weekend open thread – July 22-23, 2023

Foster cat Cherry and resident cat Hank

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: The Truth and Other Hidden Things, by Lea Geller. After moving for her husband’s job, a woman begins writing an anonymous newspaper column about the habits of her new hipster neighbors. The column is not flattering; things explode.

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

{ 1,292 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. nnn*

    A couple of years ago there was a thread here asking about your most useful purchase under $100. I got so many great ideas from it (especially my Tovolo mini spatula and silicon drain catcher, both so useful) so wanted to ask the question again.

    I’ll raise the price this time: what has been your most useful purchase under $200?

    1. Double A*

      Microchip cat feeder. I felt stupid spending almost $200 on a cat bowl but it solves the problem of one cat overeating and now is making it possible to give a special diet and supplements to our older cats.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Ha I was thinking, probably my automatic litter box! Littermade makes one in the 1-200 range that works okay and it has improved my life, although I remember thinking it was crazy to spend so much.

        1. Rainy*

          Oh man, I want an automatic litterbox so bad, but one of my cats is a high pee-er and I’d have to get one of the super expensive ones, because all the reasonably priced ones are too shallow for her. Someday!

          1. Synaptically Unique*

            Not automatic, but I ended up using the Modkat flip for my high-peeing fellow and it was SO helpful. I also have a litter robot. Totally worth it, but get the extended warranty.

            1. Rainy*

              Oh, interesting–we’ve been using the tallest boxes I can find that aren’t top entry or hooded (she won’t use a top entry box, and the ones with a hood that snaps on, she pees too high for–it all runs down the inside of the hood and then the outside of the bottom box). When I need to replace one next I might try one of these guys. I want a litter robot so bad but they’re so expensive (and also I worry she’ll freak out at being enclosed). Satan’s calico of course does not care and has perfect, unchallenging litter habits.

              1. Bart*

                Re: peeing on the sides. I buy a huge plastic tub/storage bin and cut out an entry in one wall. Keeps the pee in and no need for a cover. Mine is probably 2 feet tall—and could be any size you needed. But is is not fancy so doesn’t meet the spirit of this thread.

                1. Anonymask*

                  I thought I was alone in this weird peeing issue. Glad to see that’s not the case! Unfortunately, this solution (we’ve done) is still too short for my… little angels.

            2. A*

              +1 for Modkat! It’s well worth the price tag; my cat practically pees upwards and it’s so nice to not be cleaning up spills.

      2. Clara Bowe*

        YES. My only issue is the darn things stop working after a year. Will I continue to spend that $$? YES.

        1. Jill Swinburne*

          Really? We’ve had ours for going on 10 years. We did find that they’re sensitive to electrical interference though, so try and keep it away from things like wall heaters (we were about to replace ours until I moved it out of the way one day and it magically worked perfectly again).

          1. Clara Bowe*

            Sadly, the cat that uses it is… not gentle. Two have taken a dive off a high place and the most recent one just hates the batteries I put in it.

      3. Anthology*

        Related, cat water fountain. They’re much like printers in that the up-front cost is only a bit over $100, but they get you on the replacement items (multiple filters changed ~monthly, motor changed ~yearly). It’s worthwhile though; we’ve had ours so long that I’ve seen the effect on lifetime kidney health (versus the cats we had before getting it).

        1. Rainy*

          I’ve gotten a number of good cat water fountains for $50 or less. My favourite brand is catit, and they have a bunch of really good ones around that price point. But yes, they get you on the filters for sure. And I only buy the authorized filters because I’ve read some horrific reviews about the “X-compatible” ones having weird stuff in them that contaminates the water.

        2. Can't Sit Still*

          I love my fountain from ThirstyCat Fountains! They just slide under the $200 limit if you get a bubble-up fountain, but it was worth it. The cats love it, it’s easy to clean, and it’s beautiful. Probably not the best thing for a home with rambunctious kids or dogs, though.

    2. Euphony*

      A duplicate of anything I might pack when travelling, eg hairbrush, phone charger. This means I can pack everything the night before and don’t risk forgetting things in the morning, or have the stress of needing to remember to pack last minute items.

      The other thing I’ve found really good is switching to a stainless steel catering tray (gastronorm) instead of a plastic cat litter tray. It might be heavier, but it is much easier to keep clean and odour free. Plus you don’t need to replace it every 1-2 years like you do with plastic trays.

      1. Lissajous*

        Seconding travel doubles of everything! The other bonus is that when you get home, you don’t have to unpack anything before you have a shower!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Thirding this. I keep a Dopp kit packed in a suitcase at all times so I don’t have to mess with it if I have to go anywhere.
          My biggest travel problem is overpacking, so I need to decide on a go-to basic travel wardrobe and do this with clothes.

          1. KimberT*

            For clothes, I pulled a bunch of things from my wardrobe that fit fine and look good but are things that I don’t reach for as often (think Heather gray leggings and I usually wear black or a dress that’s an inch shorter than I prefer for work) and those live in my suitcase. Having daily basics mean I’m only packing clothes for explicit reasons and I find it easier to catch myself shoving the 9th shirt in my luggage out of anxiety.

            1. Jean (just Jean)*

              >catch myself shoving the 9th shirt in my luggage out of anxiety
              Oh, solidarity!! Pre-Travel Packing Anxiety is real.

    3. Eliot Waugh*

      Useful in a fashion sense:
      Fancy, comfortable, and unique boots from Spring Step. I can wear them with most of my outfits, I get a zillion compliments, and they’ve really upped my look in general.

      1. Pippa K*

        Ok thanks for this, because I have now picked out a gorgeous pair of boots that I don’t strictly need, so I have to think of some task or accomplishment for which this can be a reward :)

    4. Just a Name*

      Picked up a Roomba last week during Prime days. So far he’s been brilliant. My long hair will continue to be a maintenance issue, but I shed, what can I say?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I highly recommend one of those little round combs that pull hair off the brush. Also do the deep clean before it wears out its innards. I didn’t, was so glad my husband found replacement parts online & brought zombie roomba back by swapping out the motor.

        1. Bananapants Circus with Dysfunctional Monkeys*

          Okay the mental image of a zombie Roomba made me laugh!

    5. Just here for the scripts*

      Apple TV—not the service but the little cube. It makes streaming sooooo much easier.

    6. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I got a Denby Dutch oven. Cheaper than Le Creuset, and coming with excellent reviews.

      The intention was for my partner to use it for bread baking experiments. In fact, where it gets used the most is day-to-day cooking, and I’ve made with it things I had always shunned or screwed up before.

      I love having a pot that is both hob and oven safe, and also find that I can make recipes with long cooking times with a lot more peace of mind (not as much worrying that food will stick or dry out, and so on).

    7. SG*

      I was the one who originally recommended the Tovolo mini spatula — I love that you love it!! It’s a gamer changer. :)

    8. Cat Owner*

      Lilly Brush. Small rectangular thing with flexible plastic edges. Gets cat hair (the kind that sticks and won’t vacuum up) off everything, especially the cat tree. About $10.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We got a large multi-function air fryer at the height of the pandemic because our oven stopped heating past 300°F/150°C.

      I’ve raved about my Cosori here before–it’s big enough to proof a KitchenAid bowl of dough, and even enough that bread rises in cold weather. We move it to the back porch as soon as we turn on the AC, so we can cook without heating the house.

      We haven’t bothered to replace the oven yet because it’s only needed for turkey which we slow roast anyway!
      Even with inflation it still squeaks in under your limit…at least if you ignore tax. https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B07W67NQMN?psc=1&ref=ppx_pop_mob_b_asin_title

    10. Brontosaurus*

      If you’re a casual cook like me, I cannot recommend highly enough the Starfrit the Rock 12 inch nonstick frying pan.

      It’s the perfect size, has survived twice-weekly use and the dishwasher for 10 years without a single scratch, and most importantly—nothing sticks to it. Nothing. I purchased from Home Depot, oddly, the last time I gave one as a gift.

      1. Professor Plum*

        I’ve been needing new nonstick pans. Just ordered. Thanks for the recommendation!

    11. Expiring Cat Memes*

      A pull chopper. Anytime I need ingredients to be minced or finely chopped it does the job in seconds, way better than I could do manually and without turning it into soup like an electrical gizmo. Much less hassle to get out of the cupboard and clean up afterwards too. It cost about $5.

    12. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Wyze smart bulbs. I bought 8 for about $150, and now most of our lighting (except our kitchen and bathrooms) use it. I didn’t even realize how much I disliked having to turn out the light and then navigate around furniture in a dark room, or do the reverse, until we got these. Voice control feels so futuristic! (Even if Alexa messes it up a lot!) They’re dimmable, too, so I can turn down the light without turning it off, and I even set up an Alexa Routine to turn the light from 1% to 100% over 30 minutes for winter mornings when it’s dark when I wake up.

      I tried out a routine that turned the lights by the front door on for 5 minutes when the smart lock was unlocked, then turn them off, but it got a little annoying when it wasn’t needed, which is most of the time.

    13. Dwight Schrute*

      Motion sensor lights for my laundry area

      Magnetic wireless charger phone mount for my car

      Retractable phone charger so my roomba doesn’t get caught

    14. Golden*

      I think my response to your last question was my cats, they were BOGO at the shelter for something like $80.

      This time, it’s event insurance for my April 2020 wedding! It cost about $170 and I was able to recoup essentially everything but the dress when we had to cancel for obvious reasons.

    15. Dragonfly7*

      An electric tea kettle. Besides tea and oatmeal, I used it to boil water to bathe at my old apartment during a winter storm and when my water heater frequently went out.
      The office chair I bought at Goodwill for $6.50 is a very close second.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I love having an electric kettle. The one I was using died, so I got one at Walmart — it has different temperature buttons for different kinds of tea, one 200-degree button for a French press, which is how I make my coffee in the morning, and a Keep Warm button that shuts off after 30 minutes. It looks really cool and was only around $37. Google “Hamilton Beach 1.7 Liter Variable Temperature Electric Kettle Model 41022.”

          1. Subtle Tuba*

            With a teakettle that you heat on the stove (which I think you call the cooktop in the UK?)! I have an electric kettle for my office at work, but at home, I just boil water on the stove.

            1. londonedit*

              We call it the hob. Some people here do have kettles that go on the hob, but electric kettles are so quick to boil that they’re the vastly more popular option. I’d hazard a guess that 99% of British homes have a kettle (we just call it a kettle, not a teakettle!)

          2. Littorally*

            For people who drink hot tea, often a stove kettle like Subtle Tuba said; for people who don’t often drink hot tea, which is a lot of USAmericans, a mug of water in the microwave is sufficient. Hot tea is not as common of a thing here, tea is more often a cold drink and coffee if you want something hot.

            Of course, I say this as someone who does own an electric kettle, but that gets used far more often for my french press coffee than it does for tea.

          3. The Prettiest Curse*

            As someone married to an American who loves tea …. for some reason, they’re weirdly devoted to kettles that you heat up on the hob. Now that we’re living in the UK, I keep trying to convert my husband to using an electric kettle, but nope, he insists on the hob version even though it’s a lot slower, noisier and less energy efficient. We have an electric kettle and he won’t use it! ARGHHHH!

          4. Anono-me*

            I read an article on line (so take this fo what it is worth) saying that UK electric kettles were much faster and nicer to use than USA electric kettles due to the electric systems and regulations in each country.

              1. Laura Petrie*

                Yes, I stayed in an AirB&B in the US with and electric kettle and it took forever to boil. Most of the other places I’ve stayed had a stove top kettle.

          5. earl grey, hot.*

            I’m a frequent tea drinker, and I have a hot water on demand faucet. best thing ever, but not under 200.

          6. Bob-White of the Glen*

            I have a bottled water (3 or 5 gallon jugs) system that dispenses cold and hot water. The hot water is absolutely hot enough for tea, etc. I usually have to add some frig water if I want to drink the tea any time soon. It’s a bottom loader (don’t have to flip the giant bottles upside down and watch them spill all over) and self-cleaning! And under $200.

    16. TurnedMeIntoANewt*

      Dormi sleep headphones (around $60) have been life changing. I discovered that I would fall asleep immediately listening to audiobooks (free from my local library via the Libby app) and these make it comfortable. They aren’t noise cancelling but having them right next to your head blocks out enough. There is a bright blinking light on it, which may or may not be an issue. My partner goes to bed later than me and said it helps him navigate our dark bedroom. They’re also good for travel because they’re small and don’t need frequent charging.

      1. Victoria, Please*

        I solved this with a different sleep headphone with a bit of electrical tape! (if helpful to anyone else.)

        1. TurnedMeIntoANewt*

          You can get little stickers to dim overly bright indicator lights, which is what I used initially. It was helpful to see whether the headphones were on. My partner actually asked to have full brightness back, so I took the sticker off. Handy little stickers tho, I got two sheets of varying sizes for a few dollars.

    17. Katty*

      Blue Apron meal prep! We get it twice a week for a family of four. I think it’s about $95 right now each week. I can’t remember because we go back-and-forth between twice a week and three times a week. I always thought meal prep services were stupid before I did it. I love it because the food is interesting and often it is cheaper because it might be spices or a type of vinegar I don’t normally have even though I cook quite a bit. For example, it might be a Hawaiian dish and I don’t have those spices. Also, great food! This week, we had a Cajun shrimp boil and a crispy chicken dinner with coconut rice, poblano peppers, and red cabbage. We all take turns cooking, so that’s great too. My kids can cook, but this really taught them how to get three dishes on the table at once. We did HelloFresh once, and I thought it was terrible – very bland food.

      We started doing this in quarantine and loved it. Now we do it for about three months typically and then will take a couple months off and start again. In the long run, it saves us money because otherwise we end up eating out or ordering in. Everyone has become a better cook, and we get to make the choices and we always cheese healthy food. Most of the choices are healthy anyway.

    18. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      1. An Oster mini food chopper. It was about $20 when I bought it and came with a metal S blade and a whipping tool. I use it all the time. It’s a lot easier to clean than a blender after making lassi or chopping bread crumbs.

      2. A steam mop with reusable microfiber cloths. We have several pets and my husband doesn’t notice spills or dirt. The steam helps pull up dried-on filth easily without the overpowering odor of cleaners. I think it helps with neutalizing pet odors, too.

      3. Three Feit smart outlets for $16 at Costco. The Deal Guy on YouTube mentioned them so I thought I would give them a try. I like that I can set my lamps on a schedule and also turn them on or off randomly when I am gone. I have a lot of plants and have worn out several mechanical timers, each of which cost $10-$12, over the years.

      1. Girasol*

        My first thought was the mini-chopper, but I’d have to go with the toaster oven. It makes six muffins, six cookies (from a bag of frozen dough balls), or just enough casserole or roasted potatoes and veggies for two, not to mention that it does away with the old pop-up toaster. It doesn’t even have to preheat and it doesn’t roast the kitchen like the big oven.

    19. Glazed Donut*

      Smart plugs. My floor lamps and other lamps turn on at sunset and off at sunrise (for one room). I can turn lights and a fan on and off with my phone, and program the timing to look like someone is home when I’m out of town. I also gave some to my grandmother to use after she had surgery and it was more difficult for her to turn lights on and off.

    20. the cat's ass*

      automatic water bowl for my cats. It’s USB rechargeable, so no dangly tempting cords to bite/trip over and even has a motion detector. Cats love it, tho it looks like a tiny bidet, so that’s a little weird.

    21. Elle Woods*

      A cast iron skillet. I love how evenly it heats and that I can move it from the cooktop to the oven. I’ve kicked myself a few times for waiting so long to buy one.

      1. Llama face!*

        I just got a large cast iron frying pan in like-new condition for free! It’s the painted kind so not as likely to have rust issues. I am really looking forward to using it. Do you have any cast iron skillet recipes to recommend? I know it will be very handy for making frittatas.

        1. KimberT*

          I think chicken breasts in cast iron are game changing. You get skin on boneless breasts, preheat the pan on medium high. Also preheat the oven to 400.

          Oil and salt the chicken liberally and put skin side down in the pan. Leave on the stove and do not touch the breasts for 5 minutes. If your pan is hot enough, after five minutes the skin should be golden brown. Leave for 2 more minutes if not browned yet. Once golden, leave the breasts skin side down and move to the oven. Cook until 155 degrees internal temperature. At that point, flip the breasts to skin side up. Cook until your preferred internet temperature (165 minimum but I prefer 170.) Remove from oven and let rest 5-10 minutes before serving. You can even make a pan sauce using the fat left in the pan if you want.

    22. SG*

      Large hydrocolloid bandages that can be cut to size, like this: https://www.amazon.com/Care-Science-Hydrocolloid-Absorbency-Waterproof/dp/B07QKFX2CL/ref=sr_1_2?crid=YJI1JQ69MFRM&keywords=hydrocolloid&qid=1690042313&s=hpc&sprefix=hydrocolloid%2Chpc%2C105&sr=1-2

      They have changed my life, no exaggeration. They stick anywhere, promote healing, stay on through handwashing and showers (a week or so), and reduce or eliminate pain. If you have a scrape on your palm or knuckle, they will stick there and stay put! They dramatically reduce pain of scrapes and minor burns. If you have a papercut, you can cut a band-aid size piece, works like a charm. They are not cheap but you don’t need to change them like regular band-aids. I never understood why they are not more popular!

      1. Jessica*

        The picture looks like there’s an adhesive edge around the bandage square. But am I understanding you right the whole thing is adhesive and you don’t need the edges to hold it on?

        1. SG*

          Yes, the whole thing is adhesive! The edge you see is just a tapered part that is thinner edge to lay flatter against your skin, but the entire thing is bandage is adhesive. The tapered edge is just a nice-to-have if you’re using the the whole bandage for a large scrape on your knee, or you can use that part for small cuts on your fingers where the thin-ness will be more comfortable between your fingers.
          The instructions say not to cut the bandages — who knows why — probably just to incentivize folks to buy smaller, more expensive ones rather than cutting the big ones. FYI, for those of you who are familiar with acne patches, those are just tiny, thin hydrocolloid bandages. I still do use those though, rather than cut big ones for acne, because the patches are so thin and small and easy to use. My fave brand for those is Rael.)
          Anyway, try them, you will be glad! Pro tip — you want a larger piece than the size of the wound, especially for large, open scrapes, because the gel absorbs the liquid from and will form a cushion that expands beyond the scrape’s borders. For small cuts this isn’t really an issue.

    23. mreasy*

      Oh gosh our air fryer. Now that it’s summer I’m triply happy not to heat up the oven for most things!

    24. WorkNowPaintLater*

      My Yeti thermos. The place we don’t talk about on weekends doesn’t supply coffee and the in-house ancient Keurig keeps failing – that little thermos holds my coffeemakers whole pot, has survived multiple droppings in the parking lot and keeps my coffee warm all day. Has been worth every cent paid for it and I’ll buy another if it every fails/comes up missing.

      1. TurnedMeIntoANewt*

        I got their huge tumbler during a promotion with free customizations. It was pricey, but worth every cent and was the only one that is dishwasher safe and will hold drinks at temperature for a long time.

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

      Posters from allposters dot com have really helped to brighten up my walls. If you skip the framing and just put them up with Command strips, they’re affordable, even for a large poster. I got a bunch of prints of vintage travel posters, some of Mucha’s Art Nouveau posters, etc.

      Some fancy stainless steel, half-moon-shaped, open-top trash cans, like the kind that you might see at a coffee shop. I use them for trash and recyclables. I wound up paying more than $200, but I think you can get something them for considerably less if you look around on Amazon. The key for me was getting nice tall ones that take a while to fill up. My kitchen looks a million times better now that I am not just hanging a trash bag off of a drawer handle and tossing recyclables in a pile.

      I’ll always put in a plug for the Mr. Lid food storage containers that have their lids attached so you can never lose them, though as I’ve aged, I have a harder time opening them. If they would only partner with OXO.

    26. Breaking Dishes*

      My Zeba shoes. I can slip into these shoes and they stay tight. They are sneakers. It’s hard for me to get down to my shoes to get them on or tie them (it would be difficult to even Velcro them). They run $130 per pair and have made my life so much easier.

    27. Tennie*

      A lot less than $200, but Rechargeable Plug-in Flashlights that act as emergency lights. If the power goes out, they automatically come on. We have them in all the major areas of the house, so we don’t have to grope around in the dark looking for flashlights (which I never remember where they are stashed). Plus, if we need a flashlight for some other reason, we always know where one is.

      1. Pamela Adams*

        A friend gave us rechargeable light bulbs. I was pleased during a power outage to see they really worked.

    28. Pajamas on Bananas*

      Over the sink dish rack. All the dishes actually fit. I didn’t buy a Rackifier, but I did get their paper towel and cup rack accessories, which are great. If you have melamine plates, you can double them up in the rack.

    29. Dido*

      My $165 BISSELL TurboClean DualPro Pet Carpet Cleaner is easily the best purchase I’ve ever made

    30. allathian*

      A kettle with adjustable temperature from 70 C to 100 C. This means that I can make my favorite green and white teas with water that isn’t too hot for the blend.

      Granted, this was a gift from my MIL, but it’s still an item that I use at least weekly in summer and daily in winter.

    31. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Double boiler. I use it all the time whenever I’m cooking anything on the stove that I don’t want browned or charred as part of the cooking process, and it means that I don’t get things like beans and sauces burned on to the bottom of the pot. I don’t understand why this isn’t a standard piece of cookware, because I use mine all of the time. It makes “slowly heat this thing up and let it thicken without burning it” practically idiot-proof. I use it for everything from heating up a can of beans with some spices for a taco filling to making hot cocoa.

    32. Windaria*

      Rocket notebooks. The pages feel like normal paper, but you can wipe them right off with a cloth and water. I used to go through notebooks/scratch paper like crazy, but now I’ve just had the one for almost a year. Each page has a small QR code on the corner, so you can scan it with your phone and upload the page to google docs if you want to keep those notes before you erase the page. I learned about it from an HR forum group, a bunch of us have all become addicted to our Rocketbooks.

      It does require a special pen (Pilot Frixion), but they come in a variety of different colors, nibs, and I think they even have highlighters.

  3. NatTheGreat*

    Hi all!

    I’m writing for advice and lived experience from people living in multi-unit resident-owned housing (condos, co-ops, etc) where the HOAs, Strata Councils, co-op boards, etc., meeting virtually have an efficient system for addressing issues raised by residents. I’m excited to hear all input and advice, but what will be most useful is hearing from people who have participated in or witnessed a workable system.

    I live in what’s called in Canada a ‘Strata Building’. It’s a multi-unit building where each unit is owned by an individual, and the building is managed by a property manager overseen by a ‘Strata Council’.

    I served on my strata council in the early 2000s. At that time, there were monthly in-person meetings. If an owner had a concern, they would submit a physical letter via a strata mailbox in the lobby. During the meetings, we would review the correspondence, discuss it, and instruct the property manager to address it. Any actionable correspondence would be noted in the minutes under ‘Correspondence’.

    Currently, meetings are held 6x per year via Zoom. Owner/resident correspondence is via email, and it seldom makes it into the minutes. I mentioned this to the current president, and he expressed to me that there’s no set structure for dealing with correspondence, and that it takes weeks or months(!) to resolve, due to endless back-and-forth among strata members and with the property manager.

    Someone somewhere must have made the transition from in-person to virtual without loss of functionality. I’d be thrilled to pass on to the current council any workable ideas to improve, particularly things that are currently in practice.

    1. mainly spoons*

      I can’t help. Also in a strata in Canada, but ours is a mess. And the present council, that I am no longer on, is so incompetent they are being taken to court (rightfully) by a disgruntled owner. Also, they just spent a quarter of a million dollars on work that can’t be done. (due to bylaws that no one checked beforehand. Some of that responsibility should be on the management company).

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Would you be willing to suggest and join or even lead a committee to address this? If so, you could say, “Hey, everybody, looks like we have a communication breakdown here, could we please put this on the agenda at the next meeting to discuss?” Then at the meeting during that time, suggest an ad-hoc committee to look at the by-laws to see if there’s an existing policy that is or isn’t being followed, or could be improved or replaced.

      In my experience with condos and condo-like living, improvements don’t generally happen unless and until residents take some initiative and volunteer to do it themselves. I would be really surprised if your by-laws didn’t have a mechanism, though, to modify or create policies to handle various needs.

    3. Janeric*

      It’s not the same, but an organization I work with publishes all public-facing communication since the last meeting ten days before a meeting on the website — so it’s available for everyone’s review — and then there is a “correspondence” item on the agenda, and prior communication is archived after six months.

    4. Can't Sit Still*

      I can’t claim that our condo board works, exactly, considering the fight over balcony decorations(!) at our last meeting, but we have a monthly hybrid in-person/Zoom meeting and the minutes are published promptly online. Our bylaws require resident issues to be taken up at the next meeting after receipt, if that helps? Sometimes it’s tabled for further discussion or follow up, but the issue stays on the agenda until it’s been fully addressed.

      Our complex is 50 years old this year, and some of our residents have been here since the early days, so things can be a little calcified, and some of the resentments are decades deep, but it’s pretty functional overall.

    5. A313*

      Maybe Roberts Rules of Order could help. I see it’s been updated some for pandemic-related issues. My grandmother, who was on her condo board, swore by Roberts Rules.

  4. Tina*

    Anyone with ADHD and/or executive dysfunction here who has successfully figured out a cooking/meal plan routine? We’re back to the office so I’m in 2-3 days per week. For some reason it’s difficult for me to wrap my head around the fact that I should eat every four hours, and I can’t afford to eat out as much as I do.

    1. Miss Scarlett*

      ADHD here. Crockpot cooking is a life saver. I set it up in the morning before work. Things that take well to slow cooking such as roasts with potatoes, stews, or chili. This way dinner is ready when I get home from work and there are plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Sort of? We plan our week’s dinners every weekend, put the dinner menu in writing, make note on the kitchen whiteboard about “Tuesday: take out a pound of ground beef to defrost” or “Wednesday: start the pulled pork in the crockpot at 11am” or whatever is warranted. (I don’t know about my husband but I duplicate those notes as reminders in my phone for the things that are my responsibility.) Then we don’t deviate – like, once it’s in writing, it’s set and that is what happens.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I have gotten better about figuring out easy tricks to “transform” my leftovers from one night to the next. Like the first night it’s soup, second night it’s tacos, that kind of thing. Then I can make one cooked meal stretch further, because I can never motivate myself to start cooking *before* I’m hungry, and once I’m hungry, I don’t want to wait.

    4. Saddesklunch*

      For me having a variety of substantial snacks I can mix and match is a life saver, especially when I’m trying to eat more frequently. So things like crackers, cheese, hummus, veggies, fruits, cured meats can be lunch, snacks, or dinner. That plus breakfast foods and a couple of planned dinners that make leftovers sets me up pretty well.

      1. The Shenanigans*

        I second this suggestion. Most of my meals when I’m working ate basically just enough healthy snacks to add up to a meal’s worth of food. I also get a great deal of use out of my electric kettle and ramen, instant mashed potatoes, etc.

        The most important thing is to work with what you’re already inclined to do vs what you feel you should do.

      2. Sloanicota*

        Strongly agree! First, I have to make the leap and buy lots of the reasonably healthy snacks I actually like and am willing to eat – kind of a narrow category TBH – and then on days where I just can’t function, it’s an option to munch all day versus trying to concentrate on making a whole meal. I used to resist shelling out the bucks for the dried fruit, the good crackers, the nice cheese, and the expensive produce (particularly pre-cut, which is expensive!) but now I realize the alternative is going to be me snacking on junk and still not eating nice meals.

      3. Dragonfly7*

        This also works well for me, combined with fast/easy to use ingredients like canned beans or ground meat / chicken that I precooked and put in the freezer. Also, already cooked hard boiled eggs. Convenience foods might be more expensive, but they are typically still less than going out to eat.

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

        For me, it helps to have some snacks in individual-sized portions so they don’t go bad as fast if I forget that I need to use them up. Like, I’ll get packs of single servings of cottage cheese, apple sauce, guacamole, hummus, etc.

    5. Pennyworth*

      I also ADHD. I live on my own but I always cook 4-serve meals and freeze three in containers I can take to work and microwave. I never label stuff so I often don’t know what I have taken out of the freezer until I heat it. I also freeze hearty soups. I guess my routine, if you could call it that, is to cook more than I need right away. Is there a medical reason you need to eat every four hours? I’m pre-snack generation so I usually avoid those but have hot drinks. There are always tea bags and single-serve miso soup sachets in my drawer. Once I manage to establish a habit it makes my life more manageable.

    6. Gathering Moss*

      ADHD and chronic pain/illness here. Meal plans have never worked for me; the option I found that works the best was to make sure our grocery shopping covers a set range of staples, and to have a list of quick and easy options that we like stuck to the fridge so we can just pull an idea from that and make it from what we have.
      I also usually make extra whenever we have curries or stews, and freeze individual portions for nights when neither of us can face either cooking or thinking hard.

    7. Ellis Bell*

      Something I am always falling foul of is thinking that I’m going to do batch cooking every day and I get overtaken by a too ambitious plan; I love lists! Plans! Then, I’ll have a night were I don’t feel at all like cooking or making lunch, so I’ll want to eat out. So, I would start realistically. What will you actually do with what you buy? I’m pretty good at make-ahead breakfast because ‘get ready the night before’ is the lynchpin of my ADHD management. So, I’ll buy oats yoghurt, banana and berries for overnight oats (I make three servings in one go). If I didn’t have this habit in place, I’d buy more grab-and-go breakfasts like I used to. I am only willing to make lunch about 2-3 times a week, so I buy ingredients for that, but I also buy ready to go things like deli stuff, Spanish tortillas, crackers and pate. John West makes little tuna lunches in foil containers with pasta or rice that are my usual plan B because they have a great shelf life. Same with dinner, there will be at least one night were I want a frozen pizza or easy to cook filled pasta after I’ve had a few nights of cooking. Have a look at what you actually eat, think of what you feel you’re missing when you go to the fridge. I find Alexa pretty invaluable for shopping lists as I run out of stuff.

    8. crookedglasses*

      I recently discovered single serving silicone freezer trays and that has been a game changer for me. I can make leftovers, keep some in the fridge, but also freeze some single serving sized portions. Over time, it means that I’ve built up a stash of meals that are very easy to reheat.

      As somebody who can get bored easily and doesn’t necessarily want to be beholden to the same meal repeatedly, this has been a really useful strategy.

      1. RW*

        I use old takeaway containers for this! The ones my local Indian shop uses are just the right size for a single serve and freeze well. Often I’ll just freeze one meal of leftovers and eat the rest, but it means if I’m having a badly planned week or just got back from holiday… there’s still food

    9. Katty*

      I just posted in the thread above about Blue Apron meal prep. I would really consider it for ADHD. You don’t have to plan anything. You can do it two times a week. It’s not as cheap as shopping for sure, but MUCH cheaper than ordering in which we end up doing. Also, nice portion sizes. I have two adults and two teens. We get a meal for a family of four and it is always enough food. I often have enough for one lunch as well.

    10. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      I have a 2 month meal rotation in a spreadsheet. That isn’t to say I never deviate, I do quite often, because I like trying new recipes. But every week when I do my meal plan and shopping, if I can’t think/find/be bothered to come up with something new I just plug in where ever I am in the plan.

      If I end up liking something new I move it into the rotation in place of whatever I find myself avoiding.

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

      Still working on it! (Newly diagnosed ADHD with a laughably low ability to plan complex tasks.)

      I’m currently experimenting with laying out the tools I’ll need to cook and eat my breakfast in the dish drainer or on the stove the night before to trigger my memory of what I should be making for breakfast instead of foraging in the fridge and making bad choices. So, I keep my saucepan and my frying pan clean on the stove and the correct measuring cup and a spoon and bowl clean in the dish drainer, and that reminds me to make oatmeal and instant coffee in the morning. If I forget the stuff in the dish drainer, I will forget about the oatmeal and default to frying up an egg or blintz or something less healthy.

      If I have an idea to cook something that has some non-refrigerated ingredients in it, I might put those on my kitchen table to remind me that I could cook the item with them.

      The struggle is real.

      1. Rainy*

        My weekday breakfasts are coffee and my ADHD medication and a drinkable yogurt. Your ability to plan complex breakfasts is heroic to me. :)

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

          Aw, thanks! This system only works when I’m not teaching. On teaching days, if I get some instant coffee and my most important meds down, I’m doing well. I’m going to have to check out those drinkable yogurts — they sound refreshing! : )

          1. Rainy*

            I do the Activia ones because I’ve hit the age where I basically need to be constantly supplying my gut with yogurt, prebiotics, and fiber. Yay. I used to make my own yogurt with a custom blend of bacterial strains (yes I am a nerd thank you) and then make smoothies every morning but my interest in yogurt-making turned out to be a passing one. I’m glad I didn’t buy a lot of custom equipment ;)

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

              Wow, making your own yogurt is heroic to me–that’s so cool that you did that!

              1. Rainy*

                It’s so easy!! Buy a lot of milk, heat it up, let it cool to the right temp, add starter, stir, put the lid on, and then let it sit. I always used my dutch oven and wrapped it in a couple of towels and popped it in the oven with the door closed to stay warm. I’ll put a recipe link in my next comment!

    12. Rainy*

      I have ADHD and I can do longer-range planning (like making sure that we have ingredients for the things we make most often, the things we’re likely to want that month based on season, and that sort of thing) but meal-planning is pointless for me because I have a really hard time eating the same thing over and over again. I do that “tastes like dopamine” thing about food pretty hard, unfortunately.

      Dinners are always a challenge for my ADHD spouse and I, but lunches were saved by a set of Amazon dishwasher-safe bentos and buying stuff to make basically lunchables. I always make sure to have sliced cheeses and meats, dried fruit, veggies like carrots, cucumbers, and celery, and applesauce on hand and I just fling some combination of the above into a bento the night before. I’ll add sliced homemade bread, cut pita or tortilla, or crackers if I feel the need.

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

        OMG, I do the “tastes like dopamine” thing as well!

        1. Rainy*

          I was going through a stressful time at work and eating the M&Ms “classic mix” (plain, peanut, peanut butter ms, all mixed together) regularly, and then last week I came across the end of a bag and poured out a handful. I put some in my mouth and was like “Oh. Not dopamine.” :( It’ll come back around for sure.

          1. Gathering Moss*

            Oh gods, so much this. Because of the pain stuff, too, my stomach is pretty much always unhappy with me; if food isn’t hitting the right dopamine buttons in the moment, it just won’t stay down.

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

      Also, my cheapo toaster oven that makes you turn a spring-loaded timer for the time you want the oven on is good for forgetful me. Even if I space out, I can’t possibly cook anything for more than half an hour accidentally. If I’m cooking something that takes a longer time, I just set it for another half hour after it dings.

    14. Middle Aged Lady*

      Putting freezer tape on what we cooked with s use by date helps a lot at our house. Hubs tends to forget when he made something. I second the snacks idea. Hummous, prepped carrot sticks, and so on. We ate a lot of bagged salads when we first got started. If people like them, frozen veggies like peas are a good choice or frozen fruit for smoothies because you don’t find the occasional moldy strawberry or rotten zucchini in the crisper.
      We have started putting the older produce in the right hand drawer befiore shopoimg and the new stuff goes in the left.
      Sturdy produce like carrots or cabbage that lasts a while innthe fridge is a must for us. And good old canned beans. Quick easy and cheap!
      The Our Groceries app helps us share a list so we can both add/take off items.

    15. Mrs Columbo*

      That is so hard! And different strategies have worked at different times in my life. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not perfect at it!

      There was a time in my life where stocking up on healthier frozen dinners was the best I could do on the meal planning. If you catch the sales, that’s still cheaper than eating out, even if it takes 2 to fill you up. And if you read the labels, you really can eat reasonably healthily that way.

      About a decade ago, my strategy was to plan and to cook, but to not be rigid about it. I’d plan a week at a time and write out something like “2 beef meals, 1 fish, 1 mac n cheese, 2 chicken, 1 eat out.” I’d buy what was on sale that week, and do whatever from that list I most felt like doing that night. (I’d try to think it out enough that the easier meals were on busier nights.)

      Right now, spouse-type is the main meal planner, as they get off work earlier. It’s my job on weekends. We buy food in bulk, and we usually decide what we’re cooking by what’s already in the freezer/cupboard, instead of planning menus and then buying. Friday night is always order out night, and there are usually leftovers from that to munch on on Saturday.

      I’m in charge of weekday breakfast, as spouse-type is already at work, and I have trouble with mornings! So during the week, breakfast is something that offspring-type and I can eat in the car on the way to drop them at camp/school. Usually it’s the same thing most days, and is easy to fix: we don’t mind, and it cuts some of the decision-fatigue. Sometimes we mix it up with enough healthy snacks to make a meal.

      My weekday lunches are leftovers from the night before. Again, less decision fatigue. Sometimes I repurpose them, but often I don’t. There’s one particular size storage container–of which we currently have 3–that fits my lunchbag nicely and also will fill me up if it’s near-full. So it gets filled with the leftovers. (On my super-organized nights, it even gets filled and put in the fridge the night before!) I throw in handsful of snacks, and an empty water bottle to fill up at the breakroom cooler, and take my full coffee tumbler for the commute.

      And I second (thirdfourthfifth?) the idea of keeping healthy snacks around! For me “healthy” = packaged protein. At That Weekday Place, hunger time doesn’t always match lunchtime, so a beef jerky stick, protein bar, or nut bar in the pocket is a sanity saver. Having those snacks, plus some hummus and veggies at home, mean I can point the offspring toward something healthy with minimal effort involved.

      Allow room in the planning to give yourself some grace, and to switch it up if what you try at first is too hard. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just good enough!

    16. Granger Chase*

      For breakfast, I stick with things that are easy to make in the morning that don’t require any prep ahead of time (instant oatmeal, protein bars, rice cakes with peanut butter, fruit and yogurt, etc.). I’m much more likely to eat breakfast if I know I don’t have to make it the night before.

      For lunches, I tend to get a rotisserie chicken from Costco or Sam’s Club for ~$5 once a week. I shred it when I bring it home, and mix it up with either a seasoning blend or marinade. I switch the flavorings up every week so there it tastes like there’s more variety to what I’m eating. I keep portions for the first couple days in the fridge and then freeze the rest in individual portions. Some things I use it for: salad, burrito bowl, mashed potato bowl, stir fry, with sweet potatoes & green beans, etc.

    17. mreasy*

      It has taken me years to really get my head around the amount of food I need to a) buy at the store and b) prep on the weekend to get through the week. I make a list of meals, then outline each component that will need cooking over the weekend, and make sure to estimate quantity in my shopping list. Then I stick to the list religiously when I shop. It’s definitely not perfect, but it works well for me & my wandering brain!

    18. noncommittal pseudonym*

      I use an app that I found kinda randomly called Meal Prep Pro. I believe it’s out of the UK? Anyway, it has about 700 recipes, all of which are pretty simple and healthy, and you can tell it what days and meals you want to prep, and it will generate menus and shopping lists for you.

      I’m reasonably pleased with it. The recipes vary in quality – some are quite good, others not so much. But, overall, I find it helpful in meal planning.

    19. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Capitalize on it when you’re actually in the mood to cook by prepping a second dinner. The whole doing a week’s worth of dinners in an afternoon is way too rigid and set in stone; chopping up some extra chicken or veggies when you’re already in a cooking groove is no big deal.

      Sheet pan dinners. Meat, veggies, random spices, shove in oven. Munch.

      Smoothies. Put some fruit and protein powder in the blender when your bladder forces you out of hyperfocus, pour in cup, return to current obsession.

      Alarms for everything. No reminder is too stupid if it helps.

  5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    A mysterious benefactor informs you that you now have $200/month for the next two years to do something nice for yourself or someone in your home. You cannot use the money to pay bills or save or toward necessities like rent or your normal groceries – it must be a splurge in some way. This monthly allotment is use it or lose it, and the intention is to spend it more or less the same way every month rather than to pick something new every month. What do you pick?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I would do one day weekly at the doggy daycare for my younger dog, which is a treat for everyone in my house, plus alternate monthly between a pedicure and a professional shampoo and blowout for myself.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I agree that doggy daycare is a blessing for everybody. When I’m truly treating myself, I book him in for a night – it is amazeballs to be able to sleep in and have a leisurely weekend morning that actually feels like a day off, instead of being insistently nudged to follow the normal routine (and practically dragged out the door for as-early-as-he-can-get-it walkies). And I can stay out late, late, late the night before!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          It’s wonderful. Elder dog gets to chill without anybody hopefully wagging a tug at her. Husband doesn’t get asked to keep an eye on the woofapotamus while I run errands. I can run ALL THE ERRANDS. And when she comes home, she is plumb tuckered out from rampaging all day with today’s group of best friends and will almost manage to eat her whole supper before she practically passes out with her nose in the kibble and sleeps pretty much through to the next morning.

    2. anon24*

      Would therapy count? If I had “splurge” money that had to be used the same way, I’d pay for my husband to go to therapy because he really wants to but even with insurance is afraid we just can’t make it work in our very tight budget (but make enough that we don’t qualify for assistance). Any remaining money I’d want to put towards a monthly resupply of self care items – bath bombs, bath soaks, lotions, etc that we could both use.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Mysterious benefactor says yes, that absolutely counts, and if he needs to try different therapists to find one that is a good fit that is also within the rules.

        1. Alex*

          I think she’s actually talking copays. If you have a $25 copay that can still be a lot for someone’s budget, if you go 4 times a month.

          1. anon24*

            Yeah, copay is like $40 and insurance only covers 10 or 12 visits a year. When some weeks we’re living off of rice and beans or ramen, a regular $40 copay on tip of our other expenses seems overwhelming. I told him we could sacrifice and make it work, but so far he’s unwilling and I don’t blame him. It’s also hard because we’ve gone from a 2 income household to a 1 income household while I’m back in school, both parties are in agreement that this is what’s best right now, but it’s a difficult and stressful adjustment.

            1. Mrs Columbo*

              My heart goes out to you both! There was a time in my life when I really needed therapy, but could not afford the $17 copay at the charity clinic. I muddled through on inexpensive meds, free/low-cost hobbies, and showing up for the parts of life that were absolutely necessary. Not ideal, but we survived.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Massage would be my go-to also. But where I live that amount would cover only one session a month.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I pay $70 a month plus tip for a 1 hr massage at a chain, but yeah, a 90 minute & hot stone would eat most of it up.

        2. Random Bystander*

          Yeah, I’m lucky–there’s a place here that does 90 minutes for $100 and add-ons like hot stones can be used without an additional charge.

          If it was a little more ($250), I’d totally go for a facial as one of the events, but that’s $120. I treat myself to the facial once every three months as a celebration of surviving cancer.

      2. Blomma*

        I get a massage every other week (for pain management). $200 a month would mean I could get a massage every week and I’d totally do that for my health and well-being!

    3. Sloanicota*

      Housecleaner housecleaner housecleaner! It seems incredibly indulgent because I live alone so I should really be able to clean up after myself, but I would loooooove to have someone come every other week, if only to make me actually pick up.

      1. Anonono*

        We have someone come every other week and it’s exactly so the whole family helps to clean up in preparation.

      2. Anne Kaffeekanne*

        That was my veeeery first thought! I dream of having the room in my budget for a cleaning service.

      3. Llellayena*

        This would be my choice! I’m trying to convince my BF into it because neither of us like to clean. He’s worried about stealing though…(and other “let a stranger into your house” issues)

      4. tiredlibrarian*

        SO WORTH IT. It’s just me and my husband but we have cleaners come once a month and 1. it absolutely forces us to pick up after ourselves (even if it’s the frantic night-before pick up :) ) and 2. with us both working we don’t have to spend our limited free time doing chores we hate. Absolutely one of the best decisions we ever made.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I am starting a once-a-month cleaner!! I’m sooo excited – I spend all my cleaning energy just trying to pick up and keep the kitchen liveable, and I’m just never getting to the deep-cleaning; and who wants to spend a beautiful Saturday (they are all beautiful in their own way) doing that? But in the scenario described, I’d have someone *every week.* True luxury!

    4. There You Are*

      Lawncare / landscaping services.

      If I could pay someone else to [repeatedly] dig up the bamboo that creeps into my yard from my neighbor’s yard, prune trees, pull weeds, trim shrubs, cut back vines, keep certain areas mulched, and maaaaaybe plant — and tend to — some flowering plants, I could relax and a read a book out in my yard instead of it being my Sat-Sun full-time job.

      Heck, I might actually be able to leave my property and do something fun once in awhile.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        About the bamboo– in some US states, your neighbors would be legally liable to pay for it to be removed from your property and to repair any structure it damaged. That’s a thread of its own, but I wanted to mention it so you could check your local laws.

      2. Anthology*

        Also my choice. Choking on a cloud of dust while sweating profusely, baking in the heat, and fighting a mower on steep hills is my idea of hell.

      3. WorkNowPaintLater*

        This this this

        We have a lot a property, just had some work that destroyed our front yard, and have been gone a lot due to caretaking issues. If I could just have someone come by once a month and trim the bushes and trees it would help a lot.

      1. Inkhorn*

        That was my first thought, then I realised I’d need the time to actually *use* $200 worth of craft supplies each month.

        Second thought was to split it between books and shoes and top-quality dark chocolate.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          I figure I can count things like storage and furniture, and most craft supplies won’t “spoil” so I can stock up for when the money runs out lol. Also my kids go through SO much paint. But someone after me suggested a hotel room and now I want that. I can bring the craft supplies I already have with me!

      2. Dancing Otter*

        Classes/workshops – I just signed up for one that the supply list is a whole page.

        Though the suggestions for cleaners sound good, too. More time to craft!

    5. Penelope*

      I’m guessing that pre-paying for a fabulous trip at $200/month is out of the question, so I’m going to say I’d go for a personal trainer/gym membership. And maybe a sitter so I actually have the time to go!

    6. Aphrodite*

      I’d hire either a personal cook to make me dinner. The older I get the less appealing any cooking (other than my adored breakfast) has for me.

      1. WellRed*

        A personal cook is on my if I won the lottery bucket list. They can do the grocery shopping too!

      2. anon24*

        That is such a smart choice. No one ever told me one of the hardest things about being an adult is endlessly having to feed myself!

    7. WellRed*

      I’ve been quite enjoying having some newer friends that like to go out for good food and cocktails so would use it for that and worrying less about my budget. I’m 53. Friends of a similar age who can enjoy this regularly are harder to come by these days.

    8. Flames on the Side of My Face*

      A hotel reservation. Not for shenanigans, but to have a place to be the master of my own time for one glorious, husband- and kid-free evening and morning a month.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I have a large-ish place to myself. That includes a 2nd bedroom, bathroom, office, and living room. A second one of everything! I’ve told all my mom friends they are welcome to come here anytime and I will give them complete silence and pretend they aren’t even here if that’s what they want. No one ever takes me up on it.

    9. oy. vey.*

      half on books, half on fancy cheese. Might be every-other-month. Some of the books I want are >$100.

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      Hmmm, that’s tough! Because my first impulses were “first class ticket to visit my mom and sister in September” or “upgrading to a larger apartment.”

      Let’s see…I guess I’d try a more elaborate beauty routine? The kind you pay for, with mani/pedis and hair coloring? Maybe hire a personal shopping consultant? My “style” is “basic is too fancy” and I haven’t really changed anything in a while. Maybe upgrade my jewelry to nicer stuff as well? New undies/bras on a regular basis?

    11. Not A Manager*

      My small apartment costs $100 to clean, and my massage therapist charges $100/hr. Done, and done!

    12. MEH Squared*

      DoorDash. I already spend too much on delivery and am trying to cut back, so this would make it guilt-free.

    13. Lemonwhirl*

      A monthly day trip to London or Edinburgh (both short direct flights from where I live) to see museums, plays, etc. I love living in rural Ireland, but it’s nice to experience a big city once in a while. And Ryanair flights make “international” day trips really doable, and arguably less hassle than going up to Dublin.

    14. Soap*

      I absolutely detest washing my hair. It’s not super long, but there’s a lot of it. I’d pay for weekly wash and drys at a salon. Even if I have to chip in a bit extra for tip, it’d be so worth it. I’ve told my partner this is top #1 priority should we ever win the lotto.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yeah, I have waist length thick hair. If the budget were higher or if I was limited to a treat for ONLY me, I’d be doing weekly shampoo/blowout. It was a hard decision :)

    15. Taking the long way round*

      A back massage, reflexology, and a new indie eyeshadow palette.
      Chef’s kiss.

    16. chocolate muffins*

      Babysitting + date activity with my husband. Does it have to be the same date activity each time? If so, I vote for massages. Otherwise other options would be going out to dinner, going for a hike (which is what we often do anyway and is free, but we could get sandwiches and pay for gas or something, and hike longer/pay more for babysitting), going to see a play/comedy show which would be more than $200 so we could add, etc.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Mysterious benefactor says “a date with my husband” is an acceptable loophole to the “same thing every month” requirement :)

        1. Pamela Adams*

          Red Reader,

          Did this mysterious benefactor happen to win the $1 billion Powerball earlier this week?

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Either that or they tripped over a genie bottle.

            I’ve been doing a lot of pie-in-the-sky never-gonna-happen-but-what-if this week, between Powerball and MegaMillions and the fact that I’ve known what my three genie wishes would be for the last five years, so I just thought it would be fun to pick one of the scenarios and get other folks’ thoughts too :)

            1. Pamela Adams*

              If it was me, I’d be fulfilling A lot of wishlists. DonorsChoose Kiva- add it all up!

              1. Sloanicota*

                Imagine if someone from AAM won and wanted our input on how to spend it! The most joyful weekend thread :D

    17. sswj*

      Personal chef to make meals for me.

      I’d happily was every dish and pot in the house if someone would just cook for me.

    18. 2023 Got Better*

      Expensive cat toys and furniture. Which will promptly be ignored. because, cat.

    19. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I would hire a cleaning service. Done.

      (I don’t think the service exists that I really want— someone willing to let me declutter & organize while they clean. Bonus if they are willing to tell me what needs my attention the most, so ADHD me doesn’t get sidetracked.)

    20. Buni*

      Apparently that’s £155, so…just a splurge day? A fancier-than-normal meal and the theatre or an exhibition – slightly bending the ‘same thing’ rules but I live in central London so I wouldn’t run out of things to see.

    21. KatCardigans*

      Earlier on, I’d buy multiple pairs of jeans and bras to find the ones that are best for me—the advice is always to try a whole bunch and send the rest back, but I don’t always have extra pot of money lying around to buy a whole bunch in the first place. That would take a few months.

      After that, probably weekly classes for my daughter at the kid’s play place plus some upgrades at the grocery store and going out to a movie or dinner with my husband every other week.

    22. The Cosmic Avenger*

      We actually have a landscape service and house cleaner, and if we didn’t those would definitely come first! And they cost about that much or less for service twice a month. So I think I’d use it on Lyft rides. I have trouble bringing myself to pay for those, probably because I grew up in a part of NYC that was both walkable and had a lot of public transportation options. (For those who don’t know NYC, there are actually plenty of residential neighborhoods where public transportation is a very long or not feasible walk away.) Our current neighborhood is somewhat walkable, but the weather and time can be a barrier to going out, and I prefer not to drive if I’m going to have even one drink (*maybe* one if I’m also having a meal and have at least a couple of hours).

      I would also use the rides to get to and from the Metro station, so I’d go into DC more.

    23. Falling Diphthong*

      Option 1: More massage visits. These work to get my messed up muscles working with me rather than against me.

      Option 2: A nice meal out. For a long time I was too run down at night to find these particularly appealing, and am trying to get back to that.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Our house is about 2000 sq ft, and 4 BR 3 BA but she only cleans 2 BR (& 3 BA; 1 BR is study/storage, the other is our college student’s…their preference), and we pay $110 per visit, but we also proactively offered more during COVID and again when gas prices and inflation shot up, otherwise it would probably be $100 or a little less if we waited for her to ask for more.

        Also, this is in a DC suburb; I’m assuming the price might vary slightly based on the COL.

        tl;dr, 2 visits/month.

    24. Dragonfly7*

      Different food.
      I have celiac disease, and a lot of things I used to eat are significantly more expensive in general or complicated to order safely when dining out. I would spend this money on things I rarely do. Gas to go to and dine out at dedicated gluten-free restaurants in the next city over. Buy bread, especially from my favorite bakery. Some pre-made meals from a local place that safely does bulk meal prep for the week. Fun frozen things even, like cheese bites, more regularly.

    25. Glazed Donut*

      -Flower delivery for fresh flowers/arrangements
      -Landscaping – I currently have someone who mows the yard but that’s pretty much it – I am the weeder and planter and all that. I enjoy feeling accomplished with my yard but it would be nice if someone else could do some weekly weed maintenance
      -Personal chef for a day – I am an ok cook. It would be nice to have a real, full meal in my own home!

    26. Pharmgirl2012*

      Landscaping in the summer and snow removal in the winter (hope that doesn’t count as switching)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Not in my book, because the landscapers I know do snow removal in winter and leaf pickup in the fall. :)

    27. NeutralJanet*

      I’m paying for a personal trainer! I want to work on strength training, but I find free weights incredibly boring and have no idea what else to do for effective strength training. I’ve got the motivation to work out, I do go to the gym four or five times a week, but I don’t know enough about fitness to figure out an effective routine for my little baby noodle arms.

    28. Elle Woods*

      My immediate thought is a gym membership and a massage. Or maybe going to a different higher-end restaurant each month.

    29. office hobbit*

      Practical: house cleaner or yard maintenance

      Splurge: the subscription service at a local ice cream parlor for a pint of all their specialty flavors of the month (this is <$100, so maybe this and one visit from the house cleaner/yard maintainer)

    30. CanadaGoose*

      Hmm, lots of good options!
      My faves are:
      – a fancy gym membership (one I might actually splurge on)
      – Massages would be indulgent
      – babysitters/a regular drop-off activity for my kid so my husband and I get adult time together before 9pm
      – chef-prepared, personalized & delivered meal prep…or maybe outsourcing the meal planning, shopping and delivery but I still cook mostly.

      1. Blue wall*

        Yes mine would be a yoga studio or a personal trainer! I so miss yoga studios— I’ve moved a few times over the past several years and prices in my current location aren’t feasible.

        1. Rainy*

          Same here. I used to live in Vancouver and I belonged to the Y two blocks from my apartment. We had amazing yoga teachers because Van is full of yoga studios and also some really good yoga teacher training programs, and it cost me something like 43CAD per month. Here, I can’t really afford classes–even the basic membership at the Y here is twice that, and there would be maybe two days a week I could actually make it to classes, so I haven’t bothered. I miss it. There’s a really nice yoga studio not too far from me that practices a form I’m really interested in, but a membership is almost 200USD a month, and I just can’t afford it.

    31. Llama face!*

      Hmmm, I think I’d get a cleaning service to come in and do a nice thorough house cleaning once a month. Then if there’s any leftover (pretty sure an in-depth cleaning will be costly), I would have a nice meal delivered.

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

      If there weren’t the restriction on doing the thing for yourself or someone else in your household, I’d probably pick a library, public radio station, or voting rights organization in a southern or midwestern state and set up a recurring donation because that would give me a big dopamine high (though I guess I’d have to get monthly reminders about the donation to keep the high going).

      If I really had to splurge on myself and I weren’t concerned about covid, I would get as many massages and foot rubs as that money would buy me each month and just bliss out.

    33. Pieforbreakfast*

      A small cheesebox (aka refrigerator) and all.the.cheese.

      Or weekly sessions at the soaking place down the street.

    34. Lemondrops*

      wood and tools to make cool stuff. though lots of tools (and some exotic woods) are much more than that. i’d love a good table saw, drill press, and workbench!

    35. Fellow Traveller*

      For fun- I would choose tickets to a live performance- theatre, opera, concert, dance….though $200 might not be enough for me and my whole family. Maybe I rotate family members. Though then I would have to pay for a sitter….
      For practicality- laundry service. I used to send my laundry out to be washed and folded when I had a super busy week at work and it was so amazing. It was surprisingly inexpensive- I think less than $25 for a week’s worth.

    36. carcinization*

      I’m quite surprised that no-one wants to spend this on tattoos… I mean, $200 isn’t much in that direction but it could either be a collection of little tattoos $200/pop or ongoing work on an epic backpiece and then accompanying sleeves and such… I don’t think that’d count as “saving” if a little was done per month, if something like craft supplies (that could also be for an ongoing project) is okay with the benefactor….

      But I’m not sure if I want that much more ink so I guess I’d actually go with earlier suggestions of a yoga package since my husband and I are wanting to get back into that.

      1. Lurker*

        I just got a tattoo and there was $250 minimum – regardless of how small the tattoo might be. I got a wrap around micro line recently and it ended up costing me ~ $600, including tip; so $200 wouldn’t be enough for monthly tattoos.

        1. carcinization*

          I… also just got a tattoo (in March 2023, and it was my 6th) and there was a smaller minimum than that, so I guess people’s mileage may vary! If I got the smallest tattoos this artist does, I could get multiple monthly tattoos for $200 (her smallest flash tattoos are pick 2 for $150, I just happened to get a larger one this time).

          So, $200 is definitely enough money for monthly tattoos where I live/with the artist I just went to (my other 5 tattoos are from 4 different artists), even with a generous tip, though apparently it is not enough money where you live/with the artist you just went to :)

          I also know plenty of people who have paid regular deposits on large tattoos that required multiple sessions, so that’s the situation I was actually alluding to in my first comment, but since you brought up a different type of situation I thought I’d respond to that comment first.

          Sorry tattoos are so expensive where you live!

    37. allathian*

      I spend about that every month on pedicures, facials, and haircuts. I’d be very happy if I could spend someone else’s money on that instead of my own.

    38. londonedit*

      I’d have a cleaner (I live on my own in a small flat but there are just some things I hate doing and I always put off the dusting) and I’d definitely have a sports massage once a month too.

    39. Victoria Everglot*

      I’d build up a massive library. New books are usually too expensive for me and I don’t like library books (I want to be able to keep them!). Buying used is *wonderful* for older books (I have to stop myself from going absolutely crazy on thriftbooks) but doesn’t put money in a new writer’s pocket, nor does it tell a publisher people are interested. There are also some really obscure books that are so hard to find that copies pop up for like 100 bucks and if I can’t justify 20-25 a pop, I certainly can’t justify that.

    40. Bluebell*

      More regular acupuncture! I usually go every month or so, when some part of me acts up. But it would be a nice luxury to go twice a month.

    41. EngineerMom*

      $60/month for me & spouse at local gym (actual cost that we can’t currently afford).

      $100/month for ballroom lessons for me

      $40/month for my husband’s karaoke habit (same time as ballroom, and his hobby).

      If we each were given $200, then all that plus a huge books & music budget! I would buy 4 books a month (a number I can easily read) and then gift them to my local library when done.

      Anything else would go towards paying entry fees for triathlons & long-distance organized cycling events (typically run $60-$100 per race). I’d love to do more events than the one or two per year we can afford!

    42. Quinalla*

      That would get me a couple floats at the float spa, I’d probably do that! Right now, I usually go once a year on my birthday, but being able to go a couple times a month would be great.

      Any remaining I’d buy books :)

    43. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Classes in something I’ve always wanted to try, like a martial art or jewelry making or first aid or llama grooming. If it was $200 of someone else’s money, I could justify the risk of trying something that might not stick.

  6. Are We the @ssholes?*

    I have been contemplating this incident all week, and want the group’s opinion. Tuesday nights my friendgroup goes to a board game bar to play Settlers. It’s a slow night generally, so we take a big table and get pitchers. Over the past year, I’ve noticed the board game bar becoming more of a parent space; I’ve heard bartenders complain they get one beer per table and lose their kids while sitting around chatting. Like it’s a kid birthday spot now – to be clear, there are no child games and it is a bar (no food but there’s a pizza place next door you can carry in). So last Tuesday a dad was walking his toddler around and the kid wanted to go in the back room, which he couldn’t, so the dad parked him in the door way and stood over him while the kid was wailing. The doorway was right next to our table, where six of us were (casually, to be clear) playing and chatting. After about three minutes of wails, my friend kind of rudely, in my opinion, asked the dad to take the kid away. The dad was pretty put out and snarky about it, but did take the kid outside and we had a nice night. Still, it was clearly a negative interaction. I know parents have it tough and also tend to tune out little kid noise over time and the dad probably never considered it was disruptive, and my friend could have phrased his request in a nicer or more sympathetic way. My friend said the guy was being a jerk letting the kid scream so he doesn’t feel bad. I didn’t feel great but I didn’t say anything, and I’m still thinking about it. Who was more wrong? What would be a kinder way to address the disruption?

    1. There You Are*

      I get that parents want to enjoy a craft beer somewhere besides their own home, but an adult space — like a bar — isn’t the place to do it.

      We have the same setup in my neighborhood that you’re describing. Pizza place [though an upscale one clearly designed for adults, not children] next to a beer-only pub. The pizza place used to have a fire-and-water fountain but had to drain it and fill it with dirt and succulents because the entitled parents let their toddlers swim in the fountain and the diapers clogged the filtration system one too many times for the owner to keep paying to repair it. (I think he filled the fountain after he’d paid over $15K out of pocket).

      Then the entitled parents sipped their craft beers while watching their children rip the succulents out of the dirt and throw them across the patio, causing the owner to spend even more money replacing the plants and cleaning up after the children.

      When the owner asked parents to please, for the love of all the gods, keep their children from destroying his property, a surprising number of parents threatened to sue him.

      Children will be screaming toddlers for a brief while. Parents can take them to kid-friendly places until they’re old enough to not scream-wail continuously in public.

      I wasn’t there and I don’t know what your friend said, but he absolutely did the right thing in asking the parent to take their too-young-to-be-in-an-adult-space child outside.

      1. Sloanicota*

        It’s soooo hard right now to know what are adult-only spaces versus family-friendly spaces; there’s a lot more patios than there used to be (I see the exact same issue with dogs!). My local brewery is a kindergarten these days. But I’m also sympathetic, as I recognize there is a lack of actually family-friendly places that adults can also enjoy, particularly that are as free or low cost as a brewery.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Children will be screaming toddlers for a brief while. Parents can take them to kid-friendly places until they’re old enough to not scream-wail continuously in public.

        I mean, yeah…kids don’t naturally know how to behave in public. They need to be taught, and the best way to do that is to take them to age-appropriate places when they’re small and build those skills. But you have to pay attention and be ready to step in when they’re overwhelmed.

        If your kids don’t learn basic manners, no one will want them around even when they’re older.

      3. Festively Dressed Earl*

        Oh, please do sue. The countersuits would be things of beauty – pay for the damages and the legal fees of the person whose property you’re abusing. People shouldn’t confuse “family friendly” with “free babysitting from bystanders.” If parents are actively engaged with their kids while in public spaces, helping them learn what’s acceptable and what’s not, then I have sympathy. Kids who are tearing up the place because their parents never learned how to behave either? Totally different story.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I mean, it’s always better to start politely, but it’s super annoying when people don’t make any attempt to have their kids behave in public (it’s not always going to work, and that’s okay! A screaming toddler with a parent trying to shush/remove them is significantly less annoying than one left unattended). There’s a reason places like Red Robin exist.

      1. There You Are*

        Once upon a time, my ex and I were both sick with a cold at the same time. Neither of us had the will to cook anything, despite not running a fever, so we went to a local restaurant that has great pasole. Hot, spicy soup is perfect for clearing the sinuses and lungs.

        We specifically went right as they opened (10:00 AM) to avoid any crowds. We had the place all to ourselves and chose a corner away from any potential patrons but within line of sight of the waitstaff counter, so they could easily see if we needed anything without having to walk all the way over. We were going out of our way to be thoughtful.

        And then in walked the Wednesday Mom’s Group, along with over a dozen already screaming toddlers and babies.

        Fine. It’s a free world and it was a big restaurant. We picked up our glasses and silverware (the soup hadn’t been brought out yet), and relocated to the bar area because of the huge sign that said, “NO CHILDREN ALLOWED IN BAR AREA.”

        So, of course, one of the moms brought her darling Greydun into the bar so he could run up and down the ramp leading to the bathrooms on the upper level, shrieking at the top of his lungs all the way up and all the way down and all the way up and all the way down and all….

        I got up, went over to the mom, and said, “We moved from the room all of you were in because we have headaches and don’t want to be in the same area as loud children.” She stiffened and started to tell me that her child could go anywhere he cared to, and I cut her off and pointed to the sign she was practically standing under. She huffed, and muttered something about “baby haters” as she walked past us with her kid in tow.

        FTR, I have never once had a parent be contrite or apologetic when I’ve either asked them to take their child elsewhere until they calm down, or asked the kids themselves to dial it down (if old enough). And I have always approached both the adults and the kids with an attitude of concern and understanding.

    3. The Shenanigans*

      Without knowing what your friend said exactly I can’t say of he was more or even if he was rude at all. I take it that his phrasing or tone made you uncomfortable which is totally valid. But I agree that the parent was way more rude in having a kid in a space where kids have zero business being. Honestly the owners should be turning parents with kids out of the door as soon as they walk in. If they aren’t willing to do that now, consistent complaints from adult regulars might change their mind.

      1. Are We the @ssholes?*

        It was literally something like “hey buddy, any chance you can take the crying kid further away from us? We’re trying to play here.” Which I thought was a unnecessarily blunt … but TBH I wouldn’t have said anything, just sat there trying to figure out why I was increasingly on edge as the poor kid did that wailing-not-actual-crying thing they do at that age. And the guy definitely wasn’t going to do anything, as he was looking at his phone and it had been several minutes so I get why my friend was irked. It’s possible if my friend had been nicer it wouldn’t have worked. I guess in some perfect world I would have like, gone over to show the kid something distracting, or something helpful like that.

        1. Flames on the Side of My Face*

          Parent here, and I think your friend’s phrasing and overall request was entirely reasonable in this context.

        2. Double A*

          Ignoring/waiting out a tantrum is a totally valid strategy because there are many kids that will be escalated by any interaction, you just need to let it blow over until they’re calm enough. However, you need to move the kid to as minimally disruptive a place as possible or leave which this Dad didn’t do. I think what your friend said sounds fine, maybe 10% too brusque but with the margin of error.

          And I have tantrum age kids, so I’ve got a dog in this fight.

        3. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          Your friend was a lot nicer than I’d have been – and much nicer than I’d have thought from your original description.
          It’s not like he said, “Hey, jerkface, get that screaming turd out of here!” He was direct but polite.

        4. Sc@rlettNZ*

          That isn’t rude at all, or unnecessarily blunt. Nothing grinds my gears more than screaming kids whose parents just ignore the wailing. You may have gone deaf mate but the rest of us haven’t.

          If I was the owner I wouldn’t put up with people (who aren’t spending much) and their screaming offspring driving away my other regular customers.

          1. constant_craving*

            While parents should certainly take steps to minimize the impact to others, ignoring the wailing is the best choice if a parent wants their child to tantrum less in the future. Giving the tantrum attention, even just by telling the kid to quiet down, increases the likelihood the child will tantrum again in the future.

            1. Cheshire Cat*

              Yes, but you do this at home. When you’re in a public space you need to get the child to be quiet, or remove them from the space.

              I did this with my children when they were at the tantrum age, and the difference in treatment (public v. private) didn’t prolong the phase.

            2. Observer*

              While parents should certainly take steps to minimize the impact to others, ignoring the wailing is the best choice if a parent wants their child to tantrum less in the future.

              Nope. For one thing, context matters. For another, there are often choices other than “ignore” or “tell the kid to calm down” which I agree rarely works. One of the choices when in public is to simply take the kid out of the situation. In fact, when in public this is actually a better choice most of the time, not just because of the impact on others, but it’s more effective than just ignoring. It doesn’t directly feed the tantrum, it changes the environment, and it (often) imposes a consequence in a direct but non-harmful and non-harsh manner.

        5. Amey*

          I’m a parent of fairly young children and know that it is not possible to just force a young child to stop crying. I still think your friend was in the right, and I don’t think his words were rude at all. Ideally, he would have said it in a matter of fact tone, which it sounds like he might not have, but the dad should have taken his child out. This isn’t a good place to take your children, mainly because it’s likely to be very boring for them! I don’t think it’s very reasonable for parents to expect that their kids will be able to behave in that environment – and if they think realistically they won’t be able to behave, they shouldn’t put them in that situation until they’re older. Sometimes you’re caught out, and sometimes you just have to manage in an exceptional situation like a big family event, but I think these are exceptions. Just my opinion though!

        6. Cat's Paw for Cats*

          I don’t his wording was rude at all and dad was absolutely being a jerk.

        7. KatCardigans*

          As the parent of a toddler, I think that’s fine. I might be a little put out in the moment because it’s pretty embarrassing to be called out for not having a great parenting moment, but it’s definitely fair.

          It’s very sweet when strangers jump in to distract a crying toddler but it’s also 100% not their job to be that kind of helpful. I do think it is their job to politely ignore minor things that the parent is trying to control.

        8. Rainy*

          I wouldn’t consider that rude, especially because someone who’s just parking their screaming toddler next to your table is absolutely not going to do anything if you say it more politely. You’re going to get to blunt anyway, might as well start there.

        9. Middle Aged Lady*

          Not rude at all. You don’t park a kid in a doorway and hope they don’t cry.
          Adult spaces are for adults and kid spaces are for kids. The in-between places are Family-friendly places are where kids learn to behave so they can eventually come to adult places. Leaving a little one unattended in a bar or restaurant to roam freely is not just rude, it’s also not safe.

        10. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

          That sounds pretty reasonable to me, I’m not sure the request could have been softened much further. 3 minutes of toddler tantrum in a booze-only bar? The dad was a jerk to his kid, the establishment and the patrons.

        11. Observer*

          It was literally something like “hey buddy, any chance you can take the crying kid further away from us? We’re trying to play here.”

          OK, I take back the first part of my original answer. Sure, he could have been more sympathetic. But what he said was perfectly OK.

          It sounds like you are really bothered that he said *anything*. And I would ask you why? The person who was unequivocally out of line here was the Dad.

          Also, “in some perfect world I would have like, gone over to show the kid something distracting, or something helpful like that’ has me going “nooooooooo” It’s unreasonable to expect anyone other than the parent to do so to start with (outside of a situation where the parent is clearly doing their best and needs a hand.) But also, smart parents are really not interested in strangers coming over to their kids and trying to engage with the kids like that. Of course, this dad was not being so smart and responsible. But please realize that it still does not make it a good idea.

          I get it – you are thinking that doing so would be helpful. But it would probably not be helpful. On top of which, Dad would probably not have responded well anyway. At least this way he snarked but then took the kid away which was the best outcome for everyone.

    4. Cheezmouser*

      Mom of two small children here. Your friend was fine. The dad should’ve understood that a wailing child needs to be removed until the child calms down and is no longer disruptive to other patrons. Yes, small children will act up in public spaces, and as a parent you can’t always control them. But you can remove them from the space until they behave appropriately again. If a stranger had to speak up with me about my children, I would’ve been mortified, apologized, and immediately taken my child outside until they were ready to return.

      1. Cat's Paw for Cats*

        “Yes, small children will act up in public spaces, and as a parent you can’t always control them. But you can remove them from the space until they behave appropriately again.”

        Well said.

      2. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

        My kids are long grown. However, I still remember one rainy night over 30 years ago. We were at the local deli, having dinner with my in-laws. My daughter started crying and would not stop. I missed dinner because I took her outside under the awning, so she would not disturb the other patrons.

        Was it inconvenient for me? Yes. Was it necessary? Yes. Would I do it again (were she that age again)? yes.

        If you’re a parent, you have the responsibility to make sure your children do not disrupt other patrons of wherever the heck you are.

    5. Maggie*

      Your friend should have asked nicer, but if you have screaming kids in a bar that’s a bar ONLY with no food and nothing geared towards kids, then I think that person is sort of “more” in the wrong. In my area, if a bar is only a bar, no food, it has a different type of license and is required to card everyone and it’s automatically a 21+ establishment. So I just think it’s generally really strange when people bring kids to a bar that’s not also something else. But the other side of me says we’re all people, kids brains don’t know how to process things, and they are going to scream. It’s a fact of life that has to be accepted. I would probably find a new bar that cards at the door to host the game night at. Maybe there is a chill place that wouldn’t mind people bringing their own games. I also wonder like… is being at a bar chasing an understandably bored toddler actually fun?

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Yes, in my area, if a bar does not serve food, it’s the automatic 21+.
        And many alcohol – forward places that do serve food, only allow people under 18 until 9pm.

    6. Not A Manager*

      As someone who once reared several whiny toddlers, I think your friend was completely in the right. No need to modulate the tone at all.

    7. CityMouse*

      I’m a parent. Taking a toddler out to a bar at night is a bad idea because toddlers thrive on schedules and usually need to sleep at like 8 at the latest. So no wonder this kid was crying, they were almost certainly overtired. You also definitely can’t just let your kid wail in a space, you have to take them out or calm them down.

      I took my kid all sorts of places when he was a toddler (mostly outside because of COVID), but I never would have taken him out this late (eithout a really, really good reason) or allowed him to wail like that. This guy wasn’t just being bad to you, he was being bad to his kid.

    8. Lemonwhirl*

      Sometimes kids have to express their big feelings, but the place for that is outside. Three minutes is a long time for bystanders to listen to a kid wail. Would it have been better if your friend said something more polite after a minute instead of letting his annoyance build up and spill over? Sure. But ultimately, it’s on the dad for choosing to let his kid wail in situ rather than carry him out.

      I’m in rural Ireland where people are way more chill about kids being out in public, especially in pubs. But part of that is that parents are aware that their kids and the noise they made can affect other people. (Not to say that it’s perfect here, but the expectations are different. Beyond a certain level of noise or shenanigans, most parents will take their kids outside. As a patron with an older kid, I can reasonably be sure that a kid isn’t going to wail for many minutes.)

    9. Zzzzzz*

      Jeeeez! The kid was miserable, clearly “telling” his dad in the way only a toddler can express their extreme distress, and the father was completely ignoring it in the hopes of getting in his own “me time”–at the expense of both his own child and the bar patrons. Not sure what the friend said, but dad was WRONG on so many levels.

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

        Yes, I think the real problem here is that dad was on his phone instead of paying attention to his kid. My parents did take me to moderately nice restaurants from the time I was an infant, but they paid attention to me while I was there, and I was the only kid, so they could double-team me. I was pretty well behaved. While I had my occasional bratty moments, they would NOT have been okay with my screaming or destroying anything.

    10. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Agree with most of the above, your friend could have been a touch more kind and understanding about the request, but it was still warranted. Our spawn was surprisingly well-behaved, but I did have to haul them outside once when they were starting to get to the point of disturbing other tables near us and they ignored repeated warnings. My spouse had our untouched meal boxed up, and I calmly waited outside on the sidewalk with the kid. It happens. Toddlers get very hungry and/or tired very quickly, and they won’t have the facility to communicate it or even necessarily know why they’re cranky.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      This stuff makes me think of Captain Awkward’s return the awkward to sender–someone is trying to take advantage of the social norm that asking them to stop will Be Awkward. There is no smooth approach here.

      Also feel I should note for the record that kids acting like frustrated toddlers (because they are!) in a space meant for adults has been going on for generations. I think it’s more of an issue in the US than other places, but you just have to hope that any given group of annoying people do not settle on your favorite hangout as their new spot, and tell others in their demographic to come by.

    12. Come On Eileen*

      I would say “everybody sucks here” because you described both parties — your friend and the dad — being rude in the interaction. It’s perfectly fine to ask another patron to deal with their wailing child. Parents who bring small kids to bars should know it’s going to be a challenge and it’s not the smartest decision on their part. The fact that one asked rudely and the other responded rudely is where things go off the rails. A kinder way would be to ask kindly “hey, any chance you could take your kid outside until he calms down?”

    13. RagingADHD*

      Dad wasn’t doing a good job, because that’s not how you handle a toddler meltdown in a public place. However, I’m loath to say he was being “a jerk” because IDK how exhausted or overwhelmed he might be. He could have been in Zombie Mode. There can be times when you are trying really hard to get out of the house and participate in life so you don’t lose your mind, but you’re still not really thinking straight.

      So he was in the wrong, but I have some empathy. Being wrong doesn’t always mean you’re being a jerk.

      Your friend was not wrong to want / ask the dad to move, and I understand his irritation. I think he could have been a little softer about his wording, just as a matter of general courtesy to strangers in public. Civility is a 2-way street, and one person being out of bounds isn’t a good reason to be harsh or aggressive.

      There are a lot if ways to say, “Hey buddy…” Some of them are neutral, and some if them are quite aggressive. Your description makes it sound like your friend was more aggressive than the situation warranted. It’s not as if you already asked once and he refused.

      He was not wrong, but it was overkill.

    14. Anon from Here*

      I’m a parent, and I hate it when people bring kids into bars. Bars are adult environments where adults go to have a safe space for consuming adult beverages and holding adult conversations. I’ll differentiate a bar from a venue that deliberately welcomes families, particularly before 6:00 p.m. or so. But a bar is for grown-ups. Kids shouldn’t be exposed to adults getting drunk in a bar, and adults should be able to have a space where they don’t feel that they need to moderate their conversation because there are kids around.

      The only time I ever brought my kid into my local bar was when a group I was a member of scheduled a meeting and my childcare fell through (kiddo was about 16). I came in to say hi and see if they needed me to answer any quick questions, and we left after about three minutes. Since it was my local, the bartender and a couple of regulars were happy to meet my kid, but it was a little weird — the regulars generally didn’t like it, either, when random parents would bring kids in — and I’m glad I was never in that position again.

    15. Rainy*

      I think your friend was fine given the spot. If you’d been playing a boardgame at Chuck E. Cheese or a McDonald’s with a Playplace and were being rude about shrieking children, that would be a different matter. But it’s a *bar*.

      An example: if I go to an 11am show of the Barbie movie (or an animated film, etc), I expect there to be children. I will have my seat kicked, there will be a lot of shrieking, and I will spend the whole time hoping no one pulls my hair, but I am going to a daytime showing of a child-friendly film and that is what I signed up for. If I go to a 10pm showing of a zombie film and some asshat brings her toddler and spends the whole time whisper-screaming horrible things at the child who is crying and terrified, I will say to her one time “That child should be at home in bed, not watching a zombie pull someone’s intestines out of their abdomen with its teeth, and if you do not take her out of the theatre this second, I am going to go get a manager and have you ejected” and then I will do the thing I promised.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I have seen so many people taking kids to wildly age-inappropriate movies and just flat out ignore their terrified meltdown. Not only is the movie being ruined for everyone in the theater, that poor kid is being traumatized and their parent is the cause of it!

        1. Sloanicota*

          Oh man you just reminded me of going to see an afternoon matinee of “Birds of Prey” and a woman came in with three little kids, maybe 3, 5, and 7. That movie is waay too violent for those age groups! I couldn’t enjoy any of it because I kept thinking how it must be screwing with them.

    16. Mild Accountant*

      I feel like it’s on the borderline of NTA/soft ESH, to use the AITA argot. Disclaimer: I don’t have kids myself, but I kind of enjoy having kids around much of the time.

      As for your friend’s actions: You don’t specify what he said in your OP, but he’s not a jerk (to use the AAM-appropriate version) if he was just very direct. In fact, that’s probably a kindness – sometimes the kindest response isn’t always the nicest one (and that’s something I’m trying to learn for myself). But if your friend was offensive towards Dad (or worse, the kid), or if he was even just vulgar, that’s uncalled for in this case. Dad was letting his kid have a tantrum in a Very Not Child-Appropriate Area, and even though that’s bad, I feel like the bar for being offensive towards someone is super high. (And I’m going to leave that ambiguous.)

      (Also as someone who accidentally gave his unfiltered thoughts about a situation in front of his friend’s 8-year-old last week: you don’t need to use four-letter words in front of kids. Even if they’ve probably heard them before. Look, I believe in educating The Children, but I am not talking about that type of education.)

      But Dad was definitely a jerk in bringing a Child to a VNCAA. (So are the other parents, for that matter.) Your friend is right, although not in the way I think he means – Dad was a jerk to his kid for taking said kid (a toddler, no less) to a bar and letting them have a tantrum. (Y’all were just collateral damage.)

      So, tl;dr: I can’t say INFO (okay, I can because I am nothing if not messy, but it’s against the rules here), but it’s either NTA or ESH. Short of directly insulting Dad or the toddler (or using…*ahem* age-inappropriate language around the toddler), your friend acted reasonably – he addressed the situation, and while Dad was embarrassed, it was resolved. Dad forfeited the right to his dignity by bringing a freaking TODDLER to A BAR. Even a bar that has board games (because I believe that no amount of Candyland can ever cancel out IPAs on tap, and this sounds like a Ticket to Ride joint).

        1. Rainy*

          It’s mostly reddit verbiage from a specific subreddit. NTA= not the asshole. ESH= everyone sucks here. AITA= am I the asshole. INFO= need more information; can’t give a judgement.

          VNCAA is not a standard acronym, they define it the first time they use it: Very Not Child Appropriate Area.

    17. Solokid*

      I’m with your friend 100%. I suppose a “please” could’ve been added but not necessary.

    18. Ellis Bell*

      Sometimes being direct is a kindness. Some people drag their kids around with them to do something totally outside the kid’s routine, provide them with no attention or distractions, then they wonder why they “can’t behave”. On top of that they aren’t willing to give the kid even the attention of taking them to one side to calm down. They need to know they aren’t surrounded by people equally clueless and thinking “Well what can he possibly do?!” I think your friend minded their own business and kept the request to the immediate affect on your group. It was only awkward because he had to speak up at all. I think your friend also gave the parent half a clue. Tantrums are inevitable and I think parents should be welcomed wherever possible, but there’s a difference between kids being loathed for no reason and letting your child scream unhindered. There’s always the option of going outside for a time out at the very least.

    19. fhqwhgads*

      I’m confused why it’s legal for children to be in a bar that doesn’t serve food? “You can bring it from next door” has not been an exception to this in my experience, so the whole scenario is kind of weird.

    20. NoKidZone*

      I think it’s reasonable to expect a bar to be kid free and to be annoyed when it’s not and extra annoyed when it’s populated by misbehaving kids. I would feel no compunction about being very direct about taking the kid out of there immediately, so I think you were overly nice about it.

    21. Fellow Traveller*

      I feel like when we start thinking of things being “wrong” or “right” it can lead to folks feeling self righteous and defensive rather than approaching things with humility and empathy. I mean everyone has a different tolerance level for certain irritations and this whole situation strikes me as a morally neutral. Perhaps the best way would have been to ask the staff at the bar to say something? What would one have done differently if it was a very loud adult?
      I always find it interesting how many comments threads about poorly behaved kids/parents elicit.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        The topic gets a lot of comments because it’s very context dependant; the situation of kids throwing a tantrum does often require empathy, but depending on context. Like, I’d have a lot more empathy if it was someone in a supermarket ignoring their kid just so they could get finished with their shopping because they’re at their wits end and need food in the house. I wouldn’t extend the same sympathy to someone hanging out on a bar, even though I don’t particularly judge kids being in a bar – it’s common in the UK to bring children into a pub. I don’t even judge the guy in question, I just think he made a mistake in judgement and he was corrected for it without anyone overstepping. I don’t think people finding that correction to be reasonable is self righteous.

    22. EngineerMom*

      Parent here. ESH (everyone sucks here, in the scenario).

      Dad should have taken kid outside as soon as kid started being disruptive. Kids tantrum (older than you think, plus it’s hard to estimate age based on appearance – my daughter at age 3 was taller than most 5-year-olds)., it happens especially when they’re tired or hungry or both, but as a parent part of your job is minimizing disruption in public spaces by doing things like taking an out-of-control kiddo outside or away from a crowd whenever possible until they are able to self-regulate again. As a parent, it sucks – you have to interrupt your own activities to tend to the kid, but it’s just part of the job.

      Your friend shouldn’t have been rude, though – parenting a screaming toddler is hard enough without judgemental a-holes voicing their opinions in condescending/rude ways. A better approach is to talk with a restaurant/bar manager and have them deal with the situation.

    23. Observer*

      From what you say, your friend should have been politer to start with.

      But that doesn’t change the fact that dad was really out if line here. For one thing, it’s a *bar* where the only items sold are alcoholic beverages. I don’t understand ANY of the parents who bring young children here. Sure, it’s for board games, but still.

      And by the way, while parents do often tend to filter out kid noises “wailing” is not something most good parents actually tune out *automatically*. It’s generally a *decision* – eg Parent refuses something kid wants and parent decides that the best way to deal with kid’s subsequent tantrum / wails / whining is to pretend not to hear it. It’s a good tactic in the appropriate time and place, to be sure! But *appropriate* is the key word here. And a bar near a party of people who are just trying to have a chill evening is most definitely NOT an appropriate setting for that particular tactic and decision.

      I would say that the kindest and best way to have handled it would have been to ask the Dad politely to take the kid elsewhere. “I understand that Kid is frustrated, but it’s making a difficult for us to have a conversation. Could you move him?” I think that’s not rude. You could use a bit more softening language if you are really uncomfortable, but it’s not really necessary.

      And if Dad goes beyond snark to refusing to move the kid, I would have skipped the rudeness and gone a manager and asked them to deal with this situation.

    24. 100 Percent Parent Problem*

      This is very late to the conversation, but the main thing here is that the dad left his own group and was walking the toddler around/parking in an area that wasn’t even at his own table annoying the people the dad came with. He was being “polite” to his own group while being rude to a stranger group with the kid noise. That elevates this from the normal discussion of how kids behave in public and what parents do about it. It is not rude to point out the obvious to people who are oblivious. That level of entitlement or obliviousness or poor-dad tired-ness (if one is looking for excuses) would not be penetrated by a soft-spoken, politely-worded, self-effacing, apologetic request to do their group the utmost of favors and kindly move farther away.

  7. Looking to rent a Cat*

    Mouse hunting advice.
    we have 2 kids under three. we’re renting (landlord’s decent).

    Just spotted a little gray mouse running in our first floor apartment (hundred year old building in a dense european city full of mice and rats).
    After cornering it and losing it over and over for two hours (hubby talked me out of using bug spray to stun it, I wasn’t thinking straight), we can’t find it anymore.

    I have no idea if there’s a crack big enough for a mouse between our wooden floorboards (can a mouse fit through 1-2mm spaces ?) or of it’s still there somewhere…

    Could it have climbed up from the ground floor (we keep the windows open)? There’s also a little space under our front door…

    I’m so annoyed (if only because I’ll be so sleep deprived tomorrow. It’s almost 3 am.). Also 2yo sleeps on a mattress on the floor (he was thrilled to see the mouse when he showed up to see what the midnight fuss in the living room was about, so there’s that…)

    At least we found no droppings or hints of a nest when moving furniture around, so it’s hopefully just passing through.

    any tips ? we’ll be extra careful to not leave crumbs or food around obviously.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I’m not sure if this will be reassuring to you, but to answer part of your question, mice can and do get anywhere – places you would never think they can get. I’ve heard they can fit through openings the size of American dimes (the internet tells me this is 17.91 mm?) and they can scale walls or easily travel within walls. However, you will know if you have them – they can’t control their defecation, so there will be evident signs to let you know if you are sharing interior space with them.

        1. Rainy*

          If the bare dimensions of their skull can fit, the whole rodent can fit, even if the rodent is a heckin chonker.

          I used to keep pet rats, and the spacing on a wire rat enclosure is 1/4″ for a reason. If you put a rat in a guinea pig enclosure the rat will not so much escape as just consider that it was never enclosed at all!

            1. Rainy*

              Oh my goodness, right? And they hold things really well for critters without opposable thumbs!

              1. Laura Petrie*

                The death grip! Like when they steal something they know they shouldn’t have or want me to !NOTICE THEM! and grab my finger and won’t let go. They’re freakishly strong considering their size.

    2. Giz's Mom*

      I lived in a older 5 floor apartment building for over a decade, and was the only unit in the building which did not have mice.

      First, a cat (if you’re willing and allowed to have one) is your best defense. Mice will smell a cat and avoid it’s territory as much as possible. I don’t have experience with dogs, so not sure if you’d get the same benefits.

      Second, look at your heating/cooling system. Hardware stores sell large steel wool pads that you can put in the vents or openings in the radiators. They let air through but keep rodents out.

      Also, I’ve read about auditory rodent deterents that you can plug into an outlet, like an air freshener.

      Good luck! It’s an awful problem to have. :-(

      Cats (rental or otherwise) are a great deterrent to mice. The normal smells that cats emit will have mice steering clear.

      1. rr*

        Haha. We have 2 cats (and had more at one point) and a very active mouse problem. We pay a pest control company, though because of the cats, they can only use certain things. Our cats do sometimes catch a mouse, but that is definitely the exception. House cats don’t work for a living, you know?

        1. Cat and dog fosterer*

          Depends on the cats or dogs! My cat is indoor only, ever, and is an effective hunter when rodents come in the house. The worst was when he caught something but didn’t show me where it was, and I could smell it for a week.

          But yes, there are no guarantees a cat will be a good mouser.

        2. Rainy*

          Some cats don’t have much of a prey drive, but I always found that a well-fed mouser will catch a lot more mice than a hungry cat. I grew up on a farm and we always had barn cats, and our barn cats were very well fed. A hungry cat will catch mice til it’s not a hungry cat. A well-fed cat with a prey drive will kill mice 24/7 for the fun of it.

          1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

            This. I have 3 inside-only cats. They have access to food whenever they want. 2 are exceptional killers of anything that moves–bugs, mice, garter snakes (they get into our garage sometimes), lizards, etc. And we had a cat who has since passed away that I would *never* have thought would be a hunter, but damn if he didn’t catch a bat IN THE AIR when one got inside one time.

            I will say that every girl cat I’ve ever had has been good at hunting/catching prey. The boy cats are much more of a toss-up. Also, younger cats tend to have a stronger prey drive; a geriatric cat (like 12+ years) is going to be less inclined to hunt.

      2. Maxine*

        I got rid of mice (who wasn’t fooled by traps) by letting the neighbor’s cat in a few times a week. Apparently that was enough. And the cat was so pleased, he had been trying to go inside for years.

    3. fueled by coffee*

      Honestly I’d just buy some traps – if there is a mouse, it will hopefully get caught (might take a few weeks) and then you’ll know you caught it, and if not, seeing empty traps for ~1 month will hopefully give you peace of mind that it’s not there.

      If animal cruelty is your concern, they make humane traps that just catch the mouse and then you can release it far away from your residence. Emphasis on far, though – like, you might want to take it for a bit of a road trip so it can’t find it’s way back to your apartment.

      1. Pennyworth*

        Old fashioned traps are not cruel, they kill the mouse in a fraction of a second. I find peanut peanut butter is irresistible to mice, and put the trap/s in a space a cat or dog can’t get to, like the gap beside the fridge.

      2. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Moving any trapped animal more than a couple blocks is very likely to kill it too. So either get a live trap and release it within a couple blocks (seems likely that this one got in but it isn’t normal to have mice in their apartment, so releasing it nearby shouldn’t result in it getting back in), or get a quick trap.

      3. Manders*

        I like either the OG peanut butter traps (but they scare me to set!), or the spin traps you can find at any home improvement store (I also use peanut butter in these).

    4. Missb*

      I like the black snap traps, find them on Amazon. They have a detachable bait cup which makes it easy to fill. They’re easily set and easily reusable.

      If you prefer a trap and release (I don’t recommend but I understand) then using a 5 gallon bucket with any sort of item like peanut butter in the bottom will work fine. No trap needed, just make sure they can get to the top of the bucket from the outside. They can’t get out.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        We lived in an old house with an occasional mouse or two – never more than that. I kind of made nodding acquaintance friends with them – one would come part way into a room and just watch me, I’d say “Hi, Mousie,” and eventually it would go back to its spot in the walls. We had metal cabinets, so they didn’t get into food items. This went on until we moved several years later, and we never had evidence of more than one or two living there at a time.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          That is cute but I will point out that there are still rodent born diseases; specifics depend on where you are. In my area It’s hantavirus.

    5. goddessoftransitory*


      Little mouse was not passing through. If there was a crack anywhere in your apartment–window, door, floor–it squeezed through. It is insane how narrow a space can admit a mouse.

      It was also one of many. See one, got ten is the rule of thumb with rodents, and there is a thriving nest somewhere in the building.

      Your son needs to be up off the ground. Even without visible poops, hantavirus is a thing and you don’t want him floor level breathing in minute poot particles all night.

      Contact your landlord AT ONCE and let them know. If this is a hundred year old building in a European city it will not be the first time he/she has heard it, but you need it on record that you’ve reported a rodent sighting.

      Seal EVERY FOOD ITEM in lockdown, heavy duty plastic or glass containers. Not empty margarine bins or similar, locking, thick containers that cannot be gnawed through. Just the boxes or containers the food comes in is NOT enough. Every single cupboard and pantry shelf in your place is a target for mice searching for the slightest whiff of flour or trace of macaroni noodle and they will not cease their search.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Peanut butter and possibly chocolate are also irresistible. I had to throw out a bag of Reese’s Easter Eggs because mice got into them. [sob] On a wire shelf at least 4-5′ up. Now I put them in at least two zip lock bags, or in a mini fridge.

        1. Stephanie*

          I’ve also had luck with beef jerky (squishy and fragrant). Snickers are good too.

      2. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Hear, hear. Mice are disease vectors and they urinate constantly to mark their territory. Hantavirus would be a real concern for me, and there are other diseases that mice can spread.

    6. Wormentude*

      Fully sympathise. We have had mice several times and it’s not a nice feeling knowing they are in the house.

      Get some wire wool and stuff any small gap you can find. Check places like behind the kitchen cabinets and under kickboards where pipes come through the wall as they often have gaps around. Don’t be tempted to use expanding foam as mice will eat through it. There’s also a product called Mouse Mesh which covers air bricks and vents to block access but still let air through.

      We have never had any success with traps, but poison seems to have been successful. Whichever you choose, try to avoid touching the traps (wear gloves) as we were told that mice will avoid them if they smell or human. Position them by walls and in corners as mice will go around rooms rather than across them.

      1. anonymous uncreative name*

        I’ve had the same problem and was going to try that but read steel wool can catch fire. Is there a kind that doesn’t?

    7. Jay (no, the other one)*

      We have ongoing issues with mice. My husband sets traps when we see them, he gets three or four, we don’t see them for a while, and then it starts again. It’s also seasonal. A few years ago he realized that our crawl space was basically a mouse superhighway; he set traps there and put steel wool or something around the opening to the rest of the cellar and we now have many fewer mice.

      About a month ago I glanced up from the table and saw a mouse disappear under my cabinet. There’s a toekick that goes to the floor. The floor isn’t entirely level (old house) and there’s a minuscule gap – big enough for a mouse. They can get in and out of openings you’d never think were openings. The snap traps work well and I’m beyond grateful that he deals with them and I don’t have to.

      When we had more mice we put crackers and bread into hard plastic or glass containers because the mice chewed through the bags. Avoiding crumbs is great – not always good enough.

      1. Rainy*

        Many years ago when I was living in a very different place, the city had to demolish a house on our block that had been standing empty for about 2 years after an explosion/fire, and we very briefly had mice (and so did everyone else!) when they were displaced from their mousie paradise. Luckily at the time we had three cats and they only had to catch a few to make our house not the place to be.

        1. Stephanie*

          Yeaaah, I used to live in a row house and the block behind me had an empty building that was razed for pricey condos. The rats were very unhappy and made their presence known. I believe the city forced the developer to pay for extermination throughout the neighborhood.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Yep; we were doing a remodel at work when a nearby building was torn down and it was RodentFest 2020 down there–I personally spotted a rat the size of the proverbial chihuahua! (They are all long gone, thank goodness!)

    8. Middle Aged Lady*

      In addition to the other advice, ask the landlord to remove any bushes or debris close to the house.

    9. Stephanie*

      Mice can get through the tiniest of holes. I doubt you’ll be able to find and seal all the entry points in a 100-yo building in a dense city.

      I had a mouse a couple of months ago. I found the Tom Cat Press ‘n’ Set traps worked REALLY well and killed the mouse before it even had a chance to get the bait. I have never been able to bait a proper snap trap. Wirecutter has some good recommendations: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-mousetrap/

      So they’re coming in because there’s a food source. I would make sure all your food is sealed in plastic (ideally glass). Pet food is a huge one (former roommate had dog food in a giant bag and yup…they were feasting). Make sure you reduce clutter as much as possible (they like to hide). For potential holes — check water and stove lines. The times I’ve had mice, they’re usually getting in from behind the stove or a water line (like behind the fridge).

    10. Professor Plum*

      My mouse trap hack is to place an opened brown paper bag on its side on the floor along the edge of a wall where they’re traveling. Put the trap inside the bag. Then you can scoop the whole thing up to discard without ever needing to touch the mouse or the trap.

    11. gsa*

      In lieu of, steel wool, use a stainless steel scrubby.

      The most we get seem to be pretty smart. I cannot catch them in any sort of snap trap. Glue traps work, but you have to dispose of a live mouse.

      We also spread mothballs around the exterior of our house, as well as some in the garage underneath the cars. Some sort of rodent got into the engine bay of each of ours cars and eat the electrical harness system. I think it cost $400 to fix mine and $800 to fix hers.

      Good Luck!

    12. EngineerMom*

      Food: not only do you need to and leasing any crumbs (stop eating anywhere other than the dining table), you will ALSO need to enclose ALL food in mouse-proof containers.

      And focus on eliminating access to your home – look for any and all opening in cabinets, under things like stoves or fridges, etc.

      Our first apartment, a mouse was getting in through a tiny gap under the frame of our front door. Built a nest in a wooden box we were storing under our bed, a box that contained a dollhouse my grandfather had made for me, that the mouse ruined with pee. Filled it with tri-color rotini, something I NEVER buy.

      I was pissed – I had a mouse infestation UNDER MY BED because some other apartment-dweller wasn’t appropriately securing their food.

    13. just another queer reader*

      I don’t know European rental laws, but your landlord should probably take action. The mice are probably having a grand old time in the walls/ attic/ basement of the whole building.

      As for what you can do:
      1) plug up all tiny holes with steel wool
      2) put out mouse traps, 2 per wall, plus some under cabinets. You can put them inside boxes to protect them from kids (depending on the kid)
      3) keep food in hard sided containers; keep crumbs off the floor; keep clutter to a minimum. This will make your space less inviting to hang out in.

      To be honest there’ll probably always be some mice around, but you can keep them to a minimum in your space. (Where I live, mice tend to be an autumn problem in most homes because they move inside when it gets cold.)

  8. Eliot Waugh*

    Just some food for thought:

    Often when discussions of work events come up here, alcoholics and addicts in recovery get used as a reason why venues with booze are “bad” choices. Obviously I do not speak for every alcoholic or person with substance abuse issues, but while I know this is well meant, it’s also kind of frustrating. I understand that it’s difficult to know where someone else’s self-control is at and what can be triggering for one person may not be for another, hence the desire to use caution.

    But the phrasing often ends up implying that all of us must constantly be treated with kid gloves and must not be in situations where we’re aware of alcohol, and that is often not the case. Hell, even the Big Book of AA (which isn’t the only method of recovery but has been used by many) explicitly says otherwise” “our rule is not to avoid a place where there is drinking, if we have a legitimate reason to be there”. We aren’t going to immediately slide into relapse if we’re aware that booze exists. Please be careful not to imply otherwise when you discuss this issue.

    1. The Shenanigans*

      I can’t speak to the alcoholism issue from personal experience. But I can say that family members who do struggle with it would absolutely agree. In fact, one has said they wish people just forgot they were an alcoholic because the kid gloves actually make it harder for his recovery.

      I will also say I think this phenomenon isn’t just limited to alcoholism but gets applied to any kind of minority need. I see this attitude applied to disability, gender, age, religion, even food choice. Like, guys, adults will not break if they have to navigate a situation that isn’t 100% optimized for their comfort. And, if they can’t, they need to learn immediately.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Such a fine line, because what we’re really asking is to treat people as individuals – the usual objection is to throwing important events at bars which means everybody HAS to be around drinking all night or else they don’t get the benefit of participating, particularly in the Place We Don’t Talk About On The Weekend Thread, but also in other areas of life.

      2. Eliot Waugh*

        Yeah, the kid gloves can get a bit frustrating sometimes, though I do understand the intentions are good. And you’re absolutely right that this impulse can apply to a lot of other areas. I understand wanting to speak up for people but one should do so out of genuine and well-informed concern, not just as a cudgel to shut down ideas.

    2. WellRed*

      When my brother was in the wagon he had no expectation that we wouldn’t drink in front of him. Though we toned it down.

      1. WellRed*

        I will say if someone specifically says they are struggling I will absolutely accommodate that!

      2. Eliot Waugh*

        Yeah, I tell my friends to please feel comfortable ordering whatever they like around me. I’d prefer not to be around wasted people but that’s when I remove myself from the situation as opposed to expecting people to modify their behavior for me.

        Early on I did appreciate people asking my comfort level first, but that isn’t expected.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Thank you for saying this. The tendency to be overprotective of hypothetical people who might potentially have a problem with X or Y becomes condescending very quickly.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I never read those comments as “people in recovery will backslide if they are around alcohol” but more “some people in recovery prefer not to be in bars so if you regularly choose a bar they regularly might choose not to come, and that would be too bad.” Kind of like if you have vegans in your midst and you always choose to gather at a Brazilian steak house. They’re not going to suddenly start eating meat, but they might feel a bit squicky if it happens regularly.

      1. ecnaseener*

        That makes sense, but I’ve definitely seen a lot of comments along the lines of “bars are out,” rather than just saying to mix it up.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      TV rec: I thought this was well illustrated in Single Drunk Female, on Hulu. There’s a scene where the main character, Sam, explicitly tells her mom that it is okay for mom to drink wine, Sam not drinking is on Sam.

      (Also shoutouts for the show’s portrayals of best friend Felicia, who is full-figured and 100% filmed as though she is the hottest person in any room, and Mindy, who applies what she learned transitioning (and also video gaming) to getting sober.)

    6. Come On Eileen*

      That’s definitely true! I’ve been in recovery for about nine and a half years and don’t find bars triggering to me. But when I was early in recovery? Before I told anybody? I would have HATED being in a bar or around booze, and I wouldn’t have felt comfortable telling anybody that. So keep in mind the people who are early in their journey, finding their sober legs, or who might just be questioning whether they need to quit — as a society, it helps to make life a bit softer for them if we can.

        1. anonymous uncreative name*

          You don’t, that’s why it’s better to not make assumptions or pressure people. Inclusivity is about making people feel welcome without justification.

    7. anonymous uncreative name*

      I don’t drink but am from a family of people who suffer from addiction. The reason I don’t drink is because an alcoholic parent caused me a lifetime of trauma damage as a child that I will never fully recover from. I “can” be around alcohol but it’s exhausting for me. I was forced to be around my parent drinking at other people’s homes and couldn’t leave. Feeling “forced” to be around alcohol and not being able to leave is triggering for me. Knowing that I can leave helps me handle it better as an adult. You can’t always leave work events if you want to keep your job.

      Not to mention the comments about why I don’t drink, or pressure to drink that always happens at events like this. I’m already dealing with a lifetime of trauma and don’t need people trying to make me feel like something’s wrong with me because me not drinking somehow doesn’t justify their drinking??? (ugh) I don’t owe anyone my story and it’s not something I want to discuss with coworkers. Plus, I hate being at places like bars that solely exist to support the alcohol industry.

      tl:dr Not everyone who doesn’t drink is in recovery, be kind.

      If you can’t handle being somewhere where you can’t have a drink for a couple hours or people who don’t drink, consider thinking about why that might be.

      1. anonymous uncreative name*

        Oops, it just registered this is the weekend thread but the above applies to social and family events, too.

        Events where alcohol is served and children are in attendance make me especially uncomfortable.

      2. Girasol*

        My situation too: child of an alcoholic parent who chooses not to drink. I find that alcohol events can be kinda weird. There’s the part about people hinting about why I’m not drinking and coaching me about how even an alcoholic can have just one. That’s weird, partly because I’m not an alcoholic but mainly because there’s something creepy about how people who are drinking are so heavily invested in whether everyone else is drinking too. What’s up with that? But even if I have a coke or soda water dressed up as a cocktail so I can go incognito, I tend to dislike drinking events. Wherever drinking is the main objective of the event, people act differently. I can’t put my finger on why, but the conversation in a nice bar isn’t nearly as interesting as in, say, a nice coffee shop.

        1. anonymous uncreative name*

          Exactly! This will still occasionally happen at a dinner with drinks type event but always happens without fail at a drinking focused event.

        2. Ellis Bell*

          Ugh, I gave up drinking purely for health reasons and I get all the alcoholic theorising and other very weirdly invested in everyone drinking alcohol conversations. It’s just a type of drink! Have a different type of drink once in a while, or at least accept that others might. I also have a family of functional, not-out, untreated alcoholics and I would have been delighted by an alcohol free venue for family stuff any day of the week. I can totally see a rationale for objecting to patronising words, or the whole “nothing about us without us” deal – if someone is forthcoming about their addiction, then you can ask them if it’s actually a problem. That comes with a big caveat that you won’t always know who’s struggling, and I don’t get why it’s so important to make sure people have access to alcohol.

      3. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        yes, I don’t have a trauma history but people should stop asking why people don’t drink. ( my real reason is that alcohol makes me act unpredictably and I avoid causing trouble for others)

    8. the cat's pajamas*

      There’s also the issue of liability for the company hosting. Many non-alcoholics might have a drink too many which can lead to bad situations, sexual advances, serving underage folks, etc.

    9. EngineerMom*

      I’m not an alcoholic, I don’t drink much (drinking alcohol interferes with my ability to get a good night’s sleep, so I don’t drink often or much).

      I don’t think venues with booze are particularly appropriate for work events in general. It’s not about alcoholics relapsing, it’s more about people doing/saying stupid stuff while under the influence in general.

    10. JSPA*

      if 5 out of 6 recovering alcoholics are fine with being in a bar, it’s still damaging to the 6th, though. Same argument for 19 out of 20.

      “Can predictably be potentially problematic” is a decent place to set the cutoff; you don’t have to wait for, “can predictably be guaranteed problematic.”

      Getting away from a default of “work mixes very well with drinks” or “anything in life is better with alcohol” is part of a broader societal reset, anyway. It makes it a lot harder to slide into problem drinking, and to normalize problem drinking, and to lie to oneself about problem drinking.

      I’m not anti-alcohol (far from it) but I’m solidly against alcohol being a presumed default.

      I’d agree that alcoholics in recovery, working their program are… not generally the alcoholics who are getting in trouble at work events. But there are plenty of people who are white-knuckling semi-sobriety, or quietly cutting back (but finding it harder than expected) or otherwise have amorphous, unspecified problems with alcohol.

      But socially (and legally?) it’s easier to say, “let’s respect our dry members” (or congregants or coworkers) than to say, “yeah, I don’t like to watch Marsha stare at the bottles for an hour and then down 4 shots, or wonder if Fergus will be pontificating about the pointlessness of alcohol, or if he and his stomach contents willhave to be scraped off the bathroom floor…so let’s just have soda with the pizza.”

      (Betcha that mental arithmetic is going on in the background, though.)

      1. Aphrodite*

        I am so, so sorry. He’s just a lover boy–and I am particularly sorry for your husband. I hope those two are spending a lot of time together.

      2. Jackalope*

        So sorry to hear that. Sending you and your household hugs. I hope it gives him lots more time.

      3. MEH Squared*

        Sorry you’re having to go through this. Sending positive vibes to you and your entire family. May he have more time with you all.

      4. Lemondrops*

        awww i’m so sorry to hear that. you are awesome guardians for him and he is a very lucky boy to have you

      5. Once too Often*

        Hope it gives him more time than predicted. You have a pretty good track record for that in your family. (Yay, Barbara!).
        Don’t know if it helps, but my experience with radiation is that it is painless (but can become tiring.)
        Best to all of you.

  9. Anthology*

    Are there any particular types/styles of hardwood floors that are especially quiet? Our old ones are snap-together planks, and walking on them is like listening to gunshots. The popping and snapping is awful.

    1. Just a Name*

      Hardwood floors depend a lot on having a solid subfloor. Plus an under layer that is sound deadening. Sometimes even floor joists that are properly spaced and supported. I have solid white oak floors but the installer was an idiot, so we have creaks and groans. But if your are there long term, you can have them refinished when there is wear and tear. Not a constant popping though. A flooring expert might be able to diagnose the source of the issues. Inexpensive luxury vinyl planks often lack the under layer to cushion and soften the creaks.

    2. Missb*

      I have a 100 year old house with like 1.5” wide oak flooring. Of course it creaks- it was installed 100 years ago and they used standard techniques of the time to get it in.

      Last year we had the floors refinished and had more wood milled to match to replace some floors in rooms that were missing. The installers put some sort of barrier down before installing and they both glued and nailed it down. I can walk silently on the new sections and clearly tell (by sound) where the old floor is.

    3. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I rented a room in a house where the owner had put down an engineered timber floating floor like the snap-together planks you’re describing. Top of the range apparently, but still so clacky! Awful with the dogs’ nails clacking all over it constantly too.

      One day during a storm, a little water dripped in through the ceiling and turned the entire floor into a series of speedbumps. So rather than replace it with the same thing, they opted for strips of real hardwood timber and had them glued to the concrete slab and polished up like a regular timber floor. The difference was incredible, not just to walk on, but also acoustics in the room generally – which really surprised me! Sound just bounced around less and the whole open plan area was so much quieter. They went for second grade timber for the visual effect (they liked the knots) but it was also a lot cheaper than first grade. From memory I think all up it was only about 10-20% more than the fake floor. Totally worth it though, it looked amazing.

      The one difficulty they had was that the floor needed to be completely even for it to be installed. Because it got glued straight onto the slab, there’s no cushioning layer to go over random lumps of concrete/plaster/glue/etc like there is with other flooring types.

  10. Cosmetic dupes*

    Any makeup/nail polish gurus know of a current resource library for color dupes? All the ones I used in the past are either defunct or stopped updating.

    1. Worked in IT forever*

      Have you checked out the Temptalia website? It has a pretty comprehensive list of products with reviews and dupes, including side-by-side photo comparisons.

  11. chocolate muffins*

    To complement the regular book thread, I was wondering if you all have any books that are particularly meaningful or memorable to you, that you’ve read ever in the course of your life (not just over the past week necessarily). For me, The Time Traveler’s Wife stands out because I read it at the right time for me and it hit me right in the feels, especially the end. Also, the ending of A Prayer for Owen Meaney was such a perfect representation of faith, for me, and has stayed with me ever since I read that book maybe … 20-ish years ago now? Curious what has had particular resonance for other readers here.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Jane Eyre for me. Every time I read it, I pick up on a different element – first read it when I was maybe 13 or so and remember thinking she should have stuck with Rochester from the beginning, but now when I reread it I see a lot more red flags and understand why there was more of a journey needed there … still an engaging read!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I love Jane Eyre so much and like you, pick up different things every single time. Like, the last time through, I realized the reason Rochester is so weird and crusty while he’s falling in love with Jane (and she with him) is that his experiences in the emotions of love have all been brutal, life-ruining mistakes.

        His first was with Bertha, an infatuation encouraged by his and her families fired by sex, testosterone and male competition for her attentions that resulted in being bonded for life to a woman who was a sexual and mental disaster and destroyed any hopes he had for a normal family life. He second, Celine Verens, was a similar sex-fueled liaison that ended with her mercenary betrayal and being stuck with an illegitimate child. No wonder that when he starts to fall for Jane, he panics and puts them both through extreme emotional pain in order to test whether it’s the real thing or not!

    2. Past Lurker*

      I liked Small Gods by Terry Pratchett. In particular the ending, when someone does a kind thing for a very unkind person. Their explanation as to why means a lot to me.

    3. Nonprofit worker*

      How to be good by Nick Hornby. It is definitely not his best book, but the timing when I read it (coming out of college, working for a nonprofit in a developing country) made it have a lasting impact. I was going through the same question of how “good” to be and balancing navigating a new culture with wanting to help but trying to avoid the “savior” complex. It really helped me process my feelings.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury. I read it at around eleven or twelve years old and was entranced by the language and evocative word pictures he painted. Still one of my very, very favorite books.

      Three days after 9/11, we finally got a flight home from my grandfather’s funeral and I read The Hotel New Hampshire on the plane, and read this:

      “A terrorist, I think, is simply another kind of pornographer. The pornographer pretends he is disgusted by his work; the terrorist pretends he is uninterested in the means. The ends, they say, are what they care about. But they are both lying. Ernst loved his pornography; Ernst worshiped the means. It is never the ends that matter — it is only the means that matter. The terrorist and the pornographer are in it for the means. The means is everything to them. The blast of the bomb, the elephant position, the Schlagobers and blood — they love it all. Their intellectual detachment is a fraud; their indifference is feigned. They both tell lies about having ‘higher purposes.’ A terrorist is a pornographer.”

      It hit me like a sledgehammer and I’ve never forgotten it.

      1. Jackalope*

        I read Dandelion Wine for the first time in 2020 and I also loved it. Such an amazing book.

        1. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

          I read it at around age 10/11 and missed most of it. I need to get a copy and re-read it. Bradbury is an amazing writer.

    5. Jackalope*

      I’d like to give an author instead. Robin McKinley is my all-time favorite author, and her books have helped me through many dark moments (and good moments too); there’s something about the way she writes characters that resonates with me. And she was one of the first proponents of “girls who do things”, which at the time when I started reading her was much harder to find than today. It helped me feel like I could actually be more than what society told me I could be.

      1. Anonymous cat*

        Seconding Robin McKinley! When I was going through a tumultuous period of my life, I read her books over and over. They just spoke to me and told me things were POSSIBLE.

      2. Rainy*

        Yes, same. Sunshine is my favourite book, hands-down, and so precious to me that I only allow myself to re-read it every couple of years max, ideally when I’m sick or very burnt out.

    6. oy. vey.*

      Solo: On Her Own Adventure, by Susan Fox Rogers. A collection of short stories of women doing adventurous things alone. The short story that sticks with me is one about the narrator skiing alone on a mountain, and remembering a travelling companion.

    7. Aphrodite*

      Into Thin Air
      The River of Doubt
      A Short History of Nearly Everything
      The Book on the Bookshelf

      There are probably others but these come to mind now as I have reread them multiple times. They’ve become like old friends. I never tire of them.

      1. chocolate muffins*

        Ooooh, you are totally right that some books can become like old friends. I’ve been having that experience reading some books from my childhood with my baby. I haven’t read most of them for decades but still remember the words, it turns out.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I have so many “old friend” books that have multiple bookmarks at my favorite parts. Like Gaudy Night–I’ve probably read Harriet Vane and Miss DeVine’s discussion over having to be someone’s job, or having them be yours, about a hundred times.

        1. I take tea*

          For me it’s the part where you don’t make fundamental mistakes about things /people that really matter. Sometimes I think I’m not following that advice properly.

    8. Snell*

      The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. I’d read one of the mothers’ parts, and recognize immediately “OMG that’s my mother,” then read one of the daughters’ parts, “OMG that’s me.” She put into words the same life experiences I lived, the same life experiences my mother shared with me. It was uncanny.

    9. Not A Manager*

      Anna Karenina. I’ve read it numerous times and I always find something new. It’s a masterpiece of narrative structure, the characterizations – especially of the minor characters – are so personal and empathic, and I love the formal parallelism between some of the main characters. I also really like the throw-away assumptions about life in the upper classes of Czarist Russia.

      I was thinking just the other day about how Dolly’s home life is so different and more chaotic than Anna’s. Also about Countess Lydia and why her husband left her so suddenly. Also about the prostitute who is with Levin’s brother when he dies. She and Kitty are able, against all odds, to interact well together and yet after his death I don’t think anyone feels any obligation to her.

    10. Jay*

      Search For A Living Fossil by Eleanor Clymer.
      I read it in fourth grade and was so enthralled I decided then and there that I was going to grow up to be a field biologist (I didn’t use those exact words, but that’s what it was).
      And I did.
      I spent over 20 years of my life living at least half the time on the water, usually hundreds of miles away from land.
      My only regret is not taking better care of myself so I could still be out there today!

    11. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle. I watched the movie first, but read the book in elementary school (I was reading adult-by-reading-level chapter books pretty early). It was an interesting story to grow up with – I definitely related to different characters and storylines as I grew older.

      1. word nerd*

        Did you know Beagle published a collection of two novellas this year in the world of the Last Unicorn? It’s called The Way Home, and it includes “Two Hearts,” which used to be available for free on his website.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I’ve picked it up but it’s sitting in my TBR pile. Hopefully soon! I’ve read Two Hearts – very much a Peter Beagle kind of sequel, if that makes sense.

      2. KathyG*

        Anything that Peter S. Beagle works for me, but especially his first novel, A Fine and Private Place. It just seems to be a microcosm of life in a place I’ve never been to (NYC) in a particular time that was rapidly changing (early 1960s). It’s full of that empathy for ALL his characters that’s present in all his work, and somehow manages to be particularly poignant for me.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          My favorite of his books is actually I See by my Outfit, which is a travel memoir chronicling a motorscooter trip across the country, but The Last Unicorn probably held more meaning for me growing up, if that makes sense. I liked A Fine and Private Place too! I’ve re-read it quite a few times.

    12. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Amy Hempel’s short story collection Reasons to Live.

      I read it (in translation!) as a teenager who wanted to be a writer, and it gave me the first clear idea of what I wanted my writing to sound and feel like.

      I’d love the chance to read it again, in English.

      1. Vi*

        This was a very good book. Don’t know if I can face it again as lost too many during the early days. Want to read it again and focus on the research infighting…

      2. Person from the Resume*

        Wow! That’s a long book to reread so regularly. (I’m not really a rereader, though.)

        I did just read And the Band Played On for the first time a couple of years ago and loved it. It is an amazing book. Extremely well written and engaging.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I just finished book #104 for the year and picked my username honestly :)

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I’m not Red Reader but my assumption is the book is And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts.

    13. word nerd*

      Kintsugi: The Poetic Mend by Bonnie Kemske blew me away, and husband too, even though we don’t normally read books about art. We still talk about it years later. Beautifully written and gorgeous illustrations about the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with a golden lacquer to fill in the cracks. Thoughtful reflections on the meaningfulness of kintsugi and Japanese aesthetics without cheesiness.

    14. Breaking Dishes*

      Gone with the Wind:
      Read it when I was a teenager, then two times since at different times in my life-so I related to the book in different ways during different stages in my life.

      1. chocolate muffins*

        I’ve read this too and am curious about how the way you relate to this book has changed if you’re up for sharing!

    15. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

      Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir of life in Nazi death camps is based on Frankl’s own experience and the stories of his patients, the book argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward.

      I first read it in college and have revisited when needed over the past 40 years. Most recently when I moved in with my elderly parents during the pandemic. I won’t spoil the details, but I recently realized that my decisions regarding my parents have eerily mirrored his and will end in the same results.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        I also finally read this book at the beginning of the pandemic and I was blown away; it’s easily in my top 5 favorite books of all time. I was surprised that I found the first part – the more theoretical – even more engaging than the second, which details his personal experiences.

    16. Anima*

      I shall wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett.
      I only discovered it when I was way older than Tiffany, in my early 20s maybe? But it’s one of my most often read books. (Yes it looks atrocious. I scribbled in it which I usually don’t do.)
      It also one of these where you take away a different thing in different stages of your life.

        1. Angstrom*

          “This I choose to do. If there is a price, this I choose to pay. If it is my death, then I choose to die. Where this takes me, there I choose to go. I choose. This I choose to do.”

          -from Wintersmith

      1. Don'tbeadork*

        Have you listened to Steeleye Span’s Wintersmith? It’s based on Wintersmith with Pratchett’s approval (and participation, on one track), and the song “I Shall Wear Midnight” is lovely.

    17. Falling Diphthong*

      I reread Miracle, Connie Willis’s book of Christmas stories, many years around Christmas time. Especially Epiphany, which really captures that early January feel. And shoutout to Newsletter, in which the first sign of an alien invasion is everyone being really thoughtful and reasonable.

      Haven’t reread in years but it stays with me: Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, which he wrote because he had a small daughter and so was thinking about educating young girls at that point in his life, and I had a toddler girl. I also really love Anathem by him, even though it takes 300 pages for the plot to get moving.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Oh, Epiphany and Inn are two of my favorite short stories of all time. And her short novel Bellwether is so wonderful and makes science seem like something grand and entrancing!

        I adore Connie Willis, as you can probably guess!

    18. ThatGirl*

      I loooove Time Traveler’s Wife. I reread that and The Martian Chronicles every year.

    19. Straight Laced Sue*

      All of Jane Austen’s books. But I suppose particularly Persuasion, and Pride and Prejudice.
      P & P for pure, perfect, crystal pleasure. (Forgive all this alliteration!)
      And Persuasion for…ooof, because it gets you in the gut.

      1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        These are the two Austen books I read every year. The rest I can go 2-5 years between rereading.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        Also my favorite Austens. I’ll stay up late reading P&P as if I don’t know how it’s going to turn out lol

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        I love Mansfield Park especially, because it captures how hard it is to get to know a shy person, even when they’re shy due to everything going on around them.

        1. Turtle Dove*

          Yes! Mansfield Park is my favorite. I used to be painfully shy, and I identify with Fanny. It may be time to reread it (again).

          1. Dark Macadamia*

            I read this one in high school and didn’t care for it. Every couple of years I try to read ALL the Austens (I’ve never read S&S despite loving the movie, and I don’t think I ever finished Emma) but I just end up re-reading the ones I like!

    20. Elizabeth West*

      A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of my favorite books — but I can’t read it often, because it’s heartbreaking.

      Another is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I read it as a kid and related so much to Francie reading on the fire escape, her being kind of an outcast at school for various reasons, and her way of writing little stories that made things sound better than they were.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Have you read Joy in the Morning? It’s like following a grown up Francie in a way (although it’s about different characters.)

        1. HoundMom*

          I loved Joy in the Morning — more than A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by the same author (although I liked that one as well). Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh; The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch; The Tightrope Dancer by Gilman.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Yes, I have that one too.

          I had another by Betty Smith called Maggie-Now, but I hated it because the protagonist was trying to live her own life while surrounded by demanding and selfish men, and she ends up…not. That one went in either the garbage or the donation box, I don’t recall which.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Forgot to say, as an adult my favorite character in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is Aunt Sissy. :)

    21. NeutralJanet*

      A Separate Peace is one that hits hard for me, as someone who never feels quite like enough. I actually haven’t read it in a decade because a friend of mine, who semi-jokingly referred to me as his Phineas, died by suicide–I picked it up not long after and just could not handle it. I don’t know if reading it now would be healing for me or make me feel worse.

    22. somehow*

      “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” My maternal grandparents were born there, and it was my maternal aunt’s favorite movie. I read it again every few years and still soak it in as though it were my first time reading it. Even the title sends me off into daydream land.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Beautiful book. I read it so many times as a teenager and I’ve been thinking recently I need to read it again.

    23. Miss Thymia*

      I have two:
      The Bells, by Richard Harvell
      Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett

      I was a classical musician in another life and books that center around music can be very hit or miss for me, but when I do find the ones that hit… damn.

    24. Angstrom*

      “Here if you Need Me” by Kate Braestrup. I had just started as a rural volunteer EMT, and it was exactly what I needed for perspective on some of the issues of faith and death and care that one encounters in that setting.

      1. Dicey Tillerman*

        I don’t know anyone else who’s read this! I drove two hours to meet her at a book signing once, and it is a wonderful memory.

    25. Rachel*

      Time Traveler’s Wife was one of my favorites when it was released.

      I re-read it about a year ago and had an entirely different take. My advice: do not read it again!

      1. chocolate muffins*

        I would love to learn more about what changed in your perspective if you are up for sharing!

    26. DrKMnO4*

      The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor. It’s the best book I’ve ever read. It’s transformative.

      The second best book I’ve ever read is The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. The only imperfect thing about it is that it had to end.

      Honorable mentions:
      -Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I have only ever been able to read it once, because it’s like a trance when you’re reading it because you don’t know the ending. For me at least, once you know how it ends you can’t ever go back into that trance again.

      -The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett. A fascinating look at love, and family, and magic.

      -Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune. This is a heavy book. It deals with grief and love, and coming to terms with death. Powerful and beautiful and made me cry.

      -Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. Media that includes trans people often leans more towards trans women. The main character in this work is a trans man, which I appreciate.

    27. BlueCactus*

      I’ve reread and annotated the same copy of The Epic of Gilgamesh every few years since I first read it in high school. I love the way the oldest written story unfolds and still connects in new and interesting ways as I have grown and changed.

      On the nonfiction side, The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee. I read it while my grandmother was in hospice care for widely metastatic cancer, and the combination of history and science and his personal stories about caring for cancer patients both helped me deal with my grandmother’s death and made me want to be a doctor. I’m now in medical school and intend to go in to oncology.

      1. somehow*

        That’s beautiful, BlueCactus. I’m sorry for what happened to your grandmother, but it’s lovely how you are honoring her. Virtual hugs.

    28. carcinization*

      I for sure used to be like that with She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb), but that was more like, from when I was in my teens to early 20s, I eventually “outgrew” it I guess. I’d have to give some more thought to more recent iterations of this… I’ll just reply to myself if I think of something.

    29. allathian*

      The Moomin books by Tove Jansson. Our dad read them to my sister and me, starting when I was 10 and my sister was 7, a chapter at a time. We were already reading chapter books by then, but these had a more advanced vocabulary and syntax than chapter books for kids have. I was in my mid-teens when I read them for the first time, and understood things that had gone over my head when I as a kid. I read them again in my late twenties, and a few years ago I read them to our son when he was 10. Every time I read them I catch some nuances that I missed the last time. I love these books because they’re so multilayered.

    30. temporarily anon*

      This is a great question! Extra anon just because the question brings up some very personal thoughts/info.

      I’m going to nominate ‘Spinning Silver’ by Naomi Novik — firstly for being such a satisfying, pitch-perfect example of the fairy/folktale adaptation (a weakness of mine), and secondly for how it weaves the main protagonist’s Jewish religion and culture into a genre where that tradition is rarely represented.

      Apologies if this is too derailing from the original topic, but this question also really made me think of the movie ‘The Worst Person in the World’, which REALLY hit me as a nearly 30yo woman trying to figure out where my life is going. (Spoiler below)
      Also, the main character’s ex is sadly diagnosed with and dies with cancer some time after they’ve had a rough breakup. The same thing happened to me several years ago, and it was such a sad and weird experience that I think is also a bit unusual and hard to talk about. So seeing it on screen felt very meaningful to me.

    31. eeeek*

      Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande. I listened to it on a long solo drive, a few years after my mother and my father in law had just passed away, and my husband and I were both dealing with unpacking (literally and figuratively) all hat had happened as different types of divisions within our families fractured and we became responsible for “settling” a lot of things and estrangements solidified as the healthiest choice. Listening to that book woke me up to the many ways in which our then-living situation was likely to cause problems down the line, and within a year we had moved house, set up long-term care insurance for ourselves, updated our wills, and communicated clearly and openly about how we planned to “age well”. To say it changed my life is an understatement.

  12. CTT*

    Happy Barbenhimer Weekend to all who celebrate!

    (I’m actually not seeing them until next week because I’m currently traveling to see my favorite soccer team play (the only thing I love more than auteur cinema!), but please discuss if you’ve seen either or both!)

    1. Generic Name*

      I’m seeing the Barbie movie on Monday with friends. I’m wearing pink and heels (I hope I don’t break an ankle….)

    2. Pennyworth*

      I’m going to see then separately because Oppenheimer is 180 minutes long and I don’t want to sit through a second movie after 3 hours.

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Both of my local drive-ins let me down – one is doing Barbie with something ELSE as their double feature (they usually do new release followed by either a somewhat-less new release or else a back catalog movie thematically related to the new release for their 2nd movie since a lot of people don’t stay, so this makes sense but is still disappointing), and the other theater with a drive-in decided to keep showing Mission Impossible outside and only show either of this week’s new movies indoors.

      Oh well.

    4. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I’m seeing Barbie today and Oppenheimer tomorrow.

      I’m not good at sitting through very long films unless they really grab my attention, so I might have skipped Oppenheimer if it wasn’t for my partner wanting to see it. I remember disliking Interstellar for that reason, but then again, I loved Inception when it came out. So let’s see how this one goes!

    5. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I am a little sorry that the blue tutu petticoat I ordered to go under my pink dress won’t be here on time for my screening tonight, but cannot wait for Barbie- seeing Oppenheimer tomorrow (no outfit planned thus far. I guess if I had a fedora and a dusty suit I could wear that…) Seeing Oppie in the afternoon so we can grab dinner afterwards. Remember to page your liquid consumption, it’s 180 minutes long! Bring back intervals!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        You’d think theaters would WANT intermission. since a prime leg-stretching activity is buying food & drinks!

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m going to see Oppenheimer on Sunday because I’ve been waiting for it for two years, but I’ve been so bombarded everywhere I turn with stuff about the Barbie movie that I just can’t, right now it makes me grumpy just thinking about it. (And then my car shuffled up “Get Your Sparkle On” yesterday and I was like OH COME ON.) I’ll get there but not right away, I need to let the hype die down a little bit.

    7. Dwight Schrute*

      I LOVED Barbie! It was funny, existential, just all around a fun time with fun colors and graphics

    8. M. from P.*

      I just came back from seeing Oppenheimer at the movie theater. It was… quite different from what I expected.

        1. M. from P.*

          Much less dramatic than expected! Also, no depiction of the actual explosion (just the test explosion).
          A lot of politics. Lots of guys in a room talking. Lots of Oppenheimer looking cool in a hat. Too little physics (for my taste).

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Could’ve done without those, yeah. They were quick though. And the movie did not feel like a three hour movie. If I hadn’t known I probably would have guessed 2 hours, MAYBE 2:15.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m seeing Barbie on Monday! It’s made me feel like I need to try harder to make local friends because everyone I know who’s excited lives elsewhere, but I have a cute outfit picked out and am treating it like a “date with myself” so it will still be fun.

      I have NO interest at all in Oppenheimer. I googled it for the first time yesterday and I can’t believe anyone would put themselves through a 3-hour movie in theaters! I need to pee just thinking about it.

      1. Cat Lover*

        I saw Oppenheimer yesterday and I liked it. It definitely didn’t feel like 3 hours. One of Nolan’s strongest films.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        If I hadn’t know going into it that it was three hours, I would have guessed two and a few minutes.

    10. Clisby*

      We (me, husband, son) are planning to see Oppenheimer but are waiting 2-3 weeks in the hope attendance will die down a little. (We always do this for blockbuster openings – I can’t stand to be in a really crowded theater.)

      Our daughter is going with a group of friends to see Barbie – depending on her report, I might go to see that. I don’t think I could drag husband/son to see it.

      1. Elle*

        I went with my 15 year old and 12 year old. Both enjoyed it but there were things that went over my youngest’s head that we needed to explain. Nothing sexual but there’s a lot of big ideas and complex jokes. Like people said about Oppenheimer it was different than what I thought. Loved it though.

    11. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I saw Barbie and it was so good..I didn’t have an outfit so just wore a dusty pink top

    12. Annie Edison*

      I took my partner’s daughter to see Barbie last night and we had the best time!! It was much more emotionally complex than I was anticipating, and so many delightful and weird moments to laugh it. Hoping to go see it again with my partner next week

    13. allathian*

      My husband and I are going to see Oppenheimer on our next date night. We go on dates to a great adults-only movie theater with a bar. People are generally very well-behaved, there’s never been an incident when we’ve been there. Seats are spaced far enough apart that getting up in the middle of the movie to go to the bathroom isn’t an issue, and with a three hour movie, I’m going to have to go at least once. We usually buy a bottle of bubbly when we go.

      My husband said that he’s read so many good things about Barbie that we’re probably going to see that too, at some point, either on disc or on one of the streaming services that we subscribe to (currently Netflix, HBO Max, and Disney+).

    14. Cat Lover*

      I saw Oppenheimer yesterday and I loved it! Definitely long but the combo of Nolan, Cillian, and RDJ was amazing. I commented below, but it is definitely a biopic of Oppenheimer, not an action film. The last hour was super strong.

      I’m seeing Barbie tomorrow!

  13. Teapot Translator*

    Any tips for reducing spending? I have some big expenses ahead and I’m having trouble curbing the small purchases, e.g. buying a lemonade from the local cafe or a pastry from the local bakery. It’s weirdly easier to tell myself no on bigger purchases.
    Are there better strategies than telling myself no sternly, but not listening anyway?

    1. RagingADHD*

      Write everything down. Don’t tell yourself you’ll download the transactions later. Stop in the moment and write it on paper or in your notes app. At the end of the day, add it up.

      It will introduce an extra layer of resistance to the process, not just because you can see what’s happening, but because it’s just a pain in the butt to do.

    2. Rick Tq*

      My best suggestion is to avoid going to the places where you make these small impulse purchases. Change your walking route or similar so you don’t see the shop and trigger the habit to buy a sweet.

      Second best is to leave the cash and debit/credit cards at home so you don’t have access to the money to spend.

      1. ronda*

        The avoid one is the one I think of.

        after my sister quit smoking, she told me that she “can’t go to the convinence store, cause that is where the cigarettes are”

        this is still a sacrifice for her after 10 years, because she also loves an icy drink which she got there and it is the store on her way home from everything (work, etc).
        So the other idea is replace: she goes to the sonic for an icy drink, but that is out of her regular way, so she also gets a bag of sonic ice (or from the ice vending machine on the way home) and makes her icy drink at home.

        So…. how can you avoid the places that have the temptations, so you dont have to get close and say no. AND, is there something else you can replace them with that is more budget friendly?

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        As a sub-routine for this, walk to the places you’re making regular impulsive purchases (like, a convenience store or Starbucks) instead of driving. Recently we started having to go downstairs to access soda (our upstairs machine died) and just having that little extra barrier of “downstairs” instead of ten steps away in the kitchen cut way back on my sugary drink consumption.

        Committing to the walk adds in time and the need to decide whether or not you “really” need to get X.

    3. Alex*

      Do you regularly work from a budget? Telling yourself no isn’t going to work. You have to find out how to tell yourself yes.

      I have a strict monthly budget that I stick to, and the budget includes a line item for savings. So I have to “Spend” on savings just like I do everything else.

      I have a very detailed and specific way that I do my budget, which I can explain in excruciatingly boring detail if you want, but one thing about the small purchases is to give yourself a budget for them! Always saying no isn’t going to actually work, so give yourself what you can afford in your budget, and then tell yourself, “I have 50 dollars to spend, how am I going to wisely spend it?” rather than every treat being a “well I really shouldn’t….” and then feeling like you shouldn’t have spent those five bucks.

      Since I’ve managed my budget this way, I’ve saved over 70K in the bank, in a HCOL area on a not-super-high salary. And I LOVE treats :)

      1. Jackalope*

        Yes, I agree with this. Having an amount to spend on small purchases helps a lot. And if you have, say, $15/wk, then if you’ve already spent it, it can be easier to say no because you already got some splurges for the week.

      2. Aphrodite*

        I agree. Among other things you should set aside the amount you want to put toward “treats” into an envelope in cash. Do not use your debit card. The cash will seem much more real, as it is, and you will likely begin to make wiser, certainly more deliberate, choices as the cash gets used up with those treats you especially appreciate.

      3. Buni*

        Along these lines, save FIRST – put whatever amount of money you want to save away the second you get your income. You can do whatever you want with whatever’s left, but that saving bit’s away safe first.

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          A treat budget has worked well for me, I’ll also get a gift card and that’s my treat budget for that particular place. Making treats at home is another option, my sister set up a fancy coffee bar at home and her family loves it. There was an initial expense to buy flavored coffee, syrups, etc but then it’s just refilling when one runs out.
          If getting out of the house is part of the treat, look for free/cheap places that don’t require buying stuff. Like take a picnic to a park, hang out in the library, etc. Some libraries have free/cheap museum passes and if you have universities near you they often have free/cheap speakers, concerts, art shows, etc.

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        This is a great idea because 1) you aren’t punishing yourself for wanting treats, but 2) it makes you differentiate between a treat and a habit.

        Treats are supposed to be little extras that make you feel good; that’s what they’re for! Habits are ingrained routines that may make you feel anxious when they’re interrupted but don’t usually contribute directly to those serotonin bumps.

    4. Pennyworth*

      Set you weekly budget and get enough cash to cover it, then put your card away. Allow yourself one treat at the end of each week you don’t use your card.

    5. D'Euly*

      Accept that you’re going to *want* those small things and bring something with you instead: one of a box of cookies you bought at the grocery store for the same price as one of those pastries, for example. Then you don’t have to be stern, just take out your cookie and enjoy it! Really helps free you from the impulses over time, I’ve found.

    6. Bobina*

      I fully agree with what Alex said above, but might add that depending on how you work – it might be better off to do what banks in the UK like to call “Pay yourself first” which means transfer the money out for savings and your expenses the same way you do for bills. And then whatever you have left is your budget to do whatever you want with.

      For me, its easier to just ensure the money goes out before I ever get used to it/see it – that way it cant be spent! I specifically have separate accounts for this where I dont even carry the bank cards with me (and some dont even have cards available) so the money really does disappear as far as I’m concerned.

      1. Mrs Columbo*

        We do this. Our “W-word” lets us direct deposit to more than one account, so we each have a percentage going to a joint savings account and the rest to our respective personal checking accounts. But THEN, we have a joint bills account, and we have recurring transfers setup to sweep money from the personal accounts to the bills account on payday.

        That sounds like you have to have money for it to work. But the savings account was a late addition, once we had the discretionary income to use one.

        We were able to start the “bills account, automatic transfer” system on a very low household income. (I wasn’t working.) Our bank was offering free checking with direct deposit, and at that time only one account had to have the direct deposit. (Surely banks still do this now?)

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      My husband referred to this as “The amount of money I can spend without thinking about it” and it has been different at different points in life. I think adjusting yourself back down is a tough shift, because of the “without thinking about it” part.

      Can you put away the credit/debit cards and make a rule to just use cash? I think having a physical limit of $20/week is easier to do than having a mental tracking limit of $20/week.

      1. Not Totally Subclinical*

        And if the places where you tend to spend money have gone to card-only, even better!

    8. Stephanie*

      Come up with a budget for those small purchases–maybe $20 per week (or whatever works for you), and put that much cash in your wallet at the beginning of the week. Then only use cash for those purchases, and when the cash is gone, you don’t buy it.
      That way, you still get to have some little treats, but you keep the spending under control.

    9. Forensic13*

      Try to pre-buy some treats at cheaper prices! Like if you know you’ll want a drink while you’re out, buy a case of bottles and throw one in your bag.

    10. Reluctant Budgeter*

      I’m going to second what Alex said, and recommend the site/app You Need A Budget to anyone who *wants* to budget better and doesn’t know where to start. It is not free (the first 34 days are), so it’s not for everyone. I mentally rebelled at the idea of paying someone to help me save money. If you have the patience and willingness to track your spending on your own for free, then do that! But I’m lazy and bad at spreadsheets and love treats, so this changed my finances in an amazing way.

      Their whole thing is planning/ accounting for every dollar as soon as you have it, and making sure you designate money for fun things as well as bills/ savings. When you overspend on a treat, the philosophy isn’t “don’t do that, how dare you,” it’s “okay, that’s cool, what you need to do now is pull that money from another category. ” That’s the part that stops me from overspending on the little extras. I have to decide what category I’m pulling the money from (groceries? gas money? Christmas savings? Vacation savings?), and usually I decide it’s not worth it to detract from that other goal. Sometimes I decide that it *is* worth it, and that’s fine. There’s no guilt involved, it’s just slowing down and making an informed choice. It has literally changed my life for the better.

      Again, you can do all this on your own without paying for an app, and this particular app’s approach to budgeting does not work for everyone. Just throwing it out there as a suggestion for people who want to track their money more closely and don’t know where to start.

      1. Double A*

        I was going to recommend YNAB. It’s also not the cheapest (though if you can do the yearly subscription it’s not too bad). I’ve always felt more or less on top of money and budgeting but YNAB took it to the next level. I DO input transactions immediately and I also check my budget before spending.

        It’s also very helpful for setting and meeting specific savings goals. I did find I needed that I needed to really engage with it to get the hang of it, so I wouldn’t sign up for that free month unless you’re ready to really give it a go.

        1. Stephanie*

          I love YNAB! I did sign up for in grad school (where it was free for students) and didn’t really get it. I gave it another try once I graduated and it definitely changed how I approached money.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*


      Assuming you like many of us have mostly moved to plastic, budget $X for little impulse buys to brighten your day or speed something up. Take that amount of cash in your wallet, and it’s a built-in visual reminder.

      (When you return deposit containers put that in the cash wallet, and it’s a built-in encouragement to do that chore.)

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        This helped me when I was on a much tighter budget. It’s a lot easier to tap or swipe a credit card and have no idea (until you get the bill) how much you ended up spending that month. If you have regular amounts you pull from an ATM, and then spend only that, you have a much better handle on things. And, even when you make the purchase, you can physically see how much money you have left for the week.

      2. Girasol*

        Yes! Scrounge the sofa cushions and old purses for cash and that’s the treat budget.

    12. janxiez*

      Seconding and thirding all recs so far. Also, if you’re a visual learner/processor, it might help to track savings creatively. Think something like a piggy bank but filled with a note to yourself with something you might find validating or motivating like atta-girl messages or the amount of money you didn’t spend that day. Good luck!

    13. Stephanie*

      I signed up for YNAB (there is a subscription fee), but I found it really helped to see every single frickin’ transaction and to make a plan when I got a paycheck.

      That being said, I don’t know your full financial picture, but if the lemonade is a little treat, I wouldn’t beat yourself up. If you bought a $4 lemonade every day, including holidays, that is $1460…which is less than the median rent in the US (Google tells me $1702). The lemonade is probably a red herring – I would definitely track all your expenses and you can see what you could cut that might have an actual impact (or think of how you could get more income).

    14. HannahS*

      I struggle with “I am never, ever going to buy a treat.” For me, it works more to say, “I will only a buy treats on Fridays, and on Friday, I can buy ANY PASTRY I WANT.” It’s easier to say, “Today isn’t Friday, so I have to wait until Friday…hmmm, should I get an almond croissant on Friday? A brownie the size of my head?” and keep on walking, than to clamp down with self-discipline with no future indulgence in sight.

      1. carcinization*

        I think this is a good idea. My favorite coffee place in town costs almost $9 for a flavored latte or similar once I get oat milk as is my preference and tip a dollar or two, and no way would I be okay with paying that daily, but I go once a week (not the same day every week, usually on whatever day will be the most stressful and/or busy) and it’s an enjoyable thing I can look forward to.

    15. Teapot Translator*

      Thank you everyone for the tips. I’ve realized that my budget is two years out of date, so I’m going to start with that and will try to have a small amount in cash on me for treats.
      If that doesn’t work, well, I may try the app mentioned.

  14. Jackalope*

    Reading thread: share what you’re reading this week, and give or request recs. All reading welcome.

    I finished What If? 2 this week. It’s by the author of xkcd, and is a hilarious book about “real science answers to ridiculous questions”, such as “What would happen if the Solar System were filled with soup out to Jupiter?” Highly recommend.

    I also read Hench this week after many recommendations from this blog. I enjoyed it a lot, and had a good time, but did ultimately have a tough time reading a book that sided with the villains. And at the end there was some truly horrifying body horror that I wasn’t prepared for. Those of you who’ve read it, how did those two aspects hit you? Did they bother you, or were you okay with them?

    1. Anonymous cat*

      I was actually going to post about Hench!
      I’ve read about a third of it and it’s a lot grimmer than I expected.
      I was going to ask if it ever gets less grim? But I’m guessing from your post it doesn’t?

      For fyi, I’ve read up to the part where she’s now working for a supervillain and he wants her to go to a kind of peace conference with the superheroes. She seems to be specializing in psychological warfare against superheroes.

      I’m trying to decide whether to soldier through or decide not to finish it and stop.

      1. Jackalope*

        I did enjoy it, and there were lighter bits. Her life gets happier. But the ending is… oof.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I think I’m the only person I’ve heard from who didn’t much care for Hench. I don’t even remember exactly why now, it’s been a minute, but it was as you say much grimmer than anticipated.

        1. word nerd*

          I didn’t like Hench either. Gave up maybe around the 20-25% mark? I think the premise just didn’t really make sense to me or work for me. I don’t speak up when everyone gushes about it here because that seems unnecessary. :P

        2. EdgarAllanCat*

          I gave up on Hench about 1/2 way. Love the premise but the grimness was too much for me.

      3. Person from the Resume*

        I kind of enjoyed it, but I was bothered that the MC became such a villain and villain enabler.

        Her point about superhero collateral damage was good until she participated in the kidnapping and terrorizing of a boy (his finger(s) was cut off) on TV. And also she should have wound up in jail for that. <— The superhero (who was not really a nice guy) wants to put her in jail and can’t, but I think it’s a huge plot hole that she was on Tv participating in this crime and didn’t end up in jail.

        Did not enjoy watching a decent person become a terrible person. Not really a humorous read for me.

    2. tuesday next*

      I did read Hench, and enjoyed it. It was some time ago, so I’ve forgotten a lot. What I liked about it was that the heroes had collateral damage in their heroic efforts which turned people towards the villains. I generally enjoy books with a lot of grey in them – the villains aren’t pure evil and the heroes aren’t purely good. I also enjoyed that the author very casually set up a world with a lot of diversity, and dealt with it in a very matter-of-fact way. It’s not “my gay friend X did that”, but “my friend X did that” and you find out 20 or a hundred pages later that X (male) had a husband. Or so-and-so in NB. And it’s no big deal. I read it a few years ago, and don’t recall the specifics of the ending, other than the author left herself open to another book. I’m also pretty quick to skim/skip bits that I don’t like, so I might have skimmed the horror.

    3. Lemonwhirl*

      I finished “The Daydreams” by Laura Hanken, which is about a teen TV show that goes off the rails during a live season finale and then the reunion show years later when all the teen stars are adults with very different lives. I am a sucker for books about TV, and this had great, compelling characters.

      I just started “A Special Place for Women”, also by Laura Hanken.

    4. English Rose*

      I did enjoy Hench, all of it, and I thought the ending was… apt.
      But talking of endings, this week I read Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers. A brilliantly written book about a single female journalist, Jean, living in 1950s England. She investigates the story of a potential immaculate conception, and forms a friendship with the family involved – mother and daughter, and the husband/stepfather, Howard. It is part mystery story, part romance, part comedy of manners. I became entirely engrossed in it. But without giving anything away, the ending was horrible. So I’m not sure I would recommend it.

    5. Loopy*

      I am struggling to get into Witch King by Martha Wells. I’ve loved several other series she’s done but the characters are just not grabbing me for this book. Has anyone else read it? Is it one of those books that totally becomes unputdownable later?

      1. EdgarAllanCat*

        I gave up on Witch King, too, about 1/3 of the way. Maybe my expectations were too high bc I heart MurderBot so much.

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          I’ve heard it gets better but I couldn’t get through it either. I’m going to try again in fall/winter after I’m done with lighter summer reading. I thought it was interesting but just couldn’t get into it. I don’t read much fantasy in general, either.

      2. SaraK*

        I read it and enjoyed it. It reminded me a little of her Raksura novels (multi culture/species, complex, long history, world) and a little of the final trilogy of her Il Rien novels. If you are reading it because of the Murderbot books, it’s not much like them (except that it shares her general focus on world building, and complex characters who feel out of step with those around them but are trying to do ‘good’ regardless).

    6. word nerd*

      A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan has come up here before. I really liked the first one, I was somewhat bored by the second, and then I went crazy on books 3-5 this week, reading them in just a couple days. Loved how the books built on each other and came together in the end to form a very satisfying series arc overall with plot and character development.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’m one who frequently recommends them, and yeah, I picked up the first one on vacation and then blew through the whole series in like a day and a half.

    7. Tiny clay insects*

      I was really enjoying Hench, but the body horror at the end was too much for me. I don’t think I understand the point of the vast amount of descriptions of what happens to that character. It felt gratuitous. And the final ending then somehow felt a bit rushed.

    8. Atheist Nun*

      The last book I finished was Jodi Picoult’s The Book of Two Ways, which piqued my interest because of the Egyptology angle. I liked that part and really enjoyed the description of what a death doula does–I think that is important, fascinating work. I knew going in, of course, that the book would be sentimental, popular fiction, so I was somewhat prepared for the mawkish tone of the writing. I was not, however, prepared for or appreciative of the casual fatphobia and the selfishness of the narrator, who seems completely unaware of her privilege.

      Now I am reading Rebecca Solnit’s The Mother of All Questions, which is fantastic.

    9. CTT*

      I just finished “The Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are” which I wanted to like more than I did. Part of the issue was how it was structured (it was a little all over the place) but the more frustrating part was that it had been excerpted in the Washington Post, and the excerpt was a shortened version of one of the stories that is told over the whole book, and it’s a really fascinating and moving story, but I already knew how it ended! So to have that slowly told throughout the book was anticlimactic.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      Hench: Both of those bugged me. I don’t like body horror, and definitely had a recurring “But you could NOT kidnap the mayor’s son.”

      Like, if you’re threatening to cut off my finger because I am a useful bystander in your plot to do something or other, and I manage to kill you while escaping to preserve my finger, I don’t think “So Falling’s finger is worth the life of a hench!” is a fair take on that. Do not kidnap me and threaten my body parts, and this whole problem won’t arise. Though one could take this as the book playing fair with villainy–it’s actually villainous.

      I did not care for the late-arriving romance element, as I find will-they-won’t-they grating. You can just be professional colleagues who respect each other’s skills!

      1. Jackalope*

        Yeah, I thought her analysis idea of collateral damage was generally good, but the finger one was not such a good example. Had I been watching this as a bystander, for example, I wouldn’t have assumed that the villain was going to stop with one finger. That’s kind of the point of an escalating threat, no? So I would have considered this to be saving the child’s life, even if things were just starting with a finger.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      I really liked both What If books. In the second, I like the author’s point about how kids will just ask a straightforward question like the soup, which is really fascinating to delve into, while adults try to get over elaborate with “considering special relativity but not general.” (Spoiler: filling the solar system with soup turns out poorly.)

      A book I’m looking forward to in November, from Munroe’s fellow nerdy cartoonists Kelly and Zach Weisensmith: A City on Mars, about the problems of colonizing space. Which I’ve become more interested in these past years, as visions of a Star-Trek-like future has become less an abundance mindset (“To explore strange new worlds” etc), and more “If we screw up Earth how hard could it be to just colonize Mars and Luna and start over from scratch with a biome?” (Very very difficult, especially without Earth to fall back on.)

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Mary Roach’s Space covers that, pointing out that humans evolved for a very, very specific environment that is impossible to fully replicate.

      2. GoryDetails*

        I love Randall Munroe, too; the “What If” books are awesome, and hilarious!

        I’ve followed Zach Weinersmith’s “Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal” cartoons for ages, and have picked up several of his collections – and I’m looking forward to A City on Mars quite a lot. (I have “Bea Wolf” in my to-be-read queue as well; “Beowulf” from the viewpoint of grade-school kids…)

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      I am reading The Road to Roswell by Connie Willis, about someone who does not believe in alien abductions but gets kidnapped by an alien anyhow. So far I’m into it.

      Willis has written some of my favorite books (e.g. To Say Nothing of the Dog, Bellwether), but I really didn’t get into the duology set in WW2–why not just write a story about that, without the time travel aspect?

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Willis has written several time travel books, all set in Oxford–she actually started with the novella Fire Watch. Others set there are Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog. Blackout/All Clear are specific to the Blitz, where the others touch on it more personally or in the case of Doomsday Book, involve travel back to the Black Death.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I really like Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog; both had reasons to be about a historian time traveling back to another era.

          I didn’t get that with Blackout. (I gave up on AllClear after multiple attempts to get out of the first chapter.) It seemed like it was a story of life in the Blitz, but with this awkward framing of how a historian might view it rather than simply how a person living it as their only timeline might view it.

      2. GoryDetails*

        Re Blackout/All Clear – I loved the books, with the time-travel aspect adding some layers to the rest of the potential trauma and suspense of that place and time. But when I read the first one I’d had no warning at all that it was “part 1”, so when I got to the end and found that the story was FAR from finished I nearly hurled the book across the room! (I never do that to books, but I came close.)

    13. Elizabeth West*

      I finally read The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi and loved it. I especially love how he leaves the description of the kaiju extremely vague, so you get to fill in the details with your imagination. It would make a great movie, but to depict the kaiju visually would ruin it, I think — everyone has their own idea of what they would look like. In my mind, Bella looks like Hedorah. :)

    14. sagewhiz*

      Central Park West! Not only was former US FBI Director James Comey a great top cop, turns out he’s one helluva novelist. Starting off I thought I should create a whiteboard filled with all the very many characters, with different color marker lines to connect all the whos to the whos, like on all the cop shows. Fast paced and a fun read. Extra, unexpected cred for one of the lead characters struggling with her own sexuality.

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Thanks to those of you who recommended “Legends & Lattes”— I finally made it though the library reserve list for the audio book. Such whimsical fun. And my teenager traded a deep-clean of the bathroom for listening to the download on my phone LOL!

      I also read Rosemary & Rue by Seanan McGuire… practically inhaled it to be quite honest. It’s a treat for those of us who like fairy tale characters brought into the modern day.

      Next up, the teen has handed me Gideon The Ninth. The cover is not one I would have picked up on my own but I want to try what the kid’s enjoying.

    16. Rainy*

      I just finished a delightful gay Regency (Band Sinister) by a new-t0-me author, KJ Charles, and I just started The Maiden Bride by Rexanne Becnel, which is set during the reign of Stephen of Blois. Couldn’t comment yet, I’m only a chapter or two in. I’m also waiting on a recently-ordered copy of Paper Trails by Cameron Blevins, which is about how the American West was influenced by the operation of the US post. I have an interest in the crime of mail fraud and according to Mr Rainy there’s a great section on mail fraud in it.

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

        Omg, congrats on being inducted into the ridiculous world of KJC books, and thank you for reminding me that it’s been long enough that I can now reread my favorites! A friend of mine introduced me to them last year and I tore through one a day for a few weeks. A very hit-or-miss author IMO, but the best ones are so fun! I’m off to go see if Any Old Diamonds or Rag & Bone are available from the library…

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

          Oops, VERY IMPORTANT CORRECTION, Rag & Bone it turns out is one of the ones I think is not good– Unfit to Print is the one I was thinking of and it’s delightful.

    17. Bluebell*

      I finished American Mermaid this week. I liked the story within a story much more than the frame, but it was still worthwhile. And I think it would be a fun movie. Then I zipped through Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin. Last night I started The Adventures of Amina Al Sarafi and am enjoying it so far.

    18. Angstrom*

      “Strange Practice” by Vivian Shaw. Hero is young woman who’s a doctor for the undead in London. Fun, well done.

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

      Stopped by a library bookstore and got some paperback mysteries to re-read. Finished Agatha Christie’s *Parker Pyne Investigates*, which was perfect for when I was feeling a little oogy, as it is a bunch of short stories. Next up, a collection of Poirot short stories, *The Labors of Hercules*.

      1. allathian*

        You’re in for a treat with those. Granted, the gimmick of the Labors is a bit, well, gimmicky, IMO, but if you can ignore that, they’re fun.

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

        P.S. Content note on *Parker Pyne Investigates* for a couple of instances of racist language.

    20. carcinization*

      I just read Hench a couple of months back due to this site, and I LOVED it, so much so that I’m going to see if a new speculative fiction book club I’m going to participate in now will consider it as a selection. The “body horror” wasn’t my particular favorite thing but I’ve read things that were more gruesome from time to time, I guess. As for “siding with the villains,” I thought that a large part of the book was devoted to the “heroes” actually causing much more damage and carnage than villains ever did, like, figuring that out was a big part of how the protagonist spent her time for awhile, so I guess there could be a philosophical discussion about who the “villains” really are in that case then? I’m of course not saying that’s realistic at all, I’m just saying that that’s how the situation seemed to be portrayed in the made-up world of the book.

      (I’ll comment on what I’m currently reading later in-thread I guess.)

    21. Hiring Mgr*

      I really enjoyed Yellowface, which is about an author who steals an Asian friend’s manuscript and passes it off as her own

    22. vombatus ursinus*

      I enjoyed HENCH a lot. I guess the “siding with the villains” didn’t bother me too much because a) I saw Anna as a bit of an anti-hero anyway — I don’t think we were necessarily meant to see her as good, just relatable, b) the picture painted of the superheroes in that world was actually that they *weren’t* truly “good” or helping the world, and c) you can read it as a bit of a comment on the nigh-impossibility of finding ethical work under capitalism.

      Having said that! Sometimes a plot point or other aspect of a book just doesn’t sit right with you, and that’s totally legitimate!

      It’s been a little while since I read the book and I can’t specifically remember what the body horror you’re referring to would have been. But yeah, I do remember there being some quite gnarly injuries so I get where you’re coming from.

      This week I have been reading BABEL by R.F. Kuang. It’s quite a long novel and I think I’m about 60% through. There are some choices the author has made that are grating on me a bit (footnotes, repetitiveness, characters a bit thin), but the plot is engaging enough that I want to keep going! I’m still on the fence about how effective the treatment of the broader themes about colonialism and academia’s complicity in it will end up being, but overall I think it’s a topic very worthy of being tackled in this format, so good on her.

    23. GoryDetails*

      Re Hench: I loved the book, and while the villain-protagonist aspect was sometimes troublesome, for the most part it felt like reasonable reactions to the draconian crimes of the “good guys”. The body-horror bit… I mean, I read a lot of horror, and while body-horror isn’t my favorite flavor, I do have some tolerance for it. In this case it was mind-bendingly awful, and yet SOOO appropriate under the circumstances – with so few options for dealing with a super-indestructo-person in any other way – that overall I was rather pleased with it. I hadn’t imagined that as a tactic, and I like being surprised-by-plot…

      The way our heroine was able to cold-bloodedly use her auditing and research powers to isolate and manipulate targets was rather chilling, and yet such an effective and unusual spin on a superhero that I give the author full credit!

      But, yeah, it’s not bright-wacky-fun superhero stuff, not at all…

    24. Jammin'*

      I’m reading Hello Beautiful by Anne Napolitano. I’m about halfway thru. and so far it’s a decent read but put-downable.
      Before that, I read a few of CJ Box’s Cassie Dewell series.

  15. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Share whatever you’ve been playing, and give or request recs. As always, all games are welcome, not just video games.

    I’m still working my way through Stardew Valley. I’ve just started my third year, and things are going really well. I’m away from home for the weekend, though, and kind of glad to get a break because it’s super addictive.

    1. SparklingBlue*

      Been watching for info on the Super Mario RPG remaster or when the Pokemon Scarlet and Violet DLC come out.

    2. NotAMimic*

      Session 1 of a new, hopefully monthly, DND campaign is this afternoon.

      I’m very excited to be running a game in person for once (and able to use some of the stuff from kickstarters we’ve backed).

      I’m also nervous. One person in the group has never played DnD before and is so excited and so I really want to be sure they have a good time.

    3. fposte*

      There has been a recent revival of my beloved Godus. It’s also many people’s hated Godus, since the dev made big promises that never got fulfilled, even after a Kickstarter campaign. But it’s such a pretty sandbox that I could never really care about that. And now it’s reanimated, and delightful new things are being added, including lovely little sheep that baa very sweetly and scamper if you poke them.

    4. DrKMnO4*

      Stardew Valley is so addictive. I’ve started yet another playthrough (don’t even ask how many I’ve done, I couldn’t even begin to tell you). This time my goal was to complete the Community Center in Year 1, which I managed to accomplish. I’m looking forward to the 1.6 update.

      I’m also playing a fair bit of Destiny 2. There is fishing this season! I’m really enjoying it.

      I’m also playing Fate Grand Order (a mobile game). My husband and some of our friends got me into it. I like it, and I’m quite far in considering that I’ve only been playing for 8 months. I’m into the newest story chapters already. For reference, the game has been out in NA for 6 years.

        1. Jackalope*

          I play pinochle but that was intense enough to learn that I haven’t branched out to bridge yet.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Guild Wars 2… I ran my first fractals and now I have no inventory space LOL.

      I also decided one character to focus in and have her at 90% map completion… then found there’s a few ranger pets that come from the original Guild Wars. No idea yet if I can do that for a character who started in GW2!

    6. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Dinking around making friends and doing side cases in Judgment. The Serious Crime Drama part of this game is super serious and the bananapants side stuff is… I just beat up a serial groper named Ass Catchem, does that tell you what we’re dealing with here

    7. No name yet*

      Looking for video game suggestions: my 8 yo would like a game that involves strategy/warfare/resource management, he’s enjoying the board game Catan Jr, and likes what the Clash of Clans iPad ad looks like. We have a Switch and iPad, and older PCs (would prefer Switch/iPad). The catches: he’s absolutely not old enough to play online with/against other actual people, and he has very low frustration tolerance – so if it’s not fairly easy or he gets stuck, he gets very upset very quickly (we’re working on that, but for now it is what it is). We tried Civilization 6 (I enjoyed v1 when it came out), and he enjoyed the gameplay but it was just too complicated and hard for him. I’m a very casual gamer (always enjoy reading this weekend thread!), so can help a bit, but not that much. Any ideas???

      1. Mrs Columbo*

        Have you tried Battle of Polytopia? Probably a little lighter on the resource management, and the “warfare” is individual units, not companies, but I love the strategy side of it! You can select the difficulty level and number of opponents; and you can play against the computer, or set a multiplayer mode for playing with live people you are sitting beside, or just playing all the sides at once. (There is also an online mode; not sure if you’re able to disable that.) https://polytopia.io/

      2. Snell*

        Have you taken a look at Factorio? That one’s heavy on the management aspect, there’s a bit of combat, and I think it could be a really good fit for what you described. It has (entirely cooperative) multiplayer if that’s something you and kiddo would enjoy together.

    8. Mrs Columbo*

      I love Stardew Valley! As others on here, I have so many run-throughs of that one.

      I meant to play some Wylde Flowers today, but spent my time doing a deep dive into this site instead. :D Might still get in a gameday or two.

      Have also started Shadows Over Loathing. (It’s just as good as, maybe a bit better than, the other Loathing games.)

    9. SaraK*

      Started Planet of Lana; a very sweet platformer where you play as a child whose village has been abducted by aliens. It has beautiful graphics and an engaging story that gradually opens up as you play. The puzzles are interesting without being super hard. My only gripe with it is that it’s been designed for a controller and ported to PC and there’s no way (yet) to re-assign keybinds so I’m a left handed player playing with right handed keybinds. The developers say they are going to address this in a later patch but at the moment it’s just annoying and makes me stop playing after about 30 mins

  16. Probable New Car Buyer*

    I’m planning to buy a new car in the near future and a safety feature I think I want is “Blind Spot Warning” (BSW). (It is combined with another feature called “Rear Cross-Traffic Alert” (RCTA). BSW provides a warning to let you know that there is another car to the side and the rear of your car. RCTA lets you know when traffic is approaching from the side when you are backing out of a parking space. The feature is recommended by Consumer Reports magazine.

    Have any of you had any experience with driving a car with this feature? Do your find it to be helpful? Or do you find it to be an annoying “safety nanny”?

    1. California Dreamin’*

      My car has all the bells and whistles, so I have experience with these. The two you mentioned are good features that I don’t find overly intrusive (the cross-traffic warning has alerted me a couple times when I was backing slowly out of my driveway and a car was flying down the street.). The only time the blind spot one is bothersome is when you’re in heavy traffic because there’s always going to be a car in your blind spot, and when you try to make a lane change, even though you’re well aware of the car next to you and you’re just trying to fit in between cars, your car doesn’t like that and will be beeping like crazy. The one I really don’t care for is the lane assist technology where it beeps at you if you start to go over the lane line when your signal isn’t on. I turned that off on my car because it was just too annoying. My husband’s Tesla has a loud alert when it decides that you haven’t noticed the car in front of you braking, and that one is so loud and startling! Of course, all of these could save you from a collision, which is awesome, but it does add up to a lot of beeping that you have to get used to.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I agree with all of this, good and bad.

        “LANE DEPARTURE!” No, it’s a construction zone and there’s a line in the road. One drive I was going through so much construction and the lane departure warning went off so many times that my car told me I was clearly falling asleep at the wheel due to my inability to stay in my lane and I should stop and take a nap. That ticked me off and stressed me out and I wish it was easier to turn it off at least temporarily.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Also my (Honda) blind spot warning only beeps if I turn on my turn signal to go in that direction. Otherwise it’s just a quiet light in my rear view mirror on the applicable side.

        2. RussianInTexas*

          My car tells me I should take a break after two hours of driving regardless of the road condition.
          No car, my regular out of town drive is 3 hours!

      2. Missb*

        My car overrides the lane assist if I signal. This happens mostly when I am on a two lane road and there is a bicyclist or pedestrian and I want to give them more room. If I signal then the lane assist ignores me crossing the center line.

        The feature I find funny is the one that detects that traffic is moving and wants to remind me that I can go. If I’m letting someone in, I don’t need a prompt to resume driving, lol. AI isn’t quite there but these tools are generally helpful.

      3. Sloanicota*

        My lord there was one rental car with lane assist in a remote area that almost drove me mad. I think it was confused because we were driving on a lot of windy roads with no center lane. It beeped just about every time the road curved. It was a road trip of probably 50 hours of driving. I believe I pulled over to go through the book and figure out how to turn it off, because one of us had to go.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          Id If my car also beeped with the lane assist instead of vibrating the steering wheel, I would probably go nuts by now.

        2. Roland*

          Last car I rented was in Iceland – every time the road curved left it would “helpfully” help turn the wheel to the left. And then beep that we were too close to the left and should be further to the right. And bc Iceland, this was all on narrow roads with only one lane for each direction, so straying over the median could mean a collision with car going 90-100 kph in the opposite direction.

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        The rear cross-traffic alert is really useful, to the extent that it would be hard to adapt back to a car that doesn’t have it.

        The lane departure alert is really annoying and I have to figure out how to turn it off whenever it gets turned on. “I pulled over the center line because there is no oncoming traffic and there is a dogwalker, person checking their mail, bicyclist, etc on the right of my lane.”

    2. FrontlinER*

      I just bought a 2024 Subaru Outback like 2 weeks ago and it has this! It has really helped in some situations like when the cars on either side are hard to see around while reversing. I overall like it!! It does sense some things that aren’t there and makes an annoying noise, but usually resolves itself pretty quick.

    3. Lemonwhirl*

      I wish my car had Blind Spot Warning. It has front collision warning, which I think typically goes off too late. I’m nearly always aware of what it’s warning me about, and the beeping is an extra stressor. (Also, it’s supposed to actively use the breaks to prevent a collision, but again, it seems like it happens later than I would like, and I wouldn’t rely on it actually working.) My car also has Lane-Keep Assist, so it beeps whenever I stray out of a marked lane. I find this useful when I’m using adaptive cruise control, but I have to turn it off when I’m driving rural roads because it will go off all the time, and some of the roads I drive regularly are one single car-width wide.

    4. Missb*

      I have an electric Volvo with both features.

      I don’t notice the blind spot one that much because I’m rarely on the freeway. It’s not overly intrusive but I feel better having it.

      The rear cross traffic feature is super helpful. My garage is tiny and I have very little visual clearance for traffic backing out of my driveway. That’s the only time it annoys me; with my window down and all systems off, I can clearly hear a car coming. By the time the car triggers the warning, I’ve already braked and am waiting for the other car to pass.

      But in a parking lot? That thing is golden. I still look all around as if I didn’t have a backup camera- super hard to suppress those habits- but the rear cross traffic system sees vehicles in a parking lot before I can detect them because even with my head on a swivel, I can miss them.

      I also love the lane departure feature and the collision warning one. I get slightly irritated when the car in front is turning to the right and will clearly be out of my path before I get there and the warning triggers. It only happens if I’m going uphill and the car is turning right, so their detection system is a bit off (overly protective). It hasn’t braked on me yet though so other than a suddenly red dash, no annoyance like improper auto braking.

      Both my car and dh’s truck seem to have issues with backing out of my brother’s steep driveway at night. The sensors can’t quite figure out the sudden grade change. Mine will auto brake on me unless I creep super slow.

      Any of these features are helpful imho.

    5. fposte*

      I love them, but then I generally love safety bells and whistles. The one thing I had to learn to deal with was a feature that I’m not sure the name of, maybe collision avoidance? It stops the car well before it encounters a solid object in front of it. And as a result, I got almost permanently, stuck in a big city, underground parking garage, because I needed to cut things closer than it wanted to allow me to. So I was trying to get away from the car on one side, and it come in at the necessary angle with the intention of then straightening up to pull my car away from the car next to me. And it did not have the tolerance to allow me close enough to the other car so that straightening it out would actually get me farther away from that car. So I kept creeping closer and closer and closer to the car next to me every time. And I’m sure there’s an override, but I was starting to panic and I couldn’t find it. (I also forgot that I could’ve just folded my side mirror, which is the real problem, back and gotten some side room that way.)

      Any rate, aside from that, I really love the blind spot warning, I really really love the rear cross traffic alert, and while I haven’t quite gotten to the point of turning off the lane departure assist, I agree that the false alarms on that are kind of annoying.

    6. Btdt*

      100 percent useful! as others have said, lane assist can be annoying but we just turn it off. but the 2 features you mentioned are great, I’ll never buy a car without them.

      personally I’d avoid/be wary of cars with climate controls or volume controls that can only be adjusted on screen. You have to look at them to change them, taking your eyes off the road. buttons/dials on the steering wheel and/or center console or gtfo in my opinion.

    7. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Probably an outlier, but I could take or leave the blind spot warning feature. The times when I most want it, like rainy days, it’s completely useless. Sometimes it randomly goes off on a street sign or traffic going in the other direction too. So I don’t trust it. The reverse alert is great though, it picks up pedestrians long before they’re in my line of sight.

    8. ThatGirl*

      I have a new Bolt with both and yes, they’re very helpful. The blind spot warning in mine is just a light on the side mirror, so easy to see but not obtrusive. The rcta beeps so I can stop when I’m backing up – but the camera detects the bush at the edge of the garage every day so I ignore that bit.

    9. Tommmmmorrow*

      I’ve used blind spot warning on rentals and it is helpful, especially with heavy highway traffic. There are ones that beep and ones that have a light on the outside mirror, I prefer the light. Between all the other safety features all the different beeps are distracting and hard to recognize.

    10. RussianInTexas*

      I love my blind spot warning. Just remember that the alarm will only sound if you have your blinker on. You also usually can adjust how aggressive you want the distance to be depending on your driving style and the area you live in.
      Cross traffic alert is very useful too, especially since my car is a regular sedan, and in most places I park it gets surrounded by the ginormous long pickups and SUVs.
      The lane departure warning (in the dash and vibrating steering wheel) are more annoying than not for me, because I live in the area with a lot of road construction, and the lanes get moved and restriped constantly.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Also, in my car, the side mirrors will tilt down when you are backing out, to help you see curbs, objects, and small children, that are outside of the rear camera angle.

    11. Random Bystander*

      My son is currently renting a car with the rear camera and the alerts. (It’s unfortunate circumstances–someone tried to steal his car and completely wrecked the ignition switch and the lever for the windshield wipers, so his insurance is paying for this while his car is in the shop.) He found it pretty quick to get used to and doesn’t find the alerts intrusive. He’s convinced he’ll buy a car with the rear camera/RCTA when he buys his next vehicle; he wouldn’t object to having the BSW, but its absence wouldn’t be a deal-breaker. He still does the check himself before lane changing.

    12. Angstrom*

      I’ve found both to be useful and not intrusive.
      Both have been especially useful for an elderly family member with limited neck mobility.

    13. JR*

      I like both. The blind spot system doesn’t feel critical because I always look over my shoulder anyway, but it reassures me that I didn’t miss anything, and it’s saved me once or twice. It’s just a light, so not annoying at all. The backing out of a parking spot feature is annoying (loud tone), but has seriously saved me (or the pedestrian walking behind me!) multiple times. It’s great. I definitely wouldn’t want to buy a car without both.

    14. The teapots are on fire*

      I have a 2016 Mazda 3 with BSW and RCTA and it’s just excellent. No false alarms, never seems to miss an event. I love it.

    15. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I like the blind spot alert in the side view mirror. I hate things that beep at me – my husband’s car has the lane-alert feature and it drives.me.mad on narrow roads. And I admit I don’t always signal when I change lanes if there’s no one else on the road. STOP BEEPING AT ME.

      I like the cross-traffic alert – have had that in my last three cars and find it very useful.

    16. Christmas Carol*

      If you’re still in the kicking tires stage, once you narrowed the list of preferred models down to one or two, rent a copy for a few/days or a week and use it for the same regular driving you’re planning on doing with your new purchase. You’ll find out a lot more than just the 10 min pre plotted test drive the dealer will want to take you on. I can picture my car salesman boyfriend having a stroke when you try to change lanes in crowded midtown traffic while “just testing the blind spot monitor”

    17. Ampersand*

      My husband’s SUV has the blind spot warning and a rear camera, while my older car doesn’t. I much prefer the safety features on his car—it’s so weird to me now trying to back up without a camera! I feel like I have no idea what’s behind me and it feels less safe. Re: the blind spot warning, it’s helpful. I still always look when changing lanes regardless, though I appreciate the extra warning when needed. It does sometimes tell you when there’s a car or other object there that you don’t necessarily need to know about. Sometimes when I’m turning it will pick up the curb or median as an object and warn me when I’m in no danger of hitting it. Overall it’s a useful feature IMO, as long as you don’t rely on it too heavily or (as one of my friends has done, leading to accidents) disregard it altogether.

  17. Roland*

    My car theoretically has the blind spot warning. Hasn’t gone off once in the 6 months I’ve driven it. I miss the blind spot camera Hondas had for a while, I can’t believe they discontinued such a useful safety feature.

  18. Hatchet*

    I would like to start crocheting or knitting, but do not want or need to keep whatever I make.
    Are there any organizations that would take a specific kind of crocheted or knitted creation (simple enough for me to make at my beginner skill level)? Ideally something like Org X needs Y item, so therefore I make Y items. (I live in a warmer climate, so making scarves to set out in the winter isn’t an option.) I’m open to suggestions, even if it’s to say there’s nothing like this. Thanks!

      1. Nitpicker*

        +1. They collect and distribute handmade blankets for sick and traumatized children and teens. Much more information (including patterns) on their website. I usually crochet baby blankets (36”x36”) and a lovely volunteer picks them up. I think some regions have drop off points.

    1. Kat*

      Check to see if your local hospital takes crocheted octopuses for the NICU – they’re very useful for preemies

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        There are organisations which take knitted or crocheted hats for preemies too, so definitely check with your local hospital.

    2. Lexi Vipond*

      I tend to knit bears and hats (and very occasionally squares) for https://knit-a-square.com/ – but sometimes the postage costs get a bit silly, and you can probably find someone more local looking for some of the same things.

      (It was a mix of them turning up early in my first search, and having a lot of simple patterns, rather than any specific connection to them.)

    3. Still*

      I’m a beginner knitter and what I do is just knit to practice, and then rip the whole thing and re-use the wool. Realistically, it’s going to take me a while before I make anything good enough that anyone would want it. But this way I get a lot of practice and don’t need to spend money on new wool.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      My mom made hats for newborns through a hospital charity, which was quite a simple crochet design.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Yes! There are tons of charities that distribute knit or crochet items: for preemies, chemo patients, children or adults going through trauma, pets in animal shelters, homeless people, even people in war zones overseas.

      If you have a local yarn shop, classes, or crafter’s circle, that’s a great place to ask, or you could google your town +”charity knitting”.

      If you don’t find a local group, check out these national resources:


    6. Fastest Thumb in the West*

      Knitted Knockers makes soft breast prosthetics for mastectomy patients. It’s all volunteers and not difficult.

    7. MaxKitty*

      The Red Scarf Project accepts scarves (from September through December) for Valentine’s care packages for former foster kids in college.

    8. NeutralJanet*

      I knit blankets for shelter animals, which is nice because it gives me loads of practice with different stitches. A lot of animal shelters accept blankets and other comfort items for the animals, you can try calling your local shelter.

    9. ronda*

      the one I do is Warm Up America. (they have a website, but it is not great about directing to local groups)
      Mine is done out of a local shop, the leader taught me to crochet.
      mostly make 7×9 blocks and now I am the person who does a lot of joining of those blocks.
      also have made whole blankets.
      the leader of the group then finds groups to give them to. ie shelters, foster care, etc

      the only requirement is using acrylic yarn because they want them to be washable.

  19. Adeline*

    Silly question about “Little House on the Prairie” (TV show). When Mary goes blind, she goes to Winoka to teach in the blind school. The Ingalls decide to move there too because Walnut Grove’s economy has dried up because of some issue with the railroad. All the businesses have closed, there are no jobs, farmers can’t sell their crops.

    So the Garveys and Olesons also move to Winoka. But everyone hates living in the big bad city and after a few months they all move back to Walnut Grove. But the town is still dead. I don’t remember anything being mentioned about the railroad issue being solved or anything like that. They move back, cut down the overgrown grass, clean the church/school and Voila! They’re a functioning town again! How did that happen?

    1. Mimmy*

      I’ve probably watched those episodes a dozen times and I don’t remember either lol.

    2. RagingADHD*

      What happened is they got a new contract. They wrote the “Walnut Grove is dead” storyline because the show was supposed to end. Then the ratings were so good that they got renewed.

      They didn’t want to completely retcon the end of Season 4, so they had a handful of episodes in Winoka with increasing conflicts to justify returning and reviving the town with the spirit of friendship. The only economic reality that mattered in the life of Walnut Grove was the show’s economics.

      The show had very little to do with the books other than character names. The book On The Banks of Plum Creek ends when Laura is nine years old, and then they move on to other places. Mary went blind im the next book, when they were living in South Dakota.

    3. Vanessa*

      Kind of an offshoot, but there is a great book called “prairie fires” that documents the true story of the family. It was a series of missteps. One I remember was that they left Wisconsin and moved to Minnesota with the promise of guaranteed farming success. The first season the locusts came and decimated everything up to the Mississippi.
      They didn’t often have enough resources to ride out the bet, and would either move on to the next sure thing or double back.

      1. RagingADHD*

        As a grownup, I have a lot of opinions about Pa as a real person vs an idealized character through the eyes of a small girl.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          LOL, yeah, “missteps” is certainly one word to use to describe Pa Ingalls’s family leadership.

          Second the recc for that Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder book, though.

        2. Rachel*


          I know people don’t like childhood nostalgia to be trifled with so I typically do not share them, but reading it as an adult is rough.

      2. Imtheone*

        Also good is Pioneer Girl, which links events in the Little House books to real world events — from local land disputes, arrest records, and the weather, and more.

      3. Chaordic One*

        A book that had a fair bit of gossip about the TV show and the related behind the scenes goings on was written by Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson. It is titled “Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated.” Maybe not a great read, but a good one. (Spoiler alert: It contains information about being sexually abused as a child by her own brother away from the show.)

    4. goddessoftransitory*


      I find this kind of eliding over the issue used to fire the plot engine stuff really annoying. A week or so back I was complaining about an old epsiode of Remington Steele that was using Bad Day at Black Rock’s premise for its plot, but without bothering with the several huge, glaring issues generated by it.

    5. Lbd*

      We read the books when I was growing up, shortly before the TV series first aired. The earlier seasons were based fairly closely on the books, but later seasons became a sort of nostalgia/earlier time meets social issues of the day hybrid. Things like episodes about domestic violence and such.
      My favourite book of the series, and the only one that I have reread as an adult, was Farmer Boy, about the childhood of Almanso Wilder, Laura Ingalls’ husband. It is a lovely picture of day-to-day life of a farming family in that era, and the relationships amongst the family members.

      1. Imtheone*

        Pioneer Girl was the first, more factual, book. When Ingalls Wilder couldn’t get a publisher for Pioneer Girl, her daughter, Ross Wilder Lane, a published author, encouraged her to write a children’s novel. That led to Little House in the Big Woods and Farmer Boy, which were meant to be stand alone novels. Interest from publishers led to the subsequent novels.

  20. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

    Update to a question I asked in a preview Weekend thread: I decided to go with NetNewsWire as an RSS reader on MacOS. Does what I want, runs locally without me needing to create an account, and, as a bonus, very easy to navigate using a keyboard rather than a mouse while I’m reading through things.

    (I came across a Mastodon post where someone was asking about MacOS RSS readers, which is how I found out about it. I should probably sign up for a Mastodon account, but I keep getting caught in a loop of “actually, I should just run my own Mastodon server, hrrm, I need to figure out the following list of other tech things first before spinning that up…” and not signing up. Being able to subscribe to people’s Mastodons via RSS was part of why I needed an RSS reader, because I was checking too many bookmarks to see if people had started using their mostly-abandoned accounts.)

    1. David*

      Mastodon shoutout :-)

      FWIW I thought about running my own server when I first joined, and then I decided to start out on one of the larger servers, and it’s been pleasant and smooth enough that I don’t feel any particular pressure to start up my own server. And from what I hear, running a server is not the easiest thing to do – I mean, certainly not out of reach for the kind of person who isn’t intimidated by the idea of running their own server for something, but it can be kind of a pain to configure and maintain everything. I think I’m content in the knowledge that I *could* do it if I wanted/needed to. So I’m in the camp of just going for it. Not that the same decision will necessarily make sense for you, but consider this a piece of evidence that weighs slightly in favor of signing up.

      Maybe think about it like this: say that, at some time in the future, you are going to start your own Mastodon server. Between now and that time, you have the choice of participating in Mastodon (by signing up on an existing server) or not participating. How you feel about that choice?

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I’m an Internet Old, basically, and I’ve been burned too many times.

        I’m going to skip over most of the 90s here, and start with the forum culture of the late 90s-very early 200os.

        In those days, you had accounts on a ton of fan-of-specific-thing forums, where you’d make friends with your fellow forum-goers, gradually level up by forum title, and make yourself a little home. Then the admin would have have a Life Moment and delete the forum, and you’d lose all of your friends and all of your posts.

        Then we all got LiveJournals, to help deal with the forums randomly going away so we’d have a second point of contact! I was hesitant, because I’d been burned by signing up for things enough times by then, but Brad seemed like a reasonably good dude, he said all of the right things about Open Source and had a business model based on subscriptions for extra benefits rather than ads, so it seemed like it’d be stable and not get caught up in in the cycle of suck like most internet hive sites. I posted there gradually more and more over the years, even volunteered with them for a while. Brad was a pretty decent guy, really, I met him quite a few times at monthly LiveJournal meetups, literally got the t-shirt. This was going to be ok! I got cozy, I made a lot of friends, I kept a lot of personal information in private posts in my permanent LiveJournal account since it seemed like a nice, stable trustworthy place where it’d be easy to track things over time and find them later.

        So anyway, the Russians now have multiple years of my menstrual tracking data and my entire mailing address book from that era, because Brad fucking sold us out.

        So I’m not going to join a Mastodon server, because I’m getting “forum admin who means well” vibes from most of the smaller servers, and I just generally don’t sign up for things anymore. (I don’t do social media – I made a brief attempt at Twitter a very long time ago, never signed up for Facebook or any of the newer services, don’t have a personal Google account, let my old Yahoo account die. I have one old school forum account left, and I post comments here and on a few other blogs, but I just decided that Web 2.0 could pretty much go screw.)