of patterned and novelty editions plus their leggings. I’ve got long legs and really struggle to find tights that pull right up to my waist.

        4. LD RN*

          I love Snag Tights. I wear the “chub rubs” under dresses any time I’m going to be walking any amount of distance (I’m in the South). I picked up some of their leggings too. I did have a run at the crotch on the chub rubs, but no where else.

        5. SaraK*

          I just yesterday put my foot in a hole in the pavement and fell over. Scraped my knee but my Snags tights didn’t break (and didn’t even ladder). They are pretty great.

        6. OhGee*

          I have five pairs (wool for winter, fishnets, fake garters, black semisheer with polka dots, and a pair of their high waist underwear) and really like them, and yes, they’re one of the only Instagram ad brands they I’ve actually purchased. I love their size inclusivity, too.

        7. Alanis*

          I have 5 or 6 pairs of snag tights. All black and in denier of 50 & 80. I went all in on them before the pandemic to wear with dresses in the winter. They’re super comfortable and they have a short F which is perfect for a 5ft size 20. Interesting to hear they’re expensive in the US. They’re pretty cheap here. £7ish or so. I think I’ve worn them 3 times since March 2020, to funerals :(

    6. Rosie Posie*

      I’m more of a black tights in the winter kinda gal. But I’ve actually had a lot of luck with Hue. They aren’t anything fancy, and they probably aren’t as soft as the one pair of Wolford’s I was gifted. But works well for the price.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Love Hue. I have their tights (American style – thick, opaque, warm), leggings, and sheer pantyhose. Not cheap. Definitely worth the money – they last, and I wash them in the washing machine.

    7. Ellis Bell*

      I just bought a pair of Falke 30 denier footless and was very impressed. Smooth, comfortable and even though they’re semi sheer they’re obviously indestructible. I’m used to having to go gingerly with sheer tights.

    8. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

      I wear leggings in non summer weather! I have various weights for the various stages of cold, and they last much longer than pantyhose.

    9. Anonymous 75*

      Hanes Silk Reflection and L’eegs Silken Mist. I live in Florida and wear them whenever I’m wearing a skirt or dress and I can barely feel them and most people don’t realize I’m wearing pantyhose unless I tell them (I tend to wear ones that are my skin tone).

    10. Workerbee*

      Kixies brand, which is an amazing thigh high stay-up brand in a variety of styles. No garter belt needed.

  4. Aphrodite*

    I am interested in online things you have been surprised to find and even more surprised to find you like.

    Mine include an ongoing YouTube video series called Mr Ballen. It is offered by a former Navy SEAL named John Allen who is an interesting storyteller of the weirdly wonderful mysteries he finds. It can be disturbing—people killed by odd ways like getting stuck in chimneys, behind walls or in machinery—but it’s also oddly addictive and even educational.

    I also love anything by Lucy Worsley and you will too if you like British history. One of my favorite videos, and different from most of them, is when she and two professional colleagues explored the medical history Henry VIII, which at least for me was much more intriguing than the usual “six wives” stuff. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4V7GtafSZw)

    And I have no interest whatsoever in taking a cruise but I love watching Tips for Travelers with Gary Bembridge who cruises multiple times a year and posts a huge number of videos with great information.

    My newest is from Top Fives, which apparently contrary to its name, posts videos that list and talk about the 15 Most … Coldest Cities on Earth, Amazing Beaches, Tallest Structures, Fastest Animals, Illegal Places to Visit, etc.

    I am both terrified of being trapped underground and fascinated by it so Cave Exploring Disasters, MrDeified, Scary Interesting compel me to watch them (and shudder while I am watching).

    So, what do you like? I’d love to find more that draw me in.

    1. Not Australian*

      Yep, I watch several of those too! I would add Steve Marsh – who does tours of Scotland and is interested in everything I am (islands, trains, ferries, etc.) – Emma Cruises (cruise line reviews, can’t help wondering how she pays for it all!), GeoWizard (eccentric Brit plays GeoGuesser and goes on mad ‘missions’), and a couple of *really* Brit-centric ones, Auto Shenanigans (?sp) and Geoff Marshall – road and rail enthusiasts respectively. Also, History Calling, History’s Forgotten People, and – last but by no means least – Cathy Hay, who is one of several YouTubers like Nicole Rudolph and Bernadette Banner who are deeply into recreating historical costume for modern wear: Nicole’s current ‘female Aziraphale’ and Cathy’s ‘Marshall and Snelgrove velvet coat’ are both compulsive viewing.

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Podcasts, as a category, are something I never pictured myself getting into. I absorb information best by reading, and find it way too easy to zone out while listening to people talk.

      I got into The Missing Cryptoqueen during the first 2020 lockdown, and it’s made me realise I actually enjoy an alternative to books or music when I have long stretches of idle time (for example taking a bath, being wide awake in bed too early, WFH solo lunches, or commuting in the morning).

      I’m quite picky about what I listen to. There are some I tried out and dropped halfway through the first episode. For example, I realised I prefer real life stories to fiction (Passenger List didn’t really do it for me), or series where the hosts spend a lot of time chatting casually instead of getting into the subject matter. But if a story is engaging in the right way, I now know I can stick with it in podcast format.

    3. Madame Arcati*

      Lucy Worsley writes some great books too; I’ve just finished Jane Austen At Home which is a biog but based on the places she lived, and how she lived. Fascinating!

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Oh man, I fell down the ‘restoration’ rabbit hole a few weeks ago. Watching someone restore shoes, sewing machines, old toys, etc was fascinating. Although in the end, some of them are more restored parts than original, its still pretty cool (and relatively relaxing to watch!)

      I also was watching air traffic control YouTubes this week about legendary controller Kennedy Steve.

    5. Holly the spa pro*

      I love Mr. Ballen too. I’m a fan of the strange, dark and mysterious delivered in story format as well.

      Something I got really into for no reason is a YouTube channel called Solo Solo Travel which is a Japanese man who rides trains and does other small trips by himself.

    6. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      Baumgartner Restoration on YouTube. Came across it a few years ago and then got my wife hooked on it too.

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

      I was looking for a recipe for how to make fried rice and stumbled into comedian Nigel Ng’s videos (as his character “Uncle Roger”) critiquing people’s Asian cooking techniques. I’m not much of a cook, and this is not a type of cooking that I’ve ever tried before, but he did inspire me to buy a wok, and I now know that you have to start your fried rice with day-old rice if you want the texture to be correct, plus a lot of other cooking tips that I will never use but find fascinating.

    8. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      Thank you for posting the link to the Henry VIII medical video. I listened to it while working around the house yesterday and thought it was really interesting (though they did say that TB was caused by ‘microbacteria’ when that should be ‘mycobacteria’ – an odd slip up, but then again I don’t think anyone one the research panel was a microbiologist). I’ve been rereading some of the C.J. Sansom Shardlake novels, which are set in Tudor England, so the timing was excellent!

      Anything by Dr. Irving Finkel can draw me in – he’s an expert in Mesopotamian history and an amazing lecturer. Google “The First Ghost Stories” to get started.

    9. Sopranohannah*

      I get pretty transfixed by earwax removal videos. I can’t tell you what I find so deeply satisfying about them. A cross between pimple popping and picking a scab, perhaps? I really like Rhys Barber, the Welsh Bob Ross of earwax removal!

      1. Jill Swinburne*

        Haha, we’ve just gone the other way! I hadn’t thought of benefits of Ramadan, though my dog began the dinner time campaign at 3pm.

  5. Girasol*

    Does anyone know a good cure for carpet riffles? Carpets can be long lasting or less expensive or designed to survive just until the builder sells the house. We have that kind. After just a couple years we started getting humps. Is there hope of flattening them and stretching our carpet’s life?

    1. CatCat*

      Yes, you’re looking for a carpet stretcher. You can try and DIY, or pay someone to come do it.

    2. Indolent Libertine*

      Sure. The original installers might just not have stretched it sufficiently tight, or it may have relaxed a bit, etc. Any local carpet store can send their crew to re-stretch it. You’ll probably have to move furniture out of the rooms where they’ll be working, ask the store whether they provide that service or if you need to make other arrangements.

    3. Girasol*

      Carpet stretcher – I never even heard of one. Thanks for the pointer! I’ll go look into it.

    4. Holly the spa pro*

      it’s 100% worth it to have a carpet company come out and stretch your carpet vs diy in my experience. it’s a gigantic hassle to do yourself and not very expensive, in my experience. especially if you want help moving the furniture out of the room.

    5. Nitpicker*

      When I got my first wall-to-wall carpet I was warned that this could happen. The original installers came back and fixed it. They managed to do so without major furniture moving and it worked out fine. (I recently replaced it and expected the same problem but it didn’t happen. Must have something to do with the way the carpet is woven.)

  6. Sloanicota*

    Anyone who is still a pretty big Twitter user (no need to comment if you hate twitter or don’t use it) – do you think the proposed changes to the “for you” section, with only paid subscribers being featured there, will make any difference to your experience? People seem to be freaking out but I just assume everyone will click out of “for you” and into “following.” So far, although I dislike Musk, I’m glad I didn’t delete my account and try to join one of the smaller start ups. It would have been a big time sink for me and TBH my engagement and reach is unchanged. I don’t support the ethics of the platform, but that’s true of Meta and TikTok also to me.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I already clicked over into Following by default because the “for you” was absolutely nothing of interest for me. Until about a week ago, when it somehow became ALL ZOO PICTURES ALL THE TIME, and I am all in for the zoo critters. And they tend to have blue checks. So if it stays blue checked zoos, then cool, all the critters, and if it goes back to things of no interest, I’ll go back into the Following tab.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I’m ashamed to admit it, but at the moment the “for you” page is in fact more interesting than my “following” page (something I expect will change when it just becomes paid subscribers). I only have the account to promote my side hustle, and as a result, most of the people I follow are in the same businesses promoting something similar. Sigh.

      2. Elle*

        My For You tab was all random Succession accounts, which is fine because I love the show. But now some weird ones are creeping in. I had to block a 9/11 truther. No clue why that popped up.

    2. Teapot Translator*

      For You used to have an advantage for me because it showed me posts I’d missed from people I follow. Following shows tweets in chronological order and I don’t spend all my time on Twitter. But now, there’s no context under For You (is it a like? someone followed by someone I follow?) so it’s a lot of noise for me.

      1. RuledbyCats*

        This is mostly my current experience with For You – a lot of my existing follows, just in whatever order this tab uses. That said, I mostly stay in Following because I want the chronological order. If For You goes to only blue checks, eventually I imagine I will just not use it. I do have accounts on other platforms, so there are places I can land though I think I will not leave Twitter…yet.

    3. Mornington Cresent*

      For me, I use Twitter *almost exclusively* for the For You tab- I used it exclusively for the “Based on Your Likes” feed before that disappeared.

      The way I use Twitter is a little weird- I have thousands of likes, and let the algorithm curate artwork for me to look at. Pixel art and beautiful scenery are two of my faves, but it also pulls in cute pets from Japanese and Korean accounts, because I have likes of art of favourite anime characters and ships from accounts in that area.

      When the For You tab changes to paid accounts only, I’m not sure what my feed will look like. I guess I need to start actually following all the artists I like, because almost none of them have blue ticks and they certainly won’t pull into the feed any more.

      I’ll be interested in seeing what Twitter will choose to show me when the change happens, but I have a feeling the block button and I will be busy.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I use Twitter in read-only–I never post, so the engagement metric doesn’t apply to me.

      I recall a couple of months ago having several sharply worded arguments with Twitter about whether it was going to be in “following” (adorable animal videos, geography facts) or “for you” (stuff no one familiar with my reading history on twitter or the web would imagine I care about). So the changes to “for you” will not affect me at all, except when the algorithm tries to force me back into it.

      In my little corner of Twitter, “following” is explained to the frustrated as the obvious way everyone should set up their account, and “for you” is viewed as some sort of malicious joke. The zietgist is that no one will pay for the blue check that “verifies” you are really Eli Lilly Company or whoever else you want to verify yourself as, and the loss of blue legacy means that now you can block anyone with a blue check who shows up in your feed. Also there is a lot of chortling as major orgs announce that they are not paying to be blue.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      As an experiment I just looked at the For You tab. I would say it is about 1/3 content from accounts I follow, 1/3 content I could see a rational algorithm thinking I might like, and 1/3 random mysteries. (I don’t read Chinese. A number of people/orgs I know nothing about are explaining in “For You” that their blue check is about to vanish so make sure you have the right handle to find their tweets, and one begging users not to block them for having a blue check, they were just trying to fix the engagement issues.)

      In the past it’s tossed up “Here’s a white supremacist!!!!” or “Here’s an insult from a person you don’t know toward another person you don’t know!!!” and yeah, why anything would think this would be engaging to me, or feel personalized to my interests, is a mystery.

    6. MissGirl*

      I’m not a fan. I like the algorithm showing me new things based on my interests. Now it will only show me those people with a blue check. It’ll also be much harder to get eyes on my tweets. I like to post questions about places I’m traveling to or other things with the pertinent hashtags. Now only my few followers will see those questions.

    7. Been There*

      I tried out the website for a couple of weeks after they closed down the api for 3rd-party apps and hated it. Couldn’t figure out the logic for either the following tab or the for you tab. I was very happy when I saw someone mention that Tweetdeck still works, even though it’s nowhere near as good as my old friend Tweetbot.

  7. Red Sunglasses*

    Homeowners, how did you decide how much to spend on a house? Taking into consideration balancing the % of your income spent on mortgage/utilities, your savings and the re-sale value of the house.

    I’m a saver- I rarely spend more than I need to on things. Most of the time this is a good thing but this is the first time I’m buying something that will grow in value and I’m having a hard time not just picking the best sticker price (all things considered). For example, I really want a 2 bedroom but my saver mentality is saying to get a 1 bed. I know the 2 bedroom will be more valuable in the future so this is a ‘splurge’ I’ll take. I’m wondering how you all decided to weigh/balance all of these factors.

    1. Missb*

      Location was our deciding factor. There was only one house in our target neighborhood that we could afford, and Dh found it.

      I think people make decisions on homes for lots of different reasons. Ours wasn’t about the features. It was a very old 3bd/2ba house in the neighborhood that had the school district we wanted.

      (I do suggest getting the 2bd, if nothing else it gives you more elbow room and better resale value.)

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        We’re househunting, and resale value–specifically how fast I would expect the house to sell if we had to move–is a significant consideration.

        A lot of the tradeoffs are emotional ones–something that moves an average house to “nope, not going to look” is something I’m willing to work with in a house where I love, say, the kitchen-dining-living layout.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I ultimately went for a house with potential (so, definitely the two bedroom) but that needed work, so I could get the things that would be hardest to change – space / room configurations / location – at the lowest price. And I needed to get a good price for that obviously since I was going to need cash for the renos, plus moving is expensive anyway. What I like about house stuff is that I can get a return on what I spend, compared with something like a vacation or a nice meal (both of which I love, but a renovated bathroom increases the value of my home when I sell it). But don’t lock yourself in to a place that’s already too small, because you lose the money of closing costs, and you want to be able to stay in place as long as possible.

    3. Samwise*

      We made a list of everything we wanted and did not want, then sorted it into Must Have, Nice to Have, Counts Against But We Can Live With It, and No Freakin Way

      We did some initial searching to see what was available.

      We went to some mortgage lenders to see what we’d qualify for.

      We discussed how much we were willing to pay/month based on the range of prices and our combined income. We had some money from my in-laws to help towards the down payment as well as savings; we hoped for (and got) a place where we did not need mortgage insurance.

      We cared about the kind of house (older; I was all for a fixer upper but my husband was not), walkable neighborhood, not suburban-y, not too long a drive to work.

      Then we got an agent, explained all of this to her, she took us around to some places and listened to us talk about them, found us other places that fit better.

      Then we got pre-approved for a mortgage.

      The agent recommended the house we ended up buying. It was about half the square footage we could have gotten if we’d been willing to buy a newer house in a suburb 30 – 45 minutes from work (a longer drive now as the area’s population has increased). We can walk to work. Elementary school also within walking distance, good schools although we didn’t pay attention to that when we were house hunting. Older neighborhood.

      1. Samwise*

        Forgot to add: we’ve been here almost 24 years. The value has almost tripled, but I’m sure that’s not the house, because the house is small (1700 sq ft) and cute, but not what most folks want these days –it’s the large lot in a very desirable, extremely well-located neighborhood in a region with very good economic growth. It was clear when we bought it that it would appreciate well and that the region was likely to continue to be economically healthy.

        Lots of tear-downs in the neighborhood for the last 10 years. We refinanced 15 years ago. Our mortgage is less than what my younger coworkers pay for a one-bedroom apartment.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I did the same as far as must have, nice to have, not a dealbreaker, DEFINITELY A DEALBREAKER. Otherwise, my primary factors were location and how much space could I get for my budget. My budget was one person since I was buying my house solo, my space needs at the time were four adults – at the time, two couples, but over time that shifted in various ways and now it’s just me and my husband and we somehow still manage to use all the space :-P I bought my house eight years ago and it has almost doubled in valuation since then. We are child free, but my house is a four bedroom with a big fenced yard in a good (and getting better) school district, walking distance from the high school and public library, so I expect a good resale value someday.

        1. KatEnigma*

          Not a dishwasher wasn’t a dealbreaker for us. The kitchen layout not giving us an option to install our own dishwasher WAS.

          Our first house didn’t have AC or a dishwasher. The ability to add both was a must have. We closed in May. The AC was installed in June, the dishwasher in February.

          When we sold 4 years later, it sold within a week for asking in a market that wasn’t that hot- and in JANUARY in a snowy climate, for $25k more than we paid for it. And I think it’s because we were the only house in the market at that price range that had upgraded appliances that included a dishwasher. (We also put in a fence, in an area where there are no fences or even fencing companies!!)

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            For me, “no basement” was not a dealbreaker and “finished basement” was not a dealbreaker, but “unfinished basement” was ABSOLUTELY A DEALBREAKER.

            1. Sloanicota*

              Really? Huh, I love my unfinished basement. I do messy art projects and occasionally let a feral cat sleep off a URI down there.

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                I have had way too many unfinished basements with water issues.

                1. KatEnigma*

                  Finished basements are no guarantee there won’t be water! It’s just more expensive to remediate!

                2. Missb*

                  Our current house had a slight dip in the concrete on the basement floor along some pathway when we moved in.

                  Note that our basement is also our garage (laundry, shop, storage).

                  First big rain: sheet flow across the basement floor, heading towards the slight dip, flowing along until it reached the garage door, where it flowed underneath and down the driveway.

                  Definitely drainage issues. When we were doing a wraparound porch project the 2nd year, we dug in a bunch of piping and connected them to the downspouts. The old pipes were terra cotta and broken and filled with soil.

                  No more sheet flow across the basement. When we had a realtor over a couple of years ago (when we were considering selling), she went down to the basement, took down her mask and inhaled deeply. She was very surprised that it wasn’t a musty old basement.

                  There is zero chance we will ever finish the space down there. It’s been that way for 100 years. I don’t need the finished space.

                3. Sloanicota*

                  This is so interesting to me because now I’m realizing that when a basement is finished there’s at least an implicit expectation that it doesn’t have water issues (where I wouldn’t have made that connection before). Would flippers finish a basement even if it did, leaving you with the mess, oh yes absolutely, but at least that’s the principle they’re trying to emulate. I never put it together before. And I wouldn’t finish mine because, yep, there’s leaks.

                4. KatEnigma*

                  My cousin finished his basement and then it developed leaks.

                  The same happened to a neighbor.

                  They don’t have to be covering a leak- one might simply not exist that develops later.

    4. Gina*

      I am not sure where you live – but many places in the US have Housing Counselors and Homebuyers education classes. I actually am in this field and work with people to help them figure out what they can/want to afford balanced by what they want/need in a home. NeighborWorks America is a national organization that supports smaller ones like mine.

    5. Long A*

      If you’re eventually going to want a two bedroom home and can afford the mortgage to buy one now, I think you should do it. You lose a ton of money buying and selling, and moving, and so purchasing that forever home if you can isn’t a splurge in my opinion. It’s smart.

      1. Pop*

        I agree with this. We bought a one bedroom five years ago, although we would have preferred a two bedroom and put in offers on many but ultimately got priced out aka we couldn’t afford it. It’s been a great fit for many reasons, but now my toddler is almost two and the clock is ticking to sell and move because we literally can’t fit a toddler bed in our space, but interest rates are sooo high. If we had a two bedroom we would have more time and options. I would love to not have to be moving again.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        Yes moving is one of the most costly things you can do, both in time, money and stress, so get the best place you can afford for your needs. I could see someone getting a one bedroom if that’s either all they could stretch to, or because it’s all they really want or need…. but if you want a two bed eventually and are getting a one bed for a while to save money? False economy. Not only is the moving costly, but the two bed will probably cost more in the future. For my first home purchase, I started with something that was below my eventual needs (had no driveway and fewer bedrooms) and prices were so low back then, I could have stretched to something like what I have now. I saved some money in the short term but I definitely lost some money long term.

      3. TechWorker*

        Moving house is expensive and hassle! I don’t believe you should fully max out on ‘whatever the bank will lend me/us’ – for me it was important that if for some reason one of us couldn’t work for a few months we could still afford the mortgage – but going for a 2 bed you can grow into vs ‘the smallest amount of acceptable space’ sounds like good economics.

    6. Ginger Cat Lady*

      As far as budget, when we were shopping, we aimed for something roughly 50-75% of what the mortgage company told us we qualified for. Sure, we could have maxed out what we qualified for, but if we had it would have been tight. By intentionally staying lower than that, we were able to do things like have savings! Do home and car repairs timely! and make home improvements! Got a 15 year loan instead of a 30 as well, and that meant we could pay off the house before retirement.
      Not maxing out what we qualified for was the best financial decision we ever made.

      1. the Viking Diva*

        Underscoring this. Lenders will speak in terms of a mortgage in terms of how much “you can afford” – and what they mean is how much “we will lend you” according to a pretty simplistic formula. In my case they were willing to lend me a *lot* more money than I felt comfortable committing every month. I have been happy with my house, but not house-poor, even though I’ve done some significant remodeling over time and still traveled and enjoyed life. YOU decide what you can afford, not the bank!

      2. Samwise*

        Agreed. We qualified for almost twice what we spent.

        15 year mortgage— a good way to save money, but we would have been in a bind if didn’t have the two incomes. I had a terminal faculty position in a field that’s notoriously hard to get tenure track jobs in. We are fairly risk averse…

        1. Imtheone*

          If you make sure that there is no prepayment penalty on the mortgage, you can get a 30 year mortgage and pay it off more quickly, saving a lot of money.

          1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

            That’s what I did. Mortgage for 20 years, interest fixed for ten with the option to pay an extra 10% every year. I used my annual bonuses for that extra pay-off so I kept the fixed monthly payments manageable. As the economy was good to me with good bonuses, I paid off the mortgage within ten years; I’ve been debt free ever since.
            Buying a solid house within my means was the best decision. The house appreciated nicely (almost tripled its value within 20 years).

          2. Observer*

            Yes, that’s a good move in many cases. And it means that if something unexpected happens, you have a bit of a cushion.

          3. Clisby*

            Yeah, we got a 5 1/8% 30-year mortgage in 2005, and paid it off in just under 15 years. Not sure what our effective interest rate ended up being, but considerably less than 5 1/8.

      3. SarahKay*

        This, this, this!
        When I first bought, back in the mid-nineties, the bank was willing to loan about 20% more than my then-boyfriend and I felt we could afford. We’d lived through the horrific interest rate rises in the late eighties (something like 5% in three hours on one particularly awful day) so we stuck to borrowing what we were comfortable with.
        At time of borrowing interest rates were at approx 6% and fixed rate mortgages weren’t as much of a thing so we didn’t have one.
        Every month for the first six months we got a letter from the lender telling us that interest rates had gone up, so our monthly repayment would also increase.
        Every month we opened that letter and thanked dog that we’d not let the bank loan us more.
        We’d hit 8% by the end of that six months. Thankfully it stopped climbing at that point, although we could have absorbed more if we’d had to.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Yeah, as mentioned in another comment below, my mortgage went up every year after I started because taxes went up and the escrow takes a cushion on top of that (insurance probably went up too), so if I’d borrowed at the very top of my range I would have been in trouble a few years in. Maybe most people’s income goes up every year but mine did not.

      4. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Yes. We moved from a very HCOL area to a moderate-to-low COL area just before we bought our first house. We had started looking in the HCOL area and would have barely been able to afford a two-bedroom. In the lower COL area we could get a whole lot more house – but if we would have been content with a smaller one, did we really need a bigger one? In the end, we did buy a bigger house at about 60% of what the lender considered our max price/monthly payment. We looked at a gorgeous 18th century place that was at the top of that range and decided we didn’t want to be house poor. No regrets.

        Also no regrets about paying a bit more for central AC in both houses. For the second, we made location the absolute priority and gave the real estate agent a very small area to work with. We were lucky to find a place we loved in our budget in that neighborhood and 22 years later we are still happy here.

      5. KatEnigma*

        When we bought our first house, we didn’t have much in savings, coming from California. But we had a good income for the Midwest. So we also got a 15 year mortgage because we could afford a higher monthly payment (less than our Bay Area rent!) than our downpayment would imply. We also bought far below what the bank was willing to lend us. But we only put down 5% and could drop the PMI in less than 3 years.

    7. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I’m also a saver, and buying a house that was the top end of my and Partner’s budget was tougher to decide for me than him. We had already calculated how much we were ok spending, so it was saver mentality unease rather than a numbers issue.

      Many people already made the “forever home” and value increase argument and that was part of our reasoning. A few other things also went into it:

      1) The price was on the high side for us, but looking at houses with the same number of rooms plus garden in the same area, they were all more expensive (including one Partner loved on the listing website, and turned out to need a lot of work when we went to see it). Once we knew that was the area and space we wanted, we also knew we were getting good value.

      2) There were much smaller homes selling for not much less. We realised that to really save we’d have to buy a flat, and it wasn’t something we wanted to do for a number of reasons.

      3) Our house was newly refurbished and needed minimal intervention after moving in. We still ended up spending a little more than intended on some repairs (I suspect everyone goes through that), and the garden needed redoing – still isn’t finished as we’re DIYing most of it. But we also could avoid big projects that every other house we saw would have needed, such as replacing dated kitchens and bathrooms, or repainting from scratch.

      Wishing you the best on your home buying journey!

    8. Jackalope*

      We had limited choice because we live in a high cost of living area and so everything available was just barely at the top of our price range. But the plan we had was to look for something that would have a monthly cost similar to the rent we were paying. Our situation was unique because we ended up buying the house we were renting at the time; the landlords decided to sell and gave us first right of refusal. It ended up being a bit more expensive than the rent, but not by too much.

      Things that were important to me: I didn’t want a home that needed a lot of maintenance. No one in our household is super handy or a fix-it type, and we were unlikely to change. So we went for something with good structure and nothing huge that was breaking down. My spouse and I got married in middle age and were both used to having space, so it was important to find someplace that had room to stretch out (and also, since this was the first place we lived together, when we were looking for a rental we tried to find something big enough that we could combine households without having to get rid of most of our stuff, since things were stressful enough with moving already). One of my sina qua non requirements was 2 bathrooms; I spent a few years in my 20s sharing a one-bathroom apartment with 3 other people, and I do not want to ever do that again.

      Beyond that, I would encourage you to think about what you are drawn to in houses. I personally enjoy quirkiness, for example, so a house that was completely modern with no unique touches would never have made me happy. Give me random cupboards and a room with a weird number of walls, or random bookshelves built into the walls, or whatever. You may feel completely different about this. But figure out what kind of vibe you want, and then see if you can get that. It may not be an option, but do your best, since you’ll be spending a lot of time there and you want to want to be there.

    9. Ellen D*

      When I was flat hunting many years ago, I was told if you could afford a 2-bed then go for it, as a) it gives you more space and b) you’ve got the potential to rent out the second bedroom if something unexpected happens. As others note, it can be more adaptable to changes in circumstances and may re-sell more easily. This enabled me after 15 years to move to a house with garden in a great small town – that is not cheap.

    10. Madame Arcati*

      I did it like this (in 2021):
      Look at the amount of savings you have and start by knocking off all the things you will have to pay for (there are many online guides for such things if you have no idea. Also asking friends and family)
      For example;
      Conveyancing fees (legal)
      Stamp duty (that’s a U.K. tax at purchase which may not be added to your mortgage so you need the cash up front; might be something similar in the US)
      New furniture (I went from a one bed flat to a three bed house so knew I needed various things and I allowed a more generous amount because I am in my forties and wanted quality things to last, mostly, and to choose what I wanted not have to pick the cheapest. But a first time buyer may be different)
      Any refurbishments – my rule of thumb was that it would be likely I’d need/want to redo one more major thing, say the kitchen or the bathroom, so I budgeted to be able to pay for that. Any more needed and I wouldn’t buy; I really didn’t want a doer-upper! But this may not be a luxury affordable for a first time buyer.
      Cost of removals (I had too much stuff to do it myself but self driving a hired van is a good compromise if a proper removal service is too much)
      Round it all up a bit so you aren’t on your last penny the first month!

      Then what you are left with is your deposit and you need an online calculator to see what a bank etc will lend you based on that deposit your salary, dependents and outgoings. I just googled “mortgage how much can I borrow” and there were several. You can talk to a mortgage broker or your bank but that’s normally for later when you’ve got a house in mind.

      I saw what the bank would likely lend and looked at the monthly payment compared to my salary and decided to borrow a bit less to adjust that monthly payment down so I didn’t feel over stretched.

      Then I took that final price of deposit plus what I could be confident of safely borrowing and got on the internet to see what I could afford in the area I liked. I used rightmove, I daresay there are several us equivalents but certainly then it was worth setting up alerts, and when you did enquire about a property for sale, leaving your details with the estate agent so they can let you know when similar ones come on the market, because things were going on and being snapped up very quickly

      Long but hopefully helpful!.

    11. Cendol*

      Our home purchase was intended to be a once-and-done deal—I’m hoping to hold this house until retirement or death—so we didn’t think too much about re-sale value. We bought a 2bd/1ba. Houses with two bathrooms were priced outside our range!

      I did do some shoddy analysis using housing price index data from the St. Louis Fed to see how much home prices dipped in our metro area during the Great Recession (about 3% compared to 10-11% in other areas, and they bounced back quickly). This was just to soothe my fears that we would buy and then immediately be underwater.

      Mortgage + taxes + utilities works out to be about 35% of my take-home pay (rent + utilities was about 30%). We are DINKs and live fairly frugally otherwise.

    12. PoolLounger*

      Location was one aspect—houses just aren’t cheap in the area we want to live (or for 60 miles around it). The biggest aspect was just what the monthly mortgage costs would be. We thought we’d be able to spend more, but it turned out a larger down payment meant basically nothing to the monthly costs. Then, when looking at houses in our price range, we looked at the cost of the work we’d have to do, cosmetic and necessary, and what we’d have to do asap vs in a year or two. We also looked at if the house/land would rise in value. One place we liked, but the location meant it was tough to sell, even though it was beautiful. And we didn’t think we’d want to be there forever, so that was out.

    13. MissGirl*

      Go check out the website I Will Teach You to be Rich. A lot of advice there on what you can afford relative to salary and pitfalls to look out for.

      Size doesn’t always equal price. I’d love to downsize since it’s just me but getting out of a townhouse and into a smaller cottage tacks on $200k over what I could sell mine for.

      I would also always have a second bedroom but I work from home. But even if I didn’t having a place to work out or to have guests is so nice.

      1. Sloanicota*

        A lot of people were really grateful for that second bedroom when the pandemic hit! And think about needing to isolate from a partner if you were infected. Then again I guess you’d say the same thing about two bathrooms and that was beyond my means.

        1. Observer*

          The real point here is that there are a lot of things that people do not absolutely NEED, but that are genuinely useful and add a lot of value.

          It’s important to recognize the difference between “cannot afford”, in which case the saver mentality is going to save you a lot of trouble, and “But I don’t really NEED it”, in which case it’s worth stepping back and looking at the real value that item may bring to the table.

          Some extra space and a second bathroom are the kinds of things that generally should only be not bought if you* actually cannot afford it given whatever other constraints you have.

          *generic you.

    14. KatEnigma*

      Also .. when you are looking at mortgages, if you don’t have 20% down, shop around for loans. Not just for the interest rate, but for the PMI. We went through Bettor (sp?) loans who offered us a PMI that was 1/3 of anyone else. Specifically 1/3 of the quote we got from Chase who had serviced our previous loan. Chase then immediately bought our loan before even the first payment at that PMI rate.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I found a first-time homebuyer program in my new county that let me put less down and avoid PMI. That was almost all it did for me, but that alone was worth a lot! Mortgage insurance does nothing for you, the buyer – it is entirely for the bank.

        1. KatEnigma*

          Yes. And if you have a loan through Fanny/Freddie, to make up for all their losses during the last crash, they don’t let you drop PMI EVER. Even after you get to 21% equity, the FED makes every other mortgage holder drop your PMI, but they have made fairly recent exceptions for themselves…

          But truly, our PMI through Better is only $45/month instead of the $100-$150 everyone else wanted at the time. It was the main reason we didn’t go with Chase, and then Chase immediately bought our loan!

    15. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I had a budget of what I could spend, that was based on what I could comfortably afford and not be house poor. My budget was significantly less than what the lender had approved me for. Make sure you consider insurance, taxes, repairs/maintenance, etc. Beyond that, I was limited based on what was on the market. If you want a 1 bedroom but there’s no 1 bedrooms on the market, then you’re either not getting a 1 bedroom or you’re not getting a house.

      I also didn’t just plan for right now. I also tried to anticipate for the future. If you may need a home office in the future, then it makes sense to have the ability to accommodate that.

      Also, some things are easier to change. If the house has decorations that you hate, that doesn’t matter. You can paint, you have different furniture, you will chose your own curtains. What does matter is location, layout, size, and condition.

    16. Cedrus Libani*

      I bought a house last year. My husband and I are both savers; the house we were comfortable buying was definitely below the limit of what we could have gotten a mortgage for.

      The maximum spend was driven by me. I make ~30% of the household income, and I was in grad school until a few years ago, so I’m not great on assets either. But, my pride – I wanted to pay my fair share, like an adult with a real job, which I had finally become.

      So, I looked at my past year or two of expenditures. I wanted to be able to maintain my lifestyle, which I was pretty happy with. I wanted to keep saving aggressively for retirement. I also wanted to be able to have a baby (infant daycare, yikes). And I didn’t want to be eyeing the bottom of my bank account every month; I wanted to still make more than I spent, unless there was a serious emergency.

      Yes, I am quite fortunate to still be able to hold up my half of the mortgage after all that. We bought an older 2 bed / 2 bath; it has some issues, but is a true single family in a convenient location. No regrets so far. (We did time the market fairly well; the seller was motivated, as they would have easily gotten 10% more a month earlier and it was only getting worse, and we were also motivated, as our pre-approved mortgage rate was about to expire and go way up.)

      I will say that the era of real estate as an investment vehicle is probably over. For most of the past several decades, the smart play has been to buy as much house as you could possibly afford, because it’s printing money for you in the form of home equity. Now? I’d be pretty happy if the value keeps up with inflation over the next decade or so.

      I will also say that the point of money is to buy happiness. Being able to pay for routine expenses makes me happy, so I would never want to jeopardize that. That said, having enough space to live comfortably is really nice too. I was very glad that the husband talked me into renting a 2br apartment instead of a 1br, especially once the pandemic hit and we were both WFH. That money could have gone to more stuff (but I’m a minimalist by nature) or experiences (but there’s a plague outside) or the down payment fund (but we got there eventually). Instead, we got an extra bedroom, and I still think that was the most happiness-increasing place to put that money.

    1. bassclefchick*

      Anything upbeat for me. Queen’s Greatest Hits. P!nk’s Funhouse. Any of my 80’s hair band compilation CDs. Pretty much anything that won’t put me to sleep.

    2. Clara Bowe*

      Son Lux’s og tiny desk concert, The Civil Wars UNA concert, and ambient rainy coffee shop with relaxing jazz.

    3. Imsostartled*

      When I input or analyze data I totally love metal like Rob Zombie, Rammstein, and Korn. It’s soothing “white noise” to me. Haha, I know I may be an outlier.

      1. Saddy Hour*

        Me too, though I mix melodic death metal in there too (the albums “Melancholy” by Shadow of Intent, “Proponent for Sentience” by Allegaeon, etc.). The growls have become a comforting white noise for me as well lol.

        If I need to focus without lyrics, it’s instrumental math rock (“The Endless Shimmering” by And So I Watch You From Afar — very soothing) or djent (anything by Animals as Leaders).

    4. The Dude Abides*

      Back during my senior year of college, during a rough stretch of finals studying and pounding out papers (I stayed up for 72 hours in a row), I kept the Motörhead cover of Hellraiser on loop for an entire week.

    5. Cendol*

      Daft Punk – Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger!

      I now also listen to Agatha Christie audiobooks (the ones narrated by Hugh Fraser). I’ve read all of her short stories and novels multiple times so the narration turns into pleasant background noise rather than a distraction.

    6. The OG Sleepless*

      I don’t do data entry, but decades ago I used to study to Mannheim Steamroller’s Fresh Aire II. (I loved all of the Fresh Aire albums, but II was the most meditative and had the fewest tempo changes.) Before that, in high school my mom was playing the piano in a local concert and she decided to take on Chopin’s Fantasie-Impromptu as a stretch project. I spent most of my sophomore year studying biology while listening to her break down Chopin.

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        Another Mannheim Steamroller Fresh Aire fan here; I think III (The Woods Is Alive) might be my favorite, though.

        Classical/instrumental provides the best atmosphere when I’m working—I work with words and have to make sure no lyrics find their way into the present project. Favorites are everything from New World Symphony to Appalachian Spring to Water Music to James Galway; the list goes on.

    7. Texan In Exile*

      The only album I could listen to while I was typing papers in college was Quadrophenia because I had heard it so many times that I wouldn’t start typing the lyrics instead of my thoughtful analysis of Hamlet.

      This mattered because I was using a typewriter, not a computer.

      (Only not so thoughtful because I didn’t learn until a few years ago that the feminist – and I think probably likely – theory about why Ophelia committed suicide, something that always bothered me, is that she was pregnant and Hamlet abandoned her, which is why she was giving away rue, which everyone back then would have known is for abortion.)

    8. Anonymous Educator*

      mxmtoon … really any of her songs. Mostly pop fun stuff.

      For more chill music, Julee Cruise or the soundtrack to The Piano.

      Also, the theme to Call the Midwife, and the winter and summer seasons from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

    9. waffles*

      Depends how I feel about the data. It could be Rage Against the Machine, New Order, Pink Floyd, or Satie’s Gymnopedies

    10. Donkey Hotey*

      Previously, it had to be wordless (or at least English-less). Phillip Glass, Brian Eno, etc.
      Recently, I’ve become a fan of Brown noise (it’s named for a person). There are youtube channels of it for up to 12 hours. It’s like the noise in a car during a road trip. Really puts me in the fully aware and yet relaxed zone.

    11. jasmine tea*

      I can’t listen to lyrics when I’m working with data, I will make mistakes. I like coffeehouse jazz or similar. My YT playlist features a lot of tracks from a channel called “Calmed By Nature” that incorporates background noises to make it sound like you’re actually in a cafe, like low murmurs and clinking spoons. Search for “Cozy Fall Coffee Shop Ambience: Relaxing Jazz Music & Rain Sounds for Studying, Relaxation, & Sleep” for one of my favorites.

    12. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      Not working with data but coding, so lyrics can be too distracting. Deadmau5, Music To Work To and Work From Home Chill Mix. Also Tycho’s Dive album.

    13. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      I need soothing, non-distracting music. I cycle through several tracks that are about four hours each from various websites that I found by googling “music for programming”.

    14. Rara Avis*

      Anything, really, but mostly musicals: Hadestown, Hamilton, Jane Eyre, Little Women, Mamma Mia.

  8. bassclefchick*

    Can anyone help me figure out how to remove mold from a tub surround? I live an apartment and the building managers aren’t willing to replace the surround. Even though it has mold, and at one point it got damaged and has a terrible epoxy “fix” on the edge.

    I’ve tried several things. Comet, Bar Keeper’s Friend, bleach and elbow grease. I did finally get some Wet and Forget. That seems to be keeping any new mold away. But I have no idea how to get rid of the old stuff that’s been there since the day my husband and I moved in. Which is over 6 years at this point. TIA

    1. Missb*

      is it in the tile grout or is it at the joint where the tub and walls meet? If it is in the joint, the easiest thing to do (which is not necessarily easy) is to replace that – it’s usually a silicone bead rather than grout. You can pull/scrape/cut that strip out, use rubbing alcohol to clean things up and then replace the silicone bead. Usually you have to let the stuff sit for at least 24 hours before getting it wet, so plan ahead.

      If it is in the grout, then you could probably scrub it out and reseal the grout. But my guess is that it’s in the silicone and nothing cleans it – you just replace. Hardware stores sell small tubes.

      1. Madame Arcati*

        If it is the silicone sealant and you do it yourself, as soon as you have done fill the bath with water so the weight sort of pulls on the sealant as it dries; if not, when it dries and you fill the bath or stand in it is your shower is integral, it may pull the sealant away and you’ll get leaks.
        I speak from somebody else’s experience doing my bath; it was troublesome and stressful for me and expensive for the company dealing with the ensuing leaks!

    2. Mstr*

      Try mixing a paste of baking soda and bleach and putting a thick layer over the stains, leave it for several hours and scrub away. Something about the damp paste seems to make the bleach more effective. I’ve only tried this with newer stains that were perhaps months old vs. years old though so YMMV.

    3. WestsideStory*

      There is a product called Kaboom Mold & Mildew Stain Remover with Bleach. It has done wonders for a cruddy tile bathroom that keeps getting mold in the tub surround where the caulking is peeling away. I have even used it on white ceramic outdoor patio tiles that tend to green algae.
      There are other flavors of Kaboom but this specific one does the job.

    4. Lilo*

      I can’t quite tell where the mold is, but you can try bleach gel as well. It sticks on.

      I had some success removing mold from a washing machine O ring using the Pink Stuff too.

    5. bassclefchick*

      Thanks for the suggestions! I live in an apartment, so I probably can’t do much if the solution is replacing it. It’s one of those fiberglass surrounds, not tiles. The mold is in the corners of the “walls” of the surround, not the grout sealing it in place. I’ll see if I can find the Kaboom and I know I can get the Pink Stuff on Amazon.

      1. just another queer reader*

        Not an ideal solution, but if you plan to stick around a while, you might consider asking the landlord if you could replace it at your own expense, or split the cost with them.

        I’ve made a few small upgrades to my apartment this way (although my landlord is especially chill, which helps.)

      2. Imtheone*

        The seal is probably caulk, not grout. Grout is rigid, while caulk should have a little “give” to it.

        1. Hazel*

          You might try Concrobium Mold Control spray. It kills mold (spray, leave on, scrub out) and I think it has residual effects to stop it coming back. It is bleach free, I think it works by creating an unfriendly environment to mold.

          1. I'm A Little Teapot*

            Concrobium kills the mold, but it will not do much for the staining. Bleach will help with staining but doesn’t kill mold.

            1. E*

              +1 . White vinegar is also good at killing mold/spores. Once you get the problem fixed you can keep a spray bottle of vinegar in your shower and spray down after use. Your bathroom will smell like pickles temporarily after the spray but it does help the problem from coming back

  9. nnn*

    What’s your favorite kitchen gadget that you purchased or someone gave to you that you thought “oh I’ll probably never use this” but ended up loving?

    Mine is a Drinkmate (like a Sodastream but you can carbonate more things than just water). I bought it suspecting it would be fun for a month or two and then go unused but we have ended up using it all the time. We mostly just carbonate water to make seltzer so we don’t have to buy all those bottles.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Air fryer! I thought it was just a gimmick, and now I have two so I can make popcorn shrimp and tater tots at the same time.

      1. Peanut Hamper*


        The only caveat I can offer is that every air fryer is different, so when you try recipes from the internet, YMMV by a lot! I saw a video where someone made grilled cheese sandwiches at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, and mine were well done by 8 minutes. So it does take a little time to figure out how to cook things. It helps to err on the side of caution.

    2. ClosingTime*

      My gravity activated pepper mill! Best thing ever and I give it (and/or s&p sets) as gifts. Especially good if you have hand/thumb/wrist joint issues. Oh and it lights up too!

      1. yellow tulips*

        I have never heard of this. And now my life feels empty without a self-lighting pepper mill.

      2. Strawberry Shortcake*

        Got my mother one for Christmas, and every few days she tells me again how much she loves it. She’s notoriously hard to shop for, but she’d been talking about getting one for months, so it was an easy gift! (I also bought a bag of Tellicherry black peppercorns, because a gift is kinda crappy if it means the recipient now has to buy something else so they can use it…)

        Anyway, I heartily recommend getting one. They’re not even that expensive.

    3. Girasol*

      Mini food processor. Found it second hand and thought, I might never use it but for a couple dollars I’ll try it. Best two dollars ever.

    4. Jackalope*

      Toaster oven. I’d thought a plain toaster was fine, but now I can toast sandwiches instead of individual bread slices, I can warm up leftovers that don’t heat up well in the microwave, I can actually cook things…. I love it so much.

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

        YES! Fellow toaster-oven lover here. I am afraid of my gas oven, but with some small pyrex bakeware and my toaster oven, I can make a yummy baked chicken, small baked goods, etc.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      someone gave me a little hand operated veggie chopper (you pull the handle fast like you’re starting a lawnmower) and it’s great!

    6. Double A*

      An apple corer/peeler. We were gifted one and I was like, “Eh….” But apples are one of the few fruits/veggies my daughter will eat. But she won’t eat the peels. And it turns out I really don’t like manually peeling a million apples. The kids eat A LOT more apples now because it takes 2 seconds to peel. And the kids can even help by turning the crank.

      1. rr*

        Brand, please? I’ve been wanting one of these, but the reviews I have read on most make them sound flimsy and very easily broken.

        1. Double A*

          Has to check… Nor-Pro. sometimes the blade can be a little finicky and get pushed out of place but overall I’d say it’s very solid.

    7. LittleBabyDamien*

      I thought that rice cookers were redundant. I mean, you could just cook the rice in a pot and save the room in the cupboard, right? And then I stayed in a furnished place for a few months and it had a rice cooker. I was hooked! No need to watch while it comes to a boil, try to catch it before it boils over and you put the lid on and turn down the heat, it turns off automatically, it is really easy to clean, and now I throw some veg in on top of the rice when I put it in, and I eat rice and veg a lot more now!
      Sadly, the rice cooker that I paid a dollar for at a garage sale died a week or so ago, so I will be looking through thrift stores for a replacement! We had spent 5 happy years together, me and that rice cooker!

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Yes! One Christmas, my mother gave me a rice cooker that goes in the microwave, and I went through your same skepticism and acceptance process.

        That original rice cooker died a shameful death within a few months because I forgot to add water one evening. But I was so sold on the concept by then, I replaced it with my own money (and never told my mother, the shame about my water accident was real). It’s now been years of using it several times a week. I also found it cooks pearl barley and quinoa very well.

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        Yes, this! I bought a multi-cooker mainly because I wanted the slow cooker function, but I use the rice function almost exclusively. It’s literally “set it and forget it”.

        Mine also came with a steamer insert that sits on the top edge. Whenever I make rice, I’ll put two or three eggs in the steamer insert and get perfect boiled eggs along with perfect rice. I love it!

      3. ItsTheFinalCoumtdown*

        Yes! I’m a white girl who married an Indian man and never knew a rice cooker existed or was so easy until he introduced me! Perfect for making rice, quinoa, or other grains for any occasion, including burrito bowls, curries, or just as a side for grilled chicken and fish. Yum!

      4. Lemonwhirl*

        Another +1 for rice cooker. I was very resistant, but my husband went ahead and bought one anyway. We eat rice a few times a week, and it’s been so nice to be able to set it up and then focus on the rest of the dinner. The rice is cooked perfectly, every time.

    8. Chaordic One*

      I feel guilty about admitting it, but I really love my Kruerig K-Cup Coffee Maker. (Yeah, the waste created by all those little plastic cups.) I would never have bought one for myself, but received one as a Christmas present, like, oh, five years ago. If it dies, I probably won’t replace it, but it certainly is convenient.

    9. Cookies For Breakfast*

      A friend talked me into buying a milk frother. I thought it might be wasted money because I rarely buy milk. But when I do, I find myself craving cappuccino in the morning, and now I finally can make it with either hot or cold foam, which is perfect in the summer.

      Also, the ceramic spoon holder my mother gave me one Christmas. It was hand-painted by a local artist, with an image of cats that isn’t really my style, but made her think of me (I’m very much a cat person). Thoughtful gift, but did I really need a spoon holder after years of living without one? Turns out I did – it’s been at the side of the hob in two different homes now, including one with a very cramped kitchen. A true case of mother knows best.

      1. Imprudence*

        Bread maker. Bought a second hand one really cheaply at a charity (thrift ) shop to keep my sone busy during the school holidays, just before the pandemic. Husband loved it and son never got to use it: and we have had fresh bread every day for the last three years.

    10. Madame Arcati*

      A mini hand operated chopping thingy. Hear me out. I was at my friend’s and she said, omg you have to see this, and after her demo I bought one immediately. And got one for my mum next Christmas.
      Ok so it’s a container with a non-slip ring on the base, a rotating blade doodah inside and a lid. You top and tail/peel your veg etc – I use this for every onion in my life – pop it in then in the lid is a handle with a string that you pull on and it makes the blade spin really fast. Like starting up a petrol lawn mower, if you are old enough for that! Seriously it does an amazing chop so quickly. Five pulls for finely and evenly chopped onion, and you can have mush with a few more pulls. I could have done it all in less time than I’ve taken to type this. Ooh and I was once being fancy and making a mushroom duxelles and it was an absolute boon!
      Will comment with a link.

    11. GlowCloud*

      When I moved into my first flat in my 20s, my Dad gave me an Ikea ice lolly mould (one of those brightly coloured plastic things that we had when I was a kid) and I kinda rolled my eyes because *pffft, I’m not 5 years old any more, Dad* – but it actually turned out to be the best housewarming (or should that be house-cooling?) gift ever! Every Summer I still fill it up with Mango juice and stick it in the freezer, and it’s been a small joy to me several house-moves later.

      The best gifts are the things that you never would have thought of buying for yourself, but that find their way into your daily routine because they increase your quality of life in some small way.

      1. DarthVelma*

        I love my immersion blender. It came with a wire whisk attachment and I’ve used that so often for making whipped cream. It’s great for small batches and trying out new flavors.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        I adore my immersion blender. And it came with a small container with a whirring blade that you attach the power piece of the blender to. That thing rocks too!

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      Two that I got as stocking stuffers, thought “huh”, and now use constantly:
      • A 1/4 cup liquid measuring cup. So much handier for measuring 2 T of soy sauce compared to spoons.
      • A mini whisk, to mix up a couple tablespoons of salad dressing or marinade.

    13. My Brain is Exploding*

      An immersion blender I bought for $10 one Black Friday. I use it more than I thought I would. A Tevolo…one end is flat and the other end has a little scoop to it, so it’s great for getting things out of the bottom of jars, etc.

    14. SarahKay*

      A pair of mini silicone spatulas. One with the traditional oblong head, and one with more of a bowl-shaped head. They are amazing for getting the last bits out of jars, especially oddly-shaped jars (yes, Sun-pat peanut butter and marmite, I’m looking at you) and also for putting icing onto fairy cakes.
      They were part of a gift from a friend; obviously I thanked her and kept my doubts to myself.
      Five years later I was so enamoured I bought a set each for my parents and siblings for Christmas 2021. Dad phoned me half-way through last year specifically to say to me pretty much everything I’d typed above.

      1. Isobel*

        Yes! We’ve just moved halfway round the world and the few kitchen items we had shipped will be arriving in the next week or so. I can’t remember if I packed the mini spatulas but I really hope I did.

    15. fposte*

      My Supoon and Mini-Supoon. I really like all the Dreamfarm kitchen stuff but those are my workhorses. It is amazing to be able to get all the peanut butter out of a jar.

    16. The OG Sleepless*

      We needed a new stick blender, so I got a Braun stick blender that came with a bunch of other attachments so it had a whisk and a food processor. OK, whatever. Well. We used the stick blender, and then we tried the food processor part, and then the whisk, and then we decided this was the greatest gadget we had ever bought. It’s easy to clean too. I got one for my mom for Christmas, and she kind of went “oh, ok, thanks” and then a few weeks after Christmas she called to tell me that now that she had used it a few times she had found that it was the greatest thing ever.

      1. Hazel*

        Ooh the Braun Multipractic! I had one more than 20 years ago and recently discovered they still exist. Compact, powerful, many uses (one motor/handle with many attachments). The space-limited person’s KitchenAid! I echo your sentiments, they are truly great.

    17. Donkey Hotey*

      I’ve purchased two things for my partner who specifically described their results as “never thought I’d use but never realized how handy it is.”
      – Instant read thermometer (thermoworks and such)
      – An olive oil drizzler (a dedicated glass jar with a pour spout).

    18. All Monkeys are French*

      Electric gooseneck kettle. We got it to survive our kitchen renovation but even after installing a speedy new induction stove, we still use the kettle all the time. We have the Oxo brand which is lightning-fast with good temperature precision.

      I also recently replaced some old silicone spatulas with ones from Thermoworks and they are fantastic. They’re a little heavy, but seamless, dishwasher safe, just the right amount of flexibility, and they come in fun colors.

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

      Mr. Lid brand food storage containers. The lids are attached, so you can’t lose them. My only complaint is that they take some force to open, so they’re less ideal as I get older.

    20. Healthcare Worker*

      My cherry pitter- who knew? It’s great! I cook so much more with cherries now.

    21. carcinization*

      Agreed on the small food chopper (mine is plug-in), and adding a (manual) cherry/olive pitter.

    22. Excitable Boy*

      Our Sous Vide. It’s made cooking meat to the perfect temperature a game changer.

    23. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      A mini breakfast sandwich maker! I use it 1-2x/week and it’s amazing, easy and wipes clean.

    24. Wilde*

      A benchtop pizza cooker. I rolled my eyes so hard when my husband bought it home, but it makes amazing pizza! It’s much better than using a stone in our oven.

      1. Hazel*

        I hate more single-use gadgets on counters (small space) but a George Foreman-style grill (ours is Breville) grills fish, shrimp, burgers, bacon, other meat, kebobs, kofte, veggies, and flatbreads without smoke, grease or smell and little to no oil. Our stove died, but with this, an induction burner and microwave we ate well for ages!

      2. The OG Sleepless*

        We ended up with a tiny countertop commercial pizza oven after my husband moved his office home. We use it for all kinds of things; it functions kind of like a very flat air fryer.

    25. JobHunter*

      A Bunn coffee maker. It has a resevoir of hot water that is the perfect temperature for coffee and starts dripping immediately.

      A flat cast iron griddle. The low sides make it easy to flip pancakes or roll omelets. I also have a large electric griddle for cooking tortillas or food for several people at once.

      Silicon bundt cake pans. I love how much more easily the cakes pop out than feom the metal pans if they aren’t greased well.

    26. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      A food processor I bought on sale for about $110 (regular price $330). It’s basically a heated pot with a chopping knife/stirrer inside plus a few attachments like a steamer. I was skeptical but as my blender had just died, I bought the thing and use it way more than I thought, especially when I WFH as it can cook soups, chilis and similar fairly unattended.

    27. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Silpat baking sheets. I bought them so I could experiment with making macarons, figuring I’d never use them again once the bug was out of my system. I was so, so wrong! Every time I make a sheet pan meal, cookies, turnovers, you name it, I use the silpat sheets instead of tin foil. Big bonus, since we can’t recycle tin foil in my area. The silpat goes into the top of the dishwasher when I’m done cooking, roll it back up and put it in the drawer, no scrubbing, no drama. My sheet pans look untouched.

  10. Not A Manager*

    So, I have a weird question about the etiquette around learning of someone’s divorce or separation. In the olden days, we were taught to say “oh I’m so sorry,” because it’s sad when a marriage ends even if it’s best for everyone. But then we were also taught to say “congratulations” when someone announced a pregnancy, as well, and obviously there are good reasons to move away from that custom.

    I’ve noticed that when I’ve told people about my separation, the younger folks (and by younger I mean in their 30’s ish) tend to go poker faced and say something like, “oh?” or “okay.” This has happened enough that I don’t think they all just thought of that on their own. Is this a new convention? I don’t mind either way, personally, but the very clear (and apparently intentional) lack of affect can be jarring, especially from someone that you feel close to.

    1. AGD*

      Thirtysomething here. I would respond to this kind of news with a matter-of-fact, “oh, I see,” for two reasons, though I can only speak for myself!

      A) I don’t want to assume the person is unhappy about it. Several of my divorced friends were relieved. I have actually been to a divorce party, which had a cake.

      B) Culturally speaking, OK, divorces are not the horrific, unthinkable, must-clutch-pearls sorts of events they often were decades ago, but I still assume that people announcing divorces are often embarrassed. Theirs was a marriage that didn’t work out, after all – and a lot of people who have to be told are people who were at the wedding, who gave gifts, etc. Unless I know the person well, I want to hold back from spewing my emotions about their sensitive news all over them. If that were me, I’d be dreading telling everyone for fear of an “OH NOOOOOOOOOOOO.” So I try my best to take it in stride.

      1. GlowCloud*

        I don’t get why it should be embarrassing for people to announce a divorce to the people who gave wedding gifts?
        The point of a wedding present is that it sets up the newlyweds for their shared household, and to express wishes for luck and happiness in a major life transition. However long the marriage lasts, its purpose is to be useful to the couple for the duration that they live together.
        It’s not in gift etiquette that the giver should ever expect the item to be returned to them, so what the heck should it matter that someone who is supposedly a close enough friend to give you a present to celebrate a major life event, that subsequently didn’t work out? Heck, if I gave a wedding gift, I’d be happy for my friend to pawn it to cover the cost of a good divorce lawyer. That’s what friendship is.

        Have I missed a cultural memo?

        1. NotBatman*

          I think it’s a matter of a wedding gift being a heartfelt (and often expensive) expression of hope for the future of the couple. So if you spent a long time hand-quilting a blanket for the couple with images that were meaningful to them, and then the marriage split up, there’s the unfortunate reality that you spent weeks putting together a thoughtful gift that’s now going to go unused because it has bad associations.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Seeing this makes me realize – all the couples for whom I have made handmade wedding gifts are still together. The store bought gifts do not have the same track record. Heh.

          2. Observer*

            Either it will or it won’t go unused. Talk about projecting.

            Also, all of that really only matters if the marriage breaks up really quickly. For the rest? Come on, even that painstakingly hand crocheted quilt of whatever got plenty of use if anyone ever had any interest.

    2. Jackalope*

      I’m wondering why you wouldn’t say congratulations to someone who announced a pregnancy, though? I mean, if they’re super young and look distressed then maybe not, but in my experience anyone over maybe 19 or so if who announces a pregnancy has decided they want to keep it and is probably sharing it as good news.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Im not sure that age makes a difference, but I agree that “announcing” a pregnancy is different from “confiding about a pregnancy.”

        If you don’t know the person well enough to tell the difference, it might be good to hold back and suss out the reaction. But if you didn’t know them well, why would they be confiding in you?

        1. Melissa*

          It’s usually obvious what response a pregnancy announcement should get! Because either someone goes: “Squeee guess WHAT??! I’m pregnant!” with a huge smile on their face, or else they go “(quavery voice) Well actually I just found out I’m pregnant so….”

            1. Hazel*

              Yeah but not always. My neighbour told me over the fence that her daughter was expecting. I kind of stayed neutral and lifted my eyebrows in an ‘oh/and?’ gesture bc daughter was about 19 or 20 and living at home, not with her boyfriend. Neighbour said ‘yeah, she’s excited’ so at that point I could gush and say she’d be a wonderful grandmother, which she is.

              1. Observer*

                Yes, but that is not someone telling you about THEIR news, but about someone else’s news.

      2. Don'tbeadork*

        Depending on where you are, not everyone has a choice to keep or not keep a pregnancy, though. I can see being hesitant to congratulate someone on having 18 years of reminders of an assault or even just a bad decision every time they look at their child.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think that’s way more negativity than a pregnancy announcement calls for. If someone is announcing (rather than tearfully confiding in one close friend) then this is the path they are now committed to–“well the tween years can be snarky, so I won’t say anything positive” is a weird response.

      3. Dancing Otter*

        “Decided they want to keep it” — for far too many women, this is no longer a decision they are allowed to make for themselves. So, no, I wouldn’t assume being pregnant is necessarily a matter for congratulations.
        I’m old enough to remember pre-Roe, and the classmates whose lives were ruined by unplanned pregnancy. Unless I know someone was trying to conceive, I don’t assume it’s good news.
        And I know better than to ask, so ….

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Having announced my own divorce (and mine was the “get a group of friends together and go to Vegas to celebrate it” type, then I actually went back to Vegas with most of that same group seven years later to marry one of them), people tend to react based on how I presented the news. If I wasn’t being obvious about my happiness, the responses tended to be a little more neutral, which seemed reasonable to me. I tend to mostly go with “oh, rough, you alright?” because even if it’s a wanted change, that doesn’t make it easy.

      1. GlowCloud*

        Similarly, I sometimes use: “Oh, that’s a big adjustment. How are you feeling at the moment?” when I’m uncertain whether this is good or bad news, or suspect someone might have very mixed feelings.

        I think these neutral statements are good as an initial response, because they acknowledge that feelings may change over time, that change ultimately brings a mixture of positive and negative aspects, and it doesn’t place any blame, motive, or assumption of surprise on either party.

        Then it gives the news-bearer an opportunity to supply as much or as little follow-up detail as they wish while I chime in with “That sounds very difficult”, or “I’m glad you’re feeling positive about this”, or “It’s understandable that you would have a few mixed feelings about this, I hope you’ll settle in a good place”… etc.
        I’m not a therapist, but I sound like one whenever someone confronts me with major updates from their personal lives. So far nobody’s told me that I’ve said the wrong thing.

      2. allathian*

        Yes, I’m going to use this, too. It’s more than just an “oh?” but doesn’t make any assumptions about the announcer’s feelings.

    4. Chicago Anon*

      On divorce, Miss Manners suggested “I wish you the best,” which covers both “sorry”- and “congratulations”-type divorces. It’s not so good for pregnancy, though.

      1. Not A Manager*

        Literally laughed out loud. I can think of no more honest or practical response to the prospect of eighteen-plus years of rearing another human than “I wish you the best.”

    5. Rosie Posie*

      I think it’s generally ok to say “I’m sorry to hear that. How are you feeling” when someone tells you about their divorce. I don’t think it necessarily implies that they can’t be relieved to be out of a bad relationship. I think using some form of an apologetic statement just acknowledges that things didn’t work out as the divorcé(e) initially intended. I wouldn’t get too over the top with any comments about how awful or sad it is. I think my comment applies mostly to when you know the person a little bit, but maybe not very well. That’s just my hot take as a 30-something. I do think it is becoming more popular to avoid statements that can be construed as “value judgments” on life events. I think it’s good and bad: I would imagine I would be disappointed if no one would congratulate me on a major positive life milestone like a wedding or wanted pregnancy.

    6. Not Australian*

      Have you thought of asking “How do you feel about that?” Then the person can tell you whether they’re happy or sad, and you can either congratulate or commiserate accordingly.

      When I got divorced (literally, in another millennium) I was constantly balanced between elated at having got out of a bad situation, angry at it all being necessary in the first place, and terrified about what would happen next. I suspect a lot of divorced people go through the same or similar reactions and their response may be different depending on how/when you meet up with them. There just is no ‘one size fits all’ response, but being sorry that your friend/acquaintance is having to go through it all is never really wrong.

      1. PX*

        This would be my approach as well! I tend to preface it a bit “Oh thanks for sharing. How do you feel about it?”

    7. Chaordic One*

      I’ve observed situations where, upon hearing the news, some well-meaning person might say something along the lines of, “Oh, you’re so much better off without that dirty so and so,” only to have the person making the announcement get back together with their spouse, before or after the divorce. It makes continuing the relationship awkward if you’ve talked trash about the person they got back together with and I’ve seen several friendships end because of the trash talking. (Better to keep your mouth shut and not say too much.) Saying “oh?” or “okay?” is a way to acknowledge the announcement without being judgemental about it.

      1. BubbleTea*

        There’s no prospect of me getting back with my ex-spouse (we haven’t spoken in years) but I still don’t feel comfortable with “good riddance” type comments. Now, a few years out from it, I can acknowledge that it was the best thing, but I don’t think I’ll ever feel happy about trash talking. I grieved the loss of our marriage, same as you might grieve the death of a problematic but still loved relative.

      2. Observer*

        Sure. But there are a lot of other ways to respond that acknowledge that this is a big deal without being judgemental. “I’m sorry to hear.” especially followed by “How are you feeling?” or the like a perfect example. No judgement, no trash talking needed.

    8. BurntOrange*

      I tend to use “Is this a good thing or a bad thing?” Works for all kinds of news. Starts a discussion and I can then respond to their feelings and not the news.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I have occasionally, when I truly couldn’t tell, responded “am I happy for you, or not so much?”

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Miss Manners 1.0 covered this: She said “I’m so sorry” until someone replied “If I’m happy, and he’s happy, what are you sorry about?” Then she updated it to “I wish you the best.”

      I think the lack of effect is due to not knowing if the speaker views the separation as sad, happy, complicated, or something else.

    10. Courageous cat*

      Mid-30s and I would just say “Oh!”. Both of those life events could be a good or a bad thing depending on who you’re speaking to.

      It would be weird coming from a close friend who would presumably know how you feel about said life event, though.

    11. Jessica*

      Honestly, I’ve moved towards telling people about my divorce over text/messaging, rather than in person. Even if someone has a “good” response ready to go, the conversation often stalls out shortly thereafter, because nobody has a good “next” topic to bring up after divorce. So it’s been easier to just tell people in writing, let them process it in their own time, and then talk about it later if it’s the kind of relationship where discussing it is helpful.

    12. Donkey Hotey*

      Our default lately has been, “oh wow.” (And I’m 50, so it’s not just the young’uns).
      I’ve also heard “Condolulations” to express the mixed feelings.

    13. Silence*

      I think I mostly try and reflect the same energy the teller has when announcing news either happy or sad but if in a neutral voice would probably be poker faced until getting a better read on which it is

  11. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Share what books you’ve been reading this week! Ask for or share recommendations!

    I’m partway through The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. It’s a good book but I’m a little bit stressed by all of the snow and cold. I’m really ready for spring, is what I’m saying. And I’m also reading Forever Young, a memoir by Hailey Mills. Not far in yet but I’m enjoying it so far.

    1. Bluebell*

      I read The Paris Bookshop, and was pleasantly surprised. Still working my way through Kunstlers in Paradise by Cathleen Schine, but it feels odd to read a book that takes place at the beginning of the pandemic. However, the author does have some wonderful turns of phrase.

    2. Teapot Translator*

      Hah, I read Arden’s trilogy this year in the middle of winter. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it now, while waiting from spring.
      I read The Marlow Murder by Robert Thorogood this week.

      1. Jackalope*

        I just finished it last night, and I don’t think I’ll go on to the rest of the trilogy, at least not right now. Maybe when it’s high summer and I want to be reminded that cold exists? But also, it has a fantasy cliche that I’m kind of over at this point – plucky young woman representing The Old Ways (TM) goes up against evil man representing Christianity who wants to destroy the good magic she does and also wants to sleep with her but blames her for it. Does they dynamic continue in the later books? Because I’ve seen it too much both in books and in real life and am wanting other stuff to read when relaxing.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          Yes, the dynamic continues in the two other books. Unfortunately, the evil man reappears again in the two other books.

    3. takeachip*

      I just started a recent Harlan Coben book, The Match. It’s the 2nd in what I assume is a new series, following The Boy from the Woods. He is one of the few supermarket/airport authors I enjoy. He’s right in the sweet spot of easy to read without being poorly written and it’s nice to suspend disbelief and get caught up in the highly improbable plots he manages to make just believable enough.

    4. Long A*

      I’m 75% of the way through The Island of the Sea Women by Lisa See and I’m really enjoying it!

    5. Clara Bowe*

      I have been reading From Lukov With Love by Mariana Zapata, but I think I need to set her down for a bit after this one. I am seeing her writerly seams and need to give it some time.

      I also just finished Homicide and Halo-Halo by Mia Manasala. I enjoyed it a lot and am gonna pick up Blackmail and Bibingka this weekend.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      I listened to that trilogy on audiobook a few years ago, it was great!

      I recently finished Third Girl, which was the first Agatha Christie I’ve tried and I wasn’t thrilled with it. I don’t remember what led me to choose that one in particular!

      I’m reading Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name after loving We Run the Tides by the same author back when Alison recommended it. And my hold on The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson just became available so that’s up next.

      1. Not Australian*

        Christie can be very hit-or-miss, and the later ones tend to be formulaic. I’ve found that people enjoy *either* Poirot or Marple – but not both, for some reason. Maybe try a Marple instead?

        1. Jessica*

          Fascinating, I’ve never heard that. I love both and so do the other Christie fans I know. Third Girl is not her best, though. Maybe try Murder at the Vicarage, which is the first Miss Marple. Or maybe try one of her short-story collections. Her earliest Marple work was short stories and they’re quite good. There are also some short-story volumes that feature a few from each of her various detectives.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, Third Girl really isn’t all that good, it’s one of the least good Poirot stories. I
            don’t think the plot’s complicated enough to warrant a novel, it could’ve been written as a short story, and the result is a lot of rambling to no purpose. My favorite Poirots are Murder on the Orient Express, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and Death on the Nile, not necessarily in that order.

            I like the plots of the Miss Marple books, but I find her submissive demeanor rather tiresome. The sexism of the era the books were written in is more obvious in Marple than in Poirot.

            1. Jessica*

              Miss Marple is my all-time favorite. Her manners are appropriate to her era and class, but don’t be fooled: she knows her own worth. She also knows the prejudices others will see her with, and deliberately leverages that to her advantage.

              1. allathian*

                Yeah, I know. She navigates her world well, but the fact that she has to do that to ensure she gets taken seriously annoys me. Poirot does exactly the same thing, he exaggerates his foreign mannerisms when it suits him, and is perfectly happy to use the insular Englishman’s prejudices against foreigners to his own advantage. But for some reason, Poirot doing that feels natural to me, but Marple’s behavior gets under my skin to the point that I find it hard to enjoy the stories when it’s particularly obvious. That said, the best Marple books are very good, my favorites are At Bertram’s Hotel, The Body in the Library, and The Mirror Crack’d (from Side to Side). That last is surprising even to me because it was published in 1962, but it’s my favorite out of all the books she published in the latter half of her career.

        2. Dark Macadamia*

          That’s funny! I’ll have to try a Marple sometime I guess! The extent of my knowledge of her before this book was the Doctor Who episode lol

      2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        Christie was really good through the 30s, had a few meh ones in the 40s, got back in the groove in the 50s, then got nearly unreadable for me in the 60s. The characters weren’t interesting and the books were way too talky, and she relied on flashbacks too much.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes, Third Girl was not her best and her later ones deteriorated sharply in quality in her later life. The early ones are the best in my view (with a few noteable exceptions). I love “Murder of Roger Ackroyd” “Death comes as the End” “Cat Among the Pigeons” “Towards Zero” “Mysterious Mr Quin” and “Then there were None”. I also love the Miss Marple short stories called something like “The Tuesday Night Club” rather more than the long books about Miss Marple.

        2. Irish Teacher*

          I think Christie was sort of out of touch with the later 50s and early 60s but felt she had to write some “up to date” stuff and some of the characters, especially in Third Girl came across as sort of an older person’s stereotype of “young people these days.” (Actually, there’s a bit of that as early as Peril at End House.)

          Christie is at her best with traditional country house style murder mysteries. She experimented with styles sometimes and…it didn’t always come off. In my opinion, some of her best are Crooked House, Ordeal by Innocence, Hickory Dickory Dock, The Moving Finger, Three Act Tragedy and Murder in Mesopotamia.

          1. Dark Macadamia*

            This was definitely the vibe I got. I started the book and was like wait is this… the 60s? by Agatha Christie?? I didn’t even realize she was still writing then and it really didn’t end up being what I’d wanted to read.

          2. IT Manager*

            There was an interesting analysis of her writing … style? Lexicon? … anyway, if how she write, that found that her writing gets sharply less sophisticated in sentence structure and vocabulary. Potentially as a result of undiagnosed dementia in later life.

            Certainly it would explain how some of her books are wonderful and then some … just boring.

      3. word nerd*

        The Mother Tongue is fun, but be warned that there are a lot of inaccuracies in the book if something doesn’t sound right to you. (You can check the bad Goodreads reviews to see some of them.)

      4. MEH Squared*

        I am a HUGE Poirot fan (and don’t care for Marple, so I’m one of those people), have read all the novels several times–except for a few I’ve only read two or three times. One of the latter is the Third Girl, which is my least-favorite Poirot novel of all time. I would start with The Mysterious Affair at Styles which is the first Poirot novel just to get the feel and flavor of him.

        My favorite are The Big Four, Murder on the Orient Express, Who Killed Roger Ackroyd, and Curtain (the last Poirot novel). I had to accept, though, that the novels were written in a fdifferent time and are filled with ethnic/racial stereotypes, classism, and other issues. But I love Poirot as a character.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes I think you’re absolutely right. Agatha Christie was an upper middle-class woman who was born in the late 19th century so her work shows the biases and views of someone from that era and class. You can’t expect her to write like someone would today. I think you either accept that and enjoy the books for what they are or don’t read them. If you look at any of the other writers of that period (Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham) you’d probably find fairly similar views to some extent.

          I don’t read Ian Fleming because I find his level of racism, sexism and homophobia unpleasant. But I accept that those were the views he wanted to express and he didn’t write his books with my pleasure in mind. So I don’t read them. But I wouldn’t ban or change them because I think books should exist as they were written and not as we’d like them to be written.

    7. OtterB*

      T Kingfisher’s newest, A House With Good Bones. I am generally not the audience for horror, but I found this one creepy but not really horrifying. And it also includes Kingfisher’s typical humor and practical heroine.

      1. SarahKay*

        Was very excited to find out there is a new T Kingfisher out; scurried off to buy it…. it’s not out in the UK until 5th April. Bah!
        Oh, well, it’s pre-ordered now and gives me something to look forward to later this week when I’m fed up with Month End reporting at that-place-that-shall-not-be-mentioned.

    8. Lilo*

      I just DNF Angelika Frankenstein makes her match. I just found the whole concept really questionable on consent. Maybe they make up for it later, but it was a no for me.

      1. word nerd*

        I finished it hoping it would get better because I normally like Sally Thorne, but yeah, it didn’t really get better. You did not miss out. I was troubled by the consent too, along with the weird jokes about randomly switching body parts for people that will become conscious??

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m reading The Mimicking of Known Successes, a Holmes-esque mystery set on Jupiter. It’s interesting more than delightful? The characterization feels very stilted–I don’t know either of the main characters to the extent that I would expect more than 100 pages in.

      Also I am really puzzled by gravity never being a consideration. Like I’m glad that the book acknowledges Jupiter doesn’t have a solid surface, but putting habitats on its gaseous surface is a strange choice.

    10. GoryDetails*

      I finished the audiobook of The Gone-away World by Nick Harkaway, and thoroughly enjoyed it – not least for a climactic battle that managed to be wildly suspenseful and utterly wacky at the same time.

      I’m also enjoying The Price You Pay by the same author, though under his pseudonym “Aidan Truhen”; it’s about a clever, pretty-much-amoral-though-with-standards guy named Jack Price, whose lucrative business as a drug-distribution facilitator is interrupted when his elderly neighbor is murdered, under circumstances that lead him to realize that he’s now a target of the internationally infamous team of assassins known as the Seven Demons. When they go a step too far (in his opinion, of course) he decides to take the battle to them, displaying some truly over-the-top levels of preparation and gutsiness – plus a disregard for collateral damage… Anyway, it’s very, very entertaining, not least because I have already read the sequel and know how things are going to work out between Jack and the Demons (though not how difficult it will be for them to get to that point).

      For a change of pace, the evocatively-titled The Trees Grew Because I Bled There by Eric LaRocca is a collection of eerie/disturbing short stories; some are poetic and rather vague, some are brutally terrifying. Am enjoying them.

      1. Suze*

        I also enjoy Harkaway. I found Gnomen odd and sometimes difficult but enjoyed it regardless

    11. bassclefchick*

      I just started Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree. It’s really good. An Orc decides to give up the mercenary life and open a coffee cafe. I’m actually rather sad that it’s a stand alone because I would absolutely read more!

      I also just got the audiobook Darius by JR Ward. I don’t usually care for audiobooks, but that’s the only format available and I LOVE the Black Dagger Brotherhood. I am very impatiently waiting for Lassiter. LOVE that angel!

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re Legends & Lattes: I enjoyed that one very much. (As a longtime D&D player I appreciated the adventure-crew tidbits, but was also pleased to find that the story was so very… cozy!)

        It looks like there is another book, though it appears to be a prequel: Bookshops & Bonedust.

    12. word nerd*

      I’m curious if people have a system for keeping track of books. I use Goodreads for the books I finish, but I don’t like putting my DNF on there because it clutters things and I don’t want it to affect my book count for the year. But a couple days ago, I read a book for about 20 minutes before I decided not to keep going, then realized that I’d given up on this book already a year and a half ago and hadn’t remembered that. So do you make notes to yourself for stuff like this or just assume this comes with the territory sometimes if you look at a lot of books?

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        On Goodreads if you don’t attach dates to DNF books they won’t count toward your annual challenge, so that’s an option if you’re okay with not having a date on it.

      2. Weaver, reader of almost everything*

        I created a shelf titled Abandoned on GR. It doesn’t affect my read count, but it helps me to remember not to try those books again.

        1. word nerd*

          Ooh, I like this, thanks! I probably should do shelving on GR in general, but it’s kind of daunting now when there are already a bunch of books on there I haven’t shelved, but I could at least do it going forward.

    13. Clisby*

      I most recently finished “Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands,” a graphic memoir by cartoonist Kate Beaton. She chronicles leaving her home in Cape Breton for a well-paying two-year stint working in the Alberta oil rush. Really interesting, but often grim.

    14. Donkey Hotey*

      Just finished “No Gods No Monsters” by Cadwell Turnbull. Slow burn, low grade horror that answers the question “What would you do if monsters were real?” with “Given the last few years of current events, probably nothing unless it impacted you directly.” Best of all: while it’s technically the first book in a trilogy, it is a complete standalone novel in its own right.

      Just started, “Hell Bent” by Leigh Bardugo, the second in her older-than-YA “Ninth House”/Alex Stern series. Loving it so far even with a bit of a sophomore slump.

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

      Madeline Miller’s *Song of Achilles*. I don’t love it as much as her *Circe*, but so far, it is enjoyable.

    16. germank106*

      Not much reading for myself this week, but I started reading “To kill a Mockingbird” with the older grandkids (ages 12 – 16). They enjoy the book just as much as I did when I first read it in College.
      The Geezer has put a few horror audiobooks on his library list, but he might be on his own listening to those. Still not a big fan of horror.

  12. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Share any games you’ve been playing this week, give or ask for recommendations. As always, all games are welcome, not just video games.

    I returned to Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes this week. It’s been fun; the game still feels a bit ridiculous and over the top – I’ve done more than a million points of damage on some critical hits – but it doesn’t take itself too seriously for the most part so that works.

    1. Lilith*

      I’ve been playing a Star Wars RPG with some friends for a while, and have just volunteered to GM for the first time soon. Any tips would be very welcome!

      1. Jackalope*

        I’m a new DM too, and was super nervous when I started running. Some things I found helpful: Plan more than I think I’ll use, but try not to get to attached to it (because it’s almost certain that the players will do something wonky!). Try to review the rules beforehand – you need to know the rules in a different way if you’re running the game vs. a player. And if at all possible, let your players run with their ideas. If it completely doesn’t work or would be unfair to other players or what have you then say no, but if you are able to let them do their thing then it’s more fun for everyone. I don’t know if you have had safety conversations with your group (issues they want to avoid, how they can indicate if they’re uncomfortable with something, etc.), but if not it’s a good idea. I did NOT do this since I was playing with a group of close friends, but I ended up regretting it since I accidentally did something that was super not okay with some group members. (There are lots of ideas on how to have this talk on the interwebs if you want more ideas.)

    2. elvie*

      I’ve just discovered Hades (yes I’m a bit late) and I think it’s already one of my favourite games ever ! It’s my first time playing this type of games so I was scared of the difficulty but I find it pretty well-balanced

    3. The Dude Abides*

      After Mike Flores raved about CGB’s Standard Mono-Red list, I fired up Arena and built the deck, barely having enough WCs to do it.

      Deck is nutty, and is very much my jam. Quick games, an archetype I love playing, and I can lean on my experience with similar archetypes to win games I shouldn’t.

    4. ecnaseener*

      I’m still really into Wordle variants, particularly Lirdle (where it lies to you once per line). But this is mainly a PSA for any Squardle fans that this year’s April fools twist is brutal!!

      1. Clisby*

        My daughter is trying to get me into Murdle, but I’m already wasting enough time on Artle and Wordle.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Adjacent, but I just got home from seeing the new D&D movie. I told my husband, “I’m pretty sure I’ve sat at a gaming table with all of those players before. Except the druid. I’ve played that druid before.” Quite entertaining, and I’m pretty sure very follow-able even if you don’t know anything about D&D. (But the people who do know D&D will be able to go “I know THAT spell, and I know THAT spell, and I know THAT spell, and … ” )

    6. Presea*

      Kingdom Hearts III! I must have played II about a hundred times as a kid plus a good chunk of the non numbered games. I didn’t have a current gen console that could play III when it came out and I never went back to it because it had such a bad rep in the fanbase. But a youtuber I like gave me a new perspective on what its strengths actually are and I realized the bad rep was probably caused by flawed expectations. (among other things, it took about 13 years after II for III to come out, and it had the gargantuan task of wrapping up a seriously convoluted plot). Coming into it with a realistic idea of what its strengths are, and having let go of the idea of ever understanding the actual details of the plot in favor of understanding the Feels… its a great time!

    7. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Still plugging along in side stuff in Like a Dragon: Ishin. Every time I say “I am definitely going to move the plot along today” I end up fishing or doing trooper missions or playing Cooking Ojisan forever.

      So all that cooking gave me the itch to play some Cooking Mama, and now I’m noodling around with Sweet Shop on the 3DS.

    8. Free Meerkats*

      Started playing a Demonology Warlock in WoW Dragonflight. Have it up to 27 and had forgotten how much fun they can be.

      Looking forward to Diablo 4, but have had it confirmed by a Blizzard insider I know that they will not be porting it to Mac. So now I need to decide, do I replace my spouse’s PC with something new (actually needed, but they hate change) that has some higher end graphics, or do I get a console. And if a console, which one? I’m not a console gamer, I’ve only owned 2, a Vectrex and an N64; I still have both.

      1. LimeRoos*

        If you do console, I’d recommend the Switch if you’re not usually a console gamer. I played Diablo 2 Resurrected on the Switch and it was awesome! And there’s a ton of other fun games – plus Nintendo Switch online which has a lot of early console titles which you may like if you still have the N64.

    9. I take tea*

      We tried out a board game called Equinox, but at least the first try felt like a bit too complicated for not enough fun. Is anyone familiar with it, does it improve with playing?

  13. Bluebell*

    Does anyone have any good shoe stretching/breaking in tips? I got some great Clarks two weeks ago that I thought would be good to take on a trip, but they are just a bit too tight at the wide part of my feet, and start hurting after 2 hours or so.

    1. takeachip*

      If you have a wide toe box, Clarks just may not work for you. I’ve tried so many different styles over the years, I’ve given up on them. I think if the shoes are still tight after 2 hours there may not be much you can do, but you could try taking them to a cobbler/shoe store/Nordstrom and asking to have them put on the stretching machine.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, interesting; I have duckfeet and Clarks are a go to for me. I do buy the wide sizes, so maybe that’s the key.

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      That sounds to me like your shoes are the wrong size. Clark’s shoes in particular are designed to be comfortable. If your feet are like mine, you can try the same size but in a wide version so you have toe room. I’ve found that my feet have widened over the years, which apparently is common.

      1. takeachip*

        I’ve tried different sizes but this brand just doesn’t work unfortunately, as I like so many of their styles. I have bunions in addition to a wide toe box which complicates things.

      2. Hazel*

        I have to go a half size up in Clarks to get the arch to hit in the right spot, maybe this also puts the widest part of the foot in the right part of the shoe too. It seems like their last (shoe form) is different to most N. American brands.

    3. RuledbyCats*

      A good shoe store should have a spray bottle of leather stretcher that you can use – spray on/in the area needing stretching, wear & walk, etc. They would have instructions. I’ve used with success, but it’s been a while. Does NOT, as far as I know, work on cloth or synthetics – but a good store with good products will be able to advise.

      1. Anonymous 75*

        My cobbler also recommended using rubbing alcohol of your don’t want to spring for actual leather stretcher. And when I asked him what he does, he said if it’s showing he has a little time to spend on he just gets the whole shoe wet, wear them around the house/yard and let them stretch and dry naturally.

    4. Dancing Otter*

      They make adjustable shoe trees that you can set just a little wider to stretch the shoes. Or ask your favorite cobbler to do it, if you have a reliable one.

      For a more frugal approach, I’ve heard good things about tennis balls, also very firmly packed newspaper or hand towels, after slathering the leather with leather balm.

      Oh, my daughter says, you can put on thicker than usual socks and just tough it out for a few hours. Afterwards, the shoes feel great with normal socks. Not sure if that’s breaking in the shoes or the feet…

    5. Not A Manager*

      A friend of mine who used to be a model says that they used to soak two pairs of thick socks in rubbing alcohol and then wear the shoes over them. I have no idea whatsoever if that works. It sounds like a horrible experience, though.

      Okay, I just googled and the first hit says to spray the leather with rubbing alcohol where you want it to stretch, and then use your hands or wear socks to stretch it out, so I guess maybe her system would work.

    6. mreasy*

      I’ve only had good results having a shoe repair person do it, but they have generally charged under $10.

    7. eeeek*

      I always have to stretch my shoes a little – I have a spray bottle with a 50/50 mix of water and rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol. I spray a little inside at the tight space, then some outside, then I put the shoes on. Often that’s enough. If I need more stretching, I spray generously and then use a handheld hair dryer to apply heat to the area that needs to stretch.
      This only works on leather uppers, and it’s best to go bit by bit vs. trying to get them all stretched out all at once.
      I did invest in a shoe stretcher with moveable bits that can imitate the various knobby bits of my toes and feet – that thing works great, but since I only have one I can only do one shoe at a time. I never plan ahead that well!
      I do not recommend the “hack” involving filling plastic bags with water and putting them in your shoes and then the shoes in the freezer. Messy and ineffective. (And gross.)

    8. Bluebell*

      Thanks everyone for your tips! Unfortunately the upper is synthetic. There’s plenty of room in the toe box but it’s the area below that which is just a bit too tight, alas. It’s a shame, because I have occasional plantar fasciitis, and the arch support in these is terrific, plus they are cushy and nonslip soles. So many things I love.

  14. Old Plant Woman*

    Writing question. It seems to me that authors, especially action and mystery writers, use character’s first or last names interchangeably. So James Green gets called Jamie by his mom and lover, James by his buds and Green by his fellow spies. All good. I’ve got it figured out, right? Then the author sends James to a show down with his nemesis John South. Green gets shot by South. Then John, full of regrets, is thrilled James was wearing super protective gear, buys him a drink and they take over the world together. Yeah ok. Got carried away there. How do authors do that. Then we have 8 characters to keep track of. Help me out here

    1. RagingADHD*

      To me it makes sense that Green and South switch to first names when they become friends. IME, you get very invested in characters when you’re writing, as if they were real people. It’s no harder to keep track of them than it is to keep track of your family’s names.

      I am very grateful to my editor who advised me not to give characters names that were too similar, for the sake of the reader. Personally, I think James and John wouldn’t be the best idea in the first place. James and Paul, or something, would be better.

      You also see the character’s arc, so you know them by what they do in the story. Sometimes the names don’t even matter or get chosen until the draft is well underway, or get changed in rewrites. I once got all the way through the first draft referring to an unpleasant secondary character as “Douche.”

      Thank goodness for find-and-replace.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Or it could be a flaw in the writing. The whole point of writing is to get what’s inside your head across to someone else. It can be crystal clear in the author’s head and still be muddled on the page.

        2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          There is always the old trick of the index-card-as-bookmark. Write down the names as you go and refer to it when you get confused.

      1. Not A Manager*

        When I was a child, I read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader first in the Narnia books. There are two very different characters named Edmund and Eustace. I wasn’t a great reader, and I’d never heard of either name, so I didn’t even try to sound them out. I just thought of them vaguely as “that E person.” I guess when they were in the room together I realized they were two different characters? But mostly I spent a lot of the book very confused about why that E guy was sometimes nice and reasonable, and sometimes a big jerk.

        1. Ally*

          Oooh and if you’d started with Lion Witch and Wardrobe you’d be even more confused! “This E guy is literally all over the place!!”

    2. Madame Arcati*

      For the love of all that’s holy, don’t read Tolstoy. Russians have even more variants and (pre-revolution) honorifics. They make several diminutives of every first name, use first name plus patronymic as a respectful title and back then you probably get lord so and so as well. So Alexander Baryshnikov could be Alexander, Alexei, Alesher, Alyosha, Alexander Grigorevich, Gospodin Baryshnikov…

      1. Hlao-roo*

        From what I recall of reading Dostoyevsky, every character had three names:

        The name they were referred to in the narration (usually their last name?)
        The name they were called in dialogue by close friends and family (a diminutive of their first name)
        The name they were called in dialogue by other people (their full first name? their middle name?)

        Was very confusing for me at first, but once I had a cheat sheet of everyone’s three names it got a lot better. And it helped that the narrator consistently used one name, so no switching back and forth between James and Jamie and Green in the text, just in the dialogue.

      2. FD*

        And it is not especially intuitive on the first read that Kitty is short for Ekaterina. I mean when you stop and think about it, it makes sense, but when you’re already getting ready to who refers to who is what it’s a little bewildering.

      3. MEH Squared*

        I tried to read War and Peace when I was 10. I gave up for this very reason–the name issue. I just could not keep everyone straight as I read.

    3. NotBatman*

      I think this is a convention that’s a) old, and b) British. Pre-20th century, it was pretty common to use first and last names interchangeably, and it’s still common in many non-US cultures. And it can convey important character information — like the moment a character goes from calling their teacher “Mr. Jones” to calling him “John,” or two cops saying “I think Jones is the killer”/ “What, John? He would never!”

      That said, it’s annoying and unnecessary in most modern American fiction. Michael Crichton is awful at giving characters double first names (Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler, Ian Malcolm, John Arnold) and then flip-flopping about which he uses. Also, there are three (3!) people in Jurassic Park with the first name “John.”

    4. Doc is In*

      What irks me is when they use last name for men and first name for women, even when they are colleagues/equals.

    5. FD*

      The only solution I have personally found for this is audiobooks. For whatever reason I can keep track of it easier if I hear it instead of reading it.

    6. Come On Eileen*

      I will sometimes use the Notes app on my phone to write down the characters and something about each one that helps me remember who is who! I recently read And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie and I knew going in there were 10 characters who would die one by one. So I wrote a note with names of each of the ten and a few notes so I’d remember who was who. I only had to refer back to it in the first few chapters and then didn’t really need it anymore.

      1. Tuppence*

        One of the Christie publishers, and I can’t remember which one, lists the characters with a brief description at the front of each book. I often keep a finger on that page until I’m a few chapters in.

    7. Texan In Exile*

      I’m still ticked off about the two Cathys in Wuthering Heights. I shouldn’t have to work so hard to keep track of the characters.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        Omg tenth grade me was so mad about the Catherine/Cathy situation.

        In general, as a reader, I think I can usually keep track of an individual character with multiple nicknames fairly easily provided any nicknames are very common nicknames for other names I know the character by – I will not be surprised if a character I know as James is sometimes also called Jamie, or if Elizabeth is sometimes called Lizzie. But (with apologies to the Princess Diaries) an “Amelia” who also goes by “Mia” will need some heavy-handed explaining by the author to make sure I catch on (ditto, say, people who call a redheaded character “Red” instead of their actual name).

    8. Donkey Hotey*

      Welcome to why I can’t read a lot of British history. “Well, you see, his name is George but he’s the Earl of Clarence, so we call him Clarence.” Only you never are told that he’s the Earl of Clarence, so I’m halfway through wondering who the hell George is.

  15. Flowers*

    Same old story of being the pinball between the doctor’s office, the pharmacy and insurance.

    I’ve been on Ozempic for a while now and I’m finally feeling the effects of the shortage (thanks Tiktok/social media!!!!!). My Dr sent a new Rx for it, the pharmacy said that they don’t have it in stock so ask the Dr to switch it. Dr switched it to something that is in stock but insurance rejected it. Pharmacy said doctor has to submit prior authorization. Dr’s office said that pharmacy has to submit the request. Insurance said that the Dr office has to submit the prior authorization and that they dont’ see any record of prior auth being submitted ever.

    Just laying out the facts written here, the fault seems to be with the Dr, but tbh I’m really disappointed. I’ve always had a good experience with them and no issues, so…idk. Luckily I have enough so I’m good for a few weeks but man it sucks being shoved around like that and not knowing who’s telling the truth.

    Advice? Commiseration? Share your own stories?

    1. Old Plant Woman*

      So frustrating! Keep talking to everybody, especially the doc. Old saying “Squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Been my experience that there is usually somebody in any organization who really knows how to get stuff done. Find that person and make them a life long friend. Bribes are acceptable. I seriously feel for you.

    2. KatEnigma*

      Well, mine has/had me on Mounjaro already and no one has discovered it yet, but I have an awesome Endo who looks up what my insurance covers before he writes the prescription. So that’s why I have freestyle libre instead of Dexcom since he saw which one my insurance covered 100%. Don’t ask me how I found this unicorn of a doctor.

      On the flip side, the same insurance decided that the MS drug my husband has been on for 9+ years (and that they now know causes exacerbations if you switch!) is no longer covered and okay, maybe they will let us get the new generic version, but even that was a fight.

      1. Flowers*

        Oh thats interesting – Mounjaro is the other one that the pharmacy said isn’t in stock. Maybe it’s my pharmacy idk.

    3. Long A*

      I had a prescription that wasn’t ready to refill yet according to insurance, even though my PCP doctor had prescribed it differently / more frequently (I was having a horrible reaction to amoxicillin). I called the pharmacy and they told me all of that, but gave me an option to pay out of pocket which I said fine, I’ll do that, I need this. I showed up at the pharmacy the next day and the Pharmacy Manager helped me. We went through the same conversation and I reiterated I’d pay out of pocket and also mentioned I’d definitely be working with insurance afterwards to submit a claim for out of pocket reimbursement since my doctor prescribed this dosage.
      I was surprised when the Pharmacy Manager then told me that fine, she had just overwritten the system and got it covered under insurance and I walked away paying 50 cents. So yeah, someone, somewhere, has power, to make things happen, but it’s hard to figure out who. I think bring direct and articulate helped me here, but also I just got lucky.

    4. rr*

      Not exactly the same thing, but in that vein, I’ve been going to physical therapy and my scheduled appointments are almost up.

      I was supposed to have two times a week (what the insurance will pay for) for 6 weeks. Now, it has been close to 6 weeks, yes, but the office won’t recognize that I didn’t actually have any appointments after my initial assessment because they couldn’t get me on the calendar right away. I got called from a wait list once, and then I waited again.

      So instead of 12 physical therapy appointments, I’ll have gotten 7 with the canceled appointment by the time my scheduled appointments are done, 8 if you include the assessment (which I don’t). I asked about scheduling more, and they said I should see the doctor again first. But by the time I do, I’m sure the calendar will be full again, and my high deductible plan is rolling over soon.

      Very annoyed. I’m tempted to point out the discrepancy, but I don’t think in this particular office it will make any difference.

    5. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Honestly, the fault is with the insurance company requiring prior authorization for ANYTHING. That is just such a scam for the insurance company to deny, deny, deny and profit! profit! profit!

      1. Anonymous for this but this is my job*

        So… the insurance company is normally implementing these programs based on request/approval by the employer offering the insurance. It is partly about managing costs at the end of the day – covering everything is expensive! – but employers ultimately control what benefits they offer, which is definitely impacted by what the employer can afford, which is in turn impacted by what the insurer charges the employer based on what coverage the employer wants. So yeah, tying health care to employment (and essentially a company’s profitability) is… not great.

        The other piece about PA is clinical appropriateness… because with everything else a patient-facing doctor does, keeping up with the latest clinical research on every treatment for every condition is *hard*. The folks that create PA criteria are doctors and pharmacists paid to do and/or keep up with the research.

        so yeah, it’s a circle of badness in that health care is commodified and health care providers are overworked, and everyone’s looking to make or save a dollar in the meantime.

        1. Observer*

          The other piece about PA is clinical appropriateness… because with everything else a patient-facing doctor does, keeping up with the latest clinical research on every treatment for every condition is *hard*. The folks that create PA criteria are doctors and pharmacists paid to do and/or keep up with the research.

          In theory. In practice? Not so much.

          For one thing a lot of the folks doing the approvals aren’t keeping up any more than the doctors are. ESPECIALLY not with newer uses for medication, etc. For another there is a fair amount of evidence that at least with some carriers, the actual vs stated policy is that some percentage of requests need to be denied, so if your request comes in when someone needs to up the denial list, you’re going to be doing the whole stupid dance.

          1. Gyne*

            Agree, the notion that doctors don’t “keep up to date” with the newer medications and need insurance companies to gatekeep sounds like insurance company propaganda… we actually spend thousands of dollars and dozens if not hundreds of hours “keeping up to date” every year as required by our licensing bodies. The idea that insurance companies somehow know better what is appropriate for an individual patient than the doctor and the patient is somewhat ludicrous.

    6. Double A*

      Every month when my husband has to renew his Adderall he prepares for a week to deal with fuckery from some aspect of the process (I am sorry for my language but there are at this point no non-swears left to describe it). There’s apparently some kind of war going on between Kaiser docs and pharmacists and they’re competing against each other to see who can be less helpful and more indifferent to their patient’s needs, using their patients as pawns in their skirmishes. It was bad before the shortages but now it involves at least 8 hours over several days and multiple trips to the pharmacy (an hour drive from our house) to maybe get his meds filled. You cannot call the pharmacy. You must show up and wait an hour or two for your answer and they won’t be even a little contrite about the inconvenience. I could go on but you get the picture.

      So I don’t have anything helpful to add, just commiseration.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah OP blames TikTok but that’s actually not the source of the issue AFAIK. It’s not just an increased demand. There’s production issues, I was just reading about it in Slate. I’ll post a link in my next comment.

            1. Observer*

              It’s still totally nonsense to blame tik-tok or social media in general for either of these shortages.

        1. Flowers*

          I think both are the culprit here – production can’t keep up wtih the demand, which has increased thanks to social media (and yes I’ve had a bear of a time getting Adderall too – actually posted here a few months back!). Im 10000% behind the use of it for overweight/obese/diabetic (I’m T2 and while I haven’t dropped dozens of pounds like everyone claims I feel a REAL difference).

          1. Observer*

            Social media is really the smallest piece of this. Adderall has been abused for decades and it’s been ramping up without the need for any social media at all.

            As for Ozempic and the like, to the extent that social media is the issue, it has nothing to do with influencers getting people into it. It’s about how social media magnifies the insane attitude towards body weight in our society.

            The vast majority of people using these drugs are not abusing it in any sense of the word. And those who are, are not reacting to the latest influencer talking about this “awesome new drug” but all of the people who treat them as less than because of their weight. (Including their doctors!)

      2. Generic Name*

        OMG. I used to have Kaiser, and my son was also on adderall, and I never did figure out their Byzantine system of getting refills. And I’m a regulatory expert managing projects with complex requirements for complying with local, state and federal law. I would write down the process that worked one month, and would then do it the same way the next month, but it would never work twice!! Really infuriating, and I generally liked Kaiser.

        1. Double A*

          I’m sorry you’ve had the same issue but this does make me feel a bit better we’re not alone! My husband does not have great executive functioning (I mean…duh?) so I’ve sometimes wondered if he’s missing something, though it certainly has seemed like there are tons of hurdles. honestly he uses most of his executive functioning abilities on being able to maintain his medication. Ridiculous that it’s so difficult.

          I also generally like Kaiser but they are terrible for mental health. I’m just afraid of leaving and finding it worse out there. I can’t deal with the logistics of a PPO right now I think.

    7. OtterB*

      Hmph. Guess I had better check on an Ozempic refill before I need it. Earlier this week I called 7 pharmacies before I found one that had my daughter’s Concerta in stock. But they had only the name brand, not the generic, and the insurance wouldn’t pay for it. Also, I took the last of theirs and it wasn’t a full month.

    8. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      This is definitely an insurance issue – people need to talk to their Congressional representatives about it. From the prospective of the doctor, imagine he’s a graphic designer who gets paid to draw a logo for his client the patient. He does and the client loves it. The client takes the design to a printer of the client’s choice but they can’t do it because they are out of aqua. Client asks designer to make it again using another color and also call the printer’s ink supplier beforehand for pre approval of the new color. The designers get no additional pay for the color change or phone call. Does that seem fair?

      1. Flowers*

        That’s a fair analogy. I didn’t want to blame the Dr either as I’ve always had good results with them. Even late last year, I was able to get samples to hold me until I could find a pharmacy that had the Oz in stock but now they don’t even have samples.

    9. Llama Llama*

      Ugh. My son was seeing a very specialized specialist about a problem he has. On a medication for it prescribed by her. She gets a job elsewhere and this area doesn’t have this very specialized specialist anymore. Fine because my son’s regular specialist can manage it.
      Except his prescription needed a refill and it took like 8 attempts of talking with the pharmacy and the doctor to have it happen. (though to note original Dr. knew that to get insurance to approve it, it needed to be not for the specific reason we were seeing her….)

    10. Anonymous for this but this is my job*

      Another option is to ask your insurer’s PA department to call the doctor’s office for the review. Often they can (it may be an email or fax to the doctor, they can call but usually it’s only if the issue gets escalated or you’re running out of meds).

      It depends on what the PA is needed for, but normally the doctor needs to respond – there’s often clinical or diagnostic information needed to do the PA that the doctor would have but the pharmacy doesn’t. (ymmv on this point, because as an injectable, I’m guessing it’s going through a specialty pharmacy and that’s a whole ‘nother barrel o’ monkeys)

      But yeah, unfortunately, stay on your doctor’s office about it. It could just be backlog on their end as the reviews do take more time than prescibers sometimes like, especially depending on how the insurer handles PA.

      -source: on the team at a major insurer who sees and works these complaints

      1. Flowers*

        That’s really helpful, thank you.

        Hope you can answer this – when I call the insurance, should I relate my concern to the first person that answers (usually a customer service rep that I’m not sure is specialized in anything) or ask to escalate the issue or ask for a specific department/role to speak to?

        1. Anonymous for this but this is my job*

          At my org, if you’re calling member services, the standard rep should be able to handle that type of request – they may not “push the button” themselves but should be able to enter a request to the right area (or transfer you or get a supervisor).

          That being said – there should be a phone line somewhere directly to the PA team (i.e. doctors wouldn’t call member services, they’d call PA) which will get you to a rep in that department who likely can “push the button”. That number is usually somewhere on the insurer’s website (look for a For Providers or PA section) or may be in the phone tree when calling member services.

          Note that they don’t make these outreaches real time (they won’t put you on hold and immediately call the doctor). They’ll probably tell you to check back in 24-72 hours. But, at least you’ll know that the request is with your doctor and can follow up with the doctor’s office to get them to respond.

          Another option if the insurer isn’t helpful is to escalate through your plan/employer. Your HR should have access to an account rep or a specialized service team at the insurer who can make some or all of the legwork happen real time (the doctor still has to respond, of course). That level of complaint often gets handheld by someone like me :)

        2. user name*

          When ozempic suddenly stopped working for me, i had to do a PA for mounjaro. My insurance called the dr office while I was on hold and got the info they needed. Then the insurance faxed the form to the dr. I then called the dr and asked them to please take the form from the fax, sign it, and fax it back. Then I called the insurance back and asked them to check that the fax had arrived. Then 3 days later I called to confirm the PA had been approved. It seemed like a ridiculous system but I will say that mounjaro is magic for my diabetes so the hassle was well worth it. I have better numbers than ever and NONE of horrible side effects like I had from ozempic.

    11. RLS*

      I’m not on Ozempic but am on several pretty much life or death maintenance meds for another condition. I’ve had some very, very frustrating times on the phone with my insurance, at the pharmacy where they tell me my insurance card is wrong even though I’d paid the premium two days before, or when they say they can’t do it for some other reason. I finally got better insurance and it’s been ok but I can definitely commiserate. Hope things improve soon it’s really an awful position to be in.

    12. fposte*

      Ugh. Commiseration and my own story. I’m generally pretty lucky with my prescriptions, but my eye doctor wanted to try me on Azasite, which he was pretty sure my insurance wouldn’t cover (and there’s no coupon help anywhere). My pharmacy says insurance wants a prior auth. Fine; I contact the doctor and let him know. The insurance refuses to fill with the prior auth (then why even ask for it in the first place?). There is the possibility of an appeal, which the doctor will submit. I also have to go to a compounding pharmacy on Monday to pick up another med and I’ll ask them if they can compound an equivalent and what it would cost.

      What I find especially frustrating in all this is that the ball is always flying over my head and I don’t know where it’s going. The insurance website doesn’t list statuses on medications awaiting approval, just active prescriptions, and this a granularity beyond the pharmacy website’s capability. So I have to haul the poor pharmacist out (I really like my pharmacist) to tell me what the heck’s going on now and then go back to insurance by phone and the doctor by message to work out the next steps.

      I will leave a link to the wonderful Dr. Glaucomflecken explaining the reality of prior authorizations below.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        >What I find especially frustrating in all this is that the ball is always flying over my head and I don’t know where it’s going.

        Excellent summary of the situation! It’s like being the little kid whose hat got pulled off to be tossed back and forth among the bigger kids. So infuriating!

      2. Observer*

        He’s great!

        And for anyone who is not familiar with him – he’s an actual practicing doctor (or he was about 6 months ago when I listened to an interview with him). Board certified opthamologist.

    13. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Tangentially related advice:

      Take notes on every.single.conversation that you have with your doctor, your insurance, your pharmacy. Include dates, times, names, phone numbers, what you’ve been instructed to do. If you have to send anything, do it from a USPS or something else where you can get a receipt showing at least on your end that it was sent.

      It took me 9 months of fighting to get reimbursed for a prescription that was suddenly not being submitted properly to my insurance (someone at the pharmacy decided to “save me money” and not bill it, without my permission, and the signature permitting it was very clearly NOT mine; all while not realizing that I have one of those rare plans where Rx drug costs are put against total deductible.).

      Hours on the phone with the doctor, pharmacy, pharmacy HQ, and insurance
      A police report over potential identity theft (again, it wasn’t my signature authorizing the change in billing…)
      3 separate submittals of information, 2 appeals, including one where I just blew my utter stack at the executive rep who was explaining (the completely bonkers reason) why it was denied with a “if YOU WOULD LISTEN OR READ WHAT WAS SUBMITTED, that is NOT WHAT HAPPENED!!!!!”. Turns out that the files associated to the appeal weren’t reviewed prior to denial. Twice. Because apparently my insurer only forwards the cap sheet to the reviewing committee.

      ::passing beverage, dessert, or deep fried food of choice in commiseration and sympathy::

  16. Iris West-Allen*

    Can anyone recommend some reasonably priced wireless earbuds that are still good quality?

    1. PollyQ*

      I asked this question just about a year ago, and I have, unf0rtunately, an anti-recommendation. I got the Klipsh wireless which are great in many ways, but have a truly terrible battery life. It’s supposed to be up to 8 hours, but it’s often no more than 2.

      So, *listening* for new recs on this thread as well.

    2. anon24*

      I got the jbud jlab sport about a month ago and so far I’m happy with them. They cost $60 I think? The sound isn’t the most amazing thing I’ve ever heard, but it’s by no means bad. I’ve listened to them for an entire afternoon with the battery staying above 50% and they charge in the case. They aren’t true earbuds, they have a piece that clips over the ear, which I need because I have a ton of piercings that don’t let earbuds stay in my ears on their own. They go everywhere with me, get tossed in my car, in my backpack, and I wear them running. Another nice feature is that they can pair to 2 different devices, so I can use them with both my phone and my laptop without having to unpair them from the other device (they’ll only connect to one at a time of course). My only complaint is minor, the case needs to be plugged in via USB to charge itself back up, whereas I’ve had cheap pairs before that could wirelessly charge the case.

      1. Emma*

        seconding jlab. I’ve had a cheap like $15 pair and one that was around $50. I liked the $50 pair better, just nicer touches like a case (the cheap ones have a case without a top so they fall out. But I’ve used the $50 version for years and it’s been great!

      2. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

        Thirding JLab brand. I think mine were a bit cheaper (maybe in the $30 range?) and the model I got doesn’t have the over-the-ear thing (which is fine since I find those uncomfortable). Charge seems to last a long time, and I think the sound is good. The case is nice, but I think it also doesn’t have wireless charging.

    3. SJK*

      I always recommend Monoprice for headphones/earbuds.

      I have an older model of their wireless earbuds, so I can’t technically say anything about their current one: https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=43452
      But, my older model is a few years old and I think are still holding up pretty well (hold a good charge for both the case and ear buds, good sound quality)

      They also have wireless over-the-ear headphones if that might work for you. Again, can’t attest to these ones directly, but I’ve always been happy with my Monoprice buys

    4. KK*

      I ran through a lot of different pairs in the past few years trying to find decent ones that didn’t hurt my apparently tiny ears after 10-20 min. I have the Back Bay Tempo 30 ones now, and I like them so much more than many more expensive pairs I’ve tried. Good sound, not overly complicated, long battery life, and lots of eartip sizes. Plus, fun colors.

    5. Holly the spa pro*

      if you watch a lot of YouTube, you’ve probably seen ads from Raycon. my husband bought them for me when my old ones started to due and they are syoer comfortable, sound us clear and I get almost no background noise. they have different colors too. big recommend. I use them all the time.

      1. Octavia*

        Older models on Anker’s Soundcore line are $30-$40 and I’ve enjoyed multiple pairs of those.

    6. FD*

      I have a pair of Tozo T6 earbuds that I like fine. They’re about $30.

      They’re pretty comfortable to me although everybody’s ears are shaped differently so what works for me might not work for you.

      The sound quality is fine in my opinion, although I think someone is a little more serious about audio quality might not like it. For context, I got a pair of Bose noise canceling headphones (which are a lot more expensive) a few years ago, and after getting used to them, I can definitely tell that the earbuds don’t have quite as good sound quality, especially in the high and low end of the frequency range. (Which, to be fair, you would expect of $30 earbuds.) But they’re perfectly serviceable for normal listening, especially if you listen to something like podcasts or audiobooks.

    7. The Dude Abides*

      I have Palovue SportSound – right now they’re $21 on Amazon.

      They have a rubber part that goes over the ear, which I need – normal buds don’t stay in easily, and these even stay in when I am doing sprint workouts.

    8. Ally*

      I’ve tried a few and unfortunately (as they are spendy) the only ones I really liked were my Apple ones.

    9. Donkey Hotey*

      Speaking for myself, I buy two sets of “middle of the road” earbuds and just make peace with buying another two sets next year, because that’s about how long it takes me to lose one, start using the next, find the first, lose the next, find the next, lose the first, and lose the next.

      I’ve also bought the exact same set of earbuds under about three different business names on Amazon. The most recent set is marked “Letscom”

    10. I'm just here for the cats*

      I’ve had these for a few months and they are really good. I like that they have the rubber inserts for the ears.

      I’ve also got the heyday earbuds from target. They’ve lasted almost 2 years. they are Bluetooth but still have the wire from ear to ear.

        1. PostalMixup*

          I also hated those. They’re just too hard and unforgiving and make my ears hurt. They’re actually the only earbuds I’ve ever thrown away while still functional.

    11. TechWorker*

      I have some Jam Athlete ones; I admit to not exactly being a connoisseur when it comes to sound quality but they are comfortable & charge lasts well.

    12. WorkNowPaintLater*

      I’m currently using Skullcandy Evo earbuds at work to handle Zoom meetings – they’ve worked well and hold a charge really well considering they sometimes get ignored for a month. I also use them for music on days when I can’t use a speaker at my desk.

    13. Observer*

      True wireless or neckbuds?

      I’ve been pretty happy with my PixelBud A. I’m not a big fan of true wireless, though. My go to is a pair of lower end Sony neckbuds. I don’t do a lot of high quality music, though so I can’t say how it would work with that. But they are comfortable and have a decent seal and good battery life. No noise cancellation, though.

  17. Teapot Translator*

    I have a hiking question. Do we have people here who’ve done hiking holidays? Think more Camino de Santiago than Appalachian trail.
    I’d like to do one (not this year), but the only person I know who does those kind of holidays (mainly locally) walks a lot. Like maybe 10 hours a week? Like every week of the year. And I’m more with the 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week crowd. So my question is, if I want to do a walking/hiking holiday safely, do I have to work my way to 10 hours of walking per week or is there hope with less walking? I want to have reasonable expectations and be realistic. And I’m not aiming for 20 km/day walking holidays either.
    I do hike in the spring/summer/fall, but that’s maybe 10 km once a week max.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      I have a friend who walked the Camino de Santiago in her 70s with what sounds like comparable conditioning to yours. She just took her time and enjoyed it so much that she did it again a couple years later.

      1. Sloanicota*

        The reason that one is particularly good is that it’s not too hilly, I believe, and it’s in a built environment. There are lots of lovely hiking holidays but they are often in mountainous areas, and you do have to be in good shape for that (15 miles flat is totally different from 15 miles up and down the whole time!) as well as generally being remote areas where you’d want some wilderness and safety skills. Other meditative treks like the Camino would probably be great for OP. I think they are often religiously-oriented (but your experience need not be) so maybe searching for terms like “pilgrimage” or “meditative walk” or whatever would find more in that vein.

        1. Donkey Hotey*

          “Built environment” – This right here.

          The Camino is set up to support you. You can never go too far without another albergue or hostel or church or whatever. Moreover, if you want to really be fancy, you can hire people to drive your bags to your next destination, so all you need to carry is your passport, an extra layer, and a water bottle.

          The only other experience that comes close is Hadrian’s Wall in northern England (and to be fair, I’m going on pre-Covid experience. No clue what they’re up to this season.)

          1. Teapot Translator*

            My colleague who walks a lot and is going on a walking holiday soon wants to do the Camino, but by herself. I think I’d prefer some support even if it’s just seeing the same people at the beginning and the end of the day.

        2. Teapot Translator*

          I’m not religiously-inclined, but I enjoy walking and hiking. And yes, I think a built environment is better if I do a walking holiday.

      2. Teapot Translator*

        From reading yours and others’ comments, I think “ability to take your time” (so no, organized tour where everyone walks the same number of km in the same amount of time) is important! Thanks!

    2. KatEnigma*

      My inlaws were going to hike the Cinque Terre. They started conditioning for it… and then decided to take the train that runs the Cinque Terre and go on day hikes in sections instead.

      Now they are leaving in 3 weeks to bike through the Netherlands and they aren’t biking enough distance to do the minimum required for that per day either.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        You know, train + days hikes sounds like a lovely holiday to me! I love trains.

        1. KatEnigma*

          It honestly was a great solution. And if they wanted to take a day off from hiking, they got an umbrella chair on the beach.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I’ve done a 5 day Ozark Trail backpacking trip that I planned myself and I learned a few things.
      -make sure your shoes are properly broken in. I’d worn mine for a lot of miles getting in shape in my neighborhood, so I thought I’d be fine. Major blisters. Proper hiking has a lot more sideways and twisting motion because of the uneven ground.
      -weight makes a big difference. If you’ve never carried a loaded backpack for miles, give it a go now. I don’t know if a 20 lb backpack is twice the work of being unloaded, but it sure feels like it. You will need a proper hiking backpack too, that distributes the load comfortably.
      -hills make a big difference. It’s a lot of work to get yourself up them, especially carrying a backpack
      -5 days is not enough time to get in better shape, only more worn out.
      -don’t count on doing more than your training. I thought, since I could get X miles a day squeezed in around a full day’s work, I could do maybe 1.5X if I hiked all day, so plan for 1.2X to be safe. No, I got less than X miles.

      Honestly, 10 hours of walking per week sounds a bit low. If you can do 10 km as a one time thing, I’d guess (based on my experience) that you’d be good for 5-6 when you have to keep doing it tomorrow. Think about the way you feel the day after a long hike, then imagine getting back on the trail with your tired legs and making them even more tired. Plus weight to make you more tired.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks for all that information! Particularly the number of miles per day during “normal life” vs what you can do in a hiking holiday.
        I think the ten hours is my colleague’s baseline, and she increases her walks and goes out walking with her backpack when she prepares for her holidays.
        I do have hiking boots and a day backpack that fits well. At least I know I don’t want to do a holiday where I have to carry all my stuff around with me during the day (so it would have to be with baggage service or centred walking).
        I know my level for day-hikes (vs walks), so if I do a walking holiday, I’d want it to be rather flat.

    4. yellow tulips*

      What’s your goal for the holiday? If you have a set holiday time , *and* want to do a set distance- like the camino – it’ll go much better if you’ve practiced walking for 15 or 20 km several days in row, to know how you do, how your body reacts, etc. If you want to do the camino (say), but you’ve not practiced walking 20 km every day, and you’re not quite up to it, but you can take it slowly because it doesn’t matter if you finish in one month or two, that’s also ok. Or, if you have a fixed time but can take a train for part of your distance, or you don’t care if you do a set distance that’s also fine. So, the question goes back to: what’s your goal?

      1. Teapot Translator*

        My goal is not to get hurt if I do go on a walking/hiking holiday! But you’re right that flexibility is important: the option to walk less or rest certain days. Something to keep in mind.
        And all of this is making me realize that even for my holiday in Septembre, I should train. It’s not a walking holiday, but I’ll be walking a lot in cities.

    5. Old Plant Woman*

      Used to back pack 10 hours a day and camp for a week or two. Balance and coordination precludes that now. Damned shame. But I have other fun. Suggest you research planned hikes. Match them to your fitness. Decide how much challenge you want, how much comfort. You have a lot of time so you can tinker with your abilities and your wants. Just make sure they match up where your happy

    6. Stroller not hiker*

      I am doing a holiday walk of the Cotwolds this summer. A non-athletic friend had done it in the past so it seemed doable. I enjoy walking but usually do about 3 miles at a time, and not multiple days in a row. I worked with a company (Cotswolds Walks) that designed an itinerary around my fitness level and timeline; I’ll be walking about 6 miles from little town to little town for a week, and the company will transport my luggage so all I need is a daypack. Even with this lower level of rigor, the company strongly recommends daily training starting two months in advance. (My friend said it was important to break in your boots and get used to walking for some distances, every day.)

      I would recommend looking at walking ‘rings’ or more tourist-driven walking paths. England/Ireland have a lot! I’m sure people have figured out some easier ways to do the pilgrimage paths like the Camino, but in general, these are strenuous paths. I talked with one researcher and he said pain is part of the allure for many pilgrims; they feel closer to God through the suffering.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Hmm, I do not want to suffer. I’m more a tourism prilgrim. :D
        Thank you for the information! And for name of the company. Always looking for companies that organize walking tours.
        Scotland, Ireland and England are places I’d love to visit, maybe as part of walking tour. I saw a TV show about the beauties of Ireland and it looks beautiful, but I’m guessing they only filmed on sunny days. A place that green has to get a lot of rain!

    7. Lilo*

      It really depends on what you want to do. I’ve done Shenandoah and Acadia hiking holidays recently but I am a very experienced hiker. Now both of those parks have less intense trails too. For instance, I climbed Mount Cadillac but there is an option to drive up. Most trail maps should rate difficulty and you can check out specific hikes on AllTrails. Don’t go from being inexperienced to trying to do an intense trail, you absolutely can hurt yourself.

      So set your goals realistically, research the trails before you go. I’d definitely practice with local hikes/walks first.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I know what my level is at the moment with hikes and it’s nowhere near 20 km per day even on flat surfaces (or rather, I could do it once and then have to rest the next day). Which reminds me that I should organize the day-hikes I want to do this summer by increasing difficulty.

    8. Camelid coordinator*

      I am so glad you asked this question! In 2018 the bus, kiddo and I did a walking pilgrimage to Canterbury. We used a company (as you can do on the Camino) that arranged our lodging and moved our luggage every day so all we had to do was walk (and find lunch and dinner). On average our trip was about 15km a day, and we were not very intentional about training beyond what we did for fitness. I am sorry to tell you it was tough and that we will train much more before we do the next one! (We are looking at St Cuthbert’s Way in 2024.). Another choice might be to set your itinerary so you have less walking each day, say around 10 km, and build in some off days to recover. I hope this helps and can’t wait to hear more about what you are thinking!

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks! This really helps give me an idea! And yes, if I do decide to do a walking holiday next year or further in the future, I’ll certainly ask for advice here!

    9. FD*

      I’m assuming that you are not in the US because you used kilometers so I don’t know what the local equivalent of this might be. What I really enjoy doing is will do a week-long hiking trip but the way that we do it is we pick a central location that is convenient to several state parks. Where I live, you can get an annual pass that gets you into all the state parks, so we’ll pick a cheap hotel or decent motel at Central to them all. That lets you pick how far you want to go on any given day, you just go to the park and then hike as much as you feel comfortable and come back.

      Since you have a central location to go back to, you’re not having to haul a whole bunch of gear around which really adds to the difficulty.

      The other nice thing about parks like that in my experience is they tend to have lots of little loops instead of one big route that you basically have to commit to. So for example there might be a main loop that’s four or five miles, but there might be several little loops off of that that add an extra mile or so a piece, so you can do those extra loops or not do those extra loops as you see fit.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks for the suggestion! I’m in Canada (the land where we mix metric and imperial measurements!) and yes, I think I need to do a short holiday where I do some hiking to see what I can do.

    10. Cendol*

      I do long 15-20+km hikes in the summer and autumn months but am largely sedentary the rest of the year. So it can be done but I think you’re flirting with injury. (In fact, I have injured myself this year by trying to do too much too soon.) I don’t think you need to have a whole training montage, but walking a little bit every day will help you get used to being on your feet for longer periods of time.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks! That’s what I’m trying to avoid, injuring myself. I tend to injure myself regularly and I persist in exercising (not while injured, once I’m better). I’m seeing a physical therapist, but there’s always this fear in the back of my mind that I’ll injure myself again. So, there’s a part of my that’s afraid that walking more will mean I’ll get injured and so I shouldn’t even dream of a walking holiday. Hmmm, I think I need to talk about it with my physical therapist.

    11. MeetMoot*

      I’d recommend the West Highland Way in Scotland. Most people do it in 7-8 days but it can be done in smaller sections and stretched to 14 days if you really want. I don’t think you need heaps of walking or hiking experience, you just need average fitness. The hardest part is the stretch past Loch Lomond, but it’s also possible to catch a bus to your next destination if you feel a certain stretch is too hard.
      There are lots of blogs and vlogs that cover it, and I think it’s an excellent entry point if you’re new to multi-day hikes.

    12. TechWorker*

      It helps to be fit(ish) but it does depend a lot on route & the distances you’re trying to do. If you don’t know how you’ll find it, why not plan something that’s just 2-3 days to start with and then you can see how it goes before committing to anything longer?

      1. Teapot Translator*

        You’re right. I tend to think in absolutes (all in or nothing at all), but it would be much more sensible to do a short holiday around here and try it out.

    13. cozyandsmiling*

      You’ve already got some great advice here. I’m chiming in to say that conditioning would be wise if you’ll be carrying a heavy backpack for the week. In this case, practice and build up to the weight you’ll carry if necessary. If you’re planning more of a day hike situation, then conditioning might not be so important. In either case, planning ahead is key, so know the terrain, duration, your strengths/limits to help avoid injuries etc.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks! Yeah, I’m realizing that this is not the kind of holiday that you just decide to do last minute. It takes planning.

    14. Hiker and Biker*

      Echoing FD. If you’re not used to hiking/walking multiple days in a row, a center-based trip with day hikes would be a much better idea for your first walking trip. I’ve hiked with groups of three or four friends, and this let some people opt out for the day, or the chance to do a less strenuous walk. Europe is very well set up for this, with lots of well-marked trails from easy to strenuous, and local tourist bureaus set up to assist walkers. In the main season (usually May/June-September/October), bus routes include trail heads. England’s Lake District, Lake Bohinj in Slovenia, and the Dolomites in Italy (consider Corvara or Ortisei) are all favorite places for this kind of holiday.

      To join a group, check out Colletts Mountain Holidays. Sadly, they’ve changed their format in most places due to Brexit — they used to employ young Britons to lead group walks at various levels — but they still do this in a few locations, and in all they have staff on hand every evening with maps and suggestions, and say they will help facilitiate formation of groups interested in the same hike. In a lot of their locations, you can arrive and depart whenever you want; you’re not limited to specific weeks.

      A point-to-point walk may be physically doable, but logistially difficult if you don’t already know what you’re capable of. The Camino de Santiago *may* (I haven’t done it) be one of the few places left where you can still set out with no reservations, so that’s another reason not to start with one of the well-known distance trails.

      Start with a less ambitious plan, find out what you’re comfortable doing, and ask people you meet if they’ve hiked places you think you’d like to go (and get ideas for places you didn’t even know about). I’m excited for you! I got invited on my first big hiking trip in 2014, and almost all my travel since then has focused on hiking. You’ll get hooked! Have fun!

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thank you! I think a centre-based trip is the best option for my first holiday, probably next year. I’ll research how to “train” for a walking/hiking trip. I’m getting excited!

    15. Teapot Translator*

      I’m going to answer to everyone, but I just wanted to send a general thank you! You’ve given me ideas and lots to think about!

  18. WoodswomanWrites*

    A few months ago I discovered the music of Rhiannon Giddens, and now I’m completely obsessed with her live performances on YouTube. Just incredible for many reasons.

    I’d love to hear about lesser known English-speaking acoustic musicians (not famous household names) that you like that have live shows on YouTube. Specifically, I’m looking for those who are both vocalists and instrumentalists.

    And in case you would like to also become a huge fan of Rhiannon Giddens who performs music in multiple international genres, you can watch her 2019 concert at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with her trio of multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turissi and bassist Jason Sypher, both impressive in their own right. I’m posting the link in my next post.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I looked her up and found the trio she performs with, I’m With Her, that also includes Sara Watkins and Sarah Jarosz. They’re definitely on the watch list.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I hadn’t heard that song before. Beautiful.

        I’ve been enjoying the live shows of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, which I found through searching for anything related to Rhiannon Giddens. What an amazing group. Former band member Dom Flemons happens to be performing at a venue in my area in a few weeks and I’m going to the show.

    1. mreasy*

      Some of my favorites (ymmv): This Is The Kit, Brittany Howard, Nina Nastasia, Vashti Bunyan, Julien Baker, June McDoom, Emiliana Torrini, Lisa O’Neill, Lankum, Damien Jurado, Will Oldham/Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Vic Chesnutt (RIP), Scott Hutchison/Frightened Rabbit acoustic sessions (RIP), Hurray for the Riff Raff (early), Red House Painters/Sun Kill Moon (Kozelek is a terrible person but has made some beautiful music), Perfume Genius (early), The Mountain Goats (solo), Sharon Van Etten (early), The Twilight Sad acoustic sessions. I would be surprised if any of these folks aren’t available on YouTube, and in most case specifically acoustic sessions. OH! And the Nick Cave live performance film/album “Idiot Prayer” is just voice and piano.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          I love the performances they did together with two other Black women as Our Native Daughters. Just this week I watched one of her live shows on YouTube and found an article about her in the New York Times.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        The only one on this list I recognize is Hurray for the Riff Raff. I happened to stumble on them once because I know the music of Casey Neill, the singer/songwriter who wrote the original song that their band is named after.

    2. Frankie Bergstein*

      Amythyst Kiah
      Joy Oladokun
      Mickey Guyton
      Our Native Daughters

      (Love this thread and your taste!)

    3. Clisby*

      Rhiannon Giddens won a McArthur Fellows Award (the so-called “genius” award) back in, I think 2017 or 2018. I’ve loved her work since being introduced to the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

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

      I have zero music recommendations for you, but I did recently discover the subreddit “ifyoulikeblank”, which is a great place to find folks swapping esoteric music tips.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Good to know, since I’ve never used Reddit. The thing I’ve discovered is how much I appreciate watching recordings of live shows. While I often enjoy studio albums as well, he energy of a live performance makes me feel like I’m in the audience.

  19. jasmine tea*

    Has anyone ever gotten new flooring for an entire floor of your house at once? What were the logistics?

    I’d really love to avoid having to hire someone to move all my furniture completely out of the house (to…where? The yard? The garage?) but I guess the alternative is hiring them to stand around and carry stuff from room to room as the work progresses?

    1. KatEnigma*

      Yeah. This is why we insisted that the 40 yr old carpet had to go before we moved in. Because once the 4 floor to ceiling bookcases got filled, it was never going to happen. The to where answer is to a Pod or three in front of your house/driveway. That’s what my SIL did when they had to jack up their house to repair the foundation, requiring all new flooring. (My MIL couldn’t understand why we insisting on flooring instead of painting. 75% because she hates the colors of our rooms and 25% just clueless)

      1. Sloanicota*

        Sadly for OP I agree, I did all the floors in every room after closing and before I moved in, which is not at all useful for jasmine tea.

        1. KatEnigma*

          Well I answered hizzer question too. :) My inlaws moved things into a Pods slowly with help of friends and relations on the last day. We would have had to hire movers to move stuff to/from Pods- and probably gotten a nastygram from the HOA because it took the flooring guys most of a week to replace our flooring (engineered hardwood on the 2nd floor, real hardwood had to go on the stairs) and there’s a 3 day limit on how long we can have Pods in our driveway.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I mean, technically I guess we did — we have a split-level, and the two rooms on one level had the flooring replaced at the same time because they both had water damage! They moved some things up or down the stairs to another room, but some things, like full bookshelves or a futon, just got shuffled from one room to another, mostly, or even from one end of a room to the other, as they worked. But this was covered by insurance, so we weren’t worried about extra work. I did empty the bar for them, as I have a lot of glassware in there, including crystal, in addition to bottles. If you move books and TVs and such in advance to another floor, or to closet shelves, you will probably greatly reduce the amount of time they would have to spend moving things around.

    3. My Brain is Exploding*

      I know folks who have used Pods for that. In our case, we put carpet through the entire 2nd floor and they did in on two different days, with a few days in-between. So we moved things ourselves (those furniture moving things that go under the legs of furniture were wonderful, since I’m not into lifting furniture), all into two of the rooms, they laid the carpet, we moved everything into the two finished rooms, and they completed the job a couple of days later.

    4. Generic Name*

      Yes, I got the carpets replaced on my upper floor. I moved everything I could move myself (small items) to the lower floor, and the installers did indeed move stuff from room to room as they worked. That’s how those projects go, and the workers are used to it. It’s a part of the job. I didn’t have to hire movers separately.

    5. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I did all my upstairs carpet (4 bedrooms and a hallway)
      The installers did it in 2 days – 2 rooms at a time – and moved the furniture from the rooms being installed to the rooms not being installed that day. It worked out fine

    6. Missb*

      Not quite the same, but we had new flooring installed in the entry ways and kitchen last year, then had the entire first floors refinished (all white oak, some new, some 100 years old).

      We hired a team of movers to move our furniture. We considered pods, storage unit etc but ended up having them move the stuff down to our basement/garage. It is climate controlled so that worked for us.

      The floor crews came in, did their stuff for a couple of weeks and then went away. We hired the movers to come back a couple weeks after that and move all the stuff back.

    7. LLH*

      Literally getting ready for this starting on Monday, except I’m also painting the entire house as well as removing a big section of popcorn ceiling. The company I am using includes moving furniture in their quote. Now I do have a fairly small house at 1200ish square feet and I already updated the bathrooms last year so those aren’t being touched. I have been ruthlessly decluttering over the last couple of years so while it still has been a hassle emptying the house, it’s not nearly as bad as it could be. Biggest deal was emptying every closet. I have a garage so a lot of stuff has gone out there. I’m down to mainly just furniture and then some pantry items on the kitchen table and all my clothes will go on my bed. I’m basically going to have to move out of my house for the next couple of weeks and stay at my sister’s. I definitely understand why people do whatever they can do to do this sort of work before moving into a new house!

    8. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Yup. We redid the floors in the entire house (two stories) which involved both refinishing and replacing. We did the thing you’re trying to avoid. We rented a POD for our driveway and hired movers to get the furniture out of the house and into the POD, and then again to move one floor back and the other out, and then a third time to move everything back where it belonged. Totally, totally worth it.

    9. I'm just here for the cats*

      you might want to do a few rooms one day and the rest later, because the way I understand it is they don’t recommend you walk on new floors for 24 hours. if it’s carpet been you should be ok but if it’s laminate or tile you need to wait.

      could you talk to the floor installers? sometimes they will help move items.


      My parents did this and moved everything to the basement or stored things in neighbors garages until it was finished. A major PITA for them but ultimately so worth it!

  20. anon for this*

    I’m in a confusing friendship situation and don’t know what to do about it. I would appreciate advice or relevant stories.

    I’m losing a friendship because my friend seems to be hiding from me out of her own embarrassment. But I don’t know what she’s hiding from me because of. All I know is that a few years ago, after a bit more than a decade of a close friendship, she shut me out suddenly, and our 3 mutual friends all started acting odd around me. I thought it was the pandemic. It wasn’t the pandemic – this friend lives alone in a low risk place that is extremely rural, and I learned later that, in her telling, nothing changed for her.

    I asked my friend if she wanted to try to repair our relationship and she said yes. She visited my town and we got together and it was nice, but once she got here, she asked if we could discuss anything other than how she’d been treating me (just me, as it turns out). I was baffled but she said she’d be writing a letter to me within a month that would explain it.

    That was at the end of 2021. I never got a letter, and one of our mutual friends hinted that it was never sent. Aside from that, thise mutual friends are still distant – one of them seems to be quietly mad at her but sworn to secrecy by her about what has transpired. I think my friend did something childish or worse behind my back and can’t admit it (telling rumors about me or accidentally sharing a sensitive secret, maybe – neither of those would be like her, but that would explain her behavior). She hates therapists or anything like them, so I can’t ask a professional to help smooth things over. I’m heartbroken – we were so close. Do I just need to move on?

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Unfortunately, yeah, it sounds like you do. Whatever her deal is she doesn’t seem inclined to address it.

      “she asked if we could discuss anything other than how she’d been treating me” – I’m so curious how the planning of this meeting went. Did you specifically say “let’s fix this” and she agreed then refused in person? Did you invite her more generally to reconnect where she could’ve reasonably assumed (or pretended to assume) you were both going to gloss over it and move on?

      Are you the kind of person who would be willing to be really, really blunt? I’m too nonconfrontational and probably would’ve let myself get ghosted the first time around, but I think if you’re still willing to try you’re going to need to straight up say “Your behavior has been confusing and hurtful for years and you haven’t followed through on your promise to explain. I need you to be honest with me now even if it’s just to say you aren’t ever going to tell me what happened.”

      I’m sorry, this sounds really awful :(

    2. Mstr*

      I think moving on is a good idea — coming to terms with the idea that she just doesn’t have the capacity to be a friend to you right now for some reason, which is not your fault or in your control.

      This is a wild guess but could she have a crush on you? Perhaps it’s inappropriate for some reason so that’s why she’s hiding, and maybe others don’t feel like it’s their place to tell you her feelings?

      How are the mutual friends acting odd? Have you been able to ask them about it? Any clues? Are your friendships with them unchanged?

    3. RagingADHD*

      You can’t make her tell you, and you can’t make her talk to you. And there is always the possibility that if she did tell you, if might be something that really did change your opinion of her, and make it impossible for you to trust her or act like nothing had changed.

      Or it could be that it has nothing to do with embarrassment, and she is holding a grudge about something that you have no clue about.

      Her behavior, taken at face value, demonstrates that she isn’t willing to pursue a friendship with you anymore. The reasons don’t really matter if she isn’t interested in working through it.

      I’m sorry, I think this is one you have to mourn and move on from.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I agree. You can give yourself some closure. It sounds like this friend hasn’t been very good to you in several years and apparently can’t work up the energy to let you in on the secret. I don’t think there’s much you can expect from the future here, she’s apparently incapable of communicating in any useful way. And she’s adding a lot of unnecessary drama, bringing the other people in, etc. I’d be a bit put out and figure I could put this energy into making a new and improved friend.

    4. Madame Arcati*

      You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. It sounds to me like you have done all you can reasonably do to repair your friendship but if she won’t meet you halfway then I reckon you have to mentally move on and concentrate on other friends/good stuff. Of course you can be open to her approaches if she gets her act together but she needs to make an effort here. To bookend this post with clichés; it takes two to tango.

    5. waffles*

      What a painful situation. I agree with the others that it seems unlikely that this friendship will survive. What is the status of your relationship with your mutual friends? Do you have a good relationship with them when she is not present?

      Your mutuals have not done anything wrong. However, for me, I’d be extremely
      uncomfortable that they know something about me that directly concerns me, that no one will tell me, and this affects how everyone has been treating me FOR YEARS. It is cruel. I would have a conversation with them about it, and then fade those relationships as well if I could not get any more information of why I am being treated poorly.

    6. AGD*

      I’m so sorry – a similar thing happened to me. I’m not sure if this applies, but it turned out to be mostly mental-health issues that the other person had been going through that made them really lash out a bunch of times at various people, combined with me being the one friend they really didn’t feel comfortable talking about that with. (My academic background is in cognitive science. It’s not actually psychotherapy, but it’s apparently close enough that the friend didn’t want to go there.) The combination meant that I got locked out. The friendship survived, barely, but now exists more in name than in practice.

    7. anon for this*

      Thanks so much to everyone who commented – I’m feeling so much better after just getting some outside perspectives on this. I might go back to therapy myself if I’m continuing to have trouble accepting and mentally dealing with the situation, but for now I’m very grateful indeed.

  21. Little Beans*

    Ideas for celebrating a grown up birthday on a weekday? It’s my husband’s birthday on Monday. I’m getting a babysitter for our toddler and going to take him out to a nice dinner on Sunday but I have to work weekdays so our options are limited. Just go out to dinner again at a family friendly place nearby? Try to muster the energy to cook a nice dinner? Any other ideas???

    1. Past Lurker*

      Maybe pick some nice food on the way home? I find it less tiring than eating out on a work day.

    2. Not A Manager*

      I might be in the minority, but I personally don’t really care if my birthday is marked on my actual birthday or just in the vicinity. Why not “celebrate” his birthday on Sunday, and then do a cute family thing for like 30 minutes on Monday? You could have a normal day and a normal dinner but then you and the baby could give him a cake and a special gift just from the baby on his birthday. Or something like that.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        I’m the same! As long as there is cake to enjoy on my birthday, it doesn’t matter if the celebration / fun stuff moves to another date because of logistics or work.

        1. Wilde*

          Yes to the cake! In our house (two adults, two preschoolers) we eat cake for breakfast on birthdays.

    3. Princess Deviant*

      Happy birthday to your husband! It’s mine too on Monday ♤
      If you don’t have the energy to cook a dinner, would something like a simple steak and salad do with some shop-bought dessert?
      You could put up some happy birthday signs on the front door for when he comes home and put a candle in the dessert, instead of a cake.
      If you’re both low energy, what about renting a film to stream? I suppose it depends on what you both like to do. Perhaps a board game? Or even a nice bath and an early night.
      Whatever you decide, have fun.

    4. Madame Arcati*

      For the Monday, get a takeaway – “darling it’s your birthday you get to choose whatever type you like best and order a bit too much if you want” In the olden days I’d fan out the menus for good local takeaways but now I guess it’s all online!
      Then for dessert, bring out either a cake you’ve bought (the phrase “muster the energy” does not sound like a starting point for home cooking that will make anyone happy, so pay someone else to do the mustering!) or his favourite bought dessert. I once put a candle in an apple crumble for my OH’s birthday and he loved it.
      If you do get a cake, consider the ones marketed to children’s birthdays – you know him best but I know many chaps who would be delighted with a Batman cake or one in the shape of a car or football or dinosaur or space rocket. And in our office there is not a single person who, on their birthday, is not thrilled with an M&S Colin The Caterpillar cake (several supermarket knockoffs are available). I don’t think you have this cultural icon in the US but I am sure there is something similar!
      Don’t forget a card from the baby to the World’s Best Daddy etc. You could have him/her “sign” it with a paint hand- or finger-print.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Our usual practice now is to go out somewhere nice on a weekend, then on the actual birthday we’ll order in. If the birthday does fall on a weekend, we’ll still try to let the celebrant choose a weeknight takeout meal anyway, just so it doesn’t feel like less of a fuss than a weekday birthday.

    6. allathian*

      Does he like cake? A low-key celebration on the day of works for us. A bought cake should be fine if you don’t feel like baking one.

      That said, birthday celebrations on the actual day aren’t a big deal for us as a family. We got our son used to celebrating his birthday on the nearest weekend before he was old enough to understand about dates and know when his birthday was. By the time he was old enough to know when his actual birthday was, we’ve just given him a birthday present on the day, and celebrated with family on one weekend. His 9th birthday was the last one he invited his friends to, after that he hasn’t been interested in inviting his friends to a party, especially not his 11th, which was in May 2020 and would’ve been outdoors regardless of the weather. Now that he’s 13, soon to be 14, none of his classmates celebrate, either.

    7. mreasy*

      How about the dinner is the the birthday celebration, then you just grab some cupcakes on the actual day so your kiddo will feel included? No need for a special meal twice in a row.

    8. I heart Paul Buchman*

      YMMV. In my relationship I’d just put chicken nuggets and a cartoon on for the kids while Mummy and Daddy “wrap presents” in the bedroom. Good excuse to lock the bedroom door and discourages interrupting. When you are done bring out presents and a shop bought cake, serve with ice cream and there you have a great birthday enjoyed by all.

  22. L. Ron Jeremy*

    Hey everyone. My old reliable Sharp carousel microwave finally bit the dust and I need recommendations from people who recently bought a new microwave. I’m finding it difficult to suss out a reasonable quality microwave, 1.3 to 1.5 cu ft., price ranges $200 to $400. I don’t need convection cooking. What do you recommend?

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      I recently had to replace an old microwave. In my case, I needed something to fit in a small space. After looking at various review sites, I settled on the highly rated Toshiba 0.9-cu ft 900-watt microwave. That was a couple years ago, and it works great. I imagine they make a larger version.

      1. Imprudence*

        UK here: love my panasonic combination microwave oven. So great to have an oven that heats up quickly for conventional cooking. But the programmes that combine microwave, oven and grill to e.g. do jacket potatoes in 11 mins for one, or roast an entire chicken in 30 mins are fantastic. Get one that isn’t all electronic buttons though — a twisty knob for the time makes it much less frustrating to use.

        1. L. Ron Jeremy*

          most of the three star ratings list many issues with this microwave and advise not to buy it. I look at the threes first as most 4 and 5 star reviews seem like advertisements.

      2. L. Ron Jeremy*

        thanks for the recommendation. is it black stainless steel version? I’d like to stay away from stainless as they are a pain to keep clean.

        1. Imprudence*

          current one is stainless steel. I don’t have any trouble keeping the outside acceptably clean. and I am a messy cook.

        2. WoodswomanWrites*

          Looking at the nesting for your question, I think it was for me about the Toshiba. Yes, I have the black stainless steel version. Mine has never gotten very dirty because I put a special microwave cover thing over items I heat in it so they don’t splatter. A quick wipe with a sponge has worked well and it still looks new inside.

    2. juneybug*

      We purchased the TOSHIBA EM925A5A-SS Countertop Microwave Oven in Sept 2021 and love it. We paid around $120.

      1. L. Ron Jeremy*

        I’ve read online that these microwaves start sparking and catch fire at about the 3 year mark. be careful. I’m not buying one

  23. rr*

    Talk to me about smartphones and carriers, please.

    My flip phone is dead. I have been thinking I’d replace it with a smartphone, but not this way. I’m a bit overwhelmed, to say the least.

    The last time I got a phone it was free, under a contract. Tonight, when I found out my phone was dead, I learned that most people buy phones over a period of time and then pay separately for data. I’m already paying almost $60 a month, which always seemed excessive to me, but the person I spoke with said that my bill would probably jump to around $75 a month. Not including the phone, of course. That would be for unlimited data. He suggested that if I don’t want/need unlimited data, a prepaid phone would be fine. Or I could go to Walmart.

    I don’t exactly know, of course, what I want or need under the circumstances. I’m frankly not even sure what data consists of in reference to a phone. Also, my current phone (which still has power/battery, whatever..but just can’t get a connection anymore) has pictures on it that I really value. Any way to get those over to a new phone/other place?

    Help, please? I balk at spending $80+ per month without knowing more about what I’m getting/getting myself into. I know it is time, but I find it overwhelming, which is really mostly why I haven’t done it before now.

    1. Double A*

      Look into something like Mint mobile or Consumer Cellular. Their monthly plans are cheap and if you need more data, you buy it.

      You do need to have a phone you bring to them, though. Though you may be able to buy it directly from them. I don’t know if you can spread the payment out or if you need to buy it upfront. I always just buy phones upfront.

      I have Republic Wireless and I can’t recommend them since they got bought out. But I plan to move Mint when I have time to deal with the move, and I’m sure people here will have experience with these type of companies.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Right, “cheaping out excessively on cell phone bill” is something I know about!

      You have two options for buying the phone-you buy a phone upfront and then find a carrier you like, or you get it “free” but then the carrier charges you for it in your monthly bill. I pay upfront, though part of this is because I simply prefer paying up front. I think you can find good deals for provider phones too though. If you buy a phone upfront, it will be “unlocked” and can be used with any carrier you want, compared to carrier “free” phones which come locked to their network so you can’t skive off with the phone before they’ve got their money’s worth out of you.

      Data is internet through the cell provider. There are also minutes (which is call time) and texts (which are texts). You can also connect to the internet over wifi, which doesn’t go through the cell carrier and so doesn’t cost you any data. I am cheap, so I keep my data turned off most of the time. Most expensive plans provide unlimited calls, texts and data. Cheap plans do not, but if you don’t use the data anyway, they are a good deal.

      I think of cell phone carriers in three catagories: the big ones, the bargain ones, and El-cheapo ones.
      -I go with an el-cheapo plan (tracphone) because I am cheap, but I don’t think I would recommend it to someone intimidated by cell phones. The customer service is lousy. But $20 gets me three months and I don’t use my phone much so it fills my needs.
      – The big ones run their own networks and want you to spend big money. One of them is probably the one asking $80/mo. IMO, they sell glamor and fancy phones as much as they do cell services, They do often have pre-paid plans, though, which are cheaper.
      -I’d recommend a bargain provider, in your case. These are the ones like Ting or Mint. I haven’t used one so I don’t have specific recommendations. They use the big one’s networks but use black magic or something to make them cheaper (so do the el-cheapo plans, for that matter.) You have to buy your phone upfront though. You’ll be looking at $20-$50/month.

      Buying a phone is always the hard part for me, because it always changes so much in the years between cell phones. And there are so many options! It’s impossible to optimize. I bought a Motorola Fast last time, and it’s been fine. Honestly, anything in the $150-$200 range is going to be perfectly fine for you. When you pick a provider, look at what they sell in that range and pick one out. (ALL cell providers also sell phones.)

    3. Ingemma*

      How much you need to pay for a smartphone will depend partially on where you’re based out of – but also on what you want out of your phone.

      What do you want out of a phone? Do you need overseas calls? How good do you want your camera to be? Do you want to store a lot of music / audiobooks or do you keep that somewhere else? (With all of this – if you have a camera & a CD collection you could decide how much consolidating that a worth for you and check the dollar amount more that would cost)

      Figure out your minimum requirements and then do a google search of at LEAST the major phone companies- you’ll almost always get a better deal if you shop around. But because there’s commission / incentives to upsell you and if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’ll probably be offered something that’s more than you need.

      For example: If you’ve been happy enough with a flip phone without data then don’t let people upsell you to unlimited data.

      If you’re not too concerned about getting great quality photos (all your options will match or exceed what you have on your flip phone probably) and you don’t need a lot of storage, you’d be looking at low hundreds of dollars if you couldn’t find something included on a new account deal. Again, will depend on your location.

    4. MEH Squared*

      I don’t use my phone hardly at all, so I have a cheap Android phone (roughly $200) and I’m on Google Fi’s flexible plan. It’s $20 a month for one user and $10 per GB of data up to 6 GB, and then the rest is free (per cycle, which is a month). I rarely pay more than $30 a month.

      Are the pictures uploaded anywhere? All my photos are synced with Google, which I can then find at Google Photos.

    5. WoodswomanWrites*

      I bought my iPhone using points I’d accumulated through a credit card promotion. Apple had just come out with their 13 version so I bought a 12 since it was discounted. T-Mobile offers a discounted plan with unlimited data if you’re older in case that applies, and it costs me $50 a month.

      PC Magazine recently published an article, Best Cheap Phone Plans for 2023. They have a comparable one just for the phones, Best Cheap Phone Plans for 2023. That could be a good place to start.

    6. 653-CXK*

      I was an AT&T customer for over 18 years until they AT&T raised my monthly rate (I had a pretty bare-bones plan that ran me $65 a month after taxes; they wanted to raise it to $75) so I joined Consumer Cellular. I use the internet more than I use the phone itself, but 5GB of data and unlimited phone use runs me $30 a month.

      One thing I strongly recommend – buy an unlocked phone (i.e. a phone not connected to a phone carrier). I bought a brand new 2023 Motorola phone for $150 direct from the Motorola website. I could have bought the same from the CC website, but in case I wanted to go to another carrier, I can use the same phone.

    7. Just here for the scripts*

      Elspeth did a good job of explaining data—though these days it usually separated from texts and only refers to internet usage. They also did a good job of explaining how people buy phones—upfront from the manufacturer (Apple, Galaxy, etc) or under a plan from whoever you’re getting your services through. My guess is that your “free” phone fell under that latter process.

      Hubby and I both moved from different major carriers ( him ATT me Verizon) to T-Mobile. They have a set of great plans for folks 55 and up at 55 a month—including taxes and fees. We tested out the service coverage, both in nyc and upstate in the finger lakes and the coverage is great.

      One other thing—like you hubby went from flip to smart phone (under great protest as T-Mobile had only huge heavily armored flips). Six mos after he switched, T-Mobile started carrying more streamlined lightweight flip phones. Just saying that if he had seen those options when he switched, he might not have made the move to a smart phone.

    8. Sloanicota*

      To get the photos off your old phone, since it’s still working: depending on the age of the phone you may be able to use a charging cord if one side ends in a usb (some have the usb that connect into the wall outlet). If not, ask around, as many people probably have the kind you need for an older phone if its a microusb charger (I have them for my kindle, for example – does the port in your phone look the same as a kindle or any other device?) or you can usually buy them quite cheaply – if you do, make sure it says a data cord. Connect it to a computer, and the phone essentially becomes like a USB drive that you can transfer files on and off. You may need to press some sort of “accept” button on the phone. Usually photos are in a folder called DCIM. I don’t know why they aren’t called “photos” but they usually are not.

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

        You can also text someone a picture and have them e-mail it back to you in a pinch!

    9. Vanessa*

      Admittedly I’m not great at tech, but my husband has us signed up for ting and it’s pretty decent. Pay for what you use. We try to use WiFi over data. We bought used iPhones. You can use android if you prefer.

    10. RagingADHD*

      Do you have cable TV or internet at home?

      We have a cellphone package through our internet provider for $15 a month that includes 1 gig of cell data. You don’t need cell data when you’re on wifi, so we have a wifi router at home, and most workplaces, stores, schools, airports, etc, have it too.

      Cellular calling and SMS doesn’t require data either. So we only need mobile data for GPS directions and emails while away from home. One gig per month is plenty.

    11. just another queer reader*

      I would recommend buying an unlocked android phone. A Google Pixel ($300) has a very good camera, but there are cheaper options that would also work just fine. Then, sign up for one of the cheap phone plans. Mint Mobile is $20/month and usually works ok.

      The other option is to do a prepaid phone, which you could get at Target or Walmart.

    12. Donkey Hotey*

      First, yes there should be a way to “rip” your photos to a computer (what I do) or to another phone (what other, more app-friendly people do).

      Speaking for the rest, I ‘have’ unlimited data plan even though I don’t use that much data. (Data refers to stuff you access with your phone that a) isn’t a phone call or a text message and b) is done without a wifi connection. Apps pull data from the cloud. Heck, accessing this page with your phone would likely be data.) My plan is $55/month in a Large Coastal City and also because I set up an automatic payment with my provider. (They took $10/month off because of that.)

    13. Anonymous 75*

      If it’s just you look at Visible. It’s a Verizon based company designed for single plan users. My unlimited data and texts runs me $40/mth (maybe $35, I think they just lowered it). You can get a phone from them and just add the payment to your monthly bill. Caveat: they do not have actual stores or a phone based customer service, everything is online but they’re super responsive. I recently had an issue and I just tweeted them and they responded back in a couple of minutes. we communicated via dm’s but that was more my preference as they could do text or emails of I preferred.

      1. call me maybe*

        I have used the prepaid plans with t-mobile, Verizon and AT&T. No contract is a huge deal for me. Inexpensive phones can be purchased at big box stores or carrier stores. AT&T and tmobile allow you to bring your own device if it’s compatible. Verizon probably does but I was using a carrier phone at the time. T mobile has a $10 a month plan if you use very little data. All the carriers are evil at this point, so I’d ask around to see which one works best. For example, when I had Verizon, it was the best carrier for the place we don’t talk about because we were in an old building with thick walls which got no signal.

        If you travel within the US, check the coverage maps to make sure there is coverage everywhere you want to go. I’ve avoided the smaller carriers like Boost and Cricket because they weren’t available where my out of state family lives. Good luck!

        1. call me maybe*

          P.S. You could try a prepay plan and then see how much data you use in the first month and then upgrade to another plan if you run out. Some carriers will let you buy a monthly data pass if there are certain months you need more data for, like when travelling.

          I used to do this but now the data that comes with my plan is plenty. I’m in wigi at home, so don’t use a ton except when I’m out of the house.

        2. Anonymous 75*

          It’s not a contract nor is it prepaid. and the service is good and pretty broad, probably because it runs off the Verizon network. When I was in Mexico it still worked with no roaming fees.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I actually just switched to Visible last week. I did their free trial and tested the data quality by turning off my wifi and calling into video conferences from Disneyworld on spring break (which is usually a recipe for hurt no matter what your network) about a dozen times over the week and had no hiccups at all, so I switched when I got home. The process was completely painless and porting my number over took less than 24 hours.

    14. jasmine tea*

      I have a grandfathered pay-as-you-go plan that I top up when needed, so I can’t help you on the plan aspect because mine is no longer available. But when my dumbphone finally stopped accepting connection in 2020, I went to Best Buy and bought an unlocked phone outright. It’s a basic Android, cost about $225 at the time. I took it and my old phone to my plan brand’s store, and they set me up (which took a bit of doing, because my dumbphone was too old to have the swappable SIM card, so the tech was a bit lost at first). It was a bit of a pain, but not too terrible.

    15. Cell phones*

      Check out Cricket Wireless or Redpocket. Cricket right now has a deal where you can get an iPhone 11 for $50 if you signup for their $60/month plan for 3 months. After 3 months you can move to a much cheaper plan with less data. My understanding is the phone is unlocked after the 3 months (but you should check to make sure that is correct). I use Red Pocket which has very cheap plans, and I have been very satisfied with the service. I think I pay about $20/ month for 3GB. They have phones you can buy from them on sale or you can bring your own phone. Definitely don’t pay $75-80 a month!

    16. Clisby*

      I have an LG smart phone I bought from Tracfone for about $70. With Tracfone, you can buy monthly plans or you can just pay as you go (that’s what I do – about $200/year). I don’t think any of their plans involve contracts.

      Now, I mainly use my phone for talking, texting, and taking the occasional photo. Every once in a while, if I have time to kill, I might scroll through AAM or Facebook; I never watch videos or listen to music on it. So depending on what you want to use the phone for, this might suit you.

    17. RG*

      If you do find an unlocked smartphone model you like, T-Mobile offers a decent prepaid plan for $15/month plus taxes – they rolled it out during the pandemic and then kept it.

  24. sewsandreads*

    Crafting/making thread! What have you all been making?

    In the spirit of “buying fabric and using fabric are two different hobbies,” I’m visiting my aunt and hit up a fabric shop in her neck of the woods. I’m excited to use it, but not sure how yet!

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I have SO much fabric from my fabric-buying hobby, lol.

      I have a bunch of embroidery ideas on deck (including 2 started and 4 others I’ve bought supplies for) but haven’t done any of them from a combination of busy and lazy. I’ve mostly been working on house stuff (we moved months ago, I still have a huge to-do list) but hope to be fully settled in by summer so I can do more leisurely projects.

    2. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      I’m going to finish my crochet cowl tonight, I think! I have so many crochet ambitions and not enough time to make them happen. But next up is learning how to do granny squares so I can do a blanket.

      1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        I fell asleep instead of finishing it, lol. Hopefully tonight!

    3. Not Australian*

      Patchwork and quilting, as usual – although I’ve actually been collecting fabric to make a patchwork circle skirt, which is moving up my priority list. I usually hand-sew, but this will need the sewing machine … and that’s something that needs a bit of advance planning, in this household. There should be plenty of fabric left over for a Dresden Plate quilt, too, which should be fun to do.

      1. sewsandreads*

        I’ve always wanted to try a Dresden plate quilt! Are they difficult? They’re something I’ve admired from afar with no real research into how I go about it!

        1. Madame Arcati*

          They aren’t very difficult – basically you need a good template for the blade shape and be sure to know how many of those blades make up your circle. You appliqué the plates onto your quilt or whatever and appliqué a circle over the hole in the middle – dozens of methods of doing this!
          I bet there are plenty of patient friendly people just waiting on YouTube to show you each step.
          There are some lovely variations too – I like one where you make the blades varying heights and add roofs/windows so they look like stylised houses in a little circular village!

    4. Madame Arcati*

      I’m big-stitch hand quilting a medallion quilt in Liberty fabrics. It is for me I am keeping it myself!
      I’ve also started (by machine) the blocks for a gift quilt for a friend. Missouri Star’sSpring Twist tutorial, for those that know the YouTube channel.
      I want to start my next dressmaking project too. I must look in the chest of drawers where planned projects live!

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      My new tunisian crochet hook and cable just arrived so I will be starting this blanket pattern I ordered on Etsy. I dont like using the acrylic yarn, but the quantities required would make all wool stupidly expensive. Then after this I have this indian jeweled squares blanket i want to try, which is a version of granny squares.

      Recently went to a big crafts festival and did a workshop making a rope bowl (fun! but frustrating using fancy electronic sewing machine) and peg loom weaving (fun! but I need to limit craft tools for a bit while I catch up on stuff).

      I also have a sewing machine restoration project on the go, and a pair of pajama pants that need sewing up.

    6. Claritza*

      Novice knitter here. I’ve been making “knit a bunny from a square” bunnies from the Studio Knit video. A small holiday proect that’s a good way to practice!

    7. HannahS*

      Going to try to finish a blouse in Nani Iro flannel that I started ages ago. It’s a soft mushroom-y grey brown with little flowers on it in muted greens and purples and reds and gold and I LOVE the fabric; the pieces are cut out and I used every shred.

      Maybe a pleated wool skirt for Passover–thinking to just take the yoke from another skirt pattern and pleat the full length of fabric I have to it. I don’t have much use for half a meter of purple wool crepe.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Our local Jane Austen society is holding a Regency Ball tonight. We only found out a couple of weeks ago, so no time to make a full kit. But I’m going to cut up a thriftstore jacket today to make a spencer that should help my maxi sundress pass well enough.

      Daughter who loves historical dress hates Regency, so she’s been making a Bertha bodice to turn her Victorian day dress into evening wear.

      Other daughter is just wearing a nice contemporary dress with puffed sleeves, and has been focusing her making energy on the Sci Fi convention at the end of the month. She’s making an Original Series uniform dress (but a skosh longer).

        1. RagingADHD*

          It was so. much. fun.

          I didn’t even know we had a chapter in town. They have a book club, apparently.

          I’m not an Austen superfan really, but I am very excited about the opportunity to meet some new people.

    9. fposte*

      A friend and I went to a “make a terrarium” class hosted by a local florist who’s just branched out (ha) into a plant shop. It was just lovely; they included the basic makings, which had a lot of cool stuff, and you could buy extra if you wanted (but I don’t think anybody did because the offerings were so good). This was their first full house for a class, and it was a great blend of young and old, couples and families. And now I have a moody jungle scene with dinosaurs, so I’m very pleased.

    10. Donkey Hotey*

      Desperately trying to finish a wedding cross stitch for my cousin-in-law. Their one-year anniversary is tomorrow, so I know it will be later than “acceptable.” But then again, it’s a big heart with “May you annoy each other for the rest of your lives” in the middle, so “acceptable” is a little debatable in the first place.

    11. Phlox*

      I just started a 1.5″ blocks tetris pattern Tamarack jacket with stash fabric. Quite excited for the colors. I’m a little worried that the blocks are smaller than I want visually bc I’m going for somewhat abstract in the Tetris pattern and the corner matching is going to be fiddly! But repetitive, deliberate and fiddly is totally my schtick (I’m a quilter for a reason!) so it should be a fun time – it’s the first big project for me in my new studio. Next up: finishing the cut list of 1,090 blocks!

  25. Agender In Space*

    Does anyone know any places for prescription discounts? With the adderrall shortage I may have to pay out of pocket to avoid that, but vyvance is like $400…

    1. Agender In Space*

      My doc is willing to perscribe either and prefers vyvance, but I can’t afford $400 out of pocket.

    2. Double A*

      A pharmacy might be able to give you some tips on this. Our in-network pharmacies are far away and I needed a medication ASAP so I got it filled elsewhere. Then they told me it would be $300. I balked, they found a coupon, it was like $30. So it could be worth just asking at your pharmacy.

      1. Agender In Space*

        I’ll give them a call! Thanks. I’m not sure because there’s such a shortage that it’s an option but I’ll try anyway

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      There is a Takeda (pharma company) patient assistance program called Help at Hand that offers free medications if you qualify. Link on their website.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Try the manufacturer too – a lot of them offer discount programs through their websites.

    5. Sunflower*

      Check out Mark Cuban Cost Plus. My script was only $5 (without insurance) on there and my local pharmacies wanted to charge me $35 with insurance.

    6. VermilionOwl*

      You can get a copay card at the manufacturer’s website (vyvanse.com), but for a cash paying patient it will only reduce the cost by $60. You could give your insurance company a call and see if there’s any way that your doctor could submit a prior authorization for vyvanse due to the shortage. The insurance company may or may not allow that

    7. Hello Sweetie*

      ADHD meds are particularly challenging when it comes to discount programs, IMO. Part of that has to to with how absolutely obnoxious the rules are for filling those meds to begin with and how impossible it really is for patients to be able to get good information about where their meds are available/in stock. Vyvanse is just that expensive because there’s no generic (which also I think seems to mean it’s less affected by shortages because it’s less affordable because our healthcare system in the US is stupid).

      After going through multiple dosages of concerta, we moved my kid to Vyvanse through some discussion with our neuropsych. We have an HDHP and haven’t hit the deductible, so yup, $360 a month for Vyvanse with our insurance. The manufacturer discount card takes it down $60 to $300.

      (Covering the family on my insurance with the tiered copays that would make Vyvanse only $90 would cost us $1100/mo just in premiums, so I know I come out ahead but still every time we fill it the poor pharmacy tech turns pale and says “you’re aware of the cost?”)

      We had good luck with different dosages of Concerta (generic) being available at different pharmacies, but it just didn’t quite hit the mark for my kid. Kiddo does, however, generally not take ADHD meds on the weekends. I figure it’s his body, and he knows when he feels like he can manage and when he needs help (he’s in high school). That means that the Vyvanse stretches further – though we have had very serious talks about being sure to not be rationing medication if he actually needs it.

      The American healthcare system is so incredibly stupid. I feel for you. FWIW the patent on Vyvanse expires later this year so generics should pop up.

      1. A Nonny Mouse*

        I hope the Vyvanse generic is actively and a good deal cheaper than the name brand.

        I recently went through this rigamarole with one of my meds that went generic this year–but that my new insurance won’t cover. Out of pocket cost for the generic was between $1000-1600. Name brand was $3000.

        Thankfully, my pharmacist found me a 30 day supply on GoodRX for 45$…which is do-able but not sustainable. (We won’t talk about my new insurance and my gripes with it or this’ll be a much longer comment.)

        I’m so very over the US Health Insurance and Health Care system. -_-

        Best of luck you the posters though.

  26. Ginger Cat Lady*

    Went to dinner tonight, and the people in the booth opposite us left without paying their check. When the server realized it, she dropped to her knees and starting crying saying “I just cannot get a break, can I?” Other servers picked her up and took her somewhere more private. We didn’t see her again.
    People can be so awful.
    Be kind to your server. And don’t go out if you can’t pay.

    1. PollyQ*

      I very much doubt it was an issue of not being able to pay. Just criminals being criminal.

      The real villain here may be the restaurant. There’s no reason why the server should be out any more than the amount of the tip. It’s flat-out wrong, and in some places illegal, for the restaurant to charge the server for the entire amount of the check, but many of them do it anyway.

      1. Rosie Posie*

        I agree. I cannot remotely understand why servers were on the hook for entire tabs that weren’t paid. Maybe cards should be put down at the beginning of the meal, similar to starting a tab at a bar. Anecdotally, I one time walked out on a bill by complete accident. I was with my then-bf and we’d had a bit to drink and just thought we’d paid when we had not. Fortunately, we went back to the same restaurant a week later. The server was upset and called us out (understandably). We were mortified and handed out cash to reimburse her and hugely tipped her. I think, more likely, this was simple, intentional dine-and-dash. But a card down upfront would help a lot, I think.

      2. Sloanicota*

        I so agree. If a restaurant has a policy that the poor overworked server has to cover the cost of a meal from their paycheck, the servers should have the cards run in advance. Honestly I would have considered paying the other tab myself (which I realize does nothing to stop the dine-and-dashers) rather than make someone working below minimum wage pay it. And I would want to call out the manager and owners too.

      3. mreasy*

        It is also not legal as unless the server is being paid a LOT, it will bring their pay below minimum wage. But it’s insanely common in the restaurant industry, along with scads of other practices affecting both FOH and BOH workers.

    2. Vanessa*

      Former waitstaff here, this is awful on so many levels. So many of the people I worked with were working two jobs (many in education) to support their kids.
      I will also jump on the bandwagon of shaming the restaurant. I worked in an upscale local restaurant group in medium sized midwestern city. On of the policies (the manager accidentally let it slip) was that the tip accounting (a portion to bartenders, a portion to runners etc) included covering the credit card surcharge from the tips. To be clear- all of the credit card surcharge. For the entire bill. Was recouped from tips.

      1. Missb*

        Wow. That’s just awful!!!

        We try to pay cash but don’t always carry it. It’s another reminder to both overtip and pay cash when I can.

        1. jasmine tea*

          For another perspective: as a server I hated cash tips, because two of the restaurants I worked had bussers who would steal them. I could not figure out why I was getting stiffed so often, until the penny finally dropped.

          1. PhyllisB*

            That’s why we always hand our server the tip personally. I realize they may have to share with others, but at least they HAVE it to share and don’t get ripped off. Also one of the reasons we pay in cash.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I understand how you feel, but surely you aren’t under the impression that people who dine and dash (or even pay the bill but stiff the server) have any interest in being kind?

  27. Veronica Mars*

    Food question: are there any foods you used to dislike that you now enjoy? Or are there foods you used to like and now don’t like or foods you’ve just always hated no matter how many times you’ve tried to like them?

    I have something for both: didn’t used to like cilantro (it wasn’t that it tasted like soap, just didn’t like it) and also thought cumin could be way too overpowering. I started cooking from a blog that used a lot of both and now I’m a fan and will sometimes add more of either cilantro or cumin to a recipe.

    As for a food I’ve never liked: mushrooms. I want to like them! I like earthy things! But it’s a textural issue that I just can’t seem to get over.

    1. Gyne*

      Beets! I used to think they tasted like dirt and were disgusting. Now I think they taste like dirt and are delicious.

      I remember hating brussels sprouts as a child and now love, love, love them. Although i think that is more in the prep.

      1. Jessica*

        I also hated these as a child and I’ve read somewhere that it’s not just us; that farmers are growing different variants, or something like that, so the Brussels sprouts you can buy today are actually not the same as the ones you thought were revolting decades ago.

      2. UKDancer*

        Sprouts are delicious when prepared well and horrible when prepared badly.

        I don’t like beetroot (although I make an exception for borscht now I’ve had it in Ukraine). Never did and still don’t.

        I also don’t like aubergine, olives (eating the fruits, I’m fine with olive oil), and avocado. Never have and still don’t. I can’t do butter beans or kidney beans because that’s a texture thing for me.

        I used to hate coleslaw because we suffered it at school and it was awful. I discovered that was mainly the one they served at school and other forms of coleslaw as an adult are fine.

        1. KatEnigma*

          It also depends on the sprout. Some are bitter and some are not, and you don’t know which you’ve gotten until you eat them. LOL

          Home grown are almost never bitter, though.

    2. Filosofickle*

      As an adult I now like mayo, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, which I did not growing up. I never learned to like bell peppers (taste), winter squash (texture), offal (texture/funk) or cilantro (taste).

    3. Not Australian*

      Oh heck yes – and I think it was largely because when I had them as a child they were really badly prepared: trying them again as an adult I have come to appreciate them more. Mainly eggs, green veg and lamb – the latter really surprised me, and I don’t have it often but have now got to the point where I can eat and enjoy it occasionally. I’ll even eat lettuce, sometimes – although I don’t see the point, lol! The one thing I still absolutely won’t touch in any shape or form is offal…

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I used to love eggs as a kid and now trying to eat them just makes me gag :(

    5. Bazzalikeschasingbirds*

      I want to like mushrooms as well, would be a good way to pad out stews and use less meat, but the texture, just no.

    6. Madame Arcati*

      As a child I never liked carrots (cooked that is; raw was fine). I thought my palate changed as I grew older, but then I had some chantenay carrots, you know the little stubby ones, and they had that very particular taste I disliked as a child. Still not sure if I have changed or carrots have!

    7. Angstrom*

      Olives. First exposure was the watery canned black ones. Never saw the attraction. Much later I was introduced to good Kalmatas and that was a whole different story…..

      1. Pippa K*

        Same here. Had to eat (good) black olives once because a friend’s mother had put them up and it would have been impolite to refuse, and it was a revelation. Still won’t touch the tinned ones though!

    8. ecnaseener*

      My dad’s a very picky eater, so I grew up never eating things like garlic or onions. Took a while as an adult to acquire those tastes, but now I love them (although I still don’t cook with red onions because the smell of them cooking actually hurts my throat, but I use green onions a lot)

      And in high school I didn’t like the taste of coffee, but I was often exhausted enough to choke down the cafeteria’s awful cheap coffee. After enough of that, I tried decent-quality coffee again and liked it!

      Like you, the thing I will never ever like is mushrooms. The texture is so so so bad.

      1. Clisby*

        My father was not at all a picky eater – he introduced his enthusiastic tribe of 6 kids to spinach and raw oysters at an early age. (Probably helped that my mother wouldn’t eat either, so we were all rebels together.)

        However … even though he loved pickled cucumbers, he despised fresh cucumbers, so we never had them at home. I remember when I and my younger sister were maybe 7 and 6, we were playing at the house of the little girl across the road, and her mother gave each of a fresh cucumber out of the garden, and handed us a salt shaker to share. It was delightful! My parents still never served raw cucumbers, but I’d eat them away from home any time I got the chance.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Now like: Eggs. A texture thing. Now I enjoy them as an easy protein option.

      Never like: Rare meat. A texture thing–I just find it really offputting. Give me brisket over a rare steak any day.

    10. mreasy*

      I was a super picky kid who barely liked any vegetable or green thing! Now I like almost all vegetables and can tolerate even the few I dislike.

    11. GoryDetails*

      There aren’t many foods that I seriously dislike, and even among those I can usually manage to eat them (or at least eat around them) if I have to. For some reason, pearl onions are among that number: I love all other types of alliums, but something about the small-round-relatively-tasteless pearls just… puts me off.

      Also not keen on raisins baked into breads or cookies, or folded into salads, or basically any way other than eaten out of hand. That applies to regular purple-grape raisins and to sultanas, but oddly enough, I’ve found that I really like “craisins” – dried cranberries – as additions to salads or chutneys. (Still don’t want them baked into things, though.)

      Acquired tastes: bell peppers! As a kid I could barely tolerate them when chopped very small and simmered into unrecognizability in spaghetti sauce, and wouldn’t touch the big raw chunks in salads. But when I first started doing my own gardening as an adult, I dabbled in the yellow and orange sweet peppers, and adored them – and from there gradually became fond of all bell-pepper flavors, raw or cooked.

    12. allathian*

      I was never a particularly picky eater, but I didn’t like sprouts as a kid, either. I learned to like them in my teens, though.

      I can’t think of any food that I loved as a kid but no longer want to eat…

      I can’t stand lutefisk, the smell makes me gag. It’s a traditional Christmas dish here, but my family never had it because none of us like it. My MIL has it once a year, but I don’t accept that invitation, so my husband and son go on their own. My son doesn’t eat it, but he doesn’t eat fish in any form except fish fingers. I also don’t like celery in any form, and cilantro tastes like soap to me.

      Mushrooms are fine, they’ve been a part of my diet since I was a kid. We went mushroom picking with my parents, and I learned the most common edible varieties and the poisonous ones, too. My husband made a great pasta ai funghi porcini when we found one of those mushrooms growing in a disused, wooded lot just behind our house. Municipal land, so finders keepers for us.

    13. KatEnigma*

      Well, I thought I didn’t like salmon or anything other than dark meat on a turkey, or pork loin.

      Turns out what I don’t like is overcooked salmon and turkey and pork loin. My mother was visiting me once and had a melt down when I calculated the time for a pork roast at 20 min/lb (yes, I use a meat thermometer. That calculation just gives me general planning times.) She got out my grandmother’s 1950’s era cookbook to “prove me wrong.” I brought up the USDA website on my phone… My mother is generally a good cook, and she’d never cook red meat past medium rare, but seems to think white meat and fish has to be cooked to death. It took me cooking for myself from recipes/guidance on the internet in the modern day to figure this out.

    14. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

      I thought I didn’t like rice, it turns out my mom just didn’t know how to prepare it well. I’ve never liked peas. If they’re hidden in something like shepherd’s pie, then no big deal, but on their own, no matter the preparation, I just cannot do it.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re peas: that reminds me that, growing up, I loved the way my mother prepared peas – she’d take canned peas (which are already cooked by the canning process) and would make a white sauce for them. I liked that quite a lot, and found that fresh-frozen peas were not the same thing at all, and I did not care for them. And then I began gardening (there is a theme there – lots of edibles became more interesting to me when I could grow them myself!) and discovered the delirious joys of eating fresh sugar-snap peas straight from the vine.

        I still don’t care for frozen peas, and despite my fond childhood memories of the creamed-pea recipe I don’t make that myself. But I like to grow peas and then graze on them as I wander through the garden.

        1. KatEnigma*

          I was almost the opposite. When I was little, my parents always had canned peas. I can remember being in tears as my mother counted out the 9 peas I had to eat. They are mushy yuckiness. Then they got a little more money and started to buy frozen, and all that went away.

    15. Alex*

      I used to HATE parmesan cheese. But now I like it.

      I’m with you on the mushrooms–they just are so…fungusy. Blech! Never liked them.

      And weirdly, I used to like chocolate and now I don’t. I know, right? WTF?

    16. Clisby*

      I have always hated grits and oatmeal. I hated them when I was a child; I still hate them; I refuse to eat either one. I don’t know that it rises to the level of hate, but I have always disliked maple flavor. (Actually, I don’t think I tasted anything maple-flavored until I was 9 or 10 and had maple syrup on pancakes at a friend’s house. I was polite and ate them, but ew.) I don’t like maple syrup, maple candy, maple-anything in ice cream, maple glazes on meat – just no.

      I can’t think of anything I used to dislike but now like (or vice-versa) – I’ve never been a picky eater.

    17. HBJ*

      A lot of things! Salsa, onions and avocados are three I can think of off the top of my head.

    18. Missb*

      Brussels sprouts.

      Used to hate them. Gave dh a bad time when he bought an entire stalk of them from a farmer.

      Now I love them so much that I’m trying to grow them, and I think Dh is about sick of them.

    19. Donkey Hotey*

      Right there with you on the mushrooms. For me, I discovered it was definitely a textural thing. There used to be a really great meat substitute called Quorn that used mycoprotein and it was delicious. But a slimy mushroom in sauce or whatever? Heck no.

      As to the something I didn’t eat but now do: Tofu. Mrs. Hotey prepares it in a way that reduces that slime factor that I’d experienced previously.

    20. Aphrodite*

      Oh yes, but not in any particular order:

      Cake. I have never liked cake regardless whether it is a $500 one or a cheap grocery store bakery one. Don’t like the cake itself and I despise frosting. Naturally cupcakes and even brownies are out as well.

      Oatmeal. I am not going to say what it looks like to me but it does and always has, and it’s making me nauseous even to type this out.

      Cooked whole or chopped tomatoes. Now I adore fresh tomatoes beyond reason. Raw, sliced, chopped, diced. I also love tomato paste and to a slightly lesser extent tomato sauce (if the latter is not pasta sauce as I do not care for tomato-based pasta or pizza sauces). But saute it, serve it whole or chopped and it’s a definite no-go for me. Gazpacho is a huge, huge YES for me, though.

      Sauteed or boiled greens/leaves. When I was a child, Mom used to boil spinach to death. (Actually, all vegetables as recipes of the 30s-50s called for.) Those leaves were completely limp and the attached stems, equally limp, were the kiss of death to my stomach. Whenever she served it I refused to eat it and I had to sit at the table until it was time for bed. (As if cold boiled spinach would be any more appetizing than warm.) It would end up in the refrigerator for a couple of days, then disappear. To this day, I cannot look at cooked spinach without getting ill; both the scent and sight of it makes me run for the bathroom. Guaranteed. I can, however, eat it raw as salad if the stems are removed. But I once tried making a spinach soup to see if I could handle that. It was a lovely green and very smooth. It didn’t work; I had to toss it. I didn’t run to the bathroom then but I came very close. A few years ago a good friend wanted to see if I was willing to try a fancy sauteed collards dish. Nope. Same issue.

      1. Clisby*

        I don’t mind cooked tomato sauce, but I (and my family) do not like what one niece called “tomato corpses” floating around in food.

    21. California Dreamin’*

      Oh my gosh yes. One I Acquired is mushrooms for me. Wouldn’t touch them as a kid but now love love love them deeply sautéed until mahogany (still wouldn’t want them raw in a salad, though.).
      Tastes I wish I could acquire: Fish. I’ve tried and tried. I like shrimp, lobster, crab, and scallops, but no “swimming” fish. I wish I liked it and would love to have it in my diet. I’ve had people tell me which ones “aren’t fishy.” Has not worked. And embarrassingly for a native Californian, avocado. People eat it here All The Time. In guacamole, on burgers, in salads. It’s a nope for me in all forms, though again I would love to love it.

    22. carcinization*

      I’m with other folks on this one I guess, in terms of foods I didn’t eat when I was younger but eat now. So cooked onions and bell pepper (I still don’t eat either one raw), tomatoes, salsa, and avocado. Once I started eating all of these things I started tolerating eggplant less, but I can still eat it in some applications. There aren’t really foods I used to eat but don’t, just things I don’t enjoy as much as I did when my palate was different (circus animal cookies, cheetos, etc.).

    23. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      I didn’t like mushrooms until I tried nice crunchy fried ones dipped in Ranch dressing. That was a stepping stone to sauteed shrooms, grilled shrooms, stuffed shrooms, and shrooms on pizza. Raw shrooms are still No, though.

    24. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Mushrooms. My mother only cooked with canned mushrooms. The first time I had fresh mushrooms it was a revelation. They weren’t slimy!

      My husband has had a brussels sprouts conversion and now loves them. I still can’t stand them.

    25. Chauncy Gardener*

      I didn’t used to like olives, tomatoes and cilantro. Love them all now. Still hate mayo and sour cream though.

    26. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Asparagus and cauliflower. Hated both until I was in my 30s. Now I love them.

    27. Cruciatus*

      I was never really a picky eater, but I had a few things I couldn’t do: I never liked green beans…until I had fresh green beans. For whatever reason my mom always used canned green beans when I was a kid but later on my parents started growing their own and, on my god, so good! So no more canned, but frozen comes close enough in a pinch.

      I hated tomatoes. Wouldn’t eat spaghetti sauce. None of it. In my late teens at a boyfriend’s house his mom served tomato salad and I ate some to be polite (I COULD eat it, just didn’t like it). And when I went back for seconds I realized I liked it. Now it’s tomatoes all the time. I probably have some form of tomato daily (usually some grape tomatoes).

      I have never come around on cottage cheese, and I love almost all cheese.

      I don’t like cumin up close, but there’s a soup recipe that calls for it (Budget Byte’s Chunky Vegetable Lentil Soup) and one day I left the cumin out and it wasn’t as good! So I realized it’s a time and place type of spice for me. I also don’t care much for cilantro but there is one local Mexican restaurant that uses it in their salsa and for whatever reason I like their salsa, but not other restaurants’ salsas with cilantro. Can’t explain it.

    28. AGD*

      I didn’t like spicy things even a little bit when I was a kid. Now I do!

      Never went out of my way to eat lemon anything, but now I often enjoy it. I’ve even started buying lemonade regularly, which astounds me.

      I have lost my taste for eggs, baked beans, and asparagus. There are also a few sweet things (especially honey) that I can’t tolerate well anymore.

      1. AGD*

        I was a kid who found onions disgusting, and now I’m an adult who finds onions disgusting.

    29. CanadaGoose*

      As a kid, I disliked spinach pie, and also olives. I kept getting exposed to both every few years or more, though, and now I love them both. In fact, I had a version of both today.

      I still don’t like cilantro!

    30. PseudoMona*

      I now like cauliflower, beets, asparagus, and Brussel sprouts after learning how to properly prepare them (roast them!).

      I have loathed cantaloupe for 40+ years and plan to continue loathing it for the next 40+ years.

    31. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      For years I could not eat sweet potatoes. I think the color set off the primordial”must be poison” part of my brain. Love them now.

      I’m with you on mushrooms. Also, Lima beans.

  28. pb*

    Does anyone have any tips on dating as a very introverted/socially anxious person? I would really like a relationship but I take so long to feel comfortable around a person that I find the process of going on dates just really taxing. It’s sort of impossible for me to tell if I like someone or have chemistry with them in a reasonable timeframe, let alone be relaxed enough to be intimate in any way. And the little rejections add up so that I just start to dread dates which isn’t a great attitude to bring into things! I’m trying to work on the anxiety separately but lifelong habits take time to change. Also I’m gay so it isn’t likely that something will develop out of a platonic context – I have to intentionally date if I want anything to happen.

    1. Pop*

      I actually think the “developing out of platonic friendship” is much more likely in the queer community! There are queer hobby groups for all sorts of things: kickball, choirs, hiking meetups…I know that you mentioned you are introverted and socially anxious, so these ideas might sound terrible. But they’d be low-commitment ways of getting to know many people at once.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Wow did I write this in my sleep. I am SUCH a bad fit for today’s app-based form of dating for all the reasons you list. I end up actively resenting the people if I’m not careful, which is clearly not going to lead to positive romance vibes! I can only tell you what I do, which is try to engage in low-pressure ways of meeting people in your wider social circle so you can get to know someone “in their natural habitat” – ask your friends help you put together some easy hang happy hours or a brewery trip or something. I always assume having even one friend in common already is a great sign of compatibility. Also I’m sure others will suggest joining activities – my issue is that the things I enjoy don’t tend to attract single men, so I need to very consciously try to identify groups and clubs that are likely to appeal to them too. Someone did tell me once that the best place to meet men was at a suburban Lowes or Home Depot on a Saturday morning. Make of that what you will.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Oh, I’m sorry, I misread your last line as “I’m NOT queer” because I do think queer people tend to hang out and date more organically/platonically, as pop said above – okay my suggestions are now pretty off for you, I apologize. To date queer you will want to find queer affinity groups and clusters of friends, so it’s more a “find your people” generally thing here, I think. Others will no doubt have better suggestions for where exactly to find them.

    3. just another queer reader*

      I realize this is the most lesbian thing ever, but I’ve personally had a ton of crossover between friends and dates, in both directions. Agreed with Pop, you are in a great position to find some queer friends and see where things go!

      The shortcut to making new friends is via friends-of-friends, but if that’s not an option, you can find queer social spaces.

      In my (large-ish) city there are a ton of queer or queer-adjacent social events happening: book clubs, churches, libraries, activism, sports leagues, biking, volunteering, board games, weird theater, the affinity group at work.

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

      Demi-sexual here. Never managed to meet anyone I wound up with longterm via a date — like you, I generally take a while to warm up to folks. I’m agreeing with the other commentators that platonic context might be best to start getting to know people and whether you like them. Once you DO know that you like them romantically, it’s really hard, but you gotta be brave and tell them and see what happens. Knock wood, you’ve chosen a good person, so even if they don’t feel the same way, things will still be fine and friendly.

      1. matcha123*

        I am not gay, but I also think that knowing people through some non-pressure socialization (ie- school or work) is what works best for me AND I think it’s a more natural way of meeting someone.
        But since most people around me have paired off in college or soon after starting a new job out of college, that’s left me out of luck and mostly using apps for a bit.
        What is comfortable for me does not work for apps and men tend to think the “friendzone” is a place men are placed until we evaluate them to be good partners. Then they get mad when they think they’ve done everything right and I’m playing with them, when I am not and it is just annoying, so I’ve dropped out of apps and dating.

      2. allathian*

        Yeah, I’m cishet, and I don’t do casual dating. Never have. I don’t think I’m demisexual because I had casual FWB relationships when I was in college and in my late 20s/early 30s when I wasn’t in a relationship and until I met my husband.

        I can’t stand the idea of someone I’m interested in going on a date with someone else the next day. I don’t keep my options open, in that I’m willing to be exclusive from the first date onwards until one of us decides that it’s not working. All well and good, but because I expect the same thing from potential dating partners, it just doesn’t work on dating apps.

        Just as well that I’m out of the market, given that I’m happily married. Given that I’m in a happy committed relationship, I seriously doubt that I’d ever go back to FWBs, even if our marriage were to end at some point in the future.

        My best friend’s husband worked for the same employer as one of my husband’s good friends, and they introduced us. I liked the fact that we weren’t a part of the same friend circle, so there would’ve been no awkwardness if it hadn’t worked out.

    5. Unkempt Flatware*

      I’m introverted and socially anxious and I recommend texting and emailing w someone as long as possible before meeting. Make it so it feels like you’ve already met before you do.

  29. Please Remove Your Monkeys from My Circus*

    Etiquette question: I have two friends who each, once or twice a year, gift me a tshirt. It’s generally something I like and would wear, except: it’s several sizes too big, and I end up absolutely swimming in it. It’s also usually something they got on vacation or online, and therefore not easily exchangeable. I truly appreciate that they care enough to give me gifts—especially thoughtful gifts that I genuinely want and like. But the size think makes them essentially useless, which is disappointing and a waste of money. Any suggestions for how to (gently, politely) redirect them on sizes without sounding ungrateful—or presumptuous? (For reference, I generally wear XS or S, but they—who don’t know each other—both buy me L or XL for some reason.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Just say something! “Sorry friend I wear a size small for future reference so this won’t fit me. Thanks for the thought. Do you want it make or do you want me to donate/regift it?”

    2. Madame Arcati*

      How are they at receiving hints? If I heard “oh the T-shirts you buy me are so great as nightshirts!” I’d pick up that they are big and if I wanted to see friend wearing them outdoors with jeans, I need to buy smaller…

    3. Sloanicota*

      Wow, I don’t think this would happen more than twice before I’d kindly say, “thanks so much for these t-shirts! I know sometimes they can shrink, but if you can get a small or a medium next time I could really wear them out and about, which I’d love to do!”

    4. Llellayena*

      How about a statement to each the next time they get you an oversized shirt of “Thanks! I almost have enough for a Tshirt quilt!” Gets the point across that you’re not wearing the shirts AND gives you something to do with the previous ones.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Do you sew or know someone who sews? It would be very easy to make these wearable.

      At the same time, it is not at all rude in the context of an ongoing pattern to say, “I love it, thank you! — but next time, could you get me a small? These are so huge I never wear them.”

      You could make it more visible by holding up the shirt to yourself.

  30. Little Joys?*

    No one has started a “Little Joys” thread yet. What was a little joy you experienced or observed this past week?

    Something of a meme that has probably been around forever I was, none the less, amused to come upon a picture of Morticia Addams (as played by Carolyn Jones) declaring, “Life is not all lovely thorns and singing vultures, you know.”

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’m going on a backpacking trip soon after not doing so in almost 20 years. I started training with a weighted pack including some gradual uphill and downhill. My muscle soreness has faded and psyched that I’m in good enough shape to feel comfortable hiking at a good pace pace so I can keep up with the group.

    2. Madame Arcati*

      I’ve been really busy lately; with fun things as well as work don’t get me wrong, but with obligations and times to keep to every day for about a month. But this weekend I have no fixed plans at all, at least none that feel burdensome or tiring. It’s after 1100 here and I’m still in bed! When I’ve finished my coffee I shall go to the library, then later I’ll meet my OH in the pub and do the crossword then I’ll cook us dinner (lamb tagine). Tomorrow afternoon I will be driving a short distance to pick up bookcase I’ve secured from FB marketplace for six whole British pounds – it is the perfect size and shape. In the intervening periods I shall do some sewing. Bliss!

    3. Retail Not Retail*

      I spent my entire off day at the animal shelter on euthanasia networking day and we saved all but one animal on the list of 20, including this heartworm negative brindle-legged cutie.

      Also it was super warm so I got a lot of cute pictures of the pups with their tongues hanging out. Very undignified, just like them.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        That is such wonderful and important work you are doing–thank you on behalf of the critters!

    4. Voluptuousfire*

      Got to see my absolute favorite musician play a gig for his solo album last night in Philly. He did his solo stuff and stuff from his former band and I was absolutely delighted at the gig. The music is home to me, so it was wonderful to see it live again, masked up and with earplugs. :)

    5. GoryDetails*

      I adored Carolyn Jones as Morticia! (Anjelica Huston’s version was great, but the original TV series is still my favorite.) I even dressed as her one Halloween, making a black dress so tight around the ankles I could barely hobble… Ah, that was a long time ago!

      Current little joy: my big ginger cat is on my lap, stretched out full length with his back feet tucked against my stomach and his head near my ankles. (Less joyful: my coffee cup is empty and I can’t get up because I’ve been catted. But I’ll take it – for a while!)

      Less-common joy: yesterday I did a little road trip from my southern New Hampshire home to Gloucester, Massachusetts. (My sister and brother-in-law’s novel Angel Falls was set there, and I wanted to leave a few copies at key locations – a seafood shack that inspired one of the settings, a couple of the harborside Little Free Libraries…) I love visiting the area anyway, and got some beautiful views of the harbor and the (now increasingly-built-up) coast to the north, and I wrapped up the expedition with a stop at the Ipswich Ale Brewery in Ipswich.

      1. call me maybe*

        I discovered that there was a Polish version of Grace Under Fire and now I’m watching it to practice my Polish comprehension.

      2. Caterpelius*

        A big joy is that the feral cat colony on our farm is scheduled for a whole colony trap neuter return in mid April. It’s such a process but I think it will actually happen. Amazingly a lovely rescue group donated the entire fee as there was no way we could afford to have 20ish cats all neutered at the same time. Now if people will stop dumping cats along the road here (almost always unneutered black or grey cats) we can finally have peace and no kittens! And the rats will remain discouraged and intimidated as well!

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

      Found out mysterious unexpected $ in my bank acct. was surprise tax refund! Also found a street parking space at an off hour closer to where I live than usual — a miracle.

    7. sewsandreads*

      My little joy is happening as we speak! I’m currently the only one awake in the house, but the birds outside are having a very intense conversation and it sounds beautiful.

    8. carcinization*

      I’ve purchased everything I need for Easter baking and such so now I don’t have to worry about it during the rush of next week!

    9. germank106*

      Barely three months into retirment and I was bored out of my skull. I talked to some friends and one of them offered me a part time job. I can set my days/hours, it gets me out of the house and I make a bit of extra money to boot.

    10. GoryDetails*

      An unexpected one: I’m watching the annual airing of “The Ten Commandments”, and just as Moses is telling Pharaoh that hail will fall from a clear sky – a hailstorm struck! (Not from a clear sky, but still, it made me smile.)

    11. StellaBella*

      I like the idea of singing vultures!
      I have quite a few little joys this week including a tax refund, getting to purchase 3 new outfits which mix and match with existing pieces, getting to go to the sauna and hammam, playing with new cat toys with my cat, and having beers with a close friend. There were other things that made me happy at the place we don’t talk about on weekends but overall it was a good week.

  31. caffeine my beloved*

    For various reasons, I need to quit caffeine cold turkey. It sucks, but is honestly for the best.

    However, I also get bad withdrawal systems (aches and headache). Any tips on how to survive? While taking an aspirin helps, I don’t know if I want to do that for like over a week while my body acclimates.

    Would also appreciate any success stories. I’ve tried gradually going down, but always end up drinking way too much again.

    1. Lilo*

      FWIW I’ve dropped caffeine cold turkey and for me it’s usually just a day or two adjustment, not a week.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Hmm, if it was me I would figure out my alternate hot beverage (herbal tea?), make a huge pot of that, take a precautionary painkiller or two, and plan a busy day / weekend out of the house doing something you really enjoy, maybe even something like a camping trip so it won’t be as obvious.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      From my spouse:
      • Ibuprofin and water for the withdrawal symptoms. Take the ibuprofin before, or at the first hint of, a headache.
      • Being physically busy helps to keep your attention off the withdrawal symptoms.
      • Tapering down over a few days is easier than cold turkey.
      • For tiredness, you can sometimes fool your body by having a mug of anything hot. It has all the cues that you’re supposed to start feeling more awake.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I respect OP’s statement that she needs to go cold turkey, but I will say I switched to half-caff (and I’m a heavy coffee drinker, about four cups over two hours every morning) and barely even noticed; I’ve stuck with that ever since, so it has made a meaningful difference to me. If I had to quit, even a few days walking down from half caff to full decaf (which I do think still has some caffeine) to finally tea would probably help me. As with smoking, it’s at least in part the ritual of making the hot pot, pouring the big mug, and sipping all morning that I care about.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I’d probably also get an electric kettle so I could make tea in a more similar ritual to the way I make coffee now. If there’s totally decaff coffee substitute that would be even better for me … I’d probably pour the grounds into one of my coffee tins and lean hard on denial haha.

    4. yellow tulips*

      I’ve gone cold turkey once, and 6 months ago I dropped to 1 cup of caffeine per day. Honestly, now, I don’t even need the caffeine every day. It was never a full week of withdrawal, 2 or 3 days was my experience. Plan good sleep hygiene – go to bed early, relax properly -no exciting movies or cliffhanger books before bed. Maybe try to get to bed an hour earlier. Like the other commenter said, plan a few busy days, or busy mornings with nap time built in.

    5. Not A Manager*

      I recommend lots of water (more than you think you need), Ibuprofen, mild exercise every day that gets your heart rate up at least a little bit, gentle stretching, and hot showers. Those symptoms sound tough!

    6. e*

      I’ve gone off caffeine several times by buying a bag of decaf and mixing it in with the full-caf at gradually increasing amounts. Just change the proportion a little each day and you won’t even notice.

    7. KatEnigma*

      Two weeks. It takes two weeks to get past the headaches. And I take ibuprofen because even a baby aspirin set my stomach on fire.

      1. Anono-me*

        This. I’ve quit caffeine several times and the only time time it didn’t absolutely vacuum the full two weeks was the time I was dealing with a major medical situation simultaneously and thus on some major pain medications. But once the two weeks were over it was pretty much done.

        I did find fizzie water and mint herbal tea were helpful.

        Good luck.

        1. KatEnigma*

          My FIL has a heavy Diet Dr Pepper habit and because of both blood pressure and serious dietary track issues, he has been under orders to stop drinking it. Multiple times. It’s always 2 weeks for him too, and then he always goes back to it after a couple months. I pointed out to him once that one would think that after having gotten past the worst of it so many times, knowing what it would be, he would stop going back to drinking it!

    8. Ally*

      I got really sad and it took me a day or two to realize it was probably the caffeine making me feel blue, and not life! I think just being aware you might feel a lil emotional could be helpful as a warning!

      1. KatEnigma*

        And fuzzy headed. I’ve also always felt fuzzy headed and had problems thinking. Similar to cutting out sugar.

    9. Nicki Name*

      Mr. Name, who accidentally quit cold turkey once, recommends lying down in the dark a lot the first couple days to help with the withdrawal symptoms, if you can.

    10. osmoglossom*

      The best thing that helped me deal with the withdrawal symptoms when I had to quit cold turkey was taking an adrenal support supplement. It helped so much — I didn’t have the horrible headaches and severe fatigue that usually accompanied my previous attempts at quitting caffeine — and I never had to take any kind of pain reliever. And as one of the other commenters said, drink a lot of water. A lot.

    11. Bethlam*

      Serious Mt. Dewaholic here, so lots of caffeine. I quit cold turkey Jan 1 because of the calories, not the caffeine. About a week of mild body and head aches. Agree with those recommending lots of water, exercise, and staying busy.. I also found fresh air helped so tried to get as much of my exercise outdoors as possible.

    12. anxiousGrad*

      This is somewhat tangential, but how much coffee do you need to drink on a weekly basis to end up with withdrawal symptoms? I’m more of a tea drinker but I’ve been dealing with really bad constipation lately and have considered switching to coffee for a bit to help. I don’t want to end up addicted to caffeine, though.

      1. InTheUK*

        caffeine content varies a lot, but black tea has roughly half of the caffeine of coffee, so depending on how much tea you drink… well it’s not that far off. I would suggest talking with a pharmacist about your issues, tons of other things to try for those problems.

        1. anxiousGrad*

          Trust me, I’m trying many things lol. I have hypothyroidism so I may need a medication adjustment, but I’m basically throwing every strategy I can think of at the problem until my next doctor’s appointment in a few weeks.

  32. The Prettiest Curse*

    After discovering on last weekend’s thread that there are many people who have never seen Hamilton in any format (including me – I always wanted to see it on stage but just didn’t want to go through the hassle of trying to get tickets), I was wondering which pop culture experiences people have just totally missed.

    I’ve never seen any of the Toy Story films (don’t have kids, so didn’t see them on the big screen, then kind of forgot), most superhero films (too many identical, boring immortal white guys, at least at the start of the current trend), Raging Bull (I feel bad about this one), I’ve only ever seen one film starring Jennifer Aniston (it was Office Space, which I liked – but otherwise she just doesn’t make films that I want to see) and I know a lot of Beatles and Rolling Stones songs, but I’ve never listened to any of their albums all the way through. I also find having too many choices overwhelming, so just gave up trying to keep up with TV shows during the era of Peak TV.

    And to my surprise, my sister had never seen any of the original Star Wars films till a few years ago – though I don’t know why I was surprised, since she’s not really into sci-fi. So, what are your pop culture misses?

    1. Madame Arcati*

      I haven’t got Netflix so I haven’t seen any of the films or tv series on there!

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah, I’m not doing streaming, so I haven’t seen almost any hot show in several years now. Too many to list! I really hope we fix this fractured marketplace, I don’t think the past year it’s been great for anyone – actors, showrunners, writers, or viewers. Presumably not even the bottom lines of the big companies like Netflix.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        The only episode I’ve seen of South Park is the one that popped up when I was looking up links describing Casa Bonita. Oddly, the episode’s depiction of Casa Bonita is dead on, with no need to exaggerate for comedic effect.

    2. UKDancer*

      Never seen “Godfather” and no great desire to. I read the book and it did nothing for me so I gave up on the film. Never seen “Les Mis” because it’s just such a depressing story although I like some of the music. I’ve also not seen Hamilton but that’s more because the tickets are so expensive.

      I tried to watch a couple of episodes of “Game of Thrones” and just hated it because it was so dull. I didn’t like the way women’s nudity was used as wallpaper so there were scenes in front of naked or semi-naked women which could have been done anywhere else. I really like Charles Dance so wanted to enjoy it and loved the scenes with his character and Arya which were clever and well written. I could have watched a whole series of him teaching her how to win at politics.

      Also I suffered from having a couple of dates with men who tried to explain why GOT was the best series ever and I should like it. I hate people telling me what I should like. It makes me dislike something on principle.

      1. Lilo*

        I actually liked Game of Thronea but it has some deeply problematic elements and is notorious for completely botching the ending. I’m surprised people still tell you how great it is, interest in the show absolutely dived after the last season. I don’t even want to go back and rewatch anymore.

        I noped out of House of the Dragon after a particularly gruesome bit in the first episode. I also read the book it’s based on and it’s just horrific deaths and misery. No thanks.

        1. Clisby*

          I liked Game of Thrones but didn’t really care about any of the characters, which was good because you never knew who would die next. Not that I think it’s necessary to care about a character to find them compelling – Tywin Lannister was probably my favorite character, and I wish he hadn’t been killed so soon, but I didn’t care about him. I just thought he was a mesmerizing character. (I realize he had to die, because otherwise some of the stupid things Lannisters did would never have happened.)

      2. Prospect Gone Bad*

        I usually end up liking most pop culture stuff, but I don’t get the Godfather. It just seems like a series of random events. Didn’t stir any emotion in me. I only finished it because an older friend kept saying it was the best thing ever, granted he grew up Italian in NYC so I’m sure there was a heavy nostalgia effect

      3. Bagpuss*

        I’ve never seen or read any of Game of Thrones, although I have met George RR Martin and he seemed a lovely man in person!

    3. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      Never watched “Friends” or “The Office”. I shy away from Sitcoms because they frequently seem to rely on making someone look foolish for laughs and I just get uncomfortable watching them. I tend not to have paid subscription services so I missed “The Sopranos”, “Breaking Bad”, “Game of Thrones”. I saw the first few Marvel movies, but then it seemed like each movie was becoming just a setup for the next one, so I lost interest. Also, how many reboots do we need for these characters? What are we on – the 3rd or 4th Spiderman? How many Batmans are there? I can’t keep up (and don’t want to).

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Friends gets a lot of hate unjustly, I actually started watching it while working out and found it to be so much better than I thought, since there is so much hate about it online. Much of the episodes are about navigating early career issues in a funny way

    4. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      I haven’t seen most Disney movies. I will occasionally watch one now that I’m an adult, but I have no fond childhood memories of them, as so many others do.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I first saw a John Hughes film way past the 80s, watching with my teenagers. I was like “Well that was a gross example of sexual harassment that in no way should be waved off as sweet and charming.”

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Same! I tried it for a few days when it got popular and didn’t really enjoy it. People are surprised because I’m an English teacher, lol

      2. Chaordic One*

        I’ve heard of it. I know it is a game of some sort, but I don’t really know anything about it.

    6. RussianInTexas*

      Simpsons. All of Toy Story movies. Most of the “big” mob movies. Basically most pre-mid 1990s American pop culture in general.
      Never seen Hamilton, no desire whatsoever.
      I am thoroughly meh on the pre 1990s music as well, so even if I know some songs of major bands, I don’t really care to listen to them.
      I also have very little knowledge of American literature, the books you read in high school, due to not being exposed to them.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Can I ask how old you are? Most people I know (even young people) describe music going downhill circa mid-90s so it’s weird to see someone saying the opposite!

    7. allathian*

      Romcoms aren’t my thing. I did watch a few episodes of Friends when it was originally broadcast, but I lost interest in it very quickly. Same with Seinfeld. In my early teens I loved The Cosby Show because I had a crush on Theo/Malcolm-Jamal Warner, but there’s no way I’d want to watch that again.

      I haven’t seen The Sopranos, and we’re only now watching The Wire for the first time.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      I’ve only seen the lady Ghostbusters movie, never the original.

      I hated Breaking Bad. Had to force myself to finish season one and was like wow, people think this is good?

      I’m really not into any major classic rock bands. My husband will sometimes play extremely famous songs and I don’t recognize them until the chorus and/or can’t identify the artist.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I’ve never seen any of the male-led Ghostbusters films either. I have seen the female-led version and I also used to watch the animated Ghostbusters series for kids, which was kind of fun but apparently didn’t inspire me to watch the original films.

      2. Clisby*

        My husband and I watched 3 episodes of the first season of Breaking Bad, and just had no motivation to watch any more. I couldn’t figure out how anyone would have the slightest interest in Walter White, let alone care about the character.

        It wasn’t because he was making meth – one of my favorite ever TV series was The Wire – but there were a lot of characters in The Wire who were interesting/appealing even if I didn’t really *care* what ultimately happened to them.

    9. KatEnigma*

      I have never seen Top Gun, even though I was a teenager when it came out.

      I’ve also never seen Nightmare Before Christmas.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I’ve never seen Top Gun or the sequel, no desire to see them either. I think you have to have a crush or man-crush on Tom Cruise and/or fighter pilots in general to get the most out of those films, and neither of those things applies to me!

        1. UKDancer*

          I’m not sure about that but I did have a crush on Kelly McGillis as an impressionable teen. I could never work out what she saw in Tom Cruise though. I also rather fancied Michael Ironside for reasons that now escape me. Mind you then I saw “Hot Shots” and could never take the film seriously after that.

      2. Prospect Gone Bad*

        There were way too many good movies in the 80s and into the 90s. I am surprised when I meet someone who’s seen most of them. I’m always like, did you not have school? A job? I did not have time to watch five movies a week!

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

      ET (though I’ve seen clips). Don’t regret missing it.

    11. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’m glad to see this thread. A while back I posted asking if others were like me and didn’t understand a lot of the pop culture references that show up in people’s comments. It turns out there were a lot.

      So, I haven’t watched any TV show series since the 1980s. I’ve never seen Cheers, Friends, Seinfeld, Oprah, Game of Thrones, the Office, Breaking Bad, etc.

      I haven’t seen any of the Toy Story movies, either. The only version of the movie A Star is Born I’ve seen is the one with Judy Garland and James Mason. I went to one of the first Marvel/comic book movies and that’s it so no Batman, Spider Man, etc.

      I’ve never read Harry Potter books nor seen the movies. I’ve never listened to Beyonce. I don’t play Wordle. I haven’t watched the Super Bowl since I was a kid.

      At the place we don’t talk about on weekends, we had a big mailing party during the December holiday season. The movie Elf played in the background without the sound on. I mentioned that I had never seen it and the entire room of multigenerational and multicultural colleagues was amazed. (That prompted me to watch it online later. Even though I’m bah humbug about Christmas–ha, a Christmas Carol reference–I thought it was a clever and fun movie.)

    12. Morgana*

      As an aside, the video of Hamilton is actually a recording of the stage production. So you get the stage effect. We watched it with closed captioning turned on, which meant we got all of the dialog/lyrics/rap – it goes pretty quick and was easy to miss stuff without the CC.

    13. carcinization*

      I’ve missed most streaming things other than some of the Mandalorian (until the child goes off for training, though I understand that doesn’t last). I also haven’t seen most sitcoms since the Friends/Seinfeld/Frasier days… so not The Office or Parks & Rec or… no idea what the other things have even been since then. I also can’t watch scary things so no Walking Dead or similar.

    14. WFH FTW*

      Fun thread!
      Movies: Matrix, Harry Potter, Scream, Encanto, Twilight, Marvel/DC superhero, It’s a Wonderful Life, Bridget Jones, Love Actually
      Books: Harry Potter, Twilight, Flowers in the Attic
      TV: The voice, Bachelor/Bachelorette, Real Housewives, Dancing with the stars, Goldbergs, The Good Place, Parks & Rec, Community, Joe Exotic, Queer Eye, Grey’s Anatomy, NYPD Blue, Wednesday

  33. Bobina*

    Gardening thread: How are all the green things going?

    At the beginning of the year I had super ambitious plans to start working on the garden now that I finally have one, then I was sick for about a month between February and March which means I missed the motivation and weather window to start doing some digging and now its too wet to do anything. Which I’m a bit bummed about as I have such visions of a garden full of flowers in the summer!

    But, the bulbs I planted extremely late in December are coming up, going to have tulips for the first time which I’m excited about. And sowed some seeds a few weeks ago which are starting to germinate including some dwarf sunflowers which *fingers crossed* should be super cute if they make it to maturity! Alas, no sign of the tomato seeds coming up yet…

    1. Claritza*

      Planted pansies yesterday! They’ll only last until mid-June before they get fried here in the Mid-Atlantic USA, but until then I’ll enjoy the various colors and patterns. I’ll repeat in late September and they’ll last until about Thanksgiving.

      1. KatEnigma*

        Pansies and Violas are my favorites! Especially the purple and yellow ones.

        But as my second go round in zone 9a, I can only have them November-March, and it seems weird to be planting pretty purple flowers around my Thanksgiving and then Christmas decorations!

        The local nursery was outright advertising their red and white annuals for Christmas.

        Our neighborhood has front walks that go out to the mailboxes form a T, where most people put out flower pots on either side of the end rectangle. We found some lovely hand painted blue terra cotta pots at the local nursery, and I planted pink geraniums in them. The last time we lived in zone 9a (Bay Area, California) we had a geranium in a big plastic pot that moved all around with us for 12 years, from apartments to rental houses, and survived on oven like south facing balconies, even though I forgot to water it constantly. But the plastic pot degraded, so we made sure to get terra cotta. The combination is the only thing I am confident will survive the SE Texas sun!

    2. Sloanicota*

      I got way too excited about three weeks ago and bought a bunch of plants, and then here in the midatlantic we’ve had several late frosts (one almost imperiled the cherry blossoms!) so it’s all sitting in my kitchen and I’m not sure when they’re going in the ground! I see it’s going to be 37 Sunday night, which is probably still a little rough on some of my tender new flowers. I always feel like they struggle after coming out of the hothouse before they come to the store. Might be waiting even longer.

    3. GoryDetails*

      Argh! April already, and I haven’t acquired a yard-cleanup crew yet – and without that, the only gardening I’ll be doing is in containers, to be set up in May. [I rely on those anyway, for my favorite vegetables, but I have a lot of yard space and would love to plant lots of flowers and herbs and leafy-greens…]

      I do have some lovely beds of snowdrops, which happily endure the frosts and even a recent heavy wet snow (now melted); the crocuses are appearing as well, though they tend to get flattened in the nastier weather.

      My indoor Aerogarden’s crop of stocks has been blooming steadily for many weeks now, and while it could use some pruning – and is probably nearing the end of its blooming cycle – I’ve really appreciated having the flowers and their delicate fragrance in the house.

    4. kina lillet*

      I’m starting my first ever gardening season (so I’m firmly in my screw-it-up era) and watching to see what the previous owners of the house planted. For the raised vegetable beds, I think I see spinach, scallions, and chives rearing their head again; the strawberries are definitely going wild. I think I can start planting my own spinach and peas soon? Now? So I’ll probably give that a try this weekend.

      1. KatEnigma*

        When you can plant depends on your USDA zone. It’s already too hot for peas and spinach here. LOL

      2. Missb*

        I’m in 8a and it’s the perfect time for spinach and peas. I planted out some starts of peas last week before I got sick. The seeds had been outside in a container since February; I finally noticed they were ready to transplant. I looked at them the other day and they seem to be doing well.

        I find that the larger grocery stores start putting out their cool weather crops about the time I’m transplanting my starts in the back veg garden. If you don’t know your zone, you can just Google it up, but check your local nursery to see what sort of cool weather crops they have available too- that’ll tell you a lot about whether you could plant them now or if it is too late/early.

    5. KatEnigma*

      We have tomatoes on 3/4 of our plants! Our cherry tomato plant is full! But the Better Boy has a huge tomato growing on it, and the Early Girl has decent sized tomatoes now too. The plants have switched from growing branches and getting taller to growing fruits. Which reminds me that I’d better add some egg shells to the garden! (The 4th is a Black Krim- the most delicious tomatoes you’ll ever eat. But they are slow and on the delicate side and take some babying and lots of trimming to prevent disease)

    6. Missb*

      I am starting some stevia today as well as restarting a variety of tomatoes because I’m not loving the seedlings from the first batch.

      I’ll be potting up a bunch of tomatoes too, and trying to find random places around the house in the south facing windows for them.

      I’m hoping to plant my Egyptian onions this weekend. I bought some bulbs and baby bulbs from an Etsy seller. All of them have rooted and shot up a bunch of green. Time to evict them from my unheated enclosed porch and into a garden bed.

      I plan on filling their empty spot on the porch with some petunia starts that need to acclimate to the outdoors. I’ve never started them from seeds until this year and I’m thrilled with how they look.

      And I need to pot up some coleus starts. They’ll grow as a houseplant but of course I’m planning on putting them outside, I just can’t put them out there yet. So they’ll end up in my living room for now. Those are super tiny seeds too.

      I got my greenhouse plastic in the mail yesterday so I’m hoping to get out and cover my frames in my two largest beds. I have a lot of plant starts, lol. I gotta get them out.

      1. HoundMom*

        I am very excited that my indoor lemon tree has bloomed. It was originally bought at a Florida airport as a twig for my youngest many years ago. It did well but then it looked like it was dead.

        Two years ago I made it a project to save and this is the first year with any blooms in four ir five years. I am attempting to pollinate by paintbrush. Wish me luck.

    7. Venus*

      Tomatoes need consistent temps at about 50F to get going. If your tulips are only getting started then it’s likely your tomatoes are waiting for warmer weather.

    8. Sloanicota*

      Actually I’d love to ask a gardening question from the group mind. I live in the Midatlantic and the grass on my lawn is different from what I’m used to in the Midwest. In winter, it turns totally brown and looks dead. But some time in the Spring, it greens up and becomes a normal-looking lawn. I actually think it’s kind of cool because I never waste water in the summer (I don’t water it) but it stays good even in the heat of summer, which kills everything else. So does this sound like a “warm season grass” or something? The reason I want to know is because when I overseed or re-seed a patch, I want to make sure it’s the same kind of grass. Thanks!!

      1. Venus*

        It would be difficult for anyone here to know. I suggest bringing a small sample (not a large section, just roots and all of a few blades of grass) to a local garden center and ask them if they know. Or find a local gardening group. Even if they can’t tell you an exact type they should know options that give you the same performance.

  34. Sharkbait*

    My cousin and her husband and kids live in another city. They come over once or twice a year and stay at their parents’ place, usually 2-3 weeks at a time. Cousin and her husband arrange to WFH during this period and leave her parents, my aunt and uncle, to do all childcare, cooking and cleaning – all day, every day. They do not even wash the dishes. Their kids are not easy to look after as they are spoiled and demanding. One kid is 8 and I saw him throw a tantrum because my aunt accidentally served a piece of carrot on his plate. He cried and raged until the adults made a big show of throwing away his plate of food and making him a new one, carrot free. He and his equally spoiled sibling frequently remind me of Dudley Dursley.

    I have said nothing to date because this isn’t my business and a part of the problem is that my aunt and uncle cannot say no. But as my aunt/uncle get older and enter into the elderly and vulnerable stage I am struggling to bite my tongue. They are in their mid 70s and have had some medical issues. At this stage of their life they are realistically not going to develop sudden boundaries. I feel like they are more in a stage where family members need to start looking out for them.

    If you were in this situation and this was your family, would you say something or stay out of it? What could you even say that politely communicates to the cousin that maybe, just maybe, she should start to be considerate of her elderly parents? 1

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I would stay 100% out of it (and probably be actively avoiding the cousin and her family entirely when she’s in town) because this is not my circus. To an extent I would be low on sympathy anyway to be honest – the parents raised the cousin, AND they choose to tolerate her and her family’s behavior repeatedly. I cannot save them from themselves.

      (That said, if cousin actually ASKED me why I never come over when they’re in town, I would answer her, and then she probably wouldn’t ask me again. I haven’t talked to any of my poorly-behaving relations in over ten years.)

    2. Sloanicota*

      If you want to help, and you’re there for this same week (which I assume you, to be making the observations) I’d suggest maybe renting a VRBO during this trip to get these people out of your aunt and uncle’s house, and either hiring help to clean or doing it with the family. But that’s likely more involved than you’re looking to be. You could suggest serving catered food, or offer to send some?

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      My experience with this sort of dynamic is:
      • The boundary-less never set boundaries
      • The boundary-trampling are extremely sure they are right, and not hearing any outside nonsense about how they are wrong

      I would stay out of it unless someone asks for your input. Then I would be honest.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I once witnessed the following:
        Boundary-trampling person got told off by another visiting family member for some bit of irresponsible dumping of her work on others. Had a rage meltdown, declared she was taking her family and LEAVING. After she left, boundary-less hosts expressed how relieved and grateful they were; rest of visit was peaceful.

        But no, the hosts were never going to say on their own “Hey, with Grandma’s literally struggling with severe fatigue as diagnosed by her doctor, which you know, having her wait on you hand and foot is not a good plan.” And the boundary-trampling were never going to hear a calm person preemptively explaining this so they could adjust how they treat the boundary-less to be more thoughtful and helpful. The rage meltdown I describe could have resulted in the rager locking herself in her bedroom for the next 4 days, rather than leaving.

        1. KatEnigma*

          That was miraculous. Usually the boundary free hosts yell at the truth teller for making their precious angry enough to take away the kids, and all the blame would be on LW, not the parent.

        2. Firebird*

          People with no/poor boundaries often thank me for speaking up after the fact. Then they start depending on me to be the Boundary Police for the group and I’m tired of it.

          One guy keeps telling me that he has my back, and I know that it means absolutely nothing, and that he just wants me to make all the effort. (Weirdly, this is the creepy incel that I had to shut down. He’s been trying to get my approval in front of the group and I Am Not Having It. I’m polite, but that’s all.)

          Now I stay out of it, even when they hint at me, to get involved. I’ll help with scripting and moral support, but I’m not doing it for them, unless it’s something that affects me, too.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I’d ask my aunt and uncle how they feel about the situation.

      If you want to empower them and center their needs, then start by centering and respecting their feelings. Don’t just decide for them what needs to be done, that’s just running roughshod over them in the other direction.

      They are adults, and while they may be getting tired, they are presumably im full possession of their faculties. Talk to them like adults.

    5. KatEnigma*

      Agree with everyone else. Even your aunt and uncle won’t appreciate the interference. Your cousin will be Offended and will throw a fit to rival the 8 yr olds, and your aunt and uncle will be mad at you for the drama caused. Just keep your mouth firmly shut.

    6. Samwise*

      Butt out. Unless your aunt and uncle are cognitively impaired, they are functioning adults and can speak for themselves.

      Don’t visit your aunt and uncle when the Dursleys visit.

  35. GardenGnomic*

    I work in a garden that’s open to the public. The border that I take care of is looking great! It’s mainly full of herbaceous perennials for Summer interest, but I’ve been gradually introducing some Winter and Spring-flowering plants to the mix.

    I started about 8 months ago, and have overhauled a few things – taking out some large laurel shrubs to create more space, moving a few things around, thinning out large patches where I had too much of the same plant, dividing tired perennials, increasing the variety of Winter interest, adding drifts of Spring bulbs to try and connect different sections of the border… It’s been a bit of a transformation. I’m currently waiting to see what type of daffodils are going to open up (I can’t rely on the labels to be accurate), and intrigued to see what look like tulips in some unexpected places.

    Now I’m waiting for all my seedlings to be ready to plant out (most are still in cell trays, but I might need to plant my Echinops next week, before their tap-roots burst through the 9cm biodegradeable pots that they’re in. Things are moving really quickly now that the temperatures are in the double-digits (Celsius).

    Meanwhile, I have discovered several patches of Bindweed, in addition to the large swathe of Ground Elder that I already knew about, plus a huge number of Cleavers, and all of the thousands of Allium seeds that fell to the ground while I was dead-heading have sprouted like a hairy green carpet and in amongst the crowns of my other perennials… Grrr!

    Hope this doesn’t get removed for being technically work-related, but I’m so proud of how it looks right now! It’ll be a good time to audit the beds and get new labels printed, now that identifiable shoots are emerging and things aren’t too tall for me to step in amongst them and get a good look.

    As far as my garden at home, it’s mostly a patch of gravel with lots of containers, but the Alpine plants are flowering beautifully, There are species Tulips and snakes-head fritillaries in my bulb container, the peach and cherry trees are in full blossom, and the redcurrant bush that got hollowed out by a wood-boring moth has sprouted new leaves emerging, so I’m hoping it might grow back rather nicely.
    I have about 40 small pots sown with seeds that I got from the Alpine Garden Society seed exchange, and they’ve nearly all germinated – especially the bulbous plants. The only challenge will be finding new space for them all for next Winter. I got a lot of tender Southern-hemisphere plants this year, so they’ll need to be kept frost-free. But I’m treating them mainly as an experiment – I haven’t really tried growing anything specialist from seed before, so I mainly went for stuff that I thought would withstand a little benign neglect.

    This really is my favourite time of year for how everything’s bursting back into life since the Winter. I feel like it’s giving me more energy, too!

    1. Maryn*

      We still have snow on the ground, but your post brought a smile at Spring having arrived where you are. Please come and garden at my place?

      But don’t bring your bindweed, okay? That stuff’s awful.

      1. Venus*

        Same. It reminds me that we won’t be covered in snow forever and spring will soon be here.

  36. Fitbit Luxe problems*

    Recently, my Fitbit Luxe has stopped tracking my entire walk. When I look at the map, it always misses the first leg of my walk. It is annoying. I’m assuming that because my correct miles/kms are not being recorded, this affects the accuracy of my pace. Does anyone know how to fix this?

    1. Just here for the scripts*

      We had that happen when we relied on its ability to automatically recognize a walk, bike ride etc. —once we started setting it as an exercise its accuracy was better.

      Also there are places where the Fitbit drops its signal. It’s happened to my husband’s in one area in Manhattan when we ride—so much so that we’ve changed our regular route. If such an area is your starting point, then you might just be SOL.

      Final thought: Hubby uses an android phone and has found that Fitbit doesn’t keep that up the way they do the iPhone version—but that might change now that they’re owned by Google. For the moment the lack of parity is driving him to research watches/trackers made by the same company as his phone.

      1. Fitbit Luxe problems**

        Thank you! I use an Android, too. I always chose the “Walk” exercise before I begin, and it worked all along, but now has suddenly stopped recording the first part of the walk. I, too, am so frustrated that I’m considering getting rid of the Luxe and getting something else that’ll work better. One of my goals is to continually try to increase my pace, but I question if it’s even being recorded properly.

        1. Just here for the scripts*

          It’s also possible that you need to update the app on your phone—hubby reminded me that my most recent walks didn’t register on it earlier this week until I did—even though the step number did and there was no update message on the phone app. He had to actually force an update (delete the app and then re-add it) to get it to work smoothly again—don’t r remember if he lost any data when he did it.

    2. Peter*

      I don’t use a fitbit but have you checked that there isn’t a disguise home location option on? That’s an anti-stalking option for Strava to avoid people knowing where you live.

  37. Bibliovore*

    I am sick of winter. We just had another snow storm.
    The Dr. told me this week that I have three more weeks of no weight bearing on my broken foot. That means boot AND crutches.
    Icing and elevation. NSAIDs.
    Please help.
    I need a distraction- new series (not a movie, I don’t have the band with)
    Last time I was like this, the commentary suggested the new Leverage and it was perfect.
    I have Apple plus, Paramount (for star trek) Disney, Netflix, and Hulu.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I forget where it is, but if any of those have Resident Alien with Alan Tudyk, it’s fantastic. A space alien is stuck on earth and forced to pretend he’s the town doctor and try to fit into the small rural town while he finds the missing parts for his spaceship and avoids the Men in Black.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I have not heard of this, but I love Alan Tudyk, so I will look for it! Thank you!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I was in the same position when I first heard of it and it is AMAZING. (Or at least, the first season is. There’s three, I think, and I haven’t gotten to the others yet.)

    2. GoryDetails*

      Much sympathy re your foot!

      Don’t know if this would appeal, but I found it surprisingly enjoyable: the “Glow Up” makeup-reality-contest series on Netflix. I’m not into makeup myself (though as a fantasy/SF fan and sometimes convention-goer I do love some good special-effect makeup), but really enjoyed this series, which includes challenges re more typical makeups as well as the over-the-top artistic and/or special-effect types. And for the most part the contestants seem to adore each other, which – whether nudged by the producers or not – is quite refreshing…

    3. Ochre*

      I don’t know if you can find it but we’ve been watching The Pretender (from the 1990s) on Prime. It’s…enjoyably bad? Is that a thing? (Is that a thing you might enjoy?).

    4. Ally*

      Assuming you’ve already seen Ted Lasso? If not, highly recommend for improving the blue days!!

      1. Bluebell*

        And if you are up for it, Shrinking is really wonderful, though the main character is working through grief after his wife dies. But it’s by the same creator as Ted Lasso and so funny.

        1. Bibliovore*

          hah! if you have been reading my postings over the last year, you may recall my grief counselor/concierge gives me tv watching assignments. The latest is Shrinking! It is so perfect!

          1. Bluebell*

            Yes – I’ve been reading your posts – that’s why I added that note! It is an amazing show- one that makes me laugh and tear up. When you are ready for movies, The Station Agent also gave me the same laugh/cry thing.

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      First: Best of luck on the recovery. Please be gentle with yourself.

      I do find it amusing. I love movies and don’t have the bandwidth for series.

      That said: on Netflix, we recently discovered La Legge di Lidia Poet – The Law According to Lidia Poet (Italy’s first woman lawyer.) Crime procedural plus costume drama with occasional “scandalous” love scenes, what’s not to love? Sadly, it’s only one season so far.

      I’ll echo the recommendation of Resident Alien with the national treasure that is Alan “I studied at Julliard” Tudyk.

      During my recent medical incident, I burned through Inside Job and Umbrella Academy, both on Netflix.

      And finally, I’ll say that if you have access: check out your local library system. We have watched so many series – both old and new – for free that way.

    6. sagewhiz*

      Three Pines, based on the Louise Penny books on Amazon, is excellent. Stars Alfred Molina. I’d never heard of the books and tuned in only when a dear friend told me about it, because all three of her grands are in it. When I finished the eight episodes I was soooo disappointed that was it. Even more so, as this week amazon announced the series wasn’t renewed.

      A couple of “oldies”:
      Bosch, also on Amazon, all eight seasons are superb (extra credi for all the lovely jazz).

      On Hulu, the first two seasons of Only Murders in the Building—Steve Martin & Martin Short are always a hoot. Nathan Lane guested season 1, Shirley McLaine season 2, Meryl Streep is in upcoming season 3!

      1. Workerbee*

        I had just been recommended the Three Pines series also and am itching to try it – I recently got into the Louise Penny books and am HOOKED like crazy. Even 8 episodes would be a treat (I hope – it is hard to get invested and then…that’s it).

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Thank you – I have watched almost a half dozen episodes of Only Murders in the Building this evening. So I will now second that one. :)

      3. coldbutcozie*

        Thirding Three Pines. The series deviates from the books with a thoughtful narrative spotlight on MMIW (for those not in Canada, that’s a common acronym for murdered and missing indigenous women).

    7. RagingADHD*

      Do you mind subtitles? I found Lupin and Capitani very engrossing. They are both on Netflix.

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

      I finally started watching Glow (the series– there’s a documentary that I think has the same name) on Netflix and LOVED it.

    9. Anono-me*

      I just started “The Great Interior Design Challenge ” from Great Britain and really like it.

      I like ‘New Tricks’, ‘Good Karma Hospital’*, ‘Eureka’, ‘The Indian Doctor’ (Especially the first season ) and ‘All Creatures Great and Small’. I sometimes enjoy ‘Hometown’ about renovations in smalltown MS. There is a new home disaster repair show called ‘911 Reno’ set in MN that I have heard good things about.

      *There is (what I think is) a very powerful story arch involving a widower and his grief. So you might want to be consiterate with yourself when watching it.

    10. I'm just here for the cats*

      if you haven’t found Ghosts yet on paramount+ check it out. season 2.is almost done. it’s hilarious. based on a BBC show of the same name.

      1. I take tea*

        If you can get your hands (eyes) on the BBC original, do watch that, it’s a delight.

    11. Lemonwhirl*

      We recently loved “Reboot”. It’s on Hulu and is about the rebooting of a 90s sitcom. The reboot involves a younger show runner being forced to partner with the originator of this sitcom, an generational hilarity ensues. But there’s so much more going on than that. (One thing to be advised of, the humor is quite filthy, but not mean or crass. But we watched it with our 12 year old and had a few regrets. :D But it really is so funny.)

      Also, you might enjoy “Poker Face” on Netflix. It’s about a woman who can always tell when someone is lying who is forced to go on the run. Two of the writers from Leverage worked on the show.

    12. Ghostlight*

      High school musical the musical the series on Disney+ is pretty fantastic. It’s really really meta and self-aware and it’s fun escape itself. There are three seasons now and it should last you at least two or three days.

      Also, the behind the rise series on Disney+ is great. It’s 10 episodes I think.

      I will try and think of some others as well

    13. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Star Wars on Disney+. There are movies and tv series, and lots of both. Will keep you occupied for quite a while.

  38. Sloanicota*

    We have large family gatherings where everybody comes from all over the country to stay for a week. The food situation used to be pretty easy, but in the past few years has gotten tricky: we have some vegans and at least one person who has celiac (must be gluten free) and mostly eats meat. We used to all prepare large shared meals but personally I think that time has gone and we may need to have people prepare for themselves. However, I’m willing to try and think what meals could be made sort of deconstructed and then people put together their own (so, tacos with some GF tortillas and lots of toppings). I also am on a rice-quinoa-lentil kick, so I can think of some bean salads I can offer. I suspect the “middle of the road” people won’t be so happy with this offering though. Any other suggestions from the group mind?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Pasta bar, taco/nacho bar, baked potato bar, sandwich bar.

      Salad bar maybe, with grilled chicken for the carnivores?

      Build your own pizza on English muffins, naan, tortillas or whatever.

      If you trust your crew to be careful, you could do a night of dips – queso, spinach artichoke, hummus, etc, with a variety of dippers, but everyone has to dip off their own plate.

      Breakfast spread? Pancakes with a few toppings, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, tater tots, fruit – you can get GF pancake mix.

      You’ll probably want to assign someone trustworthy to watch folks to make sure they don’t cross contaminate the utensils and such, and the GF person gets first crack through the line just in case.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Burger night – hamburgers, turkey burgers, black bean burgers (do these on the grill first if you’re doing them on the same, but we do the veg*n burgers on the stovetop when we do grill nights just to be safe). Chips and/or salads to go with, just label everything.

    2. HannahS*

      Middle Eastern spread:
      Falafel (buy frozen and reheat in oven)
      Grilled kebabs (can do meat and veg)
      Tahini sauce, hot sauce
      Salad (either chopped veg or tabbouleh or big lettuce salad)

    3. Not A Manager*

      I suggest that the people who have very specific dietary needs make or bring several largish batches of versatile food/ingredients that work for them. Other people continue the tradition of making shared meals (if that’s a pleasure for you, as it is in our family). Meals can continue to be shared dining/cooking events, but also ensure that people who can’t eat everything can always eat something.

      When it’s your turn to make or plan a shared meal, be sure that at least some of the dishes meet the specialized requirements, but you don’t have to plan a full meal around everyone’s specialization. When it’s meal time, people who can’t eat everything on the table can round out their meal with whatever they specially made or brought with them. If possible, they should make enough of that so other people can taste a small bit, but everyone knows that this is not communal food.

      The person with celiac might need to be more rigorous about their special food, but this system should work in general to allow everyone to have some kind of communal dining experience.

    4. Pop*

      This is definitely doable with a “make your own” (fill in the blank) situation. Red Reader has some great ideas. Similar:

      Mediterranean night – bowls w options to have quinoa, salad greens, chicken, roasted chickpeas, feta, olives, cucumber tomato salad, tahini or tzatziki sauce
      Food on the grill – grill a bunch of Meat and veggies, side salad, nice loaf of bread
      Chili – make veg chili, make meat on the side for folks to add (this works well with sausage in particular – easy to cook and cut up and add on top), then have toppings of cheese, sour cream, green onions
      Vermicelli bowls – rice noodles, raw veggies (peppers, carrots, cucumbers), dressing, herbs, tofu, shrimp
      Soup night – one vegan soup and one meat GF soup.

      We do stuff like this every week in my extended family where people can make their own plate (vegan in a family of omnivores with a picky person and some kids) and it works out really well.

    5. KatEnigma*

      Yes, the middle of the road people will complain. At least until the first time it happens, and then they will rave about how awesome an idea that baked potato bar was.

      I once had to plan a “welcome newcomers” dinner for our church. Because the Pastor’s fiancee had celiac’s and we were welcoming her, I insisted on everything being GF. OMG, the push back I got for suggesting a baked potato bar. Why did EVERYTHING have to be GF. Why couldn’t we just order the usual “hot ham and rolls” and she didn’t have to eat the rolls (well, aside from the celiac issue, I was sick to death of hot ham and rolls for every event!) My co organizer was in a panic because I stressed that she had to read labels on even the hot dogs she wanted to get to go inside the potatoes, because they sneak gluten into everything. I personally brought a container of my homemade chili out of the freezer because I knew every single item that went into it was fresh, no additives – and it wasn’t a GF kitchen, but I ASKED to make sure she wasn’t so sensitive that a little cross contamination from my utensils wouldn’t cause her problems. I also personally made a GF cheesecake for dessert.

      Afterwards, everyone raved about how awesome everything was. We repeated the same after I suggested that a large funeral dinner should have a vegetarian option, so I personally provided vegetable lasagna along with the meat variety. I got push back. And then when the leftover lasagnas were served the next day at coffee hour, guess which one disappeared and people raved over?

      People get ideas in their head about what GF or Vegan entails and tastes like. And I agree about a lot of the substitution stuff that pretends to be a replica of a food that doesn’t fit into the dietary plan is awful. But using FRESH ingredients, you can always make delicious food.

    6. just another queer reader*

      I’m taking notes for my family gatherings!

      A few more ideas:

      – bibimbap (Korean rice bowl with lots of veggies, meat/tofu, eggs, and delicious spicy sauce)
      – veggie fried rice (optional tofu, eggs, or chicken)
      – chana masala, or other curries or stews featuring beans/lentils

    7. Ellis Bell*

      My first thought would be does your celiac relative need a gluten free kitchen? Some people are so sensitive they can’t even let bread inside their house. It might be worth a section or separate food prep area at least. My own favourite dish to make as a gluten free person happens to be vegan; Pineapple Curry made with roasted pineapple and butternut squash in coconut milk. It’s delicious, and what I make for special occasions. I am a big fan of people asking me about food before occasions because often it’s really one or two tweaks that I can help them out with, like a roast dinner is naturally gluten free aside from the gravy and it’s way easier for me to bring some instant gf gravy because I have it and know which brand doesn’t suck. Same with gf wraps and flatbread. I’d consider some buffet style things so you can provide options rather than one thing for everyone: so you can have some staples like salsa, corn chips, guacamole, hummus next to different flatbreads and a couple of lentil dhals, Spanish potato omlette, griddled aubergine and mushrooms etc.

      1. KatEnigma*

        I think all instant gravy sucks! ROFL I prefer to just use corn starch or potato starch in lieu of flour. I promise to read the labels to make sure it’s really GF!

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I make amazing gravy with cornflour but a lot of people, even when they use cornflour, use a non gf stock cube. It’s really tricky to trust other people to get that right.

          1. KatEnigma*

            My gravy consists of drippings, water, and usually corn starch because wheat flour has to be cooked longer and I’m lazy that way, salt, and pepper. Sub milk for water if I’m making a milk gravy. That’s the way my grandmother and mother have always made gravy- nothing processed except the thickener. I also hate the taste of those cubes- too salty! If I did want to use stock, I’d get out the frozen container out of my freezer whose only ingredients are water and chicken/turkey carcass, but usually the drippings from the bottom of the roasting pan are more than sufficient to flavor the gravy.

              1. KatEnigma*

                It’s a lot easier to cook for food allergies and restrictions if you cook from scratch. Our everyday eating is pretty simple, because, again, it doesn’t take much effort and time to broil or grill a protein and microwave a bag of steam-in-bag veggies. Garlic salt is my go-to seasoning. I wouldn’t have to do anything other than make sure the bread my SIL brings to our Easter dinner next week is safely away from the rest of the food to include a GF sensitivity, because even our big Easter dinner is simple and fresh ingredients. The more processed and “shortcuts” you use in a meal, ironically, the more work it often is! I don’t want to have to fuss or stress over meals where I’ve invited guests

        1. Ellis Bell*

          This serves four; You need one butternut squash cut into chunks and 250g pineapple chunks. Drizzle with olive oil and roast the squash for 30 minutes at 220c. Add the pineapple to the squash tray for a further 10 minutes until golden. Fry one onion chopped and one crushed garlic clove (we are onion sensitive, so we just use some leek for this bit of the recipe). Add two cans of coconut milk, a tablespoon of tamari (or gluten free soy sauce), and a tablespoon of tamarind paste. Then add a teaspoon each of turmeric, coriander and ground cardamom and a tablespoon of honey. Simmer for ten minutes until spices are absorbed. Add the roasted pineapple and squash and simmer for a further ten minutes. At this point you can also add green beans and cashews, though it’s perfectly good without. If you have a guest who absolutely must eat meat with everything, it’s super easy to add some cooked chicken at this point to some of the sauce in a smaller pan. Serve over rice with fresh coriander leaves and a squeeze of lime.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I just bought a bunch of NYX pencils– the retractable mechanical long-lasting– and I’ve been really impressed. I have oily under-eye skin and I’m super puffy at times. This stuff has stayed put pretty well and it’s not at all expensive. I used to use Cover Girl exclusively but recently came home every evening with huge under-eye smudges.

    2. PollyQ*

      Urban Decay’s are bulletproof — you can sleep in them with no smudging. They are kinda pricy though.

    3. Valancy Snaith*

      Maybelline Tattoo Studio gel liner. A minute or so to dry and it stays put all day. It’s a little annoying to sharpen but works great.

  39. Baby gift*

    I’m going to see a neighbor friend today for the first time since she told me she was pregnant with her 3rd. They found out yesterday that it’s a boy (her other two were girls and she was certain this one was too).

    What’s a nice gift to bring along? It doesn’t have to be baby related, since I’m bringing one of my kids over there for a playdate, but I thought it would be a nice gesture. Otherwise I can just bring food :)

    1. I heart Paul Buchman*

      For acquaintances I always gift baby socks. They are cute, cheap and it doesn’t matter how many they already have. Ditto singlets and bibs.

      I also take something small for the older children. Bubble mix, packet of pencils and colouring book, a ball. It can be hard on little ones when a younger sibling makes an appearance and jealousy over attention never helps.

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

      For the middle child, maybe Joanna Cole’s *I’m a Big Sister* so she can get used to the idea that she’s going to be switching roles a bit.

  40. NoSoCal*

    Lunch tote/pail help!

    I am in need of a new lunch pail for caring and keeping things cold, both personal and for the thing we don’t talk about on weekends. Any recommendations for a high-quality/quasi-stylish model?

    I found that just having a shoulder strap doesn’t work well. Totes seem best, but I’m often carrying multiple items so any thoughts here would help.

    1. Lilo*

      I don’t know if this fits your needs but my son has this little bento box that comes with a removable ice tray. you can easily slide it into a purse.

    2. KatEnigma*

      Does it have to be small? We’ve switched to an insulated back pack for the family.

      My son also has a stainless steel bento box that fits into an insulated lunch box. In theory, it keeps the foodstuffs away from the plastic fabric and should in theory keep the lunchbox itself from getting yucky and smelly. Well, maybe if he was older… LOL But the stainless bento is awesome, regardless.

    3. Reba*

      I really like my Rareform small cooler bag. LL Bean’s insulated tote has multiple straps and multiple sizes.

  41. HannahS*

    Talk to me about your Passover menu! We are accommodating a number of dietary preferences and it’s kind of ridiculous but here’s ours, for six adults and one toddler:

    Chicken soup and veg soup with matzah balls and spelt matzah balls. Salad plate with green veg and eggs, charoset, maror (like a mini seder plate minus the zroa.) Steak, brisket, salmon, roasted vegetables, potato kugel, asparagus. Fruit, meringues, almond cookies, kamish.

    We’re hosting for the first time, though my mom is doing over half the cooking.

    1. Elle*

      Good luck! I’m in the hunt for a good Passover stuffing recipe to go with Turkey breast. Something that doesn’t involve a lot of mushrooms. Per tradition I’ll be buying a chocolate cake mix that makes the gloppiest gooiest cake for dessert.

      1. rr*

        Matzo stuffing. Sautee vegetables (we do like a lot of mushrooms, but I’m sure you don’t have to use them – but we used onions, mushrooms and some celery, though very finely chopped), use slotted spoon to decant vegetables into big bowl (depending how much you use), so that you don’t take all the oil with the vegetables, and then season with dry herbs/spices and/or broth. Run matzo under hot running water (have vegetable bowl nearby, as matzo crumbles when wet) and mix it into vegetables until you have the right ratio. Which is enough that the stuffing holds together, but isn’t too much either. I know that is probably of limited help, but it really depends on how much is in the bowl of vegetables/how wet it is. The matzo should still be in pieces – not crumbs too. Also why the bowl of vegetables should be nearby when you wet the matzo.

        This is my favorite stuffing in the world, though again, mushrooms. When we made it, we made it for Thanksgiving too. Bakes beautifully.

          1. rr*

            Ah, I forgot, add the seasonings/broth after the matzo, not before. That way, the matzo gets seasoned too and more mixed in. And if you find it has too much liquid still, you can just slowly adjust it, by adding one wet piece of matzo at a time and mixing until it is where it should be. Sorry, it unfortunately has been a while.

      2. Another Jewish Commenter*

        I gotta ask – how do you make the gloppiest gooiest kosher for Passover chocolate cake? When I made chocolate cake from KP cake mix, it came out so dry.

        1. Elle*

          The crappy frosting is always so gloopy. it’s not a great cake but when I was growing up it was the only time we were allowed junk food, boxed cake mixes, etc. It’s the taste of Passover for me.

          1. Another Jewish Commenter*

            Haha, I totally get it. KP cake holds a special nostalgic place in my heart too.

    2. kina lillet*

      I’m doing a vegetarian menu for the seder I’m hosting, but it’s hard to design because every Asheknazi feasting bone in my body says “have a meat centerpiece.” Lots from the Ottolenghi Simple cookbook—roasted tomatoes over yogurt, herby salad with toasted almonds, roasted squash with goat cheese, nuts and pomegranate molasses, carrots & harissa, mushrooms braised in olive oil.

      And, making Nigella Lawson’s whole clementine cake for my family seder. I really love that recipe—it’s got literally five ingredients, tastes wonderful, is GF, and keeps well so can be premade.

      1. Elle*

        I have always wanted to make that clementine cake but it slips my mind. Her cakes are fantastic. I ended up buying Streigts stuffing and gravy mix, along with a box cake and icing mix. Hoping for so bad it’s good.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      We’re doing a restaurant seder for the first night and for the second it’s going to be very, very small. I’ll probably do matzo ball soup (Pati Jinich’s recipe for Mexican mushroom matzo ball soup, I love it), tzimmes, some green vegetable, matzo casserole with mushrooms and artichoke hearts. Chocolate-covered matzo (of course!) and maaaaaaaybe a pavlova if I’m feeling industrious. This coming week will be my last of unemployment so I’ll have plenty of time, I just need motivation.

      I also have to make a ton of food because we’re traveling to a wedding next weekend in a place where we won’t be able to get much K for P food and the hosts aren’t providing anything for us. (There is DRAMA associated with this.) We’re very lucky to live in a big city that has Passover options, so I’m getting a ton of soups and quinoa salads delivered (we do that every year) and that also helps me relax in terms of seder menus– if I run out of time or inclination, I can always serve carrot soup!

    4. Roland*

      Vegetarian here – I’ve done a roast beet for the zroa when I’ve hosted. For my own centerpiece, lentil shepherd’s pie, but at others’ house I’ll just make do with sides. Tori Avey has an amazing recipe for vegetarian chopped liver that I make every year even if I’m not hosting.

    5. Bluebell*

      Well, I’m super impressed! For better or for worse our gluten free friend isn’t coming, and I’m working around one friend with a few dietary needs. Plus we are pescatarian. menu is matzoh ball soup, vegetarian chopped liver, salmon roasted with lemon and rosemary, butternut squash kugel, mashed potatoes with kale, maybe a green salad, and fruit, flourless chocolate cake, and macaroons for dessert. The veg chopped liver, kugel, and potatoes are all premade. As is the flourless chocolate cake, and macaroons. Guests are bringing drinks and fruit. It looked like there might have been a group of guests for a second night, but I just heard they have other plans so I will be trying to figure out whether I really need to do two seders this year.

    6. Elle*

      The grocery store had the largest can of gefilte fish in jellied sauce I have ever seen. It was Costco sized. I was horrified.

    7. Not A Manager*

      Chopped liver, homemade gefilte fish, matzah ball soup, Ottolenghi chicken thighs cooked with clementines, potato kugel, somethingsomething vegetables, flourless chocolate torte.

      Isn’t spelt chametz?

      1. HannahS*

        Haha yes, the spelt thing tripped me up too, but of course matzah meal is wheat so…
        Is your flourless choco cake pareve? I’m on the lookout for good pareve desserts.

        1. Not A Manager*

          No, it’s not. I usually substitute coconut oil or avocado oil for the butter, but to account for the liquid content of butter I eyeball something like 80:20 oil to water (or some other liquid) in place of the butter. This works very well for recipes that involve melting the butter instead of creaming it, and for recipes that don’t call for that much butter to begin with.

        2. Imtheone*

          If nuts are not an issue, you can make a nut torte. No flour. The nits are ground to a flour-like consistency. We used to do it ourselves, but can now buy readymade almond flour.

    8. E*

      I’m ovolacto veg and having a celiac friend over so it’ll be a light and spring-y menu, frittata and roasted potatoes and asparagus. Going to try to make coconut macaroons for the first time this year!

  42. General Organa*

    I’m getting married this fall, and we’ll be honeymooning in Italy, focused on Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast. Does anyone have any recommendations? I’m particularly thinking of restaurants, wineries, and hotels; there’s such an abundance of options that it’s kind of overwhelming. Thanks!

    1. M&M Mom*

      We just came back from a trip to Florence and Siena. We stayed in Siena for two nights, staying at a small B&B that was in the center of the old city. Went to an amazing restaurant named Campo Cedro which is an Italian restaurant with Asian influences. Also from Siena, we booked a a half day winery tour called “Castles and Chianti” using Get Your Guide which was a lot of fun. Enjoy your trip!

    2. Bluebell*

      It’s been many many years since I’ve been to Italy, but I still fondly remember San Giminiano in the Tuscany region. They have these beautiful towers, and their wine, Vernaccia, is excellent. Not sure about wineries near there. I’ve never been to the Amalfi coast, but a friend of mine honeymooned there, and had a wonderful time. I did think the isle of Capri was gorgeous, and I stayed in Sorrento but that may not fit in your schedule. Siena was beautiful.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Have a few days in Florence, and stay in the old city. You won’t need (or want) a car–it’s narrow cobblestoned lanes full of pedestrians. If museums are your jam, get tickets to the Uffizi in advance.

      Pisa is an easy day trip by train from Florence. And pretty much has the leaning tower, but that is way more impressive out in meat space than it seemed in little 2×3 photos, and I wound up being glad we included it.

      1. KatEnigma*

        I will say, I could easily skip Pisa again. I mean, my son has never been, so we might go once for him but that’s it.

        But I totally forgot about Lucca! THAT is worth a trip to- we went to Pisa in the morning, and Lucca in the afternoon on our family trip. I’m not alone in this thought, because a few years later, my husband’s uncle rented a house for a month for the family to drop in and out for whatever days they could manage, and he rented that house in Lucca.

    4. BadCultureFit*

      The Anantara Convento Di Amalfi Grand Hotel in Amalfi. The single most stunning place I’ve ever stayed.