weekend open thread – March 4-5, 2023

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: Happy All the Time, by Laurie Colwin. Best friends each fall in love and navigate courtship and marriage alongside each other. Funny and charming.

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

{ 1,005 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. anna*

    Reading thread! What are you reading?

    I just finished Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune and loved it. Would welcome similar recommendations from anyone who’s familiar with it.

    1. Jackalope*

      I’m working my way through Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. I finally got it after months being on the hold list at the library. I almost always love her stuff, and I’m enjoying it (I’ve made it halfway), but it’s very LONG and feels like it’s moving slowly.

        1. Jackalope*

          Yeah, that’s part of my problem too. I used to work with kids who were, while not in the foster system exactly (it was in a non-USA country), had to deal with some of the same issues. It’s reminding me a lot of my kids, in some ways that are painful. And I appreciate Charles Dickens but he’s not my favorite, so a retelling of one of his books isn’t my favorite. I’m pretty sure I read David Copperfield ages and ages ago, but I didn’t remember it so I went to look up the plot on Wikipedia and she’s following it pretty closely. Some adjustment, some modernization of names, but very close.

      1. word nerd*

        I really enjoyed the well-narrated audiobook version, and the format fits well with the first-person narration–perhaps that would move more quickly for you? (Caveat: I think I listened to this one at 2.7x speed.)

    2. Bluebell*

      Here to say that Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin is one of my all time faves. So glad Alison picked it. I read two very different books this week -a snappy romance by Elissa Sussman called Funny You Should Ask, and Something Wild, by Hanna Halperin, which centers on domestic violence. A Lady’s Guide to Fortune Hunting is Next on the list.

      1. AY*

        I’m reading a new book that is a pretty open homage Laurie Colwin. The epigraph is from Happy All the Time, and I read an interview with the author about how he wanted to channel Colwin. It’s called Vintage Contemporaries by Dan Kois, and I’m finding it to be incredibly charming so far.

        1. Autumn*

          I love Colwin, and will be reading this asap. However, the title is like a prank on librarians, because of course searching for it just – brings up all the Vintage Contemporaries! Ha.

        2. the cat's ass*

          Yay for Laurie Colwin! She is definitely missed. I’ll def look up Vintage Contemporaries and another book that is v Colwinesque is “Beginner’s Greek” by James Collins.

          1. takeachip*

            I loved Beginner’s Greek! I keep hoping for another book by the same author. Will have to check out Laurie Colwin now.

        3. Bluebell*

          Good to hear. I’m on the waitlist for that book. I feel like Cathleen Schine has a Colwin vibe, particularly at the beginning of Schine’s career.

    3. Festively Dressed Earl*

      I finished Hench not too long ago, and while it was hilarious, it was also unexpectedly thought provoking. Did anyone else have the same reaction?

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I read Hench for the first time a month or two ago (after seeing it recommended here a lot), and I had the same reaction. I also liked how well-thought-out the superheroes and villains were, both in terms of superpowers and also in terms of world-building (how do they make money? how do they react emotionally to the different relationships in their lives? all things that comic books and superhero movies usually gloss over).

        1. Festively Dressed Earl*

          I couldn’t stop thinking about how much collateral damage was allowable in order to prevent more collateral damage. Is it okay to sacrifice 10 lives if you figure it will probably save 20 lives somewhere down the road? Where do you draw that line?

      2. GoryDetails*

        I enjoyed Hench too – and while it wasn’t the first time I’d thought about how some superheroes seem to get a free pass re collateral damage, the novel took it much farther.

        Another book on the flaws of comic-book-style superfolk: THE SIDEKICKS INITIATIVE by Barry J. Hutchison, in which all those orphans who become the wards and sidekicks of superfolk get their stories told. (It’s got a lot of dark humor – and some extreme comic-book violence, though Hench had some of that as well – just fyi.)

        1. MyCarIsMauve*

          Also finished Hench after it was recommended here! Oh the use of the verb “squelch” always gets me. I really enjoyed it and it was a book that made me happy and excited to get to my reading chair. Thanks for the recommendations and keep them coming.

        1. Festively Dressed Earl*

          Natalie Walschots. I added this to my reading list after a recommendations bender about a month ago, and it took me 4 bookstores to find a copy. Just FYI.

      3. Festively Dressed Earl*

        BTW, there’s a sequel on the way this fall! It’s aptly titled Right Hand.

    4. Meghan*

      I’m starting Horrorstör and I’m LOVING it. It’s a horror story that takes place in a fake ikea and the book is like an ikea catalogue. Weird horror workplace novel, but fun!

      1. Pamela Adams*

        After Horrorstör try FINNA and DEFEKT by Nino Cipri. What if IKEA led to alternate worlds?

        1. Jackalope*

          Wait; are you saying that IKEA DOESN’T lead to alternate worlds?? Worldview shattered.

      2. GoryDetails*

        Horrorstör was fun in a creepy way! (It’s by Grady Hendrix, author of Final Girl Support Group and The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, btw; I liked both of those a bit better.)

      3. GoryDetails*

        For more weird-horror-workplace-novel action: Ramsey Campbell’s THE OVERNIGHT takes place in a failing strip-mall bookstore, with new management forcing draconian measures to try and get the shop up to snuff – but no matter how the employees try, they come in to find books out of order or actually damp and damaged, weird things happen to the computer system and lights and door-locks… It mixes the real-world headaches of running a bookshop with some increasingly eldritch horrors. Fun times!

    5. Jamie Starr*

      I’m about half way through Mexican Gothic (Silvia Moreno-Garcia).

      To the person last week who was looking for book recommendations with sentient houses as a character; I think you could add Mexican Gothic to that list.

      1. Vio*

        Wasn’t me who asked but it looks interesting and the Kindle version is only £0.99 on amazon UK at the moment so I’ll try it out. Thanks.

      2. JustForThis*

        That was me! Thank you!!

        For those also interested in the trope: I’ve read Charlie Holmberg’s _Keeper of Enchanted Rooms_ and Jenny Schwartz’s _The House that Walked Between the Worlds_ this week, and both feature (very different) houses as communicating characters.

        And a special thank you to the person who recommended Nnedi Okorafor’s “Mother of Invention” — it’s a fascinating short story (though it left me a bit uneasy).

        1. Vio*

          If you haven’t already then I’d recommend The Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and House Of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

        2. Taquito*

          I’d try Thistlefoot by GennaRose Nethercott. It’s a modern day Baba Yaga retelling and the house is a main character.

      3. I*

        Wasn’t around last week – but Sarah Gailey’s “Just Like Home” falls into the sentient house thing. As does, I think, Cassandra Khaw’s novella “Nothing But Blackened Teeth”. Both are definitely horror takes.

        1. Bluebell*

          I think Just Like Home and Mexican Gothic would be an excellent “nope that’s ok, I don’t want to house hunt” treatment. They would both be very tough to adapt to films. Great reads, though.

    6. sewsandreads*

      I’m in a Gilded Age thrall at the moment, so working my way through an old favourite — My Last Duchess by Daisy Goodwin. I’m blaming my recent Downton rewatch for this current interest!

    7. RedinSC*

      I’ve got a couple books going.

      Horse by Geraldine Brooks. Well Witten so far. About half way through

      The Dictionary of lost words by Pup Williams also enjoying it.

    8. Christa*

      I’ve just finished Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li and I really liked it. The writing style got a bit annoying after a while, but the story and the characters are great and well make up for it.

    9. AcademiaNut*

      Working my way through the Vlad Taltos series by Steven Brust. It’s a highly enjoyable read, with a wonderfully snarky lead character and individual books that are a fairly quick read.

    10. Lifelong student*

      Just finished “The Lost Apothecary” and started “The Orphan Train” Both acquired by hand me down and quite good.

    11. fposte*

      I just finished Strong Female Character by Fern Brady. It’s nonfiction, by a Scottish comedian but more often heartbreaking than funny as it’s the story of her dealing with undiagnosed autism through her childhood and her challenge in finding any adult and female-focused guidance not only along the way but after diagnosis. (That being said, she’s doing fine, just really wants other people not to have gone through what she did.)

    12. Lemonwhirl*

      I’m reading “Remarkably Bright Creatures” by Shelby Van Pelt. It’s about a woman who befriends an octopus, but it’s much more than that. It’s a really lovely, well-written exploration of life and loss.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I really enjoyed this one too. The audiobook has the best narration for Marcellus (sp?) and did make me laugh out loud at points.

    13. the cat's pajamas*

      I’m listening to The Halloween Moon by Joseph Fink for fun. It’s a middle grades book I found through his other work. Kind of like Welcome to Night Vale, but for kids.
      The audiobook is narrated by Kevin R Free of WTNV and the narrator of the Murderbot Diaries. BTW, f you like Murderbot and haven’t listened to the audiobooks, they are amazing. He captures the snark perfectly.

      1. word nerd*

        +1. Love Kevin R Free’s narration for Murderbot. Already growing impatient for the next Murderbot book, sigh.

    14. Filosofickle*

      This morning I’m sitting down (in bed, naturally) with one of my childhood favorites, Ballet Shoes. Haven’t read a kid/YA book in a long time but thought it might be a balm.

      1. Rara Avis*

        I like the film adaptation with Emma Watson as the oldest Fossil. It’s pretty true to the book.

      2. I take tea*

        I like Ballet Shoes too! The realism of working in the arts is good, not always fun, and sometimes you need to take the job you don’t want to make money. And the dynamic among the sisters feels real.

        1. Filosofickle*

          I wasn’t sure how it would land 35 years later but it held up really well! I have the whole Shoes series to re-read.

          I was a little sad that Pauline feels she has to take the Hollywood gig she doesn’t want to support her little sister’s dreams so my head canon is that Pauline finds she loves film acting after all. It would have been nice if true sequels had been written for their stories. Petrova especially, she’s my favorite.

    15. Excel-sior*

      I’m making my way through Jeff VanderMeer’s City of Saints & Madmen. Really enjoyed the first few stories, but the tail end is difficult to get into.

    16. GoryDetails*

      Some entertaining non-fiction, including:

      YEAR OF THE COW by Jared Stone, about a man who wants to do more ethical eating – and buys an entire steer’s worth of grass-fed beef. The book mixes various recipes and cooking techniques with personal memoirs about his young family, excursions with friends, etc., and I found it very entertaining indeed.

      FOIE GRAS AND TRUMPETS by Charles Neilson Gattey is a collection of anecdotes (historical and personal) about famous restaurants, chefs, and musicians, all centered around the enjoyment of food.

      And on audiobook, I stumbled across KIPPS: The Story of a Simple Soul, which was the inspiration for the stage musical “Half a Sixpence” – and which, to my astonishment, was written by H. G. Wells. I knew he wrote things other than his fantasy/science-fiction novels, but hadn’t expected that kind of whimsical slice-of-life.

    17. ecnaseener*

      I just finished Hench, thanks to everyone on this site who recommended it (and shared that crossover fanfic)! It was great fun.

      Keeping this vague and non-spoilery, I can’t decide how I feel about the ending – the whole second half of the book I kept wondering what it was building to and what a satisfying ending could be, hoping it would be something I hadn’t thought of that would really blow me away, and it wasn’t that. But not every story can have one of those endings.

    18. Hiring Mgr*

      I’m reading “The Gentle Souls Revolution”, which is a non-fiction account of a woman getting drawn into and then getting out of a cult. Very interesting

    19. Rosyglasses*

      I read that a few weeks ago – it’s beautiful! His other work The House in the Cerulean Sea is also gorgeous but slightly different. I’m looking forward to his new book that comes out soon. I’m not sure I can think of good books that are similar – maybe Matt Haig’s Humans or Midnight Library? I’ll keep an eye on this thread to see what folks also recommend.

    20. Helvetica*

      I read Pablo Neruda’s “Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair”, which was beautiful. He is one of my favourite poets and those specifically capture this essence of yearning and hurting.
      Favourite stanza: “I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.” So simple, so elegant, so evocative.

    21. germank106*

      I’m working my way through “The School of Mirrors” by Eva Stachniak. It’s the story of a young french girl that gets groomed to be King’s mistress. I’m just about 50 pages in but so far I like it.

    22. Rosyglasses*

      I just got quite a few books in the mail and am trying to settle down to some sort of order. Currently I have a few books going concurrently:

      The Chinese Question by Mae Ngai – an academic investigation into the Gold Rush across the globe in the 1800s and the misinformed tropes about Chinese immigrants during this time period, as well as global politics.

      Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (I really enjoyed A Gentleman in Moscow a few years ago and am reading up past Kindle purchases!)

      Men Without Women by Ernest Hemingway – a short story collection

      On the nightstand getting ready to dive in this month is Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

  3. Albert "call me Al" Ias*

    I live in Florida. I’m thinking it might be time to leave this state. I’m not comfortable with some recent political decisions that are being made by our state legislature.

    I’m still at the very beginning of thinking about this, but trying to narrow down places that might be good to move to. My job will likely let me go remote, and the company I work for has a presence in most of the US (and most other countries also, but an international move is difficult). Her job is not as flexible, although maybe remote is a possibility.

    My wife and I (I’m male) have a 2 year old and a 6 month old. Good schools are a must. Seasons would be nice, although I grew up in Michigan and went to school in upstate/Central new York, so I’d prefer a place with more mild winters. We have family in Michigan, Florida, Arkansas, and Missouri, do would like to be someplace with good air travel options. We’d also like to be in a smaller city, probably 500,000 or less.

    I’m thinking about moving because of politics, but I’m not overly political. I don’t care if I move to a red or a blue state, but I’d like a place where the 2 major parties generally work together (I know, wishful thinking these days)

    Any opinions and advice would be appreciated.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m in Indianapolis – the state is overall red but lots of blue islands, mostly (but not entirely) around college towns. Winters are more mild than Michigan (also a Troll here, my family is still in Lansing), this year we’ve actually only had snow twice. My folks actually come down to Indy when they fly places (rather than the Lansing, Detroit or GR airports) because the airport is pretty nice and has a fairly good range of destinations. (Lansing airport is limited and the other two are far enough away that if they’re going to drive they might as well come see me and just park at my house.) Indy itself is hit or miss on schools; I don’t have kids but live in a pretty well rated district. I have friends in Lafayette (about an hour north) who are happy with their kids’ schools, including accommodations and support for kids who need it. I believe our cost of housing specifically is pretty notably lower than most of Florida, due to not having hurricanes to drive up the insurance costs (or any other notable environmental hazards really – I’ve also only heard one tornado warning since I moved here ten years ago).

      The state doesn’t have the politics I’d prefer, but I find it generally a decent place to live.

      1. the Viking Diva*

        Wouldn’t recommend Indiana to people of childbearing age who want to decide their own reproductive freedom… or who want family members of any gender to be able to receive gender-affirming health care….

    2. AnonForThis123*

      The winters thing is tough because many of the more “liberal” states are in the Northeast. (i.e. NY, NJ, CT, MA). Maybe Maryland on the east coast (winters aren’t as bad and I believe they are left of center, at least they were when I lived there some years ago). California also has pretty much any kind of weather you want depend on where you go if you are looking west.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Maryland is blue-purple; the legislature is solidly blue, but we’ve gone back and forth on governors. DC and Baltimore are in the 5-700K range, but we usually do get a bitter cold stretch during the winter. We certainly meet Al’s air travel criteria, with BWI, and Dulles and National airports just minutes away from MD. And the school system is quite good, especially in the more $$$ suburban counties.

        Come to think of it, Norfolk and Richmond, VA are further south, and might have milder winters, but I don’t know what the airports are like there.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          I explain our previous governor as Maryland’s Mitt Romney. There is a certain sort of Democratic voter who will vote for a “moderate” Republican for governor and feel good about being bipartisan. Hogan was a classic fit to the mold, being “moderate” in affect. And in fairness, he did not actively try to kill his constituents, which nowadays is notable in Republican governors. To a large extent, the voters have this luxury because the legislature is overwhelmingly Democratic, with an ample supermajority to override vetoes.

          It seems like Maryland would be a good fit for the poster, with the proviso to be aware of the state’s demographics. To be blunt, avoid the eastern shore. That is where the crazies dominate. Western Maryland also trends red, but is generally less aggressively crazy. I live in Carroll County. The county-wide offices are all held by Republicans, but mostly of the sort that understand that good schools are desirable and that potholes won’t fix themselves. And the county seat is a mini-island of blue, with an actual lesbian mayor. The local Republicans tried to make an issue of this. She not only won, but by a surprisingly large margin. I have never been more proud.

        2. violet*

          Perhaps consider Howard County, Baltimore County, or Montgomery County, MD for good schools and proximity to airports and DC/Baltimore. I would not recommend Harford or Cecil counties.

        3. Dear liza dear liza*

          Richmond is definitely a contender. Since the legislature is here, the airport has more flights than usual for one of its size. Delta, United, and American have multiple flights a day to hubs like LaGuardia, JFK, Chicago, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Dallas.

      2. BadCultureFit*

        Chiming in from NJ — we had about 4 inches of snow TOTAL this winter. Winters are fine now, sadly.

    3. Roland*

      Greater Seattle area? Admittedly not near your family, but there’s an international airport for air travel needs. Has 4 seasons and the winters are mild compared to a lot of places in the US, though not if the baseline is Florida. There are public high schools on the Eastside that make those “top schools in the US” lists.

      1. Jackalope*

        Seconding this, although not in Seattle itself because Seattle is a lot bigger than what you’re looking for, it sounds like. Lots of nearby places to live that are smaller but still have access to things like the airport, Seattle options (theater, restaurants, etc.), and are less crazy. Tacoma, Everett, Olympia…. And there are several smaller cities in the greater Puget Sound area (Lacey, Puyallup, Gig Harbor, etc.) that are smaller but again have easy access to city stuff. In most of those places you can live on an actual farm if you want that’s only 10 min from a city with a couple hundred thousand people.

    4. migrating coconuts*

      We live in a suburb of Philadelphia, specifically in Bucks County. Winters are relatively mild, actually no snow this year to speak of, but we get all 4 seasons. PA is both red and blue, blue in and around the bigger cities, redder in the more rural counties. We can get into the city if we want, we are close to the Philadelphia International Airport for travel, and can get to the Jersey shore in a couple hours, or the mountains too, if that’s your thing (winter sports, summer camping, etc). The towns in the suburbs are very varied, each kind of having its own personality, economic level, school district level, etc. Of course, none of these are really small cities. If you’re looking for a ‘small’ city, Pittsburgh is a great city to live in and around, but that’s further west.

      1. YrLocalLibrarian*

        Seconding southeast PA! I actually live in Philadelphia but work in the Montgomery County suburbs. Lots of variety when it comes to schools and housing in the 5-county area.

    5. Bluebell*

      Maybe North Carolina? It has seasons. Several years ago I visited Asheville, and thought it was really interesting.

    6. CrabLife*

      Come to Maryland! Great cities (DC, Baltimore, Annapolis – three close airports if you count Dulles!) but lots of small towns too, good weather, we just had a republican governor but are reliably blue, and there’s beaches and seaside culture as well as forests and hills (I won’t call anything mountains, but … hills). Can’t speak to the schools but I feel like there’s some good ones around.

    7. Samwise*

      North Carolina. Charlotte area or Raleigh-Durham.

      Plenty of blue in the state, but politics will have you seeing red pretty often hahaha.

      Healthy economy in those parts of the state. Decent airports. Damn good food.

    8. Happily Retired*

      Asheville NC. Beautiful terrain, four seasons, art/music/food scene, blue island (as are Charlotte and Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill) in a state that teeters back and forth between red and blue.

      The only snag is that others are moving here from all over the country for these very reasons, and housing prices are the highest in the state.

    9. StellaBella*

      have you thought of Vermont or Maine? I’d look into cost of living websites and zillow first too. Missouri is less costly than either Vt or Me but not close to air hubs I don’t think. You should care about whether a state has good school ratings for your kids, meaning a decent tax base and not run by the likes of similar overly folks you are leaving Fl for. Also if you stay longer term consider the needs of your kids’ educations and health (incl air quality) overall. I would also look at what US News and other outlets have on rankings of QoL: Best Places to Live in the U.S. for Quality of Life – health care, air quality, access to good schools, etc is factored into these rankings. Good luck!

      1. Haven’t picked a username yet*

        Maine and Vermont are wonderful but neither have a milder winter, here in Maine we are getting another 13 inches of snow today, but it is also a fantastic place to live. I live on the coast, in a town with great public schools and a mini ivy, and I can get to Boston in 2 hours.

        1. Sam I Am*

          Portland Maine, perhaps. Train access to Boston, more mild than the inland north country. Vermont is great, but there’s no spots that are tempered by the ocean, cold wise.

      1. Newbie*

        Another one contemplating leaving Tallahassee. Florida used to be the fun kind of crazy, but now it’s the mean kind and that’s not how I roll.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      I’ll toss in the Triad area of North Carolina. Friends moved to Durham where they have a wonderful neighborhood–the sort that has regular block parties.

    11. New Englander*

      I live in MA and was raised in CT and love it but…wouldn’t recommend it to a Floridian. New England is having a mild winter but sometimes they are brutal. Schools are good but cost of living is really high.

      I have family in NC, which seems like it could be a good step for you. Also, perhaps Richmond, VA or Maryland?

      I do think you’ll want to stay fairly east coastal to have access to family.

    12. The OG Sleepless*

      Atlanta, or more specifically the Atlanta suburbs since you want to stay in a slightly smaller community? We have seasons, and the winters are nicely short and mild. It’s a hub airport and Delta flies almost everywhere nonstop. The north GA/western NC mountains are just a couple hours’ drive. The FL and GA beaches are 6 hours or so away. As long as you don’t get too far out into the country, Atlanta is solidly purple; my neighborhood was blue in the last election and the one across the highway from me was red. The county I live in on the northeast side has award-winning public schools, including the Broad Prize for urban education, which has to do with serving a diverse student population; our county is a pretty diverse place and getting more so all the time.

      1. Humanitarian*

        Seconding Atlanta, although I am in Florida, too (Gainesville), and would leave if I could, no question. It’s become a lost cause for us blues here. I can’t believe what’s happened to my home state.

    13. Holly the spa pro*

      I recently moved to Missouri from Arizona and I love it here. CoL and housing markets are very reasonable outside of the city. I live about 40 min west of St. Louis. St. Louis itself is not a great place to live imo but they have an airport, cool things to do, etc but I def recommend living outside of the city. My town is about 15k people, it has everything we need, decent restaurants, fun things to do and if we absolutely need to go into the city, 40 min is not a big deal. Can’t speak to the school system though, I don’t have kids.

      Definitely a red state with blue patches closer to the cities, esp KC but the community does not seem vitriolic about politics in my experience
      Four seasons and mild winters. It has only snowed twice this year.

      I heard a saying that kansas city looks to Denver for inspiration and st louis looks to Chicago. So those cities have those respective vibes. I think it’s worth looking into. I’ve always been a city girl but I love it out here in my almost-rural but close-to-city area.

      1. PostalMixup*

        100% disagree to not live in St. Louis. I moved here a decade ago and have no plans to leave. And I live in the actual city, with kids. It has its challenges, but so does every city. The St. Louis metro is tricky politically, though. The Missouri side is fairly liberal at a local level, but the state government will give Florida a run for its money, and the state is forever trying to claw back control from the city. They’re trying to take over our PD, they’re trying to remove our prosecutor (who legitimately maybe needs to go, but that’s for residents to decide via election, not the rest of the state), they’re trying to overturn local residential energy regulations. Conversely, the Illinois side is conservative at the local level, but liberal at the state level. We joke that the metro east and the Missouri side should swap states, and literally everyone would be happier.

      2. The Rat-Catcher*

        This distance from the metro is reasonable on the politics. As a resident of rural Missouri, it does get vitriolic when you get an hour or more away from the two metro areas.

    14. KatEnigma*

      We considered Kansas City as a not too political area with a decent airport. But it’s not a hub. Maybe Atlanta? But Atlanta politics have been a mess for decades.

      1. Humanitarian*

        My parents live in Chattanooga, itself a great city with an improving public school system; very clean, retiree friendly, many progressive undercurrents. But you are correct.

    15. Alex*

      I live in MA, and while it has its great points, it is not typically a mild winter (although sometimes it is, like this year!) and the cost of housing is outrageous. But I would second Philadelphia–it’s a wonderful city, with seasons but not TOO brutal. Cost of living isn’t so bad.

      You also might want to consider Providence, RI. Very cute, reasonable COL, college town, near the beach, and close to Boston for more city stuff and a big airport. Has its share of Trumpers but not super right wing for the most part. They do get winters with snow but they are a bit tempered by the ocean.

      Another option might be northern Virginia? The state flip flops red/blue but the north is fairly blue.

    16. the cat's ass*

      Waaaaay to the west, but California! Schools are improving and some are stellar. Solid blue (with tiny pockets of lunacy). Good transportation and lots of airports sending everyone everywhere. Mild winters generally-this year has been an exception-but unless you live deeply north, you’ll have to ‘go to the snow’ to actually see some. Petaluma/Santa rosa or Sacto/Davis might have that small town feel but close to everything vibe you’re looking for.

      One the other hand, it’s very expensive to live here and the fire and earthquake seasons are stressful.

    17. Littorally*

      I’ll chime in with another voice for Maryland. Good air access, good schools as long as you avoid Baltimore City or some of the more down-at-heel suburbs, and politically pretty functional. Winters are probably a bit more robust than you’re used to in Florida, but I find them mild enough that the one coat I own only sees any action maybe one year in three. Summers are long and humid, but again — you’re coming from Florida, so I imagine you aren’t going to find that very challenging. Three airports in easy range, and one of them a Southwest hub, means it’s not hard to get places. I haven’t had to go through Dulles or National for several years now, but I go in and out of Baltimore-Washington International several times a year and they run a tight ship, even around the holidays.

      I’m a transplant from New England, and although I miss snow and clam cakes real bad, I’ve been here well over a decade now and have zero plans to leave. It’s a pretty great place to live, on the balance.

    18. rr*

      I also live in CT. While I personally wouldn’t recommend it for other reasons, the weather can be pretty mild, depending on where in CT you live. Even more so now, with global warming. That said, even if the state government tends to be more liberal than not, you’re going to find a lot of local political differences. And let me tell you, in certain areas you might think you were living in a backward Florida town. I know I do.

    19. Cedrus Libani*

      I lived in Northern Virginia from age 10-18, and I think you’d like it there. The public schools are really good, and there are definitely four seasons, but the summers aren’t Florida-level and the winters aren’t Michigan-level either. There is also a major international airport (Dulles).

      Politically, there’s a pretty big gap between Northern Virginia and the rest of the state. The people in Northern Virginia often moved there from elsewhere. They came for white-collar jobs in the federal government or its suppliers. There are Republicans, but they’re mostly the sort who work for the military-industrial complex; they may have conservative policy preferences, but they definitely want the government to be capable of doing whatever it is that they do, and they aren’t really in it for culture-war shenanigans.

      Once you get out of semi-plausible commuting distance to DC, you’re in the South, with all that implies. Democrats can win state-wide office, but not by very much; they can’t get too ambitious with the liberal agenda, or they’ll lose. (Exhibit A: the current governor.)

      Northern Virginia is more a collection of suburbs than a city, though. The closer you get to DC, the more urban-like it is. It depends on what you’re looking for. There are walkable downtowns in the closest layer of satellite towns, e.g. Alexandria. There are “run multiple errands on the same trip” areas of concentrated stuff in the next layer.

      If you want smaller but still a proper city, you might consider Norfolk / Virginia Beach. It’s “redder” than NoVA by quite a bit; it’s a military town, with a large naval base. If you want even smaller, I’ve also heard good things about Charlottesville, though I haven’t spent much time there; it’s a college town.

    20. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      Just got done reading a Washington Post article about some proposed legislation in Florida, and I totally get why you’d want to leave.

      Here’s another vote for Maryland. Specifically thinking Frederick, Carroll, or Howard counties. Access to BWI, Dulles (easier from Frederick county, perhaps), and Reagan airports. Every once in a while we get a snowpocalypse but winters are generally mild. Proximity to DC and Baltimore, with excellent museums and cultural events.

      I grew up in Illinois and haven’t lived there in many years, but it sounds like it’s reasonably sane.

      Frankly, I’d avoid any state that’s too red because they all seem to be losing their damn minds. (Not to mention that I care about reproductive choice, separation of church and state, diversity, and inclusion… and more and more of them don’t.)

    21. Healthcare Worker*

      I’m in Tallahassee, and am grateful to live in a little bit of a blue part of a very red state. I hate the idea of like minded people leaving the state, as it tips the balance even more, yet I truly understand your thinking. It saddens me to see what’s happening to my beautiful state. Best of luck to you!

    22. A Little Bit Alexis*

      Hear me out before you roll your eyes, but Johnson County, Kansas. Kansas isn’t as red as most people think it is, as proven by some recent elections and votes on big issues. Johnson County is probably the bluest area of the state, besides maybe Lawrence (a great little college town just 30 mins away, also worth considering). JoCo’s cost of living isn’t cheap, but definitely more affordable than a lot of other places around the country.

      Overland Park in JoCo is frequently in “top cities to live in” lists. There are great schools throughout the county, some of the best in the state, and they’re very family-friendly communities. Lots of great parks, trails, festivals, etc.

      JoCo is essentially the suburbs of Kansas City, so you’d have big-city activities less than 30 mins away without being in the city itself. The KC airport is brand-new, literally opened a week ago, and airlines are already announcing that they’re expanding their flight schedules. With family in MO and AR, you’d be in a good location for visiting them as well.

  4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    February was pretty terrible. So far three days in, March is all “Hold my beer” and spiraling. (As I was standing in my home office Friday afternoon, water started dribbling through the ceiling literally onto my head.)

    Please, please tell me good, cute, happy, positive things. Pets, children, your spouse or BFF or family, whatever, just share something good? (Or a good dad joke. I love those too.)

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      It is snowing outside. Big, huge fluffy snowflakes. My kitten who is about 6 months old apparently missed all the previous snow storms but has noticed this one, so she has been alternating staring at the snow and attacking the window when snow hits it. It’s adorable.

      Hope things calm down soon for you!

    2. Albert "call me Al" Ias*

      My son was singing “baby shark” and when he got to the run away verse, he ran into the next room.

    3. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      This happened a couple weeks ago for Valentines Day, I don’t remember if I mentioned it here or not.

      My son (early elementary age) made Valentine cards for his class. I asked him what message he was going to write in them, figuring it would probably be “Happy Valentine’s Day, from [name]”. But no, he wrote a personalized compliment for all 20 kids and 2 teachers! They were things like “you tell good jokes” and “I like playing with you”. I was so proud that he did such a kind thing for everyone!

    4. RMNPgirl*

      Here’s a good (bad) joke for you:

      I’m not really a fan of Iowa, it’s too corny

    5. CanadaGoose*

      My three-year-old picked out a new outfit, put it on, then asked to have dinner together. Once we sat down with our food, rather than chaotically running off to play as per usual, he kindly asked about my day. So sweet!

    6. Old Plant Woman*

      Grocery store adventure. Saw a woman who was even older and shorter than me [I?] looking rather wistfully at the top of the milk cooler. So I asked her if she wanted help. Trying to be a little socially adept, so I didn’t ask if she needed help, just wanted. How am I doing? Anyway she said “Oh yes please. My favorite milk is on the very top self, and of course the very back.” My husband used the crook of his cane to pull a quart to the edge of the shelf, tip it off, I caught it, handed it to my new friend. Three times. Looked around and people were watching and laughing. Great fun.

      1. Jessica*

        Last night I was at the grocery, trying to get a 2L of soda from the back of the top shelf. I started trying to lasso it with my handbag (this is a proven method but often requires several attempts), and another lady who was in that aisle kindly lent me her crutch to reach with, which was highly effective. Somewhat decrepit women of a certain age unite for the win!

      2. RLC*

        Few months ago saw a fellow grocery shopper wildly leaping and hopping trying to reach a product on the top shelf. Offered to help, after I stretched to my maximum reach and grabbed product for her, the delighted shopper shouted out “Go-go gadget arms!!!” So much more memorable than a simple thank-you, made my day.

    7. cat in cardboard box*

      I planted dill and basil in a windowsill box. Old seeds, not much sun, didn’t expect anything to grow, but now I have more dill and basil than I know what to do with!

      1. Mephyle*

        You can dry or freeze the excess, or some of each. There are no doubt instructions on the internet on how to do both of them properly.

    8. Bluebell*

      Walking home from a not terrible dentist appointment this week, a passed a tree that was evidently the local hotspot for the cool sparrows in the neighborhood. It was nice to hear them all chirping together. I guess the gossip was good!

    9. RLC*

      The intense, repeated snow events in the Sierra Nevada Mountains have had a delightful side effect: birds are flocking to my feeders and heated bird baths in unprecedented numbers and varieties. Evening Grosbeaks, Bewick’s wrens, and Downy Woodpeckers have joined the regular crowd of finches, quail, doves, juncos, chickadees, sparrows, and jays, even coming onto the windowsill to feed during the worst of the storms. One morning we had 13 robins crowded into 2 birdbaths=mayhem. They do NOT politely take turns in the avian hot tub.
      Our indoor cats think the entire experience was planned just for them to watch.

      1. pandq*

        Been snowed in where I am in the San Bernardino mountains – it’s fun to watch the pecking order of which birds will cooperate together on my much-visited feeders and who can chase others away.

    10. ghost_cat*

      Let’s try my favourite joke as a distraction:

      A truck filled with penguins breaks down on the highway. The truck driver flags down a passing car and offers the driver $500 if he’ll take the penguins to the zoo. The driver agrees, and the penguins pile into the car. A couple hours later, the truck is fixed, and the truck driver goes to the zoo to make sure the penguins arrived, but they’re nowhere to be found. Frantically, he jumps in his truck and starts looking all over town for them. Finally, he spots the man and the penguins walking down the street. “Hey! I thought I asked you to take the penguins to the zoo!” he yells. “I did”, replies the driver, “I had a little money left over, so I thought I’d take them to a movie too.”

      1. JobHunter*

        Shredded wheat is such an exaggeration.
        It’s no more muscular than regular wheat.

    11. Rara Avis*

      A dad joke told by one of my 8th grade students today: Why didn’t the invisible man accept the job offer? Because he couldn’t see himself doing it.

      1. the cat's ass*

        another dad joke: My car wouldn’t start this morning, so i popped the hood, and there was a little bat crouched in the engine area. It looked up at me and said,”hey, you’re having a GREAT hair day.”
        The reason my car wouldn’t start?

        Bat flattery.

        (i’ll see myself out now)

    12. Professor Plum*

      My second grand niece was just born last Sunday. Favorite picture so far is her 2 year old big sister reading a picture book to her. Melted my heart!

    13. sewsandreads*

      A good thing: I made a pasta sauce today using things entirely from my garden (and garlic from my mama’s garden), and today the doggo has completed one treasure hunt and protected us from one magpie. It’s also her birthday tomorrow!

      I asked my partner for his positive thought. “Sometimes it’s the weekend and you make cake and I get to lick the bowl!” (Which seems to be inspired by the bowl he’s licking.)

      I hope March gives you a bit of a break!

    14. RedinSC*

      I’m with you that the new year has started off on a not so good track. For me it’s been parental heart attacks, deaths and job loss.

      But!!! March has a new job and a vacation that was planned months ago. So today I am having a cup of tea, on a balcony overlooking the Nile River.

      So here’s to good things happening for you. I hope the leaky roof is fixable and may you find yourself in a better place soon.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yikes, sorry for your troubles :( Mine have all been much more low-key unpleasantness.

        I also have a long-planned vacation coming up later this month, so hopefully that will help! We have mostly identified the problem with the ceiling (not the roof, fortunately!) and it is looking far less dire today, so I am feeling better. I also have brownies for breakfast and a 110 pound 1-year-old Great Dane who is somehow still making tiny puppy squeak barks at her “big” (older but less than half her size) sister to try to get big sis to play tug with her, which is absurdly cute. :)

    15. Llama Llama*

      So I this was first told to my husband at the end of a very busy tiring day many years ago (3 kids under 3…) and we tell each other it from time to time to giggle:

      Why can’t a goat tell a lie?
      Because you can see right through him.

        1. JobHunter*

          Honestly, I can imagine the ‘goat’ version being retold with the authority of a three-year-old and I think that makes it even funnier.

        2. BreakingDishes*

          I kept reading it trying to figure it out. “Can’t see through a goat”. . What?

    16. Fowljokes*

      I was just at a global department meeting for my company in Portugal and during my introduction to the team (90 people from our various regions) I ended with this joke:
      “Does anyone know why there are no ducks in Portugal? Because they are full of Porto-geese”

    17. Atheist Nun*

      Did you hear about the woman who lost the entire left side of her body in an accident?

      She’s all right now.

      I hope that the rest of March will be al(l)right for you too!

    18. Falling Diphthong*

      This morning I attempted to get out of bed, and The Spanish Inquisition (cat; family member most likely to peer back at you from the lettuce crisper) lying next to me on the outside of the bed decided I was not getting out of bed and turned herself into a chunk of plutonium every time I tried to lift the covers to slide out.

    19. Tiny clay insects*

      What’s the best part of living in Switzerland?

      Well, the flag’s a big plus.

    20. Chauncy Gardener*

      It’s snowing here and our woodstove is on. The dog (80 pounds) is lying on his side in front of the stove and the cat (6.5 pounds) is spooning his back. Never thought I’d see that!!

    21. fposte*

      There is a new bakery in my town. There are other bakeries in my town, and I will occasionally get something from them, but they’re not great. This one is excellent, and I will return if only to get multiples of the teeny vanilla canelés that were perfectly caramelized outside and tender and moist inside. This may not be as meaningful to you as it was to me, so I hope you get your equivalent of an excellent new bakery soon.

        1. PhyllisB*

          I shared a few months ago about my niece being paralyzed in an auto accident. (Paralyzed from the arm pits down.) Well, last week she discovered she can move her left arm.

          1. PhyllisB*

            I should clarify a bit; she could move her shoulders, but forearms are paralyzed. So being able to move her left arm is great because now she can do more.

            1. Venus*

              Oh wow, that’s a huge change! Very happy for her. Being able to move an arm / hand opens up so many options.

      1. nobadcats*

        One of the places I order from has mini chocolate-filled churros liberally dusted with cinnamon and sugar. I’ll often order just to get those churros as they’re the perfect midnight snack.

        And that’s why there’s cinnamon sugar in my bed, sir!

    22. Cat*

      Went out to a local burger joint for lunch yesterday- the kind where you order at the counter, then someone brings it to wherever you’ve sat.
      They asked a name for the order, and like I always do I said, “Cat, just like the animal”
      The kid behind the counter looked at me very seriously and said, “I’m going to draw a cat on it.”
      I told him that sounded great.
      Sure enough, when my order came out, there was a tiny cat drawn on the corner of the basket paper.
      It was such a silly little thing but it made me giggle and I grinned the entire meal.

      1. nobadcats*

        I would’ve tipped him the entire price of the bill and rounded up. That’s amazing!

    23. fhqwhgads*

      My 1 year old picked up a book about animals and flipped through the pages doing the (correct) sounds for each animal she saw.

    24. Jay (no, the other one)*

      There once was a lion who was the kindest, gentlest animal anyone had ever met. All the animals loved him. The birds would perch on his back and sing for hours. One day of the birds made a nest in his mane. This was fine with the lion until the eggs hatched and the baby birds kept the lion awake all night. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t want to upset the parent birds and he also needed to get some sleep. He asked the wise old owl for advice, and the owl told him to get some yeast and sprinkle it in his mane. The lion thought this was ridiculous, but he was a kind and gentle lion and he didn’t want to insult the owl, so he got the yeast and dutifully sprinkled it in his mane. Two hours later the birds were gone and he had the best night’s sleep of his life. The next day he thanked the owl profusely and asked him why that had worked. The owl said “Yeast is yeast and nest is nest and never the mane shall tweet.”

      I’ll show myself out.

    25. PhyllisB*

      One of my favorite jokes: The Past, the Present and the Future walk into a bar. It was tense.

    26. Jean (just Jean)*

      Here’s one of my favorite jokes. Warning: Grade-school humor ahead.

      A man opens his refrigerator and sees a rabbit lounging on one of the shelves. The man says, “What are you doing in here?”
      The rabbit replies, “Look on the outside front of your refrigerator and tell me what it says.”
      The man is puzzled, but he looks on the outside of the door and then says to the rabbit, “It says Westinghouse.”
      “Ah.” The rabbit replies. “And I’m westing.”

      Note if anyone does not immediately get the joke: Westinghouse is (was?) a manufacturer of refrigerators. I’m sure they never expected their brand to acquire the definition of “place where people rest” (aka “resting house”)!

      1. pandq*

        one of my favorite jokes – must be said in a monotone voice.
        How many boring people does it take to change a light bulb?
        Answer: one

    27. Neurodivergent in Germany*

      My three year old daughter has recently started noticing the other kids at preschool (she is autistic).
      She has a lovely little friend, an extremely outgoing four year old, and they have been greeting each other with a hug every morning of this week.
      And my very tall girl not only tolerates hugs, she’s so enthusiastic that she accidentally toppled her pint-size friend.

    28. RecentlyRetired*

      My handyman and I got my NINE bareroot fruit trees planted in February, and they’ve all sprouted! In a few short years I should have over-abundance of Cherries, Pears, Apricots, Peaches, Plums, and more.
      The fourteen bareroot roses are not doing as well – yet! Two snowfalls in our desert community were beautiful, but are keeping them dormant. I’m soooo looking forward to having flowers to pick at any time I want next year.

  5. Teapot Translator*

    Wanted to thank everyone for the suggestions for drawing resources. deuceofgears suggested Drawabox and I liked the first lesson. The hard part is the “play” part. We’re supposed to spend half the time doing the exercices and the other drawing for fun. But I can’t draw, so I can’t do it for fun. :-D Anyway, I decided to look at pictures of animals and flowers and draw unrealistically. Do we have any visual artists here? What’s your medium of choice?

    1. deuceofgears*

      Rundown of some possibilities:

      Some Traditional Media

      (Note: at this phase you probably don’t care yet about archival properties or fugitive colors, but down the road you may want to research that before buying a brand of marker or paint pigment.)

      – Pencils. Basic graphite pencils have the advantage of being ubiquitous and cheap.

      – Coloring pencils. Color! You can blend somewhat, but to get a larger color range you’ll have to invest in more pencils. There are wax-based pencils, oil-based pencils, and watercolor pencils (which you can get additional effects from by applying water – swatch them out first because the color of the “lead” and the color you get on the page after water can be quite different).

      – Pastels: ??? I don’t use these – a friend of mine loves them but notes that both oil and regular pastels are “messy.”

      – Fineliners/pens. This can be anything from ballpoint pens to fineliner markers. Don’t discount ballpoints – look up Samuel Silva (VianaArts) on Instagram for examples of PHOTOREALISM in colored ballpoint pens!

      – Ink – can be applied with a brush or a dip pen. Can be fun to splatter. Ink comes in various colors, and metallics; some kinds fade over time.

      – Markers. Some of these will fade or change color over time (IIRC Copic markers are beautiful but intended for repro work), but you may not care. You have to buy more markers for a larger color range (although some blending is possible). Copics in particular are pretty pricey. Markers are often available in either fine point or chisel tips and brush tips for more expressive marks, which can be fun.

      – Watercolors: So the dirty secret here that I wish I’d known 15 years ago is that *color names are not standardized* – what one watercolor manufacturer calls “sap green” could be made with completely different pigments and look somewhat different from another manufacturer. That said, the nice thing about watercolors is that you can get started with probably 3 to 6 colors and mix the rest, so the initial expense can be relatively modest; it’s worth getting a couple nice brushes but there are some good-quality affordable synthetics out there. The disadvantage of watercolor is that it’s very hard to control, but that can be fun in its own right!

      – I hope someone else will talk about, uh, acrylic and oil, which I don’t have experience with.

      Digital

      So the deal with digital is that there’s a high up-front cost (depending on what electronics you have lying around your home, if at all) but then you’re not, e.g., endlessly buying replacement markers. My advice here is to research options for what matters to you, and to start with a free or low-cost app (Krita and the unfortunately named GIMP2 are free) to see if you like it before blowing $$$$$ on digital art gear/apps. Some people hate doing digital art and that’s fine!

      You will either need something like an iPad/Pencil or the Android/etc. equivalent (I’m an iPad user, I can’t speak to Android/etc., but Googling should get you info here) OR a desktop (possibly laptop if you have the right connectors/ports) with a drawing tablet/stylus. The industry leader in drawing tablets is Wacom but there are now less expensive alternatives available from e.g. Huion and XP-Pen, with the caveat that the QC and/or drivers can be more dodgy. The very tricky thing is that standard drawing tablets force you to learn how to draw on the tablet while looking at the computer screen. This drove me nuts; my daughter picked it up very rapidly. There are display tablets where the tablet itself is a monitor and you draw directly on the image, which I find much easier, but they are also commensurately more expensive.

      App-wise: on an iPad, Procreate is a one-time $10 purchase, but there’s also Adobe Fresco (free), Medibang (free). (I’m a Procreate user, but you should use what feels comfortable to you.) IIRC Fresco and Medibang are also available for Android.

      For desktops, the industry standard for digital art is Photoshop, and also, it is spendy and not necessarily intuitive. There’s also Corel Painter for natural media emulation (I haven’t used it in some years), specialty apps like ArtRage (also natural media emulation), Rebelle (watercolor-focused natural media emulation). Clip Studio Paint has less expensive to more expensive versions and is focused on manga/comic styles/creation.

      There’s also vector art, which is totally a thing, but someone else will have to talk about that. :3 Most of the above is raster/pixel-based art.

      I hope this helps and have fun drawing!

      1. anonforthis*

        I do a lot of vector art and very little of anything else, so this is the only question I might be able to help with! Start with Inkscape, which is free and open-source. It’s powerful enough (at least relative to my needs) that I actually haven’t used Adobe Illustrator in more than a decade. I’m constantly surprised by how much Inkscape can do and how intuitive I find it!

    2. Just graduated art school*

      If your just getting started recommend going to the pencil section of a art story and getting a variety, there should be lots of different options. Some are softer/ darker some are lighter/harder some are thicker. And than try them out to find your favorite. There are no right or wrong choices – literally it’s what we your like best. They should be relatively cheap so good to play around it. Besides that only advice don’t be precious and have fun (draw what you like!). It’s easy to get intimated by all the supplies and advice when really the best thing to do is practice. You got this :)

      1. Imprudence*

        Water color pencils and Ink soluble pencils (especially the latter, I love mind). You can colour in and then paint with clear water to get lots of fun effects — I also love sand paper (Use a coarse memory board) crayons onto color to get speckles. It looks really “advanced” butts is actually dead easy to do.

        1. Sloanicota*

          That’s how I feel about chalk and pastels. It looks very fancy but it’s just coloring with crayons basically. If you care to preserve your works you’d buy spray fixative for the end, but I like the sense that it’s not super permanent and it’s low stakes. The original comment reminds me that a few years ago I decided to unwind my personality and deliberately take classes / do activities I wasn’t particularly good at, with no expectation of getting good, just enjoying myself and expanding my brain. I did dance (I am terrible) and learned the ukelele, took a watercolor class, attended a figure drawing session, and ran a tough mudder. There’s varying tolerance in our society for doing things you’re not good at. Some of the teachers were obviously annoyed I didn’t progress more, others were fine with it.

          1. Sloanicota*

            I just this week took my not-very-agile dog to dog agility. We had a great time and I thought were being respectful and deferential to others who were more serious or looking to compete. I have gone back a few times because I think the dog enjoys it and it wears him out, but we’ll never end up at Crufts. However, I think that will be our last time because I felt the instructor was seriously annoyed with us for some reason. Taking up a run or something, I suppose, though there weren’t many people there. It’s hard for teachers sometimes when they want to impart knowledge – that’s their role! – but don’t see the opportunity.

            1. Cat and dog fosterer*

              That’s a shame. I think like all topics, some communities are more open-minded than others. My friend does agility with her old dog and they don’t care if she avoids half the obstacles and changes things around, rather they love that her dog gets joy from it and encourage her to come back regularly.

            2. EventingForChickens*

              In my area we have some trainers that expect if you’re there for agility, it’s to progress in the sport and you’re expected to schedule and use the equipment for practice outside of class. I could see some of them not being in sync with an owner who is there more to try it and have fun.

              We also have places that do “fun agility” which is much more relaxed/“progress at your own pace but it’s fine if you stay a beginner forever” that might be better suited. Not saying you should switch trainers necessarily but something to keep in mind if the current one turns out to be a bad fit!

            3. Teapot Translator*

              I am doing several “getting-out-of-my-confort-zone” activities, and yeah, sometimes I feel like the teacher doesn’t get me and what I’m trying to do? Like, no, I will never be good at physical activities or drawing, but you ain’t here to discover the next great athlete or artist either. You’ll just have to lower your expectations, teacher!

          2. 1LFTW*

            I’m an art teacher, and students like you are why I teach in community ed settings instead of academic ones! I love being able to meet students where they are, without judging their “progress” by any other metric than what they themselves want to achieve. It take a lot of courage to pick up a new skill as an adult, and so many people have been socialized to judge themselves harshly for lack of “talent”, that I truly admire my adult students for putting themselves out there by signing up.

            Also: for those who want to work in pastels or charcoal, please wear an N95 for the dust.

            Also also: If you’re going to use fixative, I recommend Spectrum, which is a casein-based pump-spray fixative. It’s much less toxic than aerosol fixatives, and it’s actually workable (meaning that you can spray it on to fix an under-layer and then add more layers) unlike any other fixative I’ve tried to use over the years.

            1. Cynth1a*

              I couldn’t find Spectrum, but something called SpectraFix came up. Is that it, by any chance?

    3. OyHiOh*

      Media – chalk and oil pastels, primarily. I also build things with origami, but that’s a different post.

      For fun – drawing kawaii are super fun. They are every day objects drawn “cute.” The shapes are slightly out of proportion, and you often give them faces. There are lots of quick how tos online, or you can pick up books anywhere books are sold.

      I’m an artist who is not confident drawing realism: I do it, and you can generally tell what I was looking at, but it’s not my first choice. It’s also been a really important skill for me to feel confident doing.

    4. Holly the spa pro*

      I think pencils and colored pencils are the most approachable for new artists wanting to learn fundamentals of drawing. You don’t have to go super expensive if you are just wanting to try stuff and see what you like. I do basic sketches or rough outlineswith just an ordinary mechanical pencil usually.

      I learned to draw using references and the “grid method.” I prefer drawing from a reference so that method worked well for me in the beginning. YouTube is a great resource for tutorials, exercises, follow-alongs etc. I’d recommend searching for something specific like “how to draw flowers” or a style you like “how to draw chibis” or whatever. You can watch a couple videos and see which methods seem most appealing to you to try.

      I think the main thing is to not overthink it. If you don’t feel confident doodling things out of your brain, start with reference drawings or follow along tutorials and you can build from there. There is no “right” way to do it.

      Also, if you struggle to enjoy the “play” part because you can’t draw, maybe start with coloring. I got back into art and drawing via adult coloring books and colored pencils and it re-inspired me to start drawing again.

    5. Unum Hoc Scio*

      The biggest frustration for those ‘new to art’ is that your work doesn’t reflect the original subject; ie. it doesn’t ‘look right’ or it ‘looks childish’. There are a lot of techniques that you can practice to achieve this and they often take years. As a former art teacher, may I suggest that a fabulous tool is…

      your phone

      Take a picture
      Go to *edit*
      Click *crop* (and, preferably, use a preset size option)
      Crop to a composition you like, then, WHILE THE CROP LINES ARE STILL SHOWING (this might take a little fiddling) take a Screenshot
      On your paper/sketchbook/canvas, in light pencil, draw a PROPORTIONATE graph (eg. 5×7 could be 5” x 7”, or 15” x 21”) and lightly draw 3×3 graph lines on it. Use a ruler. Be exact.
      You can transfer your picture lightly in pencil and, as you go, you can make the original picture on your phone bigger to get more details.
      You can even crop/graph/screenshot the individual cells to further graph them.
      Pencil can be erased during the process to fix mistakes
      You can paint over with acrylics (but you can’t erase through the paint)
      You can draw over the lines with permanent marker and then erase the pencil marks
      You can draw over with coloured pencil or any of the aforementioned recommended media
      You can take a photo of the drawing and compare it to the original picture (and then correct)
      Enjoy

    6. 1LFTW*

      Visual artist and teacher here. I work in a variety of media, but my favorite for when I’m on the go is watercolor pencil (I use the Prismacolor 36-pencil set) and a water brush pen. Brush pens have a brush that you can unscrew from the handle, and the handle is a reservoir that you can fill with water. Screw the brush back on, put on the cap, and you have a leak-proof way of carrying water around with you. You can control the amount of water that’s released by how much you squeeze the sides of them brush pen.

  6. Not A Manager*

    The past few days, the AAM site has been requiring me to check an “I am human” box before loading the page. Is this a new feature of the site, or is something weird on my computer?

      1. Mimmy*

        I don’t get the “I am human” checkbox – it just checks that my connection is secure, then goes right to the site; it only takes a few seconds. Is that okay? I use Microsoft Edge.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes! It shows different challenges to different people, depending on its assessment of where in the world you are and its determination of what risk you might pose.

          1. Siege*

            I actually get both, on my home wi-fi. I haven’t noticed a specific pattern where one challenge is confined to my phone and the other to my laptop, it’s just erratic.

    1. Bazzalikeschasingbirds*

      It’s a feature of the website, not you. Alison on Twitter mentioned an outage (Thursday?) and said it will ask if you’re a human. It did again today for me. It still checks to see if I have a secure connection. I found if I clicked on icons under search bar in Google Chrome it went straight to website. If you search for website it goes through a part or all of the process you and I have both mentioned.

    2. Firebird*

      I’ve been having to switch browsers in order to comment. I keep getting a Forbidden, not authorized message. It’s only happened on Opera on my tablet so far, which is unfortunately, the best browser for my eyesight.

    3. DogPerson*

      Me too but mine is in French for added fun!

      (I’m guessing that’s where the server is hosted, I’m in German-speaking Switzerland but not that far from the border.)

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I was getting the “checking if connection secured” in Russian and was really confused. Turned out I accidentally set Russian as the preferred language in Chrome.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That’s not the Cloudflare check, that’s the DDOS attack itself (the whole point is to overload your server). But it should be running at normal speed now.

  7. AABBCC123*

    (TW: Violence) Something I have always been curious about, as I know there are people here who are into the restorative justice/defund police movements. How would restorative justice handle “major incidents” like terrorism, (serial) murders, abductions, etc? Would the victim/family need to do their own investigation to find the “actor” or would there still remain some sort of investigative unit of the government? What happens if the “actor” refuses to participate/cooperate with the restorative justice process?

    Sorry if I’m not using terms correctly, btw

    1. Albert "call me Al" Ias*

      I admit, I’m not familiar with the term responsive justice, but from what I have always understood, “defund the police” doesn’t actually mean take away all their funding and get rid of them, but take some of the resources away from the militarization of police departments (why does a police department need a tank?) and reallocate the resources (and some duties) to other areas, such as mental health or substance abuse treatment/counseling, programs that help the homeless, gun safety programs, etc. All of which could help to reduce crime, even if the police departments have less overall funding.

    2. Not A Manager*

      I don’t think “defund the police” means no policing at all (I’ve always thought the phrase is terribly misleading). And “restorative justice” doesn’t mean that victims have to go hunt down the perpetrators themselves.

      I don’t want to post links or get into references that might seem very political, but if you google “what does defund the police mean” and “what is restorative justice” you should find some good sources.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think the googling suggestions are the way to go since this is likely to go in a direction that requires moderation, which I’m not available to do over the weekend. Thanks!

  8. Jackalope*

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

    We had a session of D&D this week that was an intermediate session. Almost finished with the adventure we’ve been working on and getting ready to start the next one. One of our players couldn’t make it this week so we just talked about what we’d like to do next, along with a bit of playing around with where we were in the story.

    1. Ashloo*

      My husband and I are playing through the legacy game Charter Stone. He’s really excited about it; I’m feeling a bit frustrated by the pace. We’re only a few sessions in so we’ll see how it goes.

    2. But what to call me?*

      Tetris!

      I think Tetris on the original Nintendo will always be my favorite. I’ll be very sad if the old Nintendo or game cartridge ever breaks.

      1. Bluebell*

        Tangent- did you see there’s going to be a Tetris movie? It looks pretty wild. I would watch Taron Egerton read the phone book though.

        1. CanadianPublicServant*

          Oooh, thanks for the heads up on the Tetris movie!Just watched the trailer, that was not what I was expecting….

    3. Meghan*

      Just started Lumbear Jack. It’s a small cute game where you play as a lumberjack bear, axing down the evil corp that is taking over the forest. Reminds me a lot of Donut County.

    4. MEH Squared*

      Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty by Team Ninja (devs of the Nioh games). It’s an action adventure game, like an easier (not easier, exactly, but something close to it) version of Sekiro (FromSoft( so far. It’s set in China this time, not Japan, but it’s very similar in gameplay to the Niohs. I’m enjoying it so far because the magic is very powerful. It released today so I’m still in the first level. It’s free on Game Pass if you want to try it out.

    5. Vistaloopy*

      I’m doing a deep dive into the Final Fantasy VII compilation. The other day, my 6-year-old daughter was sitting next to me on the couch playing a Paw Patrol game on the computer, while I was playing original FFVII, when all of a sudden I hear (and smell) a toot. I started laughing, and without looking up from her game, she says totally deadpan, “it wasn’t me. It was Cloud.”

    6. Holly the spa pro*

      I’m bouncing between Potion Permit and Pokémon Violet. I enjoyed pokemon legends:arceus more but I feel obligated to actually finish the pokemon league at least.

      I’m really wanting to pick up fire emblem:engage but just haven’t had much time for games in general. So maybe by the time I finish up what I’m playing, it will be on sale

    7. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I finally beat the first Oz fight in Tactics Ogre. I had been stuck for a month. Also D&D this week might lead us out of a dungeon. I worry that I am somehow doing D&D wrong… My brain doesn’t grok it

    8. DarthVelma*

      The partner and I are working our way through the new Destiny expansion. The artwork and design for the new location, Neomuna, is just gorgeous. The story has been ok so far – there’s a new character that apparently everyone either loves or hates…I think he’s pretty funny.

      The game play has also been good for the most part. Just hard enough to be a real challenge on Legendary difficulty. But we are a bit stuck on what I think is the last training section on the new mechanic, Strand, before the big boss fight and it’s kicking our asses and I just want to be done so I can go try to kill the big bad.

      I’m a bit hit or miss on Strand so far, probably because I don’t like not having grenades since I play a grenade heavy build most of the time. But using it to fly around the map is actually a lot of fun.

      Hopefully we finish up the story arc later today and can celebrate with margaritas and a bit of tipsy hilarity in Dares of Eternity. :-)

    9. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Finally started Like a Dragon: Ishin this week and it started a little slow but now it’s got me hooked. Especially now that the main story has been moved far enough along for the substories to start popping up. (For the uninitiated: Yakuza/Like a Dragon games are Serious Crime Drama in the main story and pants-on-head bananacrackers in the substories).

    10. I take tea*

      We introduced a couple of friends to Azul (one of our favourite games) today and they both beat us and were very pleased. It’s such a nice, somewhat tactile board game.

    11. Julian*

      Similar story for us! We are on the last or next to last session, but a few of us weren’t feeling well and someone couldnt make it. I’m hoping we are able to finsh up next week; my players will be facing Halaster Blackcloack himself!

  9. RMNPgirl*

    Cystitis in cats – is prescription food necessary?

    Background – I adopted a 1 year old female (medium-hair, tabby/calico/tortie) a little over a week ago. She was in foster through my local shelter because the shelter environment was too stressful and she ended up with blood in her urine. Her foster mom said she did fine at her house, but she did have her on the prescription food from the shelter.
    My vet said it would be best to stick with the prescription food, Hill’s C/D, including wet food. However, it is really expensive. I’m wondering if I could switch to an OTC urinary food like IAMS?
    Obviously, I don’t want her to have any issues and I know stress can cause the cystitis to flare up. If I have to do prescription food then I can, but from what I’ve read online it seems like prescription food is more of a money making scheme than anything else. And the OTC food I looked at says that it provides low pH and low magnesium which everything I read said was the key to preventing cystitis flare ups.

    1. ajay dhar*

      Probably a sudden change in food stresses the animals. You can introduce the new food in small quantities. If everything is fine, increase it gradually.

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      For general urinary health, try dabbing a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar (with the mother) and rub on her front paw so she can lick it off. I do this weekly. My cat has never had urinary issues, though.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I would give her time to adjust to your home before you change foods. A couple months. Then, assuming she’s been stable talk to your vet and explain that you would like to try switching to a non-prescription food to see if its sufficient to keep her healthy and comfortable. Your vet will hopefully understand and work with you to see if non-prescription is adequate. You also want to encourage water. Get a fountain or something, many cats prefer flowing water. And wet food will be better than dry food.

      There are multiple brands of cat food with urinary formulas. Iams, Purina (One and Pro Plan), Royal Canin, Science Diet. The other brands that I just googled I’m not familiar with and I have a philosophy of being extremely cautious with the small brands. I feed Purina to my cats mostly, but have fed all the others at times. Science Diet is the non-prescription version of Hills.

      To change foods, you’ll want to mix it slowly. 1/4 new, 3/4 old for a bit, then gradually increase the proportion of the new as the cat adjusts. If she likes the new food then you can go a little faster, but you still want to do it gradually to avoid digestive upset.

      Congrats on the new kitty, hope all goes well.

    4. Michaelae*

      Keep giving her the prescription food for a while – at least a month, preferably longer. Changing food can be a big deal and she’s already having issues, so you don’t want to add more stress to that. In the long term, once she has settled in and got used to her new environment, you can probably change the food type, but talk to your vet first. And when you change it go slow, add a little of the new food mixed in at a time, and gradually increase the proportions over a couple of weeks. If she starts having issues again while doing this, go back to the prescription food and consult the vet again. Good luck!

    5. KatEnigma*

      You can switch, but even if she didn’t have problems, the change should be gradual- you start mixing the foods. Just switching like that would cause problems in just about any animal.

    6. Humanitarian*

      “…from what I’ve read online it seems like prescription food is more of a money making scheme than anything else.”

      I’m curious about the source(s) of that claim. One of my girls is on a Hills weight-maintenance food, and it is designed to promote metabolism while blocking fat. It has worked very well for her. I mean, yeah, pet care is expensive, but I really have a hard time believing that veterinarians would engage in a deceptive practice by way of a prescription food “money making scheme.”

      1. EventingForChickens*

        If it’s Hills Metabolic, it’s great.

        The prescription diets are just expensive in general. I get mine wholesale at work and it’s still over $100 CAD for a big bag of RC Gastro.

          1. EventingForChickens*

            Definitely not cheap. It was a game changer for every dog that got put on it at the rehab clinic though, and they can stay on it long term unlike many/all of the other commercially available (at the time I worked there) weight loss diets.

    7. Random Bystander*

      My middle son has one cat who has had issues with recurrent UTIs (he has three total cats, but only one with the problem–but because it’s really difficult to keep them from getting into each others’ food). He does get the prescription wet food (through Chewy), but an OTC dry that is a urinary formula, Purina Pro Plan, which does have wet food. I think that you may be fine with the OTC foods–tilt more towards the wet food and make sure there’s always water your cat likes available.

      You can do a transition (decrease the Rx food/increase the OTC food in stages until it’s only the new food), so that there’s not too much stress in the change.

    8. Cat and dog fosterer*

      I am not a vet, these comments are based on my experiences and what I have read over the years:

      I had a cat with cystitis and never fed him prescription food except for when he had hyperthyroidism. He had occasional problems when life got really stressful and I’d get a prescription of painkillers and anti-inflammatories. The rescue also recently had another case of cystitis and it was the same thing. I agree that it would be best to keep her on this food until she’s used to your home, then slowly change it. From what I have heard and read over the years some of the prescription food is a bit financially driven (my understanding is that vets are paid by companies to display and recommend their food – I don’t know if this is all vets, or even most vets, but it does happen). Companies like Science Diet and Iams also pay grocery stores to get ‘top billing’ (rows at eye level – it’s a wide-spread thing and why your favorite brands are easier to find). If I were to spend money on anything, it would be on reducing stress such as feliway (also not cheap, but more cost effective) and catnip and anything else that chills her out. I have used prescription food when needed, for example nothing replicates the hyperthyroid food and cats that get crystals really need the urinary, stressed foster cats do better on gastro food that we get donated, but I’d likely switch away from a prescription if it was marginally useful. When my cat was diabetic the vet gave me a list of ‘normal’ cat foods that were high in protein and fat in addition to offering prescription food, and I was really thankful for that. I read a lot of labels and chose options that were reasonably priced and almost equivalent to the prescription.

      1. Clumsy Ninja*

        I’d just like to point out here that vets aren’t paid to display or recommend particular foods. If they stock them for the convenience of the clients, the clinic gets the same markup on that food that they would on anything else. But generally speaking, food is not a moneymaker for clinics because it takes up a lot of space and they get charged a lot by the manufacturers.

        On the other hand, the pet food stores that like to bash veterinarians as being money driven and not knowing anything about nutrition (wrong – there are nutrition courses required in veterinary medical school) like to conveniently overlook that their entire business is based on getting people to buy the most expensive food.

        1. Cat and dog fosterer*

          Good to know! I had been told that, and it may have been true somewhere sometime, but I’m happy to be corrected.

    9. Flower necklace*

      This might be something you need to discuss with your vet and adjust as necessary. I have a male cat with issues that started as cystitis (probably stress-related – it started the week after my dad died) and then turned into kidney issues. I tried switching him off the prescription food at one point, but he ended back on it after the next checkup. Now, he gets tested regularly to make sure everything is functioning correctly.

    10. I take tea*

      My experience is that the prescription food is more expensive, but also the amount they need is much smaller, because it’s so dense, so it actually isn’t as much as you think. Also, less bulk means less output in the litter box and that means less money and carrying home heavy bags of litter.

  10. annonie*

    I would love to hear about your favorite things on the internet that other people might not know about. I will kick off off with 3 of my favorites:

    1. Cheryl Strayed’s article “The Ghost Ship That Didn’t Carry Us”: https://therumpus.net/2011/04/21/dear-sugar-the-rumpus-advice-column-71-the-ghost-ship-that-didnt-carry-us/

    2. this blog by someone who works at a library about what they hear there: https://iworkatapubliclibrary.com

    3. these text messages with a dog: https://www.tumblr.com/textfromdog

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        oh my god I LOVE the sweet potato story, I too have been sharing that one for years. And I totally had a bloodhound mix who would rifle the wastebasket for Brussels sprouts and root veg, completely ignoring the last bite of cheeseburger someone had thrown away in favor of the vegetables.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      There’s a Politico article with the headline “‘Bees are good,’ Obama says as children scream” that made me cry with laughter the first time I read it (and many subsequent times). I’ve had it bookmarked since 2015. A highlight:

      “Oh no, it’s a bee. That’s OK, guys. Bees are good, they won’t land on you. They won’t sting you, they’ll be OK,” Obama paused, laughing. The youngsters, still unsettled after the president’s call for calm, continued to scream.

    2. Blue wall*

      I was literally thinking about that Cheryl Strayed article today; I must have first read it here at least 10 years ago when someone shared it then.

      Mine: Amazon price tracker Camel Camel Camel.
      Sign up to track prices on specific items, see if the “sale” is actually a sale, and more.
      https://camelcamelcamel.com/

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        This was great. “A garbage can on wheels blows across the parking lot. Everyone laughs. Jesus.”

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

      What a brilliant idea for a thread, thank you!

      For wordle/spelling bee fans, I offer you the Waffle, which honestly I like even better than wordle, though it does take longer:

      https://wafflegame.net/

      For soothing animal webcams, I love the Monterey Bay Aquarium (penguins, waterfowl, otters, jellyfish…) and the Unity Farm Sanctuary (alpacas, chickens, burros…):

      https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams

      https://www.unityfarmsanctuary.org/animals

  11. Kate*

    How do you handle disappointment? Any tips?

    I am realizing that I basically suck at being disappointed— I wind up crying and it basically takes over for a few days.

    I used to think I was pretty good at disappointment, but looking back, I think it’s more that I trained myself never to want anything, so then I couldn’t be disappointed.

    Now I am working on, you know, actually feeling my feelings (thanks, therapy!) but the disappointment feeling is really throwing me for a loop.

    1. ajay dhar*

      Try playing games or gamble a small amount of money or something else. If nothing is available, play simple games on your computer or mobile. I tried it and it helped me a lot.

    2. RagingADHD*

      It’s all a matter of scale. The things you cry over and are preoccupied about for a few days – are we talking about a relationship, a job, a new apartment, being left out by your friends? Or are they mundane things like the store being out of something wanted to buy?

      Are you using any kind of harmful coping mechanisms?

      If the thing you’re disappointed about really matters, and you aren’t acting out in destructive ways, then I don’t think the response you described is unusual or problematic. That’s just what feeling your feelings is all about.

      The feelings happen. They take some time to process. And when you come out the other side, you realize they weren’t permanent and didn’t destroy you. And then over time you learn to accept them and trust that they will pass.

      1. Kate*

        Not small as in losing a game— because that’s small enough for me not to *want* it— but it can definitely be as small as “my partner and I were supposed to get to see each other today after we were both sick and now there’s a giant snowstorm”.

        Is it anyone’s fault? No.
        Is it objectively a big deal? No.
        Will I see them again soon? Absolutely.

        But it throws me into a funk like no other.

        I’ll give myself a pass for yesterday just because I also had to cancel a course I have been looking forward to for nearly a year thanks to not recovering quickly enough from my first (and hopefully only) round of COVID.

        1. Blue wall*

          Glad to hear you are getting better.

          If I may, I think even in this note your expectations are unrealistic. You write of Covid “first (and hopefully only) round of Covid.” That’s simply not a helpful way to approach it- you are highly likely to get it again, as are we all. What if you were able to sit with the state you are in, now? Having recovered from Covid and not having it at present. No expectations on future Covid. I wonder if you might appreciate the book ‘Loving What Is’ by Byron Katie.

        2. RagingADHD*

          Why do you need to give yourself a pass? It sounds like you are judging yourself for having feelings at all. Being sad is unpleasant, of course, but it isn’t wrong or “bad.” It just is.

          You’ve been sick. You’re stuck in a snowstorm. Your body is run-down and you feel helpless. All of those things magnify your frustration and disappointment. That’s normal.

          Perhaps it’s not that you “suck at being disappointed,” but more that being disappointed sucks. It really does.

          I also agree with the other commenter who suggested that your feelings may be particularly intense because you are not used to having them in your face and acknowledging them. Give it time.

        3. Old Plant Woman*

          Those are not small things. Of course you’re bummed. I hate being disappointed too. Someone or circumstances out of my control took something away from me. The out of my control part makes me mad more than losing the actual thing. Old saying… Some days you’re the windshield and some days you’re the bug. Hate being the bug. Can you take some of your power back? Maybe make a fun date plan with your partner? Reschedule the course, or another one? Pick something else to study that you could start on right now? Sometimes you have to stick it to Murphy.

    3. Sloanicota*

      If I’m upset and I know there’s no real reason to be, I’m all about distraction. Books, streaming something, playing a game. Reading is the best escape because it’s so immersive and lasts a long time. By the time I’m done I’m over the petty disappointment or the fear that someone is momentarily mad at me or whatever. Now, if it’s an actual important disappointment I’d have a different answer. Sometimes painful things are teaching us a lesson.

    4. fposte*

      Physical activity and music are my two big ones; connecting with somebody else can help, too, even if it’s just a chat with somebody on a trip to the grocery store. Doing something nice for somebody or the world in general can be a big boost.

      Or sometimes I just write the day off, wallow, and start again on the next.

    5. SofiaDeo*

      I wonder if all the time spent “not feeling” ergo “never crying” means that a number of stress toxins have “built up” inside. Now that they are finally being released, your body is “overdoing” it. Also, certain “positive” chemicals like endorphins are also released. So IMO it’s a short term effect that will fade a bit with time. As long as you aren’t sobbing hysterically, clogging your sinuses and getting a headache, you will find these periods become shorter and shorter. You’ll reach a balance where things don’t trigger you as often and for as long. IMO the bright side to this, is that the positive emotions will also be felt a bit “more intensely” too, as you explore feeling your feelings. On top of all this, having an illness like Covid can itself mess with you emotionally a bit. Your body is doing normal things, this will all pass. I try to seek out the “glass half full” aspects of life instead of “glas half empty”; I do think it helps one get past the blues a bit faster. As others have noted, this is a part of being human, you *will* get past it, and unfortunately “new things” are often a bit uncomfortable at first. Hang in there, try some of the distractions listed, or new things–do you cook at all? Are there any home projects you can immerse yourself in? Is there a new hobby you’ve thought about trying? Do you have a pet you can interact with, even if it’s just to watch fish swimming around?

    6. Lady Lavender*

      For me, the precursor to disappointment is my expectations. If I keep my expectations reasonable, I won’t be as disappointed.
      And feelings are temporary. I like to feel my feelings, but I don’t let them drive the bus or make my decisions for me. Just let the disappointment pass, stop ruminating and feeding it.

    7. Still*

      I like journaling. I let myself express all of my feelings and the rationale behind them, all the “I know it shouldn’t be a big deal but it feels like it is”, and by the time my wrist gets tired I usually feel better.

    8. Neurodivergent in Germany*

      I do agree with other posters that your disappointment doesn’t seem outsized to me.
      Being sick/tired and alone sucks!

      But maybe this disappointment you are feeling now is like an occasion for you to let out/feel other disappointments that you weren’t able to feel at the time.

      I love the concept of reparenting oneself, e.g. thinking about what a loving parent would do for you and proceed accordingly.
      Are you well enough (or well stocked enough) to give yourself a favorite treat, a nourishing soup, a delicious hot beverage? Wrap yourself in a blanket? Call a friend who will listen sympathetically?

    9. Anonosaurus*

      Brene Brown has some helpful things to say about disappointment. She says, basically, that if you expect less so as not to be disappointed, you’re living a less authentic life. So it’s ok to be disappointed and it’s actually a form of authenticity. Check out “The Gifts of Imperfection” – might have some helpful insights.

  12. Hangs head in shame*

    Please tell me how you restrict your time on the internet? I end up reading some blogs and browsing and reading and browsing and some YouTube and a forum thrown in and next thing I know, I’ve wasted hours and hours!! (embarrassed every single time, but it’s always lather, rinse, repeat….sigh! )

    1. Hlao-roo*

      The two things that work best for me are (1) make it hard to start going down an internet rabbit hole and (2) make it easy to leave the internet.

      (1) For me, this looks like keeping my personal computer turned off during the day, so I only boot it up when I have something I need/want to do on the computer. It’s not just there, ready for easy scrolling. I keep as few apps as possible on my phone, so if I want to go on (for example) twitter, it’s not as easy as opening the app. I have to open the browser, type in the url, and click “go.” It also looks like planning out what I want to do during the day. If I don’t have plans, it’s easy to open up my phone/computer and go down an internet rabbit hole. But if I know I’m going to get coffee with a friend, and then go for a walk in the park, and then go to the grocery store then I don’t have any reason to be on the internet.

      (2) Sometimes when I need to do a few things on my computer, I’ll make a list before I boot it up (ex. pay bills, read Ask A Manager). When I finish my list, I turn my computer back off. I also do some mindless scrolling in the mornings sometimes, and that is time-limited because I know when I need to get off my phone in order to leave for work on time. That generally keeps my phone time in the morning to 10-15 min. (This strategy won’t work for someone with time-blindness, but it works for me because I can scroll and keep and eye on the clock.)

      I’m not perfect, and I do sometimes spend way more time on the internet than I would like to. I think shame is an emotion that can be useful in small quantities, as an “oh, I don’t want to be living my life this way” wake-up call, but can be harmful in large quantities, when it becomes “I’ll never be the person I want to be, I’m such a failure, time to go back to the internet to avoid these negative feelings, and look, I’m ashamed of myself again.” When you do waste hours and hours on the internet, feel a little embarrassed and also remember not to beat yourself up over it. We’re humans, we slip up sometimes.

    2. Reba*

      I use a browser plugin called Impulse Blocker sometimes, and tomato timer other times. I find these useful as guardrails, like I bump into the impulse blocker and it prompts me to think, oh yeah I don’t really want to browse, I want to do my task or whatever. There are other options for internet blocking apps, another one I’ve tried is called Serene I think which has a more “productivity” or work focus.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      More an observation, but someone observed that Twitter slowly crumbling was making it easy for him to disengage–the algorithm just wasn’t delivering keep-scrolling content.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I agree, and the same thing happened for me when Instagram made a pivot to Reels and videos to compete with TikTok (somehow around that time they showed me fewer people I followed and cared about, and more celebrity crap for some reason) – suddenly I would log on, scroll for a while, not really find anything I was engaged in, and log off to go do something else. This is a great relief to me! I had to create a social media platform for a side hustle that took off, had never wanted to create accounts like that before, and was finding it hard to balance. I’m not planning on starting a TikTok even though everybody and their mother keeps telling me I need to do it sell my stuff.

    4. Sloanicota*

      So, it doesn’t work for regular browsing, which I struggle mightily with, but for social media specifically I’ve got a system going where I only use one device for a site. Ideally, a device that slightly makes the site less amazing, so if it was TikTok or IG I’d use an old phone with a smaller screen. I have a twitter account always logged in on a tablet that I keep upstairs; if I want to scroll I have to go get that tablet. Don’t put any of it on your real phone that you carry around with you (this does mean I installed the libby app to read library books on my phone when bored out in the world, line waiting etc).

    5. Sleepy*

      I tried a plug-in called LeechBlock for a while where you can restrict the time you’re allowed to spend on certain websites (or all websites) before it blocks you (such as only being allowed on AskAManager for up to 45 minutes a day), or set it to restrict the time periods you’re allowed to be on (like blocking it between 8:00 pm – 7:00 am). It kind of helped for a while, but then I started temporarily turning off the block repeatedly for hours. Might work for you though?

      I think what helps me more is having something to replace my internet time with. Like making sure I have good books to read or a good show to watch on NetFlix, so then I’m doing those things instead of getting on the internet “to look up one thing” and falling into rabbit holes. Turning off my computer off before preparing dinner so that I can’t just hop on after I’m done eating helps too.

      1. BubbleTea*

        It’s possible to turn off the ability to turn off the block in LeechBlock, though it gives you dire warnings to make sure you’re absolutely certain about it.

  13. Ashloo*

    Any personal experiences, good or bad, on Effexor XR for depression and anxiety?

    I finally worked up the motivation to talk to a provider about medication and 37.5mg of Effexor XR is his initial recommendation. I have tried Prozac and Lexipro for brief periods over a decade ago and could not deal with the side effects (fatigue and bad sleep with Prozac; impending doom feelings on Lexipro).

    Reading about what a horror withdrawal from Effexor is like is making me question whether I want to try it at all. It seems like a double edged sword if it does work. I’ve seen some very positive reviews too. I know this can take a lot of trial and error, and dialing in, but I’m nervous about this one.

    1. sewsandreads*

      While I haven’t tried Effexor, I’m sending good wishes to you. It was smooth sailing for me on Prozac but I could barely cope with lexapro — it was enough to make me never want to try any others again. I hope this one works for you!

    2. Loredena*

      It was hard to go on, very disruptive sleep and hot flashes at first (which was ironic as it was chosen to help with my hot flashes) and every time insurance or the pharmacy messed up cold turkey was horrible. But, even that low dose helped my admittedly mild depression and when I finally went off it several years later I was able to taper without issue.

      1. Sloanicota*

        “Every time insurance or the pharmacy messed up cold turkey was horrible” – I think about this a LOT. I’ve had friends frantically trying to call around and get refills and they ended up in the ER when they couldn’t get them in time. One went on vacation and couldn’t get a refill when she got back fast enough. It would be an important consideration for me when starting new meds, and I know I’m not great about being super pro-active and on-the-ball.

      2. Rosemary*

        I had a very similar experience. My advice would be to really stay on top of the refills and picking them up in a timely manner (I was often scrambling at the last minute). I have not been on it (or anything) for several years now, but I think Effexor (combined with some other things) worked well.

    3. Dog Mom*

      I take it for anxiety. I started it in late 2021 on the 37.5mg. My doctor then wanted me to go up to 75mg. I couldn’t. The higher dose gave me such bad insomnia. I would fall asleep late and wake up in the middle of the night for at least 2-3 hours and then go fall asleep. Yet somehow I got through the day. But the fatigue from not sleeping started to pile up. The pharmacist told me it could take weeks for my body to adjust. Weeks of insomnia?! No way! I talked to my doctor and I have been on the 37.5mg since.

      However, I notice I am a bit tired now. Like I want to sleep more. And I don’t know if that is from having Covid a few times or if it’s the medication or what. (I’m not anemic. I do know that.)

      I have also noticed that while I don’t get panicky/anxious as I used to, I get angry rather than upset (crying). I also been able to shrug things off a bit more. But I also notice that I kind of get forgetful too.

      I’m debating changing the medicine, but I also don’t want to experience those withdrawals.

    4. KH_Tas*

      I take it for major depression, the most noticeable side effect for me has been major night sweats once a week or so. I’ve not gone off it yet so can’t answer that part, but I didn’t notice much going from 300mg to my current 150mg. I think it’s a medication that is very variable, especially since such a wide range of doses get prescribed.
      Best of luck with it.

    5. Parky*

      That, in particular, is a very addictive and intense medication. I dated a man who took it for 7 years and as time went on the doctor repeatedly upped his dosage. It affected him in a myriad of serious ways and was an absolutely terrifying medication to me, who has been on antidepressants since I was 17. If you can take something that isn’t a benzo, I would really encourage starting there

      1. HannahS*

        You have confused Effexor with something else. Effexor (venlafaxine) isn’t a benzodiazepine, it’s an SNRI. I realize this is an easy error to make because drugs are hard to keep straight, and also a very good example of why giving medical advice on this thread isn’t advised.

    6. mreasy*

      My husband has been on Effexor XR (or, as a friend called it, “side Effexor” due to the withdrawal issues) for several years now. He likes it but has had some pretty intractable weight gain from the meds and is looking for a new option. It also can increase irritability. I’m sorry you’re going through the trial and error gauntlet that depression meds can require! In the past 20 years I’ve been on a dozen and a half meds/combos but finally have the right treatment. Good luck!!

    7. BreakingDishes*

      I have been on it for over 10 years. I don’t have side effects. I went off of drugs for a year, but decided life was better on it. Going off of it did produce symptoms, but I got through that. Recently the dose has been increased during periods of extra stress, think after surgery, loss of spouse. Going back down to my usual dose after a few months has not caused any withdrawal problems. Dose needs to be reduced gradually-so do it with clinician supervision. Hope you find a medication that is helpful.

    8. Sparkle Llama*

      I was on it for quite a while but it worsened an existing dizziness issue so I eventually switched. The withdrawal was awful, like I felt like I was dying even stepping down slowly.

      It is very good at telling you that you didn’t take it with dizziness and/or electric shock sensations. That can be helpful if you have trouble remembering the meds but also sucks when you forget and don’t have it with you.

      Given your previous experiences might be worth seeing if they can refer you to psychiatry. That was very helpful for me in finding the right balance of meds.

    9. An Australian in London*

      I can’t speak to Effexor specifically. This isn’t medical advice; it is advice about how to approach medicine, which I hope is within the rules.

      I read some years ago that it takes the average person four different meds before they find one that’s right for them. (Assuming a normal distribution that means for every person who gets it in two, it takes someone else six different meds.)

      Also it can take six weeks on a new med or even just a changed dose of an existing one to feel any major effects, and eight weeks to conclude that it isn’t working. (If side effects are intolerable we don’t have to wait the full eight weeks.)

      Add those together and it can take the better part of a year to properly trial several meds and doses. That’s a lot to ask of anyone grappling with depression and its many co-morbidities.

      I tried ten different meds before I found a combination and dose that did all the things I wanted and didn’t do anything I didn’t want. It took me 1.5 years. I keep a spreadsheet now of all the chemicals and doses, rated for effects (higher is better) and side effects (lower is better). The look on a new doctor’s face when I hand that to them… some have almost burst into (happy) tears. Every single one immediately scanned it to add to my patient record.

      Anyway. Keep trying new things. Something will work.

    10. Clarbar*

      I take a combination of Wellbutrin and Prozac. SSRIs by themselves give me brutal fatigue now, so for the last 10 years my main drug is Wellbutrin (at a high dose) with a tiny dose of Prozac to mitigate the side effects of Wellbutrin (over-the-top anger and such.) I think Wellbutrin is one of the only non- SSRI antidepressants, and it works by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine rather than seratonin. I took Effexor as a teenager and don’t remember massive side effects, but it was also my first antidepressant and I was too busy being completely floored by the idea that other people actually felt *happy* sometimes and I could too!

    11. Courageous cat*

      I’ll be honest, I’ve tried almost every antidepressant on the block (up to and including MAOIs) and I still won’t try Effexor because of everything I know regarding the withdrawal. That said, some people love it. Maybe try Pristiq/Cymbalta (I believe they’re in a similar category) first?

    12. Anon for This*

      I take effexor. It completely controls my major depression, and significantly helps my anxiety. It also makes me extremely sleepy (I need 9 1/2 hours of sleep and two cups of coffee a day to be functional) and prevents me from feeling sexual arousal and having an organization. [Darn it, the phone will not let me type the actual word! Grr! Maybe you can guess it??]

      I tried to titrate it down very slowly, but when I got just below 25 mg I crashed badly and am now resigned. Nothing is worse than the depression. (I’ve been through several other SSRIs and SNRIs with similar side effects so for now am just going to stick with this one.)

      But it sucks.

      I am a believer in meds if necessary. But if you can find a way to thrive without it…

      All best wishes to you!

    13. Healthcare Worker*

      My mother has taken Effexor for years (at least 40) with no negative side effects that I’m aware of. It has done a wonderful job managing her depression. Best of luck to you.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Effexor has been approved for use in the U.S. since 1993, not 1983. Links in reply.

    14. Sixty-six and Counting*

      I took Effexor for awhile years ago. I worked well for a time but was horrible to get off (of course under doctor care). For me, the withdrawal effects lasted for much longer than any other similar meds. I do hope you have positive results though.

    15. Seashell*

      In case it helps, I have a family member who tried Lexapro unsuccessfully (due to it causing terrible insomnia), but tried Cymbalta and it worked well. I don’t think there were any withdrawal symptoms when coming off it.

    16. The Rat-Catcher*

      Hi, I take Effexor for generalized anxiety (pretty much a constant) and depression (recurring). I started on 75 mg and it was very difficult to adjust to. I felt dizzy frequently and spent a lot of time resting. After about two weeks, I had adjusted and noticed a significant improvement in mood. If I miss a dose, I do get dizzy and the withdrawal sucks. I haven’t stopped taking it, so no advice on that. I stopped improving after a while and we went up to 150, which is where I am now, and the biggest thing is having bad dreams (I rarely remembered dreams before). Obviously things like how I am doing with my therapy and following those recommendations matters too.

      1. The Rat-Catcher*

        ETA I did not gain weight with this medication and my sex drive has not been impacted.

  14. sewsandreads*

    Making thread! What’s on everyone’s lists?

    Not exactly crafting, but I’ve been making my own mini library, so I’m counting it as making! I’ve wanted one since uni and it’s finally in progress.

    1. Professor Plum*

      I have a quilt to make for a brand new great-niece. I pinned an image of the tree art with critters seen in Alison’s image at the top of this weekend’s post as inspiration for the quilt. Great reminder to get it started!

        1. Sloanicota*

          It looks like he’s got some cool variations of that image, like one with bears and one with birds, different backgrounds, etc, if you click through the gallery. Cool!

          1. Professor Plum*

            Yea—it was the bears that I first saw earlier in the week. The ideas are spinning!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My mom made me a quilted wall hanging that’s sort of reminiscent of that art style a ways back — I’ll have to ask her if there’s any connection :)

    2. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      About halfway through my cowl scarf; I think I messed up the stitch counts again, but not by a lot…

      Making plans for a large blanket that is mainly single colour granny squares, and a fish amigurumi because I totally want to make all the amigurumi, I think my kids will like them! Of course I should probably actually learn the techniques for these projects first…

      Side question. Should I get a yarn swift? Is that different from a ball winder? I don’t really get how these things work or if I can just wind balls by hand when necessary?

      1. RagingADHD*

        A yarn swift holds a hank or hand-wound skein of yarn open so you can wind it into a ball. A ball winder does the actual winding.

        You can most certainly wind balls by hand, or use a commercial ball or puck of yarn as it comes from the store. I wouldn’t consider a swift to be necessary (or worth the space) unless you are using handspun or specialty yarn that comes in loose hanks in fairly large quantities on a regular basis. If you buy your yarn at a big box craft store, you don’t need a swift because it comes pre-wound.

      2. Emma2*

        If you use a lot of yarn, a swift can be pretty helpful (particularly got finer yarn – hand winding a skein of worsted weight doesn’t take very long, but fingering takes ages).
        The ball winder is the destination point for the yarn – it wraps the yarn around a post to make a ball. The swift is something that holds the skein of yarn while it is being wound (you need a way to stabilise it, if you just put the skein on the table and attached it to the ball winder, you would get a huge tangled mess). The swift holds the skein and as the winder pulls the yarn, the swift spins so the yarn comes off smoothly.
        I got my swift before my wonder because even when hand winding it makes the process easier by holding the skein and letting the you pull the yarn smoothly as you wind it.
        Hope that helps!

      3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I have both – I got the ball winder because winding by hand was annoying to me, and my ex got me the swift because holding the hanks while I wound them was annoying to him, haha. But they both are going on 20 years old now so a worthwhile investment.

      4. HamlindigoBlue*

        I have been knitting for a while now, and I just recently bought a swift that I haven’t taken out of the box yet. I use my winder all the time, though. Every time I have had to wind a hank, I would just use the back of a chair and tell myself to buy a swift for next time. -But now that I have the swift, I haven’t had any reason to use it.

        I guess the swift isn’t necessary, but it’s nice to have if you have the space for it and if you regularly purchase yarn in hank form. My LYS will wind the hanks for customers. I ask the store to wind it for me if I know I’m going to use the yarn right away.

      5. Accidental Itenerate Teacher*

        Personally, while I do have a ball winder I never use it, mostly because I don’t like the style of balls it makes.
        I do have a swift that I use quite often. Like others have said, it’s useful if you’re buying lots of yarns that come in skeins. It basically holds the skein to keep it from tangling while you wind a ball.
        The most common kind of swift you’ll find is the umbrella swift (its the one that expands by pushing it up like an umbrella). I find that kind of finicky to work with though, so I have a squirrel cage swift- which has two kind of bobbin type things to hold the yarn.

      6. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        Thanks all! I think I’ll wait and see if I end up buying much yarn that needs winding.

      7. Rara Avis*

        My kid taught themself to crochet (from YouTube) and bought a book of cute amigumuri patterns. So far they’ve made: pig, cow, turtle, narwhal, jellyfish, eggplant, donut. My role is to keep them supplied with yarn, stuffing, and safety eyes.

    3. fposte*

      I’m still slowly redoing my basement room. Turns out it paid off this week as the tornado sirens went off *twice*, and I found it a much nicer space to be in. (Though I need to get a couple of device cables stored down there.)

    4. HamlindigoBlue*

      My son asked for a pair of thick wool socks to wear around the house, so I started those last night. They’re working up fast since it’s a worsted weight pattern. I need to put buttons on a cardigan that I finished knitting up last week. I don’t know what it is about sewing buttons onto projects, but I dislike it and will procrastinate. I have a dog sweater that I finished crocheting last year that would be 100% done if I would just sew two buttons onto the thing. I also still have my crochet blanket that I’m still slowly working on.

    5. Emily Dickinson*

      I just cast on a hat after a long sabbatical from knitting. It took me 3 attempts but now I’m nearly done the brim. It’s a warm up to finishing a pair of socks and getting started on the next pair, hopefully.

    6. LemonLyman*

      Can you share more about your mini library? What did you do/are your plans for this project? We have a small three bedroom home and I’d love to turn our smallest extra room into a mini library. Thanks!

      1. sewsandreads*

        Sure! So, I’ve commandeered part of our living room for it — we have gorgeous bay windows, but it renders one wall utterly useless. We did get quoted for some custom built ins, but it was about triple the IKEA route. So I’ve bought IKEA Billy shelves, plus some Oxberg doors to put on some. Our house is pretty small too and limited on storage, so this will help! It’ll also let us hide things (Google Home, modem, charging station) which I’m keen on.

        The bookshelves follow the corner next to the bay window around to our Useless Wall, and then they end at the end of our living area before it turns into a dining space. We typically enter through our garage, which is right where the bookshelves end, so I’ve doubled the last bookshelf to be a mini entry station as well.

        A suggestion which I’m glad I took on board — we couldn’t go full floor to ceiling, which bummed me out initially, but we’re using that leftover top space for some trailing plants.

        We did have pretty bold cushions while the room was mostly empty, so I’ll make/buy some new covers that are a bit more muted once the books are in. I have a squishy chair in the corner section of the bookshelves, as the bottom (mostly covered by that chair) is used for folders and things, plus magazine files. I used to work in editorial so I am a magazine hoarder!

        We also kept the shelves white, as the house is pretty cosy and we thought this would make it feel bigger. It looks like it’s been there all along — my partner was a bit hesitant when the boxes all arrived, but he loves it now.

        Also, when you’re putting shelves in, test them around your books! I’ve seen a lot of people covering the Billy shelf holes, but I’m going to wait til the books are in and then decide. As it is, the way the shelves are assembled, I’m tight on space as it is if I’m trying to use a trade paperback, so I may need to rearrange.

        And in terms of styling, I keep eyeing off Fabriksen on Instagram — LOVE.

    7. RecentlyRetired*

      I’ve been looking at a circular knitting machine that I can use to make socks. I sooooo much hate to buy socks because my calves are large and most socks end up bunching down at my ankles.
      Has anyone used one? I’d love to hear about it.

  15. Luanne Platter*

    My son turns 19 this weekend. It’s really striking me how quickly it all passes. I know that’s cliché. But I saw a baby in the grocery store and I just about burst crying. I don’t want more kids but I miss the little ages. My son is a good man. But I can’t believe how quickly it all went by.

    Parents, hug your littles. Don’t give up any chance for a squeeze or a sticky kiss.

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Wait until he has kids and makes you a grandmother; you’ll then have little ones again to squeeze and kiss.

      My son is 40 and I have two grandchildren that I see regularly, but they are now at the teenager stage. I wish I could put a clamp on them and keep them small…

      1. LGP*

        “Wait until he has kids and makes you a grandmother; you’ll then have little ones again to squeeze and kiss.”

        *If* he has kids. Not everyone wants them or can have them. Besides, being a grandparent isn’t the only way for older adults to have children in their lives (volunteering, fostering, spending time with friends’ kids/grandkids, etc.)

        1. ThatGirl*

          Thanks for saying this. My mom would have loved being a grandma but I’m not having kids (and I was her only chance). She got over it and “adopted” some neighbor kids.

          1. LemonLyman*

            Same. Neither my sister (44, divorced) or I (42, married but have a ton of health issues over the last 12 years) have had kids. So my mom treats the kiddos of two cousins who have always been close with my mom as grandkids (but with appropriate respect for their actual grandparents).

      2. Observer*

        Wait until he has kids and makes you a grandmother; you’ll then have little ones again to squeeze and kiss.

        Yeah, I agree with the others. That’s not a give. For a whole host of reasons. And having “your are going to give me grandkids” as an expectation generally doesn’t do relationships a whole lot of good, even if the adult child in question WANTS kids and can have them.

        1. Firebird*

          One of my kids can’t have children and the other one is unenthusiastic, so I don’t expect any grandchildren. I do enthusiastically give gifts to the pets and show off their pictures.
          As much as I want grandchildren, it’s up to my kids and not my business. I want my kids to be happy, and if that means childfree, I’m ok with it.
          I do have friends who are grieving about not having grandchildren and it’s really hard on them.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, and you’re a better audience for them to express that grief than their kids are.

    2. Washi*

      Hmm an interesting companion to my thought of the weekend, which is that I’m finding that telling myself that the next 5 years will be a bit of a grind is easier mentally than trying to enjoy every moment.

      (I love my 9 month old and we do plan to have another but dang this is exhausting af. But it’s already gotten so much better, and in 5 years I know I want to have a 6 year old and 3ish year old so we soldier on!)

      1. Christmas Cookie*

        Mom of 3 here. Mine are in the “golden years” being 5,7 &9. They are still full of the joys of youth, love me, snuggle me, are totally impressed by me, but are potty trained and can sleep through the night, get dressed, and make themselves breakfast. Heck they can all make me coffee if they use k-cups. :)

        I want to freeze them in time. My oldest is about to become a moody tween. They are (mostly) doubting Santa. my youngest is off to K and I couldn’t be happier for her, but I will miss our “long” mornings after the big two get on the bus and before I leave for work/drop her at PK.

        My mantra after my 3rd was born was “only 2 more years.” And it was right! By the time my youngest was 2.5, I had 3 potty trained kids! It was amazing! I purged baby stuff like nobody’s business.

        1. allathian*

          It really depends on the kid, my son’s nearly 14 and he still wants to hug me sometimes. He does get moody at times, but not all the time, and he still talks to me. I never stopped talking to my parents in my teens. Sure, I didn’t tell them all the small things anymore, but I did talk about most of the big ones. We had a good relationship, and I’m doing my best to ensure a similar relationship with our son.

    3. Emma*

      I love my kiddo, but it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. I’m exhausted all the time and constantly sick from various kiddo illnesses (while still having to care for my sick kiddo while I feel like crap), and have very little time to pursue any kind of hobby or exercise or even go to the store by myself.

      But they are very cute sometimes. I think every age has its pros and cons. Of course I will miss things about this stage as kiddo grows. But I will relish being able to have some freedom too.

    4. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Mine just turned 23 and I am only now recovered enough from the toddler years to think other people’s toddlers are adorable. I loved, loved, loved having a teenager – yes! really! teens can be AWESOME! – and am really enjoying the evolution of our relationship. It was all worth it, and now it does seem to have flown by. While I was in the midst of the little-kid years, I did not love every moment. And I found it really irritating when people told me I should. Raising littles is physically exhausting and I imagine the pandemic has made that exponentially worse, since many of the escape valves I needed are not as available or safe.

      In many ways I had it easy. She was a compliant neurotypical kid who slept well, loved going to preschool, and was adored by her teachers and classmates. My husband (we’re a cis/het couple) was and is an involved, loving dad and equal parenting partner. And you still could not pay me enough money to go back there.

      1. allathian*

        My son’s 13 and a bit late in maturing physically, but my husband was and is an involved, loving dad and an equal parenting partner. He’s the one who’s taught our son to ride a bike and cross-country ski, for example.

        As much as I loved my neurotypical, mostly contented toddler, he was a late talker, and I feel like I only got to know him when he was about 4 and started talking. I also got some of the “just wait until he gets into his teens” talk where people were assuming I’d miss his little kid years when he was a teen. So far I haven’t.

        I love our son because he’s our kid, but I also genuinely like him as a person. I love watching him grow and develop. I was too tired for most of his toddlerhood to really enjoy it. Just parenting a normal, reasonably but not excessively active kid took its toll on me.

        I also love being able to introduce him to some of our favorite TV shows, like 80s-90s Star Trek, now that he’s old enough to enjoy them.

        He’s admittedly a bit of a loner, he’s introverted enough that he hasn’t shown any interest in any extracurriculars like team sports, but I’m happy that he’s physically active with his dad. He does have one good friend he’s known since he was 2 years old, although I’ve tried to encourage him to reach out to other potential friends, he hasn’t shown any interest in that, at least not yet. But the advantage of his being a voluntary loner is that peer pressure doesn’t work on him, other kids can’t get him to do stupid things by threatening to ostracize him if he doesn’t play along. He just shrugs and does his own thing instead. So I’m a bit worried that he doesn’t spend enough time with his peers, but as far as I can tell, it’s his own choice. My husband’s told me that he was the same way, he only had one or two good friends in elementary and junior high, and he started hanging out with a group of peers when he went to high school. I’m hoping for the same with our son… But for now I’m just enjoying this stage of his life.

    5. Generic Name*

      I hear you. My son is 16, and over the past two years has literally transformed in front of my very eyes from my sweet boy to a (nearly) man. He’s doing normal teenager things and hanging out with friends, and I can feel him separating from me, and it’s actually a bit painful. My son was a very high needs baby, and was very difficult until a year or two ago, frankly, but I do feel wistful for his squishy cheeks and baby kisses. We still hug, but he’s taller than me, and it’s like a really in your face reminder that I can’t protect him anymore. Soon he’ll be out on his own. I hope I’ve prepared him well enough.

      1. Observer*

        We still hug, but he’s taller than me, and it’s like a really in your face reminder that I can’t protect him anymore.

        Thank you for remembering that – you’ll both be happier. It takes SO much pressure off, and it provides your son the freedom he needs.

    6. Flowers*

      I have had a very rough time with my 2.5 year old – autism diagnosis, early intervention therapies, general 2 year old tantrums, not to mention a stressful home life. But I constantly find myself looking at her older pictures and missing how cuddly and tiny (i..e, immobile and not arguing back LOL) she was. A few months back I realized there will come a day when she won’t want me to carry her or sleep on me (i guess mom’s the best pillow haha!) so I decided to enjoy it as much as possible.

      I’m one and done so this is literally the only chance I have to do it right. Every night I come home, I don’t miss a chance to cuddle and kiss her as much as possible.

      1. Neurodivergent in Germany*

        I’m one and done too!
        My autistic daughter is 3 1/2.
        She has the classic spiky profile with some big difficulties and some very advanced strengths.
        She is incredibly sweet, cuddly and funny, but even if I were lucky enough to have another one just like her ( having a kid who doesn’t like to cuddle because of sensory issues is my worst case scenario), I couldn’t parent two as intensely as I do her.
        I love toddlers, though, and am seriously considering teaching preschool when my girl is a little older. If I weren’t so scared of being sick all fall and winter for the rest of my life…
        I’m happy for her to take a little longer to grow up (sleeping through the night would be nice…)

        1. Flowers*

          I so hear you on sleeping through the night! baby potato’s super cuddly and im in awe of her allll the time. But the whole one-and-done thing is so complicated for me to navigate. My husband has decided he doesn’t want anymore and while a major part of me understands and agrees with his reasons, Im still sad about not having another. I know realistically, we can’t do justice to two kids. so hence.. “one and done”.

    7. Little Beans*

      Thank you! My little one is about to turn 3 and I love this age. He’s so adorable and so much fun. He wants attention 100% of the time unless we let him watch tv, so I try to just be ok with the house being a mess and remind myself that soon he won’t want to play with me all the time. We haven’t decided if we want another. I think we both do – we miss the baby stage and want our kid to have a sibling – but at the same time, 1 kid and 2 full time jobs feels exhausting and I don’t really know how people do more…

    8. They grow up*

      My younger son will be 50 in a few months, so yeah. Time passes, and the littles grow up. I should say that I’m not at all minimizing your feelings, I’m just responding from a late stage of parenthood.

    9. California Dreamin’*

      My oldest is a young adult and youngest are teenagers. I often say that if I had one magic wish, it would be to go back and spend a day with my kids as preschoolers. I miss those little cuddly people a lot! When I dropped my oldest off at college the first time, it felt like someone cut off my arm. But by the time my youngest leaves the nest, I will have spent almost 30 years raising kids and I feel like I’ll be ready.

    10. Not A Manager*

      My sons are fully adult, with bushy beards to prove it. I miss the cuddly children they once were, but they are so delightful and wise and independent and kind that I just marvel at them.

    11. BubbleTea*

      My boy is rising 2 and I already feel this. He’s not a little squishy baby any more, he rarely wants cuddles and he’s very independent. On the upside he’s becoming increasingly good company and he’s very funny.

      My parents are all having a way better time as grandparents than they seemed to have as parents, so hopefully I’ll get that experience as well. If not, parenting my favourite person is wonderful at every stage so far :)

    12. Patty Mayonnaise*

      If you haven’t seen Boyhood, consider checking it out. I think it would resonate deeply with you at this moment (if you are up for it! I got emotional watching it and I wasn’t even a mom yet.)

  16. Filosofickle*

    A driver crashed into my yard this week. Didn’t hurt the house and the landscaping will recover, but the fence is smashed. They fled the scene (!!) but I could identify them and they are fully cooperating. The driver says he is in the trades and wants to repair the fence himself rather than go through his insurance. It’s a shared fence with my neighbors, so decisions will be made jointly.

    Path 1 is claim through insurance — I’m assuming his auto insurance rather than our home insurance to start? This feels like the “smart” choice as there would be some sort of warranty and oversight for the work.

    Path 2 is let the driver fix it. If he’s qualified to do a fence, it would be a kindness to him. If all goes well, this path is faster and easier than dealing with an insurance company. If all doesn’t go well, this would not look like a smart move in hindsight. My neighbors say they’re willing to at least talk to him to assess.

    What would you be asking / looking out for?

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      I recomend calling your homeowner’s insurance and let them know what happened (police report?) and give them his details and insurance info. Your insurance will handle the details.

      1. ghost_cat*

        I’m sorry to hear that this has been a bit of tipping point. If it were me, I would handle it through my insurance company. The driver fled the scene. This is not a good starting point for letting them fix your fence.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Yeahh, I think I agree. If the driver had come knocked on my door right after it happened, apologized, explained they are a tradesman and can fix the fence, I’d consider it. But they ran off and left you to find this? I probably wouldn’t want to deal with them directly again personally.

        2. StellaBella*

          agree. do not let them talk you into them fixing it. get a professional from insurance folks.

        3. 2023, You are Not Nice*

          I’m with you. If he’d stuck around that might be worth considering but now I don’t think he’s trustworthy at all.

        4. Charlotte Lucas*

          He probably fled because he didn’t want the police called, as he had probably been drinking. Something similar happened to me many years ago, & once the (teen) driver showed up the next day, we were able to get everything resolved.

      2. Generational wealth*

        He fled the scene. That tells you what you need to know. Go through insurance.

    2. Filosofickle*

      That’s the question. But I also just want to say out loud: this incident has wiped me out. I have been struggling to make progress on so many important things and power through grief and I was already running on fumes — this final straw has sent my little AuDHD self into shutdown mode. I’m fried. But unfortunately, obligations this weekend mean I can’t just hole up in bed the way I need. I’ll keep it as minimal as I can and do my best.

      1. Purple m&m*

        Hearing your struggles makes me really vote for insurance company doing as much heavy lifting as possible. It this guy flakes (like he did by running), you’re going to be so stressed out. Going by the book will help. Sending best thoughts to you

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          This strikes me as very logical. The insurance company (should be his car insurance) should be doing the heavy lifting here.

          1. Rosemary*

            Call your homeowner’s insurance. They will go after the appropriate people. I really, really would not even consider letting this guy fix it.

      2. An Australian in London*

        If the goal is to minimise the burder on you:

        Insurance and police report.

        That will be some up-front effort from you but then you will be entirely hands off. Anything needing chasing will be chased by others who are paid professionally to do that chasing.

        If you engage with this fellow directly, that opens a can of worms. That’s not just one interactions but many. What happens if he doesn’t fix the fence in a week? A month? How are you going to chase him? What happens if he does it but it’s terrible and needs to be redone? How are you going to get it fixed? What if he does half of it and then stops? etc etc etc

        Report to police and insurance. Let them deal with it.

        Another thing to consider: anyone with apparently so much to fear from police and insurance claims should be driving carefully enough to never come to the attention of either. The fact that this guy nevertheless had a vehicular accident is a data point that he can’t sustain commitments and responsibilities. If he won’t or can’t do that for such a serious thing as a car accident, why would we trust that he’ll do it for a fence he has to build for free?

      3. Observer*

        But I also just want to say out loud: this incident has wiped me out. I have been struggling to make progress on so many important things and power through grief and I was already running on fumes — this final straw has sent my little AuDHD self into shutdown mode. I’m fried.

        Go through your insurance. It’s going to be a pain in the neck, to be sure. But it’s going to be a MUCH bigger pain to get this guy to fix it, and fix it right.

        As others have noted, the guy FLED the scene. What makes you think you are not going to have to keep chasing him for every. little. thing? The answer is there isn’t anything to give that impression, from what you say.

        Let your insurance to the chasing.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Dude fled the scene. I’d let my homeowners insurance handle it. They will involve his auto insurer as appropriate.

    4. Chaordic One*

      I would really be afraid to go down Path 2. Experience has made me cynical. I suppose it is possible that the driver could fix the fence or might fix the fence but I’ve just heard of so many instances where someone like the driver says they’ll do the work, and then they have a whole bunch of excuses and nothing ever gets done. And you’re left with a broken fence.

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

      Crashing through a fence into a yard is such an extreme thing IMO. What was his reason… drunk, on his phone, going way too fast on a curve or turn? I would not let him repair it. He has shown poor judgement all along. He’s likely to delay delay with a myriad of excuses, do 1/2 and then disappear. This will only prolong and deepen your overwhelmed feelings.

      If all parties don’t want to involve insurance, it would be better to get a price (or 2) from a neutral tradesperson to fix it, and get him to pay you and the neighbor the cash. (Put it in writting). Do you already have his insurance info in case he bails out? Can the neighbor take the lead on getting one estimate or arranging the repair?

      1. Filosofickle*

        Really appreciate the question about if the neighbor could take lead — I think they would, and that would help immensely. Because I feel Responsible For Everything All The Time it wouldn’t have occurred to me to lean on them.

        1. Observer*

          Let the neighbor take the lead. But unless Neighbor has a REALLY good reason to not involve insurance, I STILL think police report + Insurance companies, are the way to go. Because even if Neighbor does most of the chasing on the part that affects them, it could still become a huge dragged out thing that will definitely affect you, and your yard is not something Neighbor is going to chase about.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Here’s what I would ask in your place:

      1) How does the driver account for the accident, and for fleeing the scene?

      2) Does his story make sense when I sit down and think about it?

      3) Does anything about his account of the incident, or his behavior afterward, inspire confidence that he can be relied on to actually finish the job?

      4) Is there any way to verify that he is “in the trades?” Does his trade include landscaping or fencing? Does he have any references for the quality of his work, or his reliability?

      5) How long is the project going to take?

      6) What is your recourse if he doesn’t finish the job, or does such shoddy work that the fence falls down again?

      7) What is your recourse if he damages your landscaping or other parts of your property?

      8) What is your recourse if he gets hurt on your property?

      1. Christmas cookie*

        Yeah, you MIGHT say “if my fence is fixed by Monday 9am I will not involve insurance.” He will do it or not. If not, call insurance.

        If he cares that much he’ll make it happen.

    7. Anono-me*

      Another vote for path 1. I think it will be less stressful in the long run. Sloanicota said pretty much everything I was going to say. Bottom line is that you can’t trust his ethics or his judgment. How can you trust him to do the job well?

      Sorry about the extra crud you are having to deal with.

    8. Llama Llama*

      He fled the scene and didn’t take accountability until he was caught. It’s a fair thing to consider if he didn’t, but now he is not trustworthy enough to fix it himself.

    9. Tib*

      If he’s in the trades, then that’s how he earns his living. How is he going to prioritize your job against jobs that pay him money? Also, how booked is his schedule? Up where I am it would be months before he has time. I’d want to get a written estimate from him and at least one estimate to compare it with. And references. Also, him fixing it off the record might mean no warranty or recourse if things go wrong.

      1. Observer*

        How is he going to prioritize your job against jobs that pay him money?

        He won’t, is my guess.

        Also, him fixing it off the record might mean no warranty or recourse if things go wrong.

        No might. Remember, he’s trying to keep this off the record and he’s already shown that he will walk away from anything that he can walk away from.

    10. Rosemary*

      I would 100% go through the insurance company. I would NOT trust a guy who FLED THE SCENE to do the right thing, even if he is the Best! Fence! Builder! Ever! Nope nope nope. You may have to deal with insurance headaches, but those at least are predictable; who knows what kind of mess you might find yourself in if you let this guy – the perpetrator! – handle the repairs.

    11. Emma*

      If he wants to do the work himself, you could have him give you a cash deposit for the value of the work (Call for estimates) and write up a contract, and refund it to him when work is complete. But that sounds exhausting.

      Since he fled the scene he’s not trustworthy. I would go through insurance, or if you don’t, be prepared to eat the cost of the repairs yourself.

      1. Generic Name*

        No, why would she pay him anything to fix something he broke? He wants to build the fence to avoid civil or criminal penalties.

        1. Squeakrad*

          I think you misunderstood — she is saying have the driver pay her a deposit that would get refunded once he completed the work

    12. KatEnigma*

      Once upon a time, a guy broke a large expensive window at our church. He was in “the trades” and promised to do it himself. Then he promised to pay it off a little a month. Then to work it off, as he was a painter and the church had some indoor painting that we were willing to let him do, in lieu of… Yeah.

      Just have your insurance call his insurance.

    13. fhqwhgads*

      Go through insurance. Dude hit and ran. That’s serious. Also the cost of the damage to the fence is probably higher than the minimum for filing a police report, so if he’s thinking “let me fix it and leave insurance out of it” will somehow get him off the hook, he’s very wrong.
      Go through insurance. Let them do the paperwork and dealing with his insurance, etc. You want Official Channels here.

    14. Kathenus*

      Different situation but cautionary tale. I was working with my brothers to clean out my mom’s house after she passed away. Was at the grocery store and an elderly man hit my car. He said he wanted to reimburse me personally and not do an insurance claim or police report. Gave me a copy of his driver’s license info. I agreed. I got a quote, sent it to him. He said I’m not paying you’ll have to sue me. I’ll never trust someone in this type of situation again, unfortunately. Since I lived in another state doing a small claims court case would have cost me more than the money and trouble.

      1. Generic Name*

        That’s basically what the old man in a Mercedes said to me right before he drove off after he hit my old Camry in a parking lot. I wrote down his license plate, called the cops, and let my insurance handle it. Actually, he said the damage wasn’t that big of a deal and his insurance wouldn’t pay for it. He was wrong and they paid the $800 to fix my bumper.

    15. Random Bystander*

      I would go through the insurance. I’d just call my homeowner’s insurance agent if it had been me, and they’ll take it from there. It definitely should be his insurance that ultimately has liability.

      The insurance route does allow you to push off all the stress–it is no longer your problem and you’re not the primary point of contact to make sure that things progress (like if a permit needs to be obtained to do the work).

      Yes, in an ideal world, you could let the driver do the repair and he would do the work properly. But when you have someone who has shown such poor judgment (leaving the scene!), you’re too far from that ideal. This is the sort of thing that insurance exists to resolve.

    16. Alex*

      I would 100% do it through insurance. Especially since he fled the scene initially–he doesn’t seem very reliable.

    17. Dark Macadamia*

      I wouldn’t trust someone who fled the scene to follow through on anything to my satisfaction. He should’ve been on your doorstep with evidence of his business/certifications/etc the moment it happened if he wanted to handle it that way!

      I also wouldn’t trust myself to know what to do and would be relieved to let insurance handle it for me. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

    18. Flowers*

      Insurance/police/etc.

      You only have so much of yourself to give – you’re not unkind for letting a hit and run driver get away with crap.

    19. Lady Lavender*

      I wouldn’t let the guy fix it himself. What if he does a lousy job? I would call the homeowner’s insurance. That’s why you have it.
      Somebody backed into our bulkhead and damaged it and we didn’t go through insurance, settled privately with the guy, then he didn’t pay. It was a hassle. Let the insurance handle it.

    20. Filosofickle*

      It’s unanimous! I knew that was the right answer but appreciate being able to poll the crowd as I’m having a hard time processing info right now.

      That said, y’all have much more confidence than I do that insurance will make my life / this situation easier! There’s clear fault, a police report, and insurance so it will be covered but it can be a real PITA to deal with insurance. Especially since there are two owners to the fence, which could give them reasons to shift responsibility. I may have to chase them as much as the driver.

      He actually wasn’t drunk FWIW. He came back with the police and he wasn’t intoxicated in any way that we could see. I don’t know what happened — something went wrong and he lost control of his vehicle and/or his faculties. He looked quite dazed at the time and took a couple minutes to get out of the yard. (All the while I’m taking pictures of him, his car, and his plates.) He says he doesn’t know what happened, not even sure how he got home and had only a vague feeling that he hit something. Might be true, might not be, we’ll never know.

      1. Blomma*

        It may still be a pain to go through insurance, but really his auto insurance should pay for the repairs. You shouldn’t have to file through your homeowner’s, pay the deductible, and deal with possible premium surcharges due to having a claim on your record. (Insurance agent here, though not yours, and I recommend you speak with your agent!)

      2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        If he’s telling the truth there, he might have had some kind of seizure or other neurological event.

        If I was advising him, I’d say “talk to your doctor, and tell them what happened and that you have only a hazy memory of the incident.”

        However, since you’re the person asking, this is another argument for going through insurance. In many places, if a driver has a seizure their license is automatically suspended for several months. Not being able to drive legally to your home, or to the hardware store for supplies, would be a hindrance to something like fixing your fence, even if he can carpool or take transit to and from his regular jobsite. (I realize people do drive without valid licenses, but “I have to wait until I get my license back” would also be a convenient excuse for putting the job off.)

      3. Patty Mayonnaise*

        Would it be helpful to you to reframe this as “the pain of this isn’t actually going through insurance, the pain is that it happened at all”? Because this sucks! You did nothing to bring this on yourself and you are stuck trying to fix it! But given you have to do something to fix your yard, contacting insurable and letting them deal with it is the path of least resistance here.

      4. Observer*

        That said, y’all have much more confidence than I do that insurance will make my life / this situation easier! There’s clear fault, a police report, and insurance so it will be covered but it can be a real PITA to deal with insurance. Especially since there are two owners to the fence, which could give them reasons to shift responsibility. I may have to chase them as much as the driver.

        Oh, it will almost certainly be PITA, but as others have noted, there is a pretty clear cut path, and it’s pretty predictable. And you can be pretty confident that at the end of it, you’ll have a check to do the repairs/.

        If you work with this guy? The odds are that you are going to be doing a LOT more chasing, the path forward is going to be highly unexpected in a lot of ways, and at the end of it, there is an extremely high likelihood that you are left with not repairs and no recourse because of all of the monkeying around.

      5. Dr. Speakeasy*

        One thing I’ve found is that when you call insurance for something that they are on the hook to pay – they take forever. But when they need to go after the other person’s insurance… they are very, very good at that.

      6. Dark Macadamia*

        It’s more about predictability – going through the insurance is a PITA with a structured process, documentation, and end result. Dealing with the guy directly is a PITA with someone who already flaked out on you once with an unknown timeline and questionable result.

    21. Laura Petrie*

      Things might be different where you are, but in the UK, the driver would be obliged to report it to his motor insurance company.

  17. I'm A Little Teapot*

    UK folks, you were so wonderfully helpful last weekend that my family has been able to significantly progress our trip planning and I have more questions, all on trains. I’m searching on Trainline initially to figure out what I’m doing, then plan to buy tickets on the actual train website.

    1. Train from London to Bath. From what I can tell, this is the GWR train from London Paddington to Bath Spa. It will be a Friday, and we are trying to time it so we can have fun in London, then get on the train in the early evening. We would like to to get to the hotel before it gets dark. Thinking of leaving around 5pm, but we have some flexibility to try to work around peak times if that would be better. Does this sound reasonable? Advice?

    2. Need a train from Winslow area (touring Blenheim Castle and Claydon House) to London. My searching has indicated that I need help with basic geography – what train stations am I looking for? Any tips?

    3. Another train, this time from Lincoln up to Aberdeen/Stonehaven, on a Friday. I’m seeing East Midlands Railway transfer to London North Eastern Railway as the train, so there will be a connection. Better options? How do I actually book this one? I’m unsure because it’s 2 train companies, do the train websites communicate with each other?

    Thanks for the help. Mom is REALLY excited.

    1. Taking the long way round*

      Re connecting – no the companies don’t communicate together. If the first train is late then you’ll miss your connection. You book them as you would any other train journey, individually with the company. Most of the time it’s ok, and you make the connection. Sometimes you miss it.
      Make sure you leave enough time to make the connection. I’d leave at least an hour, and I’d also ensure that the connecting train isn’t the last one of the day in case I did miss it – I wouldn’t want to wait til the following morning to continue my journey. But you might have other options! The train companies you’ve chosen are the main ones and I would stick with those.

      Train from London to Bath – I think that will be very busy! If it were me I’d get an earlier or later one. I know that might not fit your schedule though, so the other option is to just grin and bear it, if it is busy (as in ‘crowded and you need to stand up’ busy).

      Another option, if you can afford it and the train company offers it on your service, is to buy a first class ticket. That can be super expensive, but it does make the longer journeys much more bearable, and even pleasant!

      I’m not sure about the names of the train stations, sorry I can’t help with that.

      1. Lexi Vipond*

        I mean, any company should sell you a ticket for any journey. It’s just that some of them will also sell you specially cheap tickets for journeys on their own trains only.

        If you’ve booked one ticket for your whole journey, it’s up to the companies to get you there – changing onto LNER that will probably just mean that they put you onto their own next train half an hour later, but if the delays are chaotic enough then ticket restrictions (specific companies, specific times) will go off and you’ll be put onto any suitable train to keep you moving.

        The thing is that sometimes it will cost (for example) £100 to buy a ticket for your whole journey, but £30 to buy a ticket for half of it and £10 for the other half, and then you have to decide what chances you’re willing to take, because if you’re booked for two separate journeys then missing the second one does become your problem.

        1. Chris in Scotland*

          For point 3, I often travel by train on part of this route using LNER and other train companies and I always book the whole journey on LNER website without problems. For the LNER section, try to book a seat on the right of the train facing the direction of travel, as there are great views of the sea in many places and often seals on the rocks after the Forth Bridge crossing.
          There are Split Ticketing websites (google this) that show how much you can save by buying separate tickets for different parts of the journey

        2. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Thanks. We’re ok with paying a little more to be comfortable and make things easier. We’ll have my parents on the trip, and between them we’ve got physical and cognitive issues to cope with. So paying a bit more to avoid a connection for example is well worth the cost. And yes, most likely tickets will be first class.

      2. Anima*

        I have taken the GWR from London to Bath several times and my family there does regularly – seconding this, 5pm is probably going to be crowded! Also, don’t underestimate travel time – I’ve experienced 3h, and arriving at 8pm in Bath and then finding your hotel sounds stressful. I would take a train a little earlier, too!
        (Funny enough I’m planning this leg of a holiday travel, too, and I changed plans so far that I arrive in London mid-day and hope to take a train to Bath Spa in the early evening.)

        1. Buni*

          Friday at 5pm is going to be MAD crowded, make sure you book seats if you go ahead. iirc it’s about 1hr45, but yeah GWR are either absolutely perfect or 16 days via Tashkent, nothing in between…

          1. Grandma Mazur*

            Yeah, seconding the notion that at a 5pm train from Paddington is going to be crowded (and more expensive) most of the way to Bath. On the other hand, the last off-peak train can also be busy. It’s only about a 1h25 journey but you won’t get decent food on the train, and if you’re delayed before you leave Paddington you’re also not getting great food in the station… in short, a bit earlier would be my personal recommendation. But it’s a lottery – you’ll prob be fine…

      3. I'm A Little Teapot*

        For timing on London to Bath – if 5pm (17:00) is going to be really busy, what time would be less so? 4pm? 3? Because yeah, I don’t want to deal with a standing room only train.

        We will most likely buy 1st class tickets. From what I’ve seen so far, they’re more expensive but not breaking our budget. And I must say, I’m jealous, I wish we had similar train service and prices in the US.

        1. Rrach*

          Yes I would do 4pm, and reserve your seats in the first class carriage. 3pm will be an even better time. It gets v busy on a Friday.
          If your parents have mobility issues, if you ask for help at Paddington station , you can be taken to the train on a little buggy. The staff in the first class carriage will help you find your seat.
          Then there is a taxi rank just outside Bath Spa station that can get you to your hotel.

          I can’t help on the other train questions, but I wondered about you buying all the tickets you need from a ticket office in Paddington station – you could get your parents seated on one of the benches (there are lots) and then queue up. It can take a while but you’ll have someone helping you with choosing the tickets?

          1. I'm A Little Teapot*

            thanks! we will get the assistance, and I’ll check if there’s similar for the other train stations. I’m going to buy tickets online in advance, this weekend in fact. I’ve got 4 separate train journeys I need to buy tickets for.

            1. Zebydeb*

              I often book the actual tickets through Trainline and they are pretty clear about everything, what is and isn’t flexible etc. They will even sometimes offer the split save option (buying two tickets to cover two halves of a single train journey) if it would save you money.
              Hope it all goes well!

            2. londonedit*

              3pm will definitely be better from Paddington – I think anything before 3 is off-peak but then it gets into peak time and will be insanely expensive (and very busy on a Friday), and the next off-peak trains aren’t until after 7pm. So the last of the off-peak afternoon trains will probably be busy, but not as mad as 5pm.

    2. DistantAudacity*

      Not UK, but Blenheim Palace at least has very good information on their website on how to get there, including trains and train stations (and hey – it seems you can get a discount on the entrance ticket if you use public transport, when you do the online ticket booking!).

    3. Bagpuss*

      Yes, London to Bath is the GWR from Paddington but a 5pm departure is peak travel time so the most expensive time of day to travel, and most likely to be crowded, so I would recommend going either earlier or later. The station in Bath is very central, and it’s a very safe city, I don’t think you need worry about arriving later.
      I recommend reserving seats on the train- if you book via the GWR website you can book seats at the same time as you buy the tickets or separately afterwards (if you book off peak or anytime tickets you aren’t required to have a Seat reservation and you can travel on a different service than the one you have booked a seat for, if you need to, but it gives you a better chance of getting seats!)

    4. Laura Petrie*

      Don’t travel at 5pm. Even if you have a reservation, the train will be crowded and you might not be able to get to your seat. However, if someone does sit in your reserved seat, don’t be afraid to tell them to move. Any issues, speak to the train manager/conductor/guard

      First class is usually less crowded, but if a train is particularly full or there have been operating issues, it can be declassified so anyone can sit there.

      You have two choices when booking a journey across two operators.

      You can either buy an open return for the entire trip (can be £££) and have a separate seat reservation. Even if you reserve a seat, you don’t have to travel on that specific service, but without a reservation, you’re not guaranteed a seat. If you miss a connection due to a late running train, you’ll be fine.

      Alternatively, a much cheaper option is to buy advance tickets for a specific train directly from that operator. You can buy from other operators or generic websites, but often the best deals are found only on the operator’s own website. I’ve always been allowed to travel on a later train to the one I booked if I’m late due to a bad earlier connection or service cancellation.

      I wouldn’t leave as long as an hour for connections between services unless you want to waste a lot of time hanging around railway stations with nothing to do. They can be cold, miserable places at times. For Lincoln-Aberdeen, your best bet is Lincoln to a major station on the East Coast mainline then from there to Edinburgh then change at Edinburgh Waverley by the look of things. For the first leg, you could just turn up at the station and buy on the day. The longer distance parts will be very speedy if you don’t advance purchase. It’s almost £200 in standard and over £300 for a first class single from Lincoln-Aberdeen and first class may not be available on EMR.

      If you can download Trainline or National Rail apps, it will help with journey planning, costs and you’ll also get live departures information.

      Definitely check out the website Seat61 he’s got good advice on UK train travel. Also see if the BritRail pass he mentions for overseas visitors will suit your needs.

      You can book assistance for major stations, just not small ones with limited services. Be aware that not all railway stations in the UK are accessible for people with physical disabilities

    5. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I’ve never been there but just looking at the map I don’t think your Blenheim Palace and Claydon House trip will be realistically possible without a car. There is currently no train station in Winslow (my husband the train nerd tells me that it’s part of a current railway project but it won’t be completed for years). Aylesbury might be your closest station.

      There might be a local bus, but it will probably not be very useful for tourists. It looks like little country roads between the two so it will take longer to drive between them than you might imagine.

      I usually use the LNER website to book tickets because I find it easier to use their journey planner to see what’s available when, but all the companies sell each other’s tickets. If you get an anytime or off peak ticket you can take any train going the right way as long as it’s within the right time frame (you’ll have to check the restrictions for the particular route you want but that info will be in the journey planner).

  18. Sloanicota*

    Has anyone fostered puppies? I have fostered many litters of kittens and lately I’ve been wondering if I could take on dogs. I own a dog and cat of my own. The cat has always been very patient with the fosters coming and going through the house. I *think* the dog would handle puppies well, maybe even enjoy it. I’m home most of the day and I have a lot of space, so I could fence pets away from each other if I had to. But I know so little – what am I missing? What should I think through first? I know I’ll need to set my own boundaries because the shelter I work with would probably load me up with all sorts of hard cases the minute I was open to the idea.

    1. Blythe*

      Look into something like Puppy Culture or AviDog— might be a helpful tool for you if you are taking on very little ones!

    2. Shiba Dad*

      There is a recent video on The Dodo’s YouTube page on the subject of fostering puppies. You may find it useful. If nothing else, they usually list the social media of the people in the video so you could contact the woman in the video.

    3. Cat and dog fosterer*

      So my first comment is:
      Poop. I call them Poopies for a reason. I fostered kittens for years (I started with 4-8 week orphans, then mamas with newborns, then bottle babies) and thought that pups couldn’t be too much different. From newborn to about 4 weeks old they are quiet and not much different from kittens, especially if you have a mama. But no matter if they have a mother to clean them or not, they start producing infinite amounts of poop and require constant cleaning when they start to wean. Technically kittens do this too, but they tend to use the litterboxes more reliably and they keep themselves cleaner. Poopies tend to toilet in one area but they often get it on themselves and make a mess.

      Also the noise. It sounds like a flock of seagulls when they open their eyes and are hungry or want to play or…

      If you can start with one or two that are 6-8 weeks old then that will give you a feeling for what they are like. At that age they can often hold it a couple hours and you can bring them outside to toilet. I fostered poopies when I had to go to work so I’d crate them up overnight (they slept well overnight and often held it so weren’t too messy in the morning) and I’d crate them while at work so I’d return to a big mess (If you’re wondering why I did it when they were crated so often – their other option was euthanasia). If I worked from home and could let them out briefly every hour then I’d maybe feel differently, but even when I was home they were too young to go outside when younger than 6 weeks and when they walked around the room they would randomly pee and poop everywhere so I was constantly cleaning up.

      I feel badly that I can’t do it now, because the need hasn’t gone away (there are still pups who face grim options) but I struggled with my older dog fosters last year (there were difficult behavioral issues with a dog that I’d been told would be easy and I kept her months longer than I should because I felt badly for the rescue but ended up hurting myself). So I’m sticking to cats for the next year, mostly focusing on TNRs because those are easy and the need is so great (almost no one wants to take in unfixed male cats because they stink *so* bad).

      Feel free to ask questions! I’ve fostered a wide variety of poopies over the years and am happy to share.

      Oh, although if you want to foster slightly older pups then that might be a good option. I have enjoyed the ones that are at least 3 months old, because they are much better at holding it and they tend to be calmer and easier to train. Very young poopies can be trained, they can be taught to sit for food and do things, but they are so much more work and slightly older ones can be really lovely. And a lot of people give up their pups at about 4-8 months old because they weren’t expecting them to be so much work. With those I have to teach them house-training (because the people who give them up never spent any time training, otherwise they wouldn’t have given them up) and basic manners, but honestly if I’m consistent and do a few 5-minute sessions with them each day then they are usually a completely different dog in a week. I had one 6-month pup late last year and she went from toileting in her crate hourly to being perfectly house trained (I took her out hourly at first and then increased the amount of time between outdoor trips) and sitting politely for treats instead of jumping up within 5 days. If I could guarantee that all pups were like her then I’d do it more often!!!!!

      1. Sloanicota*

        how did you handle the risk of biological contamination? With kittens I’d just bleach well after each litter and alternate rabbits, but with puppies going outdoors and me having an older rescue dog I’m worried about parvo, soil contamination, viruses my dog could get from daycare???

        1. Cat and dog fosterer*

          The rescues around here don’t want unvaccinated pups to go outside – I let my pups out into my yard when they aren’t yet vaccinated because I trust the dogs in my area are vaccinated and healthy and won’t get in my yard, but I definitely don’t bring them to areas with other dogs until they have been vaccinated twice. The biggest risk for parvo around here is exposure before the pups come into care (typically from people who get a pup from a mill then give it up), so they often arrive sick and aren’t fostered out, but if you’re worried then you can quarantine them for a few days before they meet your dog. Parvo is no different than panleuk with cats so if your dog is vaccinated and healthy then it isn’t much of a problem (except that if you have parvo in the home then you can’t foster unvaccinated dogs for at least a year, same with panleuk and cats). I have known two people who had parvo pups and they both came from remote communities that had trouble getting vets to visit but have since made a big effort to bring in parvo vaccines with visiting vet staff, and panleuk is more prevalent than it should be and is typically found in feral colonies that are too skittish to get vet care. Both are easily prevented through vaccinations so happen in places where people can’t logistically or financially do vaccines with the adult dogs and cats. I have had foster pups with tapeworms so I bleached their foster room well and didn’t allow any dogs into my fenced yard until winter came and killed all the worms and eggs. Worms could be more of a problem if you don’t have a very cold winter. If the shelter gives you vaccinated, dewormed pups then you should be fine (although most shelters use a cheap dewormer that doesn’t kill tapeworms, so check with them to see what type they use and if tapeworms are even a problem where you are – the dog I had with tapeworms came from a poor small community). I always bleach everything between fosters whether canine or feline.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Thank you so much! I’ve definitely had kitties on panleuk watch before, so that is something I can get my head around. Fortunately I never had an infected litter.

    4. LemonLyman*

      I feel like I’ve learned a lot about fostering by following people who foster on social media. My current sweet old girl is an only child kind of dog but I would like to foster when she crosses the rainbow.

      Also, look into orgs in your area. Many take on people who do short term fostering (several days) when the actual fosters are on vacation or such. That could be a way to dip your toes in and get a sense of how your animals will react/get them acclimated to the process.

  19. Chaordic One*

    How do you decide when to replace your laptop? I have a Dell that is now 8 years old. When I bought it i made a point of getting one with plenty of memory so that it would be able to handle updates and upgrades, and mostly it has been pretty reliable and good. I bought an identical laptop for my mother and, even though she didn’t use hers nearly as much I do mine, hers died a couple of years ago. The really big downside to my current computer is that when I turn it on, it seems to take a really long time warm up. After I initially open a browser, the browser just sits there for 10 or 15 minutes like it is frozen before it will let me download anything or use a search engine. I’m starting to think maybe it is time to move on and get something new.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      If you’re spending 10 minutes waiting for a website to load, I would agree that it’s time to do something. Given the age, replacement makes sense.

      1. Chaordic One*

        After it finally gets warmed up and running, it runs fine and websites will download fairly quickly. It’s just that I have to wait 10 to 15 minutes after I turn it on before it will let me do anything. But, yeah, it’s probably time to get a new one.

        1. Sloanicota*

          It’s not like you have to get rid of this one if it’s still working; I find it very useful to have a backup or two, and sometimes I’ll bring an older one when I travel because I don’t want my newer one to get damaged. The good thing about laptops is they don’t take up a ton of space.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          The upper limit on “wait around while it warms up” should be closer to five minutes. That said, if speed is not an issue after that point – have you looked into disabling startup items that might be causing that long delay? Because it’s odd to me you’d see such an excessive initial delay and no other performance issues after. Then again, maybe there are but you’re too used to it to realize it’s overall slow?

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      If you aren’t ready to bit the bullet on a new laptop, you should try a factory reset or one of the lighter Linux builds. Sometimes it’s the softwear part that’s having issues, not the hardwear.

      Otherwise, yeah, when you are starting to spend time being annoyed by the stupid slow machine and you have the money, go ahead and get a new one.

      1. Anima*

        I’ve got my 10 year old Laptop running in Linux and it does just fine – but WiFi connection is a problem because the build in “antenna” is just not that compatible with new WiFi technology. That might be the issue for you. I would buy a new laptop in your case – I’m in IT and even I need quite a bit if help with Linux to get it to do exactly what I want.

        1. Anima*

          Which doesn’t mean I doubt your skills! I just wanted to say Linux might be hard, when it’s up it’s fine, but setting it up has challenges! Uh, I worded that so bad, I’m sorry.

        2. KatEnigma*

          It all depends on the Linux distro. But… we did end up getting me a new wifi card when we switched me to Linux. The one I had was just too old (probably 10 years old? We’d reused it across a couple computers) Which is an option- an external wifi card on a dongle can extend the life of laptops.

    3. ildrummer*

      If you really want to hold on to it and save yourself the price of a new laptop, check to see if it has a solid state hard drive or not. If not (and I’m guessing it won’t by its age), you can buy an SSD and a SATA-to-USB cable for about $80, clone your hard drive with free software, and swap hard drives with a small screwdriver. That upgrade should double your speed at the very minimum. I’ve done this upgrade to revive four laptops between my family and family/friends. If you can get another 2 years out of this machine for $80, that’s pretty good value.

      1. ildrummer*

        I forgot to mention that solid state hard drives improve performance the most during computer startup or loading new programs. Exactly your problem areas.

      2. Tib*

        Also, if you’re not making regular backups of your info, make one today. An 8-year-old hard drive is a failure waiting to happen.

      3. Observer*

        If not (and I’m guessing it won’t by its age), you can buy an SSD and a SATA-to-USB cable for about $80, clone your hard drive with free software, and swap hard drives with a small screwdriver.

        Before you do that, make sure that you actually can physically do that. Unlike most desktops, most laptops are quite finicky about what you can swap out. Some are more repairable than others.

        The good thing is that Dell is one of the manufacturers that lets you put in your model number or serial number on their support site, so you can see what should work.

      4. I'm A Little Teapot*

        I really wonder if solid state drives improve performance so much is in large part because it’s a clean install. Before spending money on a harddrive, wipe and reload the existing one. You may get a good chunk of the benefit without spending money.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      Yep! It’s time to buy another computer. Once I got tired of being patient waiting for my laptop to boot I bought a new one, and it was so much better.

      Now my replacement laptop will no longer upgrade the OS and has run out of memory so I gotta replace it now too. Other than that, though, it still works well so I’m much less excited about replacing it.

    5. An Australian in London*

      My decision criteria for when it is time to replace a laptop are based mostly on support issues.

      When my hardware is no longer capable of adequately running supported versions of software, it’s time. “Adequately running” means different things to different people; it’s difficult to decide when something is a “want” or a “need”. Do I need my laptop to be fully powered up within 10 seconds or even 30 seconds? I can’t say I need it, but I’m on the laptop 10+ hours a day and little irritations add up fast over a year.

      In practice I am able to stretch my hardware to four years. More often than three years feels hard to justify… but then I tend to buy pretty high-end gear precisely to get 3-4 years out it. Anything mid-range would stop being useful for me after three years. Low-end would be painful after two.

      10-15 minute start-up time says much is wrong with this machine beyond just its age. A reset/reinstall takes a lot of time but these days is within the reach of most users… if you can get your hands on the installers for versions suitable for 8+ year-old gear. Definitely don’t try running modern software. :)

    6. BubbleTea*

      I ordered one last night! I had a strong sense that it would be needed this year (I’ve just applied for a role that would involve a lot of teaching online) and wanted to get it during this tax year, ending 5th April, as it’s a business expense but I don’t know if I’ll earn enough to pay tax next year. I got the best possible specs I could for under £500, and am really hoping it’ll last at least five years.

    7. Chaordic One*

      Thank you everyone, for your comments, suggestions and expertise. I will be definitely be looking to replace my laptop in the near future. I especially appreciated the comments from ildrummer, tib , Observer and Elspeth. I’ve heard so many good things about Linux, but I’m afraid that I wouldn’t be able to figure it all out, so I imagine I’ll stick with Windows. I’ll be looking for a solid state hard drive on the new one (I had heard about them, but forgotten about it and appreciate being reminded).

  20. Professor Plum*

    I’ve been on a journey to better nutrition over the last several months. I’ve never cared for seafood, but I want to begin incorporating fish into my diet as I have come to understand its nutrition profile. So…my questions are:
    What are your favorite fish dishes?
    Has anyone else learned to like fish? How did you do it?

      1. sagewhiz*

        Select keta salmon, rather than sockeye, as it’s MUCH less “fishy.”

        Also, smoked fish is delish!

        1. The OG Sleepless*

          I love salmon, but I’m the first to admit that wild caught salmon is almost too fishy even for me. For someone who is getting used to fish, I would definitely advise sticking with farm-raised.

          Also, don’t overcook fish, especially if it’s cooking in something oily. My spouse didn’t like fish when we first got together because his early experience with it was things like overly greasy cod. He comes from a long line of terrible cooks and there are a lot of things he thought he didn’t like; it turned out he just didn’t like them when they were badly cooked.

          1. Chaordic One*

            This is so true. I have a family member who absolutely hates fish and insists that it is “slimey.” (Basically the same thing as “oily”, IMHO.)

          2. Mighty midget*

            Wild salmon has a better nutrition profile though, something to do with the farmed fish getting less nutrients from their fish food

        1. RagingADHD*

          Honestly, it’s good on a lot of things. When I have company coming who can’t stand fish, I put the same sauce on chicken for them.

    1. Manders*

      I love fish, but pretty much only fresh. The only frozen fish I can tolerate is tilapia – the texture doesn’t change much when you thaw it. I like to use a simple marinade, or I fry it in a mix of panko and Italian breadcrumbs. Salmon is also good with a simple rub (I buy the Blackened Redfish Magic from Chef Paul Prudhomme in the spice section of Kroger).

      1. LemonLyman*

        +1 for tilapia

        Google “fish en papillote” for a lot of great recipes. I really enjoy this cooking method specifically with fish. My SO is a vegetarian so I sun his with tofu and he likes that. My favorite is to par cook some orzo then mix with pesto. Lay that in the parchment. Then pile some greens (spinach, usually), then fish, a glug of olive oil, season with s&p, red onion slices, squeeze of fresh lemon juice or equivalent of dry vermouth (helps create steam in the pouch).

    2. KatEnigma*

      Don’t overcook it and make sure it’s fresh are the two main things! I thought I hated salmon. No, what I hated was my mother’s cheap buys of poor quality salmon and then she’d cook it to death. Fresh fish should not taste or smell “fishy” If it then tastes fishy after cooking, you’ve cooked it too long.

    3. SofiaDeo*

      My favorite healthy, easy lunch go-to is canned wild salmon *with skin & bones*. I put it in a little food processor with a dollop of sour cream or salad dressing instead of mayo. Add any herbs or spices you enjoy, or things like chopped celery, etc. It goes into a sandwich or on top of a salad. Because there’s no mayo, less risk of “going bad” during the trip to work or if I decided to not have it that day after all, and it sat a day or two. Plus I used to get 2 meals from 1 can (the larger cans cost less per serving) so I had a second lunch sitting in the fridge waiting to be popped onto bread or onto the salad. I started this with tuna, but gravitated to the “bone in salmon” to up my calcium. And by varying the herbs/spices/add ins, it wasn’t like I was eating the exact same thing day in, day out. Made my life much easier during hectic work weeks, I didn’t have to spend a lot of time thinking about “what shall I do for lunch”. My go to was a salad, so I also ate pretty healthy, but my roommate who saw me doing this decided he liked the sandwich idea better. So we got 4 servings of fish weekly (I only did 2 cans per week, I enjoy cooking & wanted something different on the weekends) doing this quick, easy lunch. The other odd work day, I would buy lunch or have a leftover from dinner cooking.

    4. Humanitarian*

      Great question! I can’t stand seafood, but I do eat salmon regularly because of its health benefits. I don’t like it, but I have found that putting A-1 steak sauce on a salmon filet makes it palatable, and nearly likeable, which is saying a lot! Good luck.

      1. Professor Plum*

        Curious how often is regularly for you? And is salmon the only seafood you eat?

    5. ricecakes*

      I used to like fish more than I do now. To hide the taste go for any spicy-sauce/curry type things – so a strongly flavoured thai curry can mask the taste of fish. Or spicy flavour from any cuisine.

    6. HannahS*

      I like salmon cooked in the following ways:
      honey/mustard (mix dijon and honey, spread, bake.)
      Lemon and dill (brush on oil, lemon juice, sprinkle on salt and pepper)
      I don’t care for teriyaki salmon much as I find it too sweet, but I know a lot of people who like it!

      I like tilapia (a cheap, mild white fish) cooked in the following ways:
      Slice an onion, a lemon, and a tomato, mix with parsley and dry oregano, put half underneath the fish, half on top, and bake.
      Bake in stir-fry sauce (I use the stir-fry sauce from Budget Bytes,) sprinkle on green onion and eat with rice.
      Rub with chipotle sauce, bake, serve in a taco with taco fixings

    7. Mstr*

      I like to drench it in lime juice and sprinkle taco seasoning over it, works well for a piece of white fish or salmon. Serve it with salad/salsa/taco fixings.

    8. WestsideStory*

      Here is an easy one, originally from Craig Claiborne: take any thick fish filet (cod, salmon, grouper, bluefish, etc) and coat it with mayonnaise, all over the top and sides. Yes old Craig made homemade Mayo but the jarred kind works just fine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and your selection of fresh herbs, bake in oven 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

      The oil in the Mayo keeps it from drying out. The key is not to overcook the fish – 8-10 minutes per inch of thickness is a good guide. The Mayo part does give you that bit of leeway.

      I love fish of all kinds but this is a simple fast recipe easily adapted.

    9. carcinization*

      I know I’ve already recommended this here, but the Baked Chimichurri Fish Bowls from the Budget Bytes website are great. They involve augmenting very mild fish with interesting flavor and textural ingredients (that are also nutritious), so I would think they’d be good for someone not into the flavor of fish. The leftovers of this are also really good.

    10. Professor Plum*

      Thanks everyone—there are some good thoughts in here for me. I do think the strategy of overcoming the “fishiness” with flavors and spices I like is what will make this palatable. And I just may need to close my eyes so I don’t see what I’m eating—ha! Appreciate the ideas—and more are welcome!

    11. I'm A Little Teapot*

      If you still don’t like it, don’t force yourself. Just because its good nutrition doesn’t mean you have to eat it. There’s plenty of other things with good nutrition.

      1. Professor Plum*

        Oh for sure. But I won’t know without trying, and I’m ready to give it a try. Thought it’d be helpful to get recommendations from folks who like fish.

  21. Elizabeth West*

    Bostonians!!!
    Advice for a soon-to-be-new area resident? I am wondering about

    –Best ways to meet people; I’m not really a sports fan (I know, I know).
    –Tourist traps to avoid
    –Things that are worth seeing
    –Festivals (I’ll miss St. Paddy’s Day)
    –Good flea markets and swap meets? I love them but want to stay away from overpriced antiquing
    –Driving advice

    I do get the Globe and it lists artsy things. It’s all a bit overwhelming right now but I can’t wait to explore everything. Thank you in advance!

    1. Christmas cookie*

      Hello and welcome! What area will you be living in? Are you near a MBTA (“the T”) stop? Approx how old are you, and what are your hobbies?

      Do you have parking at your rental (or home)? On street or off street?

      I moved to the city in 2006 have never left!

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Take the ferry from the Aquarium docks out to the harbor islands on a nice day.

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      You certainly won’t miss St Patrick’s Day here! It’s a huge party holiday
      Frankly, most of the tourist traps are worth doing once. The duck boat tours of Boston are a super way to get the overall feel of the city and where things are in relation to each other. Plus the Freedom Trail
      A bunch of ideas to do and see in no particular order:
      Isabella Stuart Gardener Museum (my fav in the world, probably)
      MFA
      Museum of Science
      NE Aquarium
      Boston Harbor Islands (so much history, easy access by public boat service, summer obviously)
      Boston Public Library
      Boston Athenaeum
      First Night festivities in Boston and other towns
      Most coastal towns have their own unique vibe and are so fun to spend a day or two in (Gloucester, Rockport, Ipswich, Essex, Salem, Beverly, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Hingham)
      Every.single.town here has at least one museum. They are so cool and have such eclectic collections! Plus all the cemetaries
      In Gloucester alone: Hammond Castle, The Beauport Sleeper McCann house, Cape Ann Museum, Maritime Gloucester, the Gloucester Schooner Festival (labor day weekend), St Peter’s Fiesta
      Portsmouth NH has a TON to do and see
      Whale watching trips from the NE Aquarium or Gloucester
      Portland ME – lots to do , incredible food scene
      All of Cape Cod, with a special shout out to Provincetown
      Beaches – north shore, south shore and the Cape. LOTS of beaches….
      Conservation areas – The Trustees of Reservations properties can keep you busy for a really long time
      Salem, MA – The Peabody Essex Museum (skip the witch trial tourist traps), The House of Seven Gables, Fame, a replica schooner to take a harbor tour, lots of witch themed shops and one ‘real’ witch (you’ll need an appointment), plus Halloween, which is an incredible event in Salem
      The Boston Sailing Center, if you’d like to learn how to sail
      Every town has some kind of festival every year. My town has a sheep shearing festival

      Driving: Really look at maps and stuff before you get in the car to make sure you know where you’re going. Otherwise it can be stressful. If you are have to drive in to Boston, just drive in and park. It’s not worth driving in town. You can also just drive to an ‘outer’ MBTA stop, park there and take the T in. Boston is very walkable and there are also tons of Ubers/Lyfts. If you’re on a highway, get in the middle lane and go about 65mph/as fast as traffic allows. Stay out of the left lane unless you like driving fast. Don’t change lanes too much. Watch for people driving in your blind spot. Watch for people driving really fast and changing lanes (this is pretty new since the pandemic made everyone feral)

      Welcome!!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I will miss St. Paddy’s this year; I don’t think I’ll be there that soon. Next year definitely. This one will be weird anyway bc it’s the first anniversary of my dad’s passing.

        Omg I LOVE museums. LOVE them. It’s one of my favorite things about London, lol.

        Really look at maps and stuff before you get in the car to make sure you know where you’re going.
        Oh yes, I do this all the time due to massive travel anxiety. Google Street View is my best friend. Driving 1200 miles to get up there should be fun. (Not!)

        Awesome list, thank you!

      2. Massachusetts!*

        Piggybacking on the good day-trip advice, the commuter rail has $10 weekend passes. $10 for as many commuter rail rides as you want on any given weekend (so if I bought a pass today, I could use it for any commuter rail rides today and tomorrow. I would have to buy a new pass for the weekend of March 11-12). This is a great, cheap way to get from Boston to Providence, Worcester, Salem, Gloucester, and a whole bunch of other places without worrying about driving/parking.

        The MBTA also runs a train to Cape Cod on Fri-Sun in the summer. I think it’s about $22 one-way (depending on which stations you get on/off at), and it’s much lower stress than driving to the cape in the summer.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Excellent tip. Thank you! I like riding trains but I only ever get to do it in the UK. This is PERFECT. :D

    4. Rosemary*

      Driving and parking in Boston is…an adventure to be sure. It has been years since I lived there, but ugh, my car/driving/parking was the bane of my existence. But, I did appreciate having a car because while depending on where you live Boston is doable without a car, it is convenient for getting out of the city, grocery shopping, etc. But it really depends on the neighborhood you are in. When I lived in Somerville, I absolutely needed a car. Beacon Hill? Not so much. I used my car because I had it, but I got more parking tickets than I can count and was towed on several occasions. But BH probably has the worst parking in the city.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I probably won’t be living in the city proper so my car will come in handy!

    5. Bon Voyage*

      When I moved to Boston I took an adult arts class to meet folks. Community Music Centrr of Boston has some groups for adults, the Eliot School has arts classes, etc. I found that a great way to meet people and have some low-pressure, regular contact with folks while I was getting settled! There are other venues, like climbing gyms with LGBTQ meetups or bars with trivia nights or board game cafes, that might be good spots to meet others with similar interests. Happy to give more specific recs if something is especially up your alley or you know what part of town you’ll be in!

    6. kina lillet*

      Driving advice: visibility is awful, everywhere. It’s one of the reasons for the terrible driving. If you can’t see anything when you’re making a left turn, it’s tough to do safely without pissing everyone off!

      So drive really really defensively and pay attention to pedestrians especially.

      There are also multiple intersections where you simply are not going to understand how to navigate them until you screw it up at least once—i.e. something turns into a left turn lane at an incredibly weird time and you get kinda stuck there. Just ride it out, if you can course correct with minimal traffic disruption then do so, otherwise take the L and let your gps reroute you. Next time you’ll have the insider knowledge.

      There are no tourist traps to avoid, tbh. It’s kind of a blast to do all the goofy tourist stuff.

      To meet people, definitely use meetup. For example, if you like hiking I know the AMC has organized hikes and the youth AMC organization has board game nights and stuff.

    7. Bluebell*

      Welcome to Boston! Don’t worry about missing Evacuation Day (what Boston’s city offices call the day they get a holiday for on 3/17) . It’s not that amazing, unless you are a fan of public drunkenness.

      Since you are a writer, definitely look up Grub Street. They are a great community and have a cafe in the seaport. Online, check out theBostoncalendar(dot)com – lots of free things to do. Don’t miss the Gardner Museum and The Peabody Essex in Salem. the central branch of the Boston Public Library is also gorgeous. Once it’s spring, hang out in the Public Garden, stroll along the Esplanade, and visit the Arboretum and Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. In the summer there are Festivals in the North End, and the May Day Festival in Harvard Sq is fun. spring has a lot of Porchfests in different towns- Somerville’s is really big, and has a party atmosphere, and there are many open studios in spring and fall. I don’t know much about flea markets, but there are lots of Farmers markets come June.

      Driving can be pretty crazy here, but public transit can also be a hot mess. A new extension opened up this winter, but on another line, a ceiling panel fell this week and almost hit someone.

      It’s a great area, despite the winter snow!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        *nods* I’ve been reading the Globe so I’m aware of the problems with the T. Like that one time when the carriage caught on FIRE on the Mystic Bridge and everyone had to get out. D:

        Snow is better than tornadoes. I want to go up to VT and try skiing. Or skate outside–I always wanted to do that but it’s never cold enough down here. If I skate again, I need to find someone who can sharpen a 7/16 edge.

        1. Massachusetts!*

          There’s skating on Frog Pond in the Boston Common every winter. Admission is $8 for adults (skate rentals are extra on top of that). I haven’t been in a few years, but it was always fun to skate outside! There’s also an outdoor skating rink in Lynnfield, and there are probably a few more I don’t know about in the city/suburbs.

          1. Bluebell*

            Lots of towns have town skating rinks. And there are definitely skate sharpening places.

    8. Lore*

      Driving in the city itself is hard and to be avoided—use the T as much as you can. Harvard Continuing Education has varied and interesting programs if you want a class. The public libraries also do amazing programming; I’m most familiar with the Newton system because that’s where my family lives, but look for book groups & classes in whatever community you’re living in. Look into a membership at the MFA or ICA or Gardner—whichever collection appeals. You get event invites that way. I second the recommendation for visiting Peabody Essex and the north shore towns. For antiquing, check out Sturbridge and western Mass, especially estate sales.

    9. Overeducated*

      You’re going to looooove it! Do the tourist traps, why not? The Black Heritage Trail is a hidden gem, take a tour from a park ranger. Harbor Islands and USS Constitution are great too. There’s lots of quirky/nerdy cultural stuff on the Cambridge/Somerville side, between MIT and the Davis Square area. If you’re close in enough to have T access, just avoid driving as much as possible, people are super aggressive as advertised and parking is an expensive nightmare.

    10. Monkey's Paw Manicure*

      Avoid: Cheers
      Driving advice: As others have said, avoid it if you can. Inner Boston is a lot smaller than people think.
      Hidden(ish) gems: Go to the Parker House hotel during the lull between lunch and dinner and order the Boston cream pie; the U.S.S. Constitution fires a canon at 8AM and sundown every day; swan boats are goofy and touristy and absolutely enjoyable; Piers Point park and the harbor walk in Eastie give you an unbeatable view of downtown and some of the fireworks; and it’s not technically Boston, but the Middlesex Fells is a great park and reachable by T

    11. Alex*

      I live in the Boston area! Welcome!

      I will say that Bostonians are known for being a bit unfriendly. It’s more like…people leave each other alone in situations where there hasn’t been official consent to speak to each other, like on the street or the subway. You can sit in a bus stuffed full of people and it will be totally silent. I think the best ways to meet people depend on what your life looks like. Will you be living alone? Roommate living is VERY common here and honestly that is how I know most of my friends–former roommates, friends of roommates, or my coworkers.

      There’s also lots to choose from in terms of activities if you are into a hobby or something. Tons of community classes to take, for example. Over the years I’ve taken ceramics, martial arts, knitting, yoga, etc. If you see the same people week after week, you are more likely to make friends rather than going to one-off activities, where most people won’t really connect much.

      If you are into this kind of thing, there’s TONS of history around here. I love going to the house museums–the Longfellow house is right in Harvard square and offers tours, there’s the Louisa May Alcott area near Concord, etc. There’s also tons more that you can look up. They are usually low priced and fun to see.

      In addition to the big museums like the MFA, ICA, Museum of Science, Aquarium, there are lots of smaller really fun museums. Harvard has a bunch of them (see if you can befriend a Harvard employee–they get free access and a guest!), MIT has one, they are all over.

      As for driving…well….um. Where are you coming from? I personally try to avoid driving right in Boston if at all possible. It’s just not worth it most of the time because the traffic is insanity, and then there’s the issue of parking. It really depends on where you live regarding whether or not it makes sense to even own a car. I do, but I live slightly out of the city and my apartment comes with a parking spot. I still use public transportation to go inbound to the city. Boston’s city planning (or lack thereof) was done by cattle paths, not civil engineers…

      1. Elizabeth West*

        people leave each other alone in situations where there hasn’t been official consent to speak to each other, like on the street or the subway

        Like London, got it. I’m cool. :)

        Will you be living alone?

        Hope so; it probably won’t be in the city.

        the Louisa May Alcott area near Concord

        This is on my list! She wrote a thriller about a stalker called A Long Fatal Love Chase. It’s actually scary!

        Boston’s city planning (or lack thereof) was done by cattle paths, not civil engineers

        Haha, again like London. :’D

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Thanks! I was going to send in a Friday Good News item but I just put it in the open thread instead.

        Thanks for all the tips, everyone!! *saves everything*

    12. My Brain is Exploding*

      Please send this in for Friday good news. You’ve been around here a long time and some people may have missed (as I did!) your post on the open thread (which one?)

      1. Cat Wrangler*

        Yes, Elizabeth, please do send it in to the Friday list! I, too, have been a little worried about your radio silence and wishing for good outcomes for you.

        Also, tour the Tasha Tudor gardens if you ever get a chance, and there’s some small museum in Boston with the most magnificent stained glass globe in it.

    13. EllieMay*

      Hope this isn’t too late…
      Boston itself is small in geographic area, but is surrounded by other towns. (Cambridge, Somerville, Newton, Belmont, Arlington, etc). Other areas (Allston, Brighton, Jamaica Plain etc) are technically part of Boston.

      For many of these, depending on where you are, parking can be a real issue. When you look for housing, find out about parking spaces (best if included with an apartment) and parking regulations in your town or area. Some places have street parking that is “resident permit” by city or particular zone of the city.

      For driving, rely on your GPS app (and if you’ll be using your smartphone for this, get a phone holder for your car). Boston area can have streets that are cross-streets in one place and a mile away run parallel to each other (!!).

      During various job searches in the greater Boston area, I’ve learned NOT to rely on headhunters who say things like “it’s a 30-minute commute”. Drive times can vary WIDELY depending on time of day.

      Now that I’ve posted all of this cautionary advice, some words on activities: Boston has some of the most active and varied music and participatory dance activities in the US. There’s swing dancing, salsa, contradance, international folk dance, English country dancing, Scottish country dancing, and many others. Look up the Folk Arts Center of New England, the Country Dance Society-Boston Centre, NEFFA (New England Folk Festival Association), and Boston Swing Central (swing dancing). Most of these offer events with instruction, beginners welcome, and no partner necessary.

      There are also instrumental sessions for old-time, Irish, and others.

  22. QuilterGirl*

    Unfortunate and undesirable politics aside, just finished the latest Cormorant Strike novel and I loved it. I did not at all love her Harry Potter writing quality. I think she was meant to write for adults. #unpopularOpinion

    1. Taking the long way round*

      Oh, that’s interesting! They are different for sure.
      I actually don’t like either of her styles, but dislike the Strike ones more… but I do enjoy the TV adaptation of the Strike books more than the Harry Potter film adaptations.
      I think an interesting thing happened with the HP series – the films started getting made in the middle of her writing those books, which I think influenced the way she wrote them. They seemed much more ‘cinematic’ in the books, and in some ways lazier as time went on. They are spectacularly and unpleasantly stereotypical in characterisation, which I hated.

    2. WellRed*

      I just watched the strike series this week. I enjoyed it. I’ve never read any Rowling but agree her adult books sound more interesting than all the wizard kid stuff.

    3. I'm Done*

      I love both the Harry Potter books and the Cormorant Strike novels, though I do think the Cormorant Strike novels are even better than the Harry Potter books.

  23. MeetMoot*

    How do you navigate the hurt around not being in a friend group?
    I’m 3 weeks into a graduate program (the job kind) and have found it very difficult to make friends. I’ve met lots of people and had great conversations and feel included in those moments, but then I’ve reached out to those people to hang out again and get left on read while they go spend time with their ‘group’. I’ll attend events/hangouts where there’s an open invitation but I can’t move it into friendship territory (and not for want of trying).
    The idea that a person would have multiple different friend circles but never cross-pollinate between them is something I’ve always found absurd and awfully exclusive, and I see it happening in my new program. Once people have a ‘group’ they just… never invite others in.

    Any tips for creating or joining a group? Or not feeling so crushed about only ever being incidentally involved but not a part of one? And is there anyone else out there who also thinks to invite new people into their existing social lives or am I expecting too much?

    1. Graciela*

      I mean this kindly, but I think you are probably coming across a little strong and that’s putting people off. It’s only been three weeks! I wouldn’t expect to know anyone well enough after such a short time to decide that I defintely wanted to be friends with them, and meanwhile you are already far enough into the attempts to move things into friendship territory that you can say “not for the want of trying”. I may be misinterpreting, but that sounds like a LOT so early on. You’ve also made a lot of assumptions about how others are acting and what that means, which may be coming across to others in your interactions. You seem to have a lot of baggage about friendships and making friends which you are bringing to these interactions, and that can make things challenging. No one owes you their friendship, or is expected to “invite new people” into their circles. But lots of people will be friendly and welcoming to new people, it just takes time to form those connections. What you are seeing as solidified friendship groups you are actively excluded from are extremely unlikely to be that at three weeks in (unless these people have known each other a lot longer in which case their connection is only natural) so this is likely to be about your perception and feelings. But if you approach these interactions with that mindset, you will not come across as someone others want to welcome into their groups.

      I know it’s hard, but try to approach others with kindness and curiosity, focusing on getting to know them a little better each time, rather than with this emphasis on forming friendships/being invited in”, at this stage. These things take time, and develop gradually, if they are to be genuine. You have to do the legwork. Right now you are focused on the end goal not the journey, and that’s skipping a lot of what it takes to become friends.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        This was my thought too. The first sentence had me nodding and sympathizing because I haven’t had friends for almost a decade aside from a once-a-month book club I moved away from 4 years ago. But you’re in an environment where you’re likely to get to know people well over time, you’ve already been to multiple social events with them, and it’s only been THREE WEEKS? You’re fine. That’s more than a lot of adults have.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Hmm. First I think when navigating new social groups you can’t be too fixated on getting “in” with someone; it’s better to back off if you’re not getting reciprocity and focus elsewhere until they *want* to get to know you better because you are doing cool things and having fun. I’ve had people come on too strong with friendship and even if I was well disposed to them previously it makes you feel weird. Enjoy the all-group social stuff and the more surface level conversations and look around for those other people who are being left out, who are on the fringes, who just moved or don’t know anyone, rather than the people who are already socially embedded and might not be open to more. Try to start a new circle. (Is this in the Midwest? I’ve always found the Midwest a bit more closed off than coastal cities).

    3. Friend connector*

      Apologies for how insanely long this is, but it’s something I think about a lot!

      To answer your last question: Yes, those people exist because I’m one of them! But in my 30s I’m really realizing that we are rare. After some social stress growing up I realized I’m happiest when I have a lot of friends who I interact with on a wide spectrum, from a couple friends who I text almost daily and seeing the local ones 1-3x a month, to friends who I text a couple times a year and catch up in person or on the phone 1x (or even less!) a year. And when I can, I do like to bring them together, and I’m always trying to connect friends who might like each other or are in the same place. Some of them are more open to it than others!

      So a couple options are to find one of those people (we are pretty obvious I think when we meet you because we will invite you to get coffee or come to an event pretty quickly!) or to become one of those people. In either case, it’s really important to not be focused on the idea of being a part of a group. Why? Because there’s a lot of potential to feel left out even as part of the group, because your friendships can stay superficial if you only hang out as a group, and because if something changes and you can’t be part of the group anymore you may lose your whole social life at once.

      I have a few social groups — I have one from grad school even, but I’m much closer to a couple of the members than the others; and I have one from growing up — but even though I like bringing people together, I also am better at 1:1 or small group interactions. (Recently got an ADHD diagnosis and I think that is part of it.) Having lots of individual friendships that you cross pollinate occasionally will give you more options over time while still allowing you to bring people together for parties or outings.

      Sloanicota mentions above that coming on strong can be uncomfortable for folks and while I see that and have screwed it up myself as recently as two months ago… I also think that people who are right *for you* will be able to handle it. Since learning more about neurodivergence I’ve come to think that most of my very large network of friends are probably ND in some way, and that I’ve always been happiest being friends with people who are quirky and passionate about things. Some of the folks I love are Personalities and are not for everyone — and so am I. I’ve just done a lot of work connecting and then maintaining those friendships, through multiple moves, by not being afraid to reach out even if it’s been a while. Some people won’t get back to you. And with some people you will always have to be the one making an effort and so you have to decide if you’re getting enough from the friendship that that’s worth it (it can be!). And the best people are where it’s a give and take.

      The asterisk on this: If you aren’t getting anywhere at all with 1:1 connections, do check your behavior and see if you could be giving off the wrong signals. Even I have occasionally gently rebuffed overtures from someone who 1. I didn’t feel I had much to talk about with or easy conversations with and/or 2. I felt like had a bit of a crush on me and I wasn’t into it. Take some time to think about what makes you feel like you clicked with someone. For me it’s when our conversation goes all over the place and we are both contributing a lot to the conversation. I talk very fast and had to learn how to slow down, pause and circle back and make sure the other person gets to say what they wanted — and then that I listen and affirm and respond. These are all things you can learn with practice! But if right now you are meeting people you like but only one of you (either of you!) is doing the talking, it doesn’t surprise me that the connections aren’t moving forward.

      You don’t mention how old you are, but the being direct about befriending people is also something I find gets easier with age because people tend to lose friendships due to moves, kids, etc. and so they are open to connecting. I’ve had people say to me that it’s harder to make friends now and I nod and smile and think “well, not for me” because it’s just time and effort and being open to risk. Will the new people be your BFF after two months? Probably not. But if you make an effort to connect with several people, see who responds well, and maintain somewhat regular touch with them for a few months, in six months you may have 2 or 3 decent friendship that fill your time and introduce you to new people.

      Ways to do this in grad school:
      – Study groups where you check problem sets or review before tests
      – Asking a classmate or two if they want to grab coffee/food before or after a class and if it goes well, make it a standing thing (and be open to inviting others to join!)
      – Attend networking events and ask a classmate to go with you, and/or when you’re there, look for someone you’ve met and say hello, or look for someone who is also alone and introduce yourself (do this even if you came with someone, that solo person will be grateful!)
      – Get to know your faculty and administrators by going to office hours. They’ll be helpful for networking purposes and they might connect you with people who could also be friends. (And get coffee with your favorite professor after your class with them ends! One of mine is a mentor and friend five years later!)

      I hope some of this helps! As you’re getting settled, take time to refresh old friendships, too, even if just by text or connecting on social media. It will help you feel happier about your friendships and you also never know — if one of your old friends is a connector like me, they might offer to put you in touch with someone in your area who can answer a question you have or might be nice to meet. How do I know this? In the past two weeks alone, an old friend I caught up with on a trip said she knew someone in my city and connected us AND a college friend was looking for info on something and posted about it on Instagram so I connected her with a grad school friend who knows about that thing. I connected the grad school friend with an old work friend on the same topic 2+ years ago, after having randomly decided to reach out to that old work friend after a few years of not being in good touch. (We’ve stayed in much better touch since!)

      Oof, this is an essay. Good luck!!

    4. fposte*

      Can you explain a little more what you mean by “The idea that a person would have multiple different friend circles but never cross-pollinate between them is something I’ve always found absurd and awfully exclusive”? It sounds a little bit like one of the Geek Social Fallacies (if you’re not familiar, have a look–they’re in a lot of places on the internet, including Captain Awkward), the notion that friendship needs to be transitive. But multiple different friend circles that don’t overlap seems pretty standard to me. I’ll do something with Anne and Beth, for instance, and I like Beth fine, but we’ve never socialized on our own; I definitely don’t jell well with Anne’s friend Christina so we probably wouldn’t do any three-person events, but I ask after her and if Anne has a bigger event I’d be happy to catch up with Beth and Christina. Anne’s the same about my friends Denise and Emily.

      It could be I’m misunderstanding what you’re saying, too, and either way the main point really is you’d like to make some friends and you’re finding it hard work. I’d consider focusing less on the group and more on individuals. Who do you really enjoy that has responded to class-adjacent pleasantries in a friendly manner? That’s a “Wanna grab coffee after class? I’m still finding my feet in this program and would love to compare notes.”

      It also depends on the nature of the program. With really intense programs people don’t always have time and energy to do much social stuff, and if it’s a brief program the circles might have gotten created based on a single class or social event in week 1. Alternatively, you could be seeing a second-year cohort that’s existed together for a year and they’re not really shopping for new members, so you’d be better off focusing on fellow newbies. Ultimately, I’d say don’t focus so much on the group; focus on individuals, and not as a stepping stone to a group.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’m always really hesitant to “cross the streams” with my disparate groups of friends – partly because so so so often, my friends introduce me to their friends and I end up for various reasons not wanting anything to do with them ever again, and while that’s not my friend’s fault that I don’t like their other friends, it does make things a little awkward. (At this point, it’s happened often enough that it’s sort of a joke, but it took a bit to get there.) But when I’ve taken a deep breath and done it anyway between my groups of friends, it’s always gone alright, mostly because I’m a not-a-people-person introvert with a lot of people-person-extrovert-ish friends, haha.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Ha, I admit, selfishly one reason I don’t like to cross the streams of all my friends is that I like to have a Friday and a Saturday social activity, and sometimes one during the week too, so if I merge all my friend groups I’ll be seeing the same group too much. But that doesn’t sound like what OP is describing.

    5. kina lillet*

      Three weeks into a grad program is no time at all!!! If people have existing social groups, they’re not going to need that instant we’re-all-new-here social glue of undergrad freshman year. So you’re still all new to each other and it’ll take a little time to get to know each other.

      On the other hand, if you’re in a cohort of people new to the city, those open invitation group hangouts might be all there is, for now—again you’re only 3 weeks in, so all groupings and (value-neutral here) cliques are subject to change.

      1. AGD*

        Yes, this. The mini-groups that assembled at the beginning of my grad program bore almost no resemblance to the ones we had by the spring.

      2. BubbleTea*

        I remember when I joined a hobby group in the place I moved to after leaving university and someone in the group told me she was “new, only been here three years” and the comedic screeching noise of my brain trying to compute the idea of three years as being new. Time just seems to act differently in different life stages. I’ve got a new friend who I met back in August and we are still at the casual-friend-dating stage where we clumsily arrange outings every couple of months and slowly get to know each other a bit. At university I had met someone, dated them, had a fairly serious relationship including meeting their parents, and broken up with them, all in the same time span.

    6. Irish Teacher*

      I think three weeks is a very short time. I think it takes a lot longer than that to move into friendship territory. At that point, you are really just getting to know people.

      There are definitely people who invite people into their existing social lives, but…I think it often takes a while and people don’t necessarily do it within three weeks of meeting people. It often happens more gradually. You get chatting to somebody, you chat a few times on and off over a few weeks, then you find yourselves becoming friends within the programme – sitting together, etc – then maybe you go for coffee afterwards or something and then when you get to know each other, you start to move into each others social circles, but in my experience, it tends to take longer than weeks.

      And honestly, I think having multiple friend groups is the opposite of exclusive. I think when things get exclusive is when people only hang out with one group and ignore everybody else or are openly rude to them. And I think it is hard to be exclusive as an adult. People don’t really have the option of only hanging out with a small number of people to the exclusion of everybody else the way preteens do.

      I think having different friend groups is just part of being an adult. My work friends and my old college friends and some friends I’ve made online don’t know each other, simply because I see them in different contexts. If I were getting married or something, I’m sure I’d invite people from all these groups, but…when I’m going out with a bunch of colleagues after work, it would be kind of odd to invite people who wouldn’t know anybody but me and who would have a two-hour drive to join us anyway. If I am meeting up with college friends, well, a lot of my work friends have family and other activities and aren’t likely to be interested in meeting some strangers simply because they are my friends.

      Obviously, I don’t know your specific circumstances, but my advice would be to give it time. With the exception of my first year at college where we were all sort of thrown together and away from our family and friends (this was back in the days before social media, so contacting friends who went to other colleges meant calling them and not everybody even had mobiles so it could be calling a payphone in their accommodation), we were spending a lot of time together (living and attending classes together) and a lot of us had interests in common which was why we were doing the same course, but…other than then, I don’t think I’ve ever really considered somebody a friend until I’ve known them at least a few months, usually a year or more.

      I don’t think expecting to make friends as an adult is expecting too much, but I do think expecting it to happen within three weeks of meeting people might be.

    7. Doc is In*

      Making new friends is so hard in adulthood! I’m struggling with a long time group of 4-6 people who we had a standing every-2-week get together with for years, and because of their job changes involving a long commute, restaurants we liked closing, etc, it seems to have run its course. No clue how to connect with others in the same way. Best wishes.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Also, having been accused of being in a clique before, this is what tat looks like from the other side: 3-4 friends who really enjoy each other and get together regularly. Not because they hate you, The Outsider Who Does Not Belong, and not out of a desire to be popular. It’s just that they like the current energy of the group. Is it really so terrible and unfriendly, as long as they’re polite and engaging with others they encounter, not to invite a new person into this circle upon short acquaintance ? That’s why I’m saying it may be more profitable for OP to start a new group.

    8. MissCoco*

      3 weeks is not a very long time when it comes to adult friendship (but in a new program it can definitely feel that way!). My grad school friendships mostly got started during my 2nd semester, and not really strong till 3rd semester. 1st term was tough because there were a lot of people I was at friendly acquaintance level, and I did want closer friendships.

      There are some groups that were established very quickly early on, and I’m not in one (which is actually the right setup for me, because I don’t want to be friends with every single person in any one of those groups), but at 3 weeks I would try not to assume that those groups aren’t going to change and evolve, and you may find a new group forms that is a better fit for you, or you may build friendships with people from multiple of these groups.

      Something that I’ve always found helpful is finding specific people that I genuinely like and want to get to know and approaching them one on one. It also helps me to try and frame the early stages of friendships as more of finding mutual compatibility rather than as an audition process. It helps me feel less rejected.

    9. Samwise*

      Gently — it’s only been three weeks, and you are the new person aiming to join existing groups. These folks don’t know you yet. They are not going to be buddies so quickly, especially not if they already have a friend group.

      Try being sociable with other newcomers. You can also try to identify the friendliest or kindest person amongst the existing groups. And give it time. As you take classes together and collaborate on projects, you will start to make more connections.

    10. MeetMoot*

      Thanks everyone for your responses! Lots to consider and think about. In response to a few things:
      – My graduate program is a full-time job, not a master’s degree. (I guess they’re not so common in the states? You start as an entry level employee and do rotations across your company). No study/semesters/notes etc involved.
      – I promise I’m not coming across _as_ desperate in person as I sound here haha. I didn’t want to make a huge long post full of details, but I see why that’s a conclusion that could be reached without them. Nevertheless I will roll it back a bit and see how it goes.
      – I understand it’s the norm to not mix social circles and was more just looking to see if anyone else is like me and doesn’t adhere to that norm. Don’t get me wrong, I do understand why people do it in some cases (clashing personalities etc), but I err on the side of ‘the more the merrier’. It also surprises me, given how many people lament that it’s difficult to make friends as you get older. I’m like “Oh you want to make friends? Here are some that I prepared earlier” rather than “Yeah that sucks. Anyway lets meet again for coffee in six months and see if things have improved”.
      – Thank you for the reassurance on the time scale. I have a bit of a sensitivity around exclusion (both as not wanting to be excluded and not wanting to exclude), so that’s a fair point that I may be catastrophising.
      – I’ll give the solo friendship attempts a try! I mean, I’ve been trying that anyway, but I’ll focus on that a bit more.

      Thanks for the feedback everyone :)

      1. Squidhead*

        Late post that you might not see! Just thinking about “the more the merrier” and of course there is nothing wrong with that but I find it gets harder as people get older and more stratified (for lack of a better term). We have some friends with young kids (not up for hanging out at a bar); some who like board games and others who don’t; some with specific volunteer commitments or activity levels; some with weekend jobs versus others who work Monday-Friday; there’s all my work friends that my spouse hasn’t even met and I might get coffee with but it’s too much work to introduce them to my spouse (or non-work friends) because we have too many shared stories and would probably just obnoxiously talk about work, etc… The logistics of combining these groups becomes too complex and it’s just easier not to. If I’ve been hiking with Mel and Alex wants to hike then I *might* suggest we go together but I’d rather go with each of them separately than spend a lot of time figuring out a day and location that works for all 3 if us. There’s no malice involved, it just feels like the experience will be more successful for everyone if it’s not too complicated. I don’t know if that perspective helps at all, but consider that you may be entering a new phase of life where (unlike secondary school or even college) people have more varied commitments and networks than they did when they were younger.

  24. 2023, You are Not Nice*

    On Tuesday I was having a really bad day. That was my chiropractor visit after my car was rear-ended and totalled. He had to pop my neck back into place, scar tissue had pushed it out of alignment. Still horrifying to me. Not to mention I’m still far away from having a car again. This has been the most traumatic experience I’ve ever had. So I posted my feelings on Next Door. I’m in Tallahassee.

    I titled it To the Woman Who Wrecked my Life. Kind of an open letter. I got an email from Next Door telling me it had over 5k views. I guess people expected some juicy love affair gone wrong or maybe a revenge tale.

    1. PeteyKat*

      I’m sorry this accident happened to you. I wish you a speedy recovery and hope you can settle the car situation soon. I know it’s so hard to be without a car.

  25. Helvetica*

    Have you an area of interest that you decided to get into because you realised it’s a big part of some people’s enjoyment and you wanted to enjoy it too?
    What I mean is, I was never into classical music. I didn’t *get* it for the longest time. I could listen to it but it never resonated. But at one point I thought I’d want to be better at understanding the different periods and recognising composers.
    I by happenstance started watching this YT channel (TwoSetViolin) that introduced me to more fun ways of approaching and understanding classical music. It was less pressure, not so academic and even to my untrained and musically ungifted ear, I soon was able to feel it resonate. I’ve been listening to a lot, and started going to concerts, and I’ve really enjoyed the experience of being able to access something that seemed daunting for awhile.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I have never been interested in any competitive sports. I only watched those if a person I literally gave birth to was playing.

      But both kids got somewhat into watching soccer around world cups (when we took younger to visit older, who was living in Europe) and I watched with them. And if I had more understanding of what went into the strategy it was more interesting. Same happened with football. I even watched a couple of playoff games and the super bowl despite my youngest being back at school. I don’t know all of the rules, but I can appreciate the game more as story telling now.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        When I was in my early twenties, I found myself in an office where football (the American variety) was a major topic of conversation. I knew nothing about it. Fortunately, I had a housemate who was totally into it, and so I started watching the games with him. I quickly got to the point where I could enjoy it, which kind of surprised me.

        Nowadays, I like to listen to YouTube videos while I do chores, preferably the amateur documentaries that people make about their niche interests. I’ve found some lovely rabbit holes, including theme park histories and video game speed-run world record progressions, which were not things I’d given a moment’s thought to. Everything’s interesting if you’re interested…

    2. Even Steven*

      How lovely! I just want to add that as you explore more, you might enjoy checking out YoYo Ma, who would be deemed an American National Treasure if there was such a thing. He is a cellist, and exhibits such warmth & joy that his love of classical music is truly contagious. He championed the revival of Bach’s 6 solo cello suites (get them! Oh, go get them – they are sublime), and is so into them that he has recorded them twice (at least!), performs them constantly, randomly shows up at public events with his ancient cello and busts out a movement from a suite, has made 1 hour ‘story videos’ of each one, and even was a big hand in creating a Music Garden in Toronto, Canada (a bucket list must see!) as a tribute to them. He does all of it in the hope of making classical music more accessible and friendlier. You can’t think of him without smiling. Just sharing the love!

    3. GoryDetails*

      That happens a fair bit to me; I have plenty of my own interests, but there’s just So Much Out There that I’m often “discovering” a new one thanks to seeing friends or co-workers getting involved. (The interests don’t always outlast the relationships, but I still enjoy finding new and different fandoms, and if the topic comes up even long after I’ve stopped following whatever-it-was, it’s nice to know a bit more about it.)

      One example: I was never into stock-car racing at all (or any kind of motor sports, for that matter), but when I went to work in the software department of a company affiliated with a major engine manufacturer, I found that most of my co-workers not only watched NASCAR events regularly and debated the results over the coffee pot, but were pretty avid about their favorite drivers – including one who was sponsored by our parent company, though he was an awesome driver anyway so that may not have been a major factor! (That was Mark Martin, for those who may be curious. Yeah, that job was about 30 years ago now…) Anyway, I started watching the occasional race just to see what was up, and while I didn’t become a rabid fan I did get more knowledgeable and took some pleasure in a well-run race. (We also did team-lunch events at a local fun-park with a Go-Kart track, with much rivalry over who got the Go-Kart with our favorite driver’s number!)

      I haven’t followed the races in many years, but when Sharyn McCrumb’s novel “St. Dale” came out, I enjoyed it all the more for my own toe-dipping into NASCAR fandom. [The book’s a kind of updating of “The Canterbury Tales” but with the pilgrims being a disparate group of NASCAR fans on a pilgrimage to visit all the iconic tracks – great fun.]

    4. bassclefchick*

      GenX learned to recognize (if not at least start to appreciate) classical music by watching Bugs Bunny cartoons. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s true! I absolutely don’t remember the title of the cartoon, but I’m sure if you typed “Kill the Wabbit” into Youtube, you’ll find the one I mean. Also, the Barber of Seville with Bugs and Elmer Fudd always makes me laugh!

      1. Nitpicker*

        What’s Opera Doc. The greatest cartoon of all time. For those who know Wagner but not the cartoon, Elmer Fudd as Siegfried and Bugs as Brunhilde. And the visuals are reminiscent of the original Disney Fantasia (especially Dance of the Hours). Bugs as The Rabbit of Seville (welcome to my shop; let me cut your mop) is also pretty awesome.

      2. GoryDetails*

        Oh, gosh, the cartoons! I think I learned about most of the Golden Age of Hollywood stars from the caricatures in the cartoons; when I got around to seeing their actual films, years later, I was astonished at how many I recognized at once.

    5. Just here for the scripts*

      Fell in love with a man for who baseball was his religion—learned to understand and grew to love the game because it was so important to him…didn’t hurt that it gave me a whole new way to talk to my students and my best friends hubby and sons.

      Also learned to ski because, while I was fine with him going on weekend trips with his friends, wasn’t as thrilled with the ones that were week-long separations. After a horrible first day, I picked it up quickly and got pretty good pretty fast. Looooved skiing with him for years and—when his moms health required his oversight and care—he insisted I go on my own. Traveled with a work friend and relative, and then joined a ski club based out of my then job, and continued for 10 years in my own, as well as passed my love onto my family members, and a few work friends.

      After his mom passed, we moved onto scuba instead of skiing.

    6. MeepMeep123*

      Yes, with my daughter. I never was into nature. I liked outdoor sports type things – skiing and such – but never really did nature things. My kid turned out to be a young naturalist, pretty much from toddlerhood. Her favorite thing to do is to dig in the dirt looking for bugs and slugs and other creatures.

      I can now reliably identify many species of plants and animals, we regularly go out looking for creepy crawlies, and we have four pet garden snails in a terrarium at home. And I’m really into all that stuff now too. We went out on a nature walk today and met some wild turkeys, and I think I was more excited than the kid was.

    7. Polyhymnia*

      my daughter (now 16) has been building Lego stuff her entire childhood – I started getting fascinated by the modular buildings and plant-related kits, so she gave me the bonsai tree for Christmas. I never thought I had the brain to build these things, but it was almost soothing! So satisfying and fun. Now I want to build all the things.

    8. Voluptuousfire*

      Same! I have fractured sleep patterns, so I’ll quite often wake up at 4 or 5 am and used to turn on news radio to get back to sleep. I switched to the classical station and it’s so much better. I’m not absorbing bad news and listening to classical music had gotten me looking into doing more cultural stuff like museums and going to the opera. Would have never thought about this only a few years ago.

  26. Generational wealth*

    We are in the very fortunate position of DH standing to inherit quite a bit of money (single digit millions). His grandmother just passed away, leaving a jaw dropping amount of money and land to DH’s MIL, who is nearly 80 and sitting on several million of well invested retirement funds and cash from strategically selling two homes.

    It’s enough money that the changes in estate taxes are going to impact the inheritance, so MIL wants to start moving money out of her part of the estate. She’s been writing DH a check for the past two years, but has recently broached the idea of gifting to our 3 kids, ages 5-10, as well. They would stand to get ~$17k/year until MIL dies.

    We’ve been debating what to do. We could put the cash into a UTMA for each kid and invest it, or put it into their 529s for college, or maybe a bit of both. A trust is tricky for tax reasons now, but that’s what we will do once we inherit the bulk of the funds from MIL.

    We have been saving for their educations and plan to pay for undergrad. The money would basically replace our contributions as we don’t want to over-fund these accounts. Unless something drastically changes, the kids won’t qualify for financial aid so that isn’t an issue.

    Wwyd? I don’t love the idea of the kids having 5 figures to their name that they can access at 18/21. Or maybe that’s just on us to help them figure out how to manage it?

    1. WellRed*

      They don’t have to access it at 18 or 21. Let them access it at 30 or whatever. I’ve known a few people who knew they’d be able to access a much smaller trust at like 25. It can really hold some people back from adulthood.

      1. Littorally*

        If they go into UTMAs, those will have to be turned over to the kids at whatever state law deems the vesting age — in most states it is 21. An argument to limit what you put in UTMAs, although I think they would be a useful portion of the overall plan.

    2. Generic Name*

      I would talk to a financial advisor. It will be nigh impossible to give that much money to relatives while also avoiding taxes. I think what you want is a family trust.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I second the recommendation. This is a big enough amount of money that it is time to call in the professionals. They’ll be able to advise on what they’ve seen work/fail tremendously too.

      2. AGD*

        I had a similar thing play out in my extended family and this was what made all the difference.

      3. Gyne*

        Thirding this. A good Financial Advisor can not only help you to direct the funds where you wish, but will talk through your goals and help you identify your priorities.

    3. Not A Manager*

      MIL can set up any kind of simple trust she likes to accept the annual exclusion gifts, so you can decide together when and how the kids get to access it.

      But why wouldn’t you just put it into the college funds? The only reason I can think of is if you have enough discretionary income right now that you prefer to be able to transfer money yourselves directly into the college fund, and be able to accept the gift from the MIL elsewhere.

      It sounds like you have a lot going on right now, and AFAIK there’s no reason to put the money into the same place each year. So if you want to be sure to accept a gift right now, go ahead and put it into the college fund. Don’t fund it yourself this year, and then you have 9 months to set up whatever family wealth transfer you want going forward.

    4. Generational Wealth*

      I wanted to add this earlier but my comment was in mod and the day got away from me.

      While MIL is alive, a trust is out of the question. Why does this seemingly obvious solution not a solution? MIL as well as DH’s grandma were very poor, lived in rural America as poor farmers. Grandmother and MIL were literally showering once/week in dirty water during hard times, skipping meals, that sort of thing.

      DH’s grandmother worried about money until the day she died. She never spent it. Eventually MIL persuaded her to invest it and she had some good years. Which is why she ended up with nearly $1M. Her farmland ended up having some unique characteristics (water) that made it worth significantly more than all the other farm land in town.

      MIL put herself through college, worked herself up, and also saved her pennies to nearly a daily. She’s never done anything fun and now she’s 75 and trying to give away her money before the government takes it. In her mind, trusts are for rich people. (Duh, she is a rich person, but this is a mental thing). So her solution is just giving money away slowly, in a way that is least helpful to us, but who are we to complain?!

      1. Not A Manager*

        Talk to an E&T lawyer. I think you can set up a trust that will accept gifts from other people. Maybe your MIL won’t be spooked by gifting to an entity that you established, so long as she doesn’t have to set one up herself. Especially if it’s presented not as “we are so rich now lah di dah” but more like “Big Government makes things so hard these days we have to jump through these silly hoops.”

        Otherwise, you should still talk to a lawyer, financial planner or accountant about how best to deal with any direct gifts to you and the kids. My default would be the college fund, though.

    5. rich kid*

      You absolutely need professional help with this. But, that being said, why would you give your kids a bunch of money at 18 or 21? Why not give them more money slowly over time. My situation is that my dad is/was relatively wealthy. He made a trust account for my kid (his only grandchild), which is now about $300,000. I administer the trust. She’s in uni, and what I going to do is after graduation, probably give her something like $10-15k for a good long trip, and dole out a bit more slowly until she is ready to settle down and buy a house or condo. The rest will be a downpayment. But, honestly, if I gave her all that much money in her 20’s she would absolutely blow half on crap.

    6. Taxes*

      Might I politely ask why you are so worried about avoiding taxes? They‘re a good way to provide basic infrastructure for everyone. There‘s a group called Patriotic Millionaires who argue for the importance of paying taxes for millionaires, and a global movement connected to this.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        This poster is not the reason why trains are derailing in Ohio or their street is full of potholes. The root causes include out of control defense spending, infrastructure maintenance deferred for decades, and the actual existence of billionaires. There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to minimize one’s tax burden after a windfall.

        1. Taxes*

          I didn’t imply the poster has anything to do with potholes :) I just stated that there is a lot of literature online about the benefits of taxing millionaires (and billionaires, I assume), written by actual millionaires. They outline changes that can benefit everyone in society. That might destress the poster, to be able to think her taxes are doing some good even.

    7. Courageous cat*

      Dear god, do not ever give someone that much money at 21. If they were anything like I or my peers were, that money will likely be squandered on some really dumb stuff. I’d wait till their 30th birthday or something at minimum.

  27. Shiba Dad*

    In mid September my wife and I are planning to travel to the Netherlands. Neither of us has been there before. Any advice for us Americans would be appreciated.

    If it helps, we will be staying (mostly) in Eindhoven and spending time in Tillburg.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      A few years back we spent a few days near the Kroller-Muller Museum, which has a great Van Gogh collection, huge sculpture garden, and it’s in a big nature reserve that you can rent bikes to explore. Highly recommend.

      I believe we stayed just west of the park entrance and I still remember the excellent breakfast buffet.

    2. Tiny clay insects*

      Oh my gosh, the Netherlands is my favorite place! I can write more later, but a few quick thoughts:

      -eat some poffertjes
      -you could do a day trip to Maastricht really easily, and it is a super charming town
      -There is a really cool food hall in Eindhoven with tons of different little restaurants (there’s an app for it, but you have to have a European credit card; but you can pay at the counter using visa/MC
      -the Philips Museum in Eindhoven (as in the electronics company) is a really neat place
      -it’s pretty easy to figure out the train schedules and book train tickets online at “ns . nl” if you do want to do day trips, etc.
      -last summer Schipol Airport (assuming you’re flying into AMS) was a bit of a nightmare of long lines, delays, and chaos. I’m hoping it’s improved, but go in with lots of patience and low expectations and then hopefully you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

      (I own a travel company and have been to the NL about 15 times–let me know if you have other ?s, these remarks of mine were pretty random and off the top of my head :-) )

    3. juneybug*

      We just got back from Eindhoven visiting our adult son (he moved there for his job).

      Eindhoven –
      Visit city center for cute shops. Look for the memorial plaque honoring being liberated by the 101st Airborne Division.
      Next visit, we will see Saint Catherine’s Church (St. Catharinakerk). This time, it was closed because of Carnival celebrations.
      We heard good things about DAF Truck Museum but didn’t get a chance to visit.
      Second about the Phillips museum. It’s small but interesting.

      Utrecht –
      Great town to see old canals and historical buildings.
      St Martin’s Cathedral is a must see. Ask the volunteers about the church and its history (fascinating!).
      If you are gluten free, Rose and Vanilla Café is excellent for sandwiches and desserts.
      Sonnenborgh Observatory was OK. Glad we did it but won’t visit again unless they do a complete over-haul (it’s not worth the admission cost at its current state).

      Kinderdijk –
      Another must see is the Kinderdijk World Hertiage Windmills. It was worth the admissions and rental car to get us all up there. Warning – the winds are cold so bring extra layers. We spend 4 hours walking around, took the boat back to the gift shop/café, and had lunch. It was an all day trip but so worth the drive.

      Helpful hints –
      Download the Google Translate app for Dutch. It came in handy for reading food labels, street signs, etc.
      Some restaurants, trains, etc., have free wifi but it’s not strong. Most locations outside of cities didn’t seem to have signal to surf internet. But that is ok cause you are there to see the sites. :)
      Depending on your cell phone carrier, only use text messaging. We didn’t purchase a SIM card and only texted. We didn’t have any roaming charges since we didn’t call anyone.
      American Express worked at same locations but not all. For places that didn’t accept AE, we used our bank’s debit card. However, our bank charges foreign transaction fees (3%). AE does not charge foreign transaction fees. Next time, we will transfer our US dollars to Euro as soon as we get there (but most places prefer cards/credit over cash).
      Some sections on the train are silent (no talking, video games, etc.). The windows will say Stilte/Silence.
      Wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking everywhere.
      Netherlands is a great country! You will have fun!

  28. The Other Dawn*

    I just found out I’m a candidate for hip replacement and I’ve scheduled it for May 1. To those who have had it, what was the best thing you did, either before or after, to ensure a speedy recovery and longterm success? What was the best tool/aid you invested in to help with recovery? When were you able to start driving again? Is there anything you wish you hadn’t done?

    I had lumbar fusion in March 2020, which took care of the chronic sciatica. Three to four months later I developed bilateral hip bursitis. I’ve had many bursa injections and joint injections, but the pain relief is very short-lived now. I’m also having groin and what I thought was flexor pain, so I went to the doctor for next steps. Two and a half years is way too long to be dealing with chronic hip pain when you work a desk job, even with the help of pain management. Doctor said I’m a candidate for hip replacement based on my new x-rays, which show cartilidge loss in the front of the joint–it’s almost bone-on-bone. I said, “When can you get me in?” I’m extremely excited it’s an option. I’m also excited there’s something on an x-ray he can point to say, “This is what’s causing most of the pain.” It means the pain isn’t all in my head. I’m not just in pain from laziness, or doing something I shouldn’t do. I have something fixable. Let’s fix it! The other hip will need to be done, too, but he said, “Let’s do the right side first and then see how you feel. You might be able to wait a while.”

    1. fposte*

      I haven’t, but congratulations to you on finding a likely solution to your pain, and I hope it goes well for you!

    2. EdgarAllenCat*

      I had one in Nov and another AAM commentor had theirs in Oct. Mine was a posterior and other person’s was anterior. I did a lot of prep work for recovery – purchased pillows, ~10 ice packs, booster seats (really, just thick garden kneelers) so I didn’t bend more than 90 degrees to sit on the couch, shower stool, toilet booster seat, compression socks, baggy undies & sweatpants, borrowed a walker, long handled shoe horn, cane, cooler to keep ice packs handy, etc.

      Got comfortable asking for help, like washing my feet because I couldn’t do that post-op. Arranged for a cleaning service, stocked the pantry/freezer with food, cleared the floors of tripping hazards like rugs.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Oh, thanks for the mention of underwear! When I had pastic surgery after weight loss, underwear I’d scoffed at previously became a very comfortable must-have for me in the weeks after surgery. Knowing that I’ll have incisions somewhere around that area, I hadn’t even thought about buying those again. Well, those are going on the list!

        1. EdgarAllenCat*

          I bought a 4-pack of oversized boy shorts, which was perfect bc my incision was enormous. No elastic near it and I could easily tuck icepacks into the leg holes.

          I took the full week’s course of Norco bc of pain from incision; hip pain was alleviated immediately upon waking up from surgery. My primary side effect was dehydration and I drank a ton of water & didn’t always make it to the toilet in time. I gave my bladder a stern talking-to but it didn’t make a difference.

          Fully agree with other comments about taking meds as prescribed. It SUUUUUCKS to get behind & play catch-up, which I did twice. Eye roll at self.

          I had very mild symptoms for a blood clot which ER docs didn’t really take seriously even though I tested positive. I mention only to strongly recommend that you & loved ones advocate for you. You know your body the best and speak up when something isn’t right.

    3. Joyce Healy*

      My wife had an anterior approach hip replacement in March 2021 (at the age of 45, good times!)

      Things that were super helpful for us/her, much of which EdgarAllenCat already mentioned:
      – if you share a bed with someone, you need to make sure that both people can easily get in and out of it without touching the other. I know this seems obvious, but we were sleeping in the guest bed because it was a little higher than our bed, and egress was not easy, and I bumped into her leg getting out of bed and it was a bad scene.
      – it’s totally okay to borrow a cane (you won’t need it for long), but make sure it fits you. PT said do not get a quad tip cane – it will seem like a good idea, but apparently it’s a trip hazard.
      – if you can test drive a walker in your house before the surgery, do it. The walker did not fit into our bathroom (old house), which leads us to…
      – bedside toilet. We borrowed one from my dad who borrowed it from his church. Gnarly, but super handy for the middle of the night bathroom run.
      – shower chair and hand held shower head
      – grab bars and a higher toilet seat (we got a travel toilet seat riser from Lowes, it was like $20) for our bathroom. Two years later, they’re still in there, even though her hip is better than ever, accessibility is good for everyone.
      – definitely the long handled shoe horn, that thing is a godsend. Also, boot pulls if you’re a boot wearer.
      – one of those reacher things if you think you need one, she’s tall and fairly flexible and has me, so she didn’t.
      – snap up breakaway basketball pants (like we wore in the 80s), which snap all the way up to the waist. Very nice for appointments where they were going to want to look at the incision and it was too cold in the office to be stripping off.
      – bathroom troubles because of the pain meds are real.
      – stay ahead of the pain. Take your meds. Please don’t try to muscle through it, you’ll hurt like you won’t believe. Your recovery will go faster and more smoothly if you can stay ahead of the pain.

      If things go well, you’re going to be up and moving and relatively pain free way faster than you’ll expect. She was off the walker at her first PT appointment (day 5), off the cane at day 14, driving at day 14 (funny story, her surgeon was like “you can drive day of if you want” and his PA was like “will. you. stop. telling. people. that”), and hitting golf balls at 10 weeks. If you follow the instructions (which again, I know seems obvious, but her surgeon has stories for days), and follow the lift restrictions especially and give your hip time to graft, you’ll be good to go. Folks look at her and go “you’re moving so well” and she’s like, that was the whole point? :)

      1. EdgarAllenCat*

        Good call re: grabber – it was so helpful. Also consider a sock donner thingamabob.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Yes, I still have my two grabbers from back surgery and I still use them. Although, the main use is picking up and putting down the cat dishes. LOL That’s the one habit that stuck with me after surgery, even though I don’t need to use it. It made me feel like I was helping my husband with our herd of cats. And now it’s just something that makes feeding all these cats easier.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks! As I’m reading through people’s suggestions, I’ve realized some mirror my back surgery, while others seem new to me/something I hadn’t thought of. And I have some of the items, too. I do have a walker. The hospital gave it to me after back surgery and I didn’t need it, so I’ll have to pull that out.

        You mentioned your wife being able to hit golf balls at 10 weeks. I have a concert in August and I’m hoping a longish car ride won’t be a big issue (CT to upstate NY). I’m not so much worried about the show since I can alternate sitting or standing, although I’m normally standing the whole time.

    4. Humanitarian*

      I hope this helps: my dad had knee replacement surgery last spring, and he and my mom feel that the key to his speedy and uncomplicated recovery was following every single instruction his team of doctors gave, from purposely not walking to getting physical therapy, taking medication as prescribed, showing up to every single follow-up appointment, and otherwise doing everything the doctors said, no matter how trivial or insurmountable anything seemed, with my mom there to help. I hope things go well for you, and please consider an update. Would love to hear how you’re faring. Sending a virtual good luck hug!

    5. Chauncy Gardener*

      I just had a knee replacement (so not 100% the same) and I second the pain med side effects. Take lots of fiber/eat prunes to stay ahead of them. Nothing worse than being in pain AND being constipated.
      Keep up with the ice post op. Stock your freezer with easy to heat up or crock/insta pot meals. If you have pets, figure out who will help you with them.
      Good luck!!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’ve been on pain meds for over a year and my body has adjusted, so I likely won’t have an issue after surgery. It was the same before back surgery. I’d been on pain meds for almost a year, so afterwards it was pretty much fine. That said, I had plastic surgery after weight loss in 2017 and hadn’t taken previously pain meds for anything really. Yeah, that was tough after surgery! My cousin had come to stay and help out, even though my husband had it covered. It was something like the fifth day after surgery and I sent my husband to the pharmacy for something to help. Wouldn’t you know, I went as soon as he left the house. LOL

    6. RagingADHD*

      My dad’s hip replacements were a long time ago now, and he had a good recovery by following all the advice exactly, as someone else mentioned.

      One thing that stuck with me that I don’t see mentioned here, was that his nursing team made sure he had pain meds at least a half hour before his PT session, and told him to do the same at home, even when he was just taking regular Tylenol. Doing the PT correctly is going to hurt at first, and you need to be able to do it anyway. So don’t wait until it hurts to take the meds. Take them beforehand.

    7. Lady Lavender*

      My biggest suggestion is do the physical therapy religiously afterwards. Even if it hurts. Push through the pain. If you don’t you won’t get your range of motion back.

      1. ricecakes*

        I agree with this. I had a schedule on my wall that I would check off the exercises. It was something like 7 times a day the first few weeks. Also, be realistic with what you expect. Everyone loves the fast-healing stories, but not every story is. I was still using a cane 6 months post surgery. I’m two years post now, and some days I can walk 20 km. But not any day. A good day. today I’ve walked 3 km, and I think my walking is over.

        To prepare beforehand: start physio now: there’s a lot of muscle stregthening you can do now to help. Strengthen your glutes and abs.

    8. PhyllisB*

      Haven’t read all the replies to your question, so he may have chimed in already, but Edgar had one in November, I had one in October and I’m doing great. Every one’s experience is different, but I will tell you recovery/being able to drive depends on several factors. One, being the right hip it will take longer to be able to drive. You have to be able to accelerate and brake comfortably, and it will take longer with right hip. Recovery in general is dependent on whether you have front incision or back incision. (Can’t think of the correct terms right now.) I had a front one so recovery was a lot easier.
      Your doctor/clinic will tell you to download an app called My Mobility. If they don’t, ask one of the nurses about it. It will give you prompts to do exercises to strengthen. DO THEM!! I didn’t do this until after my surgery so missed out on the ones to prepare you for surgery. After surgery do EVERYTHING your PT tells you do, it will help you in your recovery. I got therapy three times a week. On the days I didn’t go, I did the full set of exercises. (It gives you prompts three times a day.) On therapy days I just did two additional sets; one early morning and one before bed. Speaking of which, if you can’t do some of them comfortably, don’t force it. There was one where I was supposed to lift my leg completely in the air…and I couldn’t. My therapist told me don’t worry about and don’t force it because you can do real damage to yourself.
      As far as driving, I had my surgery on Oct. 17 and was cleared to drive Nov. 28.
      One more thing, you need someone to stay with you for a while; when you lay down or go to the toilet someone is going to have to help you. Lift your leg to get on bed, and to hold your walker when you get up from toilet. (I only needed that for a few days. The bed for about two weeks.)
      About your equipment: Check to see what insurance covers. Mine would cover a walker and a leg brace but not support hose or a cane. You can buy support hose anywhere besides the medical supply store and get a better price, same with the cane.
      Medication: Be diligent about taking your medication. I felt like every time I turned around my husband was poking pills at me, but I knew I needed them. I didn’t take all the pain killers; they were making me loopy. In fact, one of them I didn’t take at all. The other one I took at night to ensure a good night’s rest. My therapist told me to give in to it the first two days because I needed to rest more, but then cut down and use Tylenol or whatever during the day if I wanted to. (Doctor also okayed this.) Now having said all that, everyone’s pain tolerance is different. If you need them, TAKE THEM!! Just make sure you take the other stuff.
      The main thing I had trouble with was I didn’t want to eat, and when I did, I got nauseous. They did give me pills for that and they really helped. Luckily, that only lasted a couple of days. I still didn’t feel like eating much, but knew I needed to, so I ate yogurt a lot. And make sure you eat a little something before you go to PT. I forgot to one day and really had a hard time getting through the session. This is all I can think of to tell you, but if you have questions I will be glad to answer them.
      Oh, one more thing: if you don’t have any, get some comfortable clothes like sweats or leggings that aren’t too tight. The first couple of weeks you will be taking sponge baths anyway, and you may not feel like doing regular clothes. And you can sleep in them. It’s really hard to change the first couple of weeks.

    9. LemonLyman*

      I have avascular necrosis so your situation is very familiar. I had both of mine done in my early-mid 30s. It sucked but I’m not in pain anymore!

      People here have great recs! Shower chair, toilet seat riser…all important! I’d add that you’ll want to walk right away. I know that seems counter intuitive but they’ll encourage that but you’ll want to follow that. Also, do your exercises. I felt dumb but they were good for me and they help build muscle back. Take your pain meds. They’re for pain! Don’t suck it up (trust me!). You can’t do the things that help you recover if you’re in pain.

      Good luck!

  29. Falling Diphthong*

    Last night I watched West Side Story for the first time (the Spielberg version on HBO Max). I’m familiar with the tropes, and knew it was based on Romeo and Juliet in which two young people gaze at their navels while exhibiting the communication skills of squash.

    And yet. When Maria doesn’t go with Tony, I thought it was because obviously Juanita would need her support right now and she chose family. But no, Maria needs Juanita to hear all about how she’s in luuuuuurve and it doesn’t matter what he did, including murder Maria’s partner. I was shocked. I think I am supposed to be feeling way more empathy for Maria than is the case at that point.
    Also, Maria: No one needed to carry the message that you were coming, but need to pack first. This is not an important message that needed to be conveyed. And in the entire city of New York, Juanita was the worst possible person to ask to do that.

    Anyone have thoughts on West Side Story, Romeo and Juliet, or story beats that hit you one way when you were younger and differently later?

    1. fposte*

      Probably, as I think that’s common. I mean, I just recently saw a play about a woman who gets sucked into hell and ends up in mutual love with the devil, but she finally manages to partially escape and ends up with the annoying colleague who pulls her away from the devil. And even though I appreciated her folkloric escape, I thought she would have been better off with the devil (always a pitfall of the devil in narrative–he’s usually the most charismatic character).

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think it was Alan Rickman who said “I don’t play villains. I play interesting people.”

        In West Side Story, Juanita is much more interesting than Maria. (I just realized that this is something that put me off recent Bujold–I find her ingenues annoying. Loved Iselle, but everyone after that made me grind my teeth as they scurried about spunkily.)

        There was a minor plot in Ginny and Georgia this season where Max is upset to have been cast as the evil witch, who will sing about her quivering jowls. She wanted to be the beautiful heroine. (And is going through some stuff where she has legit reason to suspect she is the villain in her real life story, and she doesn’t need fictional reminders of that.) And I thought the villain was obviously going to be the meatier, more interesting role. There’s a great talk with her dad where he points out her talent for humor and how that can come across with this character, while any pretty girl can play Snow White.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I think what’s terrible is that Romeo & Juliet are at all associated with “love.” It’s a Shakespearean TRAGEDY. IMO the plot is kids in lust (not live they don’t actually know a thing about each other (or talk to each other) except that they are beautiful) do stupid things until they die.

      They should not be remembered as lovers but as idiots and hotheads then the lesson of both Romeo & Juliet and West Side Story would play out differently.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah it always strikes me in R&J how unnecessary their suicides are. I think when I was younger I thought that was just Shakespeare being melodramatic (it’s kind of an opera trope too) but now I see it more as a deliberate commentary on youth and passion.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        Yeah, didn’t Shakespeare make them like just about the age of consent/marital age for his society? So I’m guessing it was the equivalent of two teens today getting married at 18 because “our parents don’t understand our great love!” And given how teens are referred to in some of Shakespeare’s other plays (something like “I would that there was no age between 10 and two-and-twenty because all there is between those years is fighting, drinking and cheeking their elders” – not an exact quote but words to that effect), I doubt Shakespeare was in agreement with the teen “our parents are so mean and nobody understands how great our love is so clearly we must marry at once” angst.

        I’ve heard theories that it shows the clash of two ideologies, the older arranged marriages where it wasn’t uncommon for people to marry in their teens as their parents were arranging it and the beginning of marrying “for love” in which people were usually older and also that it’s about parental neglect, like that Shakespeare was trying to say “flippin’ take care of your kids or they’ll end up running away to marry somebody completely unsuitable and dying.”

        I don’t know if either of those is accurate but I do think that because Romeo and Juliet is often taught to 14-17 years, they tend to see Romeo and Juliet as perfectly old enough to marry and the whole thing as some big love affair, the same way Romeo and Juliet see it, whereas from an adult perspective, “I will always love Rosalind, my life is ruined because she does not love me back…oh, wow, Juliet is pretty, OK, I will always love her instead and we must marry tomorrow” seems more like typical teen crushes rather than the beginning of a long-term relationship.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          This is a fascinating point, because a travelogue I really enjoyed, retracing the Odyssey, was inspired by the author happening to pick up The Odyssey at 40. He’d read it as a teen, in high school and college, loved it, wrote papers about what it meant–but at 40, he suddenly really identified with 40-ish Odysseus, who just wants to get home and hug his wife, pat his dog, and never see the damn ocean again.

          It’s experienced as a different story at 14 and 50.

      3. kina lillet*

        I don’t really understand this perspective, honestly. Romeo and Juliet fall into a blind, passionate love with each other. Maybe it’s a crush and maybe if they had more time with each other, it would fade or deepen. But they’re star-crossed: that can’t happen, because their families are locked in such a foolish senseless cycle. The tragedy is that their crush can’t fade or deepen, because they’re forced into secrecy and plots and perpetuating the cycle of violence until it gets them in the end.

        I don’t think they’re idiots or hotheads. I think they’re young, tragic lovers in the throes of passion and there’s not really a lesson (???). Their circumstances and their youth and the coincidences of their drama act together to cause their foolishness and bring about their senseless deaths. The point is that their deaths are senseless. That’s not a problem with the play, it’s like the foundational sadness of it.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Yeah, this is more how I see it as well. If there were a lesson, it would be something like, “you can’t win a war by using your children as proxies, because then all your children are dead.”

          1. Sloanicota*

            Not disagreeing overall, but you’d think if that were the point we might have spent some more time on the parents, the background, and their reactions to the death. Are the parents even in WSS? And it’s interesting Romeo isn’t a bit more worthy. OP’s point is that she finds Maria unlikeable.

            1. RagingADHD*

              You think making a point about children suffering the consequences of other people’s / systemic choices should focus on the people who aren’t suffering?

              That’s going to be a hard sell at the Globe or on Broadway. Shakespeare wasn’t a novelist or a filmmaker who could do moody closeups of people thinking about stuff.

            2. Patty Mayonnaise*

              The policemen represent the parents in WSS (they are also proxies of the state/the system). WSS isn’t about individual families warring, it’s about the racist and economic structures that are the foundation of America.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                I thought that did come across really well in WSS as a tragedy–that it’s in the interests of the actually powerful to keep the people without much power focused on fighting each other.

        2. ecnaseener*

          +1. The text clearly presents their love as real and powerful, it’s not making fun of them for thinking they’re in love. Shakespeare was perfectly capable of writing “haha this dumbass thinks they’re in love” and R&J is not that. Of course love at first sight is unrealistic in the real world, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be played straight as a literary device.

          The tragedy, as you said, is that they’re not allowed to just be teens in love, to start courting and have a normal life. That their families created such an inhospitable world (and in Juliet’s case deliberately sacrifice her wellbeing) that their children cannot survive to adulthood. The tragedy is not that they were “stupid” enough to fall in love, it was the adults whose decisions doomed the kids.

    3. kina lillet*

      I mean that’s the tragedy of it, isn’t it? If Maria was smart, and considerate of Juanita, and completely deserving of our sympathy because she didn’t make mistakes in service of her great love, then it would be a nothing story.

      I think the best parts in the Spielberg version are when it twitches aside the curtain on the old timey West Side Story dancing gangsters, and shows the stuff like how Bernardo is a romantic good partner to Juanita and is brutal when he’s not being a family man. And how the balletic fun of the Jets is hiding their foundational racism and sexual violence.

      Unfortunately the movie also has Ansel Elgort.

      1. kina lillet*

        To answer your actual question, most superhero movies don’t really come off well to me anymore. A lot of that stuff I thought was cool, now just kind of comes off to me as boring action scenes in service of the status quo.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yes — if people in movies and TV shows did the sensible rational thing, they wouldn’t be interesting enough to make entertaining movies and TV shows.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          TV tropes calls this fridge logic–hours later, when you go to the fridge to gaze inside and see if there’s something you want to eat, a simpler solution to the problem in the movie you watched yesterday presents itself. The key to good writing/acting/directing is that that realization comes after the story is done–sometimes after you’ve rewatched/reread several times.

          If it’s not executed well, then it’s the idiot ball: In order to progress the plot, this character is going to do something so dumb you cringe while watching/reading. It takes one out of the story, because you can see the straining to make it work.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      Everything wrong with West Side Story is also wrong with Romeo and Juliet – are my thoughts in a nutshell.

    5. GoryDetails*

      Yeah, my feelings about “West Side Story” (both versions) and “Romeo and Juliet” have evolved quite a bit, from being totally sympathetic to the young lovers to finding their behavior pretty irresponsible – to realizing that many of the “kids in love being foolish” problems were exacerbated by the feuding-families, and blaming the disaster on the kids alone was a bit severe. (Shakespeare did pretty much invoke as many unlucky coincidences as he could cram, in order to ensure that things wound up in epic-tragedy form!)

      I also find myself more interested in the side characters than when I first read/saw the stories – though I’ve found that the ones I was most interested in in my youth seem more shallow as I examine them now…

      Side note: Ryan North’s choose-your-own book “Romeo and/or Juliet” is great fun; he provides a way to follow the characters’ choices through the plot of the original play, but also to choose wildly-different paths, some of which veer into the surreal. [Fun bit: if you adhere too closely to the original plot, eventually you’ll get stuck as Juliet, sitting in your room doing whatever your parents tell you, and the story will get bored and make you be Romeo for a while!] There’s also a special “Nurse Quest” in which the scene of the nurse trying to deliver a message while being harassed by Romeo’s gang is depicted as a vintage text-based videogame. Oh, and Romeo’s thrown-over love Rosaline gets her very own arc – as a hard-boiled detective… It’s really fun.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          My library has it, I’ll find out! :) (He also apparently did one for Hamlet.)

          1. GoryDetails*

            I’d imagine it would work well in eBook form; hope you enjoy it! (I liked the “Hamlet” choose-your-own-book too; North’s a lot of fun.)

      1. Sloanicota*

        Being stuck at home bored because you were too good is such an excellent parallel for real life!!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          An AAM lesson: I think lack of gumption is as much a (problem/trial to those around you) as excess of gumption. But only the latter makes for epic stories. “Juliet sat at home in her bedroom and did nothing” just doesn’t sing.

    6. Nitpicker*

      My take on Romeo and Juliet is (1) Friar Lawrence is an irresponsible idiot and (2) what were they planning to do when Juliet got pregnant. Neither of which are issues in WSS because (1) there’s no Friar Lawrence and (2) Tony and Maria would presumably take precautions.

    7. jasmine tea*

      The only “A” I got in my 400-level Shakespeare class in college was for a paper in which I argued that West Side Story (the original) was a better interpretation of R&J than was the Zeffirelli film. My reasoning was multiple pages, but in short I said that the Robbins/Wise’s artistic choices (particularly having Tony die on the playground) emphasized the profanity/senselessness of the death, whereas Zeffirelli’s choices (particularly the use of red and the altar) elevated the kids’ choices as elegant and worthy of praise.

      All that aside, it bugs me that US high schools are obsessed with a few of Shakespeare’s works while neglecting the best of them. It probably has to do with which are the more straightforward and easiest for teens to grasp, but still, it’s a bummer.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      I think one of the things that bugs me with both stories is that the plans the leads come up with are terrible. Because events take place over the course of a week, there isn’t time for them to learn from mistakes and make better plans going forward. Because they are young people on the cusp of adulthood, they don’t have a history of good decisions that are going to be undone by one poor judgment here.

      A week or two back we talked about the frustration of romantic heroines who would be Barney Fife if male–endless misguided spunk, incompetence, and an inability to realize how they are coming across.

      In the Scholomance, one of my heavy rereads of late, the characters are all young but they don’t get a chance to be naive, because they are trapped in a magical high school where things keep trying to eat them. One thing that makes it work is that we meet everyone at the end of junior year–they’ve survived three years where their lives were frequently on the line, they aren’t wide-eyed naifs.

      In The Curse of Chalion, an old favorite, there is a great scene where the ingenue princess absolutely lays into her tutor/advisor because people don’t tell her what’s going on because of the delicacy of her maidenly ears. And then they criticize her judgments as naive and ill-formed–because they didn’t give her the information she needed to make better ones.

  30. Hot Water Bottle*

    Anyone remember that icky period the film industry went through between about 1980-1987?

    There was that conveyor belt of movies that were all about S.E.X. (with a hard R rating), and were also “intellectual” (A-list actors; based on a novel or a French film; main characters are artists, writers, doctors, professors, etc.) The plot often involved a middle aged male being manipulated by a scheming woman.

    Examples: The Woman in Red, “10”, Bolero, Dressed to Kill, Bloodline, Blame it on Rio, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Witches of Eastwick, World According to Garp, The Lonely Guy, Star 80, Unbearable Lightness of Being, Manhattan, etc, etc.

    Many of these movies were heavily discussed, won awards, and were considered very important at the time – but are never discussed today. Probably a good thing.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Your description kind of makes me think whatsis, John Malkovich and Glenn Close, French aristocracy… Dangerous Liaisons? I think?

      1. RagingADHD*

        I don’t think the central theme there was that John Malkovich was being manipulated Glenn Close in that story. They were just as terrible as each other and deserved each other.

    2. fposte*

      Maybe because I lived through that period and I’m blinded by it, but that’s not how I’d see many of these films. There’s a lot about struggling with manhood, for sure (and I’m not getting into Manhattan), and some of them are definitely using women for that purpose. But I don’t think there’s much sympathy for Eric Roberts in Star 80, for instance, and in fact that was stated as one reason why he didn’t get an Oscar nomination for a great performance–his character is obviously a terrible person. My issue with Dressed to Kill is the pathologizing of Michael Caine’s trans impulses; I’m not crazy about the Ellen Jamesians in Garp but otherwise there’s a lot of interesting gender stuff going on, including a sympathetic trans character. I’d probably need to rewatch 10, but I think it the sex romp stuff was more the marketing than the actual story, wherein Dudley Moore really sucks at this stuff, including a failure in bed, and it turns out the woman he’s built a dream on is a real person who doesn’t actually fall in love with him once she knows him. (Though I think Julie Andrews should have kicked him to the curb–he’s definitely an example of the bumbling, sexually hopeful man who’s mysteriously forgiven by his loyal partner.)

      It’s more stuff like Fatal Attraction that sets my teeth on edge, with Glenn Close being essentially Michael Douglas’s punishment for impurity to the point where he becomes a sympathetic character by comparison.

      1. Hot Water Bottle*

        Those are interesting takes! And I’ll grant that “Star 80” is probably the best of that genre and still watchable & relevant today (whereas something like “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” would be really, really difficult to sit through again)

        Oh, and I forgot to mention my favorite example – the one and only “9 1/2 Weeks”! Talk about a 1987 time capsule!!

        1. fposte*

          I think something like 10 is almost more bearable for not having progressive intentions. Sometimes the hardest media to deal with is stuff that was ahead of its time but is very much not anymore. And I do think there was a sex positivity thing happening that was very much a male sex positivity.

          I never saw 9 1/2 weeks; I’d be curious how it would look alongside 50 Shades of Grey, but not curious enough to watch either of them.

          1. Hot Water Bottle*

            Oh that is a great way of putting it (“male sex positivity”).

            I do associate these early-80s movies with a certain type of middle-class male that was common at the time (mustache, cologne, Playboy subscription, waterbed, expensive stereo, big fan of Rod Stewart…) Not that I interacted with any of these dudes myself- they would have been in my dad’s generation.

            And don’t bother watching 9 1/2 Weeks. :)

          2. epizeugma*

            The first 50 Shades movie has pretty radically different sex and gender politics versus the others, and in turn from the books themselves. If you don’t really want to watch the movies but like video essays, the YouTuber Dan Olson/Folding Ideas has an interesting series on this.

    3. Sloanicota*

      Honestly I think I’d take a return to that era over endless superhero remakes. I feel like I’m living in a poor time for film culture. I guess that’s just my luck as I came of age during the crappy pop music/boyband era and remembered disliking that too.

      1. Humanitarian*

        ” …endless superhero remakes.”

        This times a 1,000 and more. Good call, Sloanicota. So SICK of those! Going off now to calm down, lol…

      2. WellRed*

        Sooo sick if the whole marvel universe and all the remakes and origin stories (hate that phrase). Looking at you Paul Rudd.

      3. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Exactly. I commented above I miss the era of “big” movies. I also miss “big” tv shows. I latched onto the show Mom a few years ago because it was about people with actually relationships and not a crime/dystopian or superhero type thing

    4. KatEnigma*

      Umm, you might want to rewatch the Witches of Eastwick if you thought the women manipulated him vs “finally fought back”

      1. Hot Water Bottle*

        I didn’t mean that to describe all of the movies I mentioned. Witches of Eastwick had a somewhat different plot for sure, but anything associated with John Updike always has that “intellectual/sleazy” vibe

    5. NaoNao*

      Ooo with all due respect I *love* Witches of Eastwick and consider it a feminist movie! I adore the way that these women overlook major red flags and the Devil character plays to their ego/needs until they finally get it, bond together and overcome him. They also wind up living together happily in the end.

    6. Clara Bowe*

      The last season of You Must Remember This (podcast) does a fabulous academic deep-dive into this area. Highly recommend.

      1. ithappens*

        Thank you! I was really missing Karina, didn’t know she had come back. Was just thinking of her last week when an article mentioned she’s married to Rian Johnson, had no idea.

    7. Glomarization, Esq.*

      That time period was definitely a specific window of pop-culture backlash against second-wave feminism.

    8. RagingADHD*

      I think they were heavily discussed at the time because discussing / analyzing current films is what movie critics do, and what the Hollywood PR machine exists for. And they aren’t discussed much now because except for maybe Garp & Eastwick, they didn’t really hold up as standouts over time.

      Manhattan got talked about for a long time because of Woody Allen, and isn’t talked about much anymore because of Woody Allen.

    9. *daha**

      I’ve seen three of those – 10, Manhattan, and Witches of Eastwick. None of those were particularly about men being manipulated by women. They were rated R, but not particularly explicit.

    10. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I feel like you’re really cherry picking movies here. I was just thinking about how I missed the period (granted a bit later than this) that had a lot of “big” movies like Dangerous Liaisons, The Color Purple, Wall Street, Beetlejuice, through Dances with Wolves and A League of their Own. I felt that period had positive stories or just more oomph to them.

      Also wasn’t the point “empowerment” not sure everything was “manipulating,” though I haven’t seen half of these movies since there were way more good movies then than time to watch them all.

      You also skipped all of the movies with strong female role models like Silkwood and Working Girl

      1. Hot Water Bottle*

        To be clear I wasn’t commenting on ALL movies from that time period (there’s nothing wrong with “Starman” LOL), only a specific subgenre.

  31. Jay (no, the other one)*

    “Happy All The Time” is one of my all-time favorite books. Headed upstairs to find my copy and re-read it, which will be perfect on this gray, rainy, sore-throated day. Thank you.

    1. Bluebell*

      Also a perfect day to make Laurie’s black bean soup! Or the curried broccoli one. I love both (for those who don’t know, Laurie wrote a book of essays with recipes called Home Cooking. It is wonderful).

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        There are two! Never made the black bean soup. Her baked chicken and her gingerbread are the BEST.

  32. Pop*

    My husband and I (30) are planning a 10 day trip to Greece in June, and I’m feeling overwhelmed. We’ll fly in and out of Athens, and go to at least one island (right now leaning towards Crete). But I’ve heard Athens is somewhat dirty and we should minimize our time there, so thinking maybe 3 days with one being a day trip to the Oracle at Delphi. Should we go to two islands with the remaining 7 days, then? Big trips are fairly rare for us due to $$ and family obligations so I’m trying to balance making the most of it without overplanning. We like historical and cultural stuff, are fairly active and like the outdoors and walking, and don’t care about nightlife, shopping or extended relaxing (but will probably spend a day or two on a beach). Thanks!

    1. Pop*

      The actual question is something like “any advice welcome, specifically about where to go but other stuff is good too!”

    2. Bluebell*

      I was in Greece over 20 years ago, so take this with a grain of salt- Rhodes was fascinating with lots of history. I liked the archeology in Athens, but was only there for 2 days. I was in Crete for 3 days and loved it. Chania has a bit of a Venice vibe, we went to the beach in Rethmyno which was beautiful, and hiked the Samaria gorge, which was a 9 mile hike but worth it!

    3. BRR*

      Athens is kind of dirty but I wouldn’t necessarily say you should minimize your time there because there’s so much stuff to see. Delphi was amazing. I’d suggest looking into combining Delphi and Meteora (more than one day though). Meteora was incredible but LOTS of stairs.

    4. Buni*

      Definitely Delphi! Athens is okay but plan exactly which museums / exhibitions / sites you want to go to or it can be a bit overwhelming.

    5. Any old username*

      Reposting as I accidentally posted it as a standalone comment.

      If you do a search for The Guardian (UK Newspaper) it has a travel section on Greece with recent articles on Rhodes and Crete. They don’t have a paywall so you should be able to see the articles without a subscription. theguardian.com / travel / greece

    6. Lifelong student*

      Honestly – if you are going to Greece there is so much more than Athens and islands. There are lots of island places to go-all over the world- and I am sure there are differences among the various Greek Islands- but to go to Greece and not see the fantastic ruins, mountains, monestaries and other historic places- might just as well go to the Carribean! Just my 2cents.

      I would look for some in country tours to see Mycanae, Olympus, and some of the other sites.

      1. Unicornucopia*

        I went to Greece just before the pandemic, and we were in Athens about three days, and the rest of the time around the Peloponnese focusing on archeological sites. I really enjoyed it, and we went to Mycenae, Olympia, Nafplio, Kalamata, Pylos, Corinth, and Monemvasia. I hadn’t been aware of Nafplio or Monemvasia before this trip’s preparation but those were two highlights that I highly recommend. Greece is so gorgeous in the countryside and islands and I felt like this focus was far more important to me compared to nightlife etc. but we also had great food at all the restaurants we went to without any planning. This trip was really packed with sightseeing but I would absolutely go back to any of these places and spend longer in any area.

    7. Cambridge Comma*

      It’s dirty in the way any big city gets a bit rough around the edges. No need to avoid it at all unless you really hate cities.

    8. Petirrojo*

      My spouse and I went to Athens and Santorini for our honeymoon this past spring. Athens was hands down one of our favorite spots EVER. If we could have stayed there for the whole trip, we would have–four days was not enough. It wasn’t dirty except in the way that any big city might be considered dirty, and there was so much to see. Santorini, on the other hand, we could have skipped, except the beautiful hike from Fira to Oia. Your description of what you and your husband like and dislike is basically exactly how we would describe ourselves, so would highly recommend more time in Athens!

      1. Kate*

        I had heard similarly about Athens and avoided it for years… had a chance to go for a long weekend and LOVED it. I don’t think we even saw any ruins either (it poured buckets and buckets of rain the day we tried).

        Highly recommend doing a food tour. I still dream of The Best Coffee of My Life from there.

    9. Rara Avis*

      I was in Greece with students 5 years ago. Really enjoyed Athens — took the kids all over by subway. We didn’t do Delphi — I think it’s pretty far for a day trip. Several days in Nafplio, which someone else mentioned. We also went to Crete, which was amazing.

    10. FrozenSky*

      Athens is my hometown, although I haven’t lived there for close to 20 years. It’s interesting to hear that it’s known for being… dirty! I guess it’s true though, it’s a city that has grown organically over the centuries and therefore is messy, plus it gets hot and dusty in the summer, there a lots of cars… it’s reminiscent of certain places in the Middle East, and a friend from Bogotá said it reminded him of home because of the scooters!

      I know I’m biased but I love it so much, there’s just nothing like going about your business, looking up and catching a glimpse of the Acropolis. There is always something interesting to see, even without visiting the Acropolis hill, so much history dotted around. If you like history and culture, then the Acropolis museum is a must, as well as the Benaki and Goulandri museums. Also the food culture in Athens is fantastic. I’m not huge into nightlife either, but evenings in Athens are just wonderful, with people socialising, eating out, wandering about…

      In terms of what to do with the rest of your days, I agree with the poster who said that a day trip to Delphi is too ambitious. You could however do a day trip to Sounio. Prioritising the Peloponnese over islands might also be smart, you’ll still get lovely beaches but you can visit Olympia, Nafplio, Monemvasia etc. You’ll need to hire a car though, or figure out the buses. If you’re still keen on islands, I would reconsider Crete as it’s big (4 cities, so you should choose where to go, I’d suggest Chania as the prettiest probably, but it does get busy). Personally I love Naxos because it combines ancient history, hiking in the stunning mountains, and beaches towards the south and southeast that are unspoilt as there is an order prohibiting any building works. There are frequent ferries from Piraeus harbour too. Oh, and the food it some of the best you can get in Greece, unlike many small islands in the Aegean, Naxos produces much of its own food.

    11. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Crete is brilliant. We spent just over a week there, staying in Chania first and then Heraklion, so we could use them as bases to explore multiple areas of the island (still didn’t see everything there is).

      If you go, make sure you rent a car, even though Greek roads outside of the main highways are not the best. Public transport worked for us, but only relying on it does narrow down the number of places you can easily reach on day trips, and the time you’ll spend there (vs. making sure you catch buses at the right time).

      The beach at Elafonisi is unmissable, and since you’re into historical sights, I bet you’d enjoy the Minoan palace at Knossos.

    12. FashionablyEvil*

      Really enjoyed Athens when we were there 5 years ago—I did not find it dirty? It’s worth planning out your time there, though. A lot of the main historical sites have a combo ticket and if you get it at one of the smaller sites, you can skip the line at the Acropolis. The archaeological museum is a must-see!

      Delphi is also great—a lot of people do it as a day trip which means it’s quieter in the evenings so can be a good place to stop over/have a quieter evening.

      Also really liked Milos and Naxos—they’re part of the same group of islands as Mykonos and Santorini, but have fewer tourists.

      Really, though, it’s hard to go wrong—so much amazing scenery, history, and culture and the Greeks are a hospitable people!

    13. Pop*

      Thanks for all of the advice, everyone! I have spent time in both New York and New Delhi so I’m not especially bothered by the “dirty” descriptions given the additional info people shared. (It was the only feedback by two different acquaintances about the city so I think I got a little stuck on it.) I certainly agree that there is more to Greece than Athens and islands, but sadly only so much one can do in 10 days. Feeling rejuvenated to plan and not as overwhelmed as before!

  33. Bibliovore*

    My contractor got his catalytic convertor stolen off of his truck right in front of my house between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM.
    I was sitting in my living room during that time.
    I did hear the dogs bark but they bark every time the contractors go to their truck to get stuff.
    Now I am super anxious and think I should get one of those camera systems like ring.
    Any suggestions?
    Pros ?
    Cons?

    1. fposte*

      Think about what you want it for and what you’ll do with it. Will you watch the footage and worry about what you see on it, or will you be able to limit it to times when something has happened and showing it to the victim and/or cops might help? Will you find reassuring the ability to answer your doorbell if you’re still out of the house?

      I find them simultaneously appealing and worrying, which is why I’m currently languishing in indecision with a broken doorbell. I see their use, but I also see bad stuff coming from them. Obviously I don’t know the people who use Ring privately and don’t post up video on NextDoor, but a lot of that posting involves people reading suspicion into situations that definitely are heavily influenced by the prejudice of the posters.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I agree with everything fposte says and you should listen to her, not me, but I will say we love our doorbell cam because it has shown us:
      – foxes playing almost nightly
      – a child stealing a pumpkin off our porch and holding it up over her head victoriously while running off in triumph (seriously, she looks like she is winning an Olympic race, it’s amazing)
      – our lawn service’s truck backing into and knocking over our mailbox (very helpful in eliminating debate over whether they were responsible for fixing it)
      – what happened to a package a friend dropped off on our porch (our mailman picked it up thinking we had left it for him to take)
      – more foxes

      Highly recommend, 85% for entertainment value and 15% for solving mysteries.

      1. fposte*

        I love that pumpkin kid so much.

        I just know that I am a natural Gladys Kravitz and have to be careful about what something like that turns me into.

      2. Generic Name*

        I wish we had this much excitement on our cameras! Here’s what I see:
        -people walking their dogs
        -delivery drivers dropping off packages
        -occasional birds on the feeders in the back yard
        -my dog in the back yard (sometimes I catch her on the furniture)
        -most exciting wildlife sighting was 2 crows standing on our driveway

      3. Warrior Princess Xena*

        Most dramatic thing in my neighborhood- a neighbor’s video doorbell caught footage of a bear pulling open their bird feeder! Was helpful for letting everyone know that it was time to put bird feeders in/not let pets out for a while.

      4. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I forgot to mention the whole reason we got one in the first place: You can turn off your doorbell! Like if you want to take a nap and know you won’t be woken up by the doorbell or you want to sleep late or so forth, you can TURN THE DOORBELL OFF. We sleep late, so we like this.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          This is actually why I got mine, the camera was largely incidental — the wired doorbell drives my dogs absolutely 1000% bonkers, the Ring can be set to only send notifications to our phones (and we CAN send them to the Alexae if we want, but generally don’t). So we disconnected the wired one and installed a smart one.

          Unfortunately, the older dog’s middle name includes Radar for a reason, and she still goes 870% bonkers any time she hears a car door closing within three houses of mine. :P

    3. KatEnigma*

      Ours was super helpful twice when we owned 2 houses and only lived in one at a time, as we transitioned…
      It let us see someone use a key to enter our new house that we didn’t know (for a door we didn’t have a key to!!!) We called the constable, who had someone there in 15 minutes. It was a new neighbor, who had the key from the old owner, and thought he’d “helpfully” take packages into the house. *cough* That if he’d looked at, he’d have seen were misdelivered from next door and it doesn’t take 15+ minutes to drop packages inside the house. We didn’t press charges, but the nice constable gave him a stern talking to. And made him leave his key. That was a Friday, and on Monday morning, our Realtor sat at the house to let in locksmiths *cough*

      And then once we moved, we saw a cleaner hired to do a “move out” clean at the old house come by and put tape over the camera… while our realtor happened to be inside. She’d been given the code to get in the house, so when I went back (on a hunch) and looked at footage from the day before and recognized her, I texted the realtor who took the batteries out of the electronic door so no one would enter that way, and we alerted both her boss, who fired her on the spot, and the police, who did nothing except note it, because we caught her before she tried to rob us. (We didn’t even want to bother calling the police, but the Realtor insisted)

      But mainly, in a house we live in, we tune them out. Except to use as notice that we must have an Amazon package, and that we don’t know the person ringing the bell, so we’re not answering to have someone try to sell us something, and to go back and look if there’s an incident- but aside from those, it’s been nothing. The neighbor one, I wouldn’t have even looked except that he set it off twice in quick succession- because otherwise I’d have assumed it was the stray cat who sets it off consistently and I usually tuned it out unless we were expecting a delivery or workmen or something. Just like we also tune out barking dogs because they bark at lots of things that aren’t a problem (like the stray cat)

        1. KatEnigma*

          Honestly? He and his wife are lovely- the cake bringing when we moved into the neighborhood, goodie bags for our son at Easter and Halloween, and THE best sweet potato pie I’ve ever had, hands down, at Thanksgiving kind of neighbors.

          When his wife brought over the welcome cake, she said he’d mentioned the key and packages as I “should I?” and she didn’t think he was serious but signaled she didn’t think it was a great idea. The next thing she knew, she looked out the window and there were 3 constable cars with lights going, talking to her husband, and all the neighbors gathered. (November 2021, most of the neighborhood was still WFH) She was aghast at the poor decision. But clearly he was dying to get in to see the house- which was mostly empty because we weren’t moving in until the first of the year, and just had a load of things (30 boxes of books) that my husband had driven down to clear out of our house while it was being shown, and give us something to live with while we waited on the movers to bring our stuff 2 weeks-ish after we were moving in. I guarantee that he wished he hadn’t given up his key yet and given us reason to rekey the locks, when the flooring guys showed up in December to replace all the carpet with engineered hardwood. His snooping was premature!

          And had he said something to the neighbors on either side of us (he is across the street), they had our cell numbers, knew our names as they’d met my husband on his trip with the uhaul, as he’d also done some fence repair and dug up some poisonous palms ahead of arriving with our dogs. Because the garage has a MyQ opener in it, we had the ability- and once did- to open the garage remotely for a friendly neighbor to tuck away something that arrived unexpectedly, so he could have BEEN helpful, without the drama…

    4. Sparkle Llama*

      Catalytic converter theft is unfortunately super common and I don’t think it is that much of an indicator of other crime. It is of course still alarming to have it happen.

      I do have a Logitech video doorbell (more secure than ring and won’t give your footage to the police). I got it so we could connect it to our apple home pods and hear the doorbell throughout our very vertical home. The video is helpful for seeing if packages are delivered

    5. Glazed Donut*

      I have a doorbell camera (Ring) and house cameras (Nest). I prefer the Nest cameras because they’re wired and continually recording, whereas Ring only records if there’s motion.
      For me, my Nest cameras are best used as a reminder of how infrequently there is anything suspicious around my house. I’ve had them for 4+ years, originally purchased after my Ring camera caught someone on my porch at 3am. The lens of the Ring only recorded this man going around the side of my house, and at 3am I was not about to go outside an investigate. Long story short – I now can look at the motion on my Nest cameras and realize that 99.9999% of the time there’s nothing to worry about: birds, occasional trash blowing alongside the house, stray cats, etc. If anything it has given me a sense of safety and security because I know that for all the “look at the crime!!!” news stories out there, my house is in a pretty good spot (knock on wood).
      It’s also nice for when I hear a noise and can quickly take a look and realize what it was without needing to get up, put shoes on, investigate. Usually it’s nothing. Sometimes a branch falls or something else minor.

    6. Chaordic One*

      I recently read an article that said that they are now selling catalytic converter shields or guards to be installed on your car. Car dealers are offering them as an extra-cost dealer-installed option and they seem to be especially popular on new Toyotas. (For some reason, catalytic converters are frequently stolen from Toyota Priuses). The shields are also sold by auto parts stores, and sold and installed by independent garages. Prices I’ve seen ranged from $60 to $520, with most of them running about $150. I’m sure they wouldn’t stop a determined thief, but they would probably deter one and maybe inspire them to move on to an easier target.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        It’s older Priuses (specifically, 2004-2009) that are extremely easy to steal the cat from. Like, seconds. That’s why they get stolen from those so frequently. The newer ones take a lot more effort and thus are less likely to be stolen. The shields do make it take a lot longer which makes it way less worth it for the thieves.

    7. Little Beans*

      We live in a pretty remote spot so we got an Arlo camera and love it. Mostly, we get fun videos of the wildlife, and I also use it to know if my partner has actually left home to meet me when said he would or is running late, as usual. But it’s great for peace of mind when we’re away from home.

    8. Rara Avis*

      Catalytic converters theft is rampant in my city, and unfortunately video doorbells are neither a deterrent nor of any use to the police.

    9. The Other Dawn*

      We got Ring simply because all our doorbells are broken–all three of them, which is odd. Our house is almost 300 years old and we didn’t want to bother running new wiring–the old wiring is ancient–and I like the idea of a camera and microphone to communicate if I can’t get to the door.

      We don’t get many false notifications, as I have it set to recognize and notify for people only. Although it will catch a large truck going down the road sometimes. A few times it has caught a bird pecking at our door and it once caught a squirrel who was climbing up the door to get to the seed cakes we put out for the birds. There was a moment when the squirrel looked right into the camera, which was cute.

      Speaking of catching wildlife on camera, my husband put out a few wireless trail cams a couple months ago. He often catches two or three deer at a time eating the deer corn he puts out for them. There was a cat on the video another night (ours are indoors, so it wasn’t ours). And a couple weeks ago, during the daytime, the camera caught a goose looking straight into the camera. I thought that was funny.

  34. Laura H*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    I’ve been enjoying extra time with the dogs lately. And they’re joyful by nature.

    Please share your joys, big or small.

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      I colored my hair for the first time since my knee replacement in January. Yay!!

    2. Cat and dog fosterer*

      I have started throwing a frisbee for my fetch-obsessed pupper and there is nothing more joyful than the look on the face of a fetch-obsessed pupper running to me with a frisbee. I can’t throw it far, so look forward to when the snow melts and I can return to using the ball launcher without the worry of losing them all.

    3. fposte*

      Went out to a play with a friend, in the actual *nighttime*! I felt like I was fourteen and had gotten permission to stay out past curfew.

    4. GoryDetails*

      It’s currently Maine Restaurant Week, when many restaurants offer fixed-price menus that are a bargain over the usual menus, and I like to take advantage when I can. Since a snowstorm was moving in (and has currently left a good eight inches of heavy, wet snow on my house), a friend and I went up on Thursday – to the Tiller restaurant in the Cliff House inn on the coast between Ogunquit and York. And its name is accurate – it’s perched on the cliffs above the stunning Maine coast, with the dining room windows pretty much floor-to-ceiling glass. From our seats we had a perfect view of the ocean, including glimmers from distant lighthouses – utterly jaw-dropping. (The meal was quite good, btw, but we kept pausing to just stare out those windows, at least until it got so dark that the windows became mirrors. If you go, go by daylight {grin}.)

    5. Pamela Adams*

      I got to take a shower- first since last August!

      Yes, my medical issues are coming to an end, but the shower was exciting!

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      My students did a surprisingly great job on an activity I thought they’d struggle with, even the most challenging class.

      My kiddo is really excited about an after-school soccer program, which will be her first time doing sports!

    7. the cat's ass*

      Kid with newly diagnosed DM is having almost-normal blood sugars and is feeling quite a lot better.
      Elderly demented kitty is on new meds and seems happier (no longer screaming the song of his people at 2 am) and more comfortable, even tho he seems to be slowly fading.
      We found a lovely house/cat sitter after our original awesome person had to decline d/t family issues
      One of my most challenging patients wrote me a beautiful letter about how much she appreciates me and our discussions about her care. ’23 has been kinda rough, but that letter really made my whole year (so far). I’m still hopeful.

    8. Glazed Donut*

      Spring is coming!!!! The ground is turning green, there are buds on the bushes, and I see little green sprouts poking up in the garden beds. Last year was my first year planting anything I really cared about (vs the usual — what my mom thinks I should plant) and I am so very looking forward to getting outside on a regular basis taking care of some of these bushes again. Fresh flowers cut to bring inside–such is the promise of spring!!

    9. Chaordic One*

      I bought 2 pairs of new shoes from the internet and one of them fits perfectly!

    10. An Australian in London*

      I bought a new monitor, external keyboard, and speakers for my laptop.

      Laptop is now sitting out of the way behind the monitor, which is a glorious 21:9 curved ultrawide 3440 x 1440 32″. It is AMAZING. I am so much more productive with my work, and video is great especially with my new speakers.

      I obsessively researched keyboards for ages. I knew I wanted a mechanical but I was concerned about noise. I wanted a typist’s keyboard, not a gaming keyboard. I knew that probably meant MX Brown or Blue switches. I went with Brown because they’re a bit quieter (but still loud). SO GOOD.

      It’s like having a whole new computer. And on a whim I fired up Skyrim in 3440 x 1440 with the widest possible field of view. Gorgeous. Even when I took an arrow to the knee.

    11. carcinization*

      Made a tattoo appointment for a week and a half from now… this will be my 6th tattoo and my first that will be hand-poked rather than from the usual machine. It’ll be a nice geometric design. I guess it’s been about a year and a half since my last tattoo.

    12. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I’ve had one of my grandmother’s recipes on my computer for literally decades, and this year my girlfriend made one, to celebrate an event, and it was good.

      She made a second one last weekend, for my mother’s visit, and it was clearly a delightful surprise. We’d told her that my girlfriend was baking a cake, but not that it was the family favorite that Grandma hadn’t made very often because it was a lot of work. Mom and I had to run an errand Monday afternoon, and my partners did all the baking while we were out, so te cake was cooling on the counter when we got home.

    13. Lozzapalooza*

      Went out to the supermarket yesterday and saw a huge murmuration of starlings over ahead. Sat at watched them for about 10 minutes – so graceful and playful with a huge swirling swooping cloud of birds.

  35. Solo Dolo*

    Hello! I want to do more traveling but with how busy friends are, I think I have to plan on solo travels, which I am excited about but still a bit nervous. I want to try US cities before I try international. I’m between Portland, Boston, and Las Vegas for solo trips as they’re some major cities I haven’t been to before, but I’m also open to any suggestions if not those. Does anyone recommend activities, which city to pick, and things to think about solo traveling? I’m an outgoing introvert woman of color. I think I’ll have to book an activity to make sure I talk to someone on the trip lol. I also would rather not rent a car but I’m open if that’s best!

    1. Alex*

      Chicago! Unless that is where you already live, Lol. No car needed, tons of things to do, and a really beautiful city. But maybe not super fun to be outside in in winter.

      Also, if you can swing it, Hawaii. I went there solo and it was amaaazzzziinng. If you go to Big Island you have to rent a car but not necessary on Oahu.

      I travel solo often and love it. Sometimes even prefer it to going with friends!

      1. KatEnigma*

        I agree that Chicago is a really great city for public transit- it works like transit is supposed to work, but seldom does! But it’s also simple to get a ride share. It’s diverse, so you won’t stand out. With great museums, parks, shopping, restaurants, etc. And it’s not outrageously expensive.

    2. WellRed*

      Well what do you like to do? I like Vegas but if history is your jam, I’d direct you to Boston, for example.

      1. Solo Dolo*

        I do like history! But I also love art. Food is a big draw for me with travel, and I heard Vegas (the downtown not the strip?) has some delicious food. I also wanted to try their MeowWolf. But as far as activities, anything involving art or plays or something interactive, cooking classes (though I might do that outside of the US), museums, and some light outdoor things (aka a short hike is nice but I’m alright not rock climbing lol.)

        1. Bluebell*

          Have you been to Santa Fe? The original Meow Wolf is there, some fantastic museums, great food if you like Southwestern cuisine, and nice gallery hopping. And you could really splurge and go to Ten Thousand Waves spa. I went on a surprisingly good food tour when I was there pre-covid, and it had a variety of cuisines.

          1. epizeugma*

            Car rental would be very hard to avoid in Santa Fe though, especially with any day trips out of town.

            1. Bluebell*

              True, though driving in Santa Fe seems way easier than in Boston. And other than going to Meow Wolf and 10000 waves, it was all pretty walkable.

        2. WestsideStory*

          No one goes to Las Vegas for the food.

          (I speak as someone who goes there at least twice a year.)

        3. Just here for the scripts*

          If you like art and history, I definitely recommend San Francisco and New York City (my bias is Manhattan—and I’m happy to share a local’s tips on how-to-make-it-less-overwhelming—ruling it out for that reason means ruling out London and Paris when you’re ready for international travel). And there’s no need for a car in either place—in fact it’s a burden.

          If you need a car for a day trip option in any city, look into Zipcar—we did that in Oahu and it was way cheaper than a rental as we only needed it for one of our 5 days and didn’t get stuck with the $60-$80 a day parking fees.

        4. Katefish*

          It’s not on the Strip, but I always recommend Crepe Expectations on Eastern in Vegas… If you’re looking for foodie deliciousness on your trip, highly, highly recommended!

        5. Voluptuousfire*

          I went to Meow Wolf in Denver and it was SO fantastic. Second seeing that if you can in Vegas.

    3. Bluebell*

      I think if you want to travel solo, it’s fun to go to places that have lots of options. That way, you can change your mind quickly, and you only have to think about yourself. If you don’t want a car, I’d cross Vegas off the list, unless you are focused on the gambling and swimming pools. I don’t know about Portland, but have heard good things. Boston is a great choice, because there are a lot of cultural things, some wonderful outdoor spaces and very good food. You can find a lot of Airbnb options for small group tours. However, Boston is racially segregated, though I can’t speak to how that might affect your experience.
      One suggestion you might not have thought of, last year a friend and I went to Richmond Virginia for a long weekend, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Some awesome cultural and historical attractions (Maggie Walker’s house was particularly interesting), beautiful parks, and one can make a beach side trip, though I didn’t.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’d disagree re car-free Vegas – I’ve been there a zillion times without renting a car (stayed on the Strip) and never had any issues. I took the city bus from the Strip over to Fremont Street and the Mob Museum and back with no issues, but in a pinch taxis are everywhere and fairly well regulated. Otherwise, as long as you don’t mind or have issues with walking, there’s plenty of non-gambling shows, restaurants and attractions up and down the Strip.

    4. AGD*

      Never been to Vegas, but I’ve done Portland and Boston solo several times each and thought both were AMAZING. The downtown cores of each of those are very walkable.

      Boston’s a lot older in terms of European settlement, and the green areas are more curated and less wild. The layout is kind of all over the place and there are many more museums and hidden gems. Portland has a sort of stereotypical hippie/hipster vibe (though it’s declining as the city’s been getting expensive). I found Boston transit easier to navigate in general, but Portland is laid out as far more of a grid (and I thought the Portland streetcars were adorable!). In Boston it’s easier to wander aimlessly and find interesting things by accident. Portland requires a bit more planning to check things off a list, but also has Powell’s Books, which is worth taking an entire day to visit.

    5. HannahS*

      Boston is great; I went alone and greatly enjoyed the Freedom Trail. Chicago and New York are also easy: very walkable/transit-able, lots to do. Same with Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. I am also introverted and like being alone, but I found that long trips alone (more than 2 weeks) were too long, because I was essentially silent that whole time. If you’re the type to make friends where you go, you may not find that to be the case. I did find that as a woman traveling alone, I didn’t like arriving in a new city and finding my way to my accommodation at night.

    6. Nicki Name*

      Come to Portland! If you like big events and don’t mind rain and crowds, come in June when the Rose Festival is going on (see rosefestival.org for the main events now, later for a full calendar of everything that’s scheduled to happen). If you’d like drier weather and don’t mind heat, then come in July/August. If you’d prefer cooler temperatures and *really* don’t mind rain, then try spring or fall (when we do have bursts of nice weather but it’s unpredictable).

      You can get around fairly well here by transit. There are a confusing number of different transit systems (two bus systems, light rail, streetcar) but they all take the Hop farecard and app.

      What kind of activities do you like? Indoor, outdoor, geeky, highbrow?

      1. WellRed*

        Come to the other Portland! Huge food scene, live music, history, art scene, ocean views/activities.

    7. SofiaDeo*

      I used to search for private rooms in hostels that had a communal kitchen. The staff usually knew the best local stuff, and I often found someone to hang out with. My Mom loved traveling this way, once she got over sharing a dorm style bathroom.

    8. Solo Dolo*

      Thanks all for the suggestions so far! I’m on my phone so it’s hard to respond to you all. I’ve been to Chicago before (not as a solo trip though) but maybe I should revisit! NYC I have gone for work but dang is it overwhelming. But appreciate all the tips!

    9. Sloanicota*

      I have loved traveling to Boston, New Orleans (not during Mardi Gras), Key West and Memphis as a solo female traveler. In all cases I pick a great central hotel and then take cabs/Lyfts/public transit to see the sites from there, or bike rentals.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I have done it both ways! One trip I did manatees and Everglades stuff on a road trip and then drove down across the bridge, the second time I was willing to skip that to get there faster.

      1. Voluptuousfire*

        I LOVED Key West. It’s so expensive though. :( The guesthouse I stayed at was inexpensive and two blocks off Duvall Street in old Key West but is now closed.

        The Hemingway House is great if you’re into cats. I went 3 times in the 4 days I spent there and loved it. I drove from Ft Lauderdale to Key West and would recommend it. I parked my car rental on the street but didn’t use it during my trip. I only rented it for the drive since direct flights to Key West were rare at the time.

    10. Sundae fun day*

      I have found food tours excellent for solo traveling. You get to walk around quite a bit of the city, learn about good restaurants, and easily chat with fellow travelers.

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

      Omg, we are in exactly the same demographic. I’ve been to all 3 cities you listed. Here are my thoughts:

      I’d avoid Las Vegas as a solo traveller– it’s such a surreal place that it’s really more fun to have someone to experience it with.

      Boston has some very cool parts mixed in with a lot of terrible parts. I’ve only ever gone there to visit friends who live there, and I feel like without those local contacts I would’ve always hated the place. If you do go, definitely don’t rent a car. Driving in Boston is pure nightmare fodder. Nevermind that the drivers there take pride in the term “Masshole”, even worse is that none of the roads make sense. To go west, you have to go east. To take a left turn, you have to cross a river, do a u-turn, go down some unnamed side street, cross back over the river, and then there won’t be any parking at your destination anyway. There are weird, unholy, 7-spoked intersections that will send your GPS into conniptions. Just don’t do it.
      Public transit there stops running absurdly early at night for a large city, and because it has such a high concentration of colleges, there are many parts of the city where the only nightlife it has to offer is seething streetfuls of drunk, aggressive white guys. I found it scary in my 20s even though I always was with at least 1 or 2 friends.

      Portland is the place I’ve most enjoyed exploring on my own. It’s got good public transit, is walkable, and has interesting shops and restaurants to investigate. The weather is admittedly a possible factor– bring water-resistant/-proof footwear and a good rain coat.

      Other options:
      I notice someone else mentioned Chicago and I’m seconding that hard. The Mexican art museum and the neighborhood it’s in were the highlight of the one short trip I took there, but I’ve always wanted to go back and explore it more.

      DC is so expensive to find lodging, and is the place where I once experienced the most vicious street harrassment of anywhere I’ve ever been, but aside from that, it’s a pretty cool place to visit. Good public transit +
      excellent bike share system (and fairly flat, safe, biekable roads); incredible free museums; amazing bonsai collection at the National Arboretum if that’s your thing…

      San Francisco is also pretty expensive, but omg, I can’t not fall on love with that place every time I go there. Granted, CA is a little hectic weatherwise lately, but I was last there in… June, I think, and it was perfection. No fires, no floods, just a beautiful, beautiful city where I can’t afford to live.

  36. *daha**

    Chair repair! I have an older wood chair, likely oak. One of the armrests split cleanly apart. It looks to have been a join that was originally glued. I’d like to glue it back together. I have a hot glue gun, or I could buy “wood glue”. Is one of those a better choice, or should I try something different?

    1. Liminality*

      The thing about hot glue is: if it gets hot again it melts. So I’d think about where the chair is. Chance of sunbeams on a warm porch? Better off with a glue that is not temperature dependent.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Also, it it gets cold, it gets brittle and suddenly doesn’t stick. I’ve had that happen a few times.

    2. MissCoco*

      Wood glue and a vise while it dries. Hot glue is not a very sticky type of glue in the scheme of things, and I think it might just fill in the crack rather than pulling it together

      1. Idyllic Gulag*

        Yep. Any brand of wood glue – Titebond, Gorilla, Elmer’s – should work for this. Bar clamp or pipe clamp would be best, they’re common enough that someone may have a couple you could borrow, or they’re cheap enough to buy if you may need them in the future. Apply a thin layer of glue to each side, clamp, and use a lightly damp rag to wipe any squeeze out.

  37. Sunshine*

    Thank you to the person who posted about 18:6 intermittent fasting a couple weeks ago. I have been struggling with weight since having my kids and all the pandemic stressors just piled on more. It’s too hard to count a lot (calories or ww points). This is the easiest approach I’ve experienced. I didn’t realize how much I was snacking until I stopped snacking. The progress has been moderate but consistent and really keeps me going.
    Again thank you!

    1. Turtle Dove*

      Good for you! I didn’t post that, but I remember reading it. I’ve had similar success with intermittent fasting. I do 17:7 with nothing sugary except for one treat each weekend. I lost 45 pounds over two periods when I seriously focused on it, and I keep the weight off doing a more relaxed version. It’s the easiest approach I’ve ever found. I hope you continue to enjoy the benefits.

    2. jasmine tea*

      Congrats! I’m one of the people who does 18:6, though I doubt I was the original commenter. It has really helped get my cravings under control, especially when combined with a focus on proteins and veg. I think my constant carb snacking was sending my blood sugar on a roller coaster ride. The more trash I ate, the more trash I wanted.

    3. Flowers*

      4-5+ years on I still don’t fully understand intermittent fasting – I fully believe that you can lose weight on it and it can be beneficial to health and all that but where I’m struggling is how is this different from just skipping a meal like allll the health magazines cautioned against in the 2000s? (I’m sure there was bad advice prior but that’s the peak era I started reading these things)? Is it that the skipping a meal would lead to eating extra calories later on to “make up” for missing that meal? or is it just really the same thing and it’s just debunking prior advice (which I totally get!)

      1. Sunshine*

        I feel like the combination of focus on two healthy meals cuts out one meal and snacks. So yes that would lower overall calorie intake. Also I way underestimate the calories in a handful of snack.
        As far as fitness magazines/ articles…. I’ve been listening to a podcast called maintenance phase. And the gist is there is a lot of faulty science (if any science) behind a lot of health claims. To include bmi, food pyramid etc. a lot of popular knowledge was based on essentially lobbying by interest groups. Though truthfully they wouldn’t approve of intermittent fasting either. ;)

      2. RagingADHD*

        Intermittent fasting works if you stick with it, but it doesn’t work for everyone because not everyone can stick to it. When I make my “eating window” too narrow, and get too hungry, I eat way, way more calories in one sitting than I do when I space my meals out.

        It’s like the advice that the best exercise plan is the one you’ll actually do.

      3. Cedrus Libani*

        As I understand it, the idea is that you get used to tapping into your fat reserves. If you never skip a meal, you never have to use your stored fat, and gradually your body forgets how to do that. As a result, when you’re late to dinner, you feel like you’re starving. You may have plenty of calories stored up, but you can’t get them out of storage fast enough, because you’re out of practice.

        The other way to avoid that starving feeling is to go to the other extreme: eat many small meals, so that you never run out of fuel. In my experience, it’s basically impossible to do that without overeating unless you’re on a strict meal plan. If you eat one meal a day, you just stop eating when you’re full, and that’s all you have to do.

        Personally, I eat two meals a day, in part for social reasons (I can eat a normal dinner with other people!) and in part for digestive reasons (it would be a LOT of food for one meal, as I’m fairly active and trying to maintain weight).

  38. Elle*

    Yesterday someone asked about how to handle an overly negative coworker. How do you guys handle an overly negative friend? I find it very difficult to talk to her because every conversation gets shut down with a negative comment. Every restaurant is bad, vacations are a disaster, all of her kids teachers are bad, on and on. A conversation about a future activity involves everything that could go wrong. She, her husband and kids struggle with anxiety and I try to be sympathetic but it’s exhausting. How can I be a good friend here?

    1. GoryDetails*

      Captain Awkward has some great columns for this; will post a link in a reply, but if it gets stuck in moderation you can search for “Question 143: I lent an ear to a friend, how do I get it back?”. (I like the Captain’s advice because she provides scripts – different ways to word the things that can be daunting to say – while reinforcing that it may not be possible to establish boundaries without causing some hurt feelings, but that it’s better to be direct than to wind up ghosting the person out of frustration or snapping at them when it gets to be too much for you.

      1. Elle*

        That’s a great resource. Thanks so much! I do feel we’re close to an argument these days and I’d like to avoid that.

    2. Lifelong student*

      I have an overly negative partner- same idea- never a good word always a complaint. My choice has become to let partner complain and make no response. I have found that either offering solutions and/or disagreeing with the complain both escalate the complaint level- so I just ignore unless specifically asked for a reaction. In which case, I will respond- but neutrally and calmly.

    3. AGD*

      I was in a situation like this. Eventually I was so exasperated that I explained (gently!) that it didn’t feel like a friendship anymore because 95% of what I was getting was intense negativity, and it was exhausting and I was feeling like an unpaid therapist (but one whose occasional gentle advice was always shot down).

      Friend got very angry and tried to argue that the only way I can be a good friend is by listening to that unconditionally. I gently reiterated the need for reciprocity, not one-sided absorption of complaining.

      The friendship hasn’t been the same since, and I miss the many years when it was much more balanced and mutually fulfilling…but I’ll take a lot more peace over an unhealthy imbalance.

      1. Unum Hoc Scio*

        I had a friend like this. Once, after a litany of woes, I sighed and said “Okay, now tell me five good things that have happened to you!” She thought awhile and managed to squeeze out four. After that, I kept asking for a list of good things and it turned around a little.

    4. Elle*

      I should add it’s never long conversations with her. It’s brief negative comments about everything. For example, I mention a really good Italian restaurant. Her response is “Italian food makes me feel sick. I can’t eat that stuff.” Or we drove several hours to go on vacation. She says “I would never drive that far to do something like that.” Instant conversation killers.

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        How is the rest of the friendship? Is there enough to counterbalance this?

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I think I would figure out if I just want her say something positive? If so, I would bat back a question of what can she speak well of. Like, “Well what restaurant have you liked recently them?” Or “Is there anything you would drive that far for?” Or “Okay, if that’s the bad news, what’s the good news?” I would probably use a simple redirect to something positive, if it was not such a close friend and it wasn’t worth me getting into it with them. If it’s someone closer I might also be a bit annoyed they were raining on my parade, and I’d be more invested in taking the risk to say so quite frankly. Something like “Okay, and I’ll keep the Italian food dislike in mind when I’m arranging something with you, but for now can I just tell you about my evening?” Or “That’s okay that a driving trip is not your thing, because we were the ones who went. Is it okay if I tell you about my trip?” If it’s a deliberate shutting down feeling, I would be tempted to try to draw her out on it “Ok, do we not want to talk about Italian food/driving holidays? Because I feel a little bit shut down right now.” Sometimes it’s better to just name the annoyance gently than risk it going to BEC stage.

        1. eeeek*

          This is the approach I took with a friend I used to have, who always seemed sour and irritated with EVERYTHING I’d introduce as a topic. I got in the habit of saying things like “okay – I guess it’s a good thing than that *I* had [experience]; shall I continue telling you about it, or do you have another topic you’d like to discuss?” After enough repetitions, they realized that “oh, I don’t care for [whatever], myself, but did you have a good time?” was more constructive conversation strategy.
          Ultimately, though, it turned out that their issue was a pretty serious problem with envy, and that they really did not want ever to hear that I was having fun or enjoying my own life. When we finally got around to some honest talk, they admitted that they actively wished I were less happy/optimistic/emotionally resilient/lucky (and loads of other enviable things they pulled out of the grievance trunk, including several I’d never claim).
          Which is why this is a former, and not current, friend – it wasn’t healthy for either of us to have that baggage around.

  39. Any old username*

    If you do a search for The Guardian (UK Newspaper) it has a travel section on Greece with recent articles on Rhodes and Crete. They don’t have a paywall so you should be able to see the articles without a subscription. theguardian.com / travel / greece

  40. Flowers*

    Grocery store line etiquette –

    My husband encounters this behavior constantly when we go grocery shopping to a particular type of store.

    A person will be standing in line at the checkout counter with a few items, and all of a sudden their companion arrives with shopping cart(s) full of groceries and gets in line behind them. So, when I was thinking I’d be after the person with 2-3 items and out in 10 minutes, will suddenly jump to a half hour because someone was lucky enough to have someone hold their spot.

    I think it’s incredibly bad etiquette to do that. If – say – the person shopping is in line and sends back their companion to get something they forgot, I’d think that was reasonable. But in this case, a single person is in line and waiting for someone to come back with a cart/multiple carts.

    Husband is non-confrontational so he won’t say anything to them but will gripe about it later, whereas I would (and have had) have no issue telling the person that they shouldn’t do that in the few times I did encounter it in the past.

    Thoughts/opinions?

    1. fposte*

      I think it’s wrong for somebody to do, but I probably wouldn’t consider it worth saying anything unless they’d pulled their full cart into the express lane.

    2. Bibliovore*

      This happens all the time at my COSTCO. It’s maddening.
      On the other hand when I lived in Brooklyn and was at Trader Joes (line wrapped the store) I made my husband stand in line with the cart as I ran around the store and threw things in it. It was pretty obvious and no surprise. It was a “feeder line” to the registers so no one was surprised by a sudden overflowing cart.
      I am the person who often says to the person with less items to go ahead of me.

      1. Nitpicker*

        This seems to be the culture at TJ’s. Also people dart off the line themselves to pick things up. Almost makes sense as the line cab go thru most of the store. Not done any place else that I’m aware of.

      2. Patty Mayonnaise*

        Yeah NYC Trader Joe’s is a completely different beast than all other grocery stores, you are completely ok to do that! And generally I think since you were two people/one cart/one checkout it’s acceptable but two people/two carts/two checkouts is rude.

    3. GoryDetails*

      I don’t think I’ve ever encountered that – in the stores I visit, I seldom see multiple-shopping-cart parties at all, so maybe it’s a regional thing (or the time of day I usually go?).

      I wouldn’t appreciate it if someone did that to me, definitely, but I guess I’d have to be in the moment to know what I’d do. The configuration of most of my stores is such that there’s a bit of a bottleneck at each checkout, and if I were already in the slot, so to speak, and someone wanted to get an entire cart full past me – well, they couldn’t unless I picked up my own stuff and moved away, and I’d be reluctant to do that. But if it were a longer line and I hadn’t yet unpacked my own goods… I might just suck it up and leave room. But I wouldn’t like it.

    4. Little Beans*

      What particular type of store? I don’t find that behavior common at all at any of my grocery stores. But I HAVE had the experience of being behind the person who is hand writing a check/has a hundred paper coupons/needs to negotiate a wrong price and I’m just watching multiple people check out in the lane next to me while I try to placate the overactive toddler in my basket. I’ve just taken to going into the experience without expectations and not trying to rush.

    5. WellRed*

      You can always pray their turn in line will come before the partner arrives so their plan is foiled.

    6. Sopranistin*

      I think it is incredibly rude. Thankfully, I have never encountered that myself. I’m too reserved, so I wouldn’t say anything. But I’m sure I’d give them a dirty look.

    7. Ellis Bell*

      I can see myself letting it go if I had time to do so, because I think it’s a bit like the etiquette rule of it being rude to point out someone else’s bad manners. Sometimes I find it hard to follow that rule, sometimes I can just sit back and find rude people amusing. I do think it’s also okay to call it out though, especially if you’re in a hurry. It’s pretty shameless to fill up multiple carts!

    8. Sloanicota*

      Ok not to play devil’s advocate but I don’t think it’s necessarily a “wrong” thing to do, it’s just something you wish they hadn’t done because you’re behind them in line – just like if they get to the front and spend twenty minutes trying to dig out their checkbook and triple-check the prices on something. It’s annoying to you personally, but how is it ethically wrong? It’s not like there’s a “no holding space in line” rule posted. They didn’t make the lines longer overall or anything.

      1. Filosofickle*

        This is where I fall. Annoying and disappointing in the way it always is when you end up stuck in a slow line you thought would be fast — but not wrong. Where I would say it’s wrong is if the space-holder and cart-bringer paid separately. As long as it’s one group / one transaction I think they’ve played by the rules.

    9. Merp*

      I used to work as a check out operator and it’s usually not the scanning that holds up the queue, but the paying. People fiddle around with payment, forget their purse and make their kid run back to the car, complain that the llama eye drops were 75c and not 79c as scanned, and so on. So when I go grocery shopping I always join the queue with fewer people with more items than the one with more people with fewer items.

      That aside, yes it’s annoying to have someone in front of you come back with a whole lot more stuff. But lots of people, including ourselves, do things that inconvenience and delay others briefly. I’d shelve it under “small annoying things not worth caring about” and move on.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        complain that the llama eye drops were 75c and not 79c as scanned

        This reminds me of when I was a cashier in a grocery store. An item that was 2 for 99 cents didn’t scan correctly and I had to manually enter it. It happened to be the day before a big snow storm and lines were very long. Without thinking, I entered each of the two items as 50 cents instead of one at 49 cents and the other at 50 cents. Well, one would have thought the world was ending. The customer made such a huge stink about it without even giving me a chance to correct it. In those days, every void had to be overridden by a supervisor so I had to wait for that person to come over with the master register key. Meanwhile, the customers directly behind her were getting really pissed off. Not because they had to wait for me to get an override, but because she went on and on the whole time. Two of them pulled out a penny and offered it to her, which of course made her more upset. In my mind I was laughing, but being a teenager I was still pretty flustered by the whole experience.

      2. Random Bystander*

        Admittedly it does seem like I’ll only complain about a price difference if it’s substantial–a couple weeks ago, youngest son and I were at the store and saw that the Wagu steak was marked as on sale from its normal 15.99 to 7.99 a piece (packages are 8oz). So we got two, and then when we got to the register, it rang up at 9.99. The worker just punched in a code (rang up as “customer loyalty”) and knocked 4.00 off, so it was pretty quick.

        But as far as someone holding a space for a large cart by standing there with a few items? I wouldn’t say anything, but it does seem like their behavior is wrong–it might be not against the rules, but falls into that same bad-but-not-illegal category as some other unpleasant things people do, especially since unless there’s one feeder line for multiple registers (I’d love that system, to be honest), I might have chosen a different line if I saw a multi-cart order in that line.

    10. Samwise*

      Eh. I just play on my phone or do a mindfulness exercise. Life’s too short to spend it fuming.

      It’s unlikely that one person with a full cart is going to take half an hour to check out. Realistically it’s maybe an extra ten minutes, tops.

      1. Observer*

        Realistically it’s maybe an extra ten minutes, tops.

        True. Unless there is something unusual or problematic, in which case, the issue is not the full cart anyway.

    11. RagingADHD*

      This may be a regional norm, but where I live the person policing other people in line and confronting them would be considered far more rude than someone saving a spot.

    12. Courageous cat*

      I have never in my life had this happen to me. If it did, with how rarely it occurs, I’d probably just sigh loudly so they knew it was rude af and then get into a different line, ha.

  41. Weekend Warrior*

    Success stories in bringing back discontinued products?
    Coke Classic is a big one and Red River Cereal (Canadian breakfast cereal) has come back on a small scale. Others? I need some positive stories!

    The question is prompted by losing Neutrogena’s Anti-residue Shampoo! Many thanks to all the suggestions for alternatives from a couple of week’s ago but so far no success. Every product I’ve tried has caused scalp and eyelid itching or worse, tongue and throat tingling (looking at you Vanicream Shampoo). I’m eking out my last drops of Anti-residue…

      1. Weekend Warrior*

        Yes, same as on Amazon, clever people are reselling their hoard of the product at hugely inflated prices. It happens every time a product is discontinued or becomes scarce. I’ve also heard that these resellers are watering down the shampoo to have more product to sell… :(

        1. Still*

          How… does that work? Doesn’t the shampoo come in specific packaging…? Where would they put the extra volume unless they have empty packages on hand?

      2. StellaBella*

        Also Amazon has it – quite a few options, incl a box of 5 of the 6 oz bottles and others.

    1. carcinization*

      Clearly Canadian (beverage) came back a few years ago, though without the Loganberry flavor.

  42. PhyllisB*

    Need some advice here. If y’all think I’m totally wrong, I can accept that, just want some opinions.
    First of all, I love dogs. Big dogs, small dogs, doesn’t matter. I love all dogs (except maybe crotch sniffers and leg humpers!!) I don’t mind if they lick me, climb in my lap, or get dog hair all over me. As long as they’re friendly, I’m up for it, which brings me to my issue.
    My oldest daughter has three dogs (haven’t met the newest one yet.) The other two, one is a Blue Heeler and the other one is a Lab, Australian Shepard, Pit Bull mix. My husband, mother, and I paid a visit to them last Thanksgiving and it was miserable. The Blue Heeler (who somewhat knows us) went on a barking frenzy every time one of us got up, and the other one took an instant dislike to my mother and snarled at her every time she so much as moved. My poor mother sat frozen, afraid to move an inch. (She loved my husband, though and wanted to sit in his lap every time he sat down.) Well, after that, I told her we wouldn’t be visiting at her house again because it was just too uncomfortable for everyone.
    She got upset with me and told me it wasn’t fair for her to have to make the three hour drive to our house for every visit, and that she didn’t have anyone to watch the dogs.
    Am I wrong here? I know some would say close the dogs up or put them outside, but I realize it’s their home too, and it doesn’t seem right to do that, I wouldn’t want to do that to our dog.
    Side note: We stay in a hotel when we visit because she really doesn’t have room for us, so of course we can meet up other places, but she’s proud of her home and wants to entertain us there. Is there a solution I’m overlooking?

    1. Weekend Warrior*

      Gosh, if your mom couldn’t move without being snarled at your daughter was being a terrible host. Her desire to host doesn’t trump the comfort, and possibly safety, of her guests. The dogs aren’t socialized to be around guests and this should be recognized by everyone. Removing the dogs for the short period of a visit doesn’t seem like a terrible thing. Otherwise meet outside the home. This shouldn’t even be a debate!

    2. Enough*

      While I understand your reluctance about closing off the dogs have you talked to your daughter about that as an option. Since you stay at a hotel you can limit the time spent at her house. Does not seem unreasonable to close the dogs off for an hour or two.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Did you explain why it was uncomfortable, like specifically say “I was bothered by the constant barking, and the snarling really scared Mom”? If so, I think you’ve done all you can from your side of things – you set a reasonable boundary and communicated it clearly. She has options if she wants to be able to host, but it’s up to her to come up with and implement them.

    4. Not A Manager*

      Why don’t you ask your daughter what she thinks is a good solution? “You should come here and be terrorized by my dogs” obviously isn’t in the cards, so what does she think is reasonable?

      “We’d love to come visit, what do you suggest?” seems like a good place to start.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes the daughter has several options here. Have you discussed them or is she refusing to see reason.

    5. RagingADHD*

      She could, you know, train her dogs so they are not showing aggression toward her guests. And if she won’t do that, she should crate them or put them outside. That’s not cruel to the dogs, it’s better for them. A dog who is barking and growling at people in his house is a stressed out dog (and an unsafe situation for the guests).

      Unfortunately, it doesn’t surprise me that someone who refuses to teach their dogs manners would have trouble getting someone to watch them. Nobody wants to dogsit for an aggressive, untrained dog.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      I love dogs. If your dog has taken it into their head that someone is Bad and snarls at them, you haul the dog off to be closed in the bedroom for the rest of the visit. (The barking and the snarling both sound so exhausting on this visit.)

      Boarding kennels are a thing that exists just about everywhere.

    7. NotMe*

      Those dogs need to be trained ASAP. Your daughter will have a miserable life with unsocialized dogs. No one will want to spend time with her and it will be incredibly difficult to have repair people in. (Personal experience here.).
      You are not being unreasonable.

      1. Bob-White of the Glen*

        Plus, the liability is massive. A severe dog bite is a court case worth a lot of money.

    8. SofiaDeo*

      Your sister is being unreasonable if she can’t see that non socialized, aggressive dogs acting out at visitors is a problem. There is absolutely nothing wrong with shutting up the dogs briefly when people visit. Yes it’s “their space”, but if your sister can’t socialize them enough to not be super territorial when commanded to stand down, (and it sounds like she isn’t even commanding them to stop this stuff) they need to be removed from the area. And actually socialized/trained properly. Dogs should not be the alpha/calling the shots, even in their own homes. Dogs need to know the word “No” and experience the consequences of not following owner commands. Her allowing them to bark/act aggressive to visitors, is her telling her dogs it’s OK to do so. This problem starts with her, and her not training her dogs. If she isn’t able to see that, protect yourselves by refusing to exposure yourselves to potential attack. Let her be upset if that’s her choice. You aren’t willing to expose yourself to potential dog violence. If she refuses to do anything to prevent/mitigate this, that’s not something you can risk and should not feel guilty about protecting yourself. If she doesn’t want to drive to see you all, and wants you all to visit her, she needs to be a good host!

    9. Little Beans*

      Just adding another opinion so that it helps make clear how common this thought is!! I have had dogs all my life and love them. But if they won’t stop barking, or there is even a hint that they are making a guest uncomfortable (snarling?!), they are being locked in a bedroom for the rest of the visit. It won’t kill then to be cooped up for a few hours.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Thanks for all the replies. I will address some of the things I didn’t include in the original post because I didn’t want to be long-winded.
        1. She actually thinks it’s funny that the dogs react that way and says if we would “just chill” they would calm down. We were there for about 6 hours, they never calmed down.
        2. They did put them out a couple of times, but it was cold, and they of course wanted to come back in. One of the dogs is (or was) crate trained, but not the other.
        3. I mentioned training to her, but she says she can’t afford it. I offered to help pay for it but was declined. She also says she doesn’t have time. (My opinion on that is, if you can’t afford to train a dog that needs it, then you shouldn’t have a dog. Let alone multiple dogs.)
        4. She knows someone who will board them at their home, and the dogs like her, but daughter says she can’t afford to pay for care to go out of town. but she manages to afford it when they go on vacation for a week. Yes, I know that is none of my business, but it hurts that she can’t afford to do it occasionally to come see us.
        So here we are. Don’t know what will happen in the long run, but appreciate all the feedback, and to know that my feelings are v