weekend open thread – May 6-7, 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: Limelight, by Amy Poeppel – A stressed out mom has a run-in with a troubled teen pop star and develops an unexpectedly rewarding relationship with him.

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

{ 836 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. Constance Lloyd*

    Room for another fiber thread? People who knit, sew, crochet, embroider, etc: what are you working on? What are you frustrated by? Any recent finished objects or recently learned techniques?

    I knit, and am about to attempt a small stuffed bird for a friend going through a tough time. This will involve a bit of pattern modification, which is somewhat intimidating on top of knowing that crochet is typically a better craft for objects like this. It’s a little intimidating but a very fun challenge, and I’m looking forward to it!

      1. CrochADHD*

        I’m trying to get all of my crochet projects under control. I’ve got about 20 going and things have gotten out of hand. Finishing up a shawl for my mom to replace the Christmas present she didn’t like right now.

    1. AGD*

      Most of the way through an intarsia blanket! I’m pretty tired of it, but there are only two more steps. The first is to knit the last 35 rows, most of which will be easy. The second is to put the border on afterwards, and that will at least be fun.

      I should also finish cutting out pieces for a sewing project, but progress has been slow. The fabric is soft and visually attractive, but kind of uncooperative.

      1. Callie*

        I’m doing an intarsia pillow—first time with this technique. Lots of learning but I LOVE this technique.
        A blanket sound daunting—but it will be beautiful when you’re done!

        1. AGD*

          It took me so long to figure out how to do intarsia, and then as soon as I did, I got a little carried away. But you’re right – it’s going to be so worth it!

    2. Past Lurker*

      I started a striped blanket (crochet project) loosely based on the concept of temperature blankets. I decided to weave in the ends rather than make tassels. I’m not looking forward to that task! I plan to weave ends in every few rows but I’m already procrastinating.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Can’t you just cover the tail as you start the next row? Should I not be doing that?

    3. RedinSC*

      I am crocheting a big scarf thing, I stopped working on it for a while, so need to pick that back up.

      AND, I purchased some great fabric when I was recently in Egypt and I need to figure out what to do with it. I gave half to a friend who is making lovely little pouch type bags with it, so I don’t want to copy her too much.

      Can’t wait to read what everyone else is up to.

      1. Happily Retired*

        lol @ “big scarf thing”!

        I don’t think I should claim that I crochet, but I own crochet hooks, and there’s some yarn around here somewhere, and occasionally they meet in my highly unskilled hands.

        When someone asks what I’m crocheting, my answer is “a rectangle.”

        Good luck with your big scarf thing, and wow on the Egyptian fabric!

      2. PhyllisB*

        The big scarf thing reminds me of the Stephanie Plum mysteries. Her mom has taken up knitting to relieve stress and now has a scarf that’s about 23 feet long.

      3. the Viking Diva*

        @RedinSC, I love to shop for fabric in other countries. Even printed cotton differ from place to place. I like to buy good lengths of sturdy woven cloth in distinctive prints and make grocery bags with handles from them. I always get compliments on mine at the grocery store – they are very identifiable – and they make great gifts.

    4. A Girl Named Fred*

      I’m getting back into sewing – think my first project will be a new makeup bag for traveling! Need to prewash my fabric and figure out if I have enough of the pattern I want for the main bag body and then get the other notions.

      Trying to decide whether to jump straight from that into attempting to sew a bra (something I’m highly interested in completing and need, but which seems fiddly) or a basic top (something easier to sew and which I also need, but less intriguing.) Decisions, decisions. :)

    5. cranberry scones*

      oof! Done the front and back of a cable sweater, the large cable are 4 sts over 4sts, but then each of the cable ropes are themselves cables 2sts over 2sts. My progress it slow, because (1) it’s not my only hobby, and (2) all the cabling is really aggravating the arthritis in my hands. Just the sleeves to go.

    6. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      I’m a beginning crocheter; I’m working on a glasses case but I’m frustrated that I haven’t figured out how to keep the edges straight. It seems very easy theoretically and then…?

      I’m also trying to make a headband/ear warmer thing and I’m not sure if it’s the right size since it’s not really measuring right according to the pattern. I’m still on the first couple rows though so I’m going to try a little more and then see.

      1. uisce chick*

        A constant problem! It’s usually a mixup with the turning chain, and whether that’s the first stitch in the row or not. E.g., when working in double crochet, chain three at the beginning of the row, and skip the first stitch, but in single crochet, chain one, and crochet into the first stitch. Good luck!

        1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

          Yes, I think that’s the problem. Something to practice!

      2. nobadcats*

        My bestie had this same problem when I was teaching her how to knit. She’d pick up the last stitch in a row as she turned. Partly it was due to her not pulling the last stitch at the end of a row tight (hard to learn, that is), so the easy dishcloths with kitchen cotton I had assigned her kept getting wider and wider. It finally clicked for her when she made her first scarf. She studied the scarves I’d made for her and her husband (my so called scarf is it’s name, quick and fun to knit), and the clapotis (from knitty.com, which also has a lot of crochet patterns) shawl I’d made for her. I’ve made the clapotis shawl four times, it’s always an interesting challenge.

        From my experiences with crochet, it’s harder to make the turn.

        Now Bestie’s moved on to weaving, and the pieces I’ve seen are completely gorgeous.

      3. Master of None*

        I’ve done a headband. I solved the dilemma by going back and forth the short way a bunch of times. Then I could stop when it was long enough. Bonus points for increasing/decreasing in back to make it easier to wear. I had one as a kid that tied in back so it was adjustable. Might try that one next.

    7. Pippa K*

      Just found a pattern for a clasped-weft set of cotton hand towels that I’d like to tackle as my next weaving project – but first, I really need to do a yarn inventory. I own so. much. alpaca yarn so maybe I should make some scarves first to use it up?

    8. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I just installed my first regular zipper. With no zipper foot for my sewing machine. Broke two needles. Fortunately it was on a 1st mock up so it doesn’t matter that it’s hideous. It’s not even the worst part of the piece (one of the sleeves is inside out, and I messed up the neck horribly). Excellent practice though.

      One problem I have with this mockup is that the sleeves are too snug under the arm-they look great when my arms are down, but I can’t lift my arms all the way over my head. Should I add a gusset? Edit the sleeve piece to add more fabric there?

      1. Hdd*

        Work out where the tightness is, it might actually be somewhere in the bodice if you can’t lift your arms fully. If its the sleeve you might need a full bicep adjustment or similar. Helen’s Closet has good written tutorials!

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          The bodice fits too tight in the the waist but is pretty much ok over the bust. The sleeves are a smidge snug over the bicep, but are still bigger than I am. They are ok until I lift my arms. I think loosening them would help but not fix the problem. The sleeves are just set onto the bodice angled very far down.

          1. The teapots are on fire*

            You might just need to adjust the sleeve and armscye so they’re higher. There’s a Kenneth King article on this in an older issue of Threads Magazine on this.

    9. HHD*

      Knitter, sewist and all around keen bean more generally. I spent yesterday evening tidying my space and cutting out for a quilt along so catching up with that and another monthly block club is the order of today.

      On the needles I have the slowest growing brioche scarf ever, and a very satisfying quick intarsia scarf.

    10. Still*

      I’m a complete beginner so I’ve just been practicing knitting and purling back and forth. I really have to find a tutorial on how to go back when I’ve messed up or lost a stitch, so far I have a bunch of holes, and the width of my fabric somehow keeps getting bigger!

      1. Emma2*

        It sounds to me like you may accidentally be creating yarn overs – a yarn over adds a stitch to the row, and also creates a little hole. What happens is, for example, if you are making a knit stitch, if your yarn is in front of your work instead of behind it when you start the stitch, the yarn will first have to go over your needle, then go through the stitch. Where your yarn goes over the needle that will create an extra little loop. On your next row, you will see that loop as a stitch and knit into it (so you are adding stitches and your work is getting wider). Because that yarn over does not have a stitch below it, it creates a little hole. The same thing happens with a purl stitch if your yarn is behind the work when you start the stitch. If you count your stitches and have more than you originally cast on, that will probably confirm that this is what is happening.
        When knitting lace you use yarn overs to create little holes in the work.

        1. Still*

          Oh, thank you, that does sound like it might be what’s happening! I’ll pay more attention to where I’m holding the yarn.

          1. AGD*

            I spent a VERY LONG time just knitting and/or purling back and forth when I was learning (it was the ’90s, and no one around me did any knitting, and I hadn’t realized how many more techniques there were out there). The results were that I could ‘read’ the knitting well and my stitch tension was super-excellent. Anyway, no one needs to take it as gradually as I did, but I’d say even continuing with the basic practice goes a long way! A lot of things fall into place.

    11. Bobina*

      If anyone can recommend a crochet website/pattern for socks that wont wear through in a few months that would be awesome!

      I made my first pair of socks about 2 years ago and was mostly just messing around, but managed to get about a solid year of wear out of them before I got giant holes in them. Made a second pair over Christmas (tried a single vs double crochet) and I’ve already worn through them :/

      These are mostly house socks and I do wear them basically every day. Not sure if I’m just asking too much of them?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I think that’s going to be more based on your yarn choice than your pattern, for the most part. Are you talking true socks, like thin yarn and you could wear them inside of shoes if you wanted to, or more like slipper socks with a worsted weight yarn?

      2. Constance Lloyd*

        Fiber content and yarn weight will be your two biggest factors! Make sure the content is at least 20% acrylic and for extra sturdiness, try a DK or worsted yarn. (I don’t know if crochet uses different terms for yarn weight). Softer wools like merino also tend to wear out faster, so if you aren’t super sensitive to texture try a sturdier wool for durability. You can also try reinforcing the heels and toes (or whichever spots tend to wear out the fastest for you) by holding the yarn double with an acrylic sewing thread in those sections.

      3. Emma2*

        I agree with others – yarn choice really matters. I would tend to use a specific sock yarn – they often have a bit of nylon for reinforcement, or if they are 100% wool, they will be made with a hardy wool, they are also worsted rather than woollen spun, with multiple plies and spun fairly tightly. All of these things contribute to the hardiness of the yarn. You could use something that is not specifically advertised as a sock yarn, but look for a yarn with all of these attributes.
        Another thing to watch is you gauge – a tighter gauge will typically hold up better than a looser gauge.

    12. Not Australian*

      I quilt, so I’ve always got something on the go. I finished a quilt top in the week and have started assembling bits and pieces for a scrap quilt (or ‘stashbuster’ as they’re sometimes known). I make small quilts and donate them to Project Linus, which also takes blankets – so if anyone is a compulsive knitter/sewer etc. but has no outlet for their finished work, Linus might be a good match for you.

    13. sewsandreads*

      I’m always in awe of anyone who can knit or crochet — I bet you’ll nail it!

      I’m hand sewing a quilt, and it is giving me a VERY vexing time of it tonight. All a learning curve, I guess, so when I finally hit that last appliquéd piece I’ll be a machine!

      1. Madame Arcati*

        I’ve been making a medallion quilt and one of the borders features 24 rosettes each made of seven EPP hexis, and appliquéd on. It took me longer than any other part of the quilt, so I feel you!
        I’m at the quilting stage now; a mix of big stitch hand quilting, crowsfoot, Decatur knots, and near the edges I’ll do a few rows on the machine. Too big to do it all on my normal domestic machine (and I can’t do/don’t really like FMQ) and I didn’t want (to pay for) longarming. So it’s going to have a nice homely look!

    14. Lifelong student*

      I am working on crocheting my first pair of socks. Finally got the first heel done- but there are clearly errors. I will keep going anyhow- they are a practice pair and the only place they will ever be worn- if at all- will be in bed- otherwise I would fall out of them. This was a challenge from my craft group- most of whom are knitters. They all make socks all the time!

    15. o_gal*

      Knitter here, working on my 4th sweater. Somehow making sweaters has become my thing, since I love wearing them. But it takes me months to finish them, so this one was started last fall and will (hopefully) be done by this fall, LOL. My favorite thing is to have a good movie playing on TV, a fire in our fireplace, and my knitting with my cat sitting next to me. I got that on Christmas morning as I knitted while the dwarves sang about their long forgotten gold.

      I just had to learn how to join sleeves to a body, and will have to learn kitchener stitch to finish the underarms. Then I get to learn how to do color work for the yoke. I’m having fun!

      1. Callie*

        Knitting my first sweater is on my bucket list for the year. I picked a pretty simple pattern. I’ve done increases and decreases when I’ve made shawls, so I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to knit it. I’m less confident with making sure I have the right gauge and sewing the seams. But the learning is all part of the fun of knitting!
        I have a beautiful blue wool an aunt gifted me from a sweater she never made which I plan on using. I just need to get started!

    16. Hotdog not dog*

      Still up to my eyeballs in school color afghans for the graduates (my son and my niece). One is black and red, the other is navy and white, so I feel like I’m literally crocheting blind! I don’t know what my next project will be, but it will definitely be in pastel colors.

    17. HamlindigoBlue*

      I’m working on a pair of knit socks with a shadow wrap heel. The first sock was no problem, but the second one has been frustrating. I would get to the last row with one wrapped stitch on each end and then drop them. Once was because the dog knocked me and the needle fell out, and the other time I’m not sure what happened, but it was the same…dropped wrap on the last stitch. I have no idea how to fix it, so I had to undo the entire heel TWICE! I got it the third time, but now I need to learn how to fix dropped shadow wraps in case this ever happens again.

    18. Tortally HareBrained*

      I’m doing my first crochet pattern test and I’m finding that I love having the group to chat with and troubleshoot- but having a deadline is adding tension to something that is supposed to be a fun hobby. (Joy of Stripes tank out later this year)

      Almost done with a Tunisian tank as well, though it is currently causing hand cramps so I keep putting it aside. (Evergreen Tank)

      Normally I have two projects going at a time, but somehow am currently at 4 (also working on a Cande sweater and my first knit the New Hue sweater). My brain is feeling the pull in too many directions. Hoping to wrap some of these up soon so I can focus on just one thing.

    19. PastorJen*

      I am fairly new to crochet and am really enjoying it. I made a few amigurumi animals with Woobles kits, which was a great introduction to crochet. I am now doing the Crochet Academy with TL Yarn Crafts that started May 1. We’ll be making a basket next week, which is exciting, and I’ll be making my first shawl in a couple of weeks.

      1. Janet Pinkerton*

        I’ve been wondering about the woobles kits! I had one in my shopping cart when i realized I’ve had an amigurumi kit for the past five years. It’s a lot harder when the first thing you ever try to do is a magic circle! I’m glad they worked out for you. Did you find that the amigurumi were a good size at the end? The kit I had made teeny tiny creatures so I decided I wasn’t interested in them.

        1. PastorJen*

          The Woobles kits are great! The magic circle is really tricky, but I like the Woobles kits since they come with a pre-made magic circle to get you started. I really struggled with the first kit because that was my first experience crocheting anything, but it worked out in the end. They were the right size, though I think that’s because I bought a kit with a hook so they sent the right sized hook for the yarn they sent. Also they provide good instructions for working on your tension, which helps. They do have a few teeny tiny kits now, but I haven’t tried those.

    20. Dancing Otter*

      I have two weeks yesterday until I have to drop off all my quilts for the quilt show, eek!

      One just needs the binding and hanging sleeve hand sewn. It feels like at least half a mile but is actually only a few yards.

      The last one, though… I did finally get the layers basted together this week, but it’s sitting there DARING me to actually quilt it. I should stick to Welcome Blanket or Project Linus quilts instead of queen bed size that I have to wrestle, yes, wrestle, to force through the harp space of the sewing machine.

      They say it takes a long time to finish a project you’re not working on. I don’t have a long time left.

    21. Morning reader*

      No current projects, but last weekend during Art Attack I attended a back room tour of a local yarn store, seeing their washing/combing/dying process. (Locally produced llama and alpaca wool too!) very inspirational and I was strongly tempted to buy some even without a project in mind. I managed to resist (for now) so I bought a touristy “Lake Michigan unsalted” shirt instead.

  3. Ramblin'*

    Hi! I’ll be travelling with a teenager from the US to Europe in late July and we have an overnight layover in Dublin. I’m hoping to find a hotel and see at least one thing before our connecting flight. Any recommendations on where to stay and what to do if we just have until about noon before we have to head back to the airport?

    1. Lemonwhirl*

      So, not to put you off, but the transportation situation to and from Dublin Airport is rather grim. There’s no light rail or tram service to the airport although there are busses, but they travel on the roads and are subject to traffic delays. So the logistics and what you are able to see are really going to depend on your flight times. You say “head back to the airport at noon”, but how much time are you allowing for getting to the airport and getting back through security.

      If you stay at a hotel near the airport, it’s convenient for your flight but might be awkward to get into Dublin. I recommend checking out the route of the Aircoach, which stops near many hotels and has a fairly frequent schedule. The Clayton Hotels are a decent chain and usually located near both Aircoach stops and public transport. I can vouch for the Clayton Leopardstown as being a nice hotel, on both the LUAS light rail line for getting into Dublin and the Aircouch route (although it’s fairly far out on the Aircoach).

      As for what to do – Ireland has a magnificent national museum system – and entry to all of them are free. The Archeology museum is particularly interesting.

      St Michan’s crypt is also very cool – bodies interred there were mummified, and it’s said that they are the inspiration for Dracula.

      And it’s maybe silly, but the Viking Splash tour is a lot of fun – it’s a duck boat tour through Dublin and into the water for a bit of it.

      The Kilmainham Gaol tour is also great, although grim, and very informative about Irish history.

      Also, prepare for sticker shock for Dublin hotels. The prices have gotten really wild, especially on weekends. Midweek is slightly better, but high travel season is going to mean it’s spendy.

    2. Lbd*

      Most of the attractions in the article ‘Dublin’s’ Top Nine Attractions’ on the Ireland dot com website are great. Something on that list should match with your and your teen’s interests. I especially enjoyed one of Dublin’s free museums, The Museum of Decorative Arts and History, at the Collins Barracks. If the 10am opening leaves you with a bit of time before hand, you could walk along the bank of the River Liffey. Or perhaps the solemnity of a tour of Kilmainham Gaol would hold the attention your teen. It is a good way to really connect with some history.
      Good luck and I hope you have a wonderful stay in Dublin!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Seconding Decorative Arts and History at the Barracks! Kilmainham was also on my must-see list, but I’m not sure you could get out there, see the whole thing and get back and get to the airport by noon.

    3. JenGTF*

      For a visit, Trinity College in Dublin! Amazing place and won’t be far for you to go. It holds the Book of Kells. Worth looking up and seeing if it’s something that interests you. Alternatively, the Guinness Factory. Yes, both very different attractions! But I think it may need to be one or the other for that window.

      1. Other Meredith*

        Book of Kells/Trinity College are great, and the best way to see them is to book the earliest tickets of the day before it gets crowded.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      You can find hotels in Dublin here: https://www.booking.com/searchresults.en-gb.html?aid=303948&label=dublin-mKZlPhZU5N0XBmbNbtF1fgS525562400776%3Apl%3Ata%3Ap1440%3Ap2%3Aac%3Aap%3Aneg%3Afi%3Atikwd-169278044%3Alp1007840%3Ali%3Adec%3Adm%3Appccp%3DUmFuZG9tSVYkc2RlIyh9Yf5EcukO1MOGLSSAuId8ToA&city=-1502554&

      Actually, this is where I would absolutely recommend: https://www.eganshouse.ie/ And they have a list of events. Glasnevin Cemetry is only minutes walk from the guesthouse, though whether that would mean anything to you if you’re American, I don’t know. It’s where many people of importance were buried.

      Dublin is large but some things of interest there include the waxwork museum, Dublin Zoo, Kilmainham (as somebody else mentioned; among other things, it was where they shot the 1916 leaders), the G.P.O museum. If you have the time and like history, I particularly recommend the G.P.O. It was the rebels’ headquarters in the 1916 rebellion and the museum has a showing of the events with surround sound and so on.

    5. Ramblin’*

      Thanks for all the great info! especially about the potential challenges getting to and from the airport. Are taxis an option? Our home airport (Seattle) is similar in not having many public transportation options so taxis are common.

      It’s on a Saturday night and I had looked at a few hotels and yep, pretty high rates! Our flight out is at 3 pm so I was planning on a buffer of 3 hours. I want to be realistic about whether we can spend any time sightseeing but don’t want to miss the opportunity. Thanks for all the links!

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        Taxis exist – I’ve never taken one because they are spendy. For example, taking a taxi one way from the airport to the Clayton in Leopardstown is estimated to cost between 60-90 euro, so that’s 120-180 euro roundtrip. For contrast, the Aircoach is 20 euro for a roundtrip ticket.

        You can google TFI taxi estimator to find the Transport for Ireland taxi estimator.

      2. Pieforbreakfast*

        I was there in April, it’s a lot easier than SeaTac. Get the AirCoach bus, it runs every 15 minutes. Buy a roundtrip ticket online, you’ll get preference in boarding than people paying at the door so if it’s close to capacity you’ll get on. Lyft also goes to the airport.
        We stayed at the Zanzibar hotel and enjoyed it (yes, it is pricey), we found we could walk pretty much anywhere from there.

  4. Ashloo*

    Your favorite toys and techniques to wear out a hyperactive young cat (3-ish)? We’ve actually tried fluoxetine on this guy for a few months because he’s an absolute terrorist with other cats, but we’ve decided it’s best for all if he’s solo. He likes toys, loves chasing jingle-balls, we have a few wands with different fur/feather/worm attachments. He’s just insatiable and gets bored after a few rounds of a game.

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I got a little electronic bug thing (Whisker City® Nano® Robotic Bug Cat Toy) that my cat just loves. It’s just a little bit of rubber that buzzes enticingly across the floor. Cheap, simple and sturdy, but she loves it.

      1. Not Australian*

        That sounds like the Hex Bug I bought for my latest cat … loads of tiny little legs and a long tail and brilliant for chasing. Plus it buzzes so you can find it if they chase it underneath something…

      2. nobadcats*

        Sounds like a Hex bug. My former roomie and I got a couple for Max, our ridiculously active boy kitty. We couldn’t let him play with Da Bird or any other wand toys because he’d get too aggressive, growling with the feathers in his mouth. The Hex bug was the perfect solution, our girl cats didn’t care and he could play with his toy to his heart’s content.

        1. JSPA*

          oh, my much missed cat would growl like a terror when he caught the feathers or the mousie! But he wasn’t fierce towards us.

          You just had to walk along with him as he took it, growling and strutting, head and tail held high, to the water dish (to drown it) or to his bed (to bury it).

          Once he’d finished the process, it was fine to pull it back out, blot it dry it as needed, and start over again.

          1. nobadcats*

            Oh, Maxie absolutely would NOT walk it off. Believe me, I tried, just look at my username.

            We’re talking about a cat who in 2020 after we were sent into lockdown, would launch his entire body at my head (or my roomie’s head) to remove any headphones. So many zoom/teams meetings ended with me saying, “Max, what the everlasting eff??!! Get back here, jackass!” and me chasing him ’round the house to get my headphones back, returning to a forgotten, probably important, meeting, by which time, everyone else was laughing their butts off.

    2. Old Plant Woman*

      Sounds like he can’t go outside. And another cat is not good. Did I get that right? Maybe he doesn’t have a big enough life. Can you give him more? Cat towers? High shelves? Work his brain. Teach him to come when you call him? Jump on the top of the tower for a treat or a pet? More attention? Change out the toys while they’re still fun. Turn out the lights and tease him with a laser pointer. Be a cat and crawl around and chase him and let him chase you.
      Good luck

      1. Old Plant Woman*

        Ok go ahead and laugh, but I really do crawl around and play with my cats and it’s great fun

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          We haven’t done that, but you do remind me that we had a wrasslin’ glove with previous cats-that way they could play with us and bite and kick and generally roughhouse without hurting us. They knew the purpose too-would give you a polite nip outside the glove (not too hard) if they thought you were too much. It was just an ordinary leather work glove.

          My current older cat could never be convinced that it was actually ok and I forgot about it with my younger one. I should find a glove and see if she’d like it.

          1. ShinyPenny (the other one)*

            Leather welding gloves, and leather fireplace gloves are great for this. They are elbow length and really tough. (Of course you’ll need to evaluate whether a particular cat can engage in this kind of play without coming to conclusions you don’t agree with.)

      2. Pennyworth*

        Train him to talk to you with buttons, if you have the time and patience, then he can tell you what he wants to do. I love watching Billispeaks on youtube – she says when she wants to play and which toy she wants.

    3. Jackalope*

      There are the super extra laser pointers which are self-running; you turn them on and they make a pattern of lasers go all over the room. We find it helpful because it’s fun for the cats and less work for us. Also, if you can find a cat puzzle for him to play with, that might help with the boredom issue. And if you’re feeling up to it you could try some clicker training and see if he could be interested in learning behaviors on cue (look up clicker training if you don’t know what I’m referring to). Just keep training sessions short at first until you can gauge his interest.

    4. Well...*

      Exercises that ware him out, like getting him to jump on the bed, off the bed, on the bed, off the bed with laser pointer bait or a jingly feather you. Same with a cat tower (make him climb up, then down, then up, etc). My hyperactive cat started panting after 30ish reps of on/off the bed.

      Also, you could try training them to do simple tricks. I think it tires them out mentally. Use a pen with a clicker and click when you give him treats, then click when he does something kind of like the thing. Over time you use the click to ask him to do the thing, and he has to work out how to get the treat. There are puzzle treat-releasing toys that work for this too.

      Leash training also exhausted my cat. He didn’t take to it, so it was about 8 months of slow, progressive training before I could take him out on a walk (I actually thought we’d never really go on a walk, but he did get there). I did maybe 10 min a day, and he’d always crash after. Once he likes the leash, it won’t tire him out anymore though. You can take him out for short walks, but that usually doesn’t tire them out either. He did love it though (only in a backyard, he was too afraid of people to walk on the street).

    5. RLC*

      For purchased toys, our crew of 5 has been well entertained by the Turbo Scratcher with the captive ball they can bat around the ring without losing it; the lightweight inexpensive plastic spring toys; and the perforated plastic practice golf balls (wiffle balls).
      For DIY toys, a cardboard box with a big hole to climb in and lots of little holes just big enough to reach a paw through is a perennial favorite, also a small cardboard box or carton (child’s shoebox size or smaller) glued shut with a ping pong ball inside and a few holes cut big enough for paw to enter but not to remove the ball.

      1. nobadcats*

        You can also use the cardboard tube from a toilet roll to create DIY toys. Simply put catnip or treats in the toilet roll, tuck in the ends, and you’ve got hours of entertainment.

        My girl loves the little pet safe plastic springs. I can toss one into the kitchen or down the hall and she loves it.

        Of course, her latest favorite toys are the round light cardboard tags on a short lanyard from some clothing I bought. When my BIL came by to help me get all the recycling out of my apartment (the dumpster is always full, so he took it all to the recycling center), I said, “Okay, I know you’re going to go for this first, you cannot remove this tag from the living room carpet, it’s Delia’s new favorite toy.”

        Her second favorite toys are the bottle caps from my San Pellegrino bottles.

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Try different things, they’re all individuals. One of mine loves 2 inch pompom balls, the other loves the 1 inch. They don’t mix. One loves springs, the other ignores them. The cat tunnels are popular, so is the ball on a track. Various sticks with strings and toys on the end are fun. I find that if you have a wide variety and then periodically rotate what’s out that keeps everything fresh.

    7. Don'tbeadork*

      Pretty much all of ours like the Wicked Ball from Cheerble. Charge it up, turn it on and the cats chase it all over the room. It has different settings, so it will play gently with our older cats or more vigorously with the youngsters.

      They also adore the Catit Senses Circuit toy, which is kind of like those round donuts with the ball inside, but this one is modular so you can make it as long and as curvy as you want.

      One is really fond of the TRIXIE turn around slow feeder (which we load with treats).

      1. TechWorker*

        +1 on the senses circuit toy, it is the only toy I have ever seen our cats instigate their own play with. (And if you bat the ball as you past they’ll often then watch/play with it for a while).
        If you only feed one cat and use dry food you could try the mice release feeders for some meals. The idea is you hide it in a different place every day and they spend some energy looking for it! This is a U.K. link but sure they’ll be sold in US too: https://www.petsathome.com/shop/en/pets/doc-and-phoebe-indoor-hunting-no-bowl-feeding-cat-kit
        (We use them occasionally but don’t actually hide them because we have two cats, one very food motivated – and occasionally a bully – and the other not, she would definitely eat everything she could find!)

    8. Autumn*

      So this came up in a thread a week or so ago but I’m happy to repeat – we (and Allison!) have a Ripple Rug that was a dud with our older cats but is the absolute favorite of our 2-ish active cat. The top layer (with the holes) is always in a rumpled-up snarl because she will play in it on her own, and she also loves it when we run a wand under and through the holes. She’s also a pom-pom lover, and we get a pile of them to throw for her so we don’t have to keep getting up, lol.

  5. Dark Macadamia*

    What things from your childhood/past have held up well?

    I watched Mary Poppins with my kids recently having not seen it for probably 25 years and it’s MAGICAL. The boring bank scenes are still boring but if anything I love the chalk painting and chimney sweep scenes even more than I did as a kid.

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      I’m a fan of Young Frankenstein. I’ll watch it at least once every two years or so. What a great case and the humor is spot on.

      1. HannahS*

        When my brother and I are offering each other tea, we still crack up over “…O-VAL-TIIINE?”

        1. nobadcats*

          “No, THANK you, NOTHING, Frau Blucher.”

          Cloris Leachman looks away in pain and we lose our hearts to her yet again.

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        My husband and I frequently say “Put the candle back!” when things go sideways.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I reread The Borrowers & the rest of the series a few years ago. Still wonderful.

    3. RedinSC*

      My favorite book – Wump World. It’s even more topical now than it was in the 70s.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Especially The Muppet Show, which I adore. We have the boxed DVD set which we ostensibly bought for our daughter….ostensibly.

    4. Filosofickle*

      I recently reread Ballet Shoes (Noel Streatfeild) and it was still quite charming!

      1. Nitpicker*

        Also Theater Shoes and Movie Shoes (aka The Painted Garden) which give updates on what happened to the Fossil Sisters.

        1. Filosofickle*

          i read Theater next, but haven’t gotten to Movie yet. After decades in a box it’s sweet to have my childhood books out

        1. Filosofickle*

          I have that one too! Looks like the next few Saturday mornings are spoken for…

    5. Elle*

      The Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Cleary. Their troubles with money, working mom, school stuff is all relevant today.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Oh, I read them out loud to my daughter a year or two ago and they’re still SO good. Funniest and most heartfelt books ever, and it’s fascinating how I found them so relatable both as a kid and as a mom.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Yes! What a lovely, amusing, and realistic depiction of family life they were.

        When I purged books prior to moving the first time, I refused to let them go. Now that I have to do it again (tiny apartment), I’m still not letting them go, even if they have to live in a box under my bed for a while.

    6. Nervous Nellie*

      My beloved Moomin books by Tove Jansson continue to hold up. They are a gentle, tight knit family of imaginary creatures, and deal gently and directly with anxiety quite a bit in the 8-book series. They are the best bedtime reading for middle schoolers – quiet, calm, soothing stories.

      1. Mephyle*

        I didn’t even appreciate the Moomin books until I was a young adult!

        Some so-called children’s books may be better for adults than for young folks. I adored (and still do) Wind in the Willows, and was delighted when my kids were old enough to be read to, but they found it boring (although they loved many other books I read to them, so it was an issue with this particular book). Re-reading it now after a long hiatus, I can see why. It’s really more a book for adults, and it’s wonderful.

      2. WoodswomanWrites*

        I haven’t read the Moomin books, but there’s an excellent film called Tove, not a documentary but based on her life.

        1. allathian*

          It’s been on my TBW list pretty much since it came out, especially as it features two of my favorite Finnish actresses, Alma Pöysti as Tove and Krista Kosonen as Vivica Bandler.

          In the Moomin books, the character Too-ticki is modeled after Tove’s life partner Tuulikki “Tuutikki” Pietilä. For most of her life, same-sex relationships were illegal and/or homosexuality was classified as a mental illness. Her relationship with Tuulikki was a “don’t ask, don’t tell” kind of thing pretty much until her death. She’s become something of an LGBTQ+ icon in the two decades since, though.

      3. allathian*

        Yes, they do. My dad read them to me and my sister when we were kids, I was 10 and my sister was 8. I read them for the first time in my mid-teens, and since then I’ve read them about once every decade. Last time I did that was a few years ago, when I read them to our son. The books are simple enough that kids get a lot of enjoyment out of them, but they’re also layered enough that I’ve found myself discovering new things about them every time I read them.

      4. Autumn*

        Her fiction is also excellent. The Summer Book, about a grandmother and grandchild spending the summer on an island, is so good. She has the skill of making it look so simple and effortless, while writing about the deep mysteries of life.

    7. Girasol*

      Star Wars – the original – and Harry Potter. Okay, Harry Potter isn’t from my youth but it’s a kids’ film and it’s magical.

    8. Francie Foxglove*

      Oh, and not childhood, but 30 years in the past (WTH happened?!). I loved AbFab when it was ongoing. Knew about the movie in 2016 but didn’t bother to watch until last weekend. Still hilarious! It helps that the fashion industry and celeb culture have not gotten any less ridiculous since the ‘90s.

    9. Seashell*

      I re-read Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret before seeing the movie. It still feels very real.

    10. carcinization*

      If books count, Aiken’s The Serial Garden collection has been providing my husband and I a lot of enjoyment, and the stories are like… 70 years old at this point? Visual media wise, the animated series “David the Gnome” also still slaps. I’m sure I could go on!

    11. Chaordic One*

      The books of Marilyn Sachs. They are kind of a middle ground between Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume. Maybe not as “edgy” as Blume. I especially enjoyed “The Truth about Mary Rose,” where we see former protagonist and bully, Veronica Ganz, all grown up as a happily married career woman and mother, but with a troubled young daughter of her own. It blew my mind when I first read it and, while not as mind-blowing now, it still holds up well.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Wow. I didn’t remember the name of the author, but I definitely remember reading about Veronica Ganz. I will look for this one!

        1. Chaordic One*

          Thanks for posting this. The review also features links to reviews for prequels “Veronica Ganz,” and “Amy Moves In.”

    12. Unkempt Flatware*

      The bank scenes are definitely the “Cheer Up Charlie” of Mary Poppins.

    13. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy

      Pete Seeger’s music

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

      *Barney Miller* and the *Mary Tyler Moore Show* and *Rhoda* are still very funny. *Columbo* is still great!

      1. nobadcats*

        Columbo is a constant favorite. It’s practically perfect in every way, just like Mary Poppins.

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

        I totally agree with all three of you — what a Golden Age it was. . . .

    15. Jay (no, the other one)*

      From childhood: a lot of folk music that I learned in camp and still love, especially Peter Paul. & Mary and as someone already said, Pete Seeger. “Little Women” which I reread every couple of years. I enjoy a lot of the television shows of my youth, but I’d say that’s more nostalgia than actual ongoing appreciation – I wouldn’t like them now if I hadn’t loved them then. The exception is “Emergency!” with Randolph Mantooth – I adored it as a kid and when I stumbled on it a few years ago I still really liked it. I’m a doc and I *never* watch medical shows except for this one, apparently. The original Star Trek series.

      From my teens: Fleetwood Mac – the eponymous album and “Rumours.” Jethro Tull. Janis Ian. The first few seasons of SNL. The first “Star Wars” movie.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I grew up listening to old Peter, Paul, and Mary records. They were great. :)

        Emergency! had great technical advisors. It came out when the paramedic program was just being launched in Los Angeles. I rewatched it on Netflix a few years back. One of my friends is a firefighter and he said the firefighting scenes are spot on.

      2. Mimmy*

        Not sure when the show originally came out, but I think it might’ve been in syndication when I watched it in the late 70s when I was really young. I can’t believe it didn’t scare me!

    16. KatEnigma*

      Coincidentally, I turned on Mary Poppins just this week. The 5 yr old was skeptical during the opening credits… “Am I going to like this movie?”- dripping with doubt. LOL He started giggling during Bert’s opening scene and by the time we got to Spoonful of Sugar he was up trying to snap his toys into drawers and he danced with Bert and the Penguins to Jolly Holiday. He is still trying to figure out how Bert was “flying” and insists that it’s not magic, he should be able to do it.

      Well, Okay then, and remember how you doubted you’d like the movie?

      1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

        I recently had this experience with Sister Act. ‘This movie is about nuns?!’ Twenty minutes later: ‘let’s just cancel dinner and keep watching!’

    17. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      The Young Wizards Series by Diane Duane. Try So You Want to Be A Wizard

      1. A Becky*

        There’s updated editions of this available! The so called New Millennium Editions clean up the timeline some in most of the books but almost completely rewrite A Wizard Alone to be a much better portrayal of autism (the best descriptions of then were improved upon, DD listened).

    18. Elizabeth West*

      I’m re-watching M*A*S*H right now on Hulu. It’s always been my favorite TV show ever. A school friend and I used to watch it together, over the phone, when it was airing. I’m seeing so many little things I didn’t notice despite all the times I’ve seen it

      There is some casual racism, especially in early episodes, and overtly so from antagonistic characters like Frank Burns. But the way it handled comedy and drama together has no equivalent, and both the writing and acting was really outstanding. No wonder over 100 million people watched the finale.

    19. Nicki Name*

      I recently reread The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and Black Hearts in Battersea and they’re still great. And there’s apparently a whole bunch more books in that world that I hadn’t known about!

      1. The cats ass*

        Omg, the Joan Aiken books continue to be the absolute bomb. So grateful.

    20. Jackalope*

      I’ve loved the author Robin McKinley since I first stumbled across her in middle school or so. She gave me my first taste of retold fairy tales, and I was super hooked. This is a genre that has been much written in since then but she was one of the first authors I know of to start it. Also, her insistence on Girls Who Do Things (her phrase) helped me grow up with the firm belief that girls in face can go do things. I’m thankful that in most areas of modern literature that’s well-established now and just taken for granted, but when I reread her books I’m reminded that she’s one of the pioneers who pushed that. Plus whenever I reread her stuff I’m reminded that she loves long, run-on sentences as much as I do; I know this throws some people off but it makes me happy.

      1. AGD*

        I didn’t find her books until adulthood, but I love them! The Hero and the Crown just about knocked me over.

    21. Flowers*

      Golden Girls? It’s slightly before my time – I was an infant when it came out – but I’ve been rewatching it here and there and enjoying the fashion/decor and the friendships.

    22. Jazz and Manhattans*

      Trixie Beldon! I still have all my books. I also love Columbo and Perry Mason (am working to find all the books).

      1. The Shenanigans*

        That movie is beautiful and terrifying. The main theme by America is just haunting.

        I would also add The Never Ending Story to the nostalgic movies. The acting is awful, and the effects are laughable, but that doesn’t seem to matter. It’s just so imaginative and fun and everything that fantasy should be.

    23. The Shenanigans*

      Anything by LM Montgomery, especially the Anne Shirley books and the Story Girl and Golden Road. If I am feeling sad or angry, or lost, I always pick up the Story Girl. It’s just such a…nice book.

  6. Skates*

    Yellowjackets S2 theories???? Potential spoilers below! Just finishing up this weekend’s!!!!

    1. TPS reporter*

      coach is definitely out somehow. does he run away, kill himself, or do they kill him?

      seems like things will get even darker and we’ll get an antler queen ceremony.

    2. Courageous cat*

      Can’t read because I’m not fully caught up yet but oh man I’m so excited to see Lauren Ambrose.

    3. All Monkeys are French*

      I’m really curious to see more about the antler queen. Is she a leader? Is she the sacrifice? We’ve seen antlers or shadows of them over so many of the characters now that I think they’re less a concrete signifier and more of a symbol of the wilderness and all the horror that took place.
      Overall, I’m definitely more in the “big trauma playing out in their lives” camp than the “supernatural spirits doing evil” camp.

  7. CrochADHD*

    My husband and I are about to travel to Iceland, and may be meeting up with the person who helped book all our travel and plan everything. He wants to bring a gift for her, but we don’t have any good ideas. Any ideas for something we can bring in carry-on luggage from the US that would be a decent gift for someone who’s helped us out so much? I *could* make something (scarf/hat/shawl) but realize that might not be the best option.

    1. Just a Name*

      Do they drink? Liquor/beer/wine is expensive in Iceland. Buying a bottle at the duty free shop (conveniently located as you enter the country and before immigration/picking up the rental car) is considerably less expensive than buying on the other side of customs. Also something to consider if you want a bit for yourself.

      1. CrochADHD*

        Hmmm. I don’t know if they do, but we may be able to find out. We don’t, though, so picking out something could become difficult, lol.

        1. Anono-me*

          A bottle of hard liquor is a good idea. Even if your friend doesn’t drink, they can always re-gift.

          Also, you could just ask; often there are uniquely American products that people love but have difficulty finding in other countries. For example I always take NB tennies and Murphys (in my checked bags) to a different country, because NB are super expensive there and wood oil soap cannot be found.

      2. Not A Manager*

        When my son was going to be doing a number of home stays in a foreign country, I got him multiple copies of a tiny hardcover book of Ansel Adams photographs of the U.S. It made a nice hostess gift. Maybe it’s not grand enough for a thank-you gift, but if you’re doing a small gift bag of Americana, it would fit the theme.

        If you search for Ansel Adams Alice Gray on Amazon, you should find it. I’ll put the link in another post.

      3. Sopherin*

        I have friends in Iceland and this is what I do every time I visit. It is much appreciated.

    2. RedinSC*

      Do you have a local candy or something else local that is very specifically from your town, region?

      KNitting seemed to be very big in Iceland, so something home made with local materials might also be really nice.

      1. Imtheone*

        I think children in Iceland learn to knit in school, so lots of people know how. The native Icelandic sheep have a very rough and scratchy wool. I wonder about something from made from a fiber local to you as a gift.

        1. Pennyworth*

          If she definitely knits, a gift card for a store that will mail wool to Iceland might be welcome – she could choose her own wool.

      2. Neurodivergent in Germany*

        Or you could gift them some really nice yarn that’s hard to get in Europe.
        We (Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway) tend to have nice mid-range workhorse yarns (say, 8€ for 100g of sock yarn), but not the really fancy hand-painted specialty fiber stuff.

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

      I feel like hygge/kaffe-klatch culture is alive and well in Iceland, so bringing some locally roasted coffee beans &/or locally baked treats (something that would travel well, obviously) would probably be appreciated as a thoughtful gift even if they didn’t end up loving the specific flavor you brought.

    4. Bluebell*

      It’s almost always scarf weather in Iceland, so that seems like a lovely idea to me! Also like the idea of tea and maybe you have a good local honey to bring?

  8. Bibliovore*

    Well has this happened to you? Had you written to an advice column in the newspaper and they printed it? Carolyn Hax this week. Grief Still. I actually read it and thought I could have written that and then looked at the date and then realized that I HAD written it!

    1. HannahS*

      Yeah, I wrote to Care and Feeding in a sore-hearted sleep-deprived state and read it about a month later going “This poor woman, I know just how she feels–waitaminute!!” I don’t think it was all that helpful, tbh, but it was at least validating to have a columnist say “Yes. This sure does suck.”

      1. Tea and Sympathy*

        If I were write to Slate it would be to get the commenters’ advice. I think that they collectively give much better advice than the columnists.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I had Hax answer a question in her weekly chat once. The answer she gave was solid; the commenters jumped to all kinds of wild conclusions. Not entirely unlike here :P

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I took a poetry class once where we sometimes read each other’s poems anonymously, it was so funny to hear a bunch of fellow undergrads overanalyze some nonsense I threw together half an hour before class.

      2. Prospect Gone Bad*

        On a related note, I am scandalized that what I think was one of my coworker’s posts online once (or there were at least just 10 specific details that matched and the post timeline matched up to the real life situation), and commenters jumped to all sorts of positive conclusions about them. It was very much an AITA that very so conveniently left out the series of horrid and rude things they’d done and said, or problems they’d caused by dropping the ball over the years. They made it sound like suddenly everyone started being mean to them for no reason. They very much were curating sympathy and got it! It’s almost like people online get into a tendency to just want to be contrarian so spend too much time arguing about whether the opposite of whatever was said is actually the truth

        1. ThatGirl*

          Mine was a really small potatoes thing about my husband that I really was curious for a different perspective on, and man, people love to extrapolate things you never said and jump to “divorce!”. Sort of the opposite of yours, but I think you’re right big-picture wise.

    3. Pippa K*

      You know, when I read that Hax column, I immediately thought of your comments here – and it actually was you? Wow. I hope you found the answer supportive. You have so many people’s best wishes.

      1. Turtle Dove*

        I immediately thought of you too, Bibliovore, as I read Carolyn’s column. Wishing you all the best.

    4. sagewhiz*

      I too wondered if that was you!

      And yes to your question. In early 2021, I received an invitation to a pre-wedding event called something I’d never heard of. Even though I was unable to attend, I wrote Miss Manners, opening with, “Pray tell, can you explain what XXX is?” Nothing came of it. Okay, not every letter makes the cut, I forgot about it. Fifteen (!) months later, it appeared, and I recognized it only because of the “Pray tell…” By then the couple had a kid! Ha!

      (BTW, the explanation was anything but, so I guess even Miss Manners had no clue.)

    5. Elf*

      I had a letter published in Miss Manners once – I have really long hair and lots of people have to tell me “you have really long hair” but obnoxiously about a third of them follow it up with “you should donate it!” and I wanted a response. Her advice wasn’t very useful (soliciting donations from other people’s bodies is creepy – try eyeing their kidneys suggestively) but at this point after two soft stops “it grows slowly” “I like it long” I tell the story of having written to Miss Manners about this – at which point they are always horribly offended but they (almost) always shut up. Nothing offends people like having their rudeness pointed out to them!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        They also get pretty offended when you explain that Locks for Love doesn’t actually take donated hair to make wigs for babies with cancer, haha.

        Weirdly, some of them also get offended when I say “Even if I was willing to — which I’m absolutely not — none of the donation spots would take it anyway because I’ve been dyeing it for 13 years.” Like it’s somehow unacceptable for me to render my hair unsuitable for donation.

        1. fposte*

          That is weirdly funny–like if it’s not an agriculture project you’re doing hair wrong.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        You know, it’s odd, but I’ve had a number of people *ask* if I was planning on donating my extra long hair, but nobody *tell* me that I ought to. Maybe it’s just that I wear my hair up the majority of the time so nobody can see it?

    6. Philmar*

      I had someone write ABOUT me to Dear Prudence once. It was anonymized but the response used a title I have at work that wasn’t in the printed letter. I assume the LW is referred to me by that title, the letter was edited for space/clarity, but Pru forgot to take it out in the response. And it was the exact situation we were in. It actually rattled me enough to quit reading Dear Prudence, but I was gratified that commenters said LW sounded like “a lot” or otherwise difficult or annoying.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I do worry every once in a while that when a letter to AAM complains about their manager, that it is me.
        Am I being too cold and not inquiring about a personal matter or health thing because “boundaries?”
        My previous job that I had for 15 years was a close knit well oiled machine (and we are still all in touch- I am god-mother to one of my previous colleague’s kid) I cringe when someone says we are like family.

    7. Bibliovore*

      As I mentioned, I don’t remember much from that first year. I think it was more about getting permission not to deal with how other people said things or did things.
      The weekend thread really was the best help- books to read (thank you to the people recommending its okay to not be okay repeatedly- ) The people who said everything I was feeling was grieving. People who shared their own experiences. AND random things like the person who recommended a company to make a t-shirt quilt to someone’s query and all the people who wrote what NOT to do and how it can be made badly. I went with Too Cool T-shirts and it is perfect.

    8. Courageous cat*

      Not quite the same, but I had a very long-standing Reddit account that I deleted a year ago. Sometimes when looking at old posts, like when I’m doing a search or something, I’ll see a comment and be like “oh my god I completely agree with that, I can’t believe someone else thinks that too” and then see that it was from a deleted account and then slowly realize it was me who wrote it.

      1. Ampersand*

        Ha! Have had that happen here when looking at old posts. I’ll read a comment without looking at the user name, think “hmm this sounds like something I would say,” then realize it was, in fact, me who said it.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          Had that just happen with an old post! It was a story about religious intolerance at work and I thought “wow, that sounds familiar” and then realized it was me.

    9. Elle Woods*

      I have not written to an advice columnist but I do read Carolyn Hax’s column daily. I saw that letter the other day and immediately thought of you. I was glad to read your update in her weekly chat that you are doing better. And, from your comment below, I’m glad to see that the AAM community has been helpful.

    10. All Hail Queen Sally*

      When I was about 12 years old, I wrote a letter to Ann Landers and received a personal rely!

  9. L. Ron Jeremy*

    Any tinnitus or hyperacusis sufferers out there? I’ve had a bad spike in my tinnitus for the past two weeks and I’m looking for quiet activities to take my mind off the high pitch train brake squealing in my head. Getting tired of watching TV or spending hours on my phone. Any ideas?

    1. RedinSC*

      Can you just pipe pink noise into your space? Put on waterfall or rain music on a speaker and then see if you can do other things like read or whatever? You can get pink noise on Youtube and there’s an interesting website with all kinds of sounds. I’ll see if I can link it below.

    2. anon24*

      I would just like to offer my sympathy. I had tinnitus earlier this year when I got Covid and it lasted less than 2 days and for those 2 days I genuinely was starting to despair. I don’t know how long term sufferers do it, I’m not being snarky when I say you have my respect. I couldn’t even sleep.

    3. Liminality*

      I have no ideas for you, only genuine sympathy.
      I’ve been dealing with chronic tinnitus for a little over two years now and I totally understand how incredibly disheartening, distracting, and disconcerting it is to have your own ears screaming sound at you that doesn’t even actually exist, all the time.
      I’ve uploaded a few of my favorite stories to my ipad and play them more-or-less constantly. I can fade in and out of attention because I know the stories by heart so it doesn’t matter if/ how much I miss.
      Sometimes I try tat back-of-head thumping thing, more out of vain hope rather than any faith that it will actually work, but doing something does help me feel slightly less helpless.
      I’m so sorry you are having to deal with this. I hope, for all our sakes, that someone finally figures out how to solve it for good.

      1. Rainy*

        The back of head thumping thing works for me! It’s not permanent obviously but when my tinnitus is *really* bothering me it can be a sanity saver.

        1. Liminality*

          I’m so glad that you can find some occasional relief! I will keep trying too, maybe I’ll finally figure out the technique. :)

    4. Turtle Dove*

      I can mostly ignore my tinnitus during the day; it’s at night that I may notice it and get upset. So, every night at bedtime, I turn on a box fan that sits on the floor near the foot of the bed. Fan noise is the only solution I ever found that works reliably well for me. I think its pitch is roughly the same as the ringing in my ears, but it’s louder and overrides it.

    5. Myrin*

      I’ve had tinnitus in my right ear for nine and in my left ear for three years and I’ve always found “outside sounds” very helpful, and fascinatingly that applies to both natural – like bird song, tree rustling, rain – and unnatural ones – like traffic – so any chance you can be near an open window no matter what you do?

      1. PhyllisB*

        I have it and mine sounds a lot like the noises you hear outside on a summer night. I just let it soothe me to sleep (but I also run an overhead fan.) The problem is, it’s getting more intrusive during the day and makes it harder for me to hear what’s being said, especially in a group. My husband gets irritated at me and tells me to get a hearing aid, but from what I understand, they don’t work for tinnitus.

        1. ExplainiamusMucho*

          Hearing aids can help some people – my tinnitus reduced quite a bit when I got mine; there’s a marked difference when I remove them at night. This is of course something you should discuss with a doctor, and from what I’ve read, it doesn’t work for everybody.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        My dream is to move to an oceanfront home – waves crashing on the beach is about the only thing that completely masks my tinnitus. Being outside helps too, sitting near an open window is a decent option. My main indoor solution is a white noise machine that sounds like running water or a rainstorm that I run full time, but that doesn’t help 100%.

        For activities, anything outdoors, exercise videos, and things that require concentration. I’ve surprised myself by getting so involved in a book or working a puzzle that I don’t even realize I’m sitting in a quiet room (the kind that most amplifies my tinnitus) until I look up and the spell is broken.

    6. tinnitus ideas*

      I like to walk/hike in natural areas, state and national parks, etc. Nature is actually quite loud so it masks my tinnitus (9 have had it years, both ears, and cluster of high pitched sounds). And being in motion in fresh air is soothing and seems to lessen it.

      My other activity is making puzzles while playing soothing music at a volume that is just enough to take my attention off the tinnitus.

      Hope you get relief soon!

    7. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      A lot of people swear by the technique of tapping your occipital ridge (the curved bone at the back of your skull atop your neck) with your fingertips.

      Something about the different vibrations is supposed to help.

  10. Francie Foxglove*

    So who’s watching the coronation? Mr. Foxglove has accepted that I will be parked in front of the TV all weekend. Just wish my mom was still around — she would love this.

    1. Pennyworth*

      Definitely watching, I just love the pageantry. I’ll be searching for a good commentary though. Last year I lucked on the Daily Telegraph Trooping the Color commentary by one of their staff and a wonderful military historian and royal expert who knew everything about whatever popped up on the screen. It really enhanced my viewing and taught me a lot. My mother would have loved it too. She was a huge fan of the Queen and Prince Philip.

    2. ElsieD*

      That’s just what I was writing in my blog (Dear Mummy: A Family History in Letters) when I realized that earlier I had published my mother’s letter about watching the Queen’s Coronation in 1953, and my grandmother’s account in a schoolgirl memoir of seeing King George V’s procession in 1911! I had to go searching and find the blog references, just to remind myself how much they enjoyed the experience.

    3. Well...*

      Hah, me and my coworkers are all in the “resolutely ignore” camp.

      Also what’s up with the total lack of protesting at some universities in the UK? At first I thought it was the pandemic, but the rules have been lifted for over a year and nothing. I can’t believe the undergrads aren’t organizing some anti-royalist demonstration. Every other university I’ve worked at, I’ve had to walk by protests for all kinds of things, and here it’s crickets. The only event I’ve been told about is an invitation to celebrate His Majesty by learning a Coronation tea dance if I pay 7 quid (tea not included).

      Not that they *should* be against this particular thing, just that it seems like undergrad protest bait. We should also be up in arms about the COL crisis, and a plethora of other issues, but it seems like student protest is just not a thing?

      1. AlliterativeApple*

        May not be all of it, but the government introduced harsh anti-protest legislation just this week in advance of the coronation to try to ward off potential protests. That may have put a lot of students off.

      2. Philmar*

        The #notmyking folks are getting hauled away by police and not being told why. There’s an article in the Guardian about it.

    4. Dovasary Balitang*

      Not at all. I’m still angry about Prince Harry’s wedding costing £30 million while the NHS needs to beg for donations on the street to hire more nurses.

      1. Well...*

        This weekend will cost more than the yearly UK research budget for my subfield.

        And it’s not like we’re necessarily getting EU funding anymore…

      2. JSPA*

        I suppose one can argue that it all brings in tourist dollars? No idea what percentage of tourists are there for royal-associated stuff, but it seems like that’s the very first thing Americans think of. And I also don’t know what a “branding and excitement” ad campaign for an entire country costs, for comparison. I suppose it’s a work question to ask anyone with expertise to weigh in, though.

        1. Well...*

          Yes, that’s their justification, but it’s hard to feel like it’s only a tourism thing when they push through awful anti protest laws (up to 6mos or unlimited fine for chaining yourself to a building, blocking traffic, etc, plus widely expanding stop and frisk) so they take effect right in time for coronation, then threaten facial recognition technology to use on protestors, and now are arresting them…

          and lots of other government investments pay for themselves in the long term but are still underfunded.

          1. JSPA*

            Trust me, I’m not going to defend anti-protest laws and rambo’d up police. Been on the wrong end of sound cannons myself, and they also had what looked like turret guns on the armored mad-max-ish vehicle.

            But other countries with less-pseudo- essential royal houses don’t get the same mileage from them.

            Various parts of Britain have iconic symbols, but what’s the go-to, Reductionist cheesy tourist symbol for the totality, that’s not royal-related / royal branded?

            what’s Britain’s “tulips and wooden shoes,” your “cuckoo clock and eidelweiss and gentians”? Treacle tarts and clotted cream or a nice stilton and a cider are lovely, but I don’t quite see them staring on a bucket list of Aunt Angie in Dubuque. (Which may be totally fine, especially if you choose to finally squeeze a reasonable tax from [—-politics ban precludes completing this phrase—-] to cover your essential needs (which by any number of metrics are no longer being met as they once were).

      3. Lady Not Waiting*

        I’m still angry at Harry saying he never wanted a big wedding and did it “for the people”. Um, I’m sure the people would have been just fine with a small wedding!

        1. allathian*

          LOL yeah. Maybe he should’ve quit the Royal Firm before the wedding and paid for it himself, they could’ve potentially avoided a lot of unpleasantness that way.

          That said, my sympathies are largely on Harry’s side, it can’t have been easy to grow up in the public eye and losing his mom at such a young age. He’s been open about his mental health troubles, and for that he has my respect. William seems a more stable personality altogether, and at least he’s probably going to be king one day, unlike Harry who’s had to live as a Royal with all the publicity, but with no expectation of ever getting the top job.

          I can’t really blame Harry for wanting to get out for all the racist flak that Meghan’s been subjected to in the British press.

    5. DistantAudacity*

      Yes – it’s on in the background!

      Lots of great music so far (guests are arriving), and top-notch stunning yellow dress on the soprano Pretty Yende!

      1. WestsideStory*

        I’m sorry I missed that! I adore Pretty Yende and wish she would play New York more often. Now I will search YouTube later for it.

    6. UKDancer*

      Add me to the “trying to ignore it” camp. I think it’s a great waste of money and we should be rid of the lot of them. I’d much rather we did none of this and spent all that money on the NHS.

      I had my ballet class this morning on Zoom which is good. Then I’m going out for lunch and to a matinee at the theatre.

    7. CTT*

      I’m in the US, so I’m anti-monarchy but very pro-pageantry. I also have a thing I’ve been meaning to do for a volunteer org for months, and now that we’ve moved to the religious part of the ceremony, I bet I can knock it out in the next 45 minutes with this as background music.

    8. Not Australian*

      No, afraid not. Just not interested, I’m afraid … although not anti-monarchy per se. Besides, I’ve got other stuff to do this weekend – and even if I didn’t, I’m sure I’d think of something!

    9. AlliterativeApple*

      Nope. Couldn’t give a flying monkeys about am old man wearing a sparkly hat. It is an obscene amount of money being spent for seemingly very little purpose, when UK public services are ok their knees and more and more of the population are slipping into poverty in an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis. The whole thing just feels incredibly tasteless and tone-deaf.

    10. Angstrom*

      If I watch any European pageantry this weekend it’ll be the Giro d’Italia. :-)

    11. GoryDetails*

      I have the coronation on, as spectacle and a bit of family nostalgia. I’m in the US, but when I was under a year old my folks moved to England for a couple of years while Dad was in the Air Force, and they had family stories and some commemorative items from Elizabeth II’s coronation in ’53. So seeing Charles crowned is kind of closing the loop for me. Fondest bits involve anything with the troops of cavalry, and that delightfully ridiculous over-the-top golden coach – and I’m hoping for the airplane flyover as those always make me a bit teary for some reason. (All the problematic bits of the monarchy and economy and whatnot are still there, of course, but given the state of US politics these days I’m not sure I’m in a position to point fingers {rueful grin}.)

    12. Anon for this*

      I’m afraid that living in the UK with its crumbling and underfunded public services and antidemocratic protest laws, watching a display of millions of pounds of public money being spent to anoint an individual who is actually wealthy enough to pay for it himself (and contributes nothing of value to our society in my opinion) is not my idea of entertainment.

      I find the whole thing disgusting, if I’m quite honest. I wish they could make him walk past every family who has had to resort to food banks in the last two years/has been on an NHS waiting list for more than six months, and look them in the eye.

    13. Girasol*

      Turned it on just in time to see the guard doing their presentation of arms. That was worth seeing for the subtitles alone. The leader of the guard was bawling out orders to the men without benefit of a sound system. His words appeared to be as unintelligible to the subtitler as to the listener. So, according to subtitles, he said something like “Salute the dress! 32!” at which point the men yelled “Hip hip! Hooray!” three times. Then he shouted, “The bride will replace her dress! Papa John’s!” After that someone sensibly turned the subtitling off. But all the panoply needed a lighter moment.

      1. Rosyglasses*

        This made me chuckle and wake up my grumpy cat. It reminds me of Instagram Reels that I see of bad lipreading of sports officials and players, and sometimes congress. They should do the same thing with this!

    14. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I will, but not live. Have deadline to get things done (plane tickets do that to you!) and am running out of time. Found a couple of options one Youtube – PBS, BBC, and Reuters. Will figure out which has the least annoying/most helpful commentary and watch later. More for the history than anything else. Honestly, I think it’s silly that they’re doing a coronation for a 74 year old guy. He could have a heart attack and die tomorrow.

      1. WestsideStory*

        I would recommend Jezebel site for a great rundown on the gowns and hats. Honestly that all I wanted to see.
        I am also surprised he made it – had a running bet he wouldn’t that I’ve now lost.

      2. Bagpuss*

        if you have access to the BBC iPlayer they usually have a commentary free version so you can watch with anyone wittering on at you.

    15. KatEnigma*

      I set my alarm for 4 am… (Central) and went back to sleep until 6, because I knew I was recording it.

      What I had failed to take into account, that when my son came down at 7, all peaceful enjoyment would end. LOL I think he had just left for school when the Queen’s funeral started. I was 8 when my grandmother and I got up to watch Prince Charles marry Diana. I haven’t missed a televised wedding or the funeral since. Plus, his spring gymnastics show was at 9 am, and we were all getting ready starting at 8. So I paused it, and finally finished the balcony bit at about 4:30pm CST.

    16. allathian*

      Yes, I watched it for the pageantry. I just wonder if the British Monarchy will survive until 2066, for the Millennium celebrations since William the Conqueror and the battle of Hastings in 1066…

    17. eisa*

      I watched most of it. It was pretty great.
      Princess Anne looked cool in her rakish hat and she seemed to enjoy herself a lot ;-)

      The commentary said that the ceremony dates back to William the Conqueror (like, the 1066 guy.)
      Any institution / tradition that has been around for so long .. I am actually in awe of that. There will always be bad times (AFAIK, Great Britain wasn’t doing so well in 1953 either, still suffering from the aftereffects of WW II where they had played a huge part in saving the world’s ass, basically) .. but that makes it even more important to have something that can transcend the troubles of the current day.

  11. -*

    Removed — I don’t want to host something here denigrating a Black teenager for a huge academic achievement. – Alison

    1. Gemstones*

      Yes, the snarking on him was leaving a bad taste in my mouth. It just feels…kind of low. It gave me a bad feeling. Besides, I think achieving something like this can be good for a kid. Setting a goal, achieving it…you feel good about yourself. It builds confidence. And the resulting publicity, maybe he can parlay it into internships, jobs, other opportunities. I don’t know. It just seems like, this kid went out and he did something. He’s a young guy. Like…applying to college is a thing kids do. He decided to take it to the next level. I certainly wasn’t doing anything on that high a scale as a kid. I have real admiration for him.

  12. Person from the Resume*

    BOOK THREAD What are you reading?

    I’ve been trying to get into The Exceptions: Nancy Hopkins, MIT, and the Fight for Women in Science. It’s been a struggle. Admittedly I’m also tired lately, but so far (85 pages in) there’s been too many tangents. I’m hoping that once Nancy gets further in her career we’ll get more focus but so far lots and lots of historical background on things that don’t seem necessary relevant to the fight for the women in science like there wasn’t quite enough content and the author was stretching it. I’ll see. I’m not putting it aside yet.

    1. Sweet Tooth*

      Love a good book thread. I just started the Warsaw Orphan. I’m a sucker for historical fiction.

    2. Not A Manager*

      The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal. It was fun and cute. I’ve given up pretending to read anything other than fluff these days.

      1. HHD*

        I’ve just read all of Martin Davey’s black museum series in a fortnight. They’re well written near world fantasies that just made me devour them

    3. Not Totally Subclinical*

      Claudia Gray’s The Murder of Mr. Wickham was a fun read. The Austen characters were reasonably believable as the canon characters at later points/from other people’s perspectives, and I enjoyed the “house party murder in the Austenverse” setup.

    4. Jackalope*

      I just finished Afterlife by Julia Alvarez for my book club. I enjoyed it, although the all-over-the-place sister was stressful. But it was nice and compact and said what it wanted to in a short amount of time, which is what I really needed.

      I also read A Taste of Gold and Iron this week, blanking on the author. I’d been doing a bunch of nonfiction and “required reading” (like the book club book), and it was fun to have a fantasy book to come back to my roots. Also, the author came up with a problem the two romantic leads could have with their relationship that was realistic and not out of left field, so that was great as well.

        1. Jackalope*

          No, I think it’s a new set of sisters (at least, I don’t recognize them from any of her other books that I’ve read so far). But the sisterly dynamic is a huge part of the plot, although at times a bit annoying; it feels like a really unhealthy dynamic to me. But I enjoyed the pov character, and I generally liked it.

    5. Dovasary Balitang*

      I finished The Poppy War and have moved onto The Dragon Republic. A few people commented how grim and bloody the first book was, but I really enjoyed that aspect of it. That said, I’m glad Rin kicked opium early on – I’m not sure I could have withstood another 50 pages of that.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        A friend recommended the series to me, but I don’t think I have time or quite enough interest to commit to around 1800 pages. Large series are intimidating.

        1. Dovasary Balitang*

          I’m actually finding it quite an easy read! The prose is lovely but not dense at all.

    6. Atheist Nun*

      I finally finished The Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and–it was a lot. I am glad I read it; it has been a while since I read a challenging book, as usually I coast on my favorites like hard boiled mystery novels, and in fact I have started reading one of them now. I love GGM, but this is definitely not the first book of his that I would recommend.

    7. word nerd*

      I really enjoyed She Has Her Mother’s Laugh by Carl Zimmer about heritability. Fascinating read, although I did feel like he could have commented a bit more about the appalling lack of ethics in some of the historical research.

      Unrelatedly, since it’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, I’ve been thinking lately about how I’ve been seeing more authors with Asian names lately, and not just writing about stuff related to Asians. When I was growing up, I pretty much only knew about Amy Tan and Chang-Rae Lee. I’m Korean-American, and I’ve been trying to keep up with notable Korean-American authors, but now I feel like that’s harder–in a good way–and I don’t quite feel that same obligation anymore. I don’t know how much of it is actual change vs me being more aware of a wider variety of books, but I feel like I see a lot more Asian names out there now writing books that are not necessarily boxed into stuff about the immigrant experience or history of China or whatever. I love that I can pick up a science fiction book by an Asian author and it doesn’t have to be about “Asian” things. Am I imagining this trend?

      1. Sloanicota*

        I kind of love to see this trend. I feel like it happened in other communities too. At first, any book with an LGTBQ theme had to be *about* that; now, it can be in there but the book is a werewolf horror or a prep school mystery or whatever. Personally I think it’s cool when it’s not the whole identity, like when the movie like “Salt” replaced the male character with a female character but didn’t change any single other thing, or in Starship Troopers the family is described as Hispanic, which would have been relatively rare at that time, but they’re well-off and successful and it’s not a plot point. But I also understand people want books informed *fully informed* by the identity too – it’s a good thing when there’s enough representation that not everything has to represent everybody!

        1. Person from the Resume*

          I absolutely agree about LGBTQ stories. It feels like until recently the story was always the coming out story, the individual and their family and friends coming to terms with the identity. And often now it’s normal problem/plot and being Queer is not the main focus or even a problem in the story.

      2. MEH Squared*

        I’m Taiwanese American (and bi to connect to the other comments), and I remember back in the day, all the books were about immigrant experiences. Which, ok, but it was such a narrow point of view–especially as it seemed as if everyone ended up working in a restaurant or a laundry (and not coming over for education like my parents). I had people coming up to me to tell me they knew what it was like to be a Chinese woman is America after reading The Joy Luck Club! Which, given that I’m Taiwanese and not Chinese, meant there was a lot for me to roll my eyes over in that pithy statement.

        I’m glad that things are broadening out in which ethnicity is one part of an identity in a novel and not the whole thing.

        1. word nerd*

          Geez, I can’t believe people were coming up to you to say that! I mean, sure, I’ve had my share of offputting comments, but at least they were generally from people I was already in conversation with! I spent a month in Taiwan at the beginning of the pandemic and had a wonderful time–I really hope the country is able to maintain its independence.

    8. AY*

      I’m smack in the middle of Dennis Lehane’s Mystic River. I never saw the movie, so I have no idea how it will end. I’m not a frequent crime, mystery, or thriller reader, so I’m enjoying the slower pace and the lit-fic-inflected writing.

    9. GoryDetails*

      My recent reading includes:

      LEECH by Hiron Ennes, a horror novel set in a future world in which the ruins of old technology are mined for raw materials – and where there’s an Institute consisting of people who all share a consciousness somehow. One of these is sent to a remote chateau to serve as physician to the noble family – and to keep an important local mine producing – only to find that there’s a mysterious parasite in that mine. Very quirky and unusual story, with some strong resemblances to the bizarre setup in “Gormenghast” – I’m enjoying it, but it’s so weird!

      EMBRACE YOUR SIZE by hara, a non-fiction manga/memoir about the author’s journey from eating disorders to body positivity.

      WHERE THE DEAD PAUSE, AND THE JAPANESE SAY GOODBYE by Marie Mutsuki Mockett, a memoir about the author’s visit to her family’s Buddhist temple – located some 25 miles from the Fukushima nuclear power plant that was so badly damaged by the tsunami of 2011.

      And an interesting book-about-a-book, BOSWELL’S PRESUMPTUOUS TASK by Adam Sisman, about Boswell’s writing of his “Life of Dr. Johnson” – lots of early “social media” vibes here, as Johnson was wildly celebrated in his lifetime and there was a pretty wild level of fascination as to which of several biographies would get into print first!

    10. Ashloo*

      I’m halfway through the final book in the Rosewater trilogy by Tade Thompson. Fun series and one I think I’ll enjoy rereading in the future.

    11. fposte*

      I read Katy Bowman’s Dynamic Aging, as sort of a complement to the Peter Attia I read a few weeks ago. It’s much more focused on a lay audience and the style was pretty cheesy for me, but I liked its focus on working to create continued mobility in every part of the body despite life practices that militate against that. (For example, we all wear shoes so our feet stiffen up, so you can do mobility work to help the joints and toes articulate independently again.)

      1. My Brain is Exploding*

        OOH! I do love Katy Bowman. That’s a good starter book; she has a podcast, and a newsletter, and a slew of other books and they are all great. I think Dynamic Aging gives people the knowledge and rationale for just getting started with movement and some tips on h0w to do it, plus encouragement that you CAN make things better!

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I saw she’s got some other material, and I’m waiting to read Move Your DNA. What I liked about Dynamic Aging was that while it wasn’t news, it gave me a nudge on specifics for mobility that I hadn’t been working on.

    12. My Brain is Exploding*

      Just finished reading Toni Morrison’s Beloved for the second time. This time it was for a book club, so it took longer and I took notes. There’s so much to unpack in that book.

    13. Courageous cat*

      I just finished White Noise by Don Delillo and am starting the Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell. Not sure how I’m going to feel about the second one. It’s a bit disjointed so far, hopefully it picks up?

    14. Nervous Nellie*

      Two great books for me – one fiction and one non.

      Fiction – Greenwood by Michael Christie, a sprawling story of a lumber baron family in British Columbia, Canada, in the near future but all tangled up in climate change. The numerous mentions of baby Willow the newborn are remarkable – they are such perfect descriptions of a baby that when I was reading in a coffee shop and a nearby child in a stroller cooed I jumped nearly a foot out of my chair.

      Non-fiction – The World: A Brief Introduction by Richard Haass. In 300 pages, a succinct and easily digested overview of each world region and their history, politics, issues and interconnection. It gives real context to the problems we are now facing nationally and worldwide. It’s a gentler and less bombastic book than Ray Dalio’s The Changing World Order, which still has great merit though, as it has been almost a crystal ball predicting Russian aggression and China’s rise to supremacy. Chilly stuff! But they both make you think and vote and participate – all good.

    15. the cat's ass*

      “The Ferryman” by Justin Cronin and it definitely went to a lot of places i didn’t expect, esp in the last 1/3d.

      “Skeleton Key” by Erin Kelly-loved it!

      Both of these books were a lovely distraction to a gnarly week and a grim upcoming weekend.

    16. Filosofickle*

      In the middle of Come as You Are and Unmasking Autism. Starting A Map Of The World by Jane Hamilton and I need to slow down on this one as her use of language is quite lovely.

    17. Still*

      I’m most of the way through Wild and I’m enjoying it much more than I expected! I think with all the hype and the movie I had quite low expectations, but I find it really interesting, it’s both easy to read and something that I can sink my teeth into. I don’t usually love first-person pov but it doesn’t bother me in this case.

    18. PastorJen*

      I just got my Book of the Month Club box and got The Collected Regrets of Clover by Nikki Brammer. I also added on Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson. I think I’m going to start Pineapple Street this weekend. I’ve heard good things about it.

    19. Jay*

      I’m re-reading some of my favorite Patrick F. McManus books.
      They are collections of folksy, outdoorsy short humor pieces. They used to appear in the backs of magazines like Field and Stream or Outdoor Life. They lean very into the old fashioned and have a vague “Mark Twain-ish” tone to them, but can also be very sweet at times (if you had a granddad growing up and your eyes are completely dry by the end of “The Theory And Practice Of Old Men”, then there is something very wrong in your world).

      1. GoryDetails*

        McManus is fun! I read most of his books way back, probably not long after they came out, and enjoyed them very much. (The bit about the “modified stationary panic” is among my favorites.)

        1. Jay*

          One of my favorites too!
          Cigars, Logging Trucks, and Know-It-Alls is another all time classic.

    20. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I’m reading _Once upon a Tome_, which is (sort of) a memoir by an antiquarian bookseller who walked into the job almost at random, and stayed. I like the warm tone.

    21. Weaver, reader of almost everything*

      Read two good books this week. Around the World in 80 books by David Damrosch. I can never read everything I want to read, but now I know something about the classics that Damrosch discussed. And a wonderful YA novel titled Vinyl by Mahogany Browne.

    22. Squirrel Nutkin, the teach, not the admin*

      Dived back into re-rereading *Wolf Hall*. And (after a few decades away), I am re-reading Herodotus as my “lunch book.”

    23. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Just finished “Becoming FDR” by Jonathan Darman. Interesting and well-written – Darman’s idea is that FDR became great not in spite but because of his experience with polio and his subsequent disability. The ordeal transformed him from an intellectual lightweight with no insight into other people’s experiences to a thoughtful and more empathetic man who knew how to connect with others. And the forced delay in his career meant that by the time he ran for Governor of New York, radio was an important medium, and he knew how to use it. Good book if you’re interested in the period.

    24. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Hmm. I bought that book based on the reviews and it’s in my physical TBR pile.

    25. Cookie Monster*

      I just finished Born a Crime by Trevor Noah and loved it! He’s such a gifted story-teller.

    26. carcinization*

      Still reading Brust’s Tsalmoth, but expect to finish it soon and then move on to the second half of Hodgell’s The God Stalker Chronicles.

    27. inkheart*

      The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner. Read it in one evening/night, I could not put it down!

    28. Bluebell*

      A few light reads this week-Love and Other Disasters by Anita Kelly, a romance where one member of the couple is non-binary and it’s part of the growing “romance on a cooking competition show” sub genre. Also, The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, a dual timeline romance. Just started Reckless Girls and I’m liking it- bad things happening on a remote tropical island and all the characters seem to have shady pasts.

    29. noncommittal pseudonym*

      Been doing a lot of food/food history reading lately. I’m partway through MFK Fisher’s The Art of Eating – a long read! I took a brief break to read GastroObscura, a bunch of short essays on various obscure foods organized by place. It’s a fun read, though some of the foods described are seriously disgusting.

    30. nobadcats*

      The Book of the Raven: Corvids in Art and Legend, by … well since it’s a compilation… pretty much everyone. Wonderful artwork.

      It’s absolutely lovely and, I’m told, I’ll have to fight off my bestie for my copy. Remind me to get those house keys back and order at least three more copies for the ravenous corvids in my life. And… pray for me.

  13. Double A*

    Has anyone given up their smart phone and gone back to a flip phone? Or used the Light phone?

    My smart phone is currently broken and only works when plugged in so I’ve been much more detached from it and it’s been interesting. I definitely feel like I have more space in my brain and I’m more deliberate about when I’m surfing. I don’t like not having a phone for texting and calling while out and about, but I have liked not being tempted to mindlessly read the internet at every lull I experience. I do really like and value having GPS so not having that has been a bit of an annoyance though it makes me know where I’m going before I leave the house.

    So I’m contemplating what giving up a smart phone would be like. Anyone done it?

    1. Spearmint*

      I’ll be reading this with interest. I too dislike the addictive quality of smartphones, and I have considered switching to a Light Phone. What holds me back is that there are just enough apps I use regularly that won’t work on it (Discord, Audible, a few birdwatching apps, the camera). Also, there’s things like digital tickets and boarding passes.

      A middle ground you can try is doing things to make your smartphone less addicting. Delete social media apps, turn off notifications on most/all apps, use screen time features. That’s what I do. It’s not 100% effective but it helps.

      1. Tara*

        Tech tip: don’t want to install parental controls on your phone but also want to stop yourself from going on x addictive website? Almost every modern website relies on JavaScript- go into site settings on your mobile browser and disable JS for the site to force yourself to stop going there.

      2. Clisby*

        I have a smart phone, but I seldom do anything with it but talk, text, and take photos. This is a $70 smartphone from Tracfone, and I just do the pay-as-you go minutes. I *can* read AAM or FB, but I don’t really like to read text on a phone, so I have to be really bored to resort to that.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          Same here. I have a new iPhone and I use it for work email and Slack, personal texting, directions and photos
          I don’t use internet on it and it’s great!

    2. Pennyworth*

      I haven’t done it but I’m thinking I really should to remove the temptation to scroll my life away. An elderly friend used to have a flip phone that was internet enabled but the screen was so tiny that you’d only use it if you really needed to.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I had no data plan on my smartphone for about six months, so I still got texts/calls and I could use the internet when I was connected to wifi, but not when I was out and about. I agree it freed up some mental space. I missed Lyft and Venmo (my friends often go out and one person pays the check and everyone venmos them back) – it’s also harder than it used to be, as I live in a city and more and more restaurants have QR code menus – in fact, I was in a commercial store today that announced they wouldn’t have tags on the clothes, just a QR code on the shelf above. You can’t read those without data. It felt a little dangerous to be out with no navigation and no ability to easily look up, say, the nearest locksmith. But I didn’t actually a problem other than occasionally driving to a store that was closed. If you were in a couple and mostly together, you only need one phone that can look things up.

      1. Clara Bowe*

        I’ve noticed this QR code trend and have been actively pushing back HARD on businesses who are trying to standardize it. “I don’t have a device that reads that. Can I please have a menu?” has become a common phrase. If the business a.) wants my money and b.) isn’t paying my phone bill, they can provide basic information.

        I am extra salty about the qr and cashless stuff because it is a fun, sbuntle discriminitory practice against people of lower socioeconomic status. Don’t have a phone? Can’t shop here because you need a device that can to buy pants! Don’t have a credit card? Whoops, you’re a dirty poor who can’t buy a salad HERE.

        Mind, I absolutely hate how fast food restaurants have all moved to tv menus too. It is (ecologically) wasteful and I just want to know how much a soda costs!

        /grumpy pants. (Sorry, I have Opinions about this stuff!)

        1. Clisby*

          You’re not the only one. My phone can’t scan a QR code, and I’m not interested in upgrading to get a phone that will. I’ve never run into a problem getting a printed menu in a restaurant – seems like we’re not the only ones.

        2. Chauncy Gardener*

          I completely agree! I don’t want to use a QR code for anything, thankyouverymuch

        3. Nightengale*

          It is also discrimintory towards people with certain disabilities. Specifically blind people, but I have a motor disability affecting my ability to use a smartphone and can’t scan QR codes.

          My last professional conference was all QR. They would show a QR link on a slide without giving the URL to the website (that I would have been able to type into my laptop.) Now my workplace is sending e-mails with QR links to RSVP to events, sometimes with an alternate link included but often not. It’s like we’re going backwards in accessibility.

          1. GoingBackwards*

            we’ve been going backwards in accessibility for a good 15-20 years. standard printface has gotten smaller, standard resolutions have gotten higher (making screen content smaller), aisles have gotten narrower, turns have gotten tighter, automation means that if you’re outside of the 20% you’re often out of luck, fewer people are available (or willing) to help…I could go on

    4. Girasol*

      I got a Jitterbug senior flip phone for Dad. Other than the big buttons it was pretty much the same as the flip phone I started with long ago. I had forgotten what it was like to text with a phone keypad where each number is three letters and you press up/down to select the exact letter. Also, the scrolly menu for contacts was a pain. All that simplicity was very not simple! If I found it hard to resist some of the useless/harmful smart phone functions, I think I’d rather unload them and stick with the smart phone.

    5. Anonymous cat*

      I heard a possibly apocryphal story where a friend of a friend of a friend (yeah, I know) said a guy was mugged one night and the mugger demanded his phone. Guy pulled out his flip phone and the mugger stared at it. “Nah, you can keep it.”

      Guy was very proud. Not even a mugger wanted his phone!

      1. Jay*

        I’ve actually heard that as a strategy in some high crime areas. You carry a “Decoy” phone when you are out and about (an old flip phone with a cracked screen or something similar), either keeping your “real” phone safely hidden in a disguised inside pocket, or you just never take it with you unless you are traveling by vehicle from “safe” spot to “safe” spot.

      2. Sloanicota*

        This is why I prefer my old beater car, given the neighborhood I live in. Not only does it not get broken into or stolen when parked on the street, but I also feel it protects my house when parked in my driveway, since passerbys see it (correctly!) assume there’s not a lot of value indoors either haha.

    6. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      In addition to the other suggestions, iPhone has a setting under accessibility for making all the colors shades of gray. Makes it MUCH less interesting.

      You can put a timer on various apps and the interwebs too, so it will notify you when you’ve reached your limit.

      1. Observer*

        Android has similar features. Also, some phones have specific features related to all of this.

    7. Anon anon*

      My husband was a committed slide phone user (didn’t like the distractions of smart phones and has trouble with touchscreens due to his hands being unusually cold), until finally 3G was cut and his phone no longer worked.

      Apparently a lot of flip phones are basically running smartphone software, but deliberately limited in a way that he found incredibly frustrating and slow. So definitely do a lot of research before committing to a flip phone.

    8. Aphrodite*

      I can tell you that I have never had a smartphone, only a flip phone. And even on that I do not have texting or internet capabilities. The phone can have them; I choose not to pay for those. I like it as I can only receive and make calls. (I can do videos and photos but never bother since I can’t do anything with them.) The only annoying thing, and it’s major, is that every person and company assumes I can receive texts. I cannot. And I refuse to do so. I actually can’t get some services because they require a text confirmation without the option of an email one.

    9. Squirrel Nutkin, the teach, not the admin*

      Never left the flip phone. Aside from not really being able to use the internet on it (I technically can in a VERY limited, but basically useless way) and not being able to take a picture of those square thingies that send you to a web site, I love it. No unintentional butt dials. No getting sucked into it the way I get sucked into my laptop. Small and easy to keep in my pocket. I have a Garmin in my car for GPS, and if I rent a car elsewhere, I make sure to rent the GPS too or at least get a map.

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

        P.S. As Sloanicota noted, it’s a bit of a pain not being able to use Uber or Lyft. I compensate by keeping the business cards of local taxis in my pocket and their numbers in my phone contacts. And since I live in NYC, a lot of times, I can just get a taxi on the street or at a taxi stand. It’d be a lot harder somewhere rural.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Oh, this reminds me that I forgot the other thing I “needed” a smartphone for – when I was required by my field to create a platform on social media, some of the sites did not have a desktop version, at the time. Instagram was one, although they now have a desktop version that’s not as good. Maybe TikTok now, I don’t know. What I did was keep an old screen-cracked smartphone that wasn’t connected to service; I just used it via wifi. Sometimes it was annoying, having to transfer photos or whatever, but it did help me keep my social media use in a box, and probably had some privacy benefits since none of my contacts, texts, or calls were on that phone.

        2. Observer*

          And since I live in NYC, a lot of times, I can just get a taxi on the street or at a taxi stand.

          That’s actually only true in parts of Manhattan. Elsewhere? Even with the green taxis that were explicitly rolled out for the “outer boroughs”, there are a LOT of neighborhoods, where you absolutely cannot get a legal cab on the street. (It’s worth noting that for decades, before the advent of rid hailing apps, NYC deliberately kept the number or medallions lower than it should have been to keep the value of the medallions high.)

          Even in Manhattan, at the wrong time of day, or in the wrong neighborhood, you can have a very hard time getting a cab. BTDT.

          It is true that in most of the 5 boroughs, you should be able to call a car service, so Uber / Lyft are not so important. But I’ve been in areas around the city where if I didn’t have that, I would have been stranded.

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

            Fair enough in some neighborhoods indeed, though the couple of times I have been potentially stranded in Jamaica or Queens Village, I’ve managed to get a not-so-legal cab. That’s probably not the case in neighborhoods where more people own cars. And you’re spot on, Observer, about the TLC artificially keeping the medallion #s down.

    10. JSPA*

      I’ve done it as both / and. There are times when a nearly-dumb little nokia (with painfully slow, pick-a-letter-by-multiple pushes SMS) is fine for the whole day (and if I get a text with a link I can forward it to my smartphone for later).

      Other days, I’d be lost without the smartphone (or irritatingly more encumbered with Stand-alone camera and stand alone GPS).

      It does work pretty well to break the security-blanket like hold that a cell phone can have!

    11. Observer*

      I haven’t done so but I do know several people who have done so.

      In my experience, it tends to present a surprising number of issues. There are ways to work around them, which is why it still works for these folks.

      Some examples:

      Someone who needs very little out of a smart phone, but does too much texting to deal well with a standard flip phone keyboard. They moved back to a smartphone with parental controls that literally locked out everything but phone, texting (and possibly calendar and GPS.) No other apps. Not even email, much less social media, internet, etc.

      Someone for whom video calls is important. Since those calls are always family related, they use their spouse’s phone. (Fortunately the family is supportive.)

      People with need for Uber / Lyft / Other ride app. I am talking about situations where getting a taxi on the street or calling a car service is not a reliable (or even possible) alternative. The people I know who managed with that fell into one of two groups. Group one were people with close family (eg spouse or parent) who were willing to set up the rides for them. Group 2 live in areas where there are services that will engage a car for you from Uber etc. The services I know of charge a combination of flat fee and percentage of cost. And you have to have a credit card.

      I’m not saying that it’s not possible to use just a flip phone. I do know people who make it work. But you really do need to think your specific usage through and be really clear what is really important to you, what is “nice to have” and thus can be discarded, and what is actually harmful.

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

        Wow, there are services that can set up an Uber for you in places?! That’s awesome information to have — thank you for saying that! I will have to check that out.

    12. Nightengale*

      I use a flip phone as my phone.

      I do have a smartphone I use mostly for checking when my bus is due to arrive and sending the occasional e-mail. Due to a disability, I have a lot of trouble using touch screens. I can tap on large icons but I can’t do any scrolling swiping type things (including answering the phone from a lock screen.) I mostly use a bluetooth keyboard to use the thing. Basically it is a tiny computer.

      So for actual making and answering phone calls and the alarm clock function, I use a flipphone. I just hope they keep making them. . .

    13. Jazz and Manhattans*

      People have commented about not being able to use Uber / Lyft without a Smartphone. There is a way! For the life of me I can’t remember the name but there is a service I got for my Mom where you call forca ride and they contract with Uber / Lyft and send a car. Yes, you pay a little more for the service since you go through a 3rd party but itcis an actual Uber /Lyft. They tell you the drivers name and license plate so you can confirm who is picking you up. Even with my Mom’s cognition starting to decline it worked well.

  14. SparklingBlue*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone playing (in either video, tabletop, board, or card form?)

    Myself…I am counting down the days to The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, plus keeping an eye out for a release date for Pokemon Scarlet and Violet DLC.

    1. Jackalope*

      I’m still working my way through Triangle Strategy. Made it through some significant choices and heavy scenes tonight and looking forward to seeing what’s happening next.

    2. Dovasary Balitang*

      I’m right there with you re: Tears of the Kingdom. Having not wanted to start anything new while I wait, I learned Long Live The Queen was given a console release with updated graphics. I’m having fun 100%ing it for the second time.

    3. Mornington Cresent*

      I took the day off on Friday so I could start playing Tears of the Kingdom immediately! (And then scheduled a piercing appointment to get my daith done on the same day, go figure!)

      But I’m super excited about TotK and can’t wait for it to come out.

    4. Well...*

      Yup, I’m in a mad korok seed rush to get them all and 100% the game in master mode before TOTK. It looks awesome, I cannot wait.

    5. Other Alice*

      I have gone back to Ooblets, it’s such a charming creature collector game. It’s on switch or epic games (coming soon to steam I think). Since the last time I played there was a lot of content added. I played a lot in the past week and finished the main story but I’m still trying to collect the rare version of all Ooblets.

    6. Jay*

      Playing Jedi Survivor and Valheim quite a bit lately. Jedi when I have time to just sit and game, Valheim when my brain is work-fried and I need an hour or so to let the stress leak out before I try to sleep.

    7. Loredena*

      I am back to playing Skyrim! I’m enjoying this run through and am spending a lot of time on Solstheim as I’ve never completed the quests there before. As usual I’m a stealth archer, but this time I’m avoiding the mage guild (normally the only guild quest line I complete)

      I added a couple new followers to this run through (I mod heavily) so am enjoying that as well.

      My gaming group is in the final run of East Texas University, after which we’re switching to Fifty Fathoms. We like the savage world system but we’re all struggling playing college students. Too much triggers the d&d murder hobo instincts while making zero sense as a bunch of 20 year olds.

    8. The Dude Abides*

      Picked up a few more pauper staples for the battle box, and decided to burn some WCs on the UW poison deck that plays like old-school control – hit land drops, stabilize without dying, and eventually win on turn 30 or so.

    9. Porch Screens*

      Still playing FE: Three Houses! Since the last time I posted about it, I’ve finished my initial Golden Deer run, played through the Cindered Shadows DLC, and am now on Chapter 6 of a Black Eagles run. I enjoyed the Cindered Shadows characters and the bump in difficulty, even if the story was a bit predictable; it’s also been nice to have the characters available for my Black Eagles run and I appreciate that they actually put some work into making the four of them actually react to the main story as it plays out. Wish they had a few more supports with the other characters but it’s definitely better than Anna (why, IS, why??) I’m also enjoying seeing the story unfold from a different angle, even if the actual story beats have basically been the same so far.

      1. Jackalope*

        The whole bit with Anna was so frustrating. I played on easy mode and so the supports mattered less, and I got her to be a fairly strong character on the battlefield. It even if they’d only given her 2 or 3 supports it would have been so much better than what they did.

    10. Anatosuchus*

      I taught myself a bit of bass in lockdown, and let it slide once I was back to my usual routine, but I’ve just dusted off my copy of Rocksmith to try to get back into it. I already knew he was good, but yesterday I discovered that John Taylor’s (Duran Duran) bass lines are positively fiendish to play!

      Also, non-electronic, I’ve just bought a sheet of baize so I can make a cover for my camping table to convert it to a surface for playing mahjongg when I go away next month.

  15. Anna*

    My friend’s daughter is turning 18 and graduating from high school. I’d like to give her a present. Her immediate plans are to travel in Europe so I think she would appreciate something travel related.
    I am out of ideas. What could I give as a present?

    1. CityMouse*

      I mean the easy answer here is: cash. Can be put to whatever her travel plans are, never going to be unusable.

      1. Ally*

        Yes I agree. Or ask her if there’s something she needs? Especially as she’s going to have to carry everything – anything trinket-y that she doesn’t really want will just be a burden.

        My mum would always buy me little things she thought would be helpful for travel, and I didn’t have a home base for a long time and sorry to say but I just threw a lot of it out, I had to for space and weight limitations. And I felt really guilty. But if she got me something I’d actually been planning to buy, or cash, I’d think of her and send her a photo when using it, and it was nice.

      2. Educator*

        If you know where she is headed, give her that cash in the local currency! Saves her a step, and makes it a little more thoughtful.

        1. DistantAudacity*

          Ah – large parts of Europe is basically cash-free these days…

          But I concur on the cash gift!

      3. Earlk*

        Might be better to get her a visa gift card, not sure what they’re like for international payments but you can buy them in most, if not all, countries in Europe so could be useful.

    2. cat with thumbs (uk)*

      A plug adaptor is always useful to have. But also I agree with CityMouse. Cash is king.

      1. KatEnigma*

        Agreed. I still have my CONVERTER that I no longer need for basically anything (last loaned to my grandparent-in-laws 10 years ago in Italy, as they didn’t have anything heavy duty enough to run a CPAP, and I happened to have it on me) but the adapter kit that I got 30+ years ago with it, I still use.

    3. Decidedly Me*

      Plug adaptors (especially one with USBs as well) and a luggage scale are great little travel gifts

    4. Bobina*

      She may already have it sorted, but travel insurance? Always good to have.

      Other than that, maybe something like a travel guide to one of the countries she will go to or as others have said, a travel adapter.

      But otherwise, cash/spending money – one way to differentiate it (if you have that kind of relationship) is to say spend it on X (eg spend it on a nice meal somewhere – it can be tempting to just default to budget places when travelling as a student. Or treat yourself to a nice souvenier. Or pay for 1-2 nights in a nice hotel for their first/last nights.)

      1. Squidhead*

        Yes! When I traveled after college I saw a lot of places but I was traveling alone and being frugal and I didn’t eat a lot of really good regional cuisine. If I do a trip like that again I am eating all the food.

    5. Vanessa*

      If you want something small and gifty- a smaller sketchbook and pencils( I really like watercolor pencils). I’m not talented but I really enjoyed sitting and drawing when I traveled. There is a mindful component to it. And it’s a nice space to keep notes and memories.

    6. small town*

      My sons have gotten a lot of use out of a solar powered phone charger. Depending on where she is and what kind of plug ins are available it helps.

    7. Ellis Bell*

      Travel packing cubes, a teeny travel notebook with pen, a good wash bag that’s waterproof and will hang from anything (cheap hotel rooms have no surfaces), a pashmina to cover her head, or wrap up on a plane, carabiner clips to free up her hands and keep things to hand outside her backpack….and cash!

    8. NeutralJanet*

      I went on a tour of Europe as a teenager and got a bunch of travel-related gifts that didn’t really do anything for me, but one that I found super helpful (and that I still use!) was a neck pouch with room for my passport, because truly there is nothing scarier than thinking you’ve lost your passport. A nice backpack or weekender bag, depending on which would be more practical for her travel plans, is also a gift that she could use well into the future.

      1. Well...*

        That’s so funny, because I am so chill about losing my passport abroad, but terrified of losing it when visiting home and getting stuck not being able to go to work.

        Everyone I know who lost their passport in Europe got a temporary new one from the consulate within a few days. I know like three people who got it pickpocketed off them and were totally fine (2 US citizens, 1 Iranian. She was hella pissed bc her real passport took months to be issued in Iran, and her consulate just handed her a new one within hours). They claim longer times but in practice it seems okay? At least anecdotally.

        If I lose my passport while I’m home for Christmas, I don’t get any emergency rush job. I’m stuck for weeks.

    9. Numbat*

      my go to travel gift is a carabiner clip to attach to luggage; or weighs nothing but you can clip a hat, water bottle, jacket or any number of things to your backpack. or it can be a lock in a pinch, or a keyring, or… it also conveys “you are resourceful and will be fine on your big adventure” I think.

    10. Emma*

      Money! She can use it for whatever she wants or needs. I remember it was so helpful when people gave that to me after graduation. Plus a nice card:).

    11. anxiousGrad*

      When I graduated college someone gave me a nice passport holder. It’s great because in addition to my passport it has space for my COVID vaccination card and my residence permit.

    12. Dicey Tillerman*

      When I graduated from high school, a family friend had my initials embossed on a leather passport holder. I actually went searching for it this morning to find out if I need to renew my passport soon.

    13. spcepickle*

      I give all kids graduating high school a nice multi head screwdriver – They will need to them in their next phase of life whatever it is and an amazon gift card.

    14. Starry Starry Night*

      If she’s open to it, you could also research which taxi/ride share app is popular in the countries she will be going to, and then put some money in her account there. (Free Now, GetTaxi and Uber are petty widespread here.)

      It’s a little luxury that will also make her trip safer – think needing to get back to her hostel late at night and the metro has stopped running, or just being exhausted after a day’s sightseeing and getting a ride home as a small treat.

  16. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

    I’m looking for recommendations for pool robots.

    About 5 years ago, I bought a house with an in-ground swimming pool. The previous owner kept it clean herself, but she also was retired and loved to work in the yard. After years of trying to keep up with it, I want my weekends back and am ready to throw money at the problem.

    I know I don’t want anything with an internet connection and an app, just a more “old fashioned” pool robot as have been around for decades that will wander aimlessly around the pool for a few hours after I throw it in. If it matters, my pool is a kidney-shaped plaster pool, probably built in the 1950s or 1960s.

    Anyone have opinions about what I should buy? I’m willing to spend more now for something that will be less hassle over time.

    1. Molybdenum26*

      I bought a Pentair Warrior SE four years ago after my traditional sweep died. I LOVE it. I don’t need to brush my sides any longer except on very rare occasions. It also climbs the walls and scrubs the water line. This is the same as the Dolphin S200.

      I bought mine from Mariana’s Pool and Spa in Colorado. They had the best price, free shipping, and no sales tax at the time.

      If you’re looking for other recommendations, check out troublefreepool.com in the forums. That site has wonderful information for general pool maintenance.

    2. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I had a Hayward shark when I bought my house in FL 10 years ago. it was older and testy. I replaced it with a Zodiac G3 which was easier to deal with/repair and I think did a better job than the Hayward.

  17. Cookies For Breakfast*

    Do you know of a product to put broken ceramic back together that is definitely food-safe? Ideally oven-safe too, but that’s less important. Must be available in the UK.

    One ramekin out of a set of 6 my mother handed off to me broke in two pieces. The set is very pretty and functional, and it’s a shame we now have an odd number. They must have been bought some 20 years ago (department store own brand in Italy), so I won’t find an exact replacement.

    My partner says I won’t find a suitable product, and should just throw away the broken pieces. I looked at the DIY store and they had lots of super glues marked as dishwasher safe, but I’ll only buy a product that also says it’s food-safe on the package.

    1. Squidhead*

      I Googled “food safe ceramic glue” and found a couple of options, both silicone-based. The brands probably don’t cross over, but it could be something for you to search over there. No guarantee the local DIY store has it; I’d probably order it online but you could also try craft stores (here I’d try Michael’s or JoAnn Fabrics).

      As to finding a replacement, I’ve been surprised by what you can find on eBay or etsy here. If you know the brand name (Google lens might be able to help if it’s not legible), you might get lucky!

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        I’d love to try the replacement route first! The brand is so pre-ecommerce though, I suspect it would be a very niche and frustrating search (and delivery cost wouldn’t be worth ordering from Italian sellers, if any). Even a different ramekin in similar colour and style would do, though it’s very important to me that the size and depth match too and that’ll be trickier.

        What are the glue brands you found online? I’d be happy to look them up on UK Amazon and eBay.

        1. Chaordic One*

          You might try looking at “Replacements, Ltd” which carries a lot of vintage pre-owned discontinued items, mostly discontinued china patterns, but other items, too. I’ve had good luck finding replacement pieces there. Their URL is: replacements dot com. They ship to countries outside the U.S., although the shipping charges are what I would consider excessive. I would think that there should be a similar business in the U.K. or in western Europe if did some more googling.

        2. Squidhead*

          Gluehow dot com gave me Dap Household Waterproof Ahesive Sealant and Gordon Glass Food Grade Silicone Sealant. I have no personal experience with either, that’s just where Google brought me.

          I low-key collect a local brand of ceramic that is pre-eCommerce and searching the brand name (plus the pattern name if I’m looking for something specific) always brings up a few results on eBay or Etsy. Someone has 3 stray fruit bowls or one serving platter…not a full set, but sometimes just a piece that I like. And yes, replacements dot com is also a more organized version of the same idea!

        3. JSPA*

          could try image google?

          The japanese (beautifully) mend fine ceramic with gold laquer. kintsugi. Raw “true” laquer has the same massively allergenic (to most people) ingredient as poison ivy and poison oak; beyond that, I have no idea if the easy to find kidstsuki kitts contained true lacquer (or what).

          Some potters will make items to echo the look and feel of a set (not truly to match, but a charming mismatch is fairly doable).

    2. HannahS*

      I’ve looked in the past and have been unable to find glues that were explicitly marked as food-safe, unfortunately.

    3. TX_trucker*

      Not sure what brands you have access to, or manufacturing rules in your country. Generally in the USA, two part epoxy glues are food contact safe once fully cured. Not sure about safe for cooking in, that’s not the same as food contact.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Interesting, thank you! I’d mostly use them to serve food or chill it in the fridge before eating. But oven-safe would be a plus, in case I ever get round to making a whole 6 chocolate fondants (it’s only two of us at home, so, nice to think about but unlikely…).

    4. Rosyglasses*

      Kintsugi is food safe if you are not heating it up and I found a gazillion options when I googled it.

    5. Madame Arcati*

      Two part epoxy such as araldite should be ok if you wash by hand. Not cyanoacrylate superglues like loctite.

  18. The Prettiest Curse*

    People who are deliberately avoiding the coronation, what are you doing instead? I’ll be walking the dog and (later on) catching up on some housework while listening to podcasts. And I kind of miss living in America when big royal events roll around, because I can’t use the old “oh, I didn’t want to get up at 3am to watch it” excuse any more!

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Baking salted caramel brownies and watching Italian football will be this household’s avoidance method of choice. If that doesn’t take up all afternoon and evening, I’ll read on the sofa with the cats.

      There are a couple exhibitions I’d love to check out in Central London, but the combination of weather and big event will be enough to put me off the trip today. Monday, perhaps, if the rain’s not too bad!

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Ugh! I am American and will not be watching except I just turned on the tv to catch my local weather and CBS nationally is already broadcasting it instead of local news. Turned it off and I’m checking weather elsewhere.

    3. Anonosaurus*

      Making soup and pottering around the house. Thinking about baking some scones as I’ve had a weird craving. Also some yoga and kitty snuggles (not simultaneously).

    4. Rara Avis*

      My parents are watching my niece and nephew this weekend so we’re having a sleepover. We’ll, the adults will sleep. The three teenagers might not.

    5. Rrach*

      Went for a looooong bike ride today which did the trick. I missed everything :-)

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I went out shopping today. Just for necessities — your first couple of shops after a big move are always huge, ugh. But I did find some British products at Stop and Shop — Marmite, Heinz Salad Cream (nothing better for tuna sammishes), HP Sauce, and Jacobs Cream Crackers. :)

    7. NotMyKing*

      It was just another Saturday afternoon, I don’t usually watch tv in the afternoon and yesterday was no different! I then had to dodge my neighbour’s “party “, I feigned a prior engagement.
      Now off to join Republic!!!

    8. UKDancer*

      I did my usual online ballet class which was bliss as always and the perfect start to a weekend. Then I went out to lunch and to a matinee at the theatre. So I managed to avoid the whole thing which suits me. Today I am going for some retail therapy (I need some Lush bath bombs) and tomorrow I’m meeting a friend for coffee and cake.

    9. EvilQueenRegina*

      Away this weekend and was travelling at the time it was on. Unfortunately, so seemed to be half the country because the train was ridiculously full with people standing all the way.

  19. Dovasary Balitang*

    Does anyone have any experience with TMJ? I’m having my first flare-up, complete with significant numbness on the left side of my face, feeling like my skull is on fire, and just the whole “my braces were just tightened and life is misery” feeling, despite having not had braces for over ten years. I am seeing the dentist tomorrow but any short term solutions to reduce discomfort is appreciated, especially as I’m allergic to painkillers!

    1. TPS reporter*

      Botox could help, it does for me but my tmj sounds much less severe than yours

    2. LuckySophia*

      A bodywork practitioner experienced in Myofascial Release could potentially help you. The technique is somewhat similar to accu-pressure; it applies gentle pressure to the connective tissue at the hinge of your jaw, to help release the tightness and ease the TMJ symptoms.

      1. Once too often*

        Yes, a good manual therapist (massage therapist, physical therapist who does soft tissue work) can help enormously. Sounds as if you may have some trigeminal nerve involvement? I am far from a doctor, just have heard many descriptions of that.

        Hope you got some relief today.

    3. WorkNowPaintLater*

      What works for me, esp after dentist appointments – sit where I can sit straight but can put head back, relax jaw while keeping mouth closed, close eyes and relax as much as possible. Massage the side that hurts (from joint up to top of ear).

      You may want to try putting a warm heating pad on your back just below the base of your neck. When my jaw acts up, I tend to tense up there as well.

  20. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Internet of Things enthusiasts? How have you found ways to smartify your life?

    I hate yelling across the house, so I text my husband, except he plays his video games with headphones on and doesn’t always notice his phone. I also don’t want to get up from what I’m doing, go into his basement and poke him to get his attention because he won’t hear me coming and will jump six feet in the air and be grumpy. So I replaced the light bulb in his light with a smart one, and when I am trying to get his attention I can remotely change the color on it. This has been a game changer in just the first week.

    I WFH, so I also set up one at the entry to my office that I can use as red for “meeting with possible camera,” blue for “busy/meeting without camera,” or green for “yes you can come in and play with the dogs now.” Also has already proven super useful.

    (Can we please not with the “I would never have a smart thing because privacy” or whatever, and just assume people who do have smart things have considered those concerns and decided they’re comfortable with the risk level.)

    1. Deschain*

      Those are fabulous ideas! My husband and I use smart lights for our alarm “clock” and changing the bathroom light to a soft blue for relaxing showers. We just moved into an apartment that has smart locks, temperature control, sensors for water leaks, and some light functionality. Although it’s puzzling why the bedroom closet light is a smart light, but the not the bedroom light.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        If it were me, that would be because I can tell if the bedroom light is on before I go to bed and it’s not a problem to turn it off manually. But I never noticed that my husband left the closet light on until I had already gotten into bed and THEN saw that there’s light glowing around the doorframe (because the closet is behind me when I go from the regular light switch to the bed), so I had to get back up out of bed and go turn it off :) If he hadn’t gotten his own bedroom this spring, I’d have smartified the closet light for exactly that reason, haha.

        As it is I don’t have anything smart in my bedroom, mostly because I’m just never in there except to sleep. It’s all in the main/public parts of the house.

    2. o_gal*

      Another suggestion for getting in touch with your husband: try finding an app that will pop-up a notice on his screen when you send him a message.

      My son likes to game in his room, with headphones on, and I got tired of yelling up the stairs to tell him things, like that dinner was ready. He suggested that I get a Discord account, since he has it on all the time and gets the pop-up notifications. So I made an account and my account name is “MomsDinnerBell”. We now send memes and other stuff back and forth with it, but my most common message to him is “Ding”.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Nice! I do have Discord and it works when he’s at his computer, but he just got a new Star Wars game on his PlayStation :)

    3. Seahorse*

      This wasn’t deliberate, but I had to replace my water softener system, and the new one came with a Bluetooth connection and an app. It tells me when it’s getting low on salt, so I don’t have to venture into the creepy cellar to manually check on it. I can also see things like how many gallons of water we’ve used in the last 48 hours, which amuses me.

    4. DistantAudacity*

      I have the Ikea system, managing the lights and automated bedroom blinds.

      Very useful, especially for raising the blinds partway (time to get up!) and then fully up with all lights off later in the morning when I should have left anyways!

      Also for managing balcony lights and evening lights, and getting the blinds down again for sleep!

      That’s a very clever and use of coloured lights!

    5. Jay (no, the other one)*

      We have a Roomba that tells us when it needs to be empty and when it gets stuck. It also maps the rooms so we have programmed it to do the kitchen every night and the rest of the main floor three times a week. It makes the house seem much cleaner and I love it.

      We used to leave the back door to the garage unlocked. It opens into a gated area that used to be a dog run, and we live in an area with very little crime. Our daughter HATED that we did this and when she was home she would either lock that door or lock the door from the garage into the house. Since neither my husband nor I carry house keys (we have automatic garage door openers) that drove us nuts. We finally got smart locks for that door and the front door. They can be opened with a number combination and we can give people their own combo so we don’t need to share the main one with the cleaner or the painter. It also has a fingerprint detector and a proximity detector for the app so it will unlock when you approach with your phone.

      We also have a video doorbell that alerts when we have packages and (amusingly) when the neighborhood cat comes to call.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I LOVE my smart lock. Between it and my garage door (which is also smart and can be opened, closed, and status-checked from an app in addition to the regular openers) I haven’t carried a house key in something like 8 years. (But there is a key to the not-smart door between the garage and the house hidden in the garage just in case someone locks it.)

        I wish there was a way to smart-lock a sliding patio door — that’s the one I worry most about someone leaving it unlocked at night. If I won the lottery, one of the first house projects on my list is to replace it with a pair of French doors that I can install a smart lock on. :P

    6. Ella Kate (UK)*

      I’m disabled and let me tell you my smart washer dryer pinging its app to tell me when it’s done (or how long is left) has been amazing in helping me conserve my own energy – not having to get up constantly to check if it’s done (it lives in its own cupboard and the beeps cannot be heard over the TV) REALLY made a difference.

    7. Starry Starry Night*

      That’s a brilliant idea! The one thing at my place that I’m really happy with are the smart thermostats we installed. If nobody is home for a while, this system (we use Tado, I’m sure there are a bunch of others) lets the place cool down but still keeps it in a range that means no risk of mold, no pipes freezing etc. Then on the day I’m coming back, a few hours ahead, I can turn on the heat again via the app and come home to a cosy flat.

      It also automatically turns off the heating if it detects an open window, which has helped save on energy costs. And the app shows not just the temperature but also the humidity in each room, which I find has been a good reminder for when to open the window on my WFH days.

  21. Bobina*

    Gardening Thread – havent had one of these for a while. How are your green things doing?

    I am waiting for a load of manure and compost to be delivered which I am excited about. My seedlings are all coming along slowly (the cold spring is definitely taking its toll!). And even the echinacea seeds which I was ready to say were absolute duds seem to be coming up at last!

    I also got suckered into buying things because the one plant website I follow was having an end of season sale. I really told myself I would try and wait so I could plan my garden properly, but well…sometimes you just want some retail therapy apparently. And to be fair, these were all things I had eyed up a while ago as being possibly suitable…I was just going to do the sensible thing of waiting a year to see what the garden looks like before adding to it but *shrug*.

    The tulips eventually came up and looked good! I see now why they get sold in large volumes and why having a colour scheme is a thing (previous container gardening meant ordering more than 10 bulbs was too many!). Already contemplating what to do for next year.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I asked a while back about grafted trees — a couple weeks ago I had planted a 5-in-1 apple tree, with branches from honeycrisp, pink lady, jonagold, golden delicious and red mackintosh apples. I’m stoked, honeycrisp and pink lady are two of my favorites :) it’s about 3.5 feet tall so far, and I don’t think we’ll get any fruit on it this year, but it’s taking hold well and I’m hoping for a good outcome! We fenced it in with a bit of mostly-decorative garden fence – my woofapotamus (yearling Great Dane) has “sticks” (actually ex-trees) that she carries around my yard that are bigger than the sapling is so far, so we wanted a barrier to make sure she didn’t decide it was just another stick and uproot it.

      Because she did exactly that with the two blackberry bushes we planted :P Pulled ’em right up out of the ground when I wasn’t looking and merrily thrashed them to bits. The raspberry bushes and the baby maple are now also fenced in. :P

      My husband has potatoes planted in five gallon buckets (one bucket of regular potatoes, one of purple) and a tomato plant I just brought him yesterday – he hasn’t had great luck with tomatoes the last couple of years, we keep getting what looks like a good start, then the butt end of each tomato (opposite the stem) just basically rots on the vine before it finishes ripening. He says if he can’t get any usable tomatoes this year he’s giving up. I suggested maybe planting them in the ground instead of in pots, but between the rabbits and the veggie loving dogs, he thought that had its own hazards.

      1. Tara*

        Blossom end rot! That’s what it sounds like your tomatoes are experiencing. It’s not something horrible like blight or an invasion of pests, usually just inconsistent watering. And if it happens on one or some tomatoes on a plant, the rest aren’t doomed.

      2. Old Plant Woman*

        Your tomatoes have blossom end rot caused by calcium deficiency. Get a liquid calcium supplement and start dosing them right now. Also make sure they are watered regularly. Water stress interferes with calcium uptake. They should be just fine. Next year add a good bit of bone meal and lime to the potting mix. Best wishes. I love tomatoes.

        1. KatEnigma*

          Except tomatoes don’t like to be watered too much. I’ve read from multiple sources not to water them until the leaves start to curl- and then of course only via drip.

          Although, this year (Texas, so only about another month-ish left in the “summer” tomato season before everything dies from too much heat- 90 today) we are getting enough spread out rain and they love where we put our raised bed, that even the delicate and oh so picky (but DELICIOUS) Black Krim is the healthiest Black Krim we have ever grown, including in North Dakota where tomatoes soak up the LONG hot dry summer days and everything except the Krim grew and produced spectacularly. We normally have good luck with tomatoes, and they’ve always done best with less water than we expected them to. But yes, always need extra calcium.

          1. Old Plant Woman*

            Yeah I probably over water just about everything cause I love to play in the water when it’s hot. One year I was busy, not paying enough attention and all of a sudden my brandy wines were as big as grapefruits and all green. Dumped a bunch of finish fertilizer and quit watering. Forty pounds fragile tomatoes ripe all at once. Food bank loves me

        1. KatEnigma*

          Ground up cleaned egg shells in the soil will increase your calcium. We’ve done this successfully.

      3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I found more blackberry bushes, and thornless ones to boot! These two are much farther along and do not look like plain sticks sticking out of the ground, plus we’re going to fence them in, so hopefully they will be safe from the woofapotamus. :)

      4. allathian*

        Rabbits ate all of our crocuses, boohoo! Thankfully the Easter lilies and tulips are either blooming or starting to bud. Love the little leaves all over. We’re going to plant some potatoes in boxes next week.

      5. Chauncy Gardener*

        We’re doing potatoes in a big barrel, several smaller containers and in the ground. It’s a big experiment! We’re trying the methodology of adding more and more soil to the containers as they grow up. They’re all russets.
        Fingers crossed!

    2. Sloanicota*

      I’m watching my … one … bud on my peony with bated breath. my other one is small and unflowering again. Just not having much luck with peonies in my current house; my spots are either too hot or too shady, I think. We’re past tulips here in the Midatlantic.

    3. fposte*

      We’re on the verge of peony blossom, and my quince-killing project continues apace. (It has grown under the concrete path and is attempting to take over two garden beds.) Things also finally bloomed in the weed tree corner where I needed to differentiate Japanese honeysuckle from lilac bush, and holy crap the Japanese honeysuckle is *huge*. I may bail and get somebody else to do it but I can at least make enough of a start so that it’s clear which one isn’t the lilac. We had an alarmingly dry April so digging is not great (we’re very clayey around here), but there’s another weed tree section filled with Rose of Sharon that needs to get attacked when the ground’s a little softer.

    4. Anon. Scientist*

      Have lovely weather in northern New England and I spent all morning yanking weeds and breaking down the manageable pieces of a tree that fell this winter. I need help with the unmanageable parts of the trees and my shrubs – a few are invasive and others are in the wrong space, like my leach field, but nobody will respond to inquiries. Frustrating because this is actually a big job that I’m willing to pay well for.

    5. Callie*

      I’m a little behind due to being busy with non-garden stuff. But my seed starts look great and I hopefully will transplant them next weekend. We got a drip system last year which I need to set up again. This year our investment is netting to prevent birds from getting our cherries and strawberries.
      Last year cucumber beetles took over two of our raised beds. I would imagine they’ve gotten to all of our beds now. I don’t think we’ll plant cucumbers in a bed this year, so we need to figure out if we can find another place to plant them so I can keep up with my family’s cucumber and pickle consumption.
      We planted a sensory garden last year for my daughter and the plants are coming back (despite my dogs best efforts to dig it up). Looking forward to adding to it this year.

    6. StuntAppleBreeder*

      I gave all the shrubs and bushes a long-overdue pruning, so now it looks like we live here :D

      The mulch (clearly put down by owners previous to the ones who sold us the house) was nearly rotted away and mice had burrowed under the landscape fabric. I spent a few days cleaning up around the foundation of the house, planting the now-budding tulips and alliums I didn’t get in the ground last fall, and laying down fresh pine bark mulch. I have 3 Itoh peonies and sedum left to plant to fill in the empty spots where I tore out dead rosebushes.

      I have never had much luck with roses. What should I do with the three that survived the last homeowners? They are nearly as tall as I am but have leaves starting on maybe half of the old growth. Honestly, they look awful. It looks like they get plenty of water from the sprinkler system. They aren’t spaced evenly and have a big gap between two of them. I have some leftover tulip sprouting in peat pots. Will be they be OK planted around the bases of the roses? I’ll lay down some composted manure and pine bark to cover the bed after I dig all the dandelions and thistles out.

      1. Old Plant Woman*

        You are going to really hate those roses if you don’t get them under control. Do you like roses enough to put some effort into learning more about pruning and caring for them? They’re pretty high maintenance, and will never be beautiful if you don’t do it right. If you’re just not feeling it, save yourself the pain and just take them out now. I’m done with them myself, for right now anyway.

        1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

          Thanks for the advice. Roses, I can take them or leave them. These seem to be landscape roses, and are very popular in this town.

          I prefer irises and bleeding hearts but this lot is much drier than my last place. The evergreen shrubs and yarrow are thriving. Everywhere else is bare dirt. I plan on installing a soaker hose in one of the beds to encourage some plant life there.

          1. JSPA*

            sign, “free rose bushes, you dig”?

            Roses that are not grafted you can just cut way back and see if they come back better. But if you don’t know if they’re grafted… maybe make it someone else’s headache, if they’re willing?

            1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

              “…make it someone else’s headache…”

              That is very tempting!

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        If you want: You can cut those roses way down to about six inches from the ground. Try to cut above a little “node” (a bump that looks like a leaf could come out of it). Give them some rose fertilizer and see how they do?
        I agree with Old Plant Woman (because I’m also an old plant woman!;) ), if you’re just not that into them, dig them up and get something you won’t mind taking care of

    7. missb*

      We’ve had a lot of rain this spring, and things have been a bit delayed. Our camellia hedge is in full, glorious bloom. It goes along our curve for about 150′ and we keep it to about 9 feet tall. It provides a screen from the road and it is absolutely gorgeous in bloom. Of course I have to go out and sweep the spent flowers off our walkway, but totally worth it.

      We have landscaping plans for the back and side yard. I could only afford to plant the side yard this year, but I’ve been buying plants all spring for it. I finally have the plants in and dh and I have spent the morning shoveling a yard of mulch to finish off that perennial bed. It’s all filled with (supposedly) low maintenance plants so that we don’t have to do as much yard work in retirement.

      I have about 50 tomato/pepper/eggplant starts in half gallon containers on my covered porch. I have a few more than that in my living room in the south facing big window. I’d love to get them planted but there is no way – it’ll warm up late next week so it is likely I’ll start planting a week from tomorrow. I have to put some plastic up on the hoops today and tuck all of the ones on the porch in there because it is dropping down to the mid-40s. They’d probably do fine on the porch but I don’t want to lose them at this point.

      I have FIGS! I planted the fig tree probably 5 years ago or so. The deer hit it heavily the first year, and then we fenced the yard. We had a late freeze last year that probably kept it from budding out. But I finally have figs! yay! And our plum tree – which is quite mature but may not survive the move when we do the grading of the back yard this fall – is full of hundreds of blooms. Last year, because of the freeze, we only got about a dozen plums, which was super unusual but a late freeze does have consequences.

      And, I have Hood strawberry blooms! I’m using a Greenstalk garden tower for them, and this is their second year. I went out there a few days ago – I need to top off each little pocket with a bit more soil/worm castings/compost – and found a little birds nest in a pocket with 4 tiny eggs in it. It explains why I’ve seen the parents flying around whenever we walk by to get the mail. This morning dh and I took the top two levels off and moved their level up one so that it’s out of reach of our cat. She doesn’t go out much, but it’s just off the porch where she hangs out and I’d feel really bad if she managed to get baby birds. Of course it’s open to flying predators but not much I can do.

      I’m going to harvest my rhubarb tomorrow and make a rhubarb syrup for mixed drinks. I don’t love strawberry-rhubarb jam or crisp, but I can do rhubarb syrup. Yum.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Oh my gosh, I make rhubarb syrup too! Nothing like a rhubarb margarita!!

        1. Starry Starry Night*

          Do you have a recipe for rhubarb syrup that you like and could share? The past two years, I’ve been making rhubarb gin (https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/rhubarb-gin), which is a soft rose colour and delicious, but we are still drinking last year’s, so I’d love to try something new this time round.

    8. JSPA*

      I should have gotten serious about de-snailing a month ago. I’m way behind the curve; now there are millions of tiny snails (shells less than 1/8 inch, but voracious and growing fast). Situated too close to natural areas and bodies of water to use copper-based treatments. So I’m picking them off by the quart, pouring boiling water over, and contemplating my tanking karma. It’s sticky, slimy and gross, and I hate having to include the graceful, mid-size, delicate “teenager” snails. But nothing else is stopping them. They crawl right over the diatomacious earth to eat stuff sprayed with macerated brewed nettles. Actually, the worst is the slugs. I scrape them up with my fingernails and flick or fling them into the pot.

      On the happy side, the new goldfish are acclimating well to the additional rain barrels, and those now-open rain barrels seem to draw the vast majority of the mosquitoes that otherwise would be finding every saucer, concave rock and mudpuddle to lay eggs in.

    9. Rosyglasses*

      We are in a new rental that has a ton of space and it’s been fun to see what is coming up and already planted. Weeded about half the front landscaped area, and just planted our garden boxes in the back with some starts. Planning on planting seeds for flowers this afternoon as well.

      I’m like you – I keep buying packets of flower seeds from Floret Flowers (they have such gorgeous flowers) ignoring my terrible fail rate with planting from seeds :)

      The colder snap we’ve had in the PacNW means that my starts that I had going mostly failed either from hardening off too quick or being trapped in seed trays too long, but I hope to have SOME flowers make it, and at least my peppers and tomato starts look strong and healthy!

  22. Loopy*

    I love your lightbulb idea!

    We have lived using the detect breaking glass feature on Alexa for when we are away on a trip. I’m aware it’s probably a very basic version and we supplement that but it’s nice to have it on. I’ve also tried Alexa’s shopping list feature but have found some things I didn’t like about it.

    Will be reading along for other cool ideas. We got an Alexa (that’s not the actual name of the device is it?) as a gift years ago and we don’t use it enough! We have one smart bulb and I ask it the weather :P

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I pretty much only use the Alexas to schedule/voice-control everything else :) Almost all our smart stuff is in the Kasa family so it’s all in one app, barring the smart-lock that’s tied into the actual alarm system and the thermostat that’s on its own.

      I pretty much only got the smart thermostat to begin with because my husband used to crank it way way down when I wasn’t looking and leave it there, so after he went to work the thermostat was still set at something excessive like 65 and I was shivering with a space heater on because I didn’t realize it wasn’t at 72 anymore. So I got the smart one, set it to range mode so it always stays within a certain temperature range (68-75), and told him if he ever touched it again I was gonna put a PIN on it and lock him out :P

      … typing that, I’m concluding that actually a lot of the things I smart my house for are to make up for my husband’s executive dysfunction. Heh. (That’s also why he spends a lot of time in the basement — it’s 5-8 degrees cooler down there than upstairs.)

  23. Fit Farmer*

    Last week I asked about what volunteer pursuits people could come up with related to solving technical problems under time pressure, and got some great suggestions I wouldn’t have thought of. Thanks to those who responded!

    Each of us probably has domains/jobs/industries/pursuits that are interesting to us, but not as a career. It occurred to me that a related question is: what are ways that someone can volunteer at a serious level to fill a full-scale role that some people do as a career?

    For example, for construction work, there is Habitat for Humanity. For emergency work, there is volunteer EMS, firefighter, search and rescue, including search dogs and planes and everything professionals do. There are sound engineers, and theater tech—full-scale jobs at a certain level, but which volunteers can do in a community arts setting. Immigration or housing advocates do law-adjacent volunteer work. Some people interested in weather have weather stations that upload to weather forecasting websites that I use for farming.

    Can you add to this list? I’m sure there’s something for everyone, and routes to getting involved in things that none of us would have known of.

    1. Bobina*

      Extremely niche, but motorsports! I know F1 relies a lot on volunteers to support their races (many of the track support roles are volunteers) and I wouldnt be surprised if this was the same for other types of motorsports.

      Actually I probably should have removed the motor- qualifier, many sports/clubs at amateur level (at least in the UK) are run by volunteers, and that would include admin/practical running aspects, as well as things like being an official (eg rugby referee, start as a volunteer and you could work your way up to doing it as a profession!).

      And most of the time the path into it is just: find your local sports thing, show up (regularly ideally) and then say you want to volunteer. Most clubs I know would be extremely happy!

      1. Sloanicota*

        True! Almost every sport has refs, and there’s volunteers at the stables near me, which could help someone live dream-adjacent to a past goal of being a professional athlete. I also know a lot of people who volunteered at the Olympics last time they were in my city, and that led them to continue high-level volunteering in that activity.

    2. Tib*

      I volunteered for several years as a tax preparer with VITA. They provide free tax preparation assistance for people who earn under an income threshold and a few other limitations. I’m fully trained and certified for returns within the program’s scope. The people who volunteer for this are the finest bunch of number nerds I’ve ever met and work hard to help the clients we work with. I wouldn’t want to prepare taxes full time but it’s a very rewarding volunteer job.

      1. fposte*

        What’s the schedule like on that? I’ve thought about signing up but need to think about commitment level.

        1. Tib*

          We would start training in mid to late November, take the tests in mid-January, and start seeing clients the last week of January until tax day. Training was usually one day a week for a couple hours and I’d spend an additional 1-2 hours a week studying. The materials and exam doesn’t change much year to year (although 2018 was a lot) so it’s mostly review after that first year. Once you’ve been certified, it’s just working as many shifts as you want. I’m in a rural area so we had several locations, each open one day a week for 5-7 hours. I worked a 4-hour shift once a week and prepared about 3 returns a shift. All returns are reviewed by fellow preparers so you don’t have to worry about mistakes. Some places you can work remotely, but I found that took longer because you have to schedule time to talk with clients and everyone on the team is working on their own schedule. I didn’t like the unexpected interruptions in my day and prefer on-site where everyone is available at the same time.

        2. just another queer reader*

          The VITA org in my town asks volunteers to work one 4-hour shift a week, from late January to mid April. If you are unavailable for one of your regular shifts, you can pick up a substitute shift another time.

          I’ve found it to be a very good volunteer gig: the org trains and treats volunteers well; it’s a good group of people (both fellow volunteers and clients); and the regularity (yet flexibility) works well with my life.

    3. Sloanicota*

      There’s a lot of what used to be called “citizen science” (but now I prefer to use “community science”) initiatives that are really cool. In my area, watershed groups need residents to take water samples on a schedule and oversee other volunteers, as well as the other natural science ones like the Audubon bird counts, ebird, and I think iNaturalist. I would not enjoy being a professional scientist but I like to do it on weekends.

    4. SBT*

      I’ve volunteered with CASA for years, and it’s not really full-time (unless you take on several cases at once, which some people do), but is still very time-intensive and a longer commitment. CASA stands for Court-Appointed Special Advocate and you’re appointed by a judge in court cases involving children and juveniles who have come into the custody of child protective services (or whatever your local office is called). Your job is to represent the best interests of the child and advocate for their needs. Each month, you’re responsible for visiting the child, keeping up with parents, talking to therapists/teachers/others involved in the case, and then testify in court and make recommendations to the judge.

      It does require something like 30-40 hours of training, and an application/interview process. At times, it can be emotionally draining – you’re seeing the worst in people (and also sometimes the best) and walking alongside a child or children through the worst experience of their life. But it’s also incredibly rewarding. I’ve had cases before where I know without my involvement, the kids wouldn’t have been ok.

    5. Texan in exile on her phone*

      I have volunteered doing marketing and communications (including website design and fundraising copy and campaigns) for political campaigns and small non-profits. It’s so much more fun to do it for a cause than for money.

    6. Please don’t*

      When you volunteer to do something like sound engineering in theatre for free you are contributing to the attitude that theatre professionals should work for the love of the art, and not expect to be paid enough to support themselves.

      1. RagingADHD*

        One could also make the argument that having small community theaters that don’t pay anyone are a social benefit. If it’s a business that pays some people and not others, that’s one thing. If it’s a community joint project where there are no professionals and no means to support them, that’s another.

    7. just another queer reader*

      – sports: refereeing, coaching, and all kinds of roles to support rec leagues, both kids and adults
      – books: your independent library or book donation nonprofit (for example, Books to Prisoners program) could use a volunteer librarian
      – finance: most small nonprofits could use a finance chair on the board
      – cooking: lots of ways to serve others in the community by cooking

      Also, Community Education is a way to do a little teaching on the side. You could teach a class on anything from art to foreign languages to fitness to putting on a musical.

    8. Once too often*

      Oh, Missouri has some great options! Did you know they have both a Dept of Environmental Conservation *and* a Dept of Natural Resources?

      Their Master Naturalist program is chapter based, sponsored by the Dept of Natural Resources & University Extension. We did all sorts of things as DNR projects came up. Staff got to know us & would reach out for help.

      Missouri Stream Team is also terrific, & I had a blast doing water quality work. We also helped with an elementary school project; we got a small stream-fed pond started in their property. Teachers had them send us thank you post cards of images the kids made of their pond/critters. Kids did presentations at local fairs. Science classes were outside doing observations. Etc. So cool!
      They also have a fab online library. I refer folks to it often. There are teachers who go thru the training & take their students out to do monitoring. And staff are really good at helping pair newbies up with more experienced monitors.

      Missouri River Relief is a mostly volunteer organization that also does fun stuff with volunteers, & has a strong focus on getting kids out & on the River.

      Not exactly volunteering (tho one can volunteer to help) is the Missouri River 340 race for people powered craft. From Kansas City to St Charles (suburban St Louis) on the weekend of the August full moon. It’s wild. There’s a film about it, don’t remember its name.

      I miss how easy it was to jump in in useful ways, learn a lot, & become an increasingly useful volunteer. A really smart investment by the State for a substantial return. Nothing anywhere close to these programs where I am in the northeast.

  24. Other Alice*

    Does anyone have any recs for escape the room or mystery style board games? Me and my partner have played a lot, our favourites are Unlock, Exit, and Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective. I’m now looking for more we can play together. I’ve looked also at mystery subscription boxes like Curious Correspondence but I don’t know if shipping to the EU would incur in customs fees and haven’t been able to find anything similar in the EU. We like a good mix of puzzles and story.

    1. beep beep*

      There’s a board game I played as a kid called Jewels in the Attic. It’s intended for fairly young players, but I think the whimsy of it is still fun. It is intended to be played in a house with several rooms, too, if that’s a restriction for some. Might be worth giving a try if you can find a copy!

    2. Don'tbeadork*

      Have you tried Detective: City of Angels? It would need one of you to be the GM while the other plays the gumshoe, but is pretty fun. They have additional cases as expansions, too.

      1. Other Alice*

        I have, it’s quite good! We don’t like to play it at 2p though because we prefer to work together solving the puzzle. I got the expansion (forgot the name) but hoping to play it with friends at some point.

    3. Jessica*

      Maybe you’d like Burgle Bros.? It’s a cooperative game with a crime-caper theme.

  25. Hot Water Bottle*

    Anyone else dislike novelty songs?

    I dont care how “clever” they are. I’m talking about stuff like “Hello Muddah Hello Faddah”, “Alice’s Restaurant”, etc.

    Some people think songs like this are -so very precious- and need to be repeated over and over (especially to a captive audience). And the songs are usually LONG with many verses. I always go “YES YES I GET IT now please stop” midway through the first verse.

    1. GoryDetails*

      Well… anything that gets repeated too often can irk me, novelty-song or not. But I am still fond of “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah” – not that I hear it very often these days, but I think of the story-arc fondly!

    2. fposte*

      Heh. Sorry, I’m the opposite–I like novelty songs more than most people. I can pass on “Hello Muddah” but I love Allen Sherman in general and will bust out “Don’t Buy the Liverwurst” at random moments. Also love Tom Lehrer.

      1. Hot Water Bottle*

        How about the Christopher Guest movie soundtracks (Mighty Wind, Spinal Tap)? I think those might stand on their own as good songs which are also humorous.

        1. GoryDetails*

          Oh, I love the Christopher Guest soundtracks – especially “Mighty Wind,” which did a very good job of “parody” plus “loving nod” to the different folk-music styles.

          Also love “Walk Hard: the Dewey Cox Story,” which parodies as many of the popular-music fads and styles as it could squeeze in, plus riffing on celebrity bio-pics in general. (The title song is one I like enough to listen to repeatedly and often; some of the others, not quite so much!)

    3. jasmine tea*

      I’m currently avoiding every classic rock and easy listening radio station because they are playing Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald non-stop due to Gordon Lightfoot’s death. I’ve had nothing but metal on for the entire week.

      1. fposte*

        Paul and Storm have a novelty song parody of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, so that could be a thread twofer. (It’s about the fate of a urinal cake.)

      2. Hot Water Bottle*

        The ironic thing is that Edmund Fitzgerald is not close to the best G. Lightfoot song. It’s not even his best “sea” song. Ghosts of Cape Horn is much better.

        1. fposte*

          I first heard that as music in a Nova doc about the Northwest Passage (along with Stan Rogers’ Northwest Passage, of course). Great song.

      3. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        I visited a shipwreck museum in Upper Michigan several years ago, and they had Edmund Fitzgerald on a non-stop loop. I went from liking it to screaming loathing within an hour.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t really have an opinion on them until someone posts something that results in the only line I know of Hello Muddah repeating itself in my head for hours. :)

    5. RagingADHD*

      I am wondering in what context you hear them often enough to be so annoyed?

      The last time I heard Hello Muddah was when it was a commercial jingle for fabric softener. So what, 20 years ago or more? And it’s probably ten ot 12 years since I encountered Alice’s Restaurant, and that was just clips in a radio feature about Arlo Guthrie.

      Do you feel the same about Wierd Al? I hear more of his stuff, particularly with the Hulu show coming out not that long ago.

      1. Hot Water Bottle*

        I may have a weird set of friends / family / coworkers, but they are very easily reminded of songs like this and often spout them off to prove a point (or just in a Tourette’s syndrome manner LOL), or bring them up on YouTube for spontaneous entertainment. Monty Python is another one. I guess I haven’t heard Weird Al as much in this context, maybe because he’s more known for his parodies than orginal songs.

      2. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        For me, it’s the fact that the song has a laugh track but I personally don’t find the song funny. I don’t like to be told by “the man” when I should laugh. I can’t tolerate most sitcoms for the same reason.

        1. STAT!*

          Probably doesn’t like “Backdoor Santa” either. Though maybe the humour with that one is just my dirty mind …

      1. Jill Swinburne*

        I agree. Snoopy’s Christmas is weirdly popular here and I despise it.

    6. Seashell*

      I recently heard “Pac Man Fever” on the Sirius 80’s channel, and it brought a sentimental smile to my face.

      1. Anonymous cat*

        I love PacMan Fever!
        I know they had a follow-up song about Donkey Kong but no one ever plays that!

    7. Chaordic One*

      Well, no. I can certainly understand how they would grate upon repeated hearings, but they mostly bring a smile to my face. Being of a certain age, I can honestly say that I actually miss “Doctor Demento.”

      1. Elizabeth West*

        My late friend Kathy was a HUGE Doctor Demento fan. She made me a tape of the Star Trek comedy album and I still have it even though I don’t have anything to play it on anymore.

        It’s here if anyone wants to hear it. Pretty funny stuff, even though it’s old.

    8. *daha**

      Oh man. Serious dislike here. Like, serious. And you know what else I dislike?

      I don’t like spiders and snakes.

      And that ain’t what it takes to love me, like I want to be loved by you.

    9. OyHiOh*

      To me, novelty songs are more along the lines of Lollipop – sugary pop/rock songs with absolutely no content and yet strangely catchy. I can’t stand those songs at all.

      Alice’s Restaurant, Edmund Fitzgerald, and similar, are written more in the centuries old style of ballads – meant to tell a story, meant to be easy for a wandering story teller to learn, and good entertainment at the next banquet. Some of these I like (Alice’s Restaurant) and others I cannot stand (Ballad of the the Edmund Fitzgerald). Funny story about Alice’s Restaurant: The song is roughly my father’s generation, and my father was the sort of college student who had a plan for running away to Canada should his number come up in the draft. He also imagines me to be a person who only ever listens to classical orchestral music. So the day a couple years ago when I quoted that song (“circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back . . . “) his eyeballs just about fell out of his head. XD

      Hello Muddah falls kinda in between campy pop and campy ballad and I’m thoroughly in the cannot deal with it group on that one. There’s a political satire version by the Capitol Steps (that they did back in the late 80’s/early 90’s) that’s amazingly funny, and much shorter.

    10. Hiring Mgr*

      I can listen to William Shatner sing Mr Tambourine Man and Lucy in the Sky all day long

    11. The Shenanigans*

      Depends on the song for me. Yeah, a lot of filk/novelty is bad…but then a lot of any genre of music is bad. It can be legitimately annoying to be in groups that just play the bad ones over and over. I guess I’m fortunate because I have heard a lot of good, clever ones. But it’s totally fine if you always find these songs annoying. Then it becomes a question of “Can I live with this annoyance quietly and politely because I like XYZ other things?”.

  26. DanaScully*


    My fiancée and I (UK) hope to marry next year and for our honeymoon we have decided on a west-east US road trip (hopefully over four weeks in September), likely beginning in San Francisco and ending in Orlando.

    We are likely to hit Vegas, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Dallas, New Orleans, Mobile, Tallahassee, Jacksonville then along the coast down to Orlando.

    We would love to hear your advice, must see places, experiences, attractions, local cuisines we must try etc along this route.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Ranon*

      Stop at every national park along your route, they’re always worth it.

      Honestly I’d go more north, hit the Rockies, the Ozarks, as that gets you more variety in scenery, but if you’re going the south route at least hit the Grand Canyon and make sure you’re good on gas and water through New Mexico and West Texas

      1. Spearmint*

        Yeah I second the recommendation to stay more north initially. You won’t regret going through Utah and Colorado.

    2. Not A Manager*

      If you’re in Phoenix, make time for Taliesin West. Even people who don’t care much for architecture are pretty wowed by it. You need to reserve in advance, but usually not that much in advance.

    3. Dear liza dear liza*

      Definitely add The Grand Canyon. Phoenix is just urban sprawl, I’d choose Sedona or some other southwestern parks. Consider swapping Albuquerque for Santa Fe.

      The southwest has so many eye-meltingly unique places (Zion NP, Antelope Valley, Petrified Forest, etc) that I’d focus on sites rather than cities. You on’t have to be hikers- a lot of things you can drive through, or pull over for a view.

      Sounds like a great trip!

      1. Pippa K*

        Seconding the Santa Fe suggestion instead of Albuquerque. And New Mexico has great food – not just chile-related, but the chile dishes are great!

        1. TheRoadsSetThePath*

          the actual west to east drive will naturally take you through Albuquerque – if you want you can switch off to N/S and go out of the way to Santa Fe – but if the idea is to follow the interstate from W to E then you’re going through Albuquerque.

          Obviously, taking side trips to see other places may be perfectly acceptable, in which case I agree Santa Fe is a perfectly nice place to visit.

      2. WellRed*

        I agree, with few exceptions, most of those cities are quite generic. If you have a specific reason for choosing those, great! If not, I’d consider swapping Dallas for San Antonio or Austin, Phoenix for the Grand Canyon, etc. New Orleans however, is a must!

        1. RussianInTexas*

          Tucson has the old west movie studio that has old west shows and things.
          It’s cheesy but also fun, or can be for someone traveling from Europe.

        2. Bob-White of the Glen*

          Agreed. Skip Phoenix, skip Dallas, see the Grand Canyon and San Antonio or Austin instead. Hope you have a great trip!

      3. Tie Dyed*

        I found the petrified forest itself to be fairly meh. It was kinda cool, but also mostly funny rocks. The badlands in the same park, on the other hand, were one of the most astonishingly alien places I’ve ever been. Small dusky purple hills with tops of chalk white against the blue blue sky. Highly recommend.

        We also camped at Homolovi state park in AZ.
        The historic sight was mostly sad signs about how treasure hunters messed it up by digging holes all over the place. Excellent bathrooms though. Chaco canyon in NM had amazing hiking and awesome buildings that are still mostly standing in spots. It’s kind of out of the way though.

      4. OBMS*

        If you like nature, I have to agree with skipping cities and doing national parks. The scenery in the southwest US is like nothing you have seen in UK. Grand Canyon, Arches, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Great Sand Dunes, just to name a few. You can camp or some if the parks have cabins to rent. And September is an ideal time to visit.

      5. California Dreamin’*

        I was also going to suggest definitely swapping Sedona for Phoenix and Santa Fe for Albuquerque. I would also swap Austin for Dallas if you can.

      6. Neurodivergent in Germany*

        European here who did the first leg of that trip a few years back, from San Francisco to Santa Fe.
        Seconding Grand Canyon – we really don’t have that in Europe, it’s mighty impressive.
        And Santa Fe is really pretty and artsy, though it has a bit of a film set feel in the center of town.
        Be aware that inland California is lots of boring agricultural areas in the San Joaquin valley, then real desert.
        Have fun and say hi to San Francisco for me

      7. Chauncy Gardener*

        Agree. And Albuquerque is pretty sketchy in places. Santa Fe is better.
        But go north if you can. Not that the southwest isn’t STUNNING. But somehow you ‘get’ the vastness of the US by driving through that north route (I-80?). It is just a darn huge country!

    4. Invisible fish*

      Dallas is more famous, but its sister city Fort Worth has the amazing art museums (Amon Carter, Kimble) because of the oil money in that area.

    5. Big Bend National Park is Awesome*

      Note: put together a hardcore cat kit for your rental. The route you are mentioning is well travelled, but parts of it are DESOLATE. Like, you as UK people have NEVER seen that kind of landscape and BELIEVE your GPS when it says it is 100+ miles to the next service station.

      You REALLY want to make sure you have more water than you need, shelf-stable snacks, power bricks for devices, extra sun block, a couple blankets, and check w your rental service for roadside assistance options AND make sure your rental has a tire swap/repair kit and extra tire. Look up some preparedness articles and PLEASE don’t brush the advice off.

      1. WellRed*

        And don’t count on being able to use cell phones for to look things up. I imagine there’s more than a few dead spots.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          Yes, download the maps to your devices so you don’t need cell phone connections.
          Full up on gas frequently.

          1. Ranon*

            I’m a fan of an old fashioned road atlas- better mapping of rest stops and other stuff that’s really useful to know on a road trip

            1. WoodswomanWrites*

              I second this. Paper maps avoid the lack of GPS connectivity, and they will avoid the risk of GPS sending you down a weird dirt road that leads to nowhere. It will quite hot in the Southwest in September, and you don’t want to get stranded in the middle of nowhere.

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        In addition, be sure you know how to tell what kind of road you’re on, and give yourself permission to turn around if you get the vibe that the road is getting much worse than you expected and you’re not seeing other cars.

        In the American west, we have lots of abandoned and seasonal roads that tourists should not be going on, but which people from places where all roads go somewhere don’t realize what they’re getting into. This is how tragic stories happen, although it’s better than it used to be (I think maybe the GPS companies have gotten better about not routing people onto forest service roads in the middle of winter, which used to lead to people getting stuck and dying in the snow).

        Obviously, stay off of unpaved roads (your rental contract will almost certainly include a rule about this), but also just generally be a little cautious about anything that isn’t a freeway and do your research in advance about roads if you think you’ve found a lovely backroad route for part of your trip. There are lots of lovely backroads, and September is a pretty safe time for most of them, but there are also plenty of abandoned mining roads in the Nevada desert that don’t really go any place any more, and other such things to avoid.

        Some of our non-freeway highways also have very few services, and if you’re working from old maps you’ll want to double-check that the highway is still part of the highway system and maintained.

        I did a rural Nevada trip mostly on highways rather than freeways last summer and had a great time, but we definitely got gas every opportunity and kept several days worth of water for both of us in the car, as well as left an itinerary with someone not going and checked in with them each night after we arrived at that night’s hotel. That may be overkill, but I am just not a fan of being stuck in the desert without someone knowing where to look for me.

        If you want to wander around a National Forest or other federal recreation area that isn’t a highly-traveled route in a National Park, rangers are your friends! Stop at the ranger station and talk to them about the hikes that you’re thinking of going on or the backroads you’re thinking of driving, and let them reality-check your plans against their knowledge of those trails or roads. They’ll know about up-to-the-minute closures for things like fires (September is fire season out west) or landslides, and they would prefer not to send search parties out for lost tourists so will help steer you to hikes suited to your ability level and equipment if you ask them nicely. This goes at least double if you want to go in a cave or up a mountain.

      3. Anono-me*

        BBNPA is 100% correct on being prepared to take care of yourself in remote areas.

        Please make sure your ‘flat tire repair kit’ is an actual spare tire and not a can of fix a flat and that you know how to change your tire. Roadside assistance can take hours.

        I try never to let my gas guage fall below 1/2 as you never know if the next gas station will be open (Most places have pay at the pump, but not all.) or if some other issue occur.

        I mostly drive in areas farther north and fifo to destinations to the south. But I would suggest considering Mendocino CA which is only a couple of hours north of San Francisco and beautiful drive. The Redwoods are awe inspiring and the coast is beautiful.

        Congratulations and have a great time.

    6. RussianInTexas*

      Taos is not far from Santa Fe, and both are much more interesting than Albuquerque.
      If you have time, you can make a detour to Los Alamos, the nuclear museum is fascinating.
      The White Sands National Monument by Alamogordo is great too, and the White Sands Missile Range has a great museum about the US nuclear program. But this is much to the south and may take too much time.

    7. RussianInTexas*

      Also, Valley of Fire state park is only about 40 minutes drive from Las Vegas but we’ll worth it.
      It might be way too hot to hike it in September, in fact the trails might be closed due to heat danger, but even the drive through and some observation points are magical.

    8. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Get some travel insurance coverage for medical expenses and emergencies. Trip cancellation insurance, too: if you stay on this itinerary you’ll be arriving in New Orleans and Florida in the middle of the Atlantic hurricane season. You won’t get swept away in a hurricane, because you’ll have plenty of notice on the news if a hurricane is incoming, and you can just drive north and west to get away. But insurance will remove the cost disincentive to stay around in a potentially dangerous situation, and you’ll be able to change your hotel and flight plans if you need to.

    9. ronda*

      I did a similar trip a long time ago. the stand outs were
      Crater lake in Oregon. – north of where you are saying you want to start and might be closed for snow. they get lots of snow, but not sure when it starts. They had like 8 ft of snow in the shade when we went to in in June (but road were clear).
      Bryce Canyon – it was near several other national parks and I thought this one was prettiest. (Zion, Canyonlands etc are near by)
      Great Sand Dunes in Colorado. (also probably not on the route you are planning on but it was on ours)
      on a different trip:
      Meteor Crater – in arizona, close to the Interstate 40 if that is your route.

      I do enjoy going to a show in Las Vegas, usually there are lots to choose from. some great food too.

    10. Lady Not Waiting*

      Make sure your car’s air conditioner works, and works well. Even in October Florida can get scorching hot during the day, *especially* inside a car, and you can easily get heat exhaustion without even realizing it. It happened to me once. It seems like a mild day, but once you’re in the car for awhile, yikes.

      Pay very sharp attention on highways, you can easily zone out and miss exits because they’re so hypnotizing, especially in places like the desert or the everglades where the surrounding area looks exactly the same for a hundred miles or more.

      Oh, and make sure there’s room in your budget for all the toll roads!

        1. Velociraptor Attack*

          Ending in Orlando won’t get you close to the Everglades BUT beware bodies of brackish or fresh water outside of daytime.

    11. TravelAnon*

      If you are on Facebook, search any towns you may stay a few days in and find a local FB page. This happened in one local page I am on – the family was going to stay a week in our area, found the FB page and asked for recommendations. It ended up with some of the local members of the FB page meeting the family one night @ a restaurant for dinner and lots of new friends were made that trip.

    12. WoodswomanWrites*

      First, I concur with the comments people made about traveling in the West. Here are my suggestions for the San Francisco-Las Vegas leg of your trip in September.

      The shortest route is both the least interesting and potentially dangerous going through long remote areas of desert with temperatures in the range of 38 C (100 F). Instead, head northeast to Reno in Nevada. The route to get there goes through forests and mountains. Then head south on the famously scenic Highway 395 that runs in the valley next to the Sierra Nevada mountain range, providing great views of them for hours. It will be hot, but there will be towns along the way. Both Reno and Carson City in Nevada have plenty of lodging. Carson City is cheaper because it’s not a tourist town.

      Highway 395 then goes through California again and there are some interesting places to visit. You can check out the otherworldly Mono Lake, an area that’s been used for science fiction films to simulate other planets. The water is toxic to most living things but has its own unique plants and animals. Grab a meal in Lee Vining nearby at the Whoa Nellie Deli that’s attached to the gas station there. Further south, the towns of Mammoth Lakes or Bishop are places to stay, and potentially options in the smaller town of Lone Pine.

      Continuing on Highway 395, check outt Manzanar National Historic Site, where 10,000 Japanese Americans were imprisoned during World War II for no reason other than their ethnicity. While that’s a heavy subject, the site with its visitor center is fascinating, and preserves and honors the history of those who lived there.

      If you want to see the oldest living trees in the world, outside the town of Big Pine you can head up for a day trip to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in Inyo National Forest. This ancient forest is incredible and you’ll have big views across California. It’s at 3,350 meters elevation (11,000 feet) so you may feel the effects of altitude, but since you’ll be heading down the same day, it shouldn’t be too bad. You need some warm layers.

      While the shortest route to Las Vegas from there is through Death Valley National Park, there’s a reason it got that name. Resist the temptation to cross it. With temperatures of 43 C (110 F), it’s too hot to do anything there and you risk your car overheating and being stuck. Instead, keep going south on 395 to the town of Barstow before heading east to Las Vegas.

      Finally, if you want more info about visiting Manzanar or the Ancient Bristlecone Forest, you can see posts about visiting them on my blog that’s the same as my user name. Have a great trip, where you end up going!

    13. Manders*

      If you can add Lake Tahoe to your itinerary, I would. It’s absolutely beautiful.

    14. Anono-me*

      Just a reminder; in the USA, do not approach law enforcement unless instructed.

      If being pulled over while driving, I pull over as soon as it is safe to do so. Then I turn off the vehicle and remain in the car . I shut off the vehicle, put my license and reg on the dash then roll down the window and place both hands on the door so that they are visible to the officer. I also ask everyone in the vehicle to do the same. (There is usually a few minutes lag while the officer finishes running your plates and reading the information. )

      The officer will usually ask if you know why they pulled you over. This is not a good time to joke. Apparently people volunteer all sorts of crimes. I says something like ‘ I’m sure that you had a good reason. ‘

      I try never to make any sudden movement and to keep my hands visible 100% of the time. I ask before reaching for my license and registration.

      Please note, some of this is over what many people who are not visible minorities in high tension areas do. If you want more information about this, many civil liberties groups and police associations websites have more detailed information.

    15. DanaScully*

      Hey, thank you all *so* much for your responses. I’ve taken screenshots and my fiancée and I will go through them all with a fine tooth comb!

      We are likely to take the consensus advice about heading further north and hitting some of the beautiful national parks and locations you’ve recommended.

      The advice about ensuring adequate supplies, a spare tyre, AC, law enforcement etc are duly noted and much appreciated! :)

      I will post here again closer to the time with a firmer itinerary to see if you have any specific recommendations on cities/towns we’ll pass through.

      Thank you for taking the time out of your day to help us to hopefully make our honeymoon really special!

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Thought of one more thing: California has fruit checkpoints at their borders, and there can be issues with bringing in out-of-state fruit in some cases. This probably won’t impact you since you’re starting in CA rather than ending there, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re buying a big sack of fruit for road trip car snacks since sometimes you have to throw things out before entering the state. (The inspector at the station we went through last summer let us keep our fruit because we weren’t going into the growing region for that fruit and just driving through part of northern CA on our way from NV to OR, but we’d kind of assumed that was the end of our Oregon-purchased Costco sack of oranges when initially planning our trip and snacks.)

        There are no similar fruit checkpoints for leaving the state, at least not at any border crossing I’ve been to. (There are some watercraft checkpoints various places in multiple states since we’re trying to stop the spread of zebra mussels across the American west and they’re often spread by contaminated boats that haven’t been properly cleaned, but if you’re not transporting a boat that wouldn’t impact you.)

        (This is one of those things that people who grew up road tripping to CA think is perfectly normal, and people from other parts of the USA are disbelieving of when initially encountered. No idea if similar fruit checkpoints are a thing in other places.)

  27. Dogs and Children*

    Does anyone have a really cute but unfortunately grumpy dog? What is your go-to line for people? Folks, including children, want to pet mine, and some will run over from across the street or out of yards to try, but I generally don’t allow it, as he has lunged at people before, barking (never a bite, but …). He’s a big boy, which multiplies the danger significantly. The truth is, he might be fine in a given interaction – but as far as I’m concerned, why take the risk? There’s really no upside from allowing the encounter knowing it *could* go tragically wrong. One of my adult neighbors weirdly keeps trying even thought the dog has lunged at *him* unexpectedly before (was fine in the past, just didn’t like the look of him that time – it was dark and he kind of came out of nowhere, and hasn’t really loved him since), so you’d really think he’d know better, but he still calls the dog and tries to come over when he sees him (?). It’s mostly for kids that I need the right line though. Usually I say “thank you for asking!” (if they asked) – “unfortunately, he’s a grumpy old man so he doesn’t really like to be petted.” While keeping him away from them if they are trying to pet. If parents bring toddlers over, I say, “oh, he’s not really comfortable with kids, thanks.” I’m a bit shy so it’s not likely I’m going to come out with a sharp or terse line, I need something I’ll be capable of saying in the moment. Any suggestions?

    1. WellRed*

      I was taking a walk one day and a woman with a dog, from about 10 feet away simply said “she’s not friendly” to preemptively ward off any attempts I might have made (I wouldnt gave but I loved how she did that).

      1. Dogs and Children*

        Ooh that’s not bad! It’s hard because the doofus will usually put on a very friendly derpy-ass look when I say he’s not to be trusted, leaving it looking like I’m just being mean, LOL. But at least it’s clear and direct.

    2. SofiaDeo*

      I try to do a boundary setting(for neighbors) teachable moment (for kids) who just come up without asking, arm out obviously moving in for the “pet”. I say a stern “No” which should stops both the human and your dog as well. If your dog doesn’t already know “No”, teach it. Anyway, then I soften the sentences(s) afterwards, depending on the situation. The kids get a smiling “please ask any pet owner before petting, not all dogs like it. Mine doesn’t”. For people like the neighbor who keeps at it, a “please stop trying to pet my dog/calling my dog”. I’ve yet to need to drop the “please”, but I would if someone persisted. I don’t care what others think about this. If I get pestered with “but he’s so cute!” or whatever, I just say “I’m sorry, but please don’t.” I have a service dog and often am doing a training exercise, and am not willing to interrupt it just because other people want to pet him.

      IMO if he’s lunging/barking while you are walking, HE is walking YOU, he thinks he is the Alpha/in charge. You must always be in charge. Does your dog “heel”, or do you let him lead, ahead of you on the leash? If he is leading, the barking/lunging will likely continue. I trained mine to heel behind my left leg, putting the leash behind my back in my right hand, with any extra in my left. Initially, my dog resisted walking slightly behind me, but using a walking stick in my left hand helped. It was difficult for the dog to move ahead of me with a stick in their face, I moved the stick with my left leg. I kept saying “heel!” when I needed to correct him/pull him back in line. I also praised him (Good Boy! good Heel!) when he started to “get it”. I do pause frequently at bushes and other interesting spots, saying “pee and sniff” which is the command that it’s OK to sniff around. Outside of search and rescue dogs, who are given the command to search/go ahead, your dog should always be heeling.
      An interesting side effect, is that your dog will also pay attention to other commands when off leash at home. I taught this trick (which my trainer taught me) to a neighbor. He reported that his young dog was now obeying other commands, in addition to no longer barking/lunging on walks. You’ve Got to walk your dog, don’t let your dog walk you.

      1. Dogs and Children*

        He typically behaves well on walks, but his behavior during petting is where he gets odd. Someone will come over to pet him, and when I used to allow it, he seemed to have a moment where he felt too vulnerable or something, and would suddenly be “done” with the interaction. I tried asking him to sit first, or telling them they could just hold out their hand to let him sniff, but it didn’t stop the behavior. I worry now that *my* nerves about it (having seen him do this a few times) are now making it worse. I think it’s better if we don’t just allow pets.

        1. Dogs and Children*

          To be fair, if they just hold out their hand, he may ignore them or he may sniff and be fine – but nobody, especially small children, wants to stop there – they let him sniff and *then go for the pet,* which he apparently doesn’t like. And of course toddler age can’t even follow directions anyway, so it’s not happening at all with them. He’s very fluffy, that’s why he’s so appealing. I do get it. It’s unfortunate.

          1. Vanessa*

            I mean that’s bad dog manners on the part of the parents. My kids aren’t perfect but this is a hard boundary for me. 1. Ask. 2. Hand out for sniff 3. Gentle pets.

            Also can you get a leash or something that states “no petting, thank you.”

            And this makes me think of a funny line of leashes I saw once. One read “one of us likes heavy petting.” I still wish if bought one.

    3. Not A Manager*

      There’s no upside to continuing to experiment with letting people touch the dog. It sounds like he doesn’t enjoy it very much, and you want to allow it only to make the humans feel good.

      “Please don’t touch him, he doesn’t like it,” might convey that the issue isn’t his cuteness or your meanness, but rather that the dog is a sentient being with preferences. I like that better than implying that he might be dangerous. If the person persists with “but he’s so cute” or something, I think you can firmly repeat, “but he doesn’t like to be touched by strangers.”

      In terms of your weird neighbor, you could be more direct. “Nothing personal, but he doesn’t make friends easily and he’s not going to warm up to you. Sorry!” If he keeps it up, at that point a “joking” warning like “hey, stop stalking the dog, he doesn’t like it,” would be fine. I don’t think that’s too sharp, if you say it in a light tone.

    4. Pippa K*

      This might be a good case for the use of those “warning leashes.” They’re usually red or yellow and have things like “nervous” or “don’t pet” on them. Amazon and Chewy both sell them, I think. We have a yellow one that says “nervous” (but our big guy has not needed it after all as he’s gotten used to his walking environment, so I’m not sure how well people would heed the message).

    5. Sopranistin*

      I had a dog that did not get along with other dogs. I’d always say “my dog is not friendly” and move him away as quickly as possible.
      The best thing to keep people away without even needing to speak to them would be a muzzle.
      There’s also the gentle leader harness that goes around the dog’s face. It’s not a muzzle but looks similar so I found it kept others away bc they weren’t sure.

    6. My Brain is Exploding*

      I would probably get the dog a bright colored vest that says “do not pet;” this would inform the parents of small kids before they get close enough to try it. Otherwise I think you’re fine with the kids just saying “sorry, he doesn’t like it.” But I would be losing my cool with the neighbor and tell him, at a time when you are not with the dog, to stop calling the dog and stop trying to come over to pet him. Softening language, IF you choose to use it at first, would be “I know Grumpus is adorable, and you want to make friends with him, but I would appreciate it if you’d stop. He really doesn’t like it and I don’t like stressing him out. Thanks.”

      1. Dogs and Children*

        Grumpus!! (crylaugh emoji). I should have named him that. Forrest Grump.

    7. Ellis Bell*

      “No, I don’t allow pats”, “He doesn’t like it, but he likes smiles”, “He’s nervous of strangers, but try giving him space and calling him a good dog”, “He likes it better if you stand way back and wave” “Please Ronald, I think the dog would like you better if you learned that he doesn’t like being petted. Anyways, I don’t allow it for safety reasons since it’s distressing to him”.

      1. Dogs and Children*

        I actually love this, and this is what I needed – saying what *can* they do, instead of petting him! I hadn’t put it to myself this way before, but I will definitely give it a try. I think I’ll be more capable of spitting that out in the moment.

    8. HannahS*

      For children, feel free to keep it really simple. Remember, children have limits set for them (and instructions given to them) all the time by adults. There is nothing wrong with saying “Hi! My dog doesn’t like to be petted. Can you move back, please?” If they keep coming towards you, put your hand out, palm out (stop sign) and say, “No. Don’t touch the dog. Move back.”

    9. Loopy*

      I am extremely similar. I say sorry, he gets nervous around strangers when children ask to pet. Unfortunately, my dog is a pitbull so this can sometimes translate to common stereotypes and the parents usually politely move their children on. Sometimes for adults I add the fact he’s getting quite old and a bit grumpy in his age. Most accept that phrasing and don’t push, I do sometimes worry it’s possibly in part because of his breed that I have an easier time but ultimately in the end it’s a good thing. He’s just old and a little reactive on a leash, and my nerves cannot take the uncertainty either. I relate to your situation SO much!!!

      1. Dogs and Children*

        Aww, solidarity. It’s tough, but he’s a great dog otherwise. For whatever reason, I find “he’s old and grumpy” to be something people are more likely to accept, versus other options – I guess because it’s so impersonal and shows it’s really nothing about you, the person who wants to pet him. But “he gets nervous” is a good neutral phrase too, and arguably accurate. Thanks!

  28. Qwerty*

    Looking for help coming up with ideas on technical personal projects such as a web app or what to do with my robot arm. I’ve got a burst of coding energy that temporarily is not being fulfilled by the weekday place. Problem is, I am not creative and my life is very non-techy – I only use my personal computer for checking email and AAM and the only reason I have a smartphone is for GPS.

    These are the two angles I’ve been approaching it from but completely open to other stuff as long as it is free / low cost. This is intended for fun – my language class ended and I need something to tinker with.

    1. WebApp – I thought it would be fun to make the same simple web app in a few different languages as a way of refreshing my memory on old ones and getting exposure to some new ones. Hoping for something with a few different types of UI components, like a table/grid of data , icons, cards, etc because I’d love to compare how the different languages handle them. Doesn’t need to be an original idea – I thought about recreating a previous app from work but they are too big/complicated and my school projects from 15yrs ago were just algorithms with no frontend component. Is there a school project that you found fun for this or an app you use at work that comes to mind that I could recreate?

    2. Robot – I have a Wlkata Mirobot, which is a small (~12 in) 6DOF robot arm with a couple different attachments to choose from like a claw or pnumatic suction for picking things up. (will post link in comments). I have absolutely no idea what to do with it!! You can move the arm OR you can open/close the end attachment, but not both at the same time, so my original idea of tossing cat toys didn’t work. (cat also afraid of robot and will not play) There are no sensors or camera, just sending the robot to positions. I thought it would be a great way to learn more about programming robots and using ROS but I’m stuck.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Is the robot big enough to fold laundry? Or, say, one tee shirt?

      Seems like it would be pretty complicated movements with one hand.

      1. Qwerty*

        I wish! I don’t think it even has the reach to fold a wash cloth. It can move around stuff like a bottle cap or blocks that are <1in.

        Thinking its a little useless on its own. I've met a couple others with the same bot who also did nothing with theirs.

    2. ronda*

      my friend is the adult leader for a robotics team doing the First Robotics Competition. This is for high school kids.
      so if you want to do something like working with one of those teams in your area, you could try that.

      But if you just wanted to do something on your own, you could review what they are asking the teams to do in each competition and see if any of those things would be something you would like to try out on your own.

      1. Qwerty*

        I’m a FIRST alumni, now a volunteer. Adults should not be doing the engineering work and definitely should not be writing any of the code for a team.

        As much I would love to have the skills to create a custom robot that can climb monkey bars, I do not have thousands of dollars for materials/sensors, access to a machine shop, space for a giant robot, or the mechanical eng. knowledge to safely construct the field of play.

    3. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Some ideas for the robot arm:
      – Could it dispense kitty treats on a schedule?
      – Water a fussy plant?
      – Open tough jars?
      – Make cocktails?
      – Open a door when a motion sensor detects movement?
      – Could you give it a pen and program it to write letters or draw pictures?
      – Could you experiment with making it draw different things in response to random algorithms or inputs like music/frequencies, weather data, ambient sounds, planetary movements?
      – Could you program it like a vending machine, where there’s a storage system and it retrieves the thing you want and then puts it back neatly in the same spot (thinking of my disaster of a spice drawer as I wrote that!)
      – I have a set of tiny letter stamps that I thought I would use for DIY gift tags/cards but they’re really small and fussy by hand, maybe a robot arm could do a good job of that though?

      Web app:
      – Shopping list app or household maintenance tracker?
      – A greeting card generic pablum randomiser for those times you have sign a card for someone you barely know?
      – If you garden, what about something to track when plants need repotting, fertiliser, could you pull in weather data to calculate when they’re likely to need water according to seasonality, light, temperature and rain for your location? (And can you publish it please so I can buy it!)

  29. GoryDetails*

    Little Joys Thread: anything delighted you lately?

    I saw my first hummingbird of the season at my newly-installed nectar feeder, a male ruby-throat – always a delight!

    1. StuntAppleBreeder*

      Us too! I was pleased to click that + for the Ruby-throated Hummingbird on my eBird app. We observed the house wrens nesting in our wren box while we had morning coffee and fresh banana bread.

    2. Voluptuousfire*

      I had a roast beef in the freezer from fall of 2021 that I forgot about and I defrosted it and made it in my air fryer. It came out pretty well, considering it was frozen for a long time. I thought the flavor would be off but it was good.

    3. Clisby*

      My husband was looking in our freezer and found 3 chocolate marshmallow Santas left over from Christmas! He promptly devalued this little joy by eating 2 of them, but I did get one.

    4. Rainy*

      Spotted a second hatch of shrimp fry in my shrimp tank just this morning! These ones are so much tinier than the first hatch were when I noticed them, and I can’t decide if it’s because now I’m looking for them, or because the lack of predation is making them bolder so they’re coming into the open sooner. :)

    5. One bag travel*

      I got 5 days of dressy clothes & shoes for a specific dressy NYC trip into 1 carry on luggage.

    6. Squirrel Nutkin, the teach, not the admin*

      I saw two mourning doves (I think) on my fire escape last week, having some quality couple time.

      I am all caught up on grading for once.

    7. Ashloo*

      We have a pair of ducks visiting our yard and they enjoyed the bowl of water we set out for them. They’ve returned a few days in a row and our senior dog seems to be on reasonably friendly terms (haha. At least giving them space). I hope they stay awhile.

    8. WoodswomanWrites*

      A friend I’ve known for more than 20 years visited from out of town with his son. I hadn’t seen the son since he was 12, who is now in his 30s. It was wonderful to see he’s become such a kind and thoughtful man, warm and attentive to his aging and wobbly father.

      1. I take tea*

        This is so nice. Yay for thoughtful men. I newly met a couple of teenage boys on a nature trip, and they were so attentive to their father and all the other adults in the group, and nice to each other too, but still felt quite boisterous and impulsive, not unnaturally subdued. It was such a nice change from some of my friends sulky teenagers.

    9. Healthcare Worker*

      My husband and I spent a week with our kids, including our wonderful new 6 week old granddaughter. I love how our children and their spouses all get along so well, and I had so many sweet baby snuggles! Watching my son parent his baby was a joy – he was so attentive and loving.

    10. Veronica Mars*

      Maybe a weird one, but: our dog went into heat! This means she will be able to be spayed soon and go back to doggy daycare. She adores other dogs and still has a lot of puppy energy, so not having a good outlet for it a day or two a week has been a bummer for everyone. I’m really excited that she’s almost there (messiness notwithstanding).

    11. Chauncy Gardener*

      There’s been an otter in our pond for the past week. Eating all of the fish, but I believe that is OK since it seemed over crowded. The toads are trilling, hope the otter doesn’t eat them! And spring is springing!!

    12. allathian*

      Spring is finally springing properly, we’ve had some unseasonably cold weather these last few weeks. I’m looking forward to the summer.

      We have a young squirrel who loves to run on our deck. So cute!

  30. Anonymoss*

    Does anyone here know where a plus-sized woman can get some good winter tights? It’s almost summer, but I spent about half this last winter wearing leggings when I wished I could wear some tights that were thicker and warmer as well. But almost every time I tried to look such tights up either a) they weren’t in my size or b) they were just fleece-lined leggings.

    Surely there has to be a brand or online store or physical store that makes them, right? Just tights that are a little thicker and warmer than the usual and also with more inclusive sizing.

    1. Mycelium*

      Snag Tights! Inclusive sizing, good color range, and some options for tights in merino wool.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Seconded – I love Snag myself, though I am not plus sized, but I have also heard excellent things about their products from friends of sizes up to the 4-5x range.

    2. Atheist Nun*

      Sock Dreams has a good variety of plus size tights. You could also try We Love Colors.

    3. Maryn*

      Snag, Snag, Snag. I’ve never had opaque tights that fit so well and are fully comfortable.

      Sock Dreams has thicker cotton-rich tights by Foot Traffic that I like when it’s especially cold. (And they have fishnets and other fancy tights, plus knee-high and thigh-high socks for larger legs.)

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

      Ooh, thank you for asking — I just had an unfortunate hosiery emergency, and the comments here may have solved my problem!

    5. KatEnigma*

      If you want tights you could potentially try on, I don’t hate Torrid’s.

      I keep eyeing Snag, but don’t live in a cold climate anymore.

    6. Anonymoss*

      Omg thank you everyone for recommending Snag Tights! I just bought three pairs and I actually feel like they’ll fit and keep me warm in the winter!

    7. Ally*

      What is that hilarious meme with the woman falling down the hill and the caption is something like “these tights are 5 stars!! I slid down the hill cos I was afraid to walk and they didn’t even snag”, were they real tights?!

    8. The Shenanigans*

      Toordi, Hot Topic, and We Love Colors are pretty good for me. I also need some new tights, I managed to run every single pair I had this winter/fall.

  31. Invisible fish*

    I think I need to refinance my house in order to get some of the equity out to do renovations. Despite being a fairly competent adult, I struggle with all the terms and processes related to mortgages and loans and … well, all of it.

    Could anyone suggest websites or books that can walk a financially illiterate idiot through all of that, so I can figure out what to do and how to do it without creating an unfortunate situation for myself? Thanks.

    1. A313*

      Maybe a home equity line of credit would also work? Just a suggestion from someone else who has difficulty with these kinds of things. I took one out after I bought my first house (alone) in case of . . . losing my job, or IDK, an emergency of some sort . . . Because I knew applying if I didn’t have a job wasn’t going to fly. Gave me some peace of mind, even though I never used it. And interest rates are a bit higher now, so maybe no need to refinance the whole balance on your house?

      1. Generic Name*

        Yes, definitely do a line of credit. Also known as a HELOC. The only reason I would refinance is if the interest rate you have now is higher than what you could get by refinancing.

        1. Clisby*

          Yes, a HELOC has the advantage that you don’t have to start paying it back until you use it. (It’s sort of like having a credit card, but with way lower interest rates.)

          1. Jay (no, the other one)*

            We opened a HELOC years ago for a renovation and paid it back almost completely. We maintain enough of a balance to keep it open as a way of managing cash flow. Poorer month? Use money from the HELOC. Richer month? Repay a chunk of it.

    2. Sparkle Llama*

      I would check with the city and state you live in to see if they have any resources. Most cities in my area offer low interest home improvement loans and the state I live in does as well. The programs may or may not have income limits.

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Like the other commenters were saying, you probably want a HELOC or, failing that, a “regular” second mortgage rather than to refinance your existing primary mortgage. Interest rates are a lot higher than they were a few years ago, so you probably have a lower rate on your current mortgage than you would be able to get on a refinance. You’re allowed to have more than one mortgage on a property, as long as the total amount mortgaged across all loans is less than the value of the house, and how both HELOCs and “regular” second mortgages work is that they’re secured by the remaining equity minus the amount owed on the primary mortgage. It would be better to be paying the higher interest rate on only the new balance rather than all of it.

      The difference between a HELOC and a cash-out second mortgage is that a HELOC lets you borrow up to a certain amount as-needed, and a “regular” second mortgage would give you a lump sum loan where you get all the money at once rather than just borrowing what you need as you go. This is why a HELOC makes more sense for a lot of home renovation projects when the total cost won’t be known in advance. However, a HELOC will generally be a variable interest rate (which means they can change how much interest they are charging you within certain boundaries, like a credit card) and a regular second mortgage would (usually) be a fixed rate mortgage. With a HELOC, you can usually lock in part or all of it as a fixed rate loan after you’ve borrowed it, but these are details to check carefully with your bank to make sure you understand how it works. (So, if you have a HELOC for a specific home improvement project and won’t be borrowing any more money using a after the project wraps, there’s a way to lock it down into a fixed rate installment loan at that point, but definitely understand those details before getting one.)

      I don’t know of good places to learn more about this, unfortunately. I learned most of it by working as a temp in the foreclosure department of a lender that did a lot of second mortgages, which was a great way to get a solid personal finance education at the cost of a soul-crushing job that did not pay well and where you were often seeing people at their lowest point. I can’t really recommend it as a way to learn about mortgages, although it certainly taught me that I wanted a fixed-rate loan from a credit union that keeps their mortgages in-house when it came time for me to need one myself.

  32. Bibliovore*

    Bathroom is almost finished.
    I now have to choose blinds/shade for the window.
    I am thinking a light wood “levelor?” to match the vanity and wood in the room.
    The choices are dizzying and I can’t seem to find one that goes halfway from bottom to top so that light is let in but there is privacy.

    1. the cat's ass*

      wow, it seems like you’re really making fast progress! I used Smith and Noble for my blinds and 3 sets of roman shades. They are reasonable priced (tho not cheap), have a great selection, and have many options that go halfway up from bottom to top.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Hunter Douglas used to make shades like that. We had them and they worked very well.

      1. Purple m&m*

        Yes. I believe they were called “top down, bottom up” and you can raise them up from the bottom and down from the top at the same time. Ours were called Duette shades because they were dual sided shades.

      1. Hanani*

        Frosted cling film is what I did for my bathroom windows (and several other windows too) – I wanted those “top down bottom up” cellular blinds, but they are pricey!

        I used the Rabbitgoo brand, since they’re re-positionable

  33. Monkey's Paw Manicure*

    Logic puzzle recommendations? I’m a big fan of those “Mary has a blue hat; Paul has two children; The person with 1 child isn’t wearing a green hat” logic puzzles that get solved with a grid. I’ve gone through all the Pocket Posh books and am looking for another source. Ideally, something printed on dead trees rather than electronic.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I love Sudoku for this. It isn’t really a number puzzle at all, it’s a logic puzzle. The symbols could be anything.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I love the kinds of puzzles described above (Dell used to do them, but I think they were bought out by Penny Press – that’s the only kind I see where I live), but I hate Sudoku. I didn’t even like it under it’s old name before it got wildly popular in Japan and then popular in the US under the Japanese name.

    2. Saddy Hour*

      I’m not familiar with Pocket Posh so apologies if this falls under that line, but my partner and I just started “Montague Island Mysteries and Other Logic Puzzles” and we’re enjoying it so far. It’s not all grids from what we’ve seen, but that’s the bulk and the other puzzles are similar in approach. Plus it’s spiral-bound so very convenient to work on.

      1. Nicki Name*

        This! Check the magazine section of your local grocery store or large local bookshop.

        1. LogicProblems*

          they sell online if you can’t find them locally. look for any of the magazines with “logic problems” in the title

    3. Anon teacher*

      Puzzle Baron – they have an extensive online site with puzzles and forums, but they started as books and still continue to publish new books.

  34. Goose*

    A close friend has been recently diagnosed with a mental health condition. I’d love help brainstorming a “thinking of you” gift! (Grub hub gift card was already sent to the family while they were in crisis mode, now that crisis is done I want to send something else.) Friend is male so my go to “candle & fuzzy socks” don’t apply. Thank you!

    1. Queer Earthling*

      Some men like candles and fuzzy socks as well, and it’s sad that our society has decided that men don’t get to have comforting things. I like the previous suggestions of blankets, popcorn, snacks…maybe a gift basket of things you know he likes? They don’t have to be big or expensive things, but if it shows that you know his personal taste and interests that can go a long way.

    2. Vanessa*

      A gift card to App Store (if apple user) that he could use for a supportive app ( I like insight timer. Calm is good too. Or a movement option like seven minute fitness.
      And I also agree with comfort items for men.

      1. Observer*

        In that vein, if he’s an Android user, you could get him a gift card there, too.

    3. Pieforbreakfast*

      my first thought is quiet distractions- coloring, puzzles, comic or art books, origami, etc… Second thought is comfortable clothes- socks, sweatshirt or sweater, pj’s.

    4. Goose*

      I should have clarified that I know this friend is not a candle and fuzzy socks guy! I didn’t mean to discriminate against candle and fuzzy sock guys. Just looking for alternate gift ideas :)

    5. Spring Green*

      The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a new book that is perfect for this! It’s called “You Are Not Alone: The NAMI Guide to Navigating Mental Health, with advice from real families”. It’s now available at Target and if you upload your Target receipt the publisher will send your friend a care package!

  35. Anon for this*

    How does one choose a therapist when looking for general talk therapy? Been meaning to go to therapy for a while to work through some general family patterns/relationship dynamics…then my parents sped it up this week by announcing their divorce – plus side (/s) though, also offered to pay for my therapy to get through it! I am sad and overwhelmed about the life transition but wouldn’t classify myself, before this or now, as experiencing any kind of mental illness. But when searching for a therapist a lot of their bios/offered services/etc focus on their treatment methods or styles for mental health conditions. Not sure what keywords or qualities I should be looking for – I just need someone to talk to who is not involved in the situation, who might give me some coping strategies or different perspective. Thanks so much!

    1. Hanani*

      What you’re describing is exactly what therapists do – they’re often trained/specialize in certain mental health conditions, but really, it’s just being a professional third-party to help you sort through your life.

      Psychology Today (which is maybe what you’re using, since you described bios) has a find-a-therapist tool that’s super helpful. If there are any characteristics that are important for you (therapist’s own identity, what insurance they take, etc.) you can sort by that. After that, it’s often a process of seeing whether how they describe themselves speaks to you, and potentially trying a few. It’s okay to decide after one or two (or more!) sessions that you’re just not clicking with this person, and to find someone else.

    2. Ally*

      Any friends who live in your same area who can recommend?
      Also lots of therapists are on social media now, you could scope some out on Insta or whatever before meeting in person.
      Biggest advice would be, don’t be afraid to leave and find someone else if you’re not feeling it at after a couple sessions. Good luck!

    3. RagingADHD*

      Just like physical health, some illnesses are chronic and some are due to an external situation that may be temporary or long term.

      Some keywords I see in therapist bios / listings that may pertain to your situation are “family systems,” “family of origin,” “stress management,” “grief and loss,” or “relationship issues.”

    4. Filosofickle*

      It is a challenge! In the past I have started by reading websites, how they talk about their approach. I look for videos of them talking in particular. For my current therapist, I chose someone who has a specific therapy model (inner family systems). But let’s be real, often we go with who’s available that seems pretty good.

      Previously I went through a group had an interesting matching process — it had all the things I didn’t even know to look for. Turns out I like a very expressive therapist! Never thought to verbalize that. Check out their section here on “therapy preferences”: https://www.twochairs.com/blog/how-we-match-you-to-a-therapist-whos-right-for-you

    5. Therapy suggestions*

      Deciding to start looking can be a difficult decision, especially with the way that society sometimes views mental health. But deciding to take care of oneself is always a good decision, so you have my respect for that! I would recommend looking for someone who is licensed, as it means they’ve had training in how to handle things professionally and appropriately. Here is an article about the different types of licenses: https://www.opencounseling.com/…/what-different-kinds…. From my perspective, a psychiatrist (PhD or PsyD) is mostly valuable because they can prescribe medicine, but many psychiatrists focus on the medical aspect and much less on the therapy aspect, if that makes sense. So, if you’re looking primarily for a therapist, someone with a doctorate is probably not necessary at this stage.

      How to find a good therapist? It has helped me to start by making a short list of what I’d like to accomplish/change. Then, when you call a practice, you can ask questions like, “How do your therapists address overthinking to the point of paralysis?” Or whatever the behavior/perspective is that you want to change. Listen to their answers and see if that sounds like something that might be helpful/work for you–and be open to new approaches. My therapist uses a “cognitive behavioral approach,” which means changing my thoughts and my behaviors. It’s a very helpful orientation for me. You can also ask about what sort of therapy they use, like cognitive behavioral, and then look it up online and read about it. You can tell them a bit about yourself and see if they have experience working with populations like you; for example, it’s very important to me that my therapist is comfortable with my sexuality, so I ask about that. Then, you have to test people out. You have to go to some appointments and see if you and the therapist gel. That’s the best way I can put it. Pay attention to your feelings–some discomfort is okay, even expected and welcome. But are you feeling frustrated with your therapist? Are you feeling like she isn’t listening to you, really hearing you? Do you feel like she’s asking you to do unsafe things? Any of those would be a red flag to me. It can also be more subtle. I saw a therapist for a few months, and it just felt like we never quite clicked, like she was kind of rubbing me the wrong way. So I switched therapists. It’s okay to try a few/several before you find the right one. And sometimes what you want at one point in your life is less effective at another point. Friends have also suggested talking to your primary care doctor to get recommendations, as sometimes they have good local experience.

    6. Emma*

      Psychology today has a good database of counselors! I found a good one that way.

  36. You're A Married Spud*

    Late to this party so I’m going to try and remember for next week too! But I had the idea to start embroidering my couch.

    I’m not an experienced free-hand embroiderer at all but I’m comfortable with working slowly and meticulously, and I would probably outline and use a reference.

    But does anyone have any advice, tips, things to consider?

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I’ve never done that, sounds like a cool idea! I did think of a couple things:

      Curved needles might be good, since you can’t pull through from the other side.

      Use something sturdy to do the embroidery, so it won’t fall apart and look ratty in a year. Couches get a lot more wear than most things that are embroidered. You probably also don’t want long stitches that will get snagged.

    2. Callie*

      In the visible mending groups that I’m in, I’ve seen a embroidered panels sewn onto a sofa. So that make more sense than seeing directly on the sofa?

      Project sounds cool!

  37. House to house*

    Logistics question for folks who have moved from house to house, since I’ve only ever bought a house after renting.

    We are close to making an offer on a house within our same city. The difference between the new house price and what we’d get for our current house is about 50k. We’re really struggling with how to go about financing, because of timing.

    Realistically, our current house needs some work and isn’t ready to be put on the market. It makes sense to move out, take the time to do the repairs correctly without our belongings getting in the way, and then sell. This will take 3-4 months, due to the wait list for contractors in this area. So that means taking on a mortgage for the full value of the new house. We also don’t have enough free cash to do 20% down, which means we’d be required to get PMI. But as soon as we sold our old house, we’d have enough to pay off almost the entire new house.

    So, how do people go about this? Try to float the sale longer, or just knuckle under and make sure the new mortgage allows principal paid ahead? Something else?

    (Please no lectures on “good debt” and dragging out a mortgage as long as possible. I understand the concept of optimizing interest rates, and I simply do not care. I prefer to pay off debts as fast as possible, even if doing so isn’t the best way to squeeze every cent.)

    1. LuckySophia*

      One of my friends recently mentioned looking into a “bridge loan” when they were buying a new house before the old one could be put on the market. It sounds like the bridge loan is designed to give you the temporary cash you’d need in the time period before your existing house can be fixed up and sold.

    2. Generic Name*

      I was in this situation when I bought my current house. Hot market, made an offer on a house just before putting old house on the market. Luckily the house sold in 7 days, so I only overlapped by about a month with two houses. I estimated what I could get from the sale to calculate what I could pay for a down payment, and my parents floated me that amount for a month or so. They had to write a letter saying the money was a gift (even though in reality I promptly wrote them a check once the house closed). I’m very lucky to have parents who can loan that amount of money.

    3. Pop*

      A loan officer might be able to talk you through what’s available. Ours suggested possibly taking out a HELOC on our first place, or putting down a smaller percentage and then doing a recast once we sold the first one. Where we got our mortgage didn’t offer bridge loans, so those are just two more options to consider.

    4. missb*

      When we were considering another house, we talked to our credit union where our mortgage was held. We were able to come up with 20% (though never actually moved) and started the process to get a jumbo loan and carry both mortgages.

      It may be worth it to talk to a realtor – just have them come by and see what your current house may sell for. It doesn’t obligate you to sell (though if you’re happy with them, you could consider using them to sell the house). It may be that your current house would sell super quick for a great price in its current condition. I’d do that before thinking about taking 3-4 months to fix stuff up. If the local housing market has low inventory, it may not matter how many repairs you need to make.

    5. A Reader*

      If you can handle the new mortgage payment, even with <20% down, I'd recommend doing it. Then pay off that loan with the proceeds from your old home's sale. One key thing to help sell the old house would be to have it (including the roof) pressure washed. You won't believe how much that helps increase its curb appeal!

  38. Dainty Lady*

    Gardeners of AAM, has anyone used “Predator Pee” things to keep squirrels and tree rats from decimating fruits and other edibles? any tips or thoughts?

    1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      I have used fox urine to try to discourage opposums and a woodchuck from moving into burrows under our garden shed. Now we have two actual foxes that visit every so often and the woodchuck is completely unfazed.

    2. Vineyard owner*

      Vineyard owner here. None. Of. That. Stuff. Works. We’ve tried predator pee, avian control spray chemical spray, pepper spray, silver streamers, golpher sound deterrents, other loud sound deterrents. The only thing that works is netting, clipped so there are no gaps.

    3. Rara Avis*

      We have friends who use cotton balls soaked in coyote urine to keep deer out of their day lilies. It works for them.

    4. Nihil Scio*

      Not predator pee but predator poop. My sister regularly donated her ferret litter to a friend with a blueberry farm. They placed it around the bushes and it kept the rabbits away.

      Meanwhile, I’m missing my dog sooo much (she passed away two years ago). Deer have been eating my tomato plants and pepper plants, leaves and all.

    5. Jackalope*

      Not probably helpful for you, but a related funny story. I worked at a zoo for a few years, and a coworker had a problem with dogs using his yard as their own personal toilet (and owners who wouldn’t clean up after said dogs and ignored his requests to do the cleanup). He went to the keeper who took care of the snow leopard, and got that keeper to give him some snow leopard pee. The he took it and dribbled it around the outside of his yard to “mark his territory”. Over the next few days he got to watch the neighborhood dogs come up to his yard, sniff, and then very visibly react with, “I don’t know what that is but I am NOT messing with it!” Problem solved.

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      We have a HUGE deer problem in my area. I spray Plantskydd on my hostas, daylilies and etc. It works really well. It’s supposed to work for/against other animals, but I cannot vouch for that, but it works for me against deer.
      Good luck!

  39. HannahS*

    Recipe help needed!
    1. Does anyone make their own frozen breaded fish, or chicken fingers? I like having stuff like that on hand for a quick dinner during the week, but the store-bought have gotten really expensive. I was wondering about buying fresh fish or chicken, breading it, and then freezing it to bake later; I suppose I could also fully cook it and then freeze to be reheated…but I’d rather only cook it once. Has anyone tried this?

    Unrelated: Please tell me what the toddlers in your life call foods. My toddler pointed to cucumber salad last night and said, “Bumber, bumber” and it was so adorable that I actually, literally, cried. (Though I am very sleep-deprived which might have influenced my reaction.)

    1. Anon Poster*

      I used to do this all the time! I don’t have kids, I just like chicken tenders. I would do every step until baking, flash freeze on a baking sheet for a couple of hours, then store in the freezer. I lost track of the recipe I used to use, but it had directions for how to bake from the frozen state.

    2. ThatGirl*

      He’s 18 now, but my husbands baby brother used to call them “posscles” instead of popsicles.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        My daughter was about 18 months old when she came home from daycare saying “buckle shoe.” She said it over and over and was clearly looking for something we could not provide. In the way of toddlers, she completely melted down over our inability to find “buckle shoe.” A few days later I opened the freezer and she pointed to the popsicles and said, triumphantly, “BUCKLE SHOE!”

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        My son used to say “pak pak” for backpack, and burber king for Burger King
        I miss that!

    3. Buni*

      My family still says ‘munk’ and ‘juja’ for milk and sugar because that’s what my little brother used to say. Said baby boy is 42 this year…

    4. Not A Manager*

      I’ve never done it with fish, but you can bread chicken cutlets and freeze them. My recipe is: dry chicken, dip in seasoned flour, dip in egg beaten with a little water, dip in seasoned breadcrumbs. Press gently so breadcrumbs adhere. Lightly spray some waxed paper or parchment paper with cooking spray. Freeze the cutlets, uncovered and not touching, on the parchment. Gently peel off the parchment and wrap cutlets.

      I don’t remember baking directions. My guess is you could defrost them flat in the fridge on parchment paper, then bake at your usual temperature, or that you could bake directly from frozen but you might have to fiddle with the cooking times/temperatures.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      In my house, we eat sketti, tubafish, apatoes, roast beast, corm muffums, chickamuggas, and kitten sandwiches. Most of these are obvious, but in order: spaghetti, tuna fish, potatoes, roast beef, corn muffins, chicken nuggets and sloppy joes.

    6. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      Because of my younger brother, my family doesn’t have silver ware, we have “silver wilver”.

    7. Thunder Kitten*

      my little guy didnt say orange. for some reason, orange (both the food and the color) were for called “mum-bee”. and watermelon was “mum-blee”.
      he was less than 2y at the time and the “make your own names for things” stage lasted about 6 months.

    8. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      My toddler is a true New Englandar and likes to put out Dunkin’s around town “gonut place!”

    9. Rara Avis*

      From a variety of small relatives:
      Kikamoo (cucumber)
      Chotz (ketchup)
      Beaks (grapes)
      More mamee (edamame)

    10. Lozzapalooza*

      Have inherited these from a range of smalls…
      Kisps (UK crisps, US chips)
      Big kisps (poppadoms)
      Mik (milk)
      Nonj (an orange)

    11. Sitting Pretty*

      For some brief period when my kid was little, he would call seltzer “boccoli water.” It turns out it was just hard to say “sparkly” So for a while all carbonated water was broccoli water.

      These days the shorthand for seltzer is just “sparkly” as in, “can I get you a sparkly?” or when the sodastream bottle in the fridge is going flat, “ugh, this sparkly needs to be sparkled.”

      1. Pennyworth*

        My brother’s family still eat ”strangled eggs”, from the mispronunciation of “scrambled eggs” many years ago.

    12. Indolent Libertine*

      Our kiddo transposed “hamburgers” to “hangeburrs” (with a hard G) and “ketchup” to “keppitch.”

    13. Fun Foods*

      Our daughter came home from a pre-school field trip to an ice cream place loving the “chocolate and banilla squirrel” (swirl).

    14. wkfauna*

      My 2c is that chicken nuggets made with chicken you grind yourself (a food processor works fine) are infinitely tastier than breaded cutlets. I would recommend looking up recipes in that vein!

    15. Generic Name*

      My sister had trouble pronouncing her “r”s when she was little, so she called hamburgers hamboogers. She also swapped the order of words sometimes. This led to much hilarity when I got a play dough “Burger King Whopper play set”, which she called the “Whopper King Booger play set”

  40. Taking the CTA*

    I’m heading to Chicago for a couple of work trips in the next few months. I’ve been there several times and I usually take a taxi or Uber from and to ORD. For these trips, time is tighter, I arrive during morning rush hour, and the office is right off the Blue Line so I figure the train is my best bet. I’m an experienced transit rider and can easily manage the basics like getting a pass and figuring out the map, but I have yet to ride the L. Is there anything I should know or keep in mind as I travel from and to the airport?

    For example, I lived in New York for a long time and had to remind visitors that you couldn’t step on the A train directly from JFK so they needed to plan for travel time. And I now live in DC and recommend taking a car from DCA to Capitol Hill. That kind of thing would be really helpful!

    1. ThatGirl*

      The Kennedy expressway is under construction so the train is sure to be faster. The blue line stop is a moderate walk from the terminal, and I suggest downloading the Ventra app which will give you good info on transit.

    2. Filosofickle*

      Blue line from ORD to downtown is as easy as it gets! Straight shot, you never have to go outside or take any shuttles. Follow the signs from the terminal, take the long underground walkway, get on the train and get off at your stop. This was my line when I lived there — it’s a no-frills subway, no luggage areas or comfy seats, lots of jostling around, but it runs frequently and they maintain it better than some others because of all the tourists and business folks who use it. (It has been a few years since I’ve done it but I doubt much has changed.)

      Last time I visited I got a 3-day Ventra card. Even if I’m not sure I’ll use the value, it makes it easier in the moment to hop on buses and trains without having to think or pay.

      1. Maggie*

        It’s under construction right now and there is indeed a shuttle bus at random times. A reliable shuttle bus but it does add some time!

    3. ithappens*

      I just did this a few weeks ago. @Filosofickle has it right- download the Ventra app to your phone before you leave and purchase the 1/3/7 day pass that makes sense for you. The time on the pass doesn’t start counting until you use it for the first time. On an iPhone set the ventra card for express transit and then you will just wave your phone at the the turnstile everywhere. It is a techno-magical. Also- if you don’t use the pass and choose to pay by ride, then it will cost more because the airport stop has a higher fee- so the one day pass costs less than the airport + regular L.

      Have a productive and fun work trip

    4. Wink the Book*

      If you have any kind of cigarette smoke/weed allergy, Bring a face mask. Otherwise, nah. Blue line from O’Hare to downtown is dead simple.

      1. Old-Fashioned*

        Very much this. My kid is still talking about the weird smell on the L from the airport, and we haven’t flown to Chicago since 2018.
        (We told her it was a dead rat.)

      2. Taking the CTA*

        Heh– I live in DC, I am very, very used to weed on public transportation. Mostly bad weed. Thanks for the tips!

  41. The Dude Abides*

    A while back, there was a thread about inexpensive items whose utility vastly outstripped their price, and I missed the boat before dropping mine.

    REDUCE WaterWeek bottles. Just over a year ago, we got a 14oz and a 20oz set. Prior to the purchase, we went through at least a case of bottled water per week – partner refuses to touch tap water, and I would grab them to go for exercise/long car trips. Now, it’s maybe a case a month, so they’ve already paid for themselves multiple times over.

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      That’s fantastic! Are you sure you don’t mix a Hell of a Caucasian to drink from your bottles, Jackie?

    2. Aphrodite*

      One of those stick vacuums. Wow, is it fantastic. I use it in the master bathroom where I have the cats’ litterbox in a corner on a 3×5 polypropylene rug. The cats don’t scatter litter from the box but it comes off on the rug and LVP flooring when they jump out. I used to keep the big, heavy Hoover vacuum in there because it was such a big deal to get it out of the hall closet for that minor job two or more times a day. But I hated that. Then I found the rechargeable stick vacuum. It’s so lightweight and easy to stash in the corner where it’s out of the way but handy. I find myself grabbing it four or five times a day for only a couple of minutes each. And it picks up a (relatively) lot of litter; emptying it is easy.

      I only use it for this as the canister is small. The Hoover is for the rest of the house. I feel this stick vacuum is the perfect solution for me, keeping litter to a minimal issue.

      1. Rainy*

        In that vein, I have a regular broom, and Mr Rainy vacuums the whole place weekly, but I also have a one-handed quick broom with a stand-up dustpan that the broom fits into. It would be absolute hell to actually sweep a whole room with it but it’s perfect for super-quick cleanups like around the litter boxes, and a big part of why things are never more than 10-15 minutes from company-ready, because whenever I notice litter scattered around, I just grab it and quickly sweep up the litter. The set cost something like $8 at Ikea.

  42. All Monkeys are French*

    Dog training resources, please!
    My husband and I are planning to adopt a dog some time in the next few months. We’ve had dogs before but it was when we were young and naive and while our dogs were well-loved, they were not well-trained or socialized.
    I want to make sure we start off on the right foot this time. I know that it’s crucial to choose the right dog for our lifestyle, so we’ll start there, but I want to do some reading and learning before we bring a dog home. What do you recommend we read or watch to help us integrate and train a new family member?

    1. Rainy*

      My mum has always trained her dogs using Barbara Woodhouse’s methods, starting with No Bad Dogs: the Woodhouse Way, for what it’s worth.

    2. Sloanicota*

      So this was just my experience, but having a trainer work with us was about a billion times more effective than anything I read or watched on my own – because it was obvious to him what I was doing wrong, and because all dogs are a little different and can react in different ways. I went to check out trainers before I brought my dog home and asked questions to find ones I liked. They advised me to wait 6-8 weeks after I brought him home to let him settle in and start seeing where the problems were occurring, and then we started one on one classes. That said, if you’re getting a puppy, the usual puppy 101 class is probably good enough. I was adopting an adult who already came with a few challenges.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Basically, I would *think* I was doing it exactly like in the video, but in reality I was not, and it was very obvious to the trainer what I was doing wrong, which saved us a ton of grief.

      2. All Monkeys are French*

        I probably will go the trainer route, but I want to have a little bit of knowledge before the dog comes home. We have cats so we’ll need to be ready to introduce them safely from the outset. Did you find any videos that could at least give you good principles to follow, even if you weren’t executing them the right way?

      3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My older dog went to a one-hour-a-week-for-six-weeks puppy 101 class at Petsmart, and my younger dog went to a 3 week day-long “puppy kindergarten” at a dedicated dog training facility starting when she was 14 weeks old, and the difference is AMAZING, both in how well they learned basic manners and how well they behave around other dogs. I mean, part of it is always temperament too, the younger one is just generally more chill and the older one is more high-strung, but it’s a huge difference and now that I’ve been through it, I wouldn’t consider skipping the puppy kindergarten for future pups personally.

        She was there all day M-F for three weeks with other puppies of a similar age, and they did playtime, group training, 1:1 training and rest times over the course of the day, and then twice a week when I picked her up, she and I had an hour-long session with the trainer to go over what she was learning, let me practice it with her supervised, what were we seeing at home that we wanted to work on, etc etc. I think they do a similar program for dogs over 5 months old as well, but shorter, like one week at a time and you can focus it more specifically if needed.

    3. ThatGirl*

      I agree with in-person training. We took our dog to a class after adopting him and he was too overstimulated but having someone come to us went really well.

    4. missb*

      I’ll echo a trainer. We found a local one that we hired for months. We are empty nesters so it’s something we could afford to do. Working one on one with him helped us a lot with our pup. We adopted an 8-week old from a rescue group, and did the Petco group training at first before realizing we really needed a pro.

      Our trainer uses positive training techniques. I am a firm believer in that method.

    5. KatEnigma*

      I like the Smart Puppy book series. It just made sense to me- that you wouldn’t think certain behaviors were acceptable from a human, so they shouldn’t be from a dog (like growling at you, or bearing teeth- equating the latter to a person who pulled a knife on you!) And that if you don’t have kids, but the dog might be around kids later, you need to do things like make random noises or come running into rooms while they are still young, so they aren’t startled by what’s normal kid behavior later.

      And the dogs we got BEFORE Covid are the better socialized ones because we took them (especially the Rott mix) with us to any place that allowed it- parks, home improvement stores, pet stores, etc. She never liked riding in cars, but she had to learn to.

      Our GSD mix that we got in December of 2020? Sigh. The books are right, and it’s not that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but if they haven’t been introduced to things by 16-20 weeks, you have a long slog ahead of you, especially if you have a naturally anxious dog.

    6. Cat and dog fosterer*

      I like Stanley Coren’s How to Speak Dog. It doesn’t tell you about training but it helps to understand your dog and was invaluable to me. It would let me advocate for my fosters when they were nervous and told me the difference between fearful and aggressive.

      I agree with a puppy or rescue 101 class.


      Anything by Sarah stremming; Leslie mcdevitt; Kim Brophey; Suzanne clothier; Amy cook; etc is great! Sarah Stremming has a wonderful podcast that has puppy episodes I’d suggest!

    8. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      I used to watch Victoria Stillwell’s show. The most valuable exercise I learned from her was teaching a dog to trade. It made saving things from a curious puppy so much easier, though it later became a way to beg during mealtimes. She still brings us ‘food toy’ when she wants a snack.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        I’m a Victoria fan too! I like her Leave It with treats and a bunch of others. I wouldn’t start with her, but once you have the basics she’s great.

        1. Cat and dog fosterer*

          And I only suggest her for later because she helps people with problem dogs, so while her methods are easy for beginners and positive, I appreciated her more when I had more experience.

    9. Still not picked a username*

      I always recommend Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, they have online courses of different levels of interest and time needed in a whole range of areas. For new dog owners they have pet dog training prerecorded videos as a good start point https://www.fenzidogsportsacademy.com/index.php/29570/?tabs=3, and also a whole bunch of articles here https://www.fenzidogsportsacademy.com/index.php/29570/?tabs=2#jwts_tab1 (if my links work!). I also suggest getting a copy of a book called Co-operative Care: Seven Steps to stress Free Husbandry by Deb Jones

  43. Help with mosquitoes*

    Looking for a natural insect repellent to spray in my yard to get rid of the overwhelming number of mosquitoes for an outdoor event. I’m thinking about garlic spray. Do you have any tried and true natural sprays to get rid of insects? Have you tried garlic spray? If you had success, what brand did you use? If you made your own, what formula did you use? Thank you for any suggestions.

    1. Maryn*

      I haven’t tried this myself, but I’ve seen it online for years and know people online who say it’s effective. It’s safe around kids, pets, and plants.

      Mix together 1 large bottle of blue mouthwash (How big is “large”? No idea) from the dollar store (basically, knock-off mint Listerine), 3 cups Epsom salts, and 3 twelve-ounce beers. Stir until the salt is fully dissolved. Transfer to a spray bottle and spray generously where people will gather, especially shady areas.

    2. All Monkeys are French*

      I used Wondercide to spray the interior of my car for fleas. It worked well. It left a lingering cedar scent for some time, but I didn’t find it unpleasant. They make a formula to spray outdoors and it allegedly works on mosquitos, but I haven’t tried it for that purpose.

    3. RagingADHD*

      No recommendation but a heads-up. Watch out for natural repellants that contain lemongrass oil, because it mimics the queen’s homing pheromone for honeybees.

      The bees won’t sting you, but they will try to snuggle up to you very persistently.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Wow, never heard of that and I’m looking it up to learn more as someone who has a bee sting allergy. Thanks for the cool fact.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Beekeepers use lemongrass oil to bait new hives and attract a swarm.

          I had a rather nervewracking afternoon when I tried a new mosquito repellent and wound up with a very friendly honeybee following me all around the backyard trying to snuggle my legs. Eventually I went inside, and she clung forlornly to the screen door, waiting for me to come back.

    4. missb*

      No suggestions for repellent, but have you searched out water sources in your yard? When we first moved in, we had a little concrete pond and we used those donut shaped things to kill the larvae. We also discovered a huge cast iron smelting pot (like from a foundry) tucked under our deck, which apparently was their favorite breeding ground. We were careful after that to make sure there isn’t any standing water in the yard.

    5. Imtheone*

      A friend just reminded me that fans discourage mosquitoes. They are poor flyers. I don’t know if several electric fans would work for you.

      1. KatEnigma*

        Fans will work, but only if they are powerful enough and you’re sitting directly in front of them. That’s not terribly convenient. We had to try it in a pinch last fall since my inlaws had planned the crab boil and they can’t exactly be moved inside. But in order for it to be affected, we all had to secure napkins and cups and stay with the fan blowing directly on us. Not impossible for the 8 of us, but an “event” suggests more than 8 people.

    6. KatEnigma*

      Mosquito Magician. Do you know that the poisonous stuff doesn’t even have a promise that it will last longer than the all natural stuff? It works so well, and we live in NW HOUSTON. I know mosquitos are everywhere, but Houston’s climate is tailor made for them. In the mornings as we’re taking our son out to the car for school, the mosquitos were literally swarming the door. Liberally applying Mosquito Magician, and they disappear! It’s a base of garlic, rosemary and citronella. It starts working basically immediately and lasts 3-4 weeks, depending on how much rain you get.

  44. The Dude Abides*

    Need some advice regarding something that can sometimes stray into “thing we aren’t supposed to talk about,” but I am fine stealing ideas from that realm if allowed.

    For an activity I am involved in, I have a prime opportunity to self-critique. Once I take the time and can nail down the time stamps, I will have a significant number of individual performances that I can watch and loop.

    My issue is that whenever I have done this in the past, I tend to get in my own head and tear myself down over mistakes great and small. Anyone here done such an introspection and have some pointers?

    1. RagingADHD*

      Decide in advance exactly what aspect of the execution you are going to assess on each pass. Stay focused on that topic, and make notes of how to correct or improve that specific thing.

      If you practice the activity regularly enough, it would be best to refrain from doing a second pass to evaluate a different aspect until you have implemented the first round of feedback.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        The nature of the activity means that during the event, if things are pointed out, then I can make such adjustments that day.

        Right now, I might not be able to implement the next round until mid-June

      2. The Shenanigans*

        That’s a really good idea, and I second it. A Dude Abides can also borrow my mantra if he wants. I have a hard time taking criticism too. I came home from class in tears a few times until a friend talked me through me. He told me to think of whatever you’re seeing as just information because that’s all it is. Information on how you’re doing. It is NOT a value judgment on your worth as a person. So when I feel myself getting upset, I just tell myself, “Its just data. It’s not personal.”. It helps.

    2. wkfauna*

      The more you self critique the easier it’ll get. I’m a singer and it used to be so excruciating to review audio or video recordings of myself. Now I do it close to a hundred time a week probably, with all my practices, and I’m kind of inured to it. I would also say that if it is possible in your case, consider critiquing practices but not the event itself. I find that my mental health is much improved by thinking of events as fleeting points in time, not to be brooded over

    3. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Externalization and self-compassion. Look up some psychodrama clips on YouTube for examples of externalization – you can do that mentally, with only yourself. Visualize what the critical part of you looks and feels like and ask what it is trying to accomplish (for example, prevent you from being rejected, criticize you before others can, etc). It’s always a protective intent, even if the execution is painful or harmful.

      Then connect it to self-compassion. You can ask it if it’s willing to step back so you can connect to your compassionate self. Or ask what it’s afraid of happening if you allow that compassion. Ask it how old it thinks you are and what it’s protecting.

      There may be a painful memory (such as of rejection) that you can imagine going back in time to heal (a ‘do over’), and retrieve the part of you that was burdened in that way and send it somewhere it wants to be. Give it gifts and heal it. Then show the protective critical part of you what is true about that part now – does it want a new role?

  45. missb*

    A wee update to my hoarding mom. Quick reminder: she fell in November, stayed on her bathroom floor hoard for a week before being found. While in the hospital, we visited her house and found an absolutely vile/stinky/gross hoard in the house. When she got out of the hospital, we brought her down to our state where my siblings are and she stayed with us until she had a place set up for a temporary home. We moved her into an apartment near her town back in early February and she stopped talking to any of us kids/spouses.

    The 20 years of hoarding in the house resulted in needing to tear most everything out. One of my siblings owns the house. We hired folks to separate the stuff that could be salvaged and stored that off-site while the house is repaired. The range, fridge and hot water heater were all non-functional and had been for awhile. None of the kitchen cabinetry or flooring throughout the house was salvageable. The single bathroom’s tub/shower drain pipe was not hooked up to anything – so it just drained into the dirt below the house. I suspect she hadn’t used it for awhile.

    We had to move her into a different place recently as the house is still being worked on. Her new roommate thinks she has dementia. She’s talking to me again, but I’m a bit alarmed. I have to call the local social worker next week to see if there is any way to have her evaluated. She’s leaving burners on, and doesn’t know how to operate the light switches. That’s not a good sign. My siblings and I are trying to figure out whether she should live independently or not. Sigh. Any advice is absolutely welcome. She’d need a medicaid space in an assisted living facility, as her resources are nil.

    1. RagingADHD*

      If she is leaving burners on, that is a hard no. She cannot live independently. That is life-threatening to her and to the roommate.

      1. KatEnigma*

        Yep. That was what got my great aunt into a nursing home. I stayed the weekend with her (and I was only 12 or 13?) and reported she was leaving burners on, and my mom and her cousins moved swiftly to get her someplace safe. And that was in the mid 1980’s! Someone would literally visit her every day and my parents picked her up before church every Sunday and returned her after dinner for as long as we could safely do that, but she couldn’t live alone anymore.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Good for your mom. My mom stayed in denial until the second fire Grandma started in out mother -in-law apartment. Then my dad finally put his foot down.

          I hope the roommate is able to move out if necessary.

      2. Dancing Otter*

        Agreed. Either residential care or hiring a full-time, live-in caretaker, which costs $$$$$.
        My grandmother almost blew up the house trying to light the gas oven.
        Start the paperwork soonest.

    2. Jay (no, the other one)*

      This is so so so so hard. If you’re not in the US, stop reading now because I don’t know anything about how this works in other (hopefully more civilized) countries. If you are, Medicaid in most states doesn’t pay for assisted living – only for nursing homes (yes, this is stupid). If she doesn’t already have Medicaid, the first step is getting that set up. If she does, there may be a caseworker available who can help you sort out what her options are. If she or a previous spouse is/was a veteran, there may also be resources available through the VA.

      The local Area Agency on Aging is a good place to start to look for resources in general and for evaluation in particular. I would also look for a comprehensive geriatric assessment. This is done by a team who specialize in the evaluation and management of older people and in particular in helping patients and families cope with changes in cognitive and functional status. They can do a thorough medical evaluation, confirm the diagnosis of dementia if present, and usually can offer an opinion about her capacity to make her own medical decisions. This is significant – if she’s going to object to what her family plans, you need documentation that she lacks capacity in order to overrule her decisions.

      And please take care of yourself. This is definitely a “put your own oxygen mask on first” situation. I am a retired palliative care/hospice doc with a lot of experience and happy to connect privately if that would be helpful.

    3. HBJ*

      Those sorts of drastic changes (being hospitalized) being away from their normal surroundings can absolutely accelerate dementia.

      1. Observer*

        So can the triggering event – and something like a fall from which one can’t get up and being without food or hydration for a week certainly qualifies!

    4. Lasuna*

      As a short term measure and to get some assistance navigating this situation, I strongly recommend having someone take your mother to her primary care doctor and asking for a referral for home health services including nursing, social work, and possibly physical therapy and/or occupational therapy, given her history of fall. To clear up a common confusion, home health is different than homemaker services (ie someone who comes in to cook, clean, shop, etc). If the doctor is experienced with geriatrics this should be no problem, but if you get any push back, explain what you have said here and state that you are worried your mother cannot take her medication as prescribed given her mental status. For your mother, the nurse would likely come in once a week to set up a pill box and make sure your mother is taking any prescribed medication. The most important thing will be the social work assessment. Unfortunately, Medicare/Medicaid won’t pay for home health social work as a stand alone service, which is why you need to ask for the nurse (you can also ask for PT if your mother isn’t taking any medications/has no nursing needs). The social worker will come to where she is living to help assess her capacity to live alone, as well as her needs and resources, and if the home health agency is any good, the social worker will assist you with finding an appropriate placement for her, as well as with any necessary paperwork to establish a power of attorney, etc. A great thing about home health is that under Medicare and Medicaid, home health agencies are NOT allowed to charge patients anything for services, even if insurance denies claims, so all of this would be completely free. Of course, this advice does assume that your mom would agree to services, unless someone in the family has the legal ability to make health decisions for her.

      I agree with Jay that the local Agency on Aging can be a good resource, depending on where you live. I also suggest looking into city and state level Department of Human Services/Department of Health/Department of Family Services to see what supports are available in her area because they vary widely between states. If she deteriorates significantly, you or her roommate can report her to Adult Protective Services for self-neglect. It definitely doesn’t sound like it is at that point yet. Ideally, it wouldn’t get to that point, but in some situations people refuse all care and it eventually becomes necessary. Good luck – these situations are always so hard. Make sure you are taking care of yourself.

    5. Observer*

      She’s leaving burners on, and doesn’t know how to operate the light switches.

      She needs a medical evaluation. But, as others have also said, there is no way to leave someone like this can live on their own, safely.

      There could be work arounds for some of the issues. But this is just not possible. There is no way to keep her from literally setting the place on fire. Even if you have smart apps up the wazoo to alert you to what’s going on (eg a fire), by the time you can figure out what’s up and get some help in place… And that’s assuming she cooperates! Which, you know she probably won’t.

      This is rough. It really, really is. But she can’t be on her own.

  46. Anon-A-Nanny*

    My partner and I are considering moving to Sydney, or the central coast. Any advice from AAM commentators?

    We will be going to check it out and will just have suitcases :)

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I don’t know how helpful this will be. I’m not a local, I only lived in Sydney for a 6 month stint several years ago.

      It’s a stunningly beautiful area, perfect climate and good fun to visit. It’s an alluring place for sure, but the reality of moving there is quite different.

      I hate to state the obvious, but really do make sure you work out the numbers before you get too seduced by the dream. It’s a very high CoL area, and there’s a national housing availability and affordability crisis. If you’re moving from the US especially, be aware that our dollar is much lower and our taxes are much higher. You may end up getting a rude shock when you calculate your take home pay and how little buying power it actually gives you.

      In some well publicised cases, the housing scarcity has led to hundreds of rental applications for substandard, overpriced properties. Friends who recently moved to Sydney spent months looking for a place to live just to end up with an expensive, tiny rental they hated in a faraway suburb.

      Also, Sydney traffic and public transport commutes are notoriously bad. I had colleagues that already had 90min+ commutes each way – and that was in the before times when there were more options. So definitely factor the commute into your decision. It’s one thing to live in a beautiful spot, but having enough time and daylight to actually enjoy it is another.

      Sorry, I sound like such a downer! It’s really a lovely spot and you won’t need any convincing of that. Just pointing out the pitfalls those rose-coloured glasses might gloss over so you can factor that into negotiations or decisions. Others more local might have more nuanced and specific advice. But good luck, and enjoy your reccie trip anyway :)

    2. shockingly aussie*

      screw that, move to melbourne. we are way cooler, and somewhat cheaper!

  47. Elle*

    Anyone watching Love and Death on HBO? I have some questions about latest episode. Mostly around the Gore house.

      1. Elle*

        It was odd that after the murder they all went back to the house like nothing had happened. The men were hanging out after they’d inundate body, post funeral lunch was there, he brought the kid back there, Betty’s mom was there like it was no big deal. I was really distracted by that.

        1. Skates*

          It is really chilling! This was also true in the Hulu series I’m pretty sure, so I wonder if it’s based on some account of reality

  48. Prospect Gone Bad*

    I am burnt out from where I live, this housing crisis or whatever we call it is really putting a damper on my life plans. The constant noise here is killing my concentration. It’s either construction or motorcycles or outside music or the people upstairs walking like bigfeet at early hours then going back to bed. I went to the office to escape it (think about this if you ever want to downsize to a shared office type plan) and forgot that the shared areas tend to have events on thursdays and Fridays and there was music blasting and loud voices pretty early in the day, and TBH my nerves are getting shot from having to constantly deal with so much background noise and commotion every place I go. There is also just the helplessness of it all. I never know when something is going to happen, if I can stay out or not, not knowing whether some neigbor is going to be sawing wood and plastic music at 8:30 the next day, or if a series of deliver trucks will be waking me up at 7, then 8, then 9.

    The worst part is that there is so much choice on the housing market (at least it feels that way with how many homes are for sale). But every seller just added 200K to prices in 2020-2021 and. Will. Not. Budge. Genuinely curious how some of these houses can be for sale so long and keep getting relisted. Don’t the sellers get tired of it? What was so special about 2021 prices that lasted for such a brief period, that got stuck in sellers’ minds?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Have you ever tried a white noise machine? I didn’t think I would like it because I don’t like loud sounds generally, but somehow this works for me. I bought one on Amazon that has lots of different settings, you can make the white noise higher or lower, louder or softer to match whatever sound you’re trying to mask – and it has made a big difference for my comfort in my home (I don’t think it would work as well in an office, as it might annoy others). I was being driven insane by some 5AM chirping sparrows, and now I sleep right through it. It’s great to feel the power is back in my hands and I’m not just at the mercy of sparrows, neighbors, and traffic.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        This. I can’t control other people, I can only control my own environment. We have a white noise machine that we place on the floor next to our big window– I no longer hear the early morning trucks and yelling from the facility that’s right across the alley from our apartment. I also got blackout curtains. Sometimes I sleep with earplugs. During the day I wear noise cancelling headphones. I love living in a city and I live in a great apartment building and there are always going to be trade-offs.

    2. KatEnigma*

      People can’t sell their houses for more than they owe. At least not unless they bank allows it and they want to ruin their credit for 7 years (a short sale is as bad a foreclosure or bankruptcy to your credit score) So no, they’re not going to budge. They have to keep living in a house that isn’t selling, assuming it’s not a Must-Sell situation, and just wait out the market. But in my market, that means houses take 95 days average to sell, instead of 14 (we bought Sept 2021), but prices are already back up above 2021 prices.

    3. WellRed*

      I just want to comment and say I hear you and feel Your pain. It’s tough to not have home be a quiet sanctuary. I assume the housing market means renting in a different area is also not feasible? I can’t tell if your trying to choose between renting where you are or trying to buy but if that’s the case, us there a middle ground? I live in an insane market both rent and sales but I’m looking in my rental. Though I dread the day that changes. It shouldn’t be this hard.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Thanks for feeling the pain. Yeah, it’s been a while since I thought “just rent it out!” I really don’t want to be a landlord that sublets, I really don’t know how other people do that! Sort of hoping the craziness dies down and the FOMO. It truly is crazy right now. I’m sure some markets are truly hot, but here, stuff is sitting, and people are still talking like it’s late 2020. If you look at zillow, basically every house says “will sell quicker than 90% of houses in area.” There is some real urgency, perhaps, in some places, but there is a decent amount of fake urgency holding up home prices at least here.

    4. Llama Llama*

      My landlord decided to move back into the his house, so I had to move (plenty of notice). Moved to a compatible house. I am literally paying twice as much.

    5. Sitting Pretty*

      I’m so with you on this, and it stinks. When I bought my little condo in 2013 it really was a sanctuary. But there has been explosive growth in my area. They expanded the freeway and it now comes right up almost to my building (tore out all the green space to do it). There has been ever faster turnover of residents, less sense of connection to neighbors, more parties, and more more development planned right near our complex which means even more traffic in the near future.

      I bought when interest rates were low and they’ve only skyrocketed since. I couldn’t even afford this place now, let alone something is a less dense area.

      The big issue I’ve discovered with noise is that it’s not just “sound” like something you can silence. It’s also vibration. And the more percussive noises (footsteps, car doors, etc.) simply crack right through the white noise and vibrate through the body.

      Rugs, blankets, lots of soft thing around my condo help. I also combine fans for white noise with Loop earplugs AND noise canceling headphones. It’s an elaborate sleep setup but it does dampen the worst of the noise and soften the percussive sounds.

      One of the bigger investments in my place was new windows and sliding balcony door. Expensive but really helped with both noise and temps, and should be a positive if a miracle happens and I’m ever able to sell this place!

      Sending lots of soothing quiet your way.

  49. Catscatscats*

    I just ran the vacuum and now my phone volume is weak. It’s at max and the app setting is at max and it’s struggling. Has anyone had this issue? Is there a way to fix it?

    1. Courageous cat*

      Hmm, what are you suggesting might be the correlation between your vacuum and your phone volume?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yeah, I’m not sure what the one would have to do with the other.

    2. *daha**

      Have you tried turning it off and then turning it on again?

      (Other than that, I’ve got nothing.)

    3. Liminality*

      I have to wear gun-range hearing/ear protection headphones when I vacuum. (See the tinnitus thread… it sucks.)
      Any chance your phone is fine and you’re just having delayed hearing issues from the vacuum cleaner?

    4. AGD*

      I’m a cognitive scientist. Is it selectively the phone, or sound in general? I’m wondering if this might be a bit of an auditory illusion – vacuums are noisy, so maybe everything sounds oddly quiet after using it for a while?

  50. Scheduled headaches*

    Anybody want to troubleshoot a boring mystery?

    I have a headache every single weekend, and I cannot figure out why. I assumed it was due to sleeping in and delaying my caffeine consumption, so I forced myself to wake up on weekends at the same time I get up for work. Nothing changed. Then I thought maybe I was overdoing the caffeine, so I cut down to one mug of coffee per day overall. Nothing changed.

    Everything else is the same. I WFH, so I eat the same foods, breathe the same air, etc., all seven days. I don’t use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. I have an immunocompromised parent, so I don’t go crowded places like bars or clubs. Clearly it’s behavioral since the schedule is so consistent, but I just can’t put my finger on it.

    1. bonbons*

      I don’t think I can help much, but I clearly remember suffering the headaches in my 20’s & 30’s. The only things I can suggest is to make sure you’re getting enough sleep every night & not to stay up late. But, yeah, you brought back some memories there. I’m sorry you’re suffering.

    2. Lasuna*

      Is the way you are using your body different on weekends? Are you sitting on a couch with poor back support instead of in an ergonomic desk chair? Are you doing extra chores or exercise? Most of my headaches are caused by neck or back issues, so that could be something to look into.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yup, neck strain. That with dehydration used to equal a headache every Friday for me. I also had a misaligned bite for a while that caused jaw tension.

    3. fueled by coffee*

      Do you live in an apartment building? You said *you* don’t smoke, but could you have neighbors who smoke/burn incense/etc… when they are home on the weekends? (I say this as someone who spent several months having an allergic reaction to my neighbors’ pets until I started popping Benadryl at night).

      Alternatively, do you do something weird with your posture on weekends compared to weekdays? Like curling up on the couch instead of sitting in a desk chair, or getting in a lot of uninterrupted screen time? Sometimes headaches can be caused by neck issues or eye strain.

    4. Alex*

      Do you drink more water when you are working? Maybe you keep a glass of water or tea next to you while you work, but on the weekend you have more varied activity and forget? Maybe track your water consumption and see if that helps?

    5. Qwerty*

      oof, I’ve been there!

      What time do the headaches kick in? Are you waking up with them? What kind of medicine (if any) helps get rid of them? When did this pattern start? It sounds like you’ve tried tracking food, water, sleep, etc. from your post, just mentioning it in case I’m wrong. Standard practices for figuring out migraine triggers might be helpful for assessing your headache triggers since it is so regular.

      I have known several people who get caffeine withdrawal headaches on weekends even though they only had a single daily caffeine drink (some had coffee, some had cola). You could probably test that theory by skipping coffee on a Friday and seeing what happens.

      Any chance Friday is the culprit? Staying up late, a special Friday dinner or dessert, extra screen time? Do you maybe sleep differently on weekends that could be putting strain on your neck or something? Or spend more time on a phone/tablet in bed before going to sleep which puts your neck at an awkward angle

      Is there someone who can give you a neck/shoulder rub on Thursday or Friday for a couple weeks, like a significant other? Maybe the weekend headache is the result of a culmination of things during the week, like tension in the muscles. (If it fails, at least you get some relaxation!)

    6. Ginger Cat Lady*

      My first thought was vision. If you spend all day looking at a screen (one distance) during the week, and on the weekends, you look at anything else, maybe your eyes are strained?

    7. AGD*

      I’m not a healthcare provider, but I have a friend who only gets sick on weekends and holidays. He’s a doctor, and he says his body only gives out when it ‘knows’ that he can afford to take time off and rest. It’s possible he’s kidding, but this might be a thing?

      1. MEH Squared*

        I am most definitely not a doctor, but this happened to me when I was in college. i ran myself ragged on 4 hours of sleep while I was in school, then I would get sick and crash the first night I was home for holidays and breaks. It was as if my body knew I had the time to rest. Or was getting vengeance on me.

        To the OP, are you using the computer more on your weekends? It could be eye strain. Or reading more books (and eye strain again). I know the frustration of mystery headaches that seemingly have no basis for them, so my sympathies.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Teachers tend to get sick at the start of school breaks; the adrenaline releases you and you slump. This has happened to me less since I started doing more self care and rest within the term. Extra early nights leading up to breaks too.

      2. Katy*

        It is 100% a thing with migraines. OP may well have migraines and not know it. A lot of migraines without aura go undiagnosed because people think it’s just a bad headache.

    8. AnonRN*

      Rebound headache from pain meds taken during the week? (Taking, say Tylenol or Ibuprofen frequently for muscle pain can cause a rebound headache. Excedrin especially can do it because it has caffeine in it.)

      Hydration is almost always the answer to my headaches, and if the weather is getting warmer where you are then maybe you need more water? (including in the middle of the night). This, along with basically a “tension hangover” from the week seems to be my main issues.

      If you’re on oral birth control pills is it possible the headache is associated with the days the formula switches during the month? (Seems unlikely especially since most don’t switch on a 7 day interval, but my headaches got better when I stopped OCP for unrelated reasons.)

      Is your job or morning prep process stressful? Mine can be and one advantage is that a boost of adrenaline kicks a headache for me pretty fast. (If this is the case then I’d say you have a headache every day but the adrenaline surge gets rid of it.) See also: do you exercise differently on a weekday versus weekend?

      1. Shy Platypus*

        +1 for oral birth control, and not necessarilly around switching points. When I resumed taking oestrogens a couple of years ago, I started having striking headaches every single saturday afternoon (just as I started decompressing from work I guess). Stopped when I dropped the pill.

    9. You're A Married Spud*

      I’d definitely evaluate your hydration. You said you cut down on caffeine but are you drinking anything else?

      2 litres of water a day is good (I like the bottles with the times stamped on the outside so you can make sure you’re drinking steadily throughout the day).

      1. You're A Married Spud*

        Additionally, headaches can be a sign of referred pain (from like a muscle strain, or a knotted back muscle).

        So maybe working in a stretching routine on the weekends?

        The ‘it always happens on the weekend’ seems like it would exempt you from this idea, but sometimes people get flare-ups of all sorts of things during rest periods (like people who are never ill suddenly getting the flu the moment they take a week off work)

    10. Nack*

      Is it possibly hairstyle or clothing related? I have very long (read:heavy) hair, and if I wear it in a messy bun it gives me a headache, versus the French braid I usually wear. Similarly wearing hats or certain clothing that causes me to hold my body differently – even slightly! – can cause headaches.

    11. Dancing Otter*

      Do you get more noise from the neighbors on weekends? Seasonal, but lawn mowing, leaf blowers, snow blowers, power tools, etc. are often used more on the weekends. And parties, children playing outside…
      Maybe something that happens more on weekends is triggering an allergy? Cleaning, gardening….
      Good luck. I hope you figure it out, and it’s something you can control/fix.

    12. Katy*

      Do you work during the week? Then it’s most likely a tension headache and/or a migraine that’s triggered by the change from time on to time off. I get migraines, and even if I keep every other element of my routine the same (and I try to), my body knows it’s the weekend and lets the migraine that it’s been putting off all week catch up with me.

      1. Isabel Archer*

        Seconded. Especially if the work week has been stressful. It’s like the headache (regular or migraine) waited politely all week so you could continue to function, and then pounced on the weekend.

    13. Ampersand*

      When I get headaches on the weekend it’s because of the change in my routine, including sleeping in later. Sometimes even when I wake up at my normal weekday time on weekends I get headaches. I think my body just revolts at having things change, like: oh, I see you’re doing something different than the previous five days? Headache time!

      I don’t have any solutions, only solidarity. My husband experiences this, too.

  51. Need Craft Help*

    Late to the party, but I’ll ask anyway. I belong to a church group that makes simple quilts. For backing, we use twin sheets. We lay out the quilt, trim the batting to the sides of the quilt, and then tie the quilt. After tying, we trim the sheet to about 2″ and then turn the excess over to the front (doubling it over) to make the binding. There’s always quite a bit of the top part of the sheet left over, and we cut that into squares for later quilts. But the side bits are narrow but long (and remember there’s a side hem on the sheet) and we discard them (occasionally someone wants the leftovers for stuffing something or whatever but this is rare; there is always someone who will use the leftover batting). This drives me crazy. I was thinking I could try crocheting these nice long pieces (which I’d have to trim up some more) into rag rugs. But I don’t know how to crochet, although I tried it in high school. So it would be helpful if someone could give me some guidance/ideas/good site to check. Thanks.

    1. Not A Manager*

      A lot of rag rugs are braided. You could cut the scraps into strips, braid them, and then sew the braids into a circle or an oval.

      When you’re talking about crocheting the rug, are you planning to crochet a long chain and then sew it into a coil? Or are you thinking of actually crocheting all of the rags into one big rug? If you just want to create a long chain, that’s really a series of connected slip knots. You can use a crochet hook for it, but for something thick like a rag strip, you can just use your fingers. Google “crochet chain stitch” and I’m sure you’ll find results. I like the tutorials on new stitch a day dot com, but almost any video will show you.

      1. Need Craft Help*

        I am not planning/thinking of crocheting a long chain v one big rug, since I don’t know how to crochet! Ha! I will google that and also think about the braiding, as you and Squidhead mentioned.

        1. Katy*

          Fair warning that braiding rag rugs is very tedious and time-consuming. It works best if you have tension on the braid, so you spend a lot of time tying it to chair legs and so on, and then you’re kind of hunched over as you braid, and in general it’s not exactly a chill, relaxing craft. But it looks cool!

    2. Squidhead*

      My MIL makes braided rugs from old clothes (knitted and woven) and scraps (so she has a lot of random-sized pieces). Near as I can tell, her strips are maybe 6″ wide and she folds the raw edges to the center and then folds that in half so she has a strip about 1-1.5″ wide with no raw edges. She then begins braiding three strips together. When one strip runs out, she sews a new one to the end of it and continues braiding. The braid is not suuuuper tight; she does this on her lap, by hand. When she has a decent amount of braid, she starts coiling it and sews each layer to its neighbor. I like her rugs a lot and we have many…her stitches holding the coils together sometimes give out and I’ve re-stitched several with heavy duty thread and a sturdy needle. I do machine wash & dry the rugs and then do any repairs before putting them back down on the floor.

      A few are an unusual shape (like rectangular or star) and I’ve found it helpful to lay the whole thing out on a table, lay all the layers in approximately the right shape, and then safety-pin them together. After stitching every few layers, it’s easy to undo the safety pins and take up any slack or ease out any area that’s trying to pucker. (I once tried basting it into shape and that was more annoying to adjust because I had to cut out the thread and re-baste it.)

    3. E*

      Not sure if this is what you’re looking for, but I cut up old sheets to use for cleaning rags, especially for things that I might normally use a disposable paper towel for

    4. Dancing Otter*

      Look for instructions / tutorials for jelly roll rugs. (Or start small with hot pads or placemats.) No crochet involved; all sewing!
      Another idea would be to use the strips, after removing the hems, in blocks such as rail fence or log cabin.

      1. Need Craft Help*

        I love jelly roll rugs!! However, that would require long strips of batting, and our side trimmings batting trimmings are tiny (and poly v cotton).

  52. Cat and dog fosterer*

    Update on the orphan kitten:
    Now two weeks old! Slowly gaining weight and that slowness worries me a bit, but I remind myself that we just need to get him through the next two weeks and at some point he’ll start to eat wet food and catch up. And if he doesn’t make it then at least he had a really good chance. But he survived the hardest part, and his chances are better now than last week!

  53. Anonymous cat*

    Has anyone seen Not So New Reader on here recently?
    She gave very thoughtful advice and I realized I haven’t seen her on here for a while, but I haven’t been reading all the comments.

    1. Silent E*

      I haven’t seen any comments from her here since late last fall. Someone whose username I hadn’t seen here before replied sharply to something she posted, and that was the last I’ve seen from her since. I agree, she did give very thoughtful advice. Perhaps she’s just taking a break. I think it’s kind of you to ask about her; I have also noticed her absence among the regular posters.

      1. Blue wall*

        Yes I noticed she hasn’t posted since those mean replies to her post. I have some of her advice saved I go back and read.

        1. Whatever*

          Nope, nobody was mean or unkind to them. They got pushback because hydration is not the solution to every problem. All advice whether it was cancer diagnosis , depression, grieving a loss all started “make sure you’re drinking enough water”. For some people it was welcome advice, for others it was trivializing the problems.

          1. StudentA*

            Totally disagree.

            It shouldn’t be trivializing to say “and” drink enough water. She may have been repetitive giving that advice, but it was always in addition to other heartfelt, wise advice.

            The truth is the vast majority of us could do with drinking more water, btw. It’s a good reminder.

            1. Whatever*

              While it may be true that most people should drink more water, there’s a time and place to offer that advice

              If someone is asking how to prevent fatigue or improve their sleep habit, offering hydration is fine. But when someone is discussing a serious health issue whether it be physical or mental or other serious problem it is neither helpful, necessary and IMO kind to remind people to drink water and eat fruits/vegetables.

            2. RagingADHD*

              Considering that the original question on that thread was “How do I communicate with my doctor about my budget limitations for making a long-term treatment plan,” a response about food and hydration was irrelevant to the point of being bizarre.

              And frankly, it had a strong connotation that “you wouldn’t be in this position now if you did better,” which was at best extremely tone deaf.

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                In a similar vein, “see a nutritionist and drink more water” was given as advice in response to a question about ankle joint weakness. What?

                1. Bunny*

                  And to a question from someone having trouble dealing with their roommate! That was the one that made me double take.

          2. Ellis Bell*

            Yeah. There are definitely some style of comments I could live without but “do remember to drink water while going through something serious” isn’t one of them. I would definitely rather get simple items for the checklist advice, even if it didn’t totally meet the brief.

          3. NL*

            It wasn’t about the hydration advice, it was that several people asked them to stop giving unsolicited nutrition advice in response to a question that wasn’t about diet. They weren’t mean, they just asked them to stop giving unsolicited diet advice. (It’s in the last weekend post of October.)

        2. RagingADHD*

          I didn’t think they were mean comments, either. It’s healthy to hear how you’re coming across to other people. And sometimes it’s healthy to step back and recalibrate yourself.

          If it’s hurtful or upsetting to a grown up person when internet strangers point out that they are oversimplifying a serious issue, or riding their hobby horse instead of contributing meaningfully to a discussion, then it’s high time to touch grass and regain perspective on life outside the open thread.

  54. Reader Writer*

    Does anyone have resource recommendations (websites, classes, books, etc) for learning how to write a book? I’ve always been a huge reader and keep having ideas for novels, but going from idea to finished product is daunting. Even as a reader, I’m having trouble understanding how to take the initial idea and grow it into a full novel, but I’d like to try!

    1. deuceofgears*

      Hi, professional/full-time novelist here – so one thing that’s helpful to remember is that every writer has a different process. Look around and try different things in a spirit of experimentation as long as it’s fun/helpful, and realize that if Writing Approach A is absolutely not working for you, it’s fine to say, “This isn’t for me,” and try Writing Approach B instead.

      I’m focusing on structure since I’m guessing that’s one of the things you’re grappling with, but if it turns out that the bottleneck is characters or theme or something else, there are resources everywhere – it’s just a matter of finding one that works for you. I’m trying to confine this to free or lower-cost resources.

      If you like the thought of working from an outline, or you are methodical/logical/analytical/organized in your approach to things:

      – FREE: Snowflake Method for writing a novel (Randy Ingermanson – this is online, Google it)
      – FREE: Nanowrimo has a NaNo Prep 101 workbook that talks you through one possible process
      – K. M. Weiland’s books (Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel are good starting points)
      – some people swear by Robert McKee’s book Story (it’s aimed at screenwriters, but has some crossover)
      – Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel (he has some other books, but they tend to repeat some material – full disclosure, I used to be with an agent at his agency)

      Sort of inherently there are fewer books aimed at the “I run on vibes/learn through intuition” crowd, but that is ALSO valid. If you are a CHAOS GREMLIN (I am a Chaos Gremlin and I usually write nonlinearly!), you might enjoy the following:

      – Brian Kitely’s The 3 A.M. Epiphany and The 4 A.M. Breakthrough – so, these books aren’t about structure as such, but it will expose you to a lot of techniques, including some gonzo wild ones. The exercises are pretty short and include things like “write a 600 word story ENTIRELY in imperative mood.”
      – The Nanowrimo workbook Ready, Set, Novel! is a more freewheeling approach – you absolutely do not have to use this in a Nanowrimo context. :)

      If you like audio/video lectures, I liked Maggie Stiefvater’s video lectures (look them up on Etsy – they also come with text transcriptions, which I appreciate so much). She’s also clear that she’s talking about *her* process and it may or may not work for anyone else.

      Also – do you have a favorite novel that you’d like to emulate? Crib from its structure! If it’s divided into chapters, for instance, go through and MAP what happens in each chapter. (It can be helpful to divide this into plot beats vs. character arc beats vs. theme, but do what works for you.) e.g. for a made-up mystery:

      Prologue – victim is messily murdered
      Ch 1 – introduces the hero at a low point in their life
      Ch 2 – introduces the villain, except in a red herring way so it’s not obvious she’s the villain
      Ch 3 – hero gets accused of murder, has to clear their name

      Ch 24 – hero and villain confront each other!!!
      Ch 25 – hero prevails and retires to a well-earned vacation with their girlfriend

      Obviously this is going to get you a somewhat formulaic *structure*, but personally I am all about breaking down problems into bite-sized pieces. If the roadblock right now is “Novel 101, how do,” start with a formulaic structure and worry about how to write the next House of Leaves or Foucault’s Pendulum or Ulysses after you’ve figured out the formula version. Or you could go for broke! The nice thing about this is that (unless you’re already under contract??) you can do a random experiment, as long as you have the time/energy – even if you do the creative equivalent of jumping off a cliff, in *writing* that doesn’t actually kill you – what you lose is time/energy, but you may learn a lot from the process.

      The thing to remember is that there’s no wrong way; what’s right for you is what gets the words out, since we don’t have a Telepathic Transcribing Machine (yet?). I know successful writers who do not outline and write nonlinearly (e.g. Becky Chambers), I know writers who outline everything to the nth degree and do not deviate from the outline, I know at least one successful indie writer who just starts writing to see what happens and has no idea what’s going to happen until he writes it, I know a writer whose experience is having the story beamed into her head and she just transcribes what comes to her.

      In any case, I hope this is helpful. Good luck and best wishes with your writing!

    2. OyHiOh*

      I don’t write novels (I write stage plays and poetry) but a full length play (generally about 90 to 120 pgs) can seem equally daunting at the “I have an idea!!!!” stage. My approach is a little bit unconventional but it works pretty reliably for me.

      First I write a monologue. One person talking about a moment of heightened emotion and experience for 3 to 5 minutes. This helps me find the essence of the idea. Many times (most of the time) this is as far as the idea goes. You can use this as the core of a novel too. About 3 to 5 pages, central character, describing their emotion and experience related to the idea.

      Next, I write a *short* 1 act play. One acts are usually 10 to 45 pages. At this stage, I aim for about 20, 25 pages at the most. Now I’ve got somewhere between 3 and 5 characters to work with, and 1 to about 5 scenes to elaborate on the central idea of the monologue. I might start building the back story here, I may just work on establishing the characters and their relationships to each other. For you, this would look like a short story of around 20 to 40 pgs, where you start to introduce secondary characters and begin to build out the world of the story, and the relationships the characters have to each other.

      Many of the works I write that make it past the monologue also don’t make it past the 1 act stage. I like 1 acts (short stories for you). I like how compact and approachable they are.

      On the rare occassions that a script makes it’s way to a proper full length play, I start teasing at the edges of the existing one act. Can I make a scene run longer? What’s missing between scene 1 and scene 2? And so on, until I hit my page count. You would do the same thing with a short story that you want to develop into a novel. Ask yourself what is missing, ask yourself what you didn’t include because you were trying to write a short story, not a novel.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I always recommend the Snowflake Method mentioned above. Even if you wind up being the kind of writer who goes by the seat of your pants, it’s a great introductory method that gets you *doing* right away instead of thinking about it.

      Naturally, writing well requires thinking time. But thinking is easy, and the actual writing part is the hard part.

      In general, don’t worry about doing it correctly. Just start, let it be wrong, and fix it later.

    4. Sloanicota*

      So, people have mixed feelings on how “prescriptive” they want their advice to be, but I really leveled up as a writer after reading Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. It is very prescriptive in terms of what plot structure looks like – what needs to happen in each quarter of a novel in order to move a plot forward? This was not intuitive to me. I prefer it over the more popular “Save the Cat” which was written for screenplays – if you do read StC, there’s a novel version I’d suggest instead. If you want more emotional guidance people generally recommend Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott.

    5. MacGillicuddy*

      Check out “How I Write” by Janet Evanovich. She wrote the Stephanie Plum series, among others.

  55. Filosofickle*

    Experience renting a car at Salt Lake City airport? The reviews of the on-airport car rentals are terrible across the board. Any tips?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Not with that airport in particular, but in my experience they always have terrible reviews and I’ve rented cars from a bunch of different ones. I highly recommend renting from one that has some sort of fast lane option (Avis and Hertz do for sure, can’t recall on the others off the top of my head). You have to sign up for the membership to get it, but it’s free. Car rental lines can be brutal at airports without it.

      General car rental tip – video record the car before taking it and when returning it, so you have a record of its condition.

      Overall, my experience renting from an airport is about the same as outside of one. If you’re really concerned, though, you can always Uber to another location.

    2. Don’t put metal in the science oven*

      I’ve rented from SLC airport & it’s been fine, as has been my experience in large US airports. I typically use Hertz because it’s a larger brand with more car choices, but do a bit of shopping around. I’ve been to one airport where Hertz was three times more expensive than Budget. I second the video before & after, including the interior.

    3. tiredlibrarian*

      Rented from Hertz at SLC a few years ago. My biggest tip is rent through Costco, if you’re a Costco member. Otherwise it was fine – a bit of a wait at the counter, but otherwise just a normal uneventful experience.

    4. Jackalope*

      Don’t know if this is an option at SLC, but a few years ago I was renting a car in a big city and it was around $100 less to rent from a place that was a little ways in town. Could that be an option? Even towns with awful public transport often have good options from an airport to in-town.

  56. Solar window film and portable air coolers /conditioners*

    I’ve just moved home to the UK into a top floor flat that gets the sun all afternoon so that it gets very warm – even with the blinds down all day. At the moment I just open the windows to cool the rooms down but when my cat comes to live with me that won’t be an option. I didn’t realize how much I’d miss central air conditioning when I got home!

    Can anyone recommend a solar window film (the cling film type, not the adhesive type) that can reduce the amount of heat that actually gets into the flat. And portable air coolers that I could use. Am also looking at portable air conditioners but as it’s rental property I’m cautious about anything that needs to be vented via the windows. I think it would only vent air but if it also vents water that could drip onto downstairs flats that would be a problem.


    1. Just here for the scripts*

      We live in a building (21 stories, brick, built in 1962) that doesn’t allow window units for the very reason you mentioned—the drips down the facade. Good news though—the portable air conditioner vents only air, no condensation! Just do your homework: you want one that self evaporates, not collects in a bucket or you’ll be emptying the damn thing all.the.time. especially in the summer if it’s muggy where you are. The hose starts inside the apartment and the venting works with screens in the window!

      For what it’s worth, lots of my neighbors have cats (and dogs) and they keep their windows open—it’s safe because of the screens. Just the ones with terraces and balconies keep the doors to those closed.

      1. fposte*

        Screens aren’t a big thing in the UK, so I’m guessing Solar might not have any.

      2. Any old username*

        Thanks – am going to look at evaporative air coolers. Not as good as a/c but as close as I think I’m going to get.

        1. just another queer reader*

          Note that evaporative air coolers really only work if the air is dry (50% relative humidity or less).

    2. KatEnigma*

      I don’t know what brands are available in the UK, but we have successfully used Gila window film in several rentals and now 2 out of 3 houses we’ve owned. It’s the type that just goes on with soapy water, and can be (we’ve done it. It’s not easy!) removed later. It comes in various transparencies. Even apartments that specifically forbid anything that wasn’t the white blinds facing out never noticed the film.

      What might be easier for you to find and a short term solution that’s stackable on top of the film is black out/thermal curtains. We install double rods, and keep a sheer on one part so we CAN let light in when the sun isn’t beating against the window (We’ve lived in California and now Texas) but close the thermals otherwise. Both the film and the curtains also help keep heat in, when it’s cold.

      You also can but adjustable screen frames that close into the window, depending on the type of window

      1. Solar window film and portable air coolers /conditioners*

        Thanks – looks like Amazon has that brand. Will try the double curtain rail as well. Need to get the heat under control otherwise I may have to rethink my cat joining me until Autumn as I don’t want her alone in a sweltering apartment while I’m at work. I miss her but she’s happy and being spoilt rotten by my parents at the moment.

    3. just another queer reader*

      For window films: I don’t know what brands are available in the UK, but check out their technical specifications. You’ll be looking for something with low Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC). If you don’t want heavily tinted windows, you’ll also want to look for a high Visible Transmittance (VT).

      Also if you want to get a portable air conditioner and vent it out the window, you can fill the rest of the gap with wood/ cardboard/ Styrofoam/ insulation/ etc. (Not always super pretty, but it should work to keep your cat in and the heat out.) You can also wedge a dowel in the top part of your window to prevent the window from being opened any further.

      Finally: getting heavy curtains, and strategically opening and closing windows and curtains at different times of day, has helped a lot in keeping my home comfortable! If it’s possible to get a cross- breeze through the apartment at night or in the early morning, it’s lovely.

      1. Solar window film and portable air coolers /conditioners*

        Thanks for the great suggestions. Unfortunately the windows are all on one side of the apartment – with a long hallway connecting them so it’ll be difficult to get cross breeze. But hopefully window film and opening the windows in each room and have a fan circulating the air should help.

  57. KatEnigma*

    Does anyone has suggestions for what help can be offered to a neighbor/casual friend who just became a young widow with 3 kids under 9, very unexpectedly? Obviously we’ll donate food gift cards and see if I can free up some freezer space for her, since she doesn’t have as much as I anticipate she’ll need for donated food. Her lawn maintenance is paid (we use the same landscaper) Her middle kid is in the same class as my son, so we already carpool and exchange child care some, but with only 2 1/2 weeks of school left, I don’t anticipate that would necessarily be a need for her- if it is, we’ll transport the girls back and forth. But I’m looking for needs that might slip through the cracks, and something specific I can offer instead of “let us know what we can do” since that requires her to think of things and ask. I’d rather that burden be put on the social collective, not her. And also anything that’s maybe not something that she needs today, but we could offer in the weeks ahead when the casseroles have stopped coming in and others have moved on in their lives, but she and her kids are still struggling.

    And yes, I understand OFFER and then graciously accept if she wants that help or not, and that the answer sometimes will be not.

    As my husband said, there’s no good news that comes from a cruiser running its lights outside the house at 1:30am.

    1. Vanessa*

      If you are somewhat close already (even if as neighbors) could you take the kids for dinners periodically. I’d imagine she doesn’t have a lot of time to just be alone in her feelings with three small kids. Maybe dinner and a movie at your house would give her a little break.

    2. OyHiOh*

      My kids were slightly older when their father died (oldest was 11, youngest almost 7). Once school was out, playdates were helpful for getting some time alone with feelings here and there.

      Similarly, there may be a day camp a few of you could scholarship the older kids for.

      Offer help with specific chores. She may not feel comfortable taking you up on it, but offer to come over and run the children’s laundry once a week, or scrub bathrooms. You might approach this as what was the chore X always did and would you be comfortable if I did it for you? It took me years to do basic maintenance on my car (check fluids, change wiper blades) because Mr Oy always did it. I knew *how* to, I just couldn’t.

    3. just another queer reader*

      If it’s an option, I would recommend giving cash (with a nice note) over a gift card – for me, using a gift card can add a layer of complexity.

      I like the idea of offering to take the kids sometimes. Maybe this summer you can invite some of the kids along when you’re going to the pool or just hanging out in the backyard.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Agreed about gift cards- it’s an extra task for the recipient to keep track of what’s been used and what has enough value to make it worthwhile to use in the moment.

        It is possible to do a split order (like when multiple people are getting a meal delivered but paying separately) but don’t get anything for yourself and have it delivered at their place. I know it’s possible with Grubhub, not sure about other platforms.

    4. Not A Manager*

      When my husband passed, it was very expected and I had a good support circle. How you can best help depends on her situation now.

      If you think she has good support at the moment – extended family, church, work, etc. – and if you’re not really in her very close circle, it might be best to offer the use of your freezer and additional carpooling, but then back off for a few weeks or a few months. When my husband was ill, I had a LOT of offers of food/help/childcare from people I didn’t know well, and to be honest, it was too much for me to even manage. Maybe I leaned too hard on my immediate circle, but it was emotionally and logistically easier for me to know that my kids were picked up every Thursday by their aunt than it was for me to juggle whatever acquaintance might have offered to drive them. For example.

      A few weeks after the funeral, though, a lot of that emergency support might have dried up. And she will have pushed through the immediate crisis management and will be confronting the ongoing reality of her situation. That’s when she might have some time and emotional space to appreciate an offer of a pizza and a movie for the kids, or your husband watching all the kids while you both get a glass of wine, or you texting from the grocery store.

      The things I would think about that might be helpful to her are: *Things that give her space and time, like inviting the kids over without her. *Things that give her a space to socialize and be safe, like inviting her to hang out with you when the kids already have childcare. *Material support if you can do it, like offering to pick up groceries. *Logistical support for things that her husband used to manage in the household, like household maintenance. *Logistical support for issues that arise after a death, like managing insurance or navigating social security. *Help with chores if you have the bandwidth. People think about external stuff like lawn mowing and snow shoveling, but it’s hard to keep up with housecleaning with three kids and no tragedy. Depending on your relationship, offering to grab her household wash and bring it to your place could be super helpful to her. *Including her in holiday events.

      You are a good friend and a good neighbor. I hope that your support and the support of her community brings some comfort to your neighbor and her family.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I was going to suggest helping around the house, whatever that means. If you have a trusted cleaning person or service, offer to send them to her house. Taking care of laundry. Helping the kids clean up their rooms. Walk the dog if they have one. You’re a good friend.

      2. KatEnigma*

        Luckily she does have a strong support from their church and I recognized her mother’s car in the driveway already when we left this morning- her mother lives an hourish away (in fact, the two older kids were with her mother for the weekend when the she got the news of the accident) so I do think right now and in the coming 2-3 weeks she’s going to be overwhelmed with offers and food and paper goods, and then it will go away, except for her mom. Her husband did a fair amount of work travel- like 2-3 days every other week or so, and her mom often came to stay with her to help. So even that is a kind of constant. And that’s most often when we’d pick up the girls from school for her and they’d hang out here until she was off work and had picked up the baby from their sitter. And yes, the 5 yr old already comes for play dates, outside of that, so that’s not something new- we’ve established that we’re trustworthy child care for her. I even popped over for 10 minutes just this week to stay with the sleeping baby while she ran something to the school. Her husband did most of the cooking and I think that and transporting kids are going to be the day to day things she’s going to need the most help with. I know because my own husband was out of town for work this week, and her husband was who took my kid to and from school along with hers!

        The 2:30am conference outside her walk of the neighbors on either side and across the street, once the cruiser pulled away, were trying to already sort out the care of her dog, but more importantly, what to do about the hutch of rabbits in the backyard. If there’s any small blessing, it’s that he hadn’t yet gotten the chickens he announced they were getting once our shared fence was replaced (finished 2 weeks ago) I don’t think anyone on the block has the bandwidth for chicken care.

        She hesitated to accept my offer to run over to stay with the baby, and I’m like 99.9% sure it was because of the laundry and mess all over the house- but primarily laundry. So I will have to be as delicate as possible if I offer that – and again, be willing to gracefully accept a no.

        1. Indolent Libertine*

          If you can catch the mom at some point, maybe let her know that you’re eager to help out, that you know “Jane” must be overwhelmed and might have plenty of support right now, but that you would welcome suggestions of what she and the kids might need going forward, once the initial flurry is done.

          1. Ginger Cat Lady*

            Yep, I agree with enlisting the mom. You might even give the mom your number in case there are small things she is aware of but too far away to do that she could ask for your help with. You could even offer to be her “secret helper” if she thinks her daughter could use some fresh flowers on a particular day or something like that.
            (I did that once when a coworker was really struggling with mental health issues and I happened to meet her mom. Mom send me money to secretly leave groceries for her a few times. I was happy to help!)

    5. Pocket Mouse*

      This is very kind of you. I’d add to make it clear to her that you know she’s in the thick of it, and when she needs something (such as food you have stored for her in your freezer) that she can just send a bare bones text, no expectation of pleasantries or socializing as part of you providing a helping hand in those moments. At the same time, if you have the flexibility of time, let her be the one to end conversations/interactions. She may find she needs to talk when she didn’t think she wanted to.

    6. Pennyworth*

      She probably hasn’t had a chance to process her sudden loss. Would it be possible to pay for her to have some sessions with a bereavement counselor? A financial planner could be a great help too.

  58. Anon chick*

    Does anyone have advice on cutting a toxic friend out of your life? I know I should just do it, but here lies the problem. She loves to post crap on Facebook about how “kind and wonderful” she is (spoiler: she’s not). and I’m worried if I cut her out of my life, she will make me seem bad to our mutual friends. She also doesn’t understand boundaries, and if I do stop talking to her, I have a feeling she will bother my mom, husband, and our mutual friends.

    1. WellRed*

      I think at the very least you should hide her posts on FB and see if that makes life a bit more pleasant for you. If it’s a big sigh of relief you may decide it’s worth it to take additional steps.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Hide her posts, or block her. Ask your family and friends to do the same so she can’t reach them either. In the case of mutual friends it’s up to them if they want to stay in contact with a drama llama, but the best way to ensure they won’t be bothered is to not allow them to talk about her or pass messages on. Like as soon as they bring up her name you stand up and just say “Welp, see you next time! I don’t want to put you in the middle.” It will take a few tries while she tests if you’re serious but when I did this the attempts to bother those who connected us were seriously short circuited by their message that it was pointless and I had put up a total stone wall. Also, if the friends you’re talking about have any sense they won’t rely on her judgement about you, instead of using their own.

    3. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      “…and I’m worried if I cut her out of my life, she will make me seem bad to our mutual friends”.

      So what?

      Actually think that through to the end. What are you worried about happening? Why?

      Presumably your friends know you and already have an opinion of you.

      “She also doesn’t understand boundaries, and if I do stop talking to her, I have a feeling she will bother my mom, husband, and our mutual friends.” – those folks are presumably adults who can manage their own boundaries. You can tell those folks ahead of time or you can tell them if/once they do get bothered by her that they can just ignore/mute/block her.

      I got out of a toxic friendship and I felt amazing. Such a relief and a weight off.

    4. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Here’s the thing. Cutting off a toxic friend is going to trigger an increase in toxic behavior. But that’s TEMPORARY. And then it’s over. For good.
      She may try to make you seem bad to your other friends, but any friend who falls for that isn’t much of a friend. Odds are most of your mutuals are familiar with her and how she operates so it won’t be as big a deal as you’re worried about.
      Prep your closer friends and family by saying something like “I’m going to cut off Tonya Toxic and set some firm boundaries this week. I’m a little concerned she might try to enlist you in her attempts to get around my boundaries. She’ll probably say she’s worried about me or something. Please know my boundaries are healthy and you can best help me by reinforcing them to her.”
      I had to do this with my husband when it comes to my parents. He didn’t really see how they were manipulating him to get to me until I pointed it out. Now he’s got my back 100%

  59. BlueKat*

    Plantar fasciitis – anyone had any success in dealing with it? I’ve been living with it on and off for 3 years (developed it when I started going on walks everyday in the early days of lockdown) but it seems to be flaring up more nowadays!

    1. Liminality*

      Yep. I kept a small towel by my bed and before I stood up every morning I placed my toes in it like a stirrup and slowly, gently, streeeeetched my calves.
      Never walked around barefoot, even got some supportive house slippers.
      Alternating heat and ice can help.

    2. Rainy*

      There’s a whole set of exercises for it. The one that works for my husband is the towel stretch. The one that works for me is the towel-toe pickup.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      Google physical therapy for plantar fasciitis and do the stretches you find every day. It works. But if you get lax about it, the pain will come back.
      Get superfeet green insoles. You don’t need fancy prescription ones, but the cheapos, I’ve found, are hit and miss. superfeet are pricey, but they work.
      Which leads to me agreeing with the others who said do not walk around without shoes/slippers. Barefoot/socks only will make it worse. Put the insoles in your inside shoes/slippers AND in the shoes you wear outside. It might take a week or two to be pain free, but you should notice it improving within a couple days.

  60. Medicate*

    I needed prescription anti-inflammatories to even make a dent. Nothing else helped until I had that as a baseline daily treatment. I was told never go barefoot, but I find there are times when I can’t be barefoot and times when I must be barefoot and sometimes they can alternate every few minutes.

  61. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

    If you are sitting down at a desk or on the couch for a while – an angled footrest. The idea is to maintain the length of the tendon, which may have shortened a bit if you usually wear heels and if you have to sit a lot. Flat shoes with no heels if you can! A frozen water bottle, rolled back and forth under your sore foot, can be a relief. Good padding in your shoes (memory foam flattens too quickly). Crocs can be very good for walking around in the house. Anti inflammatories if you can take them. Apparently the protective fat padding under your heel is the only fat that naturally diminishes with age!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My mom had super bad plantar fasciitis and she swore that Crocs (or actually the grocery store knockoffs) were the most comfortable shoes for dealing with it.

  62. DivergentStitches*

    I’m always late to the party :( But hoping someone’s still reading. Has anyone had an ovarian cyst that turned out to be no big deal? My referral appt isn’t for 2 more months and I’m stressing.

    1. Liminality*

      Urgh, I wish I could comfort you with a personal anecdote, but I’ll have to settle for this: if the professionals thought you’d situation was likely to be a big deal they would be working to get you seen ASAP. If they are treating the duration as routine I’d try to follow their lead.
      Good luck!

    2. Business Librarian*

      I had one when I was in college. That was decades ago, and mine burst while I was waiting to have laparoscopy to take a look at it. They put me on antibiotics and sent me home. My sister had a dermoid one that was simply removed. I don’t know of anyone who had a cyst diagnosis that turned out to be something ominous, though I imagine you can find a lot of bad stuff if you google! I wish you the best of luck!

    3. Silence*

      Not sure I am very reassuring. Mine was picked up on ultrasound about 18 months ago. Had immediate blood test to check cancer markers which was negative and put on a surgery wait list and told if I have sharp pain it may be twisted and to get myself to the ER. Finally have a surgery date of June 29 so will finally be taken care of. Hope yours can be dealt with swiftly.

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