Labor Day open thread

It’s Labor Day! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything (work-related or not) that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 895 comments… read them below }

  1. Annie Edison*

    Inspired by a similar conversation on the weekend thread: tell me about things you’ve done to your rental home to make it feel more homey and aesthetically pleasing. Due to a combination of factors, SO and I are likely stuck in what was supposed to be a relatively short term rental home for several more years and I’d like to make it feel as much like ours as I can. Bonus points for things that are relatively low cost; I’m on a fairly tight budget this year

    1. Office Gumby*

      3M sticky hooks on the walls to hang stuff. Pictures, scarves for a pop of colour, even just stringing beads to break up the dull monotony of rental-white walls really helps.

        1. RedinSC*

          Really? They fall off for me after about 6 months! I put some in my closet to hang my purses from and after about 6 months I find most of my purses on the floor because the 3M hooks fall off! I have the big ones and only hang 1 purse, so I’m not hanging like 10 of them on there.

          1. The Shenanigans*

            Is the wall there near the bathroom or back up to the stove or something like that? If not, I’ve found actually washing and drying the part of the wall where I hang the hook can help. And yeah, for big purses, two small hooks may be more effective than one big one.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, hanging stuff helps for sure. Depending on your lease, I would just go full out and nail and drill things. I had plaster walls in my last place, no central air, and lived in an area that can get somewhat humid and there is definitely a limitation to those 3M hooks…)

        1. MissCoco*

          Yeah, I have always hung tons of art, filled in nail holes before I left, and so far I’ve never been charged. I figure if there is a $50 or so fee to have art I love on my walls, I’m willing to pay that if I’m living somewhere several years.

          1. Stephanie*

            I didn’t even fill in the holes in the last place (ran out of time). I just figured I’d eat the fee, if one was charged (my landlord didn’t charge one). To me, patching holes is part of the landlord job and adults like to hang things. I also didn’t trust the command hooks with some more expensive frames or my diplomas.

      2. Sally Forth*

        Make sure you buy the real 3M. My son’s gf just used the ones from the dollar store and ripped off patches of paint in their brand new rental.

        1. The Shenanigans*

          Agreed on the real ones! But on the upside, if the place is new, they are likely using an easily matched color. Your son and his girlfriend can take a swatch to a hardware store and get a small amount mixed up for very little money. Then it’s easy enough to spackle and paint.

    2. Cathie from Canada*

      If you aren’t already familiar with this site, check out Apartment Therapy – https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/
      Overall, I have found it has good ideas for renters as well as for owners, also it is an excellent site for design, DIY, small-space living, and so forth.

    3. Morning Coffee*

      Poster print in IKEA frame can cover surprisingly big spot on not so pristine wall. Have good light fixtures. I usually pay attention to having uneven surfaces like bookshelves and massive curtains to muffle sounds. It doesn’t do much, but better than nothing

    4. stratospherica*

      Rugs, plants, non-ceiling lights… I also got a tension rack so that I can add little decorative objects and hang pictures without needing to drill any holes.

    5. JSPA*

      If there are sunny windows or outdoor space with light that’s warm enough, and no pets to worry about (as some are lethally toxic), bulbs in pots let you move whatever is blooming into a spot where you can enjoy it, then rotate out for soaking up sun when they are just leaves, then into the back of a storage space when they’re dormant. And they travel well, when you eventually move (though heed warnings on not moving dirt and potential pathogens long distances). Force paperwhites if you like something aromatic in winter, or amaryllis for color.

      I like a few large, solid old vases or crocks (garage sale quality is fine) with evergreen branches standing in corners (compost / replace when they get too dry and dusty, avoid the few that smell like cat pee).

      If you have pets, you can instead sink one or two nontoxic flowers (daisies, zinnias, roses) in an old fishbowl or clear pyrex. They keep longer, the curved glass and water magnify them, and the pets can safely drink.

      Use lively fabric with weights on the bottom as a tapestry / wall-hanging. You can use a broomstick or curtain rod if you’re allowed to make mounting screw sized holes, But in a pinch, you can also sew the fabric to a few wire hangers, and hang those on picture hooks (unless you get strong breezes).

      Bit pricy, but they make multi panel standing screens with classic artwork printed on them (both sides).

    6. GlowCloud*

      Weirdly, the thing that was most satisfying to me was finding some large, round, painted wooden beads in a charity shop for 50p, and using them to replace the nasty little plastic toggle on the end of our bathroom light pull-cord.
      Just one of those things that made something I had to use every day feel less institutional, and more pleasing to the eye and to the touch.

      Use fabrics wherever you can to make things more comfortable – especially if your furniture is also rented. A sofa throw can protect the couch from spills and personalise your colour scheme. Cover the floors in rugs, choose a nice table-cloth, etc.

      We used to have 4 table-cloths, and 4 sets of bedcovers, each seasonally themed, and would have some kind of vase arrangement to complement them when we changed them over every few months. Domestic rituals can help you feel closer to your space.
      Houseplants are always a comforting touch.

      People often neglect lighting, because we take the built-in fixtures for granted, but light quality and direction has a huge impact on your mood and sense of space. I *hated* the cold, flat, dim light from our flush-mount ceiling lights, and the corners of the room were dingey.
      Replace your lightbulbs or adjust fittings to make the light warmer / brighter / more diffuse, depending on what you need in each room.
      Use directional lighting from floor or desk lamps to create focal points, or diffuse glow from fairy-lights, or candles, to make a more comforting atmosphere.
      If you can hang a mirror in a strategic position, it can boost the light and space more than a painting.

      Really think about how you use your space — Which corners get neglected, and why? Where does it make sense to have intentionally blank space, vs. ‘dead space’ that isn’t useful? Where do you always bump into things? Where do little bits of clutter accumulate? Where does your stuff exceed your storage capacity? What are the minor inconveniences that create friction in your day-to-day?
      Try to problem-solve them. Consider moving your furniture around a little to create more flow, or getting rid of things that no longer serve you.

      1. cabbagepants*

        I want to echo the bit in your penultimate paragraph! Being mindful of how you use your space and what things are and aren’t working is huge. I’ve found that once I can mentally frame why a space feels ineffective (cluttered, no storage, whatever) then it’s much easier to find a solution.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Echoing advice from a few weeks back: Wherever stuff tends to pile up, add something to contain the pile. A basket, a small table, etc.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            Laundry baskets and trash cans in particular. If possible, have a laundry basket anywhere you undress, and a trash can anywhere you generate trash. You may not love looking at the container, but you can choose one you like to look at more than a pile of socks or wrappers!

        2. Pyjamas*

          Yes! If you have two bedrooms, consider making the smaller one the sleeping room and the larger a multi-purpose work/media/craft, etc. Try rearranging furniture to see what works best.

          If you’re planning to be in this apt a few years, consider painting one or more of the rooms in an alternate shade. The landlord will prob repaint the apt when you move out anyway, though to be on safe side, best to choose a pastel: easier to paint over & the dark shades make a room look smaller. Even a different shade of white makes a difference.

          Ummmm… second hand stores might have curtains; something about the ubiquitous blinds screams rental. And a house can be pleasently untidy but the same clutter in an apt will just clutter your mind.

          If buying furniture, avoid large heavy pieces. Hard to move and easy to get shaken up in moving van. Love seats, smaller dressers, etc. A good kitchen table — which can serve for eating, working, pushed against a wall for parties with drinks and snacks on top. As few big armchairs as possible; thru hog space. Personally I like beanbags; sitting in them makes the ceiling seem taller, and you can move them around.

      2. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Larger area rugs aren’t that expensive and make vacuuming easier, since you can take the rug outside and just shake most of it off. This keeps the rental rug in much better shape.

    7. DJ Abbott*

      I’ve always rented and probably always will. I love nature and garden photos. Every year I buy a wall calendar with such photos And that hangs on the command hook where I can see it easily and mark my appointments.
      I save them and put the photos on the walls with painting tape. I also have a couple of framed things. At my last apartment the landlord’s staff did the hanging, so it was definitely in the way they approved of.

    8. DJ Abbott*

      Personally I like white or cream colored walls and warm yellow light. Don’t let style trends dictate, have it the way you like it. I was thrilled to find an apartment painted off-white instead of light gray, with wood accessories! This is how an apartment is supposed to look. :)
      I have a 90’s flower lamp to use instead of the cold white light in the main room. Look on Freecycle, buy nothing, craigslist, or in thrift stores for furniture, lamps, and accessories you like.

        1. LizWings*

          Yes, please. It’s hard to even buy furniture, because all the wood has a gray wash. The lady at Pottery Barn (where I admired the natural warm wood floors and built-in shelving displays, but where you couldn’t buy a single piece of furniture to match that) told me that it would take a few years, but that gray was on its way out.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            In 2015 I needed furniture in an odd size, and ended up having it made to order. Two pieces, actually. The great thing was I got to choose the color! I chose paint colors in beautiful shades, and they make me very happy.
            Made to order wasn’t terribly expensive, it cost $3,000 for both pieces.

        2. Cat's Paw for Cats*

          Oh god yes. I am thinking of moving back to my hometown and not only are the houses ridiculously expensive but are all gray with walls, floors, countertops and appliances to match. The most depressing thing I’ve ever seen. I would have to spend an additional fortune to paint in livable colors after purchase. Grrr.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            And black appliances. It’s like they are trying to depress people! I first noticed this in 2013-14, so it’s been going on a while. I even went into an upscale furniture store and the only colors they had were white, black, and gray.
            Being the outspoken type I am, I sometimes asked store associates, “When did they make the law against color?” And they laughed. I wasn’t joking.

    9. cabbagepants*

      I got one of those big wall decals and it helped beautify a room much more than I ever imagined.

    10. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Several more years? Use real nails to hang up real art. Paint some walls with bright colors. Put some hardy perennials in the ground by the front door.

      1. Susan Calvin*

        Seriously! A little bit of spackle and a bucket of decently high-pigment paint to get everything back to default is a pretty small price to pay for vastly improving your quality of life.

    11. Hamburke*

      if you can paint, pick something neutral but not that industrial off white. the rented house we lived in had pear colored walls (a soft yellow) that was great for adding a little sunshine to a house that was very shaded by trees (yay trees, boo lack of natural light).

      I agree with choosing great lighting – it took me a couple tries to get the right color bulbs and then we bought a house and I had to find the right wavelength again. I also now have a lot of extra lamps bc we lived in a house with a lot of trees and no overhead lights and now have a lot of natural light and overhead lighting. I bought most on fb marketplace and our local Goodwill. don’t forget under cabinet lighting – there’s lots of removable options!

      I hung my kids artwork on the walls with painters tape. they’re older now so we framed stuff in cheap frames and hung it with command strips and even did paint by numbers projects over the pandemic so there’s new stuff up there!

      keep select furniture pieces that are sentimental that don’t work great in your rental but you have plans for. we had a closet full of stuff we couldn’t easily use in our rental but go great in our new house that more match our style. I spray painted a bunch of cheap furniture that worked well in our rental to look like it went together – bookcases, end tables, dressers, chairs. they got split up, repainted, and used in different rooms in our new house.

    12. Ex-prof*

      Home-made curtains. Go to a fabric store and pick out a print that appeals. At JoAnn’s, there’s often very pretty stuff in the Green Dot section for $3-4 a yard.

    13. AVP*

      Notes from a longtime renter whose apartment makes people say “ooh, this is so homey!” whenever they come in…

      If there are things that are imperfect about the place (cabinet door is wonky, sliding closet door is a tiny bit misaligned, you happen to hate the shower curtain bar) – fix them or see if you can get the landlord to do it! With a rental it’s easy to fall into the trap of “well I’m stuck with that” or “that’s not mine, oh well” but if you need to look at it every day, it’s worth a few dollars for a new cabinet door hook.

      I also practically never turn my overhead lights on – lamps are cheap at thrift stores and Ikea and the lighting is much cozier.

      But the one thing that people really respond to when they see our living room is that it’s fully lined with (old, Ikea-sourced) bookshelves because we’re book people. And then we ended up displaying old toys and photos that we love in front of the books. Could be something else if you have a different love or hobby! But filling entire walls with stuff that says “this is me, I live here” – even if it’s stuff other people might put in storage or not want to look at all the time – really works.

    14. Em*

      I like color and rentals usually have white walls, so bold textiles help me feel like it’s my space. I love Marimekko (although it’s on the pricier side) for curtains, duvet covers, pillow cases, cushion covers (also dishes etc), but you can also get bold stuff from Ikea. Also I feel way cozier in pink light. I made some lamp shades out of some scrap fabric to have a warm glow at night- overhead lighting is the worst imo.

    15. Mary Collins*

      There are years of “This Old House” episodes. When I had a long recuperation, they were oddly comforting.

    16. run mad; don't faint*

      Having places to keep things and organize items makes any place feel more homey, I think. Colorful plastic plates and bowls from dollar stores work well to hold mail and keys, if you’re on a budget. Baskets scattered around to hold odds and ends or throw blankets. Command strip hooks near the door to hang my jackets, purse and umbrella. All this makes the space work better for me which makes it more comfortable and personal.

    17. RedinSC*

      I had been in my apartment for over 5 years, I asked if I could paint the walls, I used a color that Martha Stewart called Flax. I got it OKd by my new landlord (who’d just purchased the building) and refreshed the place. So if you’re going to be there for years, maybe they’ll let you paint?

      1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        A lot of places will let you paint almost any color, as long as you return it to white when you move out.

    18. NerdHistorian*

      When I rented 1/2 of a small adobe house (literally cut in half, 1 closet, 1 outlet per room, no changes to anything), color and storage made a big difference. I had a neutral rug and loveseat, but picked a color scheme from a quilt and used it throughout. I hung coordinating fabric in a big embroidery hoop (already had both), bought used coordinating sheer curtains to soften the ugly blinds, tied extra matching fabric or scarves over pillows, and used coordinating washi tape to decorate walls and the white bankers boxes I used for storage, all to create a cohesive decor. The 90-year old Adobe was too hard to drive in nails, so I used those brand name removable strips to hang everything-coats, hats, totes (cute ones on top), floating shelves, pictures in very light plastic frames, my folding chairs/table, cheap rechargeable pendant lights in dark corners, and even that the quilt, which cut a draft at the head of my bed and stood in for a headboard.

    19. mkl*

      Lighting! Everywhere! An inexpensive LED string along the roofline of the front porch (or the Costco cafe string if you’re feeling splurgy.) Standing lamps and desk lamps with dimmers helps create a warm tone everywhere. I keep an eye out for them on the Facebook Buy Nothing Group in my neighborhood and at Goodwill. If your landlord doesn’t mind you swapping out switches, I put dimmer switches on the bedroom, living room and kitchen lights so they’re warm not glaring. If your landlord is ok with you painting an accent wall as long as you paint it back to the original color, that’s a 4 hour project that could be well worth it if you’re there for 2-3 years.

    20. SB*

      I am on really good terms with my landlord so they were quite amenable when I requested to hang some family pictures & some artwork using proper hooks into the wall. All they asked was that I chose places that made sense so they could leave them in situ when I eventually leave. So the usual places – above the dining room table, above the couch, above the hall table.

      The other thing I have done is bought some nice looking peel & stick tiles to cover the blue & yellow geese tiles in the bathroom (yes, you did read that correctly). It now looks like I have chic white subway tiles & they have been there for almost a year without any peeling. I think it cost me about AU$50 to do the tiles above the bath & sink.

      1. Brooklyn*

        You can do this in any rental! Screw and nail holes are trivially easy to spackle over when you leave, and in most places with even halfway decent rental laws (admittedly, not states where renting is seen as shameful, which OP sort of seems to have internalized), you can’t be charged for needing to repaint.

    21. Your Mate in Oz*

      I rented for much of my life, but in Australia and Aotearoa where tenants have basically no right to change the property at all, even “fair wear and tear” gets argued by many landlords.

      So I’m an expert at putting screws where no-one looks (down into the top of door jams, for example) and running picture wire around to hang things off. Also peeling back carpet to drill a hole through the floor in a house so I can run computer network cables. Or extension cords, for houses that don’t have power points in sensible places.

      There’s a bunch of things that are so unlikely that “it was like that when I moved in” often works. We put plastic sheeting down over concrete and made a garden in one place. Then took it with us when we left, to the distress of the property manager who had to re-shoot the outdoor photos because they’d highlighted the lovely garden…

      We rented a place with a 1970’s archway in the middle, so we walled that off to create a sunroom on one side and a bedroom on the other (that bedroom was big enough for a piano… yes, we had a flatmate who brought their own piano). And had 6 people living in a “three bedroom” house which I suspect the property manager noticed but they never said anything (only three of us were on the lease and the usual “all residents must be on the lease” clause was there, but we’re not paying an extra week’s rent to change the lease over every time someone moves in or out).

      It’s worth looking at your local government (council in Australia) to see whether they offer free compost/mulch and even local native plants. Both are common in Australia, and I’ve seen a few videos of people in the US getting bags or trailer-loads of free compost. If you have space pumpkin, capsicum, tomatoes and many other things you buy can be grown from the seeds included with purchase :) Silverbeet/spinach/kale etc don’t come with seeds but will reliably go to seed in late winter/spring if you let them, so one packet of seeds lasts forever (same with peas and beans, what you buy as food has been killed but what you grow can be planted). If your soil is safe stuff like potatoes and kumara will grow from some bought versions, or you can buy seed ones.

    22. Dr. Nerd*

      This is so late, but I got several compliments for this hack. I mainly made it to cover up some wall space to reduce echo, but it also looked nice. Both stayed up and came off the wall without any issues.

      Get a bedsheet (or other large fabric) with a nice picture or pattern. (I used an animal bedsheet from IKEA’s kids department.) Pick up two slabs of wood the width of the sheet/cloth, a staple gun and some small/medium 3M velcro strips. Staple both ends of the sheet/cloth on the slabs and stick the 3M strips to the adjacent side (so that when hung up, the strips will face the wall and the stapled sides face the ceiling and floor). Stick to the wall where desired, spaced so that the fabric stays taut but not too tight. Remember to pull it off and let the strips on the wall attach without any weight for the 24h or whatever the instructions say.

      The wood slabs are there to give structure, but also because the strips don’t stick to fabric. And it looks way nicer than just hanging a loose bedsheet on the wall.

    23. H.C.*

      Add customizable pops of color with LED wall/floor lights (Nanoleaf & Govee are two popular brands I know & I’m sure there are others too) – wall lights usually come with removable adhesives & as others said, you can always use 3M command strips too!

  2. Alexiiiiiiiiii5*

    advice on how to pass time while in the hospital? I’ve been in for a week at this point. tv recs or book recs welcome, open to all genres etc.

          1. KathyG*

            Oh, and magazines & newspapers as well. I found that reading short pieces worked best for me, as hospital life (as a patient) seems to run in frequent-interruption mode.

        1. Me*

          If you don’t have a library card, call your local library. They may not be able to give you one over the phone, but they might. Librarians are usually very helpful people.

    1. call me wheels*

      I think Superstore was the last tv comedy I got really into binging, maybe give that a try if you enjoy sitcoms :) and I just finished watching Succession with my housemates and it was really good and gripping (I didnt even play on my phone while watching, a real feat lol) it’s a I guess drama/comedy/tragedy.

      Bookwise I love reading Jack Reacher thrillers (by Lee Child) when I’m not well. There’s like 20 of them and they’re really enjoyable and also they’re nearly always in charity shops so usually easy to get a hold of. Maybe that would be something to help keep you busy. Oh and the TV show of it on Amazon was actually super good :)

      Sorry to hear about your stay and I hope things will improve soon.

      1. amoeba*

        For fun, quite light netflix shows, I recently enjoyed “Survival of the Thickest”! Only one season so far though.
        The last season of “never have I ever” is out and I really liked the whole show.
        Next in Fashion with Tan France from Queer Eye if you’re into that kind of thing.

        Otherwise, what do you enjoy? Sitcoms, Fantasy, Thrillers, Romance?

        For classics, if you really have a lot of time and are on the nerdy side – the Star Trek series from the 90s, all “new” Doctor Who, Firefly… (unfortunately that one’s not so long!)
        We’ve started in lockdown and are nearing the end of the second Star Trek series. So much more to go. Will probably keep us busy for another decade.

        1. Straight Laced Sue*

          Oooh, I am watching (almost) all of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I skip occasional episodes if they are just too dated as regards sexism (or – less common – racism). But overall I’m enjoying nerding out so much.

          I’m nearing the end of Series 5 now. I got annoyed with the almost total lack of women-doing-anything in some of 4 and 5, but I’m finding that from episode 18 onwards, things are seriously looking up. I hear that Deanna Troi gets to wear a normal uniform soon, instead of having to have her cleavage out 24 hours a day!

          ps. To the original commenter in hospital: I hope your stay goes well. I second the recommendation of Superstore. Or Star Trek, of course…..

          1. amoeba*

            Haha, yeah, it gets so much better in the final two series! And then even better in the other series, at least for my taste. TNG was… a lot sometimes, especially the episodes directed by Jonathan Frakes…

          2. Liane*

            1. If you like Star Trek but want lighter fare, try the animated Lower Decks. Shorter episodes (mostly) & is comedy-drama (IMO), but some of the serious stuff. There’s also some “guest stars” & “cameos” from other Trek series. Note the show has bleeped profanity and some mild sex situations.
            2. Star Wars series The Mandalorian (especially season 1) and Bad Batch are great too. (Yeah, I play for both geeky teams.)

            1. Straight Laced Sue*

              I’m all for playing for any/all good teams!
              I will check out those recommendations.

              Nerdy Nerd Nerd in me needs to correct my comment about Series 5 of TNG; I meant to say I like it better from Episode 16 onwards, not 18. (Episode 17 is pretty cool! The non-binary planet one! Not perfect but bolshie for the time! I think written by a rare woman in the writing team.)

              Ok. Off to google “Star Trek episodes directed by Jonathan Frakes”…

              1. Nightengale*

                I love Next Gen but it is very 80s/early 90s.

                Discovery and Strange New Worlds, while set before The Original Series, are very now in terms of gender and sexuality. There are gay and non-binary characters. My favorite thing about these two series are the female friendships and female mentoring relationships.

              2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

                I was super disappointed in the nonbinary planet episode at the time – trying to make a good point but chickening out by having a heterosexual presenting relationship as the forbidden option. Later I learned that Frakes had lobbied for a male actor to play the role in question, which really would have helped.

                1. Straight Laced Sue*

                  Yeah, I feel mixed about the ending they chose. On one hand, the episode was perhaps depicting a non-binary culture as being an oppressive culture. On the other hand, maybe the episode was deliberately doing a switcheroo, depicting it as oppressive in order to argue that (in real life) heteronormativity is oppressive. And I don’t know which they meant.

                  That’s interesting about Frakes lobbying for a male actor to play the role in question, that would have made such a difference.

                2. amoeba*

                  I always interpreted it the second way! But yeah, it was obviously far from perfect by today’s standards, but for its times I feel it was pretty progressive…

          3. Syfy Geek*

            I heard Marina Sirtis, the actor who played Troi, speak at a convention and she said the undergarment for Troi was a feat of engineering- gave her good posture and massive cleavage.

        2. Mary Collins*

          There are years of “This Old House” episodes. When I had a long recuperation, they were oddly comforting.

      2. Just here for the scripts*

        And the latest version of Jack Reacher (Netflix series) is pretty cool (warning: it is a tad violent, but it captures his humor and good will better than the others).

    2. Phryne*

      Well, I absolutely LOVE giving book recommendations, but I hope you like fantasy… or otherwise maybe someone else has some use for it.
      My absolute favorite writer is Naomi Novik, and I pretty much can recommend all of her books.
      I have just this weekend finished the Green Bone series by Fonda Lee (Jade City, Jade War and Jade Legacy) and it has definitely installed itself in the top 10 of my favourite books.
      I also really liked ‘Gods of Bone and Shadow’ and ‘The daughter of Doctor Moreau’ by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and am planning to read more of this writer.
      If you like something more dark to bite into, the Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin is a good one. And The Daevabad Trilogy by Shannon Chakraborty is also on my list of the best books of the past few years.
      I would also like to mention ‘Vicious’ and ‘Vengeful’ by V.E. Schwab, als well as ‘The invisible life of Addie LaRue’.
      ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern is an absolute classic too.

      Best of luck in the hospital, hope things get better for you!

    3. Big Pig*

      If you haven’t read the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch then they are brilliant. Even better on audiobook narrated by Kobna Holbrook Smith. Fantasy police mystery wizard cops set in London and I love them so much. Also, hope you are coping OK in hospital.

      1. amoeba*

        Yes! Also, in a somewhat similar vein with the same kind of humour/fantasy mix, there’s a new(ish) series called “The Stranger Times”, set in a newspaper in Manchester that focuses on the supernatural. I love it so far!

      2. Suzaqu*

        Yes! Such a good series! I also recommend London Falling if you like London-based supernatural police procedurals (a rather specific genre). As a warning, it’s darker than Rivers of London, and the series is unfinished (with no plans by the author to finish the series currently).

    4. Morning Coffee*

      Project Gutenberg website has older, out of copyright books for free. Reddit has subs for questions about book: r/suggestmeabook and r/booksuggestions

    5. Gracie*

      Taskmaster has fifteen series – if you’re not from the UK you might not be familiar with a lot of the comedians taking part, but it still seems to be popular internationally regardless, and I don’t think you need to know them to enjoy it. The official Taskmaster YouTube channel has full episodes for series 1-12, depending on your location, so you can watch a lot of it fully legally and for free

      Hope your stay is going okay and that you improve soon!

      1. Storm in a teacup*

        Love this show for an easy watch!
        There are certain tasks that I’ll watch again on YT when I need a comfort watch:
        James Acaster getting annoyed with Rhod Gilbert when doing a group task to build an extension to the taskmaster house
        Rhod Gilbert tying himself up task
        Task of painting a rainbow in the dark
        Daisy Cooper trying to make a cocktail quietly
        Mawaan Rizwaan’s cow video
        Nish and Mark’s song
        (….falls down YT black hole for an hour…)

        Actually during covid lockdown our work departmental do was online and we had actual Alex Horne come and do a virtual Taskmaster for us. It was epic. Especially as I won my task and Alex said he was v impressed. Made my month

    6. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Janet Edwards “Hive” book series about telepaths with their youthful protection teams tracking criminals in the huge cities of the 26th century. Not very scary, quite cosy.

    7. Alf*

      For something engaging, well written, and very low stakes, the original Wizard of oz series is excellent. there’s like twelve or fourteen books, all in the public domain. lots of whimsical adventure and you know it’ll all come out all right in the end. hope you can leave the hospital soon!

    8. lilybeth*

      If you want some light, easy reads, the Sparks & Bainbridge series by Alison Montclair is quick, bright, and easy. Period piece murder mysteries, tonally closer to the soothing lightness of classic Christie, and the main characters are in post WWII London, running a matchmaking service and solving murders. Just enough emotional ballast to keep it steady, but swift-paced and breezy escapist reading.

      I’ve only read, not listened, but I bet they’d be delightful in audiobook form.

    9. chocolate muffins*

      For TV shows, I like:
      Jane the Virgin
      Schitt’s Creek
      This is Us, especially the pre-COVID seasons
      Ted Lasso, especially the first two seasons
      Kim’s Convenience

      For books, John Irving writes long ones that should keep you occupied for a bit. A Prayer for Owen Meany is my favorite and Ciderhouse Rules seems more relevant than it should (part of the plot is about illegal abortions if I remember correctly – it’s been a while since I’ve read it). I am currently reading The Love Songs of WEB Du Bois which is also long and which I am enjoying, but I’m a long way from the end so can’t recommend the whole book yet.

      I hope you feel better!

    10. Blue wall*

      Can you request a visit from the chaplain? It’s nice to have someone who isn’t at all medical to talk to.

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        It’s very odd that you suggest something explicitly religious to someone who didn’t request it.

        1. AnonRN*

          OP can take or leave the suggestion! Hospital chaplains *are* a good option for just having someone to talk to who doesn’t want to draw your blood (me), make you get out of bed and walk (me or PT), take your vitals (me or the tech), look at your wound again (the doctors), etc… My hospital has chaplains from several religions and they’re all pretty adept at active listening (not proselytizing) for someone who is experiencing a stressful time. Patients don’t need to be deeply religious (or religious at all) to ask to talk to one.

        2. Blue wall*

          I’ve worked as a hospital chaplain and generally speaking, unless that chaplains job is to minister to people of x religion, the chaplain’s role is to be agnostic. Mostly I had conversations with people. My patients liked having someone to talk to who wasn’t medical staff, and was there for the sole purpose of checking in on them, the patient. Did I pray with patients? Maybe 5-10% of the time, and only after having a conversation and getting to know them first, and then asking if THEY would like to pray. Oh, and I always asked if it was ok if I could enter their room- never without permission.

    11. yams*

      I just finished Lonesome Dove while in the hospital. I haven’t read a western in years, but it was so beautiful and helped the time pass.

      Sending healing thoughts to you!

    12. Ria*

      If you get sick of books/movies and you’re into crosswords, the NYT crossword app gives you access to their entire archive of puzzles for $5/month (or they also have a bunch of sample ones you can do for free).

      Also, if it’s something that’s feasible for you right now, I’ve killed lots of time in my life trying out random things I can find YouTube tutorials on. Origami, knot-tying, things like that that I could do with just an internet connection and a stack of printer paper or a shoelace.

      Good luck, I hope the time passes quickly and you make it home soon!

    13. DJ Abbott*

      Burn Notice is wonderful. Everyone I know loves it.
      Gordon Ramsay’s shows are fun and exciting without being too heavy. My favorites are MasterChef and his new show, Food Stars.
      And good sitcoms from the 90s – The Nanny, the Steve Harvey show where he plays a teacher, Living Single, Fresh Prince.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        In the Burn Notice line, I think Justified holds up really well and is fun for rewatch. One of my favorite aspects is that even very minor characters feel like they are the main character of some adjacent story, and just happen to be doing a crossover this week.

    14. Liane*

      Forgot a suggestion. The anime (or manga) Snow White With the Red Hair is wonderful. It’s sweet – but plenty of action as well – and great characters.

      Hope you’re better and back home soon.

    15. Liminality*

      Do you have wifi?
      Cardgames.io has SO Many different games!
      You can play against a computer or you can play against other people.
      I feel in love with it when I was recovering from active covid.

    16. But what to call me?*

      Podcasts are also great, especially if you just want to close your eyes and not do anything for a while but still want to listen to something interesting (or for walking pets or cleaning/laundry/cooking etc, but presumably there isn’t much of that in the hospital).

      Glancing through my list, I currently have Planet Money, Radiolab, Patented: History of Inventions, Short Wave, What’s Your Problem, TED Radio Hour, Science vs., ReThinking, Invisibilia, Every Little Thing, and Hidden Brain – things that pull in psychology, sociology, history, science, economics, philosophy, art, etc. – not necessarily a deep dive into any of them, but they tell interesting stories and I do learn things from them.

    17. ShopAroundTheCorner*

      Send someone to a dollar store, arts and crafts store, or book store for activity books. Yes, this could include crosswords and sodoku, but think too about what might pass the time without much brain power (like if you find you’re not following the plot of a show, or have re-read the same paragraph three times). You can get giant grown-up dot-to-dot or mazes or I found a super cool “color by pattern” book recently—no paints required, and built-in doodling! There are tons of options that aren’t for kids, and for kids and adults would totally recommend Usborne brand activity books, as a big one can keep you entertained with all sorts of things for ages.

    18. Annie Edison*

      Have you seen Only Murders in the Building? I’m isolating in the bedroom with covid so I don’t expose my boyfriend and it’s been an excellent way to pass the time

    19. RedinSC*

      Sorry you’re in hospital, get well soon!

      A show I really enjoy on netflix is Nailed It. It’s a “baking” competition and it’s just funny.

    20. NerdHistorian*

      LibriVox has free audiobooks or dramatic presentations of out-of-copyright books and the app is also free. My favorite narrators are also professionals: I recommend Elizabeth Klett reading Jane Austen or a Harlem Renaissance novel “Passing” by Nella Larsen, and Mark F. Smith reading “”The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” or indeed anything else read by either. Project Gutenberg has EPUB and kindle versions of out-of-copyright books for your tablet or e-reader. When I was in hospital, everyone (including the doc) got a kick out of a coloring book a friend brought, “Darth Vader and Family.” Even if you can’t color, it’s fun to look at.

    21. office hobbit*

      For podcasts: Normal Gossip is funny and engaging, Ologies is educational and digestible, Make Me Smart has recent news and conversation. Someone here recommended the Babysitters Club Club podcast (it’s from 2016) last weekend and I listened to like four in a row, laughing the whole time.

      Otherwise definitely seconding the recs to do something with your hands, if that’s possible given what you’re in the hospital for. Loom knitting is incredibly easy and lets you produce something physical, which you might find more fun than coloring, tho coloring is also fun. Cross stitch is also easy and there are lots of great patterns these days. For something a little different, I actually found tatting fun and easy to learn, and they usually carry the supplies at your standard craft store.

      I hope you get to leave soon!

    22. Quinalla*

      Watch or rewatch Fringe – show was in in late 90s, early 2000s, still holds up if you like sci-fi. Mythic Quest if you want to laugh, even funnier if you play video games especially MMOs, but not required to enjoy.

      Books – The Imperial Radch trilogy by Anne Leckie is good (scifi). Anything by N.K. Jemisin, seriously she is so good, fantasy/sci-fi/urban fantasy is where she lives.

  3. Sage*

    I’m trying to declutter my home. I have some objects I don’t need and in some cases I have never used. I’m talking about presents from friends who are dear to me. The best thing I can do is to give said presents away, but it feels a bit like refusing that person.

    Does someone have tipps on how to deal with that feeling? And how to deal with the feeling of “but maybe some day I will need this”?

    Or maybe just give me permission to give/throw away stuff I don’t need ^_^

    1. MassChick*

      Oops sent earlier reply too soon and to the wrong place. Permission granted :-)
      You’ve given those gifts a home for a while and now they move on. Also if/when you need ThatThing again there may be a better version of it waiting for you!

      1. Sage*

        I have putted the wallet my friend gifted me, which I haven’t used once, in the “to donate” pile. Thank you :)

    2. Lime green Pacer*

      I remind myself that I have had That Thing for X years and have only used it Y times. I’m not really enjoying it then, am I? Time to pass it on to someone else who may get more value out of it!

    3. Office Gumby*

      Give it a kiss, thank it for the pleasant memories, and then let it go. Somewhere, someone else will be able to use it more than you did.

      1. Shirley Keeldar*

        This is that I do—keep the thing for a while, think grateful and appreciative thoughts about the person who gave it to me, then put in in the donate or trash box after a moment of appreciation. I do tend to associate memories and emotions with material things, and the little ritual “thank you” to the thing in question honestly helps!

    4. Magenta*

      You love the people that gave you the gifts and they love you, the feelings are more important than the things.
      I know that I would rather things I brought for people were used, rather than seen as clutter or an emotional burden.
      I tend to give experiences rather than things, particularly for older people (kids are different), these days as I know a lot of people are trying to declutter.

      1. allathian*

        Experiences can be good for kids as well. I know that when my teen was younger, he had far too many toys that he rarely played with, and I really appreciated it when my parents and in-laws gave him experiences. He always got at least a small material gift as well, but I’m pretty sure that the experiences enriched his life more.

        1. Magenta*

          Oh absolutely I agree experiences are good for kids. My 6 year old niece adored being taken out for a posh afternoon tea for her birthday, trips out are great, shows etc. What I mean by kids being different is that you can ask them what they want and they often have an answer, whereas adults rarely want much.

          1. allathian*

            That’s true, although in our case it ended when our son was about 10, especially for the inexpensive stuff. We can’t exactly get him a new phone for every birthday and a new computer every Christmas…

    5. call me wheels*

      Im doing the same at the moment in preparation for a big move! It’s really tough T_T . Taking pictures to remember the present is one thing I’ve heard. I tend to put things in a box in the cupboard and if like a few months later I still havent touched or even thought about them then it’s a sign it should go. I often give items to my friends so that helps knowing they have a good home but if they are going to the charity shop it helps feeling well it will help the charity and also hopefully will find a good new home and stop someone buying something new. Let’s be good examples to each other and let our things go XD

      1. SarahKay*

        Seconding the ‘taking pictures’ idea.
        I had a growing collection of (empty) wine bottles with really pretty labels that I couldn’t bear to put in the recycling. A friend suggested taking a picture of each, which I did. Now the pictures are in the folder of stuff that shows up on my screensaver, so they come up now and again and I enjoy them, but the bottles are gone.
        It worked so well I’ve done it with lots of other stuff (childhood toys, unused gifts, etc) and it’s been really helpful in letting me get rid of lots of stuff.

        1. JulieA*

          What a great idea! I was cleaning out my mother’s house after she passed and came across an approximately 4’ x 4’ painting she had made of Michelangelo’s Pieta’. I remembered her working on this when I was little. It brought back a flood of emotions, and I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away, but it was also much too large for me to display at home (and well, it’s the Pieta’ – hard to fit into my decor, although she did manage to make it work in her home). I ended up storing it for a few years, and took a picture of it when I finally did decide to let it go, and now instead of hunting for it in my photos, I’ll make it my screensaver! Thank you!

        2. Sage*

          That is a very neat idea. I have an album with small stuff I couldn’t throw away (yet). Sometimes I decide that something isn’t important anymore, and then it lands in the garbage bin. I keep the other stuff and have nice memories about them.

    6. Helvetica Helen*

      If I give someone a gift, the point is that I hoper they will enjoy and use it. If it isn’t the right thing for them, I hope they will regift or donate it. I would never want them to hold onto anything out of guilt.

      Your loved ones wouldn’t want you to hang onto things that are not making you happy. You can make others happy by giving them away. Maybe you could take a photo of each item to remember it by, as a way of marking that transition.

    7. JSPA*

      Your friends gave you the things to make you happy. And what will make you happy is to pass them along to someone else.

      I mean…if it’s one-of-a-kind, handmade artwork made by a friend, you could ask if it’s OK to pass to someone else, so they don’t just happen upon it at the thrift store. But otherwise, regift to someone who will be delighted not only by the thought, but by use of the item.

    8. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      Giving away presents that aren’t a good fit is not a rejection of the friendship. I’ve received many gifts over the years. I’ve kept the ones that I truly loved (there is no way you can keep EVERYTHING anyone has ever given you!) They are a cherished memory of the person who gave it to me. The ones that weren’t a good fit, I let go and now there is room to appreciate the ones that are.

      Regarding the feeling “but maybe someday I will need this”
      Ask yourself “But what if I don’t?”
      Does the burden of keeping it outweigh the theoretical cost of replacing it? Will you need/want to replace it with something better?
      You don’t need permission to let go of anything you don’t need.
      As someone said in the weekend thread about storage.
      “You can’t know everything that your future self is going to want/need.”

      Coming from a long line of pack rats its taken me a lifetime to come to this realization. Especially after finding a box of frayed cords from various appliances in the basement of my grandfather’s house after he passed. I’m sure he was saving them in case he needed them to “fix” something in the future. Growing up in during the depression definitely impacted his adult choices. Sometimes I wonder how the pandemic will affect the life choices of today’s kids/teens as they growup.

      1. Sage*

        Those are very good points. I think it will be worth to learn to ask myself, what do I need now or in the near future.

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          I tell myself if I need it in the future, I will replace it.

          So far, I have never needed something I got rid of, and it’s been over 4 decades :)

          And if I DID need something, and couldn’t find it (or afford it), then I ask myself “could I handle that?” And so far the answer has always been yes.

    9. cabbagepants*

      Someone once told me: Keeping an object that you never use it is “wasting” it just as much as if it were in a landfill. I also get emotionally attached to objects but this at least frees me from the worst feelings of being ungrateful or wasteful.

      As for wondering if I’ll ever use an object, I reverse the question and imagine: if I didn’t own this but saw it in a free bin, would I take it? Sometimes the answer is yes! But often it’s no.

    10. Chauncy Gardener*

      Marie Kondo said to do something that has helped me SO much. Thank the object before you donate it. Doing that has really helped me assuage my guilt for getting rid of something from someone I love, or that I just never use, but is perfectly fine.

      1. Helewise*

        I was just going to suggest this! It sounds goofy, but when I’m holding onto something it’s because I have some sort of attachment to it. Acknowledging that feeling somehow makes it easier to let go.

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        MK also taught me that if you don’t want/need a thing *now*, that doesn’t mean you were wrong to acquire it in the first place. Sometimes the reason for a thing isn’t its intended purpose – at one time the object fulfilled the task of “gift from Friend to Sage” and maybe now it can do a different job and be “donation from Sage to Llama Sanctuary” and then it will be “coffee table ornament for newlyweds” or something. We can give up the objects to free them for the next chapter in their story, without unwriting previous chapters.

      3. Storm in a teacup*

        Her philosophy really helped me when I was decluttering before moving house and was feeling guilt for getting rid of gifts I’d been given.

        1. Storm in a teacup*

          Also to add being first generation immigrant – we never threw anything away ever! (I still save wrapping paper ffs)
          The guilt of being wasteful or unappreciative is hardwired into me from my upbringing.
          So undoing that by the Kondo method helped – worth watching the Netflix doc season 1

    11. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      *flutter flutter flutter in*
      *wave wand, sprinkle of magic self-cleaning glitter*
      Get rid of stuff you don’t need or want. Someone else probably does need or want it now, and if you do eventually need or want it, you can probably get a new one when that time comes.
      *flutter flutter flutter away*

    12. Nitpicker*

      Once I was feeling really guilty about deaccessioning something I had inherited from my parents. A friend said to bring it to the thrift store – someone would want it and think they found a treasure. So now, whenever I bring something in, I remember that and imagine the new owner cherishing it.

    13. Can't Sit Still*

      I would feel terrible if a gift I gave someone were making them unhappy. I would much prefer that they give it away, donate it, or otherwise dispose of it. And if you’ve accidentally acquired a collection of, say, swans and swan-related objects, letting people know you don’t need/want any more swans would be helpful. Then, when you inevitably get more swan gifts, you can get rid of them guilt-free. (I have no idea why people thought I wanted swans, but it was thoroughly exasperating.)

      1. Sage*

        I get what you mean. Some people also used to give me presents related to my then-ideology X. I never wanted that and I found some of the presents cheesy. Even if I am for the liberation of the oppressed llamas of south Kettering, I am not going to wear that crocheted ring with the symbol of the anti-oppression movement!

        What I do when gifting something I made myself is to ask first if the person wants it. I also tell my friends they can give it away if they don’t want it anymore.

    14. hydrangea macduff*

      Highly recommend Dana K White’s books and podcast for decluttering help. Her adhd-type brain and mine are aligned.

      I recently got rid of a lot of hand me downs /well intentioned gifts from family. I finally asked, would I have chosen this for myself? And has it done its job? This helped me to post on buy nothing and donate some big things

      1. Sage*

        Thankyou for the suggestion. I have heard about KC Davis, who talks and writes about doing home tasks like cleaning in a way that works for you.

    15. Sage*

      Thankyou to everybody who answered me. I don’t have always something to say, but I appreciate all your thoughts and anecdotes.

      1. AGD*

        Thank you as well. I’m in the middle of moving and have a tendency to get way too attached to my possessions, even trivial ones, so this helped me too. (I read a book about hoarding lately and it’s never come close to being that much of a problem in my case…but I could relate to the feelings that some of the people in the book described.)

    16. But what to call me?*

      I tend to personify objects, so my best strategy for getting rid of them is to ask if this thing would be happier sitting in my closet unused or going to someone who would be delighted to find it and would use it all the time.

      My best giving things away experience was when I was helping my mom clean out her basement and found a bunch of old things that used to be in my room. I loved them all but was never going to use them again, and there was far too much of it to keep it all for sentimental value. Fortunately, my mom knew a young woman with an intellectual disability who absolutely adored my pre-teen decorating style of dolphins, dolphins, and more dolphins and couldn’t afford to buy much for herself. Now most of my preteen treasures are enjoying a happy second life in the home of someone who appreciates them as much as I did.

    17. MondayMonday*

      I struggle with this too. A good friend of mine told me to take photos.
      I love thrift store shopping and I think of all the awesome treasures I have found that someone was kind to donate. So I like to think of someone getting excited when they see my item at the thrift store and giving it a new life.

    1. No name yet*

      I know this was supposed to be under an earlier thread, but I love the idea of someone scrolling along and getting mental permission to do something they’ve been wanting to do. <3

      1. WellRed*

        Yes! To anyone scrolling here today, permission granted to do whatever you’ve been hesitating to do.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Ha! I feel like this is safe to say here because we here at AAM tend to be conscientious, overthinking types whose secret desires are probably harmless and fine. There are plenty of people who should not have permission to do the thing they’re hesitating to do – murder their wives, relapse into drugs/alcohol addiction, steal that money from their jobs etc!

  4. Shearshucker*

    I’m in the position of really ramping up my job search. (I’ve been at my current position/career too long, and it’s time to move on to another adventure.) Now, my job is not my career, and that’s a looong story. Chances are my next job may or may not be a new career (or just a placeholder until FI).

    My career is one that doesn’t use LinkedIn. But in the past week I’ve had five (!) different people say that my job search will be more fruitful if I am on LinkedIn. Seeing that I’ll probably end up in some kind of officework as my next move, are my advice-givers correct in that LinkedIn would be beneficial in finding a new job?

    I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    1. amoeba*

      Probably depends heavily on your field. For me, it’s very useful for general networking/finding job opportunities/maybe having a way to reach out to somebody you know at the company you’re applying to, so would indeed recommend. Not as in “somebody offering you a job on LinkedIn” though, that really doesn’t happen in my field.

    2. RagingADHD*

      LinkedIn is a great place for research, whether or not you’re actively using your profile. This is particularly helpful if you’ve been in one role for a while, as the market & search methods have changed significantly in the last few years.

      You can see whether the job listing you found elsewhere has a legit company behind it.

      You can search for jobs and get pretty good suggestions of related roles.

      You can look at profiles of people who have jobs similar to the one you’re looking for, and see what skills or keywords pop up most frequently.

      Just getting an interview has gotten extremely competitive. Both outside and in-house recruiters rely more than ever on keywords and algorithms to screen applicants. The more info you have about what recruiters are looking for, the better.

    3. kw10*

      I found my current job on LinkedIn! Someone I’m connected with had shared the link to the posting. Honestly, LinkedIn has been how I’ve come across a large percentage of the jobs I’ve applied for in the past few years (which was definitely NOT the case in the previous period I was applying for jobs, around 2015). Certainly it’s field-dependent, but in my field it’s a combination of 1) jobs that are actually listed on LinkedIn, like when you go to the “jobs” section and search or browse listings, and 2) perhaps more importantly, jobs that show up in my feed when my connections post, share, like, or comment on them. So it’s not just about being on LinkedIn for the sake of having a profile, but having actual connections with people you know and people in your desired field. Hope that helps!

    4. AVP*

      LinkedIn does a pretty good job of a) reminding people you exist, and b) aggregating office-type job listings and recommending them to you. Their recs are very imperfect but if you want to move into an industry that doesn’t have a good dedicated job board, it can highlight some postings you wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

    5. Generic Name*

      If you’ve had a long career that’s taken different directions, I think LinkedIn can be useful as an online resume to give people a full picture of your entire career, since the conventional wisdom is to only show the last 10 years of your career on your resume.

    6. Busy Middle Manager*

      I agree with them. Making sure the profile jives with their resume is one reason. Seeing them connected to a bunch of people at each job is a huge green flag as well. There are also plenty of real job on linkedin despite, yes, some people using it to try to sell you stuff. But you can easily ignore them

      You can also use it to help prepare for interviews. No longer need to go into everything blind. You can see where the people you’re interviewing with worked in the past and plan accordingly.

  5. Jen (they or she pronouns please)*

    Here it’s not labor day today, so I’m sitting at work right now, I hope you all have a great free day though!

    1. londonedit*

      Same here. Our bank holiday was last Monday, which I celebrated with a positive Covid test, so I’m feeling cheated out of my day off! Finally feeling better with a negative test this morning – still lacking in energy though so I’ll have to take it easy this week!

      Hope the US readers enjoy their day, and hope everyone else has a non-stressful Monday at work!

      1. MsSolo (UK)*

        We both tested positive for the bank holiday weekend, which was a real shame. I’m negative, but hubby is still positive, and his employer has good policies around that (partly because he’s public facing, no wfh option) so he’s playing video games downstairs right now. Toddler remained negative throughout, and hasn’t really understood why we’ve had multiple mummy&daddy days in a row (which usually only happens if we’re on holiday, since he works weekends), but barely left the house.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Also at work. Our last bank holiday in Ireland was the start of August and our next is the last weekend in October (for Hallowe’en, sort of). So I’m in my first full day of classes here.

      Also wishing readers in the US a good day.

      1. londonedit*

        Lucky you – we don’t get another public holiday in England until Christmas! Though I have got a week off in October to look forward to, and I’ve still got a couple of days’ holiday unaccounted for.

        Hope the first week of term goes well!

    3. anon for this*

      I’m packing my house to move from Labor-Day Continent to Bank-Holiday Territory shortly, so right now it’s sort of Labor Day insofar as everything here is closed, but it’s also not Labor Day insofar as everyone I’m communicating with about the move and about work is in the office today!

  6. All Hail Queen Sally*

    I collect quotes that move me and I have two that I have found to be especially profound. One is “You should never be more invested in another person’s life than they are.” The other is “Sometimes on the way to a dream you get lost and find a better one.” I am wondering if anyone else has has their life changed by just a few words.

    1. SparklingBlue*

      “Everyone has their own way of doing things–that is their culture.”

      A wise professor told me this once, and I have not forgotten it.

    2. call me wheels*

      The ‘if it sucks, hit da bricks! real winners quit!’ meme has inspired me to save myself from many bad situations and has improved my life so much I bought a tee shirt with it on to wear and remind myself I don’t have to suffer through things for no good reason :) probably not as good sounding as some of the others but that’s what worked for me lol

      1. AVP*

        hahaha mine is the “I bring a sort of ‘we should all quit’ vibe to the workplace that managers don’t really like” meme even though I do not actually have that attitude…I find it inspiring on the irritating work days.

    3. allathian*

      I’m very risk averse, so when I know that I need to bite the bullet and make a change even when it takes me way out of my comfort zone, I keep repeating “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” to myself like a mantra. Sounds a bit like your second quote.

      Another one that I first learned either here or from Captain Awkward is “Don’t set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm.” It’s another way of stating your first quote.

      Another quote that I really believe in is “Sometimes the cheapest way to pay for something is with money.” I don’t think seeing this written down changed my life, but it did help explain why I’m sometimes so exasperated by my husband who refuses to pay for a service he can do himself, no matter how much doing whatever it is frustrates him.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        “Sometimes the cheapest way to pay for something is with money.” goes with “Buy nice or buy twice.”

        Mr T was in the habit of buying the cheapest whatever – trash can, dish rack. I told him that if you have to replace the item in a year, you end of spending more money than if you had bought the nicer one from the start plus you have the hassle of shopping twice.

        1. Pippa K*

          This is also the Sam Vimes “Boots” Theory of economic disparity, explaining why poor people end up spending more money than rich people on things like boots, because they can’t afford to buy higher quality ones at the outset (and can’t just wait and buy them in a year after saving, because they need them now).

        2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          Also phrased as “The stingy person pays the most”. Closely related to the Vimes’ Boots observation about how expensive it is to be poor, if all you can afford is the cheapest option that wears out quickly.

        3. Your Mate in Oz*

          “Sometimes the cheapest way to pay for something is with money.” is really important for amateur DIY types. It can be a hard lesson to learn because often the DIY is a hobby so the output is more or less free. And it’s fun to do.

          But then you find something that you could learn to do, if you had the tools. And then you have to decide whether it’s worth the time and money to get set up, running the risk that you won’t enjoy it (or be successful at it).

          From experience anything involving fibreglass I leave to other people. And anything needing certification ditto (although I have some skills that I can use to reduce the cost of the professional).

          The other side of that quote is often what is meant, though: sometimes the personal cost of getting someone to do you a favour is much more than the cost of paying a stranger.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, absolutely. I’ve seen that quote most often when people complain about how the grandparents who are babysitting for free don’t respect the boundaries that the parents set for their kids. In those cases, the cheapest solution is often to simply pay a babysitter because you don’t have to fight with your parents or in-laws about the rules.

      2. AnotherAcademic*

        From a commenter on a feminist blog I used to read:

        Sometimes you must speak up, not because you’ll change other people’s minds, but because if you don’t, they will have changed you.

        It gives me courage in certain situations!

        1. Goldfeesh*

          Oh, I remember that one! It’s been years since I’ve even thought of that old blog. I remember thinking of that quote a few years ago when arguing with a racist employee at a big box lumber store. My husband was like, “You won’t change his mind.” I thought and replied, “Yeah, but he knows that this white middle-aged woman does not agree with his racist views like he assumed.”

    4. GlowCloud*

      Ooh, I do this all the time, too. Most of mine are self-help related.

      “Where there is resistance, there is growth”
      “When you doubt your strength, you give strength to your doubts”
      “Anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you”

      From Captain Awkward:
      “No is a complete sentence”
      “Sometimes the cheapest way to pay for something is with money”

      A couple from Shakespeare:
      “Make not your thoughts your prisons”
      “Nothing is either bad or good, but thinking makes it so”

    5. Peanut Hamper*

      I think it came from AAM: “Just because someone gives you a cactus doesn’t mean you have to sit on it.”

      1. allathian*

        Even if you’re a MIL and the cactus in question is a golden barrel cactus a.k.a. mother-in-law’s cushion? :p

        Sounds like the quote comes either from here or Captain Awkward.

    6. run mad; don't faint*

      From Fred Rogers:
      “There are three ways to ultimate success:

      The first way is to be kind.

      The second way is to be kind.

      The third way is to be kind. ”

      I find this especially helpful when dealing with elderly or stubborn family members.

      I like this quote from Carolyn Hax too:
      So often, the better answer than “figure out what you’re looking for” is “figure out why you’re looking so hard in the first place.”

    7. Beancat*

      “I guess I was wrong when I said I never promised anyone. I promised me.”

      It’s a reminder that promises to myself are just as important and valid as giving my word to someone else. Thanks, Kermit the frog :)

    8. SG*

      One of my favorite quotes about kindness:
      “Every single person has at least one secret that would break your heart. If we could just remember this, I think there would be a lot more compassion and tolerance in the world.”
      – Frank Warren (creator of Postsecret)

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Reminds me of “Be kind; everyone you know is fighting a hard battle.”

        I remember reading the late Elizabeth Wurtzel’s memoir More Now Again about her drug habit, and one paragraph really stuck with me; she’d been having an especially hard time and an acquaintance made some catty remark. She said it made her realize the importance of good manners and being civil, because you never know if some off the cuff snotty sentence is going to be the thing that just spirals somebody into full on meltdown because they were just barely hanging on.

    9. Rose*

      Your story isn’t over yet;

      There’s just something about that semi-colon I really love; it’s a call to action, it’s determined optimism.

    10. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

      A YouTube couple I follow (Campervibe) has ‘Time is precious, waste it wisely’ and I LOVE it. For me, it means enjoy what you’re doing, even if others would consider it a waste of time.

    11. Just here for the scripts*

      An old college friend used to say
      “It doesn’t cost anything to be nice”—a phrase that has stuck with me for decades!

    12. WellRed*

      It’s nit a formal quote as such, but someone once told me they tried to “assume no ill will,” meaning just because your roommate didn’t do your dishes or whatever, they weren’t not doing them to piss you off.

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      “People’s willingness to be inconvenienced by you is directly proportional to how hard you are trying not to inconvenience them.”

    14. Chauncy Gardener*

      Mine are
      “Everyone has to be some way”
      and
      “Ships are safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for”
      and
      “Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a different past”

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I like Anne Lamott’s take on forgiveness: that it’s laying down your side of the rope in a tug of war, you’re done.

        1. allathian*

          Forgiving a person who did you wrong is something you do for you because you allow yourself to let go of the anger over something you can’t change. You don’t even have to tell the person who wronged you that you’ve forgiven them because forgiveness isn’t the same thing as absolution.

          But I don’t believe in “forgive and forget,” because forgetting will just give the other person permission to hurt you again. I don’t accept the Christian concept of turning the other cheek.

          I have forgiven people who hurt me in the sense that I’m no longer angry about whatever it was. But I don’t trust these people to treat me well in future, so I don’t intend to give them a chance to hurt me again.

          I also fully accept that I’ve hurt other people and that my actions have done irreparable damage to my relationships with some of these people. I hope that they’ve been able to let go of their anger, but I don’t expect absolution.

    15. Daisy*

      A two-parter:

      From Maya Angelou: “When people show you who they are, believe them”

      And the woman who writes The Marginalian (which used to be Brain Pickings) answered Angelou’s quote by adding:
      “When people try to tell you who *you* are, don’t believe them.”

      I love that.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Thanks for sharing both of these! The Maya Angelou comment is so, so helpful. It gets me out of the tailspin of doubting my own observations (“but they really meant to say or do XYZ, blah blah blah”). And–for anyone else here who makes occasional visits to Planet Very Strange–it’s a wonderful mantra for online dating. Yes, they did mean to be dismissive, because they’re just not that into you.

        The Marginalian quotation is new to me. Also very helpful, unless the person involved is led by imposter syndrome to dismiss honest praise / encouragment /appreciation from others.

    16. PhyllisB*

      I have a daughter who loves to hold grudges. (Luckily she’s getting better.) One thing I tell her: “Holding resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

      1. allathian*

        I was the master of holding grudges when I was a teen and young adult. I’m very glad that I’ve been able to let much of that go as I’ve matured. I hope your daughter also learns to let go of her resentment as she gets a bit older.

    17. Ria*

      I love Walt Whitman’s “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself; I am large; I contain multitudes.” It reminds me I don’t have to put myself into a box (and I shouldn’t put other people in boxes either!)

      1. Glazed Donut*

        “I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world”
        Sometimes it’s okay to feel and let it be known you are feeling!

      2. Girasol*

        I was thinking the same thing, as voiced by Whitman’s compatriot Emerson: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

    18. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose.
      That is not a weakness; that is life.”
      — Jean-Luc Picard

      1. allathian*

        Probably my favorite Picard quote!

        “It’s only those who do nothing that make no mistakes.” –Joseph Conrad

    19. Sloanicota*

      I don’t think this says great things about me but honestly “not my circus, not my monkeys” has become really crucial to me thriving in my nonprofit field. You truly can’t care more about the organization than the people above you do.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I also like play stupid games, win stupid prizes. It really reminds me that you’ve only got so much time and energy to spend on any one thing.

    20. Texan In Exile*

      I was in a new job that I hated. I was miserable. I was looking for a new job but my husband and I were also trying to figure out if we could retire early.

      I had lunch with a friend who is in his 30s and is so, so wise. (He has turned down a promotion to VP because he wants more time with his family, not less. When they tried to convince him that a VP actually does get more time at home than a director, he laughed at them.)

      “We’re trying to figure out how much we need to live on,” I told him.

      “That’s not the question,” he said. “The question is how *little* you need to live on.”

      I went home. Mr T and I looked at our spreadsheet and did some serious talking. And a few weeks later, for the first time in my life, I quit a job without another one lined up.

    21. Linnea*

      Your urgency is not my emergency. Frequently used with coworkers who think I should prioritize their problems before mine.

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        “Your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on my part”. I know longer remember where I encountered this but I think it frequently.

        1. allathian*

          Similar wording has been attributed to Bob Carter, a geologist who was paid to promote climate change denial.

          I don’t love it, mainly because I can think of a large number of scenarios where poor planning on someone’s part is the direct or at least contributing cause of an emergency that affects other people. I much prefer Linnea’s version, because it’s more closely tied to relationships between peers.

    22. StellaDoodle*

      I have many, most of which came from my Dad. But my favourite, and the one I have tried to live my life by:

      It’s better to regret things you’ve done, than things you haven’t.

    23. Nervous Nellie*

      I have been collecting these for years! I write on file cards and rotate them with magnets on my fridge. Many of these have changed my life, and given me comfort & direction. Here are some of the ones I just put up in August:

      “If someone gets upset with you no matter what you do, it was never in your power to fix what’s actually wrong, so you might as well do what works for you.” Captain Awkward (Jennifer Peepas)

      “Hope is pouting in advance.” Frankie Dart (Padgett Brewster), Community, Season 6

      “In the garden of gentle sanity, may you be bombarded by the coconuts of wakefulness.” Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

      “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” Alec Baldwin, film: The Edge

      “Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen, Anthem

      “Continue under all circumstances. Don’t be brushed aside. Make a positive effort.” Katagiri Roshi, quoted by Natalie Goldberg at a writers’ conference

      “You never know when you’re making a memory.” Rickie Lee Jones

      “The universe is like a pension plan. It will match your investment.” Camryn Manheim

      “Laundry will wait very patiently.” Nora Roberts

      “Your hair matters far, far less than you think.” Lisa Scottoline

      “How you spend your days is how you spend you life.” Annie Dillard

      “Worry is a misuse of the imagination.” Dan Zadra

      “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.” 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso

      “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” Jack London

      “Look for the answer inside your question.” Rumi

      “Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.” Mark Twain

      ‘Ire magno vel vade in domum’ (Go big or go home).

      “Red flags just look like flags when you’re wearing rose-colored glasses.” Anon

      “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Maya Angelou

      “Map out your life, but do it in pencil.” Jon Bon Jovi

      “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” Seth Godin

      “You only live once? False. You live every day. You only die once.” Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute, The Office

      “Let go or be dragged.” Zen Buddhist proverb

      “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso

      “When your enemies make a mistake, don’t interrupt them.” Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, Moneyball

      “Every complex problem has a solution which is simple, direct, plausible, and wrong.” HL Mencken

      “No does not mean ‘convince me.” Anon

      And related to this, you might enjoy a lovely little book called One Year Wiser, by Mike Medaglia. It is 365 quotations, each with a perfect hand-drawn illustration. I was given it recently by a pal who often sees what he calls my fridge mediations, and it has hundreds I didn’t previously know.

      Great question for the life refresh that September brings, with cooler weather and a back-to-school vibe. I will enjoy reading and collecting everyone’s quotations here! Thank you for this.

      1. All Hail Queen Sally*

        I love this idea of writing them on cards and posting them in the fridge! I think I will start doing this as well.

    24. somehow*

      I don’t remember where I saw this, but I love it:
      “The most beautiful smile is the one that struggles through tears.”

      My favorite, from my parents:
      “Everyone is welcome in our home.”

    25. Dark Macadamia*

      “If I am worth anything later, I am worth something now.” – paraphrase from one of Van Gogh’s letters to his brother.

      The poem “Tired” by Langston Hughes.

      Quite a few Kurt Vonnegut lines, but the one I thought of first is from Cat’s Cradle. “I can see where somebody might get the impression that I don’t do anything but sit around and remember sad things and pity myself. Actually, I am a very lucky person and I know it. There is love enough in this world for everybody, if people will just look.”

      1. Glazed Donut*

        Love Vonnegut! Some of his others:
        “We are here on earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you any different” (when life feels heavy)
        “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be”

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          “Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies – God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

          “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

    26. OxfordBlue*

      I like “you can’t polish a turd but you can roll it in glitter” which always makes me look very closely in order to see past the initial sparkle to whatever’s beneath.

    27. Aurion*

      No love, however brief, is wasted.

      I saw it on Twitter recently about hobbies, but I also think it maps very well to people/relationships that were good for us, even if it didn’t last.

    28. Dr. Doll*

      Kathryn Schulz: The miracle of your mind is not that you can see the world the way it is. It’s that you can see the world the way it ISN’T. Being wrong makes us *human*.

    29. Ms. Norbury*

      Personal motos and useful life advice I’ve picked up:
      “Assume good intentions until you have evidence to the contrary.”
      “If there’s no solution, there’s no problem.”
      “We judge others by their actions, but want to be judged by our intentions.”
      “Don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm.”

    30. ExplainiamusMucho*

      This one always hits me hard:

      “All those days that came and went – I didn’t know they were my life.”

    31. Sage*

      Do you remember? When I said I would love you forever, and you thought it would only last as long as we were together.
      – Yaad ( from Bloodywood)

      Although I not only recommend the whole song, but the whole band.

    32. goddessoftransitory*

      Never put the desire to please crazy people ahead of your own well being and self interest.

      Back in the day on Tomato Nation; still some of the best advice I ever read.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        And one of my very favorite poems, that I used at my wedding:

        “I caught the happy virus last night,
        When I was out singing beneath the stars.
        It is remarkably contagious–
        So kiss me.”

        Hafiz

      2. allathian*

        “It’s only a lie if the person asking has a right to know.”

        I take this to mean that people who judge you when you tell the truth are no longer entitled to the truth.

    33. North Wind*

      I love this thread so much. I have a quote book somewhere from my teens/early twenties, and this is one I remember off the top of my head.

      I don’t know where I first heard it (not sure who Wilfred Heed is and I can’t say I’m into the god aspect of this), but it really gives language to how joys and sorrows in life are their own things – they don’t really average out. Being fortunate in one area of life doesn’t make up for losses in another, and likewise losses don’t negate what you have that’s good.

      “God has been so lavish in his gifts that you can lose some priceless ones, the equivalent of whole kingdoms, and still be indecently rich.” – Wilfrid Heed.

    34. NerdHistorian*

      When I was grieving, my advisor was a priest at my Catholic college who told me: “the only way out is through.” It served me well through other times of grief and my dissertation, as well.

    35. carcinization*

      A good one for me goes something like,”If you find a solution and become attached to it, that solution may become your next problem.” (And it’s not just about the “universal solvent,” either.)

    36. Happily Retired*

      “You should never be more invested in another person’s life than they are.”

      – I first read this here, and it allowed me to let go of a Highly Dramatic Neighborhood DooDah involving an us-against-the-city situation. It didn’t directly affect us, but I sympathized with those who were affected and kept trying to fight back with them. When I finally realized, as we approached a major deadline for something or other (submitted petitions, maybe?), that those who had been making the most noise and wailing and gnashing had gone out of town, gone silent, gone whatever, it allowed me to say ok, que sera, sera and walk away.

      Life-changing in this one itty-bitty area, and I’m very grateful to whomever posted it up.

    37. WestsideStory*

      Some I’ve found useful in my work life: (since it’s Labor Day here)
      “Whoever cares the least has the most power” from my Swedish Buddhist friend and tech pioneer

      “If you’ve only got a hammer, sooner or later every problem looks like a nail”

      And from my Dad: “Never work for anyone you don’t respect.”

    38. HDL*

      I’m not sure where it came from originally, but a quote I like remember when i find myself spending hours to get some project….just….right while letting my other work fall by the wayside: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good enough”. Sometimes the effort needed to make something 100% perfect is overwhelming and 95% would be good enough. Real sanity saver when my plate is full.

  7. Morning Coffee*

    My favourite poem with not so good translation:
    I went into myself.
    There wasn’t space.
    I came out.

  8. TG*

    I have a side hustle as a host as a restaurant and recently another employee blew up at me. I got upset – cried – as felt very attacked. The server was upset I hadn’t sat her though she was getting the next table of 4 people. I somehow ended up getting in trouble with a note added in my file that I “yelled” at the host stand…when all I kept saying was the employee has the next table coming in (to try and get THEM to calm down). The Manager on duty totally misrepresented what happened to my GM and HR so now I have zero trust that they’d report any future incident accurately. Any thoughts on what I can do next time? Obviously I’m literally not speaking if it happens but this is the second time an incident is being misreported.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Is there any chance that speaking to yo manager at a quieter, time when they aren’t dealing with it as an urgent / stressed issue, to raise the concern that you’ve had a couple of incidents where you have not been listened to and where your concerns about other staff members haven’t been heard / accurately recorded?

      failing that, maybe look for work elsewhere.

      I’d also reflect on whether there is anything you could do differently – even where you haven’t yelled or been unreasonable, is there a different way you could approach things to try to deescalate at an earlier stage. Sometimes a quick “Sorry, let me just check what’s happening” (even where you know and that what’s happening is that they are being unreasonable” can add a pause that gives you time to give a calm and accurate explanation (e.g. “I have a group of4 I want to give give you”)
      Was it a situation where the other staff member was not listening so you were repeating yourself or trying to be assertive? F so, consider whether waiting and letting harm speak before you respond (even, or perhaps especially, when they are wrong) might avoid the perception hat you were yelling.

      1. TG*

        I hear you but part of why I got upset is that the server is supposed to go to the manager with concerns and not yell at me. In face they’ve been told to stay away from the host stand and stop asking about tables.
        I do hear you and will think more about what you said as well.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I’d quit, honestly. Restaurants are offering the moon for good employees and there are plenty out there that aren’t making you the scapegoat for an unreasonable coworker.

          That waitperson did this after being told not to, upset you to the point that you cried, and YOU got the shit for it? Nope-ity nope nope.

        2. TG*

          Thanks all – appreciate the notes. Just to clarify the server did get in trouble but I told the GM that the other manager was completely misreporting it and did nothing to deescalate the situation as far as removing server from host stand and rather blamed me when I’ve been told time and again that they should not be at host stand and asking about tables. Also later another manager who seems to get it noted she almost flew off the handle again and said yeah this is obviously not you as the problem and said the other manager should have deescalated it. This is a corporate Restaurant group meaning there is actually HR but they didn’t even speak to me just got my written statement. And a server who said he 100% backed me up they said didn’t say what he told me he said so I don’t trust them at all.

      2. WellRed*

        I agree with Bagpuss. The conversation was devolving, better to move it in a more positive direction (even if you are in the right).

    2. Absolutely Not*

      I say this as someone who spent a decade plus in hospitality/retail: just leave, it’s not going to get better and really you don’t owe them a second chance. The whole industry is hurting for workers, nobody checks references, this is a side hustle, just pick up and go before spending another second thinking about how you can approach a grown adult yelling (!) at you over the seating rotation.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Agree, sometimes when things don’t make sense it’s because there’s a relationship you don’t understand at play; she yelled at you, but you’re the one in trouble – she might be someone’s favorite and now you’re the scapegoat. Get out of the dynamic.

      2. Generic Name*

        I agree. Unless you are working at the only restaurant within 100 miles, and this job is keeping you from going hungry/being homeless, go get a job at another restaurant. It’s not worth it.

      3. Wino Who Says Ni*

        Also agree. Write ups are usually pretty perfunctory anyway in restaurants. This will continue, so decide or you can put up with it or not.

    3. Rainy*

      It’s a restaurant job: you have skills and can easily get another one. You don’t have a “file”–at best there’s a grubby envelope somewhere with some jotted notes about your schedule and now maybe a post-it that says something stupid and mean. It’s not going to follow you around. I’d just quit (without notice, preferably 5 minutes before your shift) and get another one. :)

  9. BubbleTea*

    One of my many streams of income is from academic proofreading and editing. I often get assigned work that I find boring or uncomfortable, but this is the first time I’ve had something that made me angry! This isn’t the topic but analogous: imagine that someone has written an academic paper about a study they did where they recruited half a dozen employees from a particular workplace using purposive sampling to find people who have low self-esteem, then interviewed their managers and colleagues about their worst qualities. Then they used phrenology to determine that these were indeed poor performers, and wrote up a paper about how this proves phrenology works.

    Ugh. It’s not getting my best work because I hate it so much, but it’ll be grammatically and idiomatically improved pseudoscientific bullshit at least.

    1. vombatus ursinus*

      Ooh, that’s a bit of a tricky one! If you know what journal they’re submitting to maybe you could drop an anonymous line to the editor raising your concerns about the study design … or cross fingers that the peer review process actually works as intended (ha ha)

      1. vombatus ursinus*

        (Or you could of course conscientiously object to working on it, but I assume you’d already considered that)

      2. BubbleTea*

        I don’t know which journal, but it’ll either be rejected as bollocks or accepted because it’s a graphological journal or just money-grabbing, I’d imagine. Lots of unscrupulous publications don’t care whether your work is actually worthwhile. It might even be a university student’s assignment and they’ve just formatted it like a journal article.

        1. But what to call me?*

          Yeah, I’ve recently been trying to read everything I can find on a certain topic within my field, and every once in a while I’ll run into an article that starts as ‘wait, did I read that wrong?’ and then quickly dives off a cliff into ‘did a single human being even look at this nonsense, including the authors?’ Then I’ll look up the journal and find that it’s either blatantly pay-to-publish or promises a *very* quick peer-reviewing turnaround.

          In the most recent one (just yesterday, in fact) the authors couldn’t even seem to keep track of their own results. The data in their table would say one group scored higher, then the narrative of the results section would agree with that but connect it to a different result that said the opposite, then they would reverse their finding in the discussion section (conveniently in a direction that supported their hypothesis), then later in the discussion they would be back to the actual relationship the table showed but with no acknowledgement of how that finding contradicts their hypothesis. To make matters worse, while they listed the instruments they used, they gave no information about how the instruments worked or what kind of scores they were reporting, so it’s impossible to for a reader to interpret their findings for themselves (e.g. wait, these can’t be standard scores like you’d normally report here, so are they raw scores? But what do raw scores on the xyzabc even mean? These look higher than those but they said they were lower, so did they mix them up or do high scores mean worse performance here or what?) They did variations of that several times, put it all together, declared that their hypothesis was correct, then took a big leap from that hypothesis to refuting a fairly well-accepted finding in the field. Actually, both of the ones that come to mind with blatantly bad science ended up making a big claim that would stand out as pretty surprising to anyone familiar with the field, but this apparently prompted no skepticism on anyone’s part at any point of the publishing process. I’d hate to see what happens to the ones with conclusions that are more in line with what readers expect. And sure, one should avoid bad journals, but when a database search brings up a bunch of semi-familiar and unfamiliar names that all look similar it’s not immediately obvious which ones are nonsense.

    2. Lilo*

      Phrenology? A discredited pseudoscience inherently rooted in racial discrimination? Wow. That’s been discredited for a hundred years.

      1. Liane*

        I think phrenology was an example, not the actual pseudoscience in the paper but yes, phrenology is disgusting.

      2. Victoria, Please*

        that’s just the imaginary topic the OP used so as not to reveal the real paper. no worries.

        1. Lilo*

          Yeah, it’s hard because OP picked as an example a pseudoscience that’s rooted in racism. so ordinary stupid stuff like horoscopes, sure. But some pseudoscience is so actively harmful I ethically couldn’t touch anything on it. it goes from eyeroll to “no way”.

          1. Liane*

            The thread right after this (started by Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow; nesting fail happened) has more details from OP.

            On a hopefully funny note, my tablet keeps trying to autocorrect “phrenology” to “pure no loft.”

    3. wkfauna*

      I hope this is not too sidetracky, but I’ve been curious about that line of work for a while. If you don’t mind my asking, do you find the pay decent? And how did you get into it?

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      That takes cherry picking the data to a whole new level of irradiated cherry tree monster fruit!

  10. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    ugh, phrenology is classist, racist and eugenist, a long-discredited pseudoscience.
    Well, the Nazis & far right are rising in power again, so I suppose we should expect all the non-science nonsences & mysticisms raise their ugly heads in support. I hear the also discredited IQ/race theory is being raised again by the most shameless academic scum.

    It totally sucks you have to help these so-called academics propogate this shit. If this trend continues, do you have any power to refuse particularly offensive papers?

    1. BubbleTea*

      It isn’t actually phrenology, and the real field doesn’t have the same racial facet, but it’s still ableist and totally without scientific foundation. Similar to if they’d looked up people’s horoscopes and used them to determine their quarterly review.

      (Even worse, the actual subjects of this “study” were children.)

      I can turn down work, but I didn’t look closely enough at the preview. I saw that it was ostensibly about improving self-esteem in an area I’m interested in. Definitely need to take more care in future! But the consequence of my turning it down would just be that someone else edits it. I wonder if the agency would reject a client who wanted an editor for a neo-Nazi screed or something? Probably, but I don’t know.

      1. ActualTeacher*

        Turn it down. You can’t control what happens next with it, and relieve yourself of that burden, mentally. It’s not as easy as that, but control what you can – editing the piece – and try to alleviate your feelings about what you can’t.

        Also remember just because they’re submitting it doesn’t mean it gets accepted anywhere. A ton of correct research gets rejected for far less.

        At the end of the day you can’t control everything, but you’ll feel better controlling what you can. Reject it and walk away. You’ll feel better.

      2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        I think telling them that this is discredited and harmful and therefore you’re turning down paid work, is a strong message, regardless of what they eventually do with it. “I didn’t catch this from the preview but now that I’ve had a chance to delve in, I’ve got concerns about how harmful this discredited line of reasoning is, and will have to turn it down and have refunded your deposit”.

        I hope you can do that.

    2. Not So Little My*

      Ooh, is it about ABA and autism? I personally would refuse the job because that’s a form of ableism that is so widely accepted and has traumatized so many.

  11. ijustworkhere*

    I moved my office into a room with a window where I can put 2 bird feeders up just outside–a regular one and one for hummingbirds. I’ve had so much fun identifying the birds who come to visit. I also can regularly see deer, rabbits, raccoons, and opossums walking through the woods just outside. Definitely improves my mood.

    Now, if we could just get better quality internet out here….

    1. cabbagepants*

      This is delightful. Birdwatching is so rewarding. You learn so much about what birds and animals are out there. In the winter you could consider replacing the hummingbird feeder with a suet feeder. You’ll get lots of woodpeckers!

    2. OyHiOh*

      I have deer, and wild turkeys in my yard pretty regularly. This week, two mamas have been bringing their fawns though. One still has fawn spots! The mamas know how cars work but the babies skitter. It’s sweet and worrying – if the babies skitter in the wrong direction, they’re going to cause an accident.

  12. BellaStella*

    Well today I discovered that a missing stair colleague was promoted, he is boss’ favourite. I need a day to process this and move on. So disappointed. Oh well.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      That’s disgraceful & disfunctional.
      If he now has an office, any chance you could hide a piece of say Limburger or Stilton cheese there?

      1. BellaStella*

        hahahahahah no, his office mate has a doggo that I love and she the doggo may find it. Ugh. Good idea tho.

    2. NeonFireworks*

      This happened to me recently; the boss retired suddenly and put That One Missing Stair in their place. The old boss seems to have been well aware of this in private, but I think he was afraid he’d be super biased against That One Missing Stair, so he’s been overcompensating by rewarding the person disproportionately. I quit, which was dramatic, but I will not work under That One Missing Stair, who has mistreated me and others in the past and effectively been rewarded for it.

      1. BellaStella*

        Wow. I am so sorry this happened to you. Glad you got out tho. I have been looking around for sure. What is up with crap fearful management? This person has been in 10 years on 3 PIPs, too. So yeah. bit pissed off today.

      1. BellaStella*

        I am looking and have applied to 2 roles recently, and will have dinner soon with a colleague who left our org last year.

        1. Observer*

          Good luck!

          I hope you can move on a bit internally, too. Not so much that you stop looking! But enough to keep from emotionally bent out of shape, if you can. Something like the “anthropologist” point of view that people sometimes talk about.

  13. Rodstar*

    It’s a very frustrating start of the week for me, with my planning feeling like a piece of gruyère and management not helping at al… Talk about a back to school experience…

        1. Rodstar*

          Yup ! Full of holes, which means I have to scramble to complete my schedule. Which is not my job at all, for the record. But well, that’s more of my employer loss than mine. That’s just frustrating to deal with…

  14. Humpty Dumpty*

    My company has a firing policy that I find very unsettling and that I’ve never experienced in other companies. I’m wondering whether this is more or less unique to my company or that this happens a lot and I’m just not aware of it.

    They have the policy that any employee, of any job type or position in the company hierarchy, who need to be fired for any reason at all, are called into a meeting, told they are being let go and within 15 to 30 minutes they have been shut out of the company network, folders, files, apps etc and also remotely shut out of their company computer.

    This means: go goodbyes to colleagues, no tying up of work that they were in the middle of, no handovers to their manager or colleagues, and any incoming emails from customers, partners or colleagues will go unattended until some colleague finds the time to tend to those.

    On top of that: any access to benefits will be immediately be revoked for the remainder of their notice period.

    Remaining colleagues will suddenly be met with a deactivated account in Slack or get a email reply that the employee is no longer available. Colleagues whose work is dependent on the fired employee’s efforts are faced with a negative impact on their own work and performance results, sometimes with drastic consequences.

    I personally find this quite anxiety-inducing and also odd for a company that boasts how much they value trust.

    Is this now how things are done nowadays? I should add that this is a tech company. I’ve read about some mass layoffs in tech companies that were done this way, however I don’t know that this is a regular way of firing people now.

    1. WellRed*

      It’s not normal. And as far as not accessing benefits may not be, I hate to say “legal” but it’s pretty sketch if you are talking about things like health insurance.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I’d say the individual elements are not rare, but the combination is unusual and not good practice overall.

      The immediate lockout from internal company systems isn’t unusual, so a newly-fired employee doesn’t go tampering with anything.

      The lack of announcement is more common than it should be. IDK what the motivation is, but it can really cause problems.

      The lack of any handoff or rollover for inquiries and workflow is just dumb. It’s the kind if thing I’d expect from a small, disorganized place, not a large company.

      Cutting off benefits is terrible and questionable as to its legality. The only places I’ve seen do that were going bankrupt.

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      I don’t think that’s normal at all. And I’m assuming this applies to layoffs, not just firings for cause? It sounds really brutal to me.

    4. Ghostwriting is Real Writing*

      This is actually pretty common in any industry with confidential or trade information that the company wouldn’t want a non-employee to have access to. Think finance, tech, pharmaceutical, law, etc. The company doesn’t know which employees will calmly gather their belongings and say goodbye to their former colleagues and which ones will download confidential files and/or trash the system – so they default to making sure no one can access the system when they are no longer an employee, which would be immediately after being told they were fired.

      1. Ghostwriting is Real Writing*

        And I should have noted that I’m assuming you are talking about true firings, not layoffs. In general, layoffs involve more planning, severamce packages, etc., so are not so harsh.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        I’ve dealt with it in the O&G and data industries too. In fact, a friend of mine who used to work for a huge oil company had the same situation when he or anyone else QUIT.
        Once you put your notice in, you are immediately cut off from this campus and the network, and you have half an hour to gather your stuff, you are gone. They’ll pay for your last two weeks, but you have no access to anything anymore.

      3. Sloanicota*

        It’s very normal to immediately cut off fired people. It’s a bit weirder that the supervisor isn’t asked to come up with some kind of plan to manage the workload, monitor the inbox, and handle the messaging to coworkers (but surprisingly common).

        1. RussianInTexas*

          In my current company you know someone is not there (involuntary) anymore when you try to email or slack them. Then you investigate through the grapevine.

        2. Cj*

          the cutting off of access, etc. has been done every place I have worked. however, as soon as your access is cut off, your emails are routed to your supervisor or somebody else to handle. and the supervisor, of course knows ahead of time, and has a plan for the workload (or is at least supposed to). An announcement is made to remaining staff as soon as the person is out the door.

          health and other types of insurance have always gone through the end of the month, so it depends on when the person gets fired as to whether or not they have to scramble to get new insurance.

      4. Observer*

        This is actually pretty common in any industry with confidential or trade information that the company wouldn’t want a non-employee to have access to.

        I’m going to disagree with this. There are a lot of reasons not to do it this way, even in the kind of industries / roles where you need to worry about sensitive information.

        Immediate lock out? Yes, common. No announcement or handover of work? Very uncommon *especially* in those types of fields. Because there are some fairly sensitive deadlines and regulatory issues that need to be handled and client expectations need to be met. It’s hard to insure that these things are properly handled when you don’t do the appropriate messaging or planning.

    5. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      The immediate ending of benefits sucks 100%, although firings for a few serious reasons could make it safer to march the employee out immediately.
      Doing this for non-serious reasons hurts the company too, if the work ends abruptly without handover. Sounds unduly spiteful & odd.

      (Where I am (Europe), firing is exceptionally rare and at least full pay and all benefits remain for the notice period, which is normally a few weeks even for firing)

    6. RussianInTexas*

      I’ve been laid off twice, large public companies and it went exactly like this. You are called in to the conference room, where you are let go on spot. The HR person goes over some documents, after that you have 10 minutes to collect your stuff from your desk. All your computer access is severed immediately, the moment you are called to the meeting. There is no handover of any kind. The firings went the same way.
      My partner works for a gigantic Fortune 100 company, and their firings and laid offs happen the same way, on spot, without warning or handovers.
      So this sounds so very normal to me.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Did you immediately lose all benefits on the spot? That just seems so cruel to me. Give people till the end of the month at least (unless they do all firings on the last day of the month).

        1. Nicki Name*

          When I’ve been laid off in tech, health benefits have lasted at least until the end of the month. The last place to lay me off also subsidized COBRA for a couple months afterward so that the monthly payment was the same as when we were employed.

          It’s also customary to make the person’s official separation date (i.e., the date they keep getting paid through) the last day of the week, regardless of which day the layoffs happened.

          Firings for cause may be handled differently.

        2. RussianInTexas*

          No, because those were layoffs, not firings. Both times I got a pretty nice severance package, and the last time I even had my company continue to pay for my health insurance at the employee rate for 6 months.
          The days of the week we’re not Fridays each time.
          Firings were handled a lot sharper (?). You are severed from the company effective immediately, end of story.

        3. Generic Name*

          I voluntarily quit my last job, and my benefits shut off on my last day. I was surprised they don’t go until the end of the month. Seems very cheap. I’m sure it saved my old company vast sums to have my final month pro-rated for 25 days.

        4. SAHR1990*

          I am not a fan of companies who end benefits on the last day of work. It happened to me once and it was awful because I didn’t know it was coming. I’m in HR so at this company, I changed it back to end of the month. Yes, sometimes we might be stuck paying for someone’s premium if they leave at the beginning of the month and we can’t pull both premiums from their semi-monthly paycheck but it’s rare and I’m not petty.

    7. Nicki Name*

      It’s very common in tech. There are cautionary tales out there about revenge wrought by insiders who retained access long enough to do a lot of damage.

    8. Yeah...*

      As another poster said you’re not an employee anymore. You haven’t posted how long you’ve been in the workforce, but this is not new. Especially not “now” when the internet and various “work” platforms (including work email) are the norm.

      Further, if you’re fired, your company has no way of knowing if you have “good” intentions. To prevent any issues with their computer system, they cut off access. People leave jobs for reasons other than being fired, and the handoff of work isn’t always smooth or done at all.

      If I were a client of company that allowed fired folks to have access to proprietary I would be concerned about how this company does business. I may take my business elsewhere.

    9. 653-CXK*

      If the nature of your work contains sensitive information or what you did was extremely serious, yes, they can accelerate your departure from the company.

      When I was let go from ExJob five years ago, that happened to me, although when I came into work that morning, my hoteling spot was taken over by someone else and I had to find one on the fly. My supervisor got me, brought me to a small room, the manager gave me the news, and I went and grabbed my laptop bag (as my laptop would stay there) and I walked out the door. They sent me boxes and I sent them back their monitor and other items.

      My benefits ended immediately, but I could elect to go on COBRA for 102% of the premium. I turned that down and went on the health exchange after I applied for unemployment. I used all 30 weeks of unemployment until I was hired.

      The irony: all of the activities everyone did are now outsourced, and everyone who worked there, even for decades, was let go.

    10. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I was laid off like this, except for the benefits ending. That part is highly unusual. I had a meeting with my manager, HR showed up (this was all virtual, mind you), I was read the terms, and I was given a short amount of time to wrap things up before all of my access was cut off. They forgot to cut off my phone for a bit so I was able to text and call some people, but I couldn’t send emails, couldn’t access client contacts, nothing. I was lucky– I had just enough time to message my admin and tell her I was leaving.

      My current company did layoffs like this too. We only learned about some people’s fates because their Slack was deactivated. (We’re a mostly remote company.)

      In the case of my layoff, I had about 10 active/open tasks for clients that I wasn’t able to complete. They weren’t impossible to figure out (I’m very organized), but my clients had absolutely no idea and were left hanging. That was horrible. But the company decided it was best to make the clean break. I did get severance and extended benefits, though.

    11. RussianInTexas*

      In fact, after 23 years in the work place, this is the only way I would expect an involuntary separation from an employer would happen. As in “immediately, as of this minute”.

      1. Gyne*

        Yeah, the two people we’ve truly fired recently were both for pretty egregious accountability/trust problems – like, someone falsified data in the medical record and then lied about it. Fraud and putting people at risk is a do-not-pass-go, here’s-your-final-paycheck-leave-immediately action. If this is how someone behaves when they’re *employed* by you, I shudder to think what they’d do in a fit of rage after losing their job!

        That said health insurance is paid monthly so I would think it’s still active until the end of the month or else the company would have to reimburse the prorated premium? Seems easier just to let the insurance term naturally.

    12. pcake*

      Not really new. I’ve known companies that friends worked at who’ve been doing this for years. Some of them had security walk with you to your desk and all but perp walk you out of the building. I’ve seen this more in tech and aerospace, but I’ve seen it in other industries, as well.

      And some companies might have had experiences that led to these policies. My husband worked with a guy who was let go with 2 weeks notice who actually sabotaged a large, expensive machine (it costs tens of thousands to fix and could have damaged property and hurt of killed people) and put creepy notes all over the company about his manager.

    13. Busy Middle Manager*

      “On top of that: any access to benefits will be immediately be revoked for the remainder of their notice period.” seems unfair and potentially illegal? You mean they just cut off medical or access to an HSA or retirement account? Can you do that? How does that even work?

      As per the rest, sort of normal. If you are talking about firings and not people quitting. As harsh as it sounds, what logistical item do you want someone getting fired to go back to do? You are only worrying about this if you are firing good people. But then the question is, why are you firing good people

      The few people who have been fired around me – it’s always been a relief. One came back to their computer and sent a “f___ you you all” with a little essay to most of the company in a fit of rage. Meanwhile, my team didn’t really work with them and had no clue what they were talking about, so I can confidently say it didn’t have the impact they wanted.

      Could the real issue be that your company is firing good employees?

    14. Courageous cat*

      This is the only way I’ve seen it happen, for firings and layoffs alike. When I was laid off, I went to my laptop on autopilot to wrap up what I was doing and shut everything down properly (got there a few minutes before they locked me out), but then I was like… wait, why? Why would I do a second more work for someone who just stopped paying me for it? There’s no need to go back and finish tying up work. No point.

      I don’t find it anxiety-inducing at all really. There’s only risk to letting a fired/laid off employee get back on their computer, considering you never know how anyone will want to react.

    15. Humpty Dumpty*

      Thanks for your answers, everyone. Very interesting to read your views and experiences.

      In my company this happens for both layoffs and firings alike. Everyone gets this treatment independent of their position in the company.

      The benefits (healthcare, pension and everything else is cut off immediately. Of course, you can still access your pension fund account, they just stop paying into it for the remainder of your notice period.

      I’m not sure whether it’s illegal in the US. This is in the UK where (as far as I know) benefits may be cut off immediately by the company when an employee is laid off or fired.

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        Being walked out immediately after firing is SOP in many fields & at many employers, probably whatever your country.

        As you are in the UK, access to the NHS is unaffected by employment status, so I presume you mean some additional private healthcare your employer offers for quicker treatment of non-urgent ailments, or private longterm disability insurance.
        Any private extra insurance could be stopped immediately.

        Payments to the state pension and state unemployment insurance can be stopped at the end of the month, sometimes end of the week, depending on how you are paid. Payments to the firm’s own pension scheme could be stopped immediately.

        It would be very odd not to pay salary up to the end of the notice period – because then what would be the purpose of a notice period with no pay and no work. Either the firing was for conduct so egregious e.g. for assault that there is no notice period at all, or it would be paid notice.

        1. TotallyNormal*

          I’ve never gotten paid for a notice period I didn’t work because the employer said we prefer you leave immediately instead of working your two weeks (or whatever) notice. If they walk you out that day your pay ends that day.

    16. TotallyNormal*

      being told you’re being fired while they shut off your accounts is very normal, especially in tech, and has been since at least the earky-to-mid 90s. It also happens some of the time with layoffs but less frequently (as do the other things noted below). It is common but not universal to either be walked out of the office or told to stay in the conference room as long as you want but to leave directly from there but not to go back to your desk in any case. Being required to let someone else clean out your desk/bring you your stuff is one reason why I and most others I know limit what we keep at work. In a few cases the company arranged things so everyone else was out of the desk areas and let the person get their own stuff, but this is not common.

      Some of this is to protect the company and some is because the general feeling is thus is kinder to the person or people being let go (no walk of shame; personally I disagree).

      The first time I got laid off they wanted me to leave immediately but my transportation was scheduled for my normal end of day so the VP of Finance followed me around for the rest of the day, to the point where he wanted to go into the open single stall restroom with me (I eventually convinced him to wait right outside the door). It was miserable. I would say it’s been about 50-50 with layoffs re: whether they want you to go immediately or work for a period of time to document tasks and processes, etc.

      On the firing front, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to say goodbye to a coworker who was fired or even ask for contact info from someone if I didn’t already have it. That’s one reason why I try to connect to all coworkers immediately on LinkedIn. My current company let someone go recently and we were also asked not to contact him ourselves until he’d signed their separation paperwork.

      The no benefits part is problematic and possibly even illegal depending on the jurisdiction. That’s the only thing that seems the least bit off to me.

    17. Maggie*

      I’m guessing it stemmed from and “incident” and now they’re overly strict about it. We completely stopped firing people in person due to violence, so we have to fire people on video call and everything is revoked immediately after. It’s not great but we also can’t have people enacting violence on others or sending out inflammatory mass emails to the entire company, both of which have happened.

  15. Falling Diphthong*

    Any short story collection recommendations?

    Bonus points if the stories really are short, rather than novellas: I’d like to occasionally send my daughter something to read as she finishes her PhD, that is easy to consume in small bites. Right now my ideas are nonfiction books–Rebel With a Clause and An Immense World–that I found worked well to read a few pages and then mull over the information. But it would be nice to have some fictional stories in there.

    Recommendation: I really liked the work of Ted Chiang. He’s good at capturing interesting concepts that linger with me, like a world in which they successfully build the Tower of Babylon.

    1. Madame Arcati*

      It’s a bit old school but Agatha Christie? I have a collection of all the Miss Marple short stories and it’s great. There is also at least one collection with Poirot. Short and snappy; def not novellas. And it really transports you to another time and way of life (and country/culture assuming you are in the US) which might be just the thing in these circs.

      Also, much as he might be a fairly dreadful human, the British politician and author Jeffrey Archer wrote some good short stories; my dad had a collection called A Twist in the Tale which I remember enjoying.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Seconding Agatha Christie’s short stories. Also the original Dorothy Sayers Lord Peter Whimsey short stories.

        1. GoryDetails*

          Oh, yes – Christie and Sayers both do lovely short stories. [I’m especially fond of Christie’s “Harley Quin” stories – they’re vaguely-supernatural/romantic, and quite charming.]

    2. GoryDetails*

      I love short stories – though my tastes tend towards the macabre, fwiw. Some titles that came to mind:

      Robert Olen Butler has several themed collections of short stories, from “Severance” (about beheadings, historical and/or fictional) to “Tabloid Dreams” (inspired by tabloid headlines) to “Had a Good Time” (inspired by postcards). Oh, and “Intercourse,” with the stories focusing on what various historical/fictional/celebrity characters might have been thinking during trysts!

      A recent horror anthology that I enjoyed: “Found: An Anthology of Found Footage Horror Stories” – nice variety, quite creepy.

      In the unusual/thought-provoking area, the “Machine of Death” anthology and its follow-on, “This is How You Die,” are really good; the stories range from SF to horror to contemporary-drama, some quite touching even allowing for the “die” part…

      I’m also fond of classic ghost story collections – those by M. R. James and E. F. Benson especially, with Edith Wharton and E. Nesbit as well.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I reread The Martian Chronicles every year. Neil Gaiman also has some great short story collections.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Yay! Spoiled for choice with Bradbury. “The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl” is one of the best short stories ever.

      3. allathian*

        The original big three SF writers Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein also wrote many thought-provoking stories. Admittedly some of them have aged better than others and character diversity is non-existent.

    3. mreasy*

      George Saunders has that conceptual depth often and he has some short ones as well. Debra Eisenberg is another favorite, and you can never go wrong with Lydia Davis. Amy Hempel! Lucia Berlin! Love short stories.

    4. Ontariariario*

      How I spent my summer holidays by W.O.Mitchell

      From a different era when kids dug holes in the dirt to get away from summer heat. I don’t know if I could read it out loud because I’d be laughing too hard to speak.

      1. Ontariariario*

        Also hilariously funny is The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be by Farley Mowatt. It’s a book so not quite what you want, but the chapters mostly stand alone. It helps to read them in order, but you aren’t missing anything if you stop at the end of any chapter.

    5. Nicki Name*

      I just finished How to Fracture a Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen. Short stories, with commentary and poems in the back of the book.

      And I have to make one non-fiction recommendation: If science is your jam, The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean is great for reading in small bites.

      1. Nicki Name*

        …I forgot to give the endorsement of the Yolen work. Yolen’s always easy to read, the short stories are genuinely short, and there are some pretty unique spins on fairy tales in there.

    6. AVP*

      I love Ted Chiang! If you like his books, maybe try George Saunders? Tenth of December is a good place to start with him. Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties is a bit speculative as well. And NK Jemisin also has a collection out, I think.

      Not in the same vein at all, but Lydia Davis (very VERY short which can be nice) and Alice Munro (pick any of her collections, really, they’re all wonderful). Claire Vaye Watkins, Kelly Link, Lauren Groff, and Brandon Taylor all have story collections out, too. And I looooved the linked collection Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips but as it’s linked into a whole arc it’s sort of less of what you’re looking for.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Kevin Brockmeier’s The Ghost Variations is another great collection of super short–one to two pages–ghost stories.

    7. OrangePeel*

      “Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives” by David Eagleman. 40 short (some are only 2 pages long) of different versions of what the afterlife might look like. Some are serious, some funny, all interesting. This is not a religious book, though they do offer a few versions of what god(s) might be. It is smart, thoughtful, and quirky.

      I loved this book so much I immediately made my reading-reluctant spouse read it just so I could talk to someone about it.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I’ll second “Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives” – I read it some years ago and was very impressed!

    8. sagewhiz*

      1. Cat Brushing by Jane Campbell
      2. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
      3. Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks
      4. The Echo Tree: The Collected Short Fiction of Henry Dumas

    9. AGD*

      I really like Ted Chiang too. Try Alan Lightman – similarly humanistic ethos, well-polished stories with a mix of solid science and ambitious imagination.

    10. more fires*

      I really liked: Solo: On Her Own Adventure edited by Susan Fox Rogers. A collection of short stories (usually 5-10 pages) about women being strong. If you look up Susan Fox Rogers on Amazon, there are a lot of books that are a collection of essays by female writers.

    11. tiredlibrarian*

      L M Montgomery did a BUNCH of short stories and I think they’re free on Amazon. They’re short and fun.

    12. Starrystarrynight*

      I read two volume‘s of Claire Keegan‘s short stories this spring and enjoyed them both – very clear writing, with characters you immediately want to know more about.

      There is also an anthology of English-language short stories edited by Philip Henscher, of which I‘ve read and mostly enjoyed the first volume.

    13. Bluebell*

      I read Orange World by Karen Russell years ago and liked it- it had a lot of fantasticical elements but great plots. The Office of Historical Corrections has one novella, but the rest are short stories, and they are very good. Texts from Jane Eyre has lots of short bits, and it has some truly hysterical parts.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Oh, Texts from Jane Eyre had me HOWLING the first time I read it through–the Medea ones especially.

    14. Forensic13*

      How Long Til Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisen is fantastic! Mix of fantasy, sci-fi, and generally “speculative” stories.

    15. Slant Six Mind*

      1. Karen Russell
      a. St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves
      b. Vampires in the Lemon Grove
      2. Vonnegut: Welcome to the Monkey House
      3. Philip K Dick: We Can Remember It For You Wholesale (and other stories)
      4. Stanislaw Lem: The Cyberiad: Stories
      5. Amy Bloom
      a. A Blind Man Can Tell How Much I Love You
      b. Come to Me

    16. Industry Behemoth*

      Anything by O. Henry.

      Some of my favorite individual short stories are:
      1. Paul’s Case by Willa Cather
      2. The Hen by Saki
      3. The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant
      4. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
      5. Miss Hinch by Henry Sydnor Harrison

      Copies of all of these should be available online.

      Also “The Tooth, The Whole Tooth, and Nothing But The Tooth” by Robert Benchley. This isn’t a short story, but a humorous look at the melodramatic ordeal of going to the dentist. Someone posted a PDF printout online, of an e-book collection of Benchley’s works including this one.

    17. Rosyglasses*

      This is a short one but I just picked up Before the coffee gets cold — and although it is one full story; it’s written and broken up as four short stories and it is beautiful. Set in a time traveling cafe four people learn about love and new perspectives on relationships.

    18. Mitchell Hundred*

      I really like the two Machine of Death anthologies. They’re a bunch of stories set in a world where a machine has been invented that predicts with complete accuracy the manner of a person’s death. The twist is that while it’s never wrong, the machine can be obtuse in its meaning (“old age” could mean a senior citizen kills you, “natural causes” could mean you get crushed by a falling tree, etc.). They provide some really good insight into human nature and the value of life and free will.

    19. PhyllisB*

      If you like things with a bit of inspirational flavor, Chicken Soup For the Soul books are good. Most of the essays are only a couple of pages long. There’s dozens of them on different topics. Some are Christian slanted, but not all of them.
      If you want something longer and like fiction, Maeve Binchy has several books of short stories that are really enjoyable.

    20. goddessoftransitory*

      Shirley Jackson. Her collection One Ordinary Day, With Peanuts spans her career and includes lots of lesser known, fantastic stories that often were one offs in magazines and then vanished for decades until her children assembled this collection. Many of them are only a couple pages long but so indelible in their imagery.

    21. Roland*

      Jagannath – Karin Tidbeck. Book of wonderfully weird and thought-provoking short stories that I picked up at the store because it was featured and the cover review quote was from Ursula K Le Guin, who is a queen of short stories. They were all quite different than anything I’d read before.

    22. profe*

      Ramona Ausubel and Karen Russell are two of my favs. Also, subscribe to Electric Literature emails, Mondays are always a short story and Wednesdays are a flash piece or poetry.

    23. chocolate muffins*

      I read Interpreter of Maladies many years ago and remember really liking it, though I don’t have a clear memory of it anymore. Also, if you are open to non-fiction essays, Annie Lamott’s books are great (and her essays are much better than her fiction, I think).

  16. Just a Manager*

    Question on business ethics.

    Is it normal for vendors to take people on golf, fishing, and other types of trips/events? I’m talking about exclusive/expensive things a normal person wouldn’t have access to. My views might be a bit skewed because I worked in State government for several years, where you couldn’t even take a cup of coffee from a vendor.

    I’ve always thought (outside of government, where ethical standards are really high) that lunch/maybe dinner would be okay. However, when we as managers have purchasing authority and decide which vendors we are going with, we should be careful to avoid something that could either affect our decision or at least give the perception of.

    What’s normal/acceptable?

    1. Penny*

      I think it depends on your field, and in state government it depends on your state, unfortunately. I personally feel that US $20 or $50 is a reasonable limit. It’s enough for a lunch or a cup of coffee type thing, but if someone can be bought for that little, there’s not much hope for ethics in general.
      *Speaking as someone whose boss just spent 4 days at an “educational” seminar that included a fly fishing excursion, paid for by someone he does business with.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Sounds very open to abuse or conscious/unconscious corruption. At the least, very bad optics. Also way out of date – I thought any org of more than a few people knew better these days.

      Having worked for several large European engineering companies, we were always given a v low limit, to allow just say a coffee mug or basic choc advents calendar for the holiday season. When I retired from FinalJob, it was Eur 15 (just over $16).
      If we had meals out, conferences etc, then we expensed them fully to our own company.

      The aim was to exclude any gifts that could possibly affect vendor choice or that even the most suspicious auditor, shareholder or journalist would object to,

    3. RussianInTexas*

      It was super normal in the O&G few years back, despite the various ethics courses we all had to do. I have heard about people getting fired for accepting kickbacks, so there already would be some level of “don’t be obvious”.
      The most common “totally not bribes” would be pro sports tickets.

      1. BayouBoogaloo*

        Yes it sure was. Superbowl tickets, food and drink at the holidays, super bougie perks…loved it!

    4. Texan In Exile*

      Years ago, when I was in sales, I took customers to lunch all the time. But I also took customers to concerts (mostly because I wanted to see the concert and expense it). And my office organized a golf scramble for all of our customers once a year.

      I would have liked to take prospects out to lunch as well, but that was not so easy! People don’t want to go out to lunch with someone they don’t know – someone who is bidding on their business.

      I know that it used to be the practice at that company (group health insurance) and at another company I worked at (a paper company) that the men would take male customers (and prospects) to strip clubs.

      Except GE and Walmart. GE (customer) wouldn’t go to lunch or even accept a box of Lamme’s chocolate-covered strawberries. Walmart (customer) would go to dinner but they would pay their own way. (I don’t know if the Walmart guy went to the strip club with the men from my company. I was not invited on those excursions.)

    5. AVP*

      This is really, really normal in many industries. Government (for good reason!) is the one that’s out of step with typical business life here.

      TBF, I plan these things sometimes for clients and prospective clients and there’s not much expectation of a tit-for-tat in purchasing. The price of attendance is that you’re in the new-biz system now and a sales person might reach out occasionally, and welcome to our email list, but beyond that I wouldn’t expect it to turn into a purchase unless there was real interest on both sides. And I assume all of my competitors are inviting the same prospective clients to similar things and not hiring all of us.

    6. Bagpuss*

      I’m not in the US, but where I work, we have a formal policy and anything over a pretty low amount has to be declared, and the compliance officer determines whether it can be accepted . All gifts / hospitality is recorded on a register, so there is a record of what gifts or hospitality have been offered and accepted.

      Our basic rules are :
      Cash or cash equivalents such as gifts cards cannot be accepted

      Small, low value gifts can be accepted (e.g. a box of chocolates from a satisfied client when their case is completed)

      Larger items have to be declared and may be kept if authorised – an invitation to a charity golf day from a long-standing existing supplier might be accepted, but one from a potential vendor we had no existing relationship with might be more questionable (as in the first case, we already knew their product, reliability etc. so the invitation might be more o fa thank you and a networking event than an attempt to sway our choice of supplier)

    7. Generic Name*

      In the consulting business, I’ve been taken to lunches, happy hours, watched baseball games from the luxury box with catered food/alcohol, attending a big party at a conference, gone to concerts at a famous outdoor venue. Also as a consultant, I took clients to breakfast, lunch, happy hour, coffee, baseball games in the normal seats…. I think how lavish the events are depends on the industry. I imagine investment bankers have a higher budget than the small boutique firm I used to do marketing for.

      1. JR*

        This is the primary reason companies buy luxury boxes at sports stations – to take clients to games and concerts, for relationship-binding reasons.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          Yes! The baseball boxes, and in my area, the Rodeo concert tickets, and the bbq cook off passes.

    8. Can't Sit Still*

      I work in pharma and corporate policy is that we can’t receive anything from vendors. Everything we give away has to be within the guidelines of the Sunshine Act. Our internal guidelines are somewhat stricter than the law, because the appearance of impropriety is just as bad as an actual violation. TBF, I work in R&D, where we tend to have a much more black and white view of Sunshine Act reporting anyway.

      Sunshine Act reporting is publicly available at openpayments dot cms dot gov.

    9. Random Dice*

      I work in the private sector, and get sketched out when vendors / contractors try to pay for anything more than coffee. At one place, there were football box tickets offered, with drinks and food; in a total coincidence, a VP was fired for kickbacks at that same company. I just play it safe and avoid the appearance of impropriety.

    10. Cj*

      my brother-in-law has gone on several fishing trips to Alaska paid for by one of his company’s vendors.

    11. Busy Middle Manager*

      Most outings are excuses for middle aged people to do stuff when there is a convenient group of people there they normally wouldn’t have to do stuff…for free.

      I think you are overthinking it. I don’t think that this level is where corruption/unethical stuff happens. May just be my opinion. But after watching way to many pay-to-play things here I realized that most must’ve happened at fancy gala events anyways. You skipping a dinner or golf is not going to make much of a difference

    12. LessCommonNow*

      This was very normal 20-30 years ago and earlier, less so now, at least for normal, non-e executive level employees. I went to a few free MLB baseball games and infrequently got some nice food baskets for the office early in my career, but not for a couple of decades now.

    13. Maggie*

      This extremely normal and common in my field. We give people concert tickets, sporting tickets, take them on boats, pay for their meals, even take them on trips. It’s going to depend a lot on the field. This is food and beverage and I don’t think there’s really any ethical standard to uphold when trying to get someone to choose our brands vs choosing another.

    14. Observer*

      What’s normal/acceptable?

      Normal and acceptable are not the same thing, especially if you are talking about *actual* ethics vs “official” ethics.

      Expensive gifts, meals trips etc. seem to be surprisingly common, but I really think that they are not acceptable, and should be explicitly against company policy.

    15. Hold onto your hats...*

      Hoo boy. I work in mining now. When I worked in health this really wasn’t a thing, but now I am in mining…we take clients golfing, on boat trips, out to expensive dinners/lunches, send them expensive wine, put them up in fancy hotels if they are visiting site. Once a year we buy 20 tables at a very high profile charity ball & take VIPs to the event & put them up at a local resort overnight. At Christmas we send out hams & $100 visa cards. It is a bonanza for some of these clients.

      Some of the larger mining companies have cracked down on gifting under their anti corruption policies but there are always ways around the bans they place on their employees accepting gifts. Instead of tangible gifts they get boozy golf & boat days which are written up as meetings to discuss jobs we are tendering for or are undertaking.

      My budget for client gifting is in the hundreds of thousands per year.

  17. Twenk*

    I’m applying for a job I’m interested in, except that the ad says ‘must be available to work on Sundays.’ I’ve only ever been a M-F employee, but there’s no reason per se I couldn’t make this schedule work. I’m a little unsure whether I’d really be okay with shifting my days off. Anyone with experience working schedules for office jobs that are other than M-F? Do you feel cheated not having Sundays off?

    1. zanshin*

      When I was a hospital RN we rotated weekends off. I loved being off on a weekday instead because it was easier to get errands taken care of when most people were at work, it was quieter at parks and other outdoor places.

    2. Liminality*

      Unless you have specific activities that can only be done on Sundays, it’s just another day. I kindof enjoyed the two days on, one day off, three days on one day off thing. As said above, it makes scheduling appointments more simple.
      One thing to consider is whether your particular employer requires Sundays because of a specific customer crowd. Occasionally, the Sunday peeps are… not on their best behavior. (See church peeps leaving fliers instead of tips, or biiig family groups who aren’t paying attention to the kiddos.) Make sure you’re prepared for the job requirements if they are different on the weekend.

    3. Sloanicota*

      If you work M-F and then your employer starts eyeing your Saturdays/Sundays, I can tell you that’s absolutely brutal and I only lasted a few months, even if they just wanted an hour or two of time. I have had jobs where employers swap a weekday for a weekend day, but I would caution you to try and push for two off days together. If your work Saturday, get Sunday off, work Monday and then get Tuesday off, you never get a day off with an evening where you’re not getting ready for work the next morning, so it’s really not as good.

      1. Starbuck*

        Yes having a default of two days off in a row is key to making this work! Split days off as your regular schedule is MUCH harder to adjust to than having your weekend be Fri-Sat instead of Sat-Sun. The latter is really no big deal. The former, I could not do more than an occasional adjustment for coverage (like, every few months, tops).

      2. Explain Like I'm Five*

        I used to have a job where I worked on Saturdays (the busiest day) and had off on Wednesdays (the least busy day).

        I liked having a weekday off to schedule doctor appointments and run errands when most other people at work. But I agree that not being able to have two days off in a row seriously sucked. Felt like I never got a real break because I basically got “Sunday blues” twice a week.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Yes. The one on/off schedule ruins both any putative time off AND your work days since you never get a proper break.

    4. Starbuck*

      Yes; and no I don’t feel cheated missing out on Sundays. It’s really nice to have a weekday to get errands done; where I live many places are closed on Sundays. And certain things are far less crowded during the week which is nice. Is your social life heavily dependent on having Sundays off? I found mine wasn’t as much as I thought; as long as I still had Saturdays off I didn’t miss out on very much.

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Is the job one where people would normally work weekends? If not I’d be asking some probing questions about how they handle crunch time, backfill, coverage etc.

    6. ItsAwesome*

      my first job was Tuesday-Thurs + Saturday. I loved it. Having weekdays off was productive, commute on Saturday was a lot easier, and in general it was really pleasant. I would do something like that again in a heartbeat.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      Heh, I haven’t had a weekend off in decades–instead I have Tuesday and Wednesday off. It’s a pain in that I’m out of synch with people who have more “normal” M-F schedules and it’s very hard to plan get togethers, but it makes things like running errands and seeing movies easier since the crowds are nothing compared to weekends.

      I will say though, that if you have any hobby or side gig or anything where not having weekends free would hurt (say, selling at farmers’ markets, playing in or going to concerts or anything in the arts, and so on) don’t do it. One reason my acting career, such as it was, withered and died is I couldn’t rehearse or perform on the days 90% of people were free.

    8. Grim*

      I work a bunch of random shifts (and not in an office job) so my schedule is all over the place, and it doesn’t matter to me whether my “weekend” is on the actual weekend or not, as long as I’m getting a couple of consecutive days off so I can feel like I’m having a proper break. I will also say, it’s nice to have a schedule that’s variable, because that way I get the benefit of having weekdays off (good for running errands and attending appointments that need to be during standard business hours, also good for doing things like going to the beach and avoiding crowds when most other people are at work), but I also sometimes get the benefit of having a Saturday or Sunday off, so I can go to events or meet up with friends and family who are only available on those days. So in overall I don’t think I’d want to work a schedule where I was always working on both Saturday AND Sunday, but working on either or occasionally both doesn’t really bother me as long as I’m still getting my time off.

    9. EA*

      I think this depends a ton on what your weekends look like and if you have any hobbies or family obligations. I wouldn’t want to do it now because of my kids, but I would have been fine with, say, Fri-Sat off when I was single. I don’t think I would’ve liked Tue-Wed because of not being able to make plans with friends. Do you get Sat guaranteed?

    10. SoloKid*

      I LOVED working a shifted schedule. One day a week for all the appointments was super useful.

      Also, I was salaried at a place that was “get your work done and go home” style, and the weekends were MUCH lighter, so I often shaved a couple of hours off. Coworkers and boss definitely knew and considered it a perk of “giving up a weekend”.

    11. Sam Snead*

      I one had a job that was 12 hour shift, 3 days on, 2 days off, so your days off were always different. It was ok for a while but cut into stuff I wanted to do such as a weekly volleyball league, etc. The 12 hour shifts got to me after a while. This was a pharma manufacturing place that ran 24/7.

  18. PhyllisB*

    My ladies church group chooses Secret Pals every year. We’re supposed to keep the cost at $10.00 or under (but no one follows this, so I usually aim for less than $20.00. I am desperate for gift ideas.
    Most of us are older women who really don’t need any more clutter.
    Personally, I hate things like candles, really cheap jewelry (except for fun earrings) and motivational wall plaques, so try not to give things like that myself. I have given small devotional books (we ARE a church group after all!!) silly t-shirts, and door wreaths or seasonal door mats For the start of summer I did a little gift package with an insulated drinking cup, instant lemonade packets and sunglasses . My card said “it’s summer time and the living is easy.” We’re supposed to do one gift a month and a nice gift package at Christmas when we reveal who our pal is.
    I am totally out of ideas. Any advice?
    Oh, and on the permission to rehome gifts, my daughters and granddaughter have benefited. They love all the aforementioned stuff so when I receive something I can’t use, they’re happy to take it home. :-)

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      Fresh flowers? A loaf of homemade bread and a jar of nice jam? A package of coffee or tea? A pair of wool socks when the weather gets colder?

    2. sagewhiz*

      Friends Are the Family We Choose is a sweet mini-book that’s $5.95 on amazon. Especially good for someone you’re close to.

    3. WellRed*

      Once a month?! Yikes. I don’t buy anybody 12 gifts a year. I applaud you for your creativity so far. Can you still keep thinking seasonally? What about a “movie night.”

      1. niknik*

        Thats $120-$240 dollars a year. That’s INSANE. That might be more I spend on gifts for my spouse at times.

      2. Armchair Analyst*

        love this. popcorn bowl new from dollar store. microwave popcorn. a couple of movie-theater size candy boxes that are $1 each at the grocery store. boom.

        keep with container + thing inside format. mug + apple cider packet + cinnamon sticks. fall beverage theme.

        dish + recipe + topping for when you male the recipe

        bowl + chips + salsa

        this is infinite and could get you through all 12 months

    4. BlanketFort*

      If most recipients don’t need stuff, would food gifts work? Any gourmet-esque market has a lot of sweets, preserves, fancy pastas, etc for under $20. I’d definitely appreciate a fancy dried pasta and a nice jarred sauce!

    5. My Brain is Exploding*

      That’s… a lot! But here goes…
      Stationery and stamps. Food gifts, which can be shared if they don’t quite fit the recipient (and these aren’t perfect strangers, so you could probably guess what they might like/can have). Both those ideas are consumable so I like them. The thought of getting a bunch of little things I would just put in my donation box is daunting. A magazine. A tiny flashlight.

    6. Llama Llama*

      My favorite place to go for gifts like this is TJMAXX or HomeGoods. They always have random fun things that would make a good gift.

    7. Mostly Managing*

      I love the idea of making it seasonal where you can.
      Also, consumables are often a good idea – they don’t create clutter!

      Nice notebook and pen (journal type book)
      Fancy chocolate
      Tea and cookies
      Colouring book and coloured pencils
      Puzzle book? (Sudoku, cross words, you can get books of “mixed puzzles”)
      Fall mums in a pot

    8. MsSolo (UK)*

      Wrong end of the summer, but I’m currently appreciating my USB desk fan.

      Little motion sensor lights; I’ve got some which attach to the wall with magnets so you can take them off and recharge them. Handy for dark corners, inside cupboards, under stairs etc.

      Nice journals and/or pens.

      DIY luxury hot chocolate kit in a mug.

      Cheese-making kit (if it comes in budget – mine was a gift, so not sure on the price). You could probably DIY one pretty cheaply, especially for making stuff like ricotta which doesn’t need rennet. Probably don’t need to supply the milk yourself!

      DIY spice mixes for cooking. Also DIY tea and coffee blends. Anything you can put in a useful mason jar, essentially.

      (it occurs to me at this point in the list that I might be hungry, since all my ideas are for DIY food kits… Grow your own herbs? Chocolate moulds? Cookie decorations?)

    9. MaxKitty*

      A reusable jar filled with candies. A pen with cute post-it notes. A small picture frame. Pot holders and/or holders made for bowls that are hot out of the microwave. Magnetic clip to hold something on refrigerator. Cute hand towel. Some sort of baking or soup mix.

    10. mreasy*

      Consumables are my favorite gitf. Fancy chocolate, jam as mentioned below, coffee – something that’s a special treat people probably don’t buy themselves often or something off-beat they will enjoy trying.

      1. mreasy*

        Also small potted plants or air plants that are tough to kill. Very gettable at Trader Joe’s if you have one.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Yes plants are a lovely gift, and for the right person they’re the perfect gift. If you know anything about their outdoor access you might do things that could go on a porch on in the yard, or if not, indoor plants are nice. There are some people who wouldn’t want more than one plant but you could do some cute accessories to go with one.

        2. Don't Be a Dork*

          Do be aware if your giftee has pets, though, and choose plants that are nontoxic to the animals.

    11. Synaptically Unique*

      For that much interaction through the year, I’d probably work out a theme. If they like to cook, maybe a new cookbook, then some interesting spices mentioned in the cookbook, an apron, a cool kitchen tool (I’m obsessed with spurtles right now), etc. For someone with pets, some toys, treats, a blanket, scratch pads for cats – lots of low-cost choices to extend throughout a year.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        … Can you describe your experience with the spurtle? I had never heard of this, but the concept makes sense.

        1. Synaptically Unique*

          Mostly I’m obsessed with how cool some of the decorated ones are. LOL But I find them really handy to have on hand for spreading, mixing, whatever.

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      If your giftee cooks, consumables like interesting spices and flavored vinegars.

      You could get a small box of interesting candy or snacks from various local purveyors and stay by the $10 limit. Just enough to try something new, and it’s a great example of low cost, but $10 for a small box feels too indulgent if I’m buying a snack for me. Farmers markets can now be a good source of unique local things that are shelf stable, not just zucchini.

      I like the devotional book, or a small blank book. (Lined for writing, blank for sketching, different grids for sparking imagination.)

      Some people would have fun with a random craft item, like a small set of colored pencils. (I had a teeny 2″ set in my purse for years.)

    13. Storm in a teacup*

      Something food / drink related – either a nice condiment or a homemade gift or something to help them cook.
      Plants / flowers
      Something crafty they can do at home (I loved getting a pottery kit during lockdown)
      Hobby stuff eg If they’re into crochet or knitting – some yarn, music if they play an instrument.
      Alternatively (and I know this isn’t necessarily the point) but maybe signing them up for a charity where you can adopt an animal or similar – get pictures throughout the year of how the animal is doing.
      Vouchers to the movies or for an exhibition locally if you think they’d enjoy it?

    14. BreakingDishes*

      Consumables might work. I agree that collection of stuff can get wearing. Fragrant liquid shower soap. Interesting soft drinks. Toilet paper might have been welcome during COVID. It might be hard to continue to come up with ideas for consumables, but it is another option.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Thanks for all the ideas. I have used some of these ideas already, but doesn’t mean I can’t use again. My secret pal this year has been a real challenge. We fill out a form in January listing some things we like, and she didn’t put down ANYTHING!! The only thing I know about her is she loves baking pies to sell (my first gift to her was a cute apron.) And she loves to fish. (Have given her a fishing t-shirt, some fishing tackle and a new fishing hat at different times.) She emphatically wrote no food gifts, (she recently lost a lot of weight, so I understand.) For home decor she wrote gray. That’s it. I’m thinking of getting her a cute pie dish or a cookbook of pie recipes for November, but I still have September and October to get through. She doesn’t like to read and hates games. December can’t get here soon enough!!

    15. chocolate muffins*

      Agree with stuff she can consume. Since she doesn’t want food, maybe tea? That’s very cozy for the colder months! Or bubble bath/bath bombs/nice stuff for her skin if she’s into that kind of thing?

      Maybe a donation in her name somewhere?

      Perhaps an experience? Pre-COVID I would have loved a gift certificate to a movie theater but now it always feels risky and people have forgotten how to behave. Maybe passes to a museum or something like that, if anything near you is below the price threshold?

  19. RagingADHD*

    Here’s a new one to me: anybody have experience with the Watson Glazer test?

    I’m interviewing for a permanent job after my contract ends, and the initial screen seemed to go very well. The recruiter was enthusiastic about my background and skills.

    He then said that he always works with an I/O psychologist, and would be sending me an assessment that they use as a data point in hiring, training, and development.

    It’s the Watson Glazer, which from a quick googling seems to be primarily used in recruiting lawyers. I’m not a lawyer. The job isn’t law related. The company isn’t law related.

    Apparently it tests critical thinking. Which is all well and good. I’m a fan of critical thinking. The world needs more of it.

    But this is wierd, right? Is it wierd enough to be a red flag? This company isn’t quite a startup. It’s 8 years old. But it seems to be stuck in startup mode to a certain degree. There are some other yellow flags that leadership at this company might understand their core function, but may not really know how to run a business.

    Thoughts?

    1. Generic Name*

      I had to take a different assessment for a job I interviewed for. I didn’t get the job, and I think it’s probably because they needed a slightly different skill set, but part of me wonders if I actually “failed” their psychological test. :/

      1. allathian*

        I’m glad that where I am the testing companies are actually obligated to give whoever they test access to the test results in writing, and this includes the reasoning for any recommendations.

    2. Random Dice*

      If you have several yellow flags and then this made all them into a bedraggled bouquet of lawn dandelions… You have your answer.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Well, the upside would be that they know they need help and the position Im interviewing for is newly created to help them get their act together. So if they are reasonable and appreciative people, I could be very successful as a fixer.

        I think it’s worth finding out more. I just wonder if anyone here is familiar with the test or with I/O psychology in general.

        1. Generic Name*

          “Help them get their act together” sounds like a much bigger red flag than a psych test meant for lawyers, honestly.

  20. FashionablyEvil*

    Looking for suggestions for a virtual condolence card that multiple people can sign.

    The wife of one of my colleagues sadly passed away this weekend. My colleague has been at the company for over 15 years and is well known and liked and I know there are a lot of folks who would want to sign a condolence card. I’ve used Kudoboard for group messages in the past, but those have all been for happy occasions and it seems weird for him to get an email like, “Ted, your colleagues have sent you a Kudoboard!” when his wife just died.

    Ideas for alternatives?

    1. WellRed*

      In my office, people send individual condolence cards. And maybe a group floral arrangement. Not a fan of your kudoboard idea which I’m wondering if the name is rooted in kudos.

    2. J in Wi*

      You can do a kudoboard for this and then manually deliver via email using the link. Then you can control the message and the delivery. “Ted, we are so sorry for your loss. We want you to know we are thinking of you (embed link in last part of sentence).”

      1. Armchair Analyst*

        please don’t make a grieving person click on a link when all they want to do is stick a physical card in a pile to read later

        1. allathian*

          This only works if someone at the office knows their street address, which is by no means certain. HR and payroll know mine for obvious reasons, but not even my direct manager knows it and there’s no reason for her to know it.

          When one of my coworkers lost her mother a few years ago, the whole team signed a paper card and it was given to a HR rep who mailed it.

    3. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      unless your office is remote, I’d do a paper condolences card. In my office we do a group card and donate for a gift card for food. gift card isn’t necessary of course and I know not everyone can spare cash easily so if you do it it’s important to make it easy to sign but not contribute

    4. frida*

      I’ve used Moonpig to send around a link for everyone to ‘sign’ a card – each message is printed in a physical card that can then be mailed to the recipient. Worked well for a new baby card and they have Sympathy designs as well.

      1. Observer*

        This sounds great – I love computers and technology but I don’t think I looked at my email when my father passed away. Cards and the like are what we saw.

    5. Bagpuss*

      If it is practical I’d do a physical card, even if that means one card which you sign from and on behalf of the team

    6. Irish Teacher*

      Have ye anything local like rip.ie? It’s a website most deaths in Ireland are posted on and has a page for condolences (think they added this during covid when attendance at funerals was restricted). I don’t know if other countries have an equivalent but if ye do, you could all add condolences there.

      Not quite the same as passing around a card but a place for messages.

    7. Enough*

      Absolutely a paper card mailed to the home. Individual cards from those closest to the employee preferred.

    8. Cordelia*

      just one paper card, from “everyone at the office”, or whatever. No need for an individual message from everyone, as that gets repetitive – people who are particularly close to the employee and likely to be able to write something personal and meaningful can send their own individual cards. Please no electronic cards – seems wrong for the card to be caught up in a string of other non-related emails, especially if its to a work email address.

    9. chocolate muffins*

      We’ve sometimes made a PowerPoint slide with one central message and then everyone adds their own little message + electronic signature around the bigger message. Maybe something like that? It can be easily attached to an e-mail.

  21. Joy*

    I have a Ph. D. and a few postdocs under my belt, took a few years off for serious illness, and am going to be applying for jobs in business/industry. Any advice?

    1. Synaptically Unique*

      When you’re interviewing, be careful about focusing too much on your specific brand of science. It can come across as being unwilling or unable to work on someone else’s priorities. Especially if you’re considering moving into administrative or business spaces instead of strict science. Tailor your CV or resume to the position and focus your description of each role on transferable skills. For a biotech lab role, you might focus on your technical skills like experience with PCR and microscopy. if you had teaching responsibilities, focus on training aspects and presentation skills as opposed to writing lesson plans. For an administrative role, focus on your record-keeping and writing skills, attention to detail, and project-planning experience as opposed to technical skills. Good luck with your transition.

    2. Random Dice*

      Business is SO much better than science! I really think you’ll enjoy the transition. (And you can learn about fun science for fun now.)

      As a hiring manager, I want to know that people have:

      1) Curiosity paired with initiative – so if they get stuck they’ll go do an internet search before asking, and they’ll learn new skills as a matter of course. I don’t want them limited by what I know to teach

      2) Discipline – so they stick with the tedious parts of every job

      3) Social skills, if applicable to the job – so that at a minimum, peers will be willing to help them, and at a more advanced level, they can build consensus

      I can see that science has a lot of #1 and #2, and #3 is individual.

  22. Liane*

    Got a couple very different questions. (They will be in separate threads.)

    We live in a US rural area that is right in the path of the April 8, 2024 eclipse. Our home is on acreage that has been in my husband’s family for over a century.
    Husband would like to rent out some/all our land for primitive campsites or parking on the day. I am not against this but think we need more info to decide. He estimates it would cost about $500 for land clearing, which we plan to have done anyways.

    I think we might also need some porta-potties. Not everyone, especially day-trippers will have their own chemical toilets.
    As I write this, I have decided we probably should board the dogs who will be upset about. all the strangers.

    What else do we need to consider? How do we figure out what to charge?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I don’t know how far you are from easier places to stay, but we watched the last US total eclipse from a llama farm outside Bend Oregon that charged people $20 to park in their fields. Their being on a main road greatly facilitated this.

      You should definitely have toilets.

      How close are you to purveyors of food and such? It was nigh impossible to find food in the camping areas outside Bend right after the eclipse. (Fortunately I learned and kept pb and j makings in the car.)

      1. Liane*

        The county seat (pop. 2,602) is 20-30 minutes away with restaurants, fast food, gas stations, stores; they will also be very busy, from my experience during big local events. Town is on a highway, but our place is off that highway on a 4-5 mile twisty, 2 lane road that is narrow, no center line and chip seal, not real asphalt.

        I will be pushing getting potties, too.

        We watched the last one (2018 or 2019?) from Petit Jean state park, Arkansas, a few hours from here.

        1. Anon E. Mouse*

          I am also in Arkansas in the path of totality; as the poster above said, if you follow this route you will need bathrooms & you will need to either tell folks to pack in their own food or plan for a way to provide food (inadvisable imo).

          While folks are being told to prepare for an influx of people and order more food service, etc. there’s no guarantee that it will be available (gas too). Not trying to panic you at all– there’s no reason to panic– it’s just that we’re going to get **a lot** of traffic and traffic = resources beyond what we’re normally used to using.

          Since you’re off the beaten path, I might recommend doing a very limited “overnight” camp setup– you’ll have the porta-potties, but folks need to plan to bring their own food for three days (Sunday night – Tuesday morning/afternoon). Totality in 2017 meant blocked roads, so don’t anticipate that folks can get out quickly. It will clear up! But it might take time…

          Agreed also with checking with insurance/liability or permits required for your space. Also, you may need to determine how you feel about alcohol/drugs on the premises and how you will (or won’t) manage that. Some folks will be eclipse chasing with families; some folks will be eclipse chasing with a **party** mindset– both are valid. :)

          It does sound like a total pain… and might not be worth the profit once you consider any permits, insurance porta-potty cost… vetting campers… etc. maybe you could just invite some friends and have a grand old time??

          1. Liane*

            It may be more than we want to tackle & better to decide now than when we are over our heads and it’s almost upon us. All I have decided for certain is that I will take off that day. I am semi-retired – Husband is retired and partly disabled – and I doing fast food part time because limited job options.

            (And hello neighbor! Fancy meeting you here. We’re in Van Buren County.)

            1. Anon E. Mouse*

              Garland County here now but I used to live in Faulkner. Hard agree on the take a day off– we’re not sure who will have to work at my employer but they’re talking about “what if we have to escort people through traffic” type preparations! It’s wild!! Whatever you decide, I hope you’re able to stay safe and enjoy the beauty. :)

    2. WellRed*

      Consider cost of trash removal and whether your homeowners insurance will cover anything that might arise including injuries and dog bites. Yes, you need toilets unless you want people using the lawn and bushes.

    3. Serene Steph*

      I’m not in the US so things might be different, but I’d start by checking local laws for what’s required if doing something like this – what are you required to provide, do you need a permit, do you need insurance etc? Then see what those things will cost. I’d definitely have porta-potty toilets if you anticipate multiple people staying on the site.

      Other things I’d be thinking about: Fire safety? Trash disposal? Security? Signage/marking the space to provide plots? Who will be overseeing the people arriving/paying etc? How will you manage that? Cash only or do you have the ability to process card payments? Prebooking online? How do you get the word out that this is available – advertising etc? Is WiFi available? What’s the cell signal strength like where you are?

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Oh, Lord, FIRE SAFETY. If there’s anything the last few years have taught us its how quickly a fire can become a raging inferno. April used to be pretty safe that way but with climate change…

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You might need a permit. Rules vary so much by county, it can’t hurt to check before you set up shop.

    5. MsSolo (UK)*

      Burning Man should drop a few hints right now!

      Definitely toilets! Also, what’s your handwashing plan? Hand sanitiser is no use if people get mucky. Are there potable water supplies on site? Assume that at least some people are going to come unprepared. You don’t need to supply electricity, but there’s a lot of risks that shoot up if there’s no potable water.

      Consider how the land will handle multiple vehicles driving over it, especially if it’s damp. Think about laying down temporary surfaces or getting a lot of sand/sawdust in for the points where you’re going to have a lot of heavy vehicles passing, like gateways. Also, work out how many people you’re happy to accommodate and mark out spaces, so you don’t end up with everyone camping on top of each other (especially people in tents – fire risk!). Set aside specific areas for rubbish, provide bags, maybe see if you can get a skip or similar in for guests to put them in as they leave so you’re not having to carry multiple splitting bags of wet rubbish across the site.

      Consider lighting; people staying overnight will need lighting to find the porta-potties, and you may get people arriving late/leaving early, so you’ll want some lighting around your routes in and out of the site. Also light and/or fence off any areas that people might wander into at night, like ditches, tree stumps, large rocks.

      Fire fighting supplies – buckets of sand, fire beaters etc, very visible. Assume that no matter what guidance you give people, there’s a risk of fire – disposable barbecues, dropped cigarettes, glasses left next to dry grass etc. If it’s really dry, consider you might want someone on site in a raised position to act as a fire spotter.

      Think about what you’re going to use the land for afterwards. My parents hosted my sister’s wedding with an idea they could continue to offer eco-camping with outdoor showers and compost loos after (since she had friends camping on site in order to attend), but it never came to pass. Work out what’s worth renting and what’s worth making permanent infrastructure. If there’s a fire, a flood, a porta-potty explosion, is there anything you want to use the land for that you won’t be able to?

      In terms of pricing, I’d figure out the max you can accommodate, then work out what you’d need to earn to break even if you filled half of it, but that’s just back-of-the-envelope maths.

    6. Nervous Nellie*

      Absolutely check with your insurer and municipal permit office to get the what’s what. You don’t want an uninsured liability issue, or to have the event closed down by patrolling police officers. Depending on your area, you may need additional licenses if you invite food trucks, etc. If you are accepting payment, that also counts as income and must be reported on your 2024 return. Contact your accountant or your closest IRS field office for advice.

    7. Sparkle Llama*

      You likely need some sort of permit from the state health department and/or county board. May not be true in all places but I know a farm that needed to do it for a one day camp out.

    8. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      water source? camp fires ok or not? cell service decent? assuming no showers?

      make it clear when you are advertising what you are offering and what’s not available.
      the more clear the less confusion when people arrive or at least you can say that it was explained ahead of time if they complain

    9. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      I think port-a-potties are critical if you do this. Also a place for people to drop off trash without littering your property.

      I watched the 2017 eclipse in my backyard. I’m disappointed the 2024 eclipse will be too far for me to travel to, but I hope you enjoy this one. I know someone who was so psyched for the 2017 eclipse that he travelled 4 hours to the nearest location, only to be thwarted by some clouds.

    10. Past Lurker*

      You may want to have clear contracts/ waivers in place. And possibly alert neighbors if they would be impacted by increased traffic during that time?

    11. Liane*

      Updating with a few details.
      The land, except where our small home is, is undeveloped. Up until 5-6 years ago when it was harvested/logged, it was a tree farm. Now it is brush and rocky ground on a ridge, hence why we want more of it cleared even if we decide not to do this. We have electricity and water at the house but sharing would be problematic. Cell service is very bad, since we are 6 miles from the nearest tower. There’s no near neighbors, except for the small church; everything is wooded or cattle fields.

      I will share with Husband and be back, either today or next weekend.

    12. Starbuck*

      Have you checked if your county requires any sort of permits etc for such activity?

      Hipcamp is worth checking out as a site if you want to do bookings online.

      Definitely yes to toilets. People will be coming from all over the country, so decide how many nights prior to the day of that you are willing to let them stay.

      Decide in advance what your policies are for other people’s animals/pets, alcohol, weapons, quiet hours at night, children, etc etc.

      Other people almost certainly have listings up so you can compare rates. Try to plan on making enough to cover potential damage/clean up costs, or require a deposit.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Toilets are especially crucial because the last thing you want is accusations of human waste fouling ground water that other people may be using for crops and animals (Let alone it getting into wells and systems used by the human population.)

    13. pcake*

      Make sure it’s legal where you are, and if it requires a permit – and I’m guessing it will – the cost of that permit needs to be factored in.

      Me, I wouldn’t think of doing this without insurance – and don’t count on your regular insurance to pay if someone is injured on your land, as chances are your regular insurance won’t pay since it will be business-related, not personal. Chances are insurance may be pricey, but not as pricey as someone winning a $250,000 injury lawsuit against you plus legal expenses.

    14. goddessoftransitory*

      I’d check on all legal obligations before you do anything else. Everything from what you’re supposed to provide, such as toilets? Running water? Cooking facilities? To how much tax you will owe (everything from local and county up through federal) on what you charge.

    15. Erica*

      You might want to check out the app HipCamp.

      I only know it from the campers’ side, not the owners’ side, but I wonder if it would provide some vetting / security like Airbnb does for home rentals that would make it worth whatever fee they take out?

    16. Cedrus Libani*

      I watched the last eclipse from a farm in Oregon, which was owned by a friend-of-a-friend’s relative. The plus side of doing it as a friends-type thing was that they didn’t have to do as much work; no advertising, no customer service, no troublemakers. I don’t think they made money on the deal, though they could have; they just calculated the cost and asked us to pay our share. Be aware that there will be a severe port-a-potty shortage, because you won’t be the only one with this idea; you need to make that reservation soon, if it’s not already too late.

    17. Lily of the Valley*

      Permits and insurance. All you need is somebody getting hurt and the insurance company suing You. Your homeowners insurance won’t cover if you are charging people to camp there.
      Most people will be considerate but all you need is some bozo who gets drunk and causes mayhem.
      The cleanup would be monstrous, renting portapotties expensive. It all might end up costing you money in the long run.
      I suppose you could make campers sign some sort of waiver, but you’d need some legal assistance to draw up an enforceable form. Would you allow open fires? Is there a water source? Etc etc.

  23. frida*

    I left ToxicOldJob nearly six months ago and I keep going back and forth on whether or not it’s worth writing a Glassdoor review. It’s a company where one group of employees get treated like gods (think programming, stockbrokers, etc), while everyone else basically gets treated as expendable and a waste of company resources. Part of me feels like I am obligated to warn other support professionals like me about this place.

    Then I went on the website and saw that the ‘company culture’ slideshow features pictures from a company Halloween party WITH A PERSON IN BLACKFACE. It appears this was at a different site than the one I worked at, but holy shit. THEY CHOSE TO PUT THAT ON THE WEBSITE!! IN 2023!!!! If that isn’t enough of a red flag already, I’m not sure what one piddly Glassdoor review is going to do. My head is spinning.

    1. niknik*

      Do it, write the review. Not everyone is going to watch some powerpoint slides. Keep it short&sweet to keep as much people as possible away from that s**show.

      1. Observer*

        I agree with this.

        You might put in a PS that people should make sure to watch the slide show. Because the fact that they chose to include this tells me that it definitely was not a *you* problem, and I think any reasonable person looking at this would realize that. It’s not just that someone showed up in blackface (which is bad enough!) but that someone with some decision making authority, who is also relevant to communications thought that this was a good picture to showcase the *positives* of this company! And my head is just spinning.

  24. Modesty Poncho*

    SO I need some advice from a variety of people. I’m a freelancer in my mid-30s. I make enough to pay my bills but not a whole lot more. I do have an IRA account that I opened several jobs ago, with maybe $6k in it. And…I don’t know if it’s worth having. I set it to higher risk than I was fully comfortable with, since I’m young, but is it worth having the account when I can’t add to it reliably? I don’t have an employer matching anything, it’s just been the same money for years now.

    While I’m doing well and I don’t have debt, I don’t reasonably see myself making enough to retire on in my lifetime. But is it still good to have a small amount socked away? It’s maybe 2-3 months of living expenses at most.

    1. OtterB*

      It is worth having even if you can’t add to it reliably. Especially since you’re some time away from needing it, letting it sit and compound is helpful, and it’s there as an emergency fund if badly needed.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I think I’m confused. Is that your entire retirement fund right now? If so, yes, keep it, and keep trying to add even small amounts to it, even if it’s just once a year; compounding interest is your friend. Keep it in that high risk setting. You say you don’t plan to retire, but sadly most people don’t – they are forced to by health concerns or the need to be a caregiver to others. And you could always get a windfall from somewhere – when you do, you’ll have a great place to squirrel some of it away for the future!

      1. Modesty Poncho*

        Yea, it’s just that and what’s in my checking and savings accounts. That’s why it feels so pointless…but thank you.

    3. ThatGirl*

      Still worth having because it will grow over time even without deposits. And cashing it out now is not worth it – you’d get taxed heavily. You are likely to make more as you age (I hope you’re increasing your rates every so often!) and you may be able to contribute in the future.

    4. AVP*

      Yes, leave that account where it is and don’t touch it.

      But rather than adding to it right now, I would prioritize having an emergency fund that’s easier to access in a money market account first. It won’t really earn interest but having your emergency money separated from your regular expenses is a lifesaver when you need it. Aim for $500, the $1000, then 3 months of rent.

      1. Modesty Poncho*

        Thanks, I do have a savings account separate from checking that has a safety net in it. Plus a third account for withholding taxes from myself so they’re ready for estimated payments…which are coming up.

    5. Nonprofit writer*

      I’m a freelancer too. You may want to consider a SEP IRA since your contributions to that could reduce your taxes. But check with a tax professional—I file jointly with my spouse who has a full time job so it may be that my SEP is more advantageous to us than it would be to a single person (I don’t know if this is relevant to you or not.)

      Or, if you can’t make contributions for a while, keeping that IRA is still worth it. Cashing out would take a chunk of it so unless you really need to do that, just hang onto it, it will earn some money & you may be able to contribute later.

      1. Haven’t picked a username yet*

        In addition to what others have said – keep your IRA – move what you have in savings to a high yield account. Since interest rates have gone up there are so many of them that are FDIC insured. I have one that is over 4.5% so I am earning money on my savings but can access them at any time.

      2. Cj*

        the advantage of a SEP IRA over a traditional IRA is that the annual contribution limit is higher. if the OP is already having trouble adding to the account, I doubt they will need the higher limit.

    6. Keep It!*

      Yes, keep it. My father-in-law invested his mustering-out money from the Army (about $2000 in the 1950s. He never added to it, just let it keep reinvesting dividends. He and my mother-in-law never took anything out of it until he retired (and not a lot, either…it wasn’t an IRA so there was no minimum). When he died in 2021 it was worth about 1 million. The only thing I would suggest is that you convert it to a Roth IRA if it isn’t already.

    7. ronda*

      if you take money out of a traditional ira before you are 59 1/2 you have to pay taxes on it and a penalty. if it is a Roth IRA the rules are a little different.

      therefore it is really recommended to leave it alone until then, unless you have an emergency.

      I would guess you are probaly up to the 22% tax bracket and the early withdrawl penalty is an additional 10%. your ira company will probably withhold a % when distributed, but probably lower than the ~32% tax you might owe, so you might owe additional taxes when you do your taxes for that year.

      1. Cj*

        and if you do need to take it out for an emergency, it’s possibly because your income is down and will be in a lower tax bracket. plus you might meet one of the exceptions to paying the 10% penalty.

    8. Modesty Poncho*

      Thanks, I wasn’t remembering there was a penalty to cutting it off. I think I just wanted everything in one place to be easier lol.

      1. ronda*

        and to be clear. the penalty goes away after 59 1/2 but the distribution from a traditional ira is income and taxes are still owed. (your income was reduced when the money went into the traditional ira)

    9. Observer*

      I do have an IRA account that I opened several jobs ago, with maybe $6k in it. And…I don’t know if it’s worth having.

      Yes, it’s worth having. Also, try to add as you can, even without an employer match. It adds up. And even if it’s not enough by itself, it can be extremely useful.

  25. Lost in middle management*

    I work in a cross matrixed organization. Recently these has been an enormous amountof work and we hired people with half the skills needed, thinking training could compensate for the other half. I have a direct report who is taking matters into her own hands for items she has no direct experience in. She has adjacent-skills

    I’ve told her a couple times to keep me in the loop but she thinks because she is the person working most on that project she is in change of decision making on that project. She is deliberately leaving off meetings and internal communications and I’ve had to step in last minute and course correct so bigger problems don’t emerge later. Should I talk to her (again) or just quietly move her off the project? We have an anti retaliation policy at work, so I’m confused as to what I can do.

    1. Generic Name*

      Having worked in a flat/matrixes org, I can tell you that one common flaw is lack of clarity in roles. You say “direct report”, so you are her boss? I am going to assume that you are. Does she know that you are her boss and she is expected to take direction from you? Is she the project manager for the project? If she isn’t, the PM, who is, and does your employee know that? I think you are being way too timid and indirect. And I’m not sure what retaliation has to do with any of this. It’s my understanding that retaliation would be if she reported you for sexual harassment and then you take her off the plumb assignments and out her in the crap projects.

      Before you quietly take her off a project, sit her down and outline roles and expectations and check that she understands she isn’t the PM and that you expect her to loop the PM (I assume that’s you?) into relevant meetings.

    2. Alan*

      I don’t see how moving her could be retaliation. but move her to what? These don’t seem like project-specific problems. You can’t keep her on *any* project if she will refuse oversight. And honestly, it would scare me to death if I had someone like that working for me. I have to have enough information to know if things are going sideways before things get really bad. I would probably be going to my management or perhaps in a matrix organization, her line management, for help.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Talk to her and make it clear that she needs to include you in meetings and internal communications such as ‘x, y and z’. That this is a management instruction and failure to follow it again is going to lead down the route of an official process. Moving her off the project is likely to get interpreted (I know it isn’t the case) as attempting to ‘manage her out’. Do you know what her motivation is in acting like this?

      1. ScottInDC*

        I’m not the OP but I saw it happen once. I think the “motivation” is that they were young and didn’t know what they didn’t know and wanted to make a name for themselves by taking things over. Unfortunately they didn’t have the actual experience/education to do everything they were trying to do. When they were challenged on their behavior they went to HR and claimed that they were being bullied and it became a whole thing, but HR quickly figured out what was happening and they were moved out, to I don’t know where.

    4. Observer*

      Should I talk to her (again) or just quietly move her off the project?

      It sounds like it’s time to stop “talking to her” and actually start managing her. Like is laying down the law, essentially, and imposing consequences if she doesn’t comply.

      We have an anti retaliation policy at work,

      If it’s an actual anti-retaliation policy rather than a “don’t manage” policy (I’m not being snarky, some companies tie their managers’ hands), it’s just not relevant. Retaliation is about getting back at people for doing things are appropriate but that you *personally* don’t like, especially legally protected stuff.

      So, if she were requesting an ADA accommodation, and you disciplined her for that, that would be illegal retaliation. If you disciplined her for going to HR for something, that would probably be legal but against your company’s anti-retaliation policy (I hope!). But, managing her when she’s refusing to do her job is generally not what is meant when they say “no retaliation”.

    5. TG*

      Don’t just move her – however have a meeting and be crystal clear in a meeting and document in an email she is expected to include you and let her know what’s happened where you have had to course correct something she decided. If you find out she is not looping you in as asked after that than you have very right to move her off and step in.

  26. Nicki Name*

    I’m looking to get some cat grass because my back-door dasher seems to really want to chew on some grass. Does anyone have a preferred type/brand? Any tips for someone who’s absolutely hopeless at gardening?

    1. Colina*

      Cat grass is really easy to grow and hard to kill. Just plan to have multiple lots growing as my cat initially went through it in a few days and then had to wait weeks for it to regrow. Now I have four tubs that I rotate, ensuring a fresh supply every few days.

    2. GoryDetails*

      Not sure if this is common where you are, but my local big-box pet stores often stock already-sprouting pots of grass (also catnip, sometimes): think Petco or Petsmart. That’d be the easiest way to get started, and if your cat likes it you can try sprouting your own down the line. (I did find that the pet-store containers are usually so light that the cat could drag them around trying to gnaw the grass; when I planted my own seeds I’d use a small but heavier ceramic pot.)

      1. Cj*

        we recently got both some catnip and some cat grass from PetSmart. or a couple of our cats just love them.

        1. Cj*

          we need and some more and I’ve been saying to my husband “we need to pick up Zippy’s pot plant for him tomorrow”, meeting the catnip, of course. I was trying to make a mental note to myself to not say that out loud in front of somebody in case they thought we were serious, and I remembered oh yeah it’s been legal here since August 1st.

    3. Sharyn*

      Your question reminded me of a funny memory. When my daughter was a teenager, she was growing wheatgrass to make smoothies. The best place for optimum sunlight was on top of a dresser in my bedroom. The wheatgrass was beautifully lush and green. Until the morning she went to harvest some, and found our 18 pound Siamese cat curled up snoozing in the container. She wasn’t happy , but I thought it was hilarious.

      1. allathian*

        My parents grew wheatgrass for their cats. The cats had great nibbling habits because they never tipped the pot over or tried to drag it away.

  27. Pyjamas*

    My 20-something daughter asked my advice about a work situation, though I’ve warned her the best work advice is not to ask your parent for advice. She has male colleagues who are scrupulously well behaved AT work, and then hit on her while socializing outside work. Or they creep into her DMs. I know how I would have handled this in a different era, not so sure about 2023. She’s in STEM & the guys in question seem very nerdy and clueless, rather than predatory. She just wants a way to nip things in the bud, not cause drama or go to HR. Any advice?

    1. fueled by coffee*

      Ugh this sucks, and I’m so sorry your daughter is dealing with this (also, if they’re able to behave themselves *at* work, but continue to hit on her with no reciprocation *outside* of work, they’re not clueless). The problem is not the hitting on her in social contexts in general, it’s continuing to doing so even though she hasn’t been receptive to it. And FWIW, she would not be causing “drama” if she did decide to complain about this.

      In the meantime, though, block them on social media, and keep everything documented (in case she eventually does need to escalate this to HR). It’s not clear from your post whether she has firmly told them “no” yet – if not, that’s the first step. If a straightforward “Sorry, but I’m not interested,” feels too uncomfortable, she could try a white lie like “I don’t want to get involved with a coworker” that makes it less about the person in general. And then if they continue to hit on her, “I already told you that I don’t date coworkers.” And so on.

      This especially sucks because these men are now making out-of-work social activities uncomfortable for her, and she really shouldn’t have to navigate this. Some of my other advice would depend on the details of the kinds of social events they’re going to, but doing her best to talk to other people and avoid 1-on-1 encounters with these men might also help lower the temperature. But this really really sucks!

    2. tab*

      Woman in STEM here. A blanket “I’m flattered, but I don’t date colleagues.” should work fine. Push back (and I suspect she will get some) can be met with, “You aren’t going to make this weird for us, are you?”

      1. Random Dice*

        I like that!

        “I’m flattered, but I don’t date colleagues. Some guys hassle me about that, but I know you’re not the kind of person to do that. Hey I was wondering, [pivot to other topic].”

    3. RagingADHD*

      Well, if they are acting like she is “fair game” outside the office, she should respond in kind by shutting them down the same way she would shut down any other unwelcome advances. “I said no.”

      And if she feels like they are going to be petulant about it, “We have to work together, so don’t make this wierd.”

      The kindest way to deal with clueless people is to be firm and unambiguous. An error many of us make when we’re young is that we don’t want to be “mean.” So we hedge and are indirect, which can honestly go over some people’s heads, or allow pushy people to assume it’s a negotiation.

      Then when we are fed up, we get angry and our response can turn into a personal attack. So by trying to avoid being mean, we wind up being meaner than necessary, which doesn’t feel good for anyone involved.

      Much better to be direct up front. And that’s true for all kinds of interactions, not just being hit on. It’s the same in management, in parenting, dealing with ordinary disagreements or even in dealing with one’s parents!

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      Since she feels like they’re just clueless and doesn’t want to make it a big thing, I’d say start with just one pleasant but firm response and see how they react. Some ideas:

      “Thanks but I don’t date at work”

      “I know you mean well but please don’t say things like this (to me)”

      “I’m not comfortable with this kind of message (from a coworker)”

      If they’re actually clueless they’ll apologize and/or be embarrassed and/or (most importantly) STOP… if there’s any kind of push back or it affects how she’s treated at work she should probably at least give HR a heads up.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        They don’t do it at work because they are afraid of getting caught. They may be nerdy but they’re not clueless.

        My kid is 23, currently working retail, and has dealt with creepy customers so far rather than co-workers, so that’s different. When she had issues with a teacher in HS we talked about the fact that she wasn’t “creating drama” by reporting it. The report was an (expectable) consequence of his choices. But I get it – she’s a young woman in a male-dominated industry and she would run a risk of damaging her career (which utterly and totally sucks). I like the suggestion above about a firm boundary around dating co-workers and a “don’t make this weird” follow-up. If there’s a woman in her company who she trusts and could approach about this, that might help – not to report but more to ask for advice about what to do in a more mentor/mentee kind of way.

        And AARGHHH. Boys. JUST DON’T.

    5. Generic Name*

      First of all, if the men know how to behave at work but then creep on her outside of work, they are not clueless. They know exactly what they are doing. Tell her to take screenshots of the DMs that make her feel uncomfortable and not to delete anything. She may change her mind about going to HR, and she’ll need the proof.

      She gets to decide who to spend her time with, so if these lads make her feel uncomfortable outside of work, she is allowed to not hang out with them. If they make “jokes” she is allowed to be visibly offended. If she wants zero drama, she can decline to hang out and offer bland excuses. She is also allowed to have normal human reactions when someone says something gross to her. “Wow” “Ew” “Why would you say that to me?” “Please stop; that makes me uncomfortable”. If these guys really are “clueless” and they don’t realize she’s uncomfortable, they will be apologetic and stop.

      I’m a woman in a STEM field, and I’ve been in male dominated environments for nearly 20 years. I’m not saying it will be easy for her. I am saying this because I wish someone had said this to me many years ago: You do not have to be seen as “one of the guys” to be accepted. You don’t have to laugh at unfunny “jokes” that make you feel uncomfortable. You are allowed to say, “I don’t like that” and you don’t have to spend time with people you don’t enjoy being around.

      1. Sage*

        Plus trying to be “one of the guys” who “doesn’t create drama” can end in a really ugly way. I know this because I have witnessed it.

        1. Generic Name*

          Yup. I was like that because I had been trained to be like that by my abuser. I am out of that relationship and am safe, but was chilling to realize that society tells women that in order to be accepted we need to not speak up and “be cool” because it makes us easier to control.

    6. Pyjamas*

      Thanks everyone! I’ve been vague on details because it’s not my story to tell AND I wanted advice that would cover future battles as well as part ones. There are some real gems here that will come in handy. I’ll compile everyone comments, pass them on, and slowly back away (bc I don’t want to be the kind of mom ppl write AAM about)

    7. been there, still here*

      I want to second all of the ugh, I’m sorry. This sucks. Is socializing part of work, or is it optional? I acknowledge it may also be one of those tricky optional but really we notice when you’re not there and you’ll miss out on bonding and more serious opportunities like projects and promotions (depending on who is going out). I like what tab suggested (“you aren’t going to make this weird for us, are you?”), which is light but also direct and puts the onus on the person making the unwanted advance (rather than the person who doesn’t want it). In either case, does your daughter have the option to limit the going out (“I’m not free on Fridays anymore, but I can join on Tuesdays”), or put a time limit on it (“I only have an hour, but I could do one drink”, or bring a friend. I wonder if there are any women or non-binary people at work who may be better friends than these blokes. (Or friends outside of work?) Is her manager going to these things? Is her manager (or theirs) someone she can talk to? I’d bet she’s not the only one experiencing it, and not the only one not reporting it. Take screenshots of DM’s and anything you can. Then block them. It may be socially awkward, but if she feels safer it’s worth it. She shouldn’t have to explain it, but if it comes up you can take a similarly light and direct approach (“I realized I was only using it to stay in touch with my high school friends, so they’re the only ones I follow anymore” or “I was tired of seeing [guy] post [things they make fun of the guy about]” or “trying to keep work at work”, which also works with fueled by coffee’s suggestion that she state a firm “I don’t date coworkers”.) Also, Pyjamas, I’d ask you to reflect on your post and perception of the situation, particularly that “the guys in question seem very nerdy and clueless, rather than predatory”. I want to second all the THEY KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THEY’RE DOING, keeping it off-site (which may or may not be the case, depending on whether the company is planning these gatherings, or the guys are using work computers or phones to message her personally after-hours). When I was a teenager, if I expressed discomfort at attention from an (inevitably older) man, my mom would say something like “oh, but he’s harmless”, which she may have felt was reassuring but I felt anything but reassured. Your daughter is clearly uncomfortable, and that’s valid. I appreciate your looking for suggestions to help her, and hope that she has found other people and resources to help her, too. I wish her the best in navigating this awful, too-common scenario. She’s not being unreasonable. They are.

    8. Sage*

      What your daughter can also do is to practice her chosen sentences calmly at home. This way it will be more improbable that she stumbles or sounds angry.

    9. Maggie*

      Ignore their DMs and say you rarely check them because you’re unplugged after work and then say you have a “personal policy of not dating co workers” and “it’s just my personal policy so thanks for understanding”

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      “Seeming” nerdy and clueless is the new predatory a lot of times, unfortunately. If they really were naifs of the woods they wouldn’t be hitting on her the second the office doors close behind them and trying to DM her.

      Tell her to go on the assumption that while they may mean well, they know what they’re doing. She doesn’t have to treat them like they’re Bambi and she’s Thumper.

  28. Miss Kat*

    Good morning everyone,

    Some advice please? My company picnic is on September 10th, and I really don’t want to go. I love my job and the company I work for. My boss is spectacular. I’ve been work from home since Covid, and it is part of my compensation. I don’t ever have to come into the office if I don’t want to. In the 3 years since I’ve been working from home I’ve been in the office maybe twice. Both for our Christmas party. I talk to a variety of my coworkers every day, and my boss several times a day. My boss and her husband (the owner) came to my husband’s funeral 2 years ago and told my kids (5 of them) how much they love me, and how amazing I am at my job. That one made my daughter cry :)

    Unfortunately, they are very cliquey in person. I’m usually left alone, and no one greets me or talks to me at all. The drive is only an hour, and the picnic for 4 hours, but just the thought of going and sitting there by myself makes me sad. My kids don’t particularly want to go. They’re all adults except for my youngest.

    Any advice for backing out gracefully or how to not feel so alone if I do go?

    1. niknik*

      You feel comfortable with some white lie ? Unexpected dentist appointment _just_ on the same afternoon ? (Can’t drive after that because of some medication, so sorry…).
      If it’s true that nobody in particular is looking to hang out with you, that should not raise any eyebrows.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Well, if you do go, you’ll have to put yourself out and be proactive in talking to people. If you wait for people to approach you, especially since they are not used to interacting with you in person, they may assume you would prefer to social distance or keep to yourself.

      If there’s a group you want to join, walk up to them and merge into the circle. Listen for a while to the topic of conversation, and start making eye contact and reacting as a participant. Then make side comments to your neighbors. That eases you into the general chat.

      Alternatively, you could seek out other people who seem to be on their own, like kids or guests of coworkers. You can be the gracious person welcoming them and putting them at ease.

      If you don’t want to go, just say, “Sorry I can’t make it. Have a great time!”

    3. GoryDetails*

      Just… don’t go? I mean, if there are sign-up sheets or RSVP forms, you could do a quick “can’t make it”, but unless your manager’s been really pushing you to attend, a casual no-show should be fine.

      That said, a picnic might have a different vibe than a holiday party, and you could opt to show up for an hour or so in the middle of the allotted time if you want; maybe see if there are any other interesting places to visit in the area to help make the drive worth it if you still don’t enjoy the company? But if the very idea of going makes you squirm, just don’t!

      [I know Alison has posted about the benefits of making *some* effort to be social with co-workers, but if you’re doing well in your not-in-person role, you may not need to push for face-time.]

    4. Maxine*

      Go be there for an hour or so and then leave for a “prior” engagement with some friends or family members.

    5. Bagpuss*

      So you think people will notice if you don’t show up? Would it be possible to combine with something else – maybe organise something you would enjoy in the general vicinity (r even big shop if you need to do se) and then swing by the picnic for half an hour or so, seek out your oss and closest colleagues to say hi, then leave – that way, as you are also doing something else , you haven’t driven an hour each way for 30 mins of socialising,, and if yo actively seek out the people you work with most to day Hi you are fairly visible and have people to talk to if only briefly, then ou can move on, and if anyone asks, “sorry, I have an appointment, but lovely to catch up!”

    6. Nervous Nellie*

      Ooh, that’s easy. It’s a Sunday, so you have a family event that day that was planned a long time ago, that you just can’t miss. That you are your family and the event could be being on the couch hanging out with Netflix is none of their business.

    7. Girasol*

      Prior engagement works. You can always say how sorry you are that you won’t be able to enjoy it with them and wish them a good time.

    8. Storm in a teacup*

      You don’t have to go but maybe going will be good to build more rapport with colleagues. If you feel you have this then don’t fret.
      However if you do decide to go, have an excuse ready in advance so you can leave early.
      Also I would consider proactively discussing the event with your coworkers beforehand. ‘Are you going to be there? Will be so nice to see you in person! Will be lovely to chat about stuff that’s not work!’
      Gauge how they react – if people’s vibes are positive and say they’re looking forward to seeing you too that should help your confidence to approach them when you arrive. Are there other remote workers you can make an effort to hang with? They may be in the same boat?
      Could you take a friend? Personally I love socialising with new people and small talk and often end up being a plus 1 for friends as they know they can leave me to it and not worry about needing to look out for me. I still get nervous when in a setting like you’re describing – I just push myself to go and start a conversation. If it doesn’t pan out then no biggie, I move on.

    9. Random Dice*

      Listen to the book “How to Talk to Anyone About Anything”. It’s about asking good questions to people and listening in a new way, and getting out of the way of your own social anxiety.

      You also might reach out to someone who’s friendly to you remotely, and confess to social anxiety and ask to sit with them.

  29. niknik*

    I’m probably being a dumb-dumb, but i don’t see this in “How to comment” section: Is there a AAM policy on profanity / swearing in the comments ?

    1. anon24*

      I don’t know if there’s an official policy, but I believe Alison has said she’s okay with profanity. Just be respectful, like it’s ok to swear, but not swear at someone, so it’s fine to say what the fuck about a situation, but you wouldn’t tell a fellow commenter to fuck off. As long as you are keeping your tone to other commenters kind and respectful, I’ve definitely posted lots of comments here with profanity, they just sometimes go through the moderation filters first.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I’ve had profanity go through; policy is that light interjections like you have in adult conversation are normal. I would infer that stuff that was less “interjection!” and more “I verb your noun!!!!” would start to get into “this is a dinner party, shape up” territory.

      I have triggered the auto-censor with a brief post about stewed prunes, so you never know what it’s thinking.

    3. *daha**

      Several years ago one of my comments that contained the f-bomb (while quoting Kurt Vonnegut about rolling dougnuts) was auto-moved into moderation, and then later approved to go through.

  30. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

    My wife has a gaggle of chickens and enjoys her “babies”. We have had a marauding racoon coming at night to eat (not the chickens). We got a trap and lucky me, I am now the proud owner of a very large racoon. Now what the hell am I going to do? City boy’s and suburban life can be a real challenge.

    1. niknik*

      As it’s not hurt and they are not endangered or such, i’d simply drive to some woodlands a few miles away from you and just release it there. Might make it a few miles more, maybe look up how big their territories are.

    2. GoryDetails*

      You should check your local laws and wildlife regulations about that. (Also, probably an obvious tip but do be very, very careful – raccoons can be dangerous when scared/angry, and might carry diseases.)

      Even if you can get this one safely relocated, you might need to look into more stringent precautions for those chickens; where there’s one raccoon there will be others. Good luck!

      1. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

        chickens are well protected at night in a 10′ x 10′ dog run with strong roof. Rocky only had access to our outside fenced in “chicken run”.

        1. Chestnut Mare*

          They also carry a species of roundworm that is very dangerous to humans, particularly small children.

          1. Cj*

            yeah, I watched an episode of Monsters Inside Me where the guy went blind after stepping in raccoon poop.

            Rabies is always a huge concern with raccoons.

    3. Pieforbreakfast*

      Reach out to your animal control services for instructions on what to do. In my county racoons are not relocated but euthanized due to concerns with disease. When I had backyard chickens I had a couple killed by racoons, which is how I learned the deficits in my coop build and fixed them.

    4. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

      Problem is resolved. Perhaps correctly, perhaps not.

      I called animal control and was directed to police non-emergency line since it is a holiday.

      One friend wanted to shoot it. Not a good idea for a suburban neighborhood.
      It was suggested to drown it in a trashcan. Seems like overkill (dad joke).

      Drove it to my friends house whose backyard abuts a state park. I hope it enjoys its new home.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Glad you found a resolution.

        Going forward, I recommend deciding how you’ll deal with what you catch before setting traps. Have a plan for both dealing with un-intended bycatch and with your actual targets. (My mom once caught a very wet, very angry cat in a trap she’d set out for rats in the backyard.) You have all the time in the world to research and make plans before you set the trap, but once you actually catch something the clock is ticking.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Agreed. Call animal control for advice and guidelines for future encounters now, before the situation is “Oh, God, I didn’t know they could MAKE a noise like that!”

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      FFS, do not handle it! Raccoons are wild animals and vectors for rabies. Call your local animal control for advice, and quickly–you don’t want to keep the poor thing penned up for hours.

    6. SB*

      WHY ARE RACOONS SO EASY TO CATCH???? I see way too many IG reels of random people & kids just walking up to them & picking them up, giving them some smoochies then letting them go again.

      I am an Australian & we do not touch our native wildlife because, well, it is generally not friendly & is also fast AF. Most things just will not sit around & wait to be picked up (except maybe Quokkas but they are a bit dim).

      I also want a racoon. Their little hands are just too cute.

  31. cat grooming help*

    One if my cats is on the larger side and getting older to the point where she needs help with grooming. She’s a short-hair, but still has quite a bit of fur. Her brother tries to help, and I’ll brush and comb her too, but I don’t know how effective they are. She still has areas that feel matted, and it feels like a constant job. Does anyone have recommendations for any combs or other tools that might be more helpful?

    1. RagingADHD*

      We just got a Furminator, which seemed expensive to me for a brush. But it is worth the money for getting out undercoat.

    2. GoryDetails*

      I like the wire slicker brushes – and some/most of my cats have liked them too, though a few have not enjoyed being brushed that way. If your cat’s fur is too thick for those, maybe a steel comb?

    3. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I have an elderly (18.5 yrs old) cat who doesn’t groom himself so well either. He also has dry skin or dandruff. The vet suggested I brew some catnip tea (very diluted) and wipe him with it. The guy at the herb store suggested that essential oil might work better for me. So after I thoroughly brushed him, I put 4 drops in a half cup of warm water and it was just enough to soak a wash cloth. As I was wiping him with it, he really perked up and was trying to figure out where that delicious scent was coming from. (He has always been very responsive to cat nip.). When he realized that the smell was coming from him, he immediately started grooming himself. He seems happier and more energetic now. I might start wiping him down about once a week.

      1. Don't Be a Dork*

        You do want to be careful with essential oils, as they can be way too concentrated for the cat’s system and cause serious issues. That may be why your vet suggested tea instead.

    4. Don't Be a Dork*

      I second the Furminator, but I use it in combination with the wire slicker brush depending on the cat (we have 7) and its mood. Oldest boy adores both, so I can groom him easily, but I’ve found that you really want to do it small doses. Just as you would with a small child with seriously tangled hair, start at the ends and work closer to the skin. Also, just one smallish section at a time. I started with the hindquarters so as we progressed the brush/furminator could go from a tangle to a bit that was already detangled. That gave my big boy a longer finishing sweep each time, which he adores.

    5. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      I too vouch for the furminator! I also do a bit of judicious trimming with scissors – I trim both cats’ bibs, as soon as I see their fur has reached the stage where they lick their fronts and can’t tip their necks far enough to get the fur out of their mouths, and I also trim the long fur around their bottoms so there’s less fur for stray poo to stick to.
      One cat found the sound of scissors to be an affront to her dignity, so I had to get her used to the noise by making the scissors click while clearly being a couple of feet away. If I find any mats while feeling through her fur, I am more inclined to just snip them off now. Both of my fluffy cats are prone to underarm matting, so I trim that fur back when I can.
      Sometimes it is arthritis that affects how much they can groom themselves, as they get older.

    6. Anono-me*

      I found out about grooming blades when I accidentally knocked one over at a friend’s house. Two cats that I had not seen at all for my entire visit came running up to me and danced around like puppies begging for a treat. I got one for my pup who loved it also.

      It looks mean, like a hacksaw blade folded in half.

  32. Queriesfromtheback*

    If your job issues you a work phone, does that implicitly mean that your job is one of those jobs that expects you to be constantly available?

    1. GoryDetails*

      No – but you should definitely ask about that. I can imagine advantages to company phones regarding private data or workplace apps that people might not want on personal phones, etc., that wouldn’t necessarily mean they expect you to be responsive 24/7.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, we can do BYOD, but the expectation is that you download some extra apps for monitoring and IT support. I will happily have a three models old iPhone to avoid that.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Not necessarily. Right now I’m in my first job in over a decade that expects me to use my own phone and I’m way more available than in previous jobs with work-issued phones. I prefer the work phone– boundaries between work and home are important to me.

    3. Sparkle Llama*

      I actually find it is much easier to be off when I have a work phone. My work cell stays in my laptop bag and work email stays off my personal phone.

      I have worked places where having a work cell meant you had to answer outside of work hours but that isn’t always the case.

    4. Cordelia*

      Depends on your job, obvs, but it doesn’t necessarily imply that you must be always available – for me its the total opposite. I have a work phone for when I am at work, and I can switch it off when I am not at work. Rather than having work calls on my personal phone, which is on all the time.

    5. Stephanie*

      Depends on the department/manager/role. I’ve always had a work phone at my current company. We got them because we travel a bunch and were not usually desk bound. First boss and role never expected me to available outside work hours. Current role, I think there is an implied understanding you’re reachable, but it’s been rare that someone really melted down that you didn’t call them back immediately outside of work hours.

    6. Bobina*

      Nope. Depends on company culture and your role, but I have almost always had a work phone and have had 0 expectation to always be on. In my case, it was mainly only useful for work travel (had the unlimited international plan) and for keeping track of work email when travelling (eg on a train). But as others have said, my work phone is almost always off if its not M-F 9-5.

    7. Observer*

      does that implicitly mean that your job is one of those jobs that expects you to be constantly available

      Not necessarily.

      For example, it’s becoming a bit of a thing to provide social workers / therapists who are in the field cell phones. Part of the reasons is so that clients do NOT have access to the therapist’s personal number. But also so that at the end of the day, they can put the phone away and not worry about who is calling.

    8. allathian*

      In my experience it’s been rather the reverse. I work for the government and keep my work phone on silent outside working hours and when I’m on vacation. Because of security concerns I’m not allowed to handle any work data on my personal devices. I don’t find carrying two phones cumbersome at all given the work-life separation they entail.

      My husband’s employer pays his telephone bill in full, including costs for personal use, in exchange for him being available more or less 24/7, even if calls outside working hours are relatively rare, except that he does get calls even when he’s on vacation. He doesn’t seem overly worried about the possiblity of his employer remotely resetting his phone to factory settings and deleting everything on it. Although he’s assured me that his employer can’t see any info on his phone, they can simply remotely reset it. I’m not convinced, but it’s his phone and his job.

      Apart from anything else, I wouldn’t want the hassle of changing my phone number if I switched jobs…

  33. Liane*

    Question 2 (with doggo update!)
    It has now been 2 years since we adopted our tripod (amputee) 80% border collie, Gilligan, who has calmed down a bit, as he is about 4 now. Not that the canine chaos is much less, with him and Bear, our 9 year old Labrador/Belgian Groenendael in a small house. Both are very affectionate and we love them.
    While Bear has slowed down (except for play fights with “kid brother”), Gilly needs more things to do & we need ideas.

    Gilly has ropes (he does solo play and tug of war) and balls. Both get walked 1-2 times per day and let out as often as they want for as long as they want (if weather isn’t unsafe). Unfortunately, I can’t give them long walks on our acreage even though I love light hiking – but won’t be able to until I get my knee replaced next year.

    Suggestions, please? Bonus points if it’s fun for both dogs. I prefer to avoid treat puzzles as Bear is overweight – we are following vet’s weight loss advice – and we want Gilly to stay a healthy weight. Chew toys need to be super-tough since Gilly’s teeth and jaws are powerful. He can easily shred that thick “firehose” material some cloth dog toys are made of.

    Any exercises I could work with them on that don’t require pricey equipment and will spare my knee? Energetic Gplastic both very fast and agile, inofpite of being a tripod – typical of tripods. Bear not at all; he has bad hip powerfull as well as being early senior. I still have most of my mobility but overuse can mean several days of pain and needing to take it easy.

    1. MaxKitty*

      Could you set up some agility obstacles and train Gillian on those? Something like the poles they weave through need not be expensive.

      Maybe some sort of hide-and-seek or search training?

      1. Liane*

        I like the idea of poles. I’ve thought about jumping obstacles as he is a big jumper, about 6′ horizontal & 4′ vertical. Is that doable?

        Anything would have to be on leash; Gilligan WILL run off if he gets outside unleashed and we would not be capable of catching up to him.

    2. Liane*

      Ugh! How did I miss the mess autocorrect did of my last paragraph?!?!

      Corrected version:

      Any exercises I could work with them on that don’t require pricey equipment and will spare my knee? Energetic Gilly is both very fast and agile, inspite of missing a forelimb – typical of tripods. Bear not at all; he has bad hip dysplasia as well as being early senior. I still have most of my mobility but overuse can mean several days of pain and needing to take it easy.

    3. Another Millennial Emily*

      This one might be too season and climate-dependent, but my old dog used to love chasing a laser pointer through the snow! I could just stand still on the back porch and move the laser all around the yard. It was easy to see on the snow, he could run after it, and if he got distracted, I didn’t have to go find a misplaced ball somewhere out there. Maybe something similar could work with your terrain?

    4. MissCoco*

      Any time for training? tricks or scent work? I used to dog sit for a border collie, and I found that using her brain was much better at actually tiring her out/slowing her down than physical exercise was. If you do agility work make sure it’s at a safe height/level, especially if you aren’t working with a trainer. You can personalize treats to the dogs, or just let them work for their regular kibble allowance.

      A game I loved to play with my childhood beagle was “hide and seek” once she had a solid “stay” and good recall to a whistle installed I would tell her to stay, and then go hide in the house (hiding places didn’t have to be good, just not in her direct line of sight), and then whistle and she would set off. If she was having trouble I’d whistle again, because of the acoustics of a house, the whistle is helpful but not a dead giveaway, it would usually take her a few minutes to find me.

      That dog never got to a point where she could be safely off leash except in very short bursts where she was 110% focused on me, but we did lots of recall and low-level agility in the backyard using a combination of long lines and short leashes + high value treats. I didn’t know about scent work then, but it would have been ideal for her

    5. Cj*

      since you say you do take them for walks, do you use a retractable leash? they work really well with our dogs, and give them a lot of room to run around without them or you becoming entangled in the leash.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Retractable leashes can be super dangerous if you drop the handle. Having it rattling along behind them can very easily set a dog off, and then it becomes a scary thing they can’t get away from, so they panic and run harder, and then you run the risk of them getting their legs tangled in it and injuring themselves.

    6. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I have a BC rescue and she just had a tooth pulled so had to remove all the hard chew toys. I got some lick mats, and while your senior might be on a bit of a diet, I found that smearing it with non fat yogurt, pumpkin, a few blueberries keeps her busy for a while, but with lowfat treats. And I compensate lick mat calories by reducing her next meal by maybe 1/4 cup. I also sprinkle some water on the whole thing, too before I pop it in the freezer, so it’s one big popsicle she has to work at. I also found an indoor swimming pool for dogs in my area, so I can take her to that for all the water fetch she wants, while I stay stationary whilst throwing. I also sit on my patio and play fetch with my BC and also fill up a 48″ round pool in summer for her to play in (she cools off in it between fetches). Otherwise if you can hire a dog walker specifically for exercise once in a while, until you heal from your future TKR, that could help, too! Good luck!

    7. Anono-me*

      RC car with a treat in the back. The calorie consumption will be less than what is burned off, especially if it is something like watermelon (only a few small cubes per day) or carrots.

  34. Still Momty and Millie's Mom*

    I’m unsure how to word this, so please bear with me as I work through it with more words than probably necessary! I tend to either overthink or be wildly impulsive, and have been overthinking finding a new job for awhile. My husband and I moved several states from “home” about 20 months ago and I ended up taking a job that I wasn’t excited about because I needed a job, I was qualified for it, and the pay (barely) met my requirements. I don’t hate the job, and I LOVE the schedule (12 hour days M-W), but I was reading everywhere that there was so much opportunity out there, apparently everyone was hiring and for higher salaries with lots of WFH opportunities, so I thought after I’d been at this job for a reasonable amount of time, I’d look for something else. But now that it’s been a reasonable amount of time, I’m hearing that it’s NOT a good time to look, there are lots of layoffs, no one is hiring, salaries aren’t good, and WFH isn’t a thing. So I guess, what are your thoughts and observations on this? Is it just certain geographic areas, or certain types of jobs, or doomsayers, or what?

    1. ThatGirl*

      In my limited experience it depends a lot on the field and industry. I also feel like it can’t hurt to look? I know for my area (in-house copywriter, near Chicago) there are jobs, but not so much on the remote. But you never know!

    2. Queriesfromtheback*

      As someone whos actively looking, hiring has slowed down some in my industry (fed govt) but that may be due to the upcoming budget issue/potential shutdown and end of fiscal year. I did notice however that all of the jobs posted are no longer remote but rather telework eligible pending supervisory approval.

      My partner on the other hand is getting nonstop recruiter messages across all platforms asking him to lateral so I guess there are positions out there still.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I don’t understand the hesitation around looking. If you look and don’t find anything that suits you better, then you keep your status quo and stay in your job. If you look and you do find something that suits you better, then you apply.

      1. Starbuck*

        Same. OP, gently, yes you are overthinking this. Go ahead and look with whatever spare time you are willing to spend on this and see what you find.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Yes. The princess doesn’t have to be in the castle for you to check the real estate ads, as it were. You’ll get a much clearer picture of who’s hiring for what the more you research the actual market in your areas of interest.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You can always look, no matter what time it is. But you may not find anything suitable, so be prepared for that. I was laid off in January and took a job a few months later that was OK but not great. It’s not a great fit. But my preferred side of my field has been slammed with more layoffs and I’m better off where I am. I still look, but the hopes of finding something different are slim, so I’ve leaned in a bit more to my current job.

    5. RagingADHD*

      There is never a bad time to look, in terms of the market. There are times when your personal circumstances may be more or less conducive to a job hunt. In terms of the economy, there are when it’s less bad or more bad to quit without anything lined up, but looking is always free.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      People have been hired into good jobs in the midst of chaos. You’re overthinking.

      Worst case is you look and nothing meshes well and you stay in the okay job with a great schedule. Best case you’re actively looking and so primed to respond to that great posting when it appears, and it comes through.

      If you had been looking for 6 months and were finding nothing and frustrated and wanted to just take a break, I’d give you permission to do that. But if you’re wondering if you should start to look for something better? Yes, you should start to look.

    7. Generic Name*

      What’s the harm in looking and finding out for yourself? If you don’t find anything suitable, you’re no worse off than you are now. If you find something you love, great!

    8. Starbuck*

      If you want to look, you might as well look! Why not? If you don’t find anything that’s better pay/WFH, then that’s that. This is so field/region dependent that no one can really tell you what it’d be like for you without that info. Other than the time spent, what have you got to lose?

    9. Cj*

      I think this really, really depends on the industry. I’m a CPA and was looking for a new job a few months ago. and there is apparently an extreme shortage of accountants, and firms are allowing work from home because of this.

      I am fully remote in my current position, although I did decide to go with a firm located in my state about 2 hours away from me, so I can get there when I need/want to. they offered me $10,000 over what I was asking for, and I was already asking for $13,000 more than I had made at my previous job. experienced tax preparers are in extremely short supply, as evidenced by the fact that so many of my co-workers are not experienced.

    10. Observer*

      But now that it’s been a reasonable amount of time, I’m hearing that it’s NOT a good time to look, there are lots of layoffs, no one is hiring, salaries aren’t good, and WFH isn’t a thing. So I guess, what are your thoughts and observations on this?

      There are still jobs out, and some of them are either WFH or hybrid.

      But really, why is this an issue? It’s not like you are considering quitting without a new job lined up. You can start looking and if you don’t find something, you’re not really worse off.

    11. Chauncy Gardener*

      Please look! You’ll only know what it’s like for your role if you look. And there’s no commitment if you just look.

  35. Bluebird*

    I’ve been thinking about resigning from my job for a while, and last week confirmed that this is not a long-term position. Is it 100% stupid to resign without a job lined up? I’ve been applying to other jobs for a few weeks and not heard back (am I un-hire-able?).
    There are a few orange/umber flags but the biggest one is this: my skip-level boss (Angela) is very big on “I’m not a micromanager – I trust you to get your work done” to the point where she has no clue what any of our work actually is. She didn’t rise from the ranks and was transferred to this office after her prior office closed. It wasn’t quite a lateral move (executive secretary to content supervisor…).
    The biggest red flag: A group of individuals two levels below me began griping about their manager earlier this year. A few months ago, 3 of them called Angela to complain about their manager. Angela, without talking to the others on the team or even the manager herself, wanted to move the manager into a non-supervisory role. I emailed my concerns about the move and it was eventually passed to to our EEOC office (race may have been a factor in complaints). Recently, the manager accepted another position within our office and no longer interacts with this group of women.
    Now that the manager is gone, at least one of the women has changed her sights to me. Through calls on personal cell phones (so not traceable on company devices), this woman will call Angela when she doesn’t get an answer she wants from me, even if my responses are perfectly reasonable, professional, and respectful.
    Last week Angela very suddenly changed the reporting structure, holding a meeting with this group of women and only informing me and my boss after the meeting happened. She didn’t even meet with me – just told my boss to pass it along to me. If there was a work hierarchy and Angela was in position 1, these women would be in position 5 – Angela skipped over everyone in between, and this shift drastically impacts teams, content knowledge for supervision/assistance, and my own ability to complete my work (since my team has shrunk and those left are not currently trained on our time-sensitive work).
    Am I overreacting?
    Is talking to HR a stupid idea?
    We don’t have policies about toxic work environments (which I feel like these back-channeling conversations definitely fall into) but we do have an abusive workplace policy that speaks to undermining an employee’s work, arbitrary/punitive punishment without cause, malicious behavior, and launching a campaign against others not based on facts.
    I intend to turn in my resignation and leave in the next few weeks. I don’t feel safe as it seems Angela makes changes on the whim of some newly-hired women instead of in the best interest of the company or overall product. However, if my ‘testimony’ can help someone else left behind after I leave, I want to be able to provide that for them. (Angela told me two weeks ago that my own boss, by the nature of her position, can be fired at any time, and I should tell her if I see any micromanaging happening – with the implied message that she would be fired for it!).

    1. *daha**

      Got six months of living expenses in hand? That’s reasonable planning for leaving a job without another in place. Hiring can take quite a while. A few weeks of applications without hearing back doesn’t mean you’re unhireable, but it does mean the process could take quite a while, as it does for most people.

        1. Armchair Analyst*

          probably if you wait until you are let go you will be more eligible for unemployment. not sure if that’s a big deal for you.

          line up your good references now – people who knew you Before Angela and will vouch for you outside of HR

          1. Stephanie*

            I think most states will pay out for constructive discharge (i.e., the situation was so untenable you had to quit or were forced to quit), but it’s much harder to prove.

    2. RagingADHD*

      In this economy, I would advise having closer to a year of savings before quitting blind. It is always easier to get a job when you already have a job.

      What you describe certainly makes me agree that this job is not a long term prospect. However, it doesn’t strike me as so intolerable as to summarily resign. It seems like a situation you could ride out until you find something.

    3. Rosyglasses*

      I just quit my job of 11 years with nothing lined up because I knew I wouldn’t make the move and I needed to. Thankfully I have some savings and my husband’s smaller income – so we will have to adjust but it was 1000% worth it.

    4. Random Dice*

      A whole few weeks, huh?

      (Eyebrow raised emoji)

      Your expectations of how long it takes to get a new job seem way off.

    5. Stephanie*

      I don’t think it’s bad to quit without anything lined up, but market is slowing down. I would have at least 6 months’ savings, maybe closer to 9 – 12 months. A couple of years ago, I was getting cold InMails from recruiters and interviewing regularly. Now I apply to things and get rejected most of the time. I feel like a lot of big companies laid off their recruiters and hiring just takes longer now.

      Granted, this is the federal government, but I got a tentative offer in early July and still don’t have a final offer yet (have to do a background check). I’m employed (and had a tuition clawback anyway), so there wasn’t a rush, but I would have felt way more anxious if I didn’t have income.

    6. Starbuck*

      A few weeks is a very short time to have been looking. Not hearing anything back yet, again after only a few weeks, doesn’t mean much. I personally would see if I could stick it out for longer while I kept looking – a couple months at least.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        This. Stick around, keep looking, hoard some money. “A few weeks” is nothing in job search terms unless we’re talking retail, and even then, it’s still summer. Depending on your field, it could take months to find something suitable.

        I once quit with nothing lined up, though it was closer to “quit before we fire you”. I got severance. It took four months to find full-time employment and that was FAST. Would I do it again? Maybe. But I would give myself a timeline (say, six weeks) and save as much as possible before leaving.

      2. Stephanie*

        Probably the fastest I’ve gone from application to offer for a white collar job is 3 – 4 weeks and that was for teams that were aggressively hiring, very organized, and max 3 interview rounds (recruiter screen->hiring manager screen->final interview).

    7. HighlightDeviationsFromNorms*

      You seem to have unrealistic expectations of work life and job hunting.

      Only you can decide what is right for you, but know the following:

      1) It is rare for anyone, even the best candidates, to find a new job after only a few weeks of looking, even during the best economies and certainly during normal times

      2) It is not uncommon for it to take a year or more at times to find a job, and you should be prepared to pay your expenses including COBRA, Obsmacare, or another health insurance option for at least that long (i.e., your expenses are likely to go up when you’re undmployed)

      3) People have different management styles and not everyone will like all of them

      4) You will never like all of the processes in place at a company, be they formal or informal. That does not make them toxic, especially not in the formal sense of the term if you’re talking about a formal complaint. Perhaps these are, perhaps they are not, but deciding what rises to the point of being worthy of a formal complaint is generally difficult and involves a pretty high bar.

      5) If you choose to lodge any type if formal complaint, especially one involving race, you may wish to practice telling a cohesive, step-by-step, less emotion-laden story to illustrate your points. You clearly feel passionately about this and that’s totally fine, but you don’t want that to get in the way of explaining what the issues are, why they are a problem, and what you’d like to see done about them. It us difficult to fo that from the more stream of consciousness presentation you gave us

      6) Nearly every workplace on the planet is a hotbed of gossip, griping, complaining, etc. This us a normal part of working with other people. Does this rise above that to something more? If so, you need to show how/why.

      I guess what I’m suggesting is that you consider what you are and are not willing to accept, but know that if your lines fall outside of the norm it may mean you’ll be just as unhappy in other workplaces and that if you decide to raise any of these issues with your current employer to do so in a logical, easy to follow way that makes it obvious why they should care.

      Good luck.

      1. Bluebird*

        Thanks for the feedback. I’ve actually worked at this place for a while and under a few different managers, so I know this is not the norm or the expectation for my workplace. I also have quite a bit of experience in general in my field, including other workplaces for comparison. I haven’t been in this particular situation before where I would be able to quit and still make it out okay financially, which is why I ask.
        Angela’s message to me — “tell me what you don’t like about your boss, and I can get her fired because of the way her position is arranged” is unnerving and makes me feel unsafe in my own position, should someone else have a similar conversation about me with Angela with little facts to support it and with no investigation on Angela’s part.

        If I were intending to draft my concerns here in the same way I may submit them, I would have certainly written differently and likely without as much emotion, as you state. However, given this is an internet blog without much other context and with anonymity, I think I have stated my question clearly. Thanks again.

  36. Pink Geek*

    I bought some Loop earplugs because I keep seeing them come up in the comments and y’all were bang on. My partner liked them too and stole them >_<

    Now Instagram is pushing something called Calmer at me. Before I buy more Loops I thought I’d ask: anyone have experience with Calmer?

    1. Not So Little My*

      I have both and they are very different. I use the loops 95% of the time. Calmer doesn’t attenuate the sound as much – they claim it screens out certain frequencies but it’s not something I can consciously detect. But I’m sure everyone’s perceptual/sensory wiring is different so if you can afford them, it might be worth a try.

    2. Sitting Pretty*

      I have not tried Calmer but be wary… after I bought Loops, I started getting ads for some other Random Brand. When I looked up Random Brand, they had amazing 5-star reviews and lots of testimonials. So I dropped the $25. And they were total garbage.

      THEN. Like three weeks after, I got a letter in the mail from Random Brand offering me $35 to put a 5-star review and positive comments on their site.

      I didn’t do it of course but felt so foolish for being totally scammed.

      My suggestion is to check out r/SPD on Reddit for good suggestions on ways to deal with noise. And to see if there is any discussion of Calmer. I have sensory processing disorder and the comments/recs on Reddit have been the most spot-on for me.

      By the way, my Loops are still doing a great job well over a year after my first purchase of them. I hope they continue to be beneficial to both you and your partner!

      1. Pink Geek*

        Yeah, this is what I’m worried about. I don’t know anyone who has had a good experience buying off Instagram. Of course, now that I’ve bought the Loops they are 50% of my ads so they can’t ALL be scams. Thank you for the Reddit tip!

    3. Random Dice*

      I hate the Loops, they “plug” my ears. (I mean, they literally plug them, but also give the sensation of plugged ears)

      I like my Flare Audio Calmer earphones, they are open so it’s not that “plug” feeling, and cut the highs and lows of sounds. I feel a lot less stabby and flinch less with them in.

      I also have Eargasm earplugs that should help with louder situations like movie theaters or concerts. They have a “plug” feeling but something about the bullet shape rather than round shape means it bothers me less than the Loops.

      1. Pink Geek*

        I seem to be more sensitive to high sounds than others so maybe I will give them a try

        I don’t mind my ears feeling plugged but I hate hearing myself chew

  37. FruityTooty*

    Looking for a reality check here, recently I was diagnosed with some urgent medical issues and accordingly informed my workplace of my need for multiple appointments for procedures to correct the issues. Last week, I had an appointment and took about 3 hours off for medical leave. During that time, I was bombarded with a variety of emails, none of which was actually urgent but nevertheless seemed to require my immediate response. This wasn’t the first time that the team blatantly disregarded my leave as if leave just meant that I’m not green on Teams but still expected to reply to emails. Is this normal?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Not normal, but you get to ignore them. My question is why did you even know you were getting emails? Remove the app from your phone or turn it off or whatever you need to do.

      1. Observer*

        Not normal, but you get to ignore them.

        This.

        A lot of people figure that you’ll get to the emails when you get to them.

    2. OtterB*

      Agree to turn email off on your phone while you’re at a medical thing. It’s not unreasonable for people to send emails while you’re out and for you to deal with them when you’re back. If work knows when you’re out, either by some calendar visible to everyone or by you setting an out-of-office mail, then I’d say just don’t worry about it.

    3. Girasol*

      I always thought that instant message or text was to be used when one expected an immediate and urgent answer, but email is for when one wants an answer later, when the recipient has some time to attend to it, no interruption of the recipient’s immediate activity intended. Are you sure those emails were meant to be answered while you were at the doctor?

      1. FruityTooty*

        Yes bc they had follow up responses to the original asking me for a reply or approval to sending out something. I had blocked off my Cal and sent a reminder that I’d be logging off early and one of the emails I got was a draft response that needed to be sent out by COB that day but wasn’t even something that’s in my portfolio of work. The follow up message came at 5 which is only two hours after the original draft was send but I had blocked off that time frame. I only knew about them when I got home and checked my work device at which time I responded. I know it’s my fault for indulging them since I keep responding.

        Another time, I was on vacation for a week whole week and I received 4 emails in one hour about whether or not I was going to attend something that wasn’t my responsibility nor was I expected to attend. I also always receive emails tasking me with a project on the last day of every vacation I’ve ever taken (typically on a Friday) and then get asked for an update on Tuesday when my manager knows that the project involves more work than just two business days. Everyone else on my Teams works nights and weekends as I frequently see them green on Teams at 11:30pm and emails on Sunday.

        My office uses emails the way that others use Teams Messaging and the typical expectation is for you to respond within the hour if it’s a direct question posed to you.

        1. Sitting Pretty*

          In my experience, co-workers simply can’t retain who is away and who isn’t, who is available and who isn’t. Even OOO automatic messages don’t get absorbed. Their work tasks continue in my absence so I get emailed and get copied on a gazillion things, and that’s just going to happen. And if they really get annoyed that I’m not responding, eventually they’ll read the details of the OOO and just… deal.

          I blissfully ignore it all. Turn off my Teams and email notifications. Then when I’m back at work, I spend the first few hours sorting so I can figure out the most urgent and important things to tackle.

          Every workplace has a different culture so you’ll have to decide if you can do this without repercussion. You absolutely SHOULD be able to, of course. But I find it helps me be okay with my choice if I extend grace to my colleagues and assume they’re not disregarding or disrespecting my time off. Rather, they’re managing their own difficult workload and honestly, it’s not their job to retain the details of my schedule.

          I believe that in a less frantic world, colleagues would be as happy and thoughtful about my time off as I try to be of their. They wouldn’t really want me to give up my time off just because they sent me an email that was part of their normal workday. So I operate during my vacation or sick leave based on this assumption of underlying goodwill.

        2. Jay (no, the other one)*

          Do you put an OOM message on? I normally wouldn’t for a three-hour absence for an appointment but in this culture you may need to. “Available again at 8:00 AM tomorrow” is enough to remind the clueless that you won’t see it, and you can then turn off your device in good conscience.

          Hope your health improves.

          1. Hawk*

            Yep, this, and set it up in your Teams as well, especially since people seem to be checking availability through Teams. Even if they ignore it, every time they email and get the OOO email, maybe something will click?

        3. Still*

          Sounds like your workplace has some really weird norms but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to follow them. You know your workplace best, but what would happen if you just consistently kept disconnecting from work and treated it as a matter of fact?

          You can reply to emails when you’re at work. If somebody complains about the “delay”, you can cheerfully say, “oh, I had an appointment and wasn’t checking my email” or “I finish at five so I didn’t see it until this morning”, or “I started on it as soon as I came back from my vacation but it’s going to take more than two days”. Those are reasonable things to say. If they want you to check email when you’re off, make them spell it out. And then you can still push back on it unless you feel like it’s gonna take too much capital.

          From what you said, these are mostly messages that are either a) not really relevant to your role, or b) relevant but not really urgent. That’s even more of a reason to ignore them until Monday.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Yes, completely normal. Most people don’t keep track of coworkers’ comings and goings during the day. Indeed, those who closely track their colleagues’ absences are usually seen as wierd and nosy.

      They sent the email because that’s their habit. Maybe when they didn’t get a timely response they checked the calendar and figured it out. It’s not your problem. They are competent adults. Let them deal with it.

    5. Decidedly Me*

      Seems normal to me. It’s an email – you’re off and you won’t (or at least shouldn’t be) checking them; they’ll get replied to when you’re back. If they expected it when you’re off, that’s their issue and not yours. I don’t think they are blatantly disregarding that you’re off, but more just proceeding as normal.

    6. ina*

      I set an OOO for anything over than hour. So don’t care if it annoys them — they got a response and a paper trail is needed for some people since they don’t bother to even read the OOO message and complain anyway.

      You shouldn’t be checking email during your OOO anyway. It’s not urgent if you don’t see it and their emergency isn’t your problem. They need to deal.

    7. Busy Middle Manager*

      Many different things could be going on. In my particular workplace and the prior two, “emergency” has lost all meaning, you’d later find out that someone just needed to pick up their kid early or it was a completely common medical thing. Not that they weren’t important but the thought of not contacting someone for a day after a series of similar “emergencies” just doesn’t cross your mind.

      Be happy people don’t track you in the sense of “that person has been offline a while.” This works both way. Some people I work with are “away” so often that unless I get an OOO we just call or text them. We’re not going to check their status for days to figure out their pattern. After working with enough people like that, they might be less sympathetic to people like you if they have a legitimate reason to be away for a block of time

  38. Throwaway Account*

    Does anyone have a favorite thread here or a favorite resource anywhere about workplace basics and ettiquette for college students to read?

    There is the infamous intern thread. But any others you recommend?

    Thanks!

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Take a look at the categories in the side bar, browse the ones that are relevant.
      They might learn about common mistakes from the mortification threads, too, and those are definitely more entertaining.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      College students should read the whole damn site, save perhaps open threads. (not that open threads are bad, just no guarantee of something useful)
      But if you’re looking for something more targeted: start with the “new grads” category.

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Recommendations from friends and family, or neighborhood groups
      Look at online reviews
      Verify licensing and insurance
      Read the contract thoroughly

    2. Queriesfromtheback*

      Definitely go by recommendations from your neighbors and friends in the area. You can also try your realtor if you bought relatively recently. I’ve had good luck from Thumbtack but definitely do your research on cost and try to provide your own materials.

      1. Ginger Cat Lady*

        I have had AWFUL experiences with Thumbtack, actually. Thankfully never actually hired anyone from there, but things I’ve run into with contractors from there:
        – Contractor who said he was a licensed contractor, but I couldn’t verify that. He then gave me a string of different business names he’d used in the past 5 years, saying maybe his license was under one of those. He had a list of 15-20 different business names he’d used in the last 5 years!!!
        – Another who also claimed to be a licensed contractor, but the license number he gave me turned out to be my neighbor’s company, and said neighbor – who did completely different kinds of work – had never heard of the dude.
        – One guy gave me a bid that was similar in price to the contractor we actually used, but when we closely looked at the bid/contract it didn’t contain ANY materials and stated we were responsible for obtaining and transporting all materials.
        -A landscaper who had a lovely web site, but every single “sample” of his work was from a climate NOT ours (they were all lush and green and we live in a desert) and yet he claimed to have been in business locally for 20 years. On a whim, I did a reverse image search on his samples and they were all from Shutterstock! He’d registered his business name 3 months before.
        Thumbtack is a horrible place to look, actually. Buyer beware!

        1. fhqwhgads*

          My experience with thumbtack has been fine, but also was not looking for licensed contractors or big jobs. More handyperson type stuff. Similar to taskrabbit. If you need someone licensed, bonded, to do a project worth more than $500, look at Angi (formerly Angie’s List).

    3. Slant Six Mind*

      1. Ask your neighbors.
      2. Walk around the neighborhood and see what contractors might be working nearby, and talk directly to them (this has worked for us for tree trimmers, plumbers addressing frozen pipes etc. and sometimes they can come quote right away). Also, talk with the neighbor who hired them in the first place to check on quality/standard of service.
      Randomly pick someone from

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Local recommendation/reputation.

      When I needed a plumber and didn’t have a rec, going with a large local company meant a human being answered the phone. Guy they sent was good; would use again.

      When we needed trees taken down, the big company was slow to respond, while the two local crews the owner came out quickly and gave us an estimate. (Specifically, both local guys hit on the same solution of parking behind our house and reaching over it with a crane. Big company guy didn’t think of that, and I don’t think ever sent us an estimate.)

    5. ThatGirl*

      Lots of searching and reading reviews. For a plumber we went with a local company with good reviews; for a handyman service we’ve been using Ace Handyman service which is locally owned. Both responsive and seem fairly priced, and I’m willing to pay a little more for someone I know isn’t going to disappear on me.

    6. Not So Little My*

      Neighborhood Facebook group, ask neighbors if I see they are getting work done, or ask my realtor.

  39. Mid-life*

    Does anyone have any experience of finding possibly the right romantic partner at the wrong time? I find myself the last few months falling hard for a person who seems just amazing for me, and I think they feel the same about me, but I’m at a crossroads in my life right now (was even before I met them) and being with this person is not a thing that is really possible right now – I feel I’d really be shortchanging myself (and by extension them) if I did decide to be with them now. But in a year or two, it might be exactly the right time.

    I suppose I’m looking for stories from others who have been in similar situations, or advice if that’s allowed. Thank you!

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I’m of the “as long as it’s not cheating or hurting anyone, there really isn’t a wrong time” philosophy. If it is the right person, and you’re honest about the difficulties right now, when you find someone who is right for you, don’t pass that by.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I am too. As long as both of you are free, being honest, and not breaking any laws, there are simply more or less convenient times. That doesn’t mean the relationship will be ideal–you may have to be long distance or not move in together or what have you, or the opposite, for that matter. But choosing to be with someone should make you happy, and it sounds like this person does, and vice versa.

        If by shortchanging yourself you mean not taking a once in a lifetime job, or giving up having kids, or something equally life-changing, of course you want to think about it. But if most or all of the problems can be filed under “Logistics” I say go for it.

    2. ina*

      I found my perfect partner later in life. Or maybe I missed them before and found someone just as wonderful. The point is that I always told myself that I wasn’t ready for a partner — it would be *unfair* even to get involved with someone when I was at a cross-roads. The issue was 20: crossroads. There were just so many things going on in my life and my head. 25: crossroads. 30: crossroads. 35: crossroads. Etc, etc, as nauseum. When would I ever not be at a crossroad? I think I feel you on shortchanging yourself and them, but the fact you feel this way says you’re not gonna. You might have hard times and you might be humanly unreasonable, but you will never be perfect, so why not be happy and try to let someone else (who wants to) join you at the crossroads? It makes for a more enjoyable trip.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        This.
        Cheryl Strayed’s collection of her Dear Sugar columns has a wonderful piece called “The Ghost Ship That Didn’t Carry Us,” about having to chose paths in life, and that it is physically impossible to take every journey or advantage of every opportunity. By refusing to commit to something or someone until “things aren’t at such a crossroads” you are, indeed, choosing, quite often a lonelier life then you might have had.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Well, bear in mind:

      1) There are many types of connections and relationships. You can stay connected to this person without living with them or crossing whatever line that “being with them” entails in your mind.

      2) This person is a full human being with agency. Do they want to be with you? Have they presented you with a decision you need to make, or are you just enjoying each other’s company? Have you talked to them about your crossroads situation?

      They may be happy to postpone taking your relationship to the next level until you clear your hurdle. Or they may be content with the status quo of your relationship now, and not ready to take it further anyway.

      Talk to them. See what happens.

    4. OyHiOh*

      I’m in a similar situation myself right now. It is objectively not a good time for either of us to dive into a “relationship” even though we’re very compatible in most ways. They are transitioning, their previous relationship ended in spectacular flames with continued fallout; meanwhile, I broke up a longer term relationship relatively cleanly but still hard, my kids and I are still learning to be a family again (they were under temporary/voluntary guardianship with a family member for 2 years) and I’m figuring out what my mental landscape as a queer woman looks like. Neither of us has ever properly learned to live “alone”/only adult in the house and being fully in control of all decisions is its own adjustment. Suffice to say, it’s not a good time!

      We’re coping by being good friends, talking often and well, doing something together at least once a week – and ignoring, as much as possible the PantsFeelings, as Captain Awkward calls them. Treating that part like a crush that will fade with time and lack of attention.

  40. Commander Shepard's Favorite Store*

    Recommend me your cat’s favorite toys or brain teasers! My cat is grooming herself bald. Feliway did nothing and anti-anxiety medication has not been helping much, so I’m wondering if she’s bored. She does NOT play with our other cats unfortunately. We have a ton of stuffed mice, balls, etc lying around the house, but there’s only one specific mouse that she will play with, and only for a minute or two at a time. She isn’t much for chasing things (i.e. laser pointer or mouse on a string) and treat dispenser puzzles don’t interest her for some reason. She REALLY likes trying to get into closed spaces–drawers that are opened a few inches or baskets on shelves without much clearance. I haven’t been able to figure out how to safely turn that into a puzzle for her but maybe someone else has!

    1. Hawk*

      My cats’ favorite toy is from Kong and is a wand toy with a flamingo on it. Once the “mingo” has been played with for a while, it becomes a stuffed animal that they carry around the house. One if mine saw the back-ups today and immediately got excited. I gave my brother one for his cats and they’re obsessed.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I wonder if she’s stressed by the other cats, if she doesn’t like them. It’s not a game exactly but I like to rearrange various little hidey-holes for my cat; even just little box castles or tucking those enclosed pet baskets into bottom shelves or under furniture. I bring home cardboard trays and put them on tables because she likes to lie in them. Someone called a piece of paper on the floor a “cat trap” especially if it’s in a sunbeam.

    3. onyxzinnia*

      Does she like kicker toys? My cats love the Yeowww! Banana Catnip Toy and other variations from the Yeowww! brand. They also like other large kickers that they can clamp their front paws around and kick with their back paws.

      We also got a Kikkerland Solar-Powered Rainbow Maker for the cats. It suctions onto the window and spins around, so when it is sunny, rainbows scatter all over the room. My cats were enraptured by the light motion.

    4. mreasy*

      My cat was doing this and once I took chicken out of her diet she stopped – seems she had a low level sensitivity and it made her itch.

    5. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I like to save my cardboard egg cartons and hide treats in them, then hide them around the house. That will occupy her for a good half hour once she finds it. Makes a mess, but she really enjoys it and it can still be recycled after she’s ripped it up.
      She doesn’t like “real” treat puzzles but she loves that, go figure.

    6. TechWorker*

      We have a toy that’s a track with a ball in it (if you Google ‘cat track toy ball’ they come up) & it’s the toy I’ve seen ours play ours play with most when we’re not there to instigate.

    7. Generic Name*

      Here are my male cat’s fav toys:
      -Wand with feathers on the end (wand is still fun after feathers get ripped off)
      -red crinkle ball (red only, for some reason)
      -laser toy
      -catnip banana
      -the dog

      The female cat likes a twist tie and a small fish toy

      1. Generic Name*

        Forgot to mention the male also likes to pounce on the female cat. She doesn’t enjoy it so much, so I then yell at him and then the dog goes to “enforce” what I said (meaning she runs over to the action and pounces in the cat’s general direction)

  41. Hawk*

    Has anyone here taken any of the (USA) National Association for Interpretation (for places like museums and parks, not language) trainings? What did you think? Was it worth it, especially if you already have worked and have been trained in the interpretation area?

    I miss doing interpretation work. I interned with the Smithsonian, and had great training there, volunteered with the National Park Service and had great training there, and worked in another DC area museum with ok training. I’m now in a different but related field, but this training has popped up a few times as a requirement for certain local positions. As much as I love my current job, I’ve also had 14 managers either directly or on paper (long story) in a little under a decade of work and the inconsistency has been really rough on me.

  42. Mitchell Hundred*

    Here’s a question: does anybody have an idiomatic expression they’re particularly fond of? I really like the phrase “back of beyond” (meaning “the middle of nowhere”). It’s got some nice alliteration, and there’s an almost mythological ring to it.

    1. Sloanicota*

      For some reason I love “if it were a snake it would have bit me” (of an item that is right in front of your face when you’re looking for it). I’m not even that folksy usually, I just really enjoy saying it haha. Maybe this happens to me more than most people though.

    2. The Dude Abides*

      “I was born at night but not last night” – when someone tries to get one past me

      “X can go take a long walk off a short dock” – when someone pisses me off and I am discussing that person with a third party

      “BFE,” the cleaner version of “Bum Fuck Egypt” for a very rural area

      1. Mitchell Hundred*

        I heard that one version of “I wasn’t born yesterday” is “You must think I just fell off the turnip truck!”

        I’ve never used it, but I desperately want to.

    3. Lexi Vipond*

      I don’t know if it’s particularly idiomatic, but I do like the sound of ‘time immemorial’.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m a fan of “the buttcrack of dawn” instead of just “crack of dawn” for very early (I am not a morning person)

    5. Generic Name*

      My mom and granny (of southern roots) had a lot. My mom used to say, “you’re so close, you could spit on it” and “well, it’s better than a stick in the eye”. My granny used to exclaim, “son of a gun” and “mercy on us”, but I thought she was saying “mercy honest”.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      “B•••h eating crackers” which I think I learned here. I usually apply it to genderless concepts, often ever-changing work projects that I just want to pound out these last few parts and never hear about them ever again, no not even if the client says okay this time they have figured out what they want.

      It’s usually a helpful reminder to myself that it is probably less that another person is being TOTALLY UNREASONABLE and more that I am really fed up with dealing with them, and should tackle the second part of that (in my control) rather than first part (excellent chance they will not suddenly become less annoying).

    7. OtterB*

      My father used to say “Better than a kick with a frozen boot.”

      Also, both my parents used “It ain’t a fit night out for man nor beast” when it was pouring rain. (We lived in Texas; it didn’t snow.) I learned at a movie night in college that this was a line from the WC Fields / Mae West movie The Fatal Glass of Beer. Repeatedly in the movie, Fields would open the door of an Alaska cabin, look out and say that, and get a bucketful of fake snow in the face. Apparently my father didn’t pick it up from the movie, *his* father did, and it stuck in the family.

      1. WellRed*

        I had a coworker that used to say god willing and the creek don’t rise. Your comment made me think of that.

        1. sagewhiz*

          Ah! And the “creek” in that phrase didn’t apply to a rivulet of water flooding, it meant the Creek Indians (as in attacking white settlers, justifiably, as interlopers)

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      “Corner of Hell and Gone”
      “Well, butter my butt and call me Biscuit” (REALLY love this one)
      “I’d lose my head if it wasn’t fastened on”
      “Pretty as a speckled pup”

    9. Grim*

      A few years back, to describe a prolonged period of dry weather, my brother used the phrase “it’s drier than a dead dingo’s donger”, which was so unexpected I nearly hurt myself laughing. It’s not a phrase I get the chance to use all that often, but it sure is evocative.

      1. Mitchell Hundred*

        Probably my favourite superlative is “busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.” The visual is just perfect

  43. Gianna*

    I had a dream (nightmare?) last night. First day on the job as a teacher’s aide. I had no idea where I was supposed to be. I kept asking for the login so I could access my schedule, but no one would tell me. I kept getting in trouble for not being where I was supposed to be. The last scenario was being told I was supposed to have prepared lunch for everybody, and what was wrong with me? Fortunately, I woke up before I was fired lol. I realized it’s Labor Day, I haven’t worked in a school in 30+ years, and I’m retired. I must have been absorbing all the back to school messages I’ve been seeing. Anyone else having strange dreams?

    1. ina*

      Yes, I had one about starting a job I just interviewed for and it was a bizarre merry-go-round because my brain had no context for where to put me. It was one of those dreams that got so illogical that you become strangely aware it’s a dream and wake yourself up. Been a few hours since I woke up so it’s a blur but, along with the less than cheery weather, it put me in a weird mood. Lol.

    2. anon24*

      I’m taking calculus 1 in college right now and I’m nothing if not a mathematical moron… I’ve passed both pre-cal classes required to be here (with As!), but I have literally no idea what is happening in this class. I’ve been having nightmares almost every night for the past 3 weeks about struggling to solve cal 1 problems and do cal 1 homework. On the plus side, I did have a problem in real life that I couldn’t figure out why the answer was the answer and I dreamed the actual real life solution and I remembered it and it still made sense when I woke up, so there’s that.

    3. SnappinTerrapin*

      It’s been over 40 years since my last graduation, but I still occasionally dream about final exam week. In the dream, I suddenly realize there is a class I forgot to attend for the entire semester.

  44. Explain Like I'm Five*

    Question for tech-savy posters. I’m trying to figure out what kind of adapter/cable I need.

    I have an older monitor that has an attached speaker. The monitor uses a VGA port. At my old job, I needed to use a VGA to HDMI adapter to connect the monitor to my laptop. It worked well, except audio didn’t work when using the adapter. Audio worked fine when plugging the adapter into my desktop (which has both VGA and HDMI ports) though. Why is that?

    I’m at a new job, and wanted to be able to hook up my laptop to my monitor on the rare occasion that I can work from home. I’m looking at VGA to HDMI adapters and cables, and came across a review that said VGA to HDMI doesn’t support audio.

    Is there something I can get that would make audio work?

    If not, is it better to get the adapter or the cable?

    1. Explain Like I'm Five*

      Just remembered I wanted to buy a new desktop soon and was hoping to use my old monitor. Will I not be able to get audio if I’m connecting my old monitor to a new desktop?

      1. Starbuck*

        I would probably work on finding an audio output (speakers, heaphones, etc) that you can plug directly into the desktop instead of relying on the monitor for audio.

        Does your monitor have an audio jack? You could try a double-ended aux cable if you’re relying on your monitor to put out the sound.

        1. Explain Like I'm Five*

          I saw an audio jack on the speaker that’s attached to my monitor, but not on the monitor itself. I dug out the instructions for my speaker, and it’s a “USB Soundbar” though. There’s a USB cable linking it to my desktop. I got this monitor/desktop about 9 years ago (hence needing a new desktop soon) and totally forgot that! So I assume I just need to plug the soundbar into my laptop when I’m using it, and I’ll be able to plug it into a new desktop when I get one. Thank you!

          1. Observer*

            So I assume I just need to plug the soundbar into my laptop when I’m using it, and I’ll be able to plug it into a new desktop when I get one

            That’s good. In addition to being able to just plug the USB cable into both the laptop and your new desktop when you get it, it means that when the monitor goes (and given that it’s 9 years old, it’s when not if), you don’t have to give up the sound bar. Speakers are not so expensive, but if you don’t have to pay for new ones that’s all to the good.

      2. Angstrom*

        A new desktop may not have a VGA output as standard. You might need to add a VGA card or use an adapter. HDMI to VGA needs an active adapter because it is converting a digital signal to an analog one.
        The VGA connector standard pinout does not designate any of the pins for audio. If the monitor has an audio-in connector(3.5mm/1/8″ mono or stero is common) and your computer has an audio out, that might work.

        1. Explain Like I'm Five*

          “HDMI to VGA needs an active adapter because it is converting a digital signal to an analog one.”

          I didn’t understand that before–I thought the port styles were just changing. I’ll get the adapter then. Thank you!

    2. Observer*

      Not normal, but you get to ignore them.

      You may find it easier to use separate speakers.

      If you want to use the speakers on the monitor, you need to plug the monitor into both the VGA and Sound ports (assuming your laptop has those.) For video , you can go HDMI to VGA, but you will lose audio because the VGA port doesn’t have the capacity to handle the signal. If your laptop has an audio out port, and your monitor has an audio in (which is probably does) you can plug that in. But you do have to tell the laptop that you are using the audio out (or headset) port rather than the HDMI for audio.

  45. Stephanie*

    Going to Montreal for a weekend trip in a couple of weeks. Any suggestions? Friend and I are more into the art museums, local cuisine, botanical gardens thing versus lots of bars/clubs. Bar suggestions are welcome though (my friend drinks, but not a ton). We’re staying downtown. Neither of us speak French — will we be ok with some limited phrases?

    1. Mitchell Hundred*

      I’ve never been, but I hear there are some great delis. I think the most famous one is called Schwartz’s.

    2. Jenny F Scientist*

      We were there last summer. As long as you don’t take a lot of buses you’ll be fine without French- sent my anglophone only husband out one day and he couldn’t read the signs saying where the bus stop had moved to (lots of summer construction). Art museum was great. Former Olympic site is interesting but weird. There’s a great museum pass, highly recommend especially if you want to go to the botanical gardens, which are great (and near a subway stop). I’d get the unlimited transit pass too. For a weird but super cool museum experience check out the Musee des Ondes, a radio history museum in this old factory building. (Use Google maps if you go there- I speak fluent French and still thought we were lost!)

    3. Jenny F Scientist*

      Museum pass: https://museesmontreal.org/en/museums-cards

      Transit pass is at the subway kiosks, you want the Opus weekly unlimited card, which will also get you back to the airport on the 747 shuttle https://www.stm.info/en/info/fares/transit-fares/weekly-all-modes

      Quartier des spectacles, mostly free performances: https://www.quartierdesspectacles.com/en/activity/34925/summer-animations

      Other festivals: https://www.quartierdesspectacles.com/en/discover-the-quartier/festivals-and-events/

    4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      If you’re staying downtown, the hotel clerks will almost certainly speak English, and shops in the Old Port are likely to have English-speaking staff. That said, if a cashier greets you with “Bonjour hi” or “Bonjour hello,” say “hello” back in English and go from there. Similarly, you’ll do better if you greet a cashier, restaurant server, etc. with “Bonjour hi” rather than starting in English.

      The Jardin Botanique is wonderful, and it’s worth paying for admission to the greenhouses. If you go to the main art museum (Musee des beaux arts) make sure to see the collection of Inuit art.

      The metro and bus system are very good, and it’s probably worth buying a weekend or three-day unlimited-ride ticket.

    5. Lore*

      You will be fine without French in stores, restaurants, etc. IME. You could spend an entire weekend at the MMFA and not see it all, so give yourself good time there. If it’s foliage season, it’s totally worth going all the way up to the lookout in Mont Royal park. There is a cool local history museum in the Old City, though it was closed for a while by renovations + COVID. Not 100 percent sure whether it’s open. All my restaurant recommendations will be outdated, but Blvd Saint Laurent and Blvd Rosement were full of great stuff. Also the Marche Jean Talon was wonderful—farmers market but also full of cafés and close to Botanic Garden (it started pouring when I was there so I went to a movie instead). There are interesting exhibits at the Marc Favreau library if you (like me) find libraries appealing anyway.

      1. Felicia*

        Seconding this and adding the bagels freeze really well so get as many as you can comfortably carry.

    6. Erica*

      Many nice cafes and restaurants are in Le Plateau. Duluth and Mt Royal streets have a lot of nice ones. Pastries at Kouign Amann and Toledo, both on Mt Royal, are excellent (Toledo also has good baguettes)

  46. Anonymous cat*

    Random thing I always wonder:

    When getting on a bus, if the driver does not make eye contact, is it polite or rude to greet them?

    I ask because I don’t know if greeting them distracts them from traffic and they’d prefer riders don’t?

    It seems rude not to just say hello while paying the fare. Does anyone have experience with what they prefer?

    1. ina*

      I am a chronic bus rider and it just depends on the driver. Some are into saying thanks and hello and others just are on the clock. I don’t think a quick greeting is ever rude — some people do it as a force of habit, like in my neck of the woods lot of people say thank you when getting off the bus and shout it when/if they get off the back door, too. I don’t think they expect a response though! Just a nicety.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I always greet the driver when I get on, eye contact or no. But I usually get eye contact. The fare machine is right there and they’re usually looking to see who gets on. (Granted, I rarely ride the bus during rush hour so YMMV.) I also usually say thank you as I exit unless the bus is really crowded and noisy.

  47. GingerSheep*

    Help with Canadian employment conditions –
    Hi! A friend of mine (French) , who is currently a counsellor at the French employment bureau, is thinking about moving to Canada with her spouse (Moroccan, legally resident in France for 10 years, a chef). They have a double job offer from a small resort in Quebec, located in a very remote area. He would have a fixed-term, two-year contract as a chef at 24 can$ per hour, she’d be head of reception for the same salary on an open contract.
    They would like to know whether these salaries are within market price for the positions ?
    (No Glassdoor reviews for the place, Tripadvisor reviews are not great.)
    They would also like to know what they should be asking about or negotiating : PTO? Medical insurance? Anything else?
    Neither they nor I have ant experience with Canadian employment, and we would be very grateful for your help!

    1. ina*

      I am not Canadian but I can advise that they compare what they could make in a similar area of France to this Canadian offer. I would also advise looking at their experience and qualifications against similar businesses and jobs in the area to see what is being offered there or what people are saying online. Is he a trained chef or a line cook chef? I think these would have different salary expectations. Seems odd they would have the same salary for what seems to be different levels of responsibility — head of reception is a position with lots of responsibility, isn’t it? Is he being offered a regular chef job or is he head?

      The bad TripAdvisor reviews would be a yellow flag that’s tinged with red, particularly since they’re gonna be dependent on this resort for employment in a different continent, visa sponsorship, and they’re on a contract. While there aren’t Glassdoor, the fact they don’t have good guest satisfaction is telling to me.

      Is there a reason why they’re looking toward Canada for a shift in career?

      1. GingerSheep*

        Thanks for the input! The salaries offered are lower in take home pay than what they are currently making in France, but not outrageously so ; higher difference for the chef position than for the reception one.
        They would not be moving for the money but for the Canadian dream – seems to me that half of France dreams of moving to Canada one day.
        He is a trained chef, not a line cook – I’m not sure if he is offered a regular chef job or head chef, but it’s mainly him that they appear interested in.
        (I personally have a bad gut feeling about the place, but I’m very risk adverse, and my friend has strong common sense, so should be trusted to pick out any strong red flags!)

    2. more fires*

      if it’s in the middle of nowhere, is housing included? do they pay for housing after the wages, or is it included as a benefit. If they are working, they will be residents and eligible for provincial medical care. If they are remote, there is no access to this care. What is remote? fly-in? drive-in, but 600 kms along a gravel road (are they planning on buying a truck/4×4 to navigate)? How many other staff are there? what will they do in their non-working hours? is board included? Remote can be remote here.

      1. GingerSheep*

        Ha! OK, it’s probably remote only by French standards – it’s apparently about an hour drive from the closest village. They nonetheless definitely need to buy a truck to be able to live and work there.
        If I understood correctly, they would be housed on site for free for the first six months, and then housing would come out of their wages. (Typing this out, makes me realise this sounds really weird, but I believe that’s what she told me.)
        I’ll remind her to definitely check that out, and to check whether board is included or not.

        1. more fires*

          Yeah, an hour is not remote. I had friends who would drive 10 hrs each way on the weekend to go to the city, because that city was the closest place with 3 grocery stores. They didn’t go for the groceries.

          So, check how much housing costs, what board is included. Then, whether or not they are up for some adventure.

        2. HBJ*

          That’s not at ALL weird for tourism jobs like this. I will say that, in my non-Canadian experience, whatever they charge in board is waaaaaay cheaper than market-rate rent.

    3. Formerly in HR*

      24$ per hour seems low, I got that 16 years ago in an admin job (at a company that’s highly-seen) on the West Coast and minimum wage is $15. And if they have to forfeit some of this for lodging, the take-home pay would not be much. Job offer would need to clearly spell out how many vacation days per year and how they get accrued, number of paid statutory holidays, policy for sick leave (usually in Canada there’s no cap or ‘bucket’, just medical leaves over x days require a medical note and over y days might become Short Term Disability), benefits (what is covered and if there’s a waiting period) and pension (waiting period, vesting period, what happens to contributions if they leave. More important might be to understand if they are tied to this employer and for how long (the type of visa they’d come in, can they switch employers) and if they would need to pay back anything if they leave before 2 years. To see if they’d be eligible for unemployment if things would go sour, they should probably Google ‘unemployment’ + province. They should also understand that speaking French might still not make them prepared for what the QC inhabitants speak.

  48. ina*

    What are some little habits and life things that have improved your well being?

    I just reorganized my closet, full of clothes!!!, and rediscovered some items I really love but they were so buried and hard to access during busy mornings that they have remained unworn while the same 5 outfits got repeat action all year. Excited to see if this sticks but it’s been mentally invigorating.

    I also got lotion gloves so I’m better at putting lotion on regularly. Big deterrent was feeling so much lotion on my hands afterward. :)

    1. Sitting Pretty*

      Oh I love this question!

      I started doing a very brief (like 7 or 9 min) silent meditation right before bed. It has done wonders for clearing my mind and helping me ease into sleep. Even when I’m super tired or feel like it’s too late to do it, I try to fit it in and I’m always glad I did!

    2. Quincy413*

      My new little habit: Carrying around a water bottle (even in the house) is really helping my water intake!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I don’t carry it around, I leave it in one spot – I got a big 48oz insulated mug and it lives at my desk. I fill it up first thing in the morning and drink it every day.

    3. Despairingly unemployed*

      Literally just started last night but stretching (in bed) before sleeping and when I wake up, so far so good! Connects me to my body and reminds me to be gentle with myself.

    4. Little things*

      Making the bed. I wasn’t a bed-maker but read that doing this helps because you’ve accomplished something and also looks better as you walk through your bedroom. It’s been a small but noticeable springboard to do a few other tasks instead of putting them off.

      I’ve heard the advice if a task takes less than 30-60 seconds to just do it. But I think my life is a series of small short tasks and I’m running from task to task all day, so instead I do whatever I can in 10 minutes.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        This is one of the permanent pandemic-induced changes for me. I realized when I was going in and out of my bedroom all day that the unmade bed bothered me. I’m still making it every day. The other persistent shift is that we now use cloth napkins – we always had them and saved them for special occasions. Now we use them all the time and I enjoy them.

        More recently I have started doing morning pages almost every day. I gave myself permission to do them whenever I have a chance even if it’s not the very first thing and I find it really clears my mind and helps me work through things that are bugging me.

    5. WellRed*

      Getting up early to enjoy coffee/paper/AAM before work. Not a morning person but now that I work from home, I actually get up a little earlier these days.

    6. ThatGirl*

      I stretch nearly every night before bed. Helps calm my thoughts and prevent back pain.

      I also joined a monthly massage program a couple years back. If I don’t make it one month it rolls over and I can use credits for add-ons, longer massages or facials. An indulgence but helps with aches, pains and general well being.

  49. Kat*

    I just bought a pair of work pants with a side zipper. They fit great, but I can’t get them on by myself! I need to hold the sides together and then have someone zip them. Obviously an issue. They have a hook and eye, but I can’t see it off to the side and it’s very small. Any ideas how to deal with this? Or do I just need to return them?

    1. MissCoco*

      Could you install a larger top attachment like a band with a button on the inside of the pants? And would a long ribbon loop around the zip make it easier to pull up? Then you could just tuck it into your waistband.

    2. more fires*

      you’re definitely supposed to be able to do the side zip by yourself. Hold the front and back fabric together with one hand, and zip with the other. To be comfortable, the pants should have enough ease that you could do that. So maybe practice a few times, and if you can’t get it to work, return them?

    3. The Other Dawn*

      If it were me, I’d just return them. If you can’t zip them by yourself, not only would you need to have someone help you get into them initially, but you’d also need help everytime you use the bathroom during the day.

    4. Alex*

      I have side zip pants like that and I don’t have any trouble. Maybe they are defective? I’d return them. You’re never going to want to wear them because you’ll think ugh, I don’t want to deal with that today.

  50. New piano*

    I am having the good fortune of purchasing a baby grand piano (Steinway model S if that means anything to you, about 155cm x 147cm). I am playing around with moving my furniture around to fit it. Currently I have a small upright that is in an out of the way place so, which I think helps with the noise, but this new piano will have to be in the living room. Should I get a rug to go under it? I live in an apartment building. I am worried about the sound traveling, although my building is very music-friendly (we have many professional and amateur musicians). Any other tips about where to best place the piano welcome!

    1. TechWorker*

      I don’t have anything but jealously I’m afraid! My dad has a man inherited baby Steinway (American not German, I remember being told as a child, whatever that means) & it’s lovely :)
      No experience with putting pianos in apartments tho, I imagine a rug is generally useful, but I think I have only ever owned/played pianos on carpets! (Except for in like, school/church halls where it’s meant to make lots of noise!)

      1. lissajous*

        Steinway has two manufacturing locations, US and Germany. I believe the telltale is the shape of the wood at the ends of the keyboard – if rounded, German, if a sharp right angle, American.
        Whether there is a sound difference or not I don’t recall – it’s possible they may target a different tone depending on preferences in Europe vs US.

        Regardless of manufacturing location, they are excellent pianos and if well maintained should continue to sound fantastic for a long time. New Piano, enjoy!

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      We have a 1913 Steinway and it is gorgeous. My husband plays and got it for himself as a post-deployment gift about a decade ago.

      We have it directly on the wood floor but we live in a detached house. Could you put it on the floor and then go to your neighbor’s place while someone else plays the piano, to see what it is like? And adjust accordingly?

    3. ExplainiamusMucho*

      Carpet will be your friend (or rather, your neighbours’ friend) – and you might want to look into acoustic panels as well. You can get really beautiful looking ones now, and practising will be a lot nicer knowing you don’t disturb your neighbours.

    4. Nitpicker*

      I’m thinking the rug would be a good idea. If the piano is resting directly on a wooden floor there are going to be serious vibrations and the sound will be amplified.

    5. Indolent Libertine*

      Definitely a rug underneath, and if you can, avoid placing it near exterior walls or large windows; temperature instability is hard on the instrument and will make it go out of tune faster.

  51. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    How are you guys doing with your free time? I got a small amount of cleaning done on Saturday and I was supposed to do work and housework today but all I’ve accomplished was sleeping

    1. Despairingly unemployed*

      Well I haven’t written a cover letter or applied to any jobs, so, swell! Your sleeping is my kdrama-ing…

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Finalizing packing and such for visiting my mom and sister tomorrow (8 am flight which means getting up at 5, blah.)

  52. Potatoes*

    Curious if this is a new norm now – Staying at a hotel, No housekeeping without 24 hour notice.

    we went on our first local overnight trip since 2016 (!), our first one with the not so baby potato (potatoling? Tater tot?). we stayed at a hotel for 3 days and 2 nights.

    I’ve stayed at a fair amount of hotels over the years and have never had to request housekeeping, it was always just done. As recently as last month. I asked friends who are way more well travelled than myself and they were split, some said they’ve never experienced that while others said yea that’s normal for them.

    What’s been your experience?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Most housekeeping is by request since COVID in my experience, but I’ve never seen the 24 hour notice thing.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yes, this. “Would you like housekeeping during your stay?” is a question I hear much more frequently now. I was recently on vacation and stayed in two resort-type hotels that did housekeeping every day without asking first, and I found that to be a pleasant surprise. I’m much more used to requesting it since I started traveling again.

    2. Squidhead*

      I stayed in a vacation town (motel) last year and also at a semi-fancy hotel in a boring city (Hyatt suite) and neither of them provided housekeeping during the stay except on request. Both places cited some combo of “the environment” and “the covid” as the rationale. Personally, I prefer this; I don’t need new towels every day and I don’t want to tidy up all my stuff every time I leave the room so my phone charger doesn’t get lost or whatever. I also want to be able to hang out in the room without wondering if someone will come in.

    3. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Depends on the type of hotel. My experience is that it has been really common in extended stay/suite type places, but less common in more short stay hotels.
      Overall it’s more common to not be an every day thing, as well.
      They want notice because they need to know how many staff to have come in that day. Say it’s a 300 room extended stay hotel. If they only had 10 rooms that requested cleaning on a given day, they may have only scheduled 2 housekeepers for that day. But if 50 more people decided last minute they wanted housekeeping, those two housekeepers cannot possibly clean all those rooms in one day.
      I have a young family member who does hotel housekeeping and it’s rough, she never knows when she’ll work or how many hours she’ll work. She shows up every morning not knowing if she’ll be there three hours or ten. Some weeks she works 45 hours, some weeks 10. Makes budgeting hard, too.
      So be a little flexible and willing to communicate your needs.

      1. Potatoes*

        That’s rough on the employees! I’ve had jobs like that – it’s next to impossible to plan for anything!

        I did communicate my needs and was flexible. The person at the front desk said that someone should have told us about the policy when we checked in…..it was the same person, though I didnt point that out.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      It’s the new normal after covid.

      “Housekeeping is included in hotels” was why I didn’t trust the sudden surge in “AirBnB sucks!” memes in 2021, since they claimed that no one cleans your ABB but in hotels you have daily maid service. Which was definitely not the hotel-stay norm in 2021. Probably there is some fabulous scale of luxury hotel where it’s remained the norm, but not in my middle price bracket.

      I have seen the 24 hour notice thing–others just said we could call if we needed the room cleaned–and associated it with places where labor was just particularly tight.

      1. Potatoes*

        I thought the issue with Air BNB was that they charge you to clean AND make you clean up by leaving a list of things to do that if they’re nto done, they charge you extra. I may be wrong about this though, I’ve never stayed at an Air Bnb.

        I did ask the front desk and they said that they would send up towels and have them remove the trash. We waited 3-4 hours and nothing, so I asked again. They ended up leaving 2 towels and didn’t take out any trash.

    5. Maggie*

      Of all the things that get asked if they’re the “new normal” here this actually is. I’ve stayed anywhere from a best western to an expensive luxe hotel in nyc over the last three years and basically nowhere does housekeeping except “on request” or “after X amount of days” now.

    6. ronda*

      the 1st time it happened for me was because of covid and I did not realize. so that was a little upsetting.
      but now that I know I can just ask and they do what I want.

    7. Indolent Libertine*

      Pretty much every place we’ve stayed since COVID has been housekeeping on request only, or only for stays longer than X nights, or only every other or every third day. No place has had daily housekeeping the way that used to be standard. I think that’s a thing of the past, unless very very fancy expensive places might still offer it.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      Depends on the hotel, I think? Lots of hotels that cater to longer term visitors like conventioneers and such, who are staying several days, charge extra for every day bed making and towel switch outs (although as far as I know you can always request more towels.) At least some of the new policies might be driven by the difficulty in hiring enough cleaning staff.

      The last few times I’ve stayed in a hotel this was the arrangement, but my sister did the booking so I don’t know if she requested it as cheaper or if it was automatic.

    9. Stephanie*

      I travel a lot for work (like 50 – 75%). Higher end hotels still do daily (usually stay at Marriotts and the Marriotts and higher will do daily housekeeping). The lower end business traveler hotels (like Fairfield or Courtyard for Marriott properties) will do every other day or every three days. Extended stays I find will do once a week for a full clean and every three days for a refresh (new sheets, etc). The last extended stay I was at, I thought a week was pushing it — I definitely had bugs in my bathroom.

      Hotels pushed less frequent housekeeping under the guise of “COVID safety”, but I think it was really a cost save when people were traveling less. And now they just keep the lower standards to save on costs.

    10. Clumsy Ninja*

      We were just in a hotel for a few nights a month ago – we had to hang the door sign indicating that we didn’t need housekeeping. But they said we could go down to the front desk and exchange towels if we needed, even if we indicated no housekeeping.

      The hotel we stayed in last summer was the same way, minus the towel exchange. Both hotels were major chains, but neither was particularly fancy. Think Days Inn or similar. (I honestly am blanking on last year’s hotel.)

  53. Busy Middle Manager*

    Lower back pain so can’t logistically go anywhere today. It is frustrating because I have been active and feel like I do all the right things. All of the advice online is conflicting. TBH I feel some relief now just laying here despite most online sources saying this isn’t the correct move. I wish there was some magic trick to deal with this. Or that I’m going to have some magic realization, like realizing I do some everyday movement completely wrong. But no realization yet.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      For me, seeing a chiropractor has helped. Both the adjustments and the advice on what’s causing the issues.

      Feel better!

    2. Squidhead*

      I was having some hip pain and after the orthopedist ruled out arthritis or anything he could do surgery for, he sent me to PT. The PT did a much more thorough evaluation and determined the problem was likely in my lower back (where I also have pain). He gave me a bunch of exercises and the hip pain is much better. If I were more diligent about doing the back exercises and better lifting techniques he taught me, the back pain would probably be better too! So if you have the option for a PT evaluation, it might be worth it.

    3. Despairingly unemployed*

      I’ve barely started Feldenkrais but I feel like it might help long term IF I can stick with it… You can look them up on youtube, I’m watching Taro Iwamoto at the moment. A lot of the micro movements just highlight how much my posture is out of whack and how over the years that compounds… into back pain :| (Mine is weird in that it’s mostly noticeable when lying on my back, but it’s been there for years.) I hope your pain subsides!

    4. NoMagicBullet*

      it’s different for different people so take all advice with a grain of salt. it may even be different for the same person at different times. heat/ice/stim/massage/stretching/differrent body positions/anti-inflammatories/neuromeds/painkillers/etc are all your mileage may vary.

    5. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Lawrence Gold’s stuff really helped me. He will do a free online consult with you and then you buy one of his programs. When I did it he had a free 2-week trial of any of his programs.

    6. Alex*

      I struggled for years with horrible back pain and would try to push through exercise. Got the same old same old “exercise helps!”

      The truth was that *some* kinds of exercise help, and many many others make it worse. I can’t give you exact moves, because your pain and my pain are probably different.

      I went to physical therapy for a while and it didn’t help, but a few years later tried again and it helped a lot, so don’t give up! Keep trying, keep pestering your doctors and letting them know you aren’t fixed yet.

    7. Double A*

      It’s not that you’re doing one wrong movement, it’s probably that you’re not doing the right movements that would give you a strong core. Other muscles are compensating for that weakness and pulling things out of joint.

      I had debilitating back pain in my early 20s; yoga finally triggered it so bad I went to PT. PT helped, but I noticed a lot of the exercises seemed like pilates. My PT said pilates is great and recommended some specific resources. I did pilates regularly throughout my 20s and 30s and it’s been crucial to my back health.

      Fundamentally, my stabilizer muscles, both deep (pelvis) and small (hip), were weak. This is pretty common. Pilates really helps with all of them. Once those deep muscles were strong, backpacking helped a ton with strengthening the little stabilizing muscles in my hips and pelvis because you’re on uneven ground so those muscles work all over the place.

      If you have access, I strongly recommend physical therapy and also asking about pilates if you go.

  54. Would love advice*

    Hello! I could use some advice. I was recently fired with no warning and no explanation. The paper work they gave me said that I was let go for lack of work but that I would not be receiving any additional pay aside from the hours I worked. I went back and looked at the handbook and it says that if an employee is let go, they get POT paid out, but if fired, they don’t. I sent an email asking when I would be receiving my PTO payout but I’m expecting them to say I’m ineligible. If it was you, how hard would you fight this?

    1. Generic Name*

      It would depend on how much money a PTO payout was valued. If it were $500, not worth my time. $1,000 might be worth sending a letter to them. $10,000 might be worth a letter from a lawyer, and so on…. I’d get clarity whether you were fired for cause or laid off. If they said it was due to lack of work, that’s a layoff. If you did something or were not meeting expectations, that would be a firing. One way to ask about this is to ask if you are eligible for re-hire.

  55. Ginger Cat Lady*

    The company I work for does not use Slack, but I’ve joined several professional groups that do. So far I’ve been just accessing it in my browser. Is there a good reason to move to the desktop version? It’s constantly asking me if I want to.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      Is this on your work computer? Don’t install any software on it unless IT oks you’re doing so. The web version prompting you to download desktop is just marketing.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      I’m on Slack all the time, so the desktop app is very helpful. I tend to have many tabs open on my browser, so having to remember to switch over and look at my Slack tab would be inefficient.

    3. SlackWebForLife*

      For what it’s worth I greatly prefer the browser version. It stopped asking me if I wanted to switch fairly early on, but if it irritates you there may be an option to turn it off.

  56. Despairingly unemployed*

    I have been job hunting for… months, probably since last year, when I was still employed (I stopped working in April, long story that may one day be published here). I have since changed my end date on my resume to June for paycheck related reasons (yes I feel weird about that).

    I got a pretty quick screening call after applying to a job but ultimately was told I lacked event planning experience (how different is that from coordinating and organizing? I feel I’d be decently good at it). Then I got my first LinkedIn message that was both a) relevant and b) a job I’d be interested in, but got ghosted after two interviews. I thought they’d gone great but they didn’t really ask me questions? But they offered no health insurance anyway so whatever.

    But I am seriously falling back into the pit of despair. I haven’t heard anything from anyone since, even applying to jobs that specify a Master’s would be preferred, which I have – even though I feel I never was able to land a job that put it to use. (My resume looks sporadic with a few short term jobs due to visa restrictions (I’ve added “(Contract)” since, thanks commentariat!) and a 2 year gap until 2021 but otherwise shows variety of experience in both jobs and cultures. A few friends reviewed my resume and said it looked solid, and I feel like my cover letters are decent (but I loathe them most).)

    I’m looking to shift my focus to applying only to jobs related to what I’m most interested in (working with international students or those going abroad), and someone told me to find 3 such programs/places and call them. Is that still a thing to do? I wouldn’t know what to say and I expect to be told “have you looked online?”

    Any advice on, getting my foot in the door somewhere? I wouldn’t be opposed to applying to coordinator jobs again but I’ve tried and didn’t get in (probably because overqualified?), though admittedly I wouldn’t feel great “returning” to a coordinator role. (Been there done that, technically, plus the pay is lower than my last job.) Or any advice on networking? I don’t really use LinkedIn (or know how to use it well for that) though I have a network. Or if anyone has any resources to find those jobs (US and S.E. Asia) they’d be much appreciated. Otherwise please join me in the pit of despair with torches and firewood, it’s getting pretty bleak again…

    1. ItHappensToManyOfUs*

      It’s natural to get discouraged at times. Hang in there!

      Now some practical advice you’re free to ignore:

      Are you open to contracting? It’s not easier to find work, but I found being open to both has helped me immensely the last 20 years. I’ve had three several year gaps between finding full time work, but was able to find contracting work in between – sometimes there’s a lot more contracting stuff out there than fulltime jobs. My current job, now into its fourth year, started as a 6 week contract that got extended and then converted (but converting from contract to full time is not the norm unless planned ahead of time).

      I had a 19 month gap after my 9/11 layoff with no work at all and had one year later on where I worked exactly 3 weeks, but I often worked 11+ months of a year across one or more contracts and 4-8 months of some other years (where I still made more money than at some fulltime jobs, albeit with no PTO and having to buy my own health insurance). It may mean looking for work more frequently and it can be more intense job searching, but it’s also saved my bacon multiple times when fulltime work just wasn’t materializing (and it has a lot of other benefits – wider circle of professional acquaintances, more varied experience, not being tied to work or companies you dislike for too long, and many more).

      Anyway, if you haven’t already, consider this as another avenue to get some income and have something productive to do.

      Good luck!

      1. Despairingly unemployed*

        I… have actually excluded contract work from my searches, considering that’s been all of my work experience so far! (Granted my first two were renewable 1-year contracts, but 90% of them abroad.) But in the US it’s been my last job and I’ve been screwed over so I want the stability that comes from an employer’s health insurance and having benefits and all that jazz. Hopefully I find something, squish my foot in a door somewhere…

        Thank you for the advice!

        1. ItHappensToManyOfUs*

          Just be aware that there’s no such thing as job stability these days – if you’re thinking you’ll get in the door somewhere then work there for a significant chunk of time (many years) it might happen, but chances are greater that you’ll get laid off in a couple of years if not sooner. I only know a handful of people who’ve been at their current job for more than 5 years. But there’s always COBRA and paid time off – or the ability to take any time off – is definitely nice when it exists.

          Good luck!

    2. Same Boat Different Island*

      Hang in there! I am basically in the same boat and it sucks. I don’t have any helpful tips to offer but just wanted to say you’re not alone. I hope things work out for you soon.

      1. Despairingly unemployed*

        Your name made me laugh, I was just telling a friend today “same storm, different boat” but I like yours too. Good luck to us both and fingers crossed for good news to come!

  57. MedicalLeave?*

    Quite late but – what does your company do for elective/non-medically necessary medical procedures?

    I had a breast reduction a few years ago and used totally PTO for it (10 days recovery which was barely enough tbh). In U.K. so PTO is ~5 weeks a year.

    Having laser eye surgery in a few weeks and have booked 2 days PTO but worried I might need another day (surgery is weds, have booked weds and thur).

    Does your company let you book this stuff as medical leave? Would doing a mix (2 days PTO then 1 day sick leave if I’m not up to working) be reasonable or a weird request?

    1. AllSickLeave*

      In a normal company here in the US if would all be sick leave. Using vacation time (PTO) would be weird and also would usually require manager approval whereas sick leave would not.

      If a surgery or medical emergency extends then it might turn into short term disability or, these days, FMLA, but in most companies you wouldn’t be allowed to use PTO unless you were out of sick leave, and even then it would be frowned upon at most places I’ve worked or interviewed at.

      For something less than week it would unquestionably be expected you’d use sick leave.

      1. MedicalLeave?*

        Huh ok, interesting. I felt extremely awkward about the breast reduction & had a strong desire not to talk about it at all (its… kinda plastic surgery and definitely not medically necessary but also the best money I’ve ever spent) and definitely feel less awkward about talking to my manager about laser eye :D

        Maybe I just have weird expectations around plastic surgery idk…

        1. mreasy*

          I called mine a “doctor advised but non urgent procedure” and definitely didn’t share any specifics.

          1. AllSickLeave*

            yes, as long as you don’t actually need to go on short term disability or use FMLA, you probably could just say “having a minor procedure” and leave it at that.

        2. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

          that’s why I like Alison’s scripts: “I have a medical thing, nothing serious, but I’ll be out for a few days” no details required
          I agree everything you mentioned would fall under sick leave in the US

    2. Cj*

      I was curious as to whether people separate the artist from their art, or if bad behavior by the artist makes you avoid their art, and if so, at what point? I’m talking about things like Mel Gibson’s drunken anti-semite rant, or Kevin Spacey’s sexual assault charges. for Kevin Spacey, there’s now the complication that he was found not guilty in the UK sexual assault charges earlier this year. I don’t know if he’s facing any other ones.

      or maybe along the lines of you like Tom Cruise and his movies, but aren’t a fan of Scientology (it’s none of my business if that’s what people believe in, but I don’t like the way people that try to get out are treated). Or somebody being outspoken about politics that you don’t agree with, but not to the degree of them being a white supremacist or something like that.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        It very much depends on the art form. The more the art gets me up close and personal with the artist’s mind, the more I care. I’ll happily listen to a symphony from a dead white guy known to be a trash fire of a human, because even if whatever emotions he’s channeling into the music are coming from a toxic place, they’ve been abstracted into orchestra noises that I can relate to as I see fit. Wouldn’t want to spend an entire novel in that guy’s head, though; even if all the characters are the sort of people who he actually thinks of as people, that sort of trash has a way of seeping into fictional worlds. If nothing else, I’d be on the lookout for it, which kills the vibe.

        If a living artist insists on using their platform to be terrible, then to my irritation I’m obliged to consider money spent on their art as a donation to their terrible cause. Doesn’t ruin the art for me, except maybe to kill any interest in being a fan of that art.

    3. I'm just here for the cats!*

      it really depends. At my job we have sick leave and vacation time we can use either. some folx are adamant that you shouldn’t use sick time because it accrues and when you retire it goes towards your health insurance. but covid kind of changes that for a lot of us. but nothing is required.

      1. PaidOutTime*

        Really? I’ve never seen anyplace that let sick leave roll over or paid it out in anyway, whereas it’s a legal requirement to pay out unused vacation time (which is one of several reasons so many companies are moving to an “unlimited” model; this is just one reason why this model typically benefits the employer not the employee).

    4. Formerly in HR*

      In Canada and fir my employer, sick leave is to be used when you cannot work – due to not feeling well, or to having a medical appointment that renders you unable to work. I would think that having surgery fits the criteria. Unless you have to provide documentation of what you had, I would charge this as sick leave. If asked, I’d say ‘minor surgery’.

    5. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I’d just take it all as sick leave and I’ve worked in the Uk too. Especially since your laser surgery is only a few days anyway, which is trivial. Anyway, iirc in the Uk usually no doctor’s note required for < 1 week.

      If you are asked by a nosy boss/coworker when you return, "minor surgery" is sufficient answer – and if anyone persists further, then saying "sorry, it's private" will sound like haemorrhoids or something else mildly embarassing.

      For longer periods, e.g. for your breast reduction, does your employer even ask for details of your ailments when you take sick leave? Where I am now (Germany) doctors just write "unfit for work until date" and that's all an employer needs to know for up to 6 weeks.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Why do they know what kind of surgery you’re having and whether or not it’s elective?

      None of that is your employer’s business. Just that it’s medical, how long you need, and whether you’ll require accommodations when you return.

      1. MedicalLeave?*

        According to a few articles on Google, in the U.K. companies have to pay statutory sick pay for cosmetic surgery but they can choose to treat it differently than other medical issues and not pay full pay.

  58. Julianna*

    My husband and I will be flying to our home in the US from London in October, but our flights have been changed and we’re now looking at a 9 hour layover in Boston, which sounds awesome on paper but we’ll be landing around 8pm in the evening and scheduled to fly out pre-dawn the following morning. I’m able to cancel that leg of the flight and get a refund, but I’m concerned about being accused of skip-lagging. However spending 9 hours overnight at the airport is not appealing. I could rebook a new flight out of Boston to our home the next day, but searches for hotels near the airport is making driving my anxiety through the roof . I’d appreciate any ideas!

    1. Lore*

      Have you already contacted the airline and asked them to suggest alternate options? I had that happen this spring and the airline was able to rebook me on a partner airline via a different city but arriving at roughly my original time, or I could have changed my first leg to depart later and minimize the layover. (It was my flight to vacation, so I wanted the 9 hours at the arrival location, but flying via Zurich instead of Vienna was fine by me.) It’s a substantive enough change that they should be willing to help and not charge a change fee.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      I don’t think you’ll be accused of skip lagging when your flights were changed on you. However, I do agree with talking to the airline about other options that are available for you.

    3. Stephanie*

      I know Delta will let you explore other options for major schedule changes like that. I had a connecting flight from my home airport canceled and got a way worse itinerary and was able to play around with flights to find something more amenable. The airline may have done that awkward itinerary if you purchased a certain class fare (or got an upgrade), but if you’re willing to downgrade, you might get a better flight.

    4. DontLeaveTheAirportFor9HourLayoverAtNight*

      what is skip lagging?

      As a Bostonian, I wouldn’t want to try to leave the airport for that type of time window, especially at that time. If you can’t reasonably change your flights I’d just suck it up and stay at Logan.

      1. Angstrom*

        Although if you want a local alternative to airport food, the much-loved Santarpio’s Pizza is very close to the airport.

  59. Beth**

    Work travel rant ahead.

    I work in the public sector and we have a strict travel policy with maximum amounts for hotels. These amounts have not been updated for years and are now inadequate for some situations.

    I am trying to arrange trip with 3 colleagues for the end of this month. Planning was delayed by my boss dithering about who was going, a new admin person who hadn’t been trained on travel booking and various other things.

    Now we are finding there are zero hotels within the budget that aren’t:
    1) in weird suburbs no where near the city centre or the office park where the meetings are
    2) truly appallingly reviewed (with things like too much noise to sleep, mould to the point of smelling awful, rock hard beds etc.)
    3) having less than 4 rooms available so we can all stay in the same place to coordinate meals, travel to our meetings etc.

    This isn’t for a conference and there’s no obvious reason why the hotels should be so expensive/booked solid.

    I have told the admin to speak to our Executive Director’s PA to see if the maximum amount can be waived so we can stay in a quiet, clean hotel in a reasonable location and rooms for everyone.

    1. RedirectTravelFees*

      maybe you can convince them that the extra travel budget from being in the inconvenient suburb should be redirected to the hotel fees do that travel isn’t needed? I don’t know if it will help because some places are slaves to policy but seems like it’s worth a shot

      1. Beth**

        There is no extra travel budget. We need to take public transport so it will be slow and inconvenient to us to stay in a random suburb, but no more expensive to the employer.

    2. Well ok*

      Can you try Airbnb? Also, sometimes places will have a government rate. Are you in the US? If so I’d be happy to try and help by looking around but you’ll have to lmk where you need the accommodation, dates and budget.

      1. Beth**

        Not in the US and I have never seen government rates here. We have to go through our travel supplier, but I did my own search and there’s really nothing decent available for the price we’re allowed to spend.

    3. DefinitiveAnn*

      I was sent to High Point, NC during “Furniture Week” (just two nights) and the hotel was so awful.

  60. Sloanicota*

    This labor day, I’m stressed. I found out this week that my mortgage is going up by over $60/month (yes, for renters, mortgage also goes up!) and my employer notified me that insurance is also going up by $30 / billing cycle, which is twice a month. The only thing not going up is my paycheck :(

    1. Agree*

      Okay, the actual payment on a mortgage only goes up if you have an adjustable rate. Otherwise the increase is due to increases in home insurance and real estate taxes if they are escrowed with the mortgage holder.

      1. Observer*

        Okay, the actual payment on a mortgage only goes up if you have an adjustable rate

        Yes. That’s why when we bought our house many years ago, I refused to get an adjustable rate mortgage.

      2. Sloanicota*

        Yes – it’s from the taxes, which have gone up a lot every year I’ve been in my house, but more than usual this year.

    2. SB*

      Yuck. My rent went up $90 a week at Christmas (we pay weekly rent here in Australia) from $340 to $430 a week, with no income increase, so I am feeling for you!!!!

      I hope there is some relief for everyone soon because financial stress is a special kind of hell.

    3. RaisesNeededAllAround*

      I feel you. I was able to negotiate my latest rent increase down to “only” $110, but that’s the third new lease I’ve had since my last raise and I was already paying more than a paycheck just for rent before any of them (just rent, no utilities). And don’t get me started on food cost increases. I was supposed to finally get a moderate raise on July 1 but it didn’t materialize. I love my job, but it’s getting ridiculous.

  61. I'm just here for the cats!*

    so I’m trying my hand at canning tomatoes. I’ve blanched and skinned them. and just waiting for the water to boil for the canner. I’m terrified of this not working out. any tips? anything I should look out for if they don’t work out oe go back.

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Add about 1 tsp salt (some people use lemon juice instead – they both help with preventing spoilage, I just like the taste of salt a little better.) to the jar and wipe the glass rim before you seal it, so there isn’t any tomato gunk that would prevent sealing. Tighten the band JUST until you get resistance, it doesn’t need to be on tightly. When you take them out, do not touch them for at least 3-4 hours. They’ll make a soft “pop” when they seal (that happens as they cool) and I always like to listen to hear the right number of pops. My canner holds 7 jars, if I only hear 5 pops, once they’re fully cooled, I tap the tops to see which ones have give. Those are the ones that didn’t seal. With years of practice, I rarely have more than 1 that doesn’t seal, so I usually just stick it in the fridge and use it within a week.
      The ones that sealed, remove the bands, use a sharpie on the lid to write the date, and store in the pantry until you’re ready to use it.

      1. Ginger Cat Lady*

        Pints or quarts? High elevation? Precooked or cold/raw pack? Those all matter.
        Check your state’s agriculture extension for their advice. It’s probably on their web site.

      2. HBJ*

        What does the recipe say? I’ve never tried to can without following a recipe. If you are, I would suggest looking up a how-to on your state’s cooperative extension service (or another state’s. Doesn’t matter).

        1. Yet another librarian*

          Agreed — use a recipe! Salt adds flavor but not acidity, and acidity is your protection against botulism. A tested recipe should tell you how much lemon juice or citric acid to add and how long to process. I can plenty of jam, but I generally freeze tomato sauce.

    2. Indolent Libertine*

      Are you following a recipe from a reliable source? I think tomatoes need added acid, like lemon juice, to be safe when canned at home.

    3. Decidedly Me*

      Definitely make sure you’re following a specific recipe designed for canning and all should be fine :)