weekend open thread – September 2-3, 2023

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

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: The Connellys of County Down, by Tracey Lange. After being released from prison, a woman moves back in with her sister, brother, and nephew and tries to rebuild her life.

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

{ 1,039 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A reminder that the weekend posts are for relatively light discussion — think dinner party or office break room — and comments should ask questions and/or seek to discuss ideas. Recommendations or one to two updates on things you received advice about in the past are fine, but “here’s an update on my life” personal-blog-style posts are not. The full rules are here.

  2. nnn*

    What have you added to your house that improved your quality of life? We’ve realized we’re probably staying where we are for a while due to the housing market so I’m looking for ways to make our current place better/more enjoyable. Right now I’m thinking about under-counter lighting and a motion-activated light in the laundry room so the light will go on/off even if my arms are full of laundry.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Recently reached a similar tentative conclusion, after 6 months of looking in a depressingly tight market!

      We would combine two bedrooms to make a comfortably sized master bedroom, and vault the upstairs ceilings so that there’s one tall space in the house.

      1. Llama Llama*

        A second bathroom? That was a big undertaking though.

        Smaller things included improving the lighting (we added can lights to our hallway and kitchen), added garage disposal, and better blinds and curtains for our bedroom to block out light.

        1. DJ Abbott*

          I recently moved into an apartment with east and west facing windows. I got some blackout curtains, and it makes a huge difference in both the hot sun coming in, and blocking light so I can sleep in on weekends.

      2. Llama lamma workplace drama*

        We have Alexa devices everywhere and have built many routines that shut lights on and off at certain times. We have some smart lights and then some smart switches. Another thing we added was an above ground swimming pool and am looking at a hot tub next.

        1. No Longer Looking*

          We also did the smart-light plan, but we’re doing voice-activated groups – 3 lights in the family room for instance, 3 zones in the basement, and one by the back door. It’s so nice to walk in to a dark house and say “Alexa, I’m home!” and have the lights turn on.

          1. DBB*

            I feel I should tell you Alexa is not a good at crime solving.

            I have been watching a show called My Life Is Murder, which is about a New Zealand police detective named Alexis. Every time someone asks her an important question about the investigation, my Alexa responds, “Hmmm, I don’t know the answer to that.”

    2. ThatGirl*

      What I really want to do is totally replace all surfaces on our first floor – flooring, cabinets, countertops, fresh paint. But that’s a big project (even for ~700 sf) so in the meantime I’ve done lots of little things. New paint in the upstairs hallway/landing, new light fixtures around the house, reorganizing, fixing some random things. Next on my list is new shelving or maybe cabinets in our laundry room – it’s small but I’m sure the space could be used better.

      1. Pippa K*

        New light fixtures can make a surprisingly big difference. I’m staring at a rather dated ceiling fan that really needs to go, so maybe this is the nudge I need!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I just replaced four light fixtures on our first floor with new ones and it’s one of my favorite house things I’ve ever done. The old ones were just very standard and blah — basically invisible because they were so nondescript — and the new ones are each so beautiful that I am filled with joy every time I look at them.

        2. londonedit*

          Absolutely. I rent so I can’t do anything material to my flat, but I recently replaced the ancient light shades on the ceiling lights with some lovely mid-century style folded paper ones and they look so much better and really make a huge difference. Especially if you’re renting those little aesthetic touches can really do such a good job of elevating things above ‘standard rental decor’.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Same here. I put a little light under the cabinet in a dark corner of the kitchen (ironically, near the window), and an under-sink shelf unit really made a huge difference. It’s so much easier to find stuff down there now!

            Another thing: the chains on the ceiling fans were super short. I’m tall, but the ceilings in this apartment are higher than average because it’s an older building (1950s, I think), and I still had to stretch to reach them. My neighbor and I were talking about those pulls you can buy for fans to tell the chains apart — one is a tiny fan and the other a light bulb. She bought me two sets for my birthday. I love them so much — they came with extensions for the chains, and little light bulb especially makes me happy every time I look at it. And no, I am NOT leaving them behind when I move!

          2. Anono-me*

            If you are in the USA, would you share the details of the shades please? They sound like what I have been thinking to add to our house.

            1. londonedit*

              I’m in the UK I’m afraid, and they were also from Wilko which is a sort of everything and anything shop that’s just gone into administration! So I was lucky to get them when I did – they were only £6 each in the sale!

        3. ThatGirl*

          Yes, the light fixtures and new paint have really improved my mood, lol. I hated our upstairs fixtures and paint and now I love them.

        4. numptea*

          Related, I recently purchased gorgeous pinched satin lampshades to perk up my old bedside table lamps.

          Unfortunately, it turns out that they were mislabeled, and don’t fit. Mine don’t have an upper brace with a topper, so the bulb has to come off and the ring goes around the bulb base. These new ones are meant for the kind with the topper. I’m so annoyed, lol.

    3. Lightbulb*

      We took the tub out and put in a roll in shower (aging in place). Not walk in, covered the entire bathroom floor in tile. Did extra long curved shower curtain. Don’t miss the tub and the shower is amazing. (Don’t skimp on the fixtures.)

        1. Lightbulb*

          It would be except not all the walls are tile…just the shower surround. But it is very large and wonderful. We put a light in the shower too. It is enjoyed.

      1. numptea*

        I have been obsessed with these ever since I saw one in a design magazine that had huge potted palms all around the room. Now I want to bathe in a house jungle.

    4. RLC*

      Hot water circulation pump to quickly deliver hot water to our most-used bathroom. Bonus points for water and energy savings as we no longer have to run the shower until the hot water arrives. Installed same time old water heater was replaced.
      Adjustable-length (pull down) light fixture over dining table. These fixtures were popular decades ago, oddly went out of fashion. If, like us, you use your dining table for various other non-dining activities, it’s so practical. Light up high for dining, down low for reading, game night, hobbies, etc. Uncommon, so might have to special order through a lighting design shop as we did.

      1. Aquamarine*

        There was a light fixture like that in a place I rented that was built in the 1920s. It was the first time I had ever seen one, and I loved it.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My favorite recent additions:
      I added a second small (cold-only) tap to my kitchen sink that has a filter on it, for cold filtered drinking water on demand. (I don’t like fridges with water dispensers or Brita pitchers for the same reason – I have better things to use my fridge space for.)
      -Total cost, under $100. (The taps can be had on Amazon as inexpensively as $15, depending on your style, and a Waterdrop under-sink filter initial setup is $69. Replacement filters are needed about every 12-18 months and are $30.)
      -DIY: Very easy – the fiddliest bit was drilling a 1/2″ hole in the kitchen counter to mount the tap. Otherwise, it was just putting a T on the cold water line and tapping the filter into it. I think it took my BIL about 15 minutes.

      Motion-activated lights on my stairs – originally we did these for my senior dog, who’s vision was going and she got scared going up and down the stairs. She passed two years ago and they’re still super handy. On both sets of stairs, there’s a light strip running along the baseboard on both sides, with a motion sensor at the top on one side and at the bottom on the other side so that it’s activated from either side as needed. These can be battery powered, but my husband has two cats, so the batteries lasted approximately 5 days :P As a result, the trickiest bit for us was running a USB power cord to the motion detector. The strips and the motion detectors are mounted with command strips. Cost was about $30 per staircase (including the extra command strips and power cord), my light strips are CFGROW on Amazon and actually advertised as under-cabinet lighting.

      Smart lighting – I use the Kasa system. I have smart switches in my kitchen and dining room that control the overhead lights, smart plugs in my living room, and smart light bulbs and LED strips in my husband’s and my offices. I can go to bed and, once I get upstairs, turn off all the downstairs lights from my phone. If I forget, they’ll all turn off automatically at midnight. If my husband is in his man-cave and not noticing his phone, I can flip his lights to a different color (green for “look at your phone please”, yellow for “dinner is ready”, purple for “I’ve taken the pups and gone to bed and the alarm is on”). If he comes upstairs and goes to come into my home office, I have a light strip in my office door that’s green for “I’m working,” blue for “Busy or in a meeting but no camera” and red for “I’m in a video meeting with camera on” and a button on my desk that will flip those options round. The space heater in my office is on a smart plug with a timer, so no more realizing I left it on all night. (It doesn’t turn the actual heater on and off, it just turns on and off the power to it, if that makes sense.) Most of these can be voice activated, but I rarely talk to mine – I prefer to control them through my phone or a couple of Flic buttons. My husband talks to his all the time, and I use a lot of timers.

      Rarely used but super handy: I picked up a pair of light bulbs on an Amazon sale that have a battery backup built into them, so if the power goes out, I can flip a little switch on the base of the bulb itself and it will continue to operate in the lamp for a few hours based on the battery built into it.

      I’m also personally a big fan of Mixtiles for decoration – I like the ability to do a collage, they’re constantly running sales, they go up with effectively command strips and they stay up really well, but you can also take them down and rearrange them. And they look nice, and I don’t have to go out and find reasonably-priced picture frames that match. Heh.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Oh, and my smart locks — my current ones are actually part of my home alarm system, but I had a different one previously for several years. I HATE having my front door unlocked, and my husband also prefers to have it locked but has a hard time remembering to lock doors after thirty years of “does that door lock? I don’t think we have keys for it, but people just come over whenever anyway.” (I also don’t tolerate uninvited guests, and he says he prefers my way, but probably wouldn’t fuss about it left to his own devices because he’s lazy, his words not mine.) So it auto-locks itself two minutes after it’s unlocked, or if it can’t because the door sensor isn’t reading as closed, it’ll beep my watch and tell me. It also means, between the garage door opener and the smart lock, I haven’t had to carry a house key in eight years. No carry, no lose!

        We also put one on the non-slider back door (there’s two doors onto the deck, a slider in the dining room that we usually use and a regular door in my office that we don’t use much) because once I got my husband in the habit of locking the slider, he now locks it EVERY time he comes in through it … even if I’m still out back. And if one is in my back yard and the slider is locked, one is out of luck – no windows are within reach, the back yard is surrounded by a six-foot wooden fence, and both gates in the fence are locked with keyed locks (and the keys are in the house). So I put the smart lock on the non-slider so that when my husband accidentally locks me into the backyard, I can still get back in the house by using the lock’s keypad :P

        1. Mostly Managing*

          We thought about a smart lock, but with a house full of teens still a combination lock works better for us.
          The front door is still keyed, but the side door you just need to know the combination. So my young teens don’t have to keep track of a house key, or think about whether they are likely to be the first one home. (And if our plans change and they are home alone unexpectedly they can still get in!)

          The other thing I want to do is paint the entry way. It was meant to be this summer, but there were a few other things that needed the time and attention. Maybe in the fall? Likely next spring.
          Having all the walls colours we like is a big part of making a house feel like “ours”.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I’m not sure I follow – my smart locks can be opened by keys, combinations entered on the number pad, or the phone app?

            1. Jay (no, the other one)*

              Yeah, we have the same thing. Our daughter locked us out of the house repeatedly because she didn’t like having the door from the garage to the house unlocked since we couldn’t lock the door from the back yard to the garage. After a long road trip during which we stayed in a lot of AirBnBs the light dawned and we put combination/smart locks on the front door and the door into the garage from the yard. Easier for us, less anxiety for our daughter (who is 23) and much easier for guests and anyone else we are comfortable having in the house when we’re not there (the housecleaner, our very trustworthy electrician, etc). If we wanted we could program a new code for each person. We haven’t bothered.

              1. Observer*

                she didn’t like having the door from the garage to the house unlocked since we couldn’t lock the door from the back yard to the garage

                Your daughter was not wrong. Unless you have something like a REALLY high fence around you back yard or razer wire on top of it, it’s surprisingly easy to get into a back yard. From there, an unlocked door is almost like an open invitation.

                1. Jay (no, the other one)*

                  We have a very high fence around a small area of the yard that blocks the door, a high fence around the yard, motion-sensor lights, and a pretty good sense that any risk is to our property, not our persons. We also think the kid might sleep better if she stopped listening to true-crime podcasts. And now we have locks.

                2. Observer*

                  We also think the kid might sleep better if she stopped listening to true-crime podcasts.

                  That’s true.

                  And now we have locks.

                  That’s good.

      2. DJ Abbott*

        So many people mentioning Amazon on this thread, but my credit card was digitally stolen three times after using it on Amazon and they don’t take PayPal or Apple Pay, so so I don’t shop there anymore. How are you all protecting your cards?

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I have a credit card that I only use on Amazon, have done for probably fifteen years or more, and I’ve never had a problem with it.

            1. DJ Abbott*

              I had never in my life had this happen until March of this year. I’ve been shopping online, including Amazon, for many years, and this never happened until now. I don’t think it’s anything I’m doing. As far as I can tell, the only way to prevent it is using PayPal or Apple Pay.

        2. David*

          Try virtual credit cards. These are credit card numbers that you create individually for each merchant, so that if one of them gets stolen, you can easily cancel it and create a new one for that merchant without affecting your ability to shop anywhere else or any of your physical cards. Depending on the service you use, you might also get additional security features with your virtual cards, for example:
          – They can be locked to the first merchant where they get used, and any transaction attempted at a different merchant will be automatically rejected
          – You can set a spending limit on each card per month or per year (great for subscription services)
          – You can mark a card as single-use so that only the first transaction goes through and any further transactions made on that card get rejected
          – You can set an expiration date on the card and any transactions after that date will get rejected
          and so on.

          I’ve used a couple of these services: I have a card from Capital One which comes with virtual credit card support, and I’ve also used Privacy.com which ties directly to your bank account. There are also several other credit card companies that offer virtual credit cards. (I vaguely seem to remember that Apple might do it too but I’m not sure.) From the research I did, it sounds like Privacy.com is a bit ahead of the credit card companies in terms of offering more security features on their cards, but they also tried to ask for my online banking password when I signed up, which is a horrible convenience “feature” that deserves to die in a fire (don’t ever give out your online banking password except when actually using it to log into your bank’s website), so I’m not wholly convinced they really have it together when it comes to security and privacy (how ironic :-p). But anyway… Privacy.com also doesn’t offer credit card rewards unless you get one of their paid plans, whereas the credit card companies that offer virtual card numbers generally give you the same rewards on the virtual cards that you get on your physical cards. In general, though, my experience with both has been fine.

          1. allathian*

            Depends on where you are. I’m in Finland, and use my bank for e-identification with strong authentication. This means that I have to provide the shop or service provider with my bank-ID number and confirm it with my bank PIN in the bank’s ID app. I also use that ID app to login to the bank’s website and to validate all transactions.

            Virtual credit cards sound like a great idea, though.

        3. Observer*

          So many people mentioning Amazon on this thread, but my credit card was digitally stolen three times after using it on Amazon

          Most of the things people mention are easily gotten elsewhere.

          A few things that help:

          Do not have the vendor (in this case Amazon) save your card data for easier check out in the future.

          Never shop from anywhere but YOUR phone or computer. I’m not talking about browsing, but anything that requires you to put in your CC information.

          Make sure to log out of a shopping site (in this case Amazon) once you are done.

    6. Firebird*

      We vaulted our family room ceiling and put in a skylight. It really opens up the room and makes it seem larger.

      In part of the same project, my absolute favorite thing was to put drawers in our raised hearth. The drawer fronts match with the mantle and surround and I think it looks great. We keep extra lap blankets and games in them. Oddly, my contractor tried to push back on it and basically said it was a dumb idea. We paid his asking price without trying to negotiate, so I don’t know why he even cared.

    7. Ranon*

      Motion activated kitchen faucet
      Phillips hue lights programed in our evening living spaces
      90+ CRI lightbulbs everywhere
      Air sealing and insulating the attic
      Bathroom exhaust fan timer switches

      1. Just here for the scripts*

        Ooooh I’ve been considering a motion activated faucet, but got overwhelmed by the choices. Which brand did you get?

        1. Zephy*

          My inlaws have a motion-activated faucet (don’t recall the brand, probably Kohler). Whatever kind you get, wire it into the house. They opted not to hard-wire theirs for some reason, so the sensor runs on AA batteries that require someone to go spelunking under the sink to replace them every 10 days or so. The thing eats batteries like candy, and for some reason it’s designed such that it needs power to open the valve even if you don’t use the motion sensor- it also has a manual lever to turn the water on and off but it is basically decorative if the batteries are dead. The inlaws went to Italy over the summer for a couple of weeks, and the batteries on the faucet died around day 2, but we didn’t know why until they got back and we told them what happened.

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

            In the same vein, I got faucets that you can just turn on and off and set the temp with your wrist or the top of your hand instead of having to grasp individual knobs. Good for germaphobes and anyone who has trouble grasping things.

            1. Nicki Name*

              Or for people who may be approaching the sink with messy hands! We’ve replaced our faucets with that kind and it’s been very nice.

        2. Jackalope*

          One warning: I know someone who got one of these and it’s not always user-friendly. Sometimes it will recognize you waving your hand as motion and sometimes not, which means sometimes it’s hard to get it to turn on or off, and sometimes you’re just moving your hands in the sink area and it decides to turn on or off even if that’s a really bad idea at that particular moment! He seems to like it, so it’s entirely possible that this is a solvable issue or something that you just figure out, but I’ve found it to be a rough learning curve.

      1. UKDancer*

        So good. I had them put in my bathroom in my flat and they are fantastic. Warm feet are great when you get out of the shower on a cold morning.

      2. numptea*

        My parents have radiant floor heat through the entire first floor. It’s even zoned by room, so you can adjust based on flooring type, since tile can tolerate a higher temp than rug/pad can. (My dad was GC and designed the entire house, after decades of complaining about the tiny house I grew up in.)

        1. RedinSC*

          My sister also has radiant heat throughout her first floor. My house is tiny and I don’t think it works under wood floors, so the only place we could have it was the bathroom.

          I just love it.

    8. Radar’s glasses*

      My family replaced our 25 year old, rusty dishwasher with a new GE Profile model. Soooo quiet, energy efficient, and I can run it twice a week in good conscience. Should have done years earlier.

    9. Just here for the scripts*

      Wooden blinds—oak. Warms up the rooms, spreads the afternoon light beautifully (and blocks it too when you’re watching movies in a weekend afternoon), and really brought the whole apartment together. Used blinds dot com when they had a sale (sent for the samples beforehand to choose color)so they were very reasonably priced. Of course you have to take your own measurements, but they’ll let you reorder twice if you’ve mis-measured at no additional cost. Or you can pay a bit more and they’ll send someone.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        Thank you, I didn’t realize this was a thing. We’ve got cats, who have been using the cellular shades in the living room as scratching posts…

    10. Filosofickle*

      It might be a bigger investment than you mean, but for me it was installing central air conditioning! (I had no central heat or air.)

    11. Flames on the Side of My Face*

      We added new windows to two dark rooms. Not just new glass–we cut holes in the walls. So much more light! I can’t imagine the house was constructed without them!

    12. DistantAudacity*

      Proper, organized and sufficient wardrobe space, based on the IKEA Pax system, but with some customization to properly use all space available. I painted the doors in a colour that blended, and I use the organizing thingies in the drawers. It’s still organized a couple of years later, due to sufficient space to put everything in its right place.

      Also, smart lights/electric socket add-ins, and an electric blind (Ikea!) for my bedroom. So nice to have things go on and off automatically, and the blind up and down on a schedule (not leaving the bedroom in eternal gloom).

    13. Jackalope*

      I painted our bedroom my favorite color – I’d wanted bedroom walls this color since I was a toddler and was finally able to do it! This was when I was still working from home full time due to the pandemic, so I got to spend the next year and a half mostly locked in my room (where I also had my home office). It made such a difference being able to look around at beautiful, cheerful walls every day while things were so tough. I also painted the living room my spouse’s favorite color, and that has made my spouse happy for similar reasons.

      As an aside, I’m glad you’re asking about this. There’s an interior decorating section in my local newspaper and they’re always talking about resale value and what to do to make your house sell better. I understand a little bit – if someone is considering selling their house then they want to know what will help in that goal. But I always want to tell the authors of those articles that it’s okay to make the house work well for US, not just the people who will buy it from us. To use my above example, I’ve read multiple times that you shouldn’t paint your walls bright colors, since people don’t like buying houses that way and you may end up just painting them white again. First of all I don’t think that’s necessarily true in my region – bright walls seem to be popular from what I’ve seen on Zillow – but even if it were true, it’s significantly raised OUR happiness level, and that’s the most important thing right now. Especially given that there’s been this pandemic, and life has sucked so much that any little thing to make it better helps.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yes! My kitchen was a cacophony of neutral when I moved in and when I had it redone I painted it bright-the-eff-turquoise and it makes me SO HAPPY. I also just redid an upstairs room in sunny bright orange, and one in spring green. Wonderful.

      2. DJ Abbott*

        And I want to note that if your favorite color is too dark to paint the whole room – like dark red, dark green, or very deep pink – then painting one wall that color is good. I worked in an office that would do that for each person’s office and let them choose the color. It’s called an accent wall.

      3. Victoria Everglot*

        I once read someone saying that focusing too hard on resale value means you don’t really own your home, you’re just borrowing it from the next owner. I was already a believer in making a house work for me and my family, but I still love that phrasing.

        1. Jackalope*

          That’s a great way to put it. I can see considering something like this if you’re thinking about selling in the near future but have something you can’t wait on. But otherwise make it a good space for the people living there, not some hypothetical future inhabitants that you can’t predict.

          1. Victoria Everglot*

            Yeah if you know you won’t be there long (career, wanderlust, knowing you’ll be moving back home to care for aging parents, whatever) then I think it makes sense to try to make your future resale as painless as possible. But if you’ve bought your house with the intention of putting down roots, it’s stupid to outfit it on behalf of someone who might move in 20 or 30 years from now. Like, what if I chose Tasteful Beige for everything now during a remodel, and then 25 years from now the new trend in home buying is for cozy, personal spaces because everyone’s sick to death of sterile spaces they never feel like they actually own, and nobody wants to tack on the price of new kitchen counters and cabinets and other fixtures to the price of the house?

            I love making fun of 70s houses as much as the next person, but at least 70s people seem like they had choices!

    14. The Prettiest Curse*

      I can’t take credit for installing these because they came with the house, but I really like having all the appliances in my kitchen hidden behind cabinet doors. It makes the kitchen look so much neater! (Not sure how it will work out when we need to get appliances replaced, but hopefully we won’t need to do that for a while.)

      My sister is in the process of re-doing her kitchen and is considering getting 2 dishwashers so that they always have somewhere to put their dirty stuff. I’m not sure if this is over-the-top extravagant (multiple appliances always remind me of the Conservative MP who recorded a video trying to pretend he was a man of the people in his kitchen, in front of his 4 ovens) or total genius.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Forgot to mention: getting an induction hob (stovetop) was the best thing I ever did, home-wise! (It’s a much better version of an electric hob.)

        You have to be careful not to get them wet, but they are way more energy efficient and heat up/cool down really fast. Added bonus: no nasty gas to inhale, which is great if anyone in your household has respiratory issues.

        1. allathian*

          Yup, induction combines the precision of gas and the lower risk level of electric stoves. The only issue with induction stoves is that if you have a pacemaker you have to keep a distance of at least 2 ft between your pacemaker and the stovetop. If you’re average height or tall, this shouldn’t be a problem, but for very short people it might be.

          Our most recent home upgrade that I’m really happy with is our heat pump that we use primarily for AC in the summer, but it’s also for supplementary heating in winter.

      2. What’s next?*

        We have two dishdrawers, so one is always empty but it takes up the same space as a normal dishwasher. They’re pretty common where we are.

    15. Indolent Libertine*

      Changed a shower-over-jetted tub to a walk-in shower with extra blocking in the framing that supports a fold down seat and 2 grab bars; also both a fixed shower head and a hand held one, with an extra bracket to “park” the hand held near the bench. I’ve had one injury and one major surgery in recent years where I’ve really needed to use these. Even if you’re far from old, you can still find yourself temporarily disabled!

      Replaced windows; better temperature stability and less outside noise.

    16. Damn it, Hardison!*

      This is definitely a big expense, but we added mini split air conditioning (we don’t have any ductwork, so it was our best option). Now that we have it, we are kicking ourselves for not doing it much sooner. My state (MA) has an energy efficiency program with 0% loans, so we took advantage of that (the units also have a heat pump, which is what qualifies them for the program).

    17. Falling Diphthong*

      Bones = walls, openings
      Finishes = paint, flooring
      Systems = invisible stuff that makes the house more livable (roof, AC, wiring)

      Systems are unsexy but often offer the biggest bang for livability.

      Nice finishes won’t save bad bones. But it can be easier to move a wall or door than people realize.

      Finishes make the biggest difference to the eye. If you’re selling, it’s why you’re instructed to deep clean, paint, and refinish any hardwood flooring. Also to tackle all those little broken light switch, gouge in the wall, type of things that it’s easy to leave in place for a decade because you just get used to working around them.

    18. Bibliovore*

      After about two years in this house, we added small screen-in porch. It is as big as a couch and a facing arm chair. I pretty much live in it for three seasons. It is my writing space. It abutts the fenced yard so the dogs can go in at out. With a space heater and plexiglass panels in the winter it can be around 60 degrees.

      Now. I renovated the downstairs bathroom. Put in a soaking tub. Expanded the space about 2 feet. I take at least 1 bath a day and on bad days can do up to 4. (chronic joint pain)
      Will put a link in the comments.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Love love love our screened porch. Absolutely my favorite home reno ever and we’ve done a bunch. I grew up with a screened porch in a house without central air and we lived out there all summer. We started the process in 2018 and finished it in 2019 and it saved my sanity in the summer of 2020 because I could actually have people over. The porch is 15 feet wide and we have seating on both sides. It’s screened from about a foot off the floor to the ceiling and there’s a fan. I am a full-on extrovert and the isolation did a number on my mental health so this was wonderful.

        1. Seltaeb*

          I have a screened back porch (and yes, it was fantastic in 20-21 to be able to have people over even in the rain!). The ceiling light is a bit harsh, so I ordered a string of patio lights a few days ago and put them up today. (The Command light hooks I had did NOT work, but cheap screw-in cup hooks worked great.) Just came inside from reading out on the porch for an hour after dinner. Light was lovely.

          1. BlueWolf*

            Similar to this, my house came with a screened porch, but for some reason the flippers put horrible bright recessed lights in it (the same as the rest of the house and I hate them inside too). The lights were on the same switch (circuit?) as the ceiling fan, so you couldn’t use the fan without the lights on. We had an electrician come out to rewire the fan so that you just pull the cord to turn it on. We also had a light installed on the outside of the porch for night time grilling. It was a bit expensive, but so worth it. We also got string lights that have all sorts of color settings. The porch is definitely the place to hang now.

    19. fposte*

      Other people’s are better than mine, but I’d say changing the light switches to the basement so I can turn in all the lights at the top or bottom of the stairs; photosensitive light bulbs outside that go on at dusk; insulated honeycomb blinds on the big picture windows and the bedrooms to keep heat out in high summer and cold out in the winter.

    20. Anon-E-Mouse*

      We haven’t done it yet, but I want to replace the bed, sofa and other furniture in our rarely used guest room with a convertible piece of of furniture so that we can use the room as a lounging space. We’re planning a visit to Resource Furniture to explore options.

    21. Techno Support*

      A boring answer, maybe, but if you don’t already have a nice dishwasher, fridge, washing machine etc, then take the opportunity to upgrade them. Having recently upgraded my dishwasher from one that was barely hanging on, I noticed an immediate quality of life improvement.

    22. The OG Sleepless*

      My favorite house renovation was having our deck replaced. Obviously that’s a big undertaking, but our old deck was an eyesore, and a nice place to sit outside and read is a big priority for any place I live. My second favorite was having our horrible hardwood floors refinished. Much cheaper than I expected and it transformed the entire appearance of our downstairs.

    23. Voluptuousfire*

      I recently had new kitchen flooring put in. My dad out down a role of linoleum in 1993 and it was coming up in tufts and I had to cut up some of it after spilling some iced tea mix that got under one of those tufts.

      My kitchen looked so derelict I finally pulled the trigger and got really nice wood-look laminate put in and it looks so much better. That old floor in disrepair was depressing as hell and now I’m proud of my kitchen.

    24. VV*

      I rent an apartment, but in a HCOL city and I want to stay here a while. The shower is less than ideal but it’s 10x better after a shower head replacement, stool so I can actually shave comfortably, and a squeegee since the tile sloping isn’t well done. So I’ve found identifying little annoyances and being proactive about buying things to address them even if not technically a renovation, helps a lot. I want to replace all the lightbulbs with softer tones too, which I think helps the overall ambience

      1. Jackalope*

        That’s a good point. At my last place I LOVED the detachable shower heads, so when we moved into our current house we installed them in the bathrooms right away, and it makes a huge difference for me in terms of being able to enjoy a shower (and for someone who doesn’t like them you can just leave it attached and pretend it’s a normal shower head).

    25. Golden*

      My house came with soft-close everything in every room, even the toilet lids! Totally recommended that. If I ever move and the new place doesn’t have soft-close hinges everywhere, they would be the first thing I’d replace.

      We recently had mature plants installed in the yard, and I recommend that too. They made an immediate difference blocking out lights and sounds from the road and making the yard feel more private.

    26. Chocoglow*

      It’s certainly not as useful as some innovations because we rent, and will likely do so for the foreseeable future, but I have up a ton of art from both conventions and handmade, most of it made in the down time between my last job and some free time in the last year.

      Lots of it is painted skyscapes on canvas with floral hot glued on (from old fake flowers I’ve had forever and some now sports my cross stitch art as well.) I’ve struggled for years with seasonal depression and other issues, and turning bland white walls into a gallery has helped incredibly.

      Other improvements for my ADD have been to enforce a cleaning schedule and open organization so I can see where everything belongs and build better situational awareness as well, and a standing checklist of projects to finish up as I look at getting back into the workforce. It’s not huge, but…it helps me, SO, and kiddos, and honestly, I’m pretty happy with that.

    27. numptea*

      An in-line water filter and softener. We were making do with a Brita pitcher and a shower cartridge, but it wasn’t enough. We had a plumber do a copper repipe in the basement with a unit that treats the water as it enters from the street.

      I cannot overemphasize the change. Not only did our water taste disgusting and strip our hair to knotted straw, but we couldn’t keep anything clean. The faucets were caked with build-up, the sinks and toilets and showers had pink and brown rings that needed daily bleaching, our clothes were faded and worn from the first wash, our three-year-old Speed Queen washer died because the water ate holes through the stainless steel tub.

      Now we don’t look like filthy scarecrows, I don’t spend half my life scrubbing the bathrooms, and our appliances aren’t constantly being destroyed.

    28. Middle Aged Lady*

      We added blackout curtains and honeycomb blinds for heat gain/loss on some of our windows. Better lighting in the garage, and an under sink warer filter for drinking water, better shower heads in both bathrooms. Some new rugs. All these smaller items made us much happier. Next steps are a new kitchen faucet with a ‘touch’ on/off and a sprayer and a kitchen island to replace an old dining table we have our coffeemaker and toaster oven sitting on.

    29. Victoria Everglot*

      I love my detachable shower head. Makes it easier to clean the shower and wash my toddler’s hair, among other things.

    30. Dancing Otter*

      Not me, but my parents had a long hall from the living/kitchen area to their master bedroom. They put light switches at both ends of the hall, so you never had to choose between walking down a dark hall or leaving a light on all night.
      My dad also insisted the contractor for their room addition put all the electrical outlets waist high so they could still be used even with furniture in front of them. Easier done during construction, but could be done later if you don’t mind patching drywall.
      The best thing I’ve done myself was plastic-ing my windows before winter every year. Such a difference, getting rid of drafts and cold spots – which were always there, no matter where we set the thermostat.

    31. CamJansen*

      little “vignettes” of cheerful spaces or decor make a big difference for me. I added a mirror and a plant at the top of the stairs landing and I’m just so happy every time I go up the stairs. new light fixtures go a long way, fresh blinds or window treatments. changing the way a space is used is always exciting to me too. and! don’t underestimate how powerful a fresh bead of caulk can be by counters or trim or bath fixtures. that’s a really quick and inexpensive way to make something feel fresh (as long as you’re good at smoothing it out otherwise it can look like a 3 year old got ahold of the toothpaste).

    32. Rick Tq*

      Added a whole house fan. We lived in an area that only needed AC about one month a year, with the WHF running at night we could cool the house down pretty quickly while we slept. Getting the house temperature down early in the day helped keep things comfortable in the afternoon heat too.

      1. Middle Aged Lady*

        Those were popular in the 50s and 60s and are making a comeback. Everything old is new again!
        People kept telling me to ‘do something’ about my 90s honey oak kitchen cabinets but I love them. Solid, homey wood! Now guess what’s back in style? Honey oak!

    33. TechWorker*

      We have a Victorian style airer for drying clothes indoors. It sits above cabinets in the utility & it means that you don’t have those metal clothes airers taking up floor space. It looks so much nicer too, definitely worth it.

    34. Choggy*

      In the same boat, we thought we would be moving but since the pandemic, we’re staying put for the foreseeable future. I told my husband if we are going to stay here, we need to do some updates, but not do major construction. We had done our kitchen and both bathrooms 15 years ago, but we have no pets/kids, and kept everything in good working order and clean, and kept everything pretty contemporary. We decided to replace flooring (carpet/LVP) on the second and third floors, replaced some windows and the french door for energy efficiency and because they were the originals since the condo was built in the 80s, replaced fireplace mantle, light fixtures and painted all the stained trim white in preparation to paint the walls. I had forgotten how much I hate doing this stuff, was looking forward to moving to a new build with all of it done already. I had to wake up my non-existent creative side to decide on flooring, paint colors, what style fixtures to use mainly farmhouse but nothing too trendy. We will probably replace the countertops in the kitchen (and baths) at some point, but the cabinets will stay. I’ve liked what’s been done so far, but we still have to put in LVP and still not 100% on the wall colors yet. I *think* I’ll be happy when it’s done, but there are things I can’t change (it’s a condo), so will have to be happy with what we can do until we can make the move. I would say lighting, painting are a good start for anyone who wants to make small changes that have a pretty decent impact.

      1. Lbd*

        A friend hired a decorator/designer whose style they really liked to choose paint colours and was very happy with the results. A decade later they still love the colours and get many complements on them.

    35. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      My list of things I want (that may or may not exist):
      – ceiling fans in all the bedrooms
      – cat wall-mounted furniture (because cats!)
      – push-in-to-pop-out steps in the space under all the low cabinets in the kitchen (I’m short)
      – updated lighting in almost all the rooms so the light is where we need it

    36. Reluctant Mezzo*

      We had a standing unit A/C that basically cooled one spot on the couch. I bought a larger box A/C which cooled over half the house–and my electric bill did not change. Glorious!

    37. I take tea*

      Blinds for the glassed in balcony. The balcony used to get very hot, which made the room behind hot as well, even if it had Blinds. Now it’s much better.

    38. Nonny mouse*

      I want to add ceiling fans to every room and new windows to at least my bedroom so we can get a better cross-breeze going. I also want an actual hood over my stove so I don’t have to open all my windows whenever I cook (this is fine 95% of the year but still annoying)

    1. RMNPgirl*

      A while back Southwest was having a sale and I got a really good price on tickets to my home state. From where I live now direct flights below $300-$400 round trip are hard to find but I was able to get a ticket for less than $200. So I get to go home for 48 hours which will be great because I haven’t been there in a year. I’ve had my parents visit me but I haven’t seen any friends from there since last year.

    2. Doctor is In*

      Visiting the Kentucky Castle outside Lexington KY. A different place! Farm to table restaurant.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Not too much going on this weekend. I need to run most of my ren faire garb through the laundry, because NEXT weekend I’m going up to Michigan to go to Michigan Ren with my dad and sister for the first time in probably ten years. :) I’m also going to Ohio Ren later in September with friends, and am endlessly entertained that almost everything I will be wearing will be older than all three of the children in the party put together, god bless drawstring waists.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        We are going to the Maryland Ren Faire this weekend!
        I don’t dress up, but I’ve been trying to figure out something for my kids. The 3 year old has lots of princess/party dresses and the 6 year old gets my white blouse and a sash, which he will probably wear with athletic shorts. Maybe a t-shirt vest. The oldest wants to dress up but thinks DIY costumes pulled from mom’s closet are lame, so….
        We go every year and I never think about garb until the night before….

    4. beep beep*

      I’m at Dragoncon in Atlanta this weekend! It’s bg far the biggest convention I’ve ever been to and it’s a bit of culture shock. Anyone have advice for making waiting in line for an hour + for things more bearable on my feet? I’m giving them a good massage tonight but I don’t think it’s kosher to take my shoes off and do that in the halls.

      1. office hobbit*

        My only advice, which you’ve probably tried, is to move around instead of holding still, and sit as much as possible. My main advice is to take care of your feet! If you’re cosplaying consider switching to sneakers anyway. I ignored aching feet for a 4-day con and by the end of it my pinky toes were numb for a month. All fine now tho, ah youth.

      2. The OG Sleepless*

        I live in Atlanta and we’re going to Dragon Con this afternoon! If you’re able to change shoes, go ahead and put something comfortable on. The cosplay crowd does not judge at all.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Ooooh I’m jelly!

        I went to Fan Expo Boston a few weeks ago. That was my biggest — sooooo much stuff to buy, haha. I got to hug Henry Winkler! <3 And talk to Aaron Reynolds, the Effin' Birds guy, haha.

        Definitely good shoes. Or some insoles. Soaking your feet in warm water in the tub at night might help also.

        1. beep beep*

          Oh hey, the Effin’ Birds guy is here too! I bought a magnet from him, I love it.

          My shoes are mediocre (though they are sneakers), but I will definitely give them a soak tonight.

        2. AGD*

          I went to Fan Expo Toronto last summer, got a free postcard from him, then circled back and bought the postcard book!

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Heh, I told him “I’m not going to buy your book today because I already did!” and he laughed. He also does Swear Trek on Twitter. I love that.

      4. The OG Sleepless*

        Oh, you didn’t ask this, but the best day to go to the merchandise mart is Monday, as the out of town crowds begin to thin out. The lines to get in are just too long today and Sunday.

        1. beep beep*

          Unfortunately my friend and I’s schedule on Monday mean we pretty much can check out, go to a short morning thing, and then head north to catch my bus from Columbia in the mid-afternoon. We braved the vendor line early in the morning and it wasn’t so bad! I found some good loot and now we will be doing smaller panels until the aquarium this evening.

          1. Llellayena*

            See you at the aquarium! The line into the vendors was long but moving steadily when I went this morning. I actually find the food lines more annoying…

            Not huge on cosplaying for myself, but i’ll be a Babylon 5 Psycop tomorrow. There are autographs to get!

    5. Jackalope*

      It’s been a busy couple of weeks and I’m going to have a busy few more, so this weekend my plan is to leave the house as little as possible. I have a stack of books, I have a stack of video games, I have cats and a housemate and my spouse, and that’s it!

      1. londonedit*

        Same here! Our long weekend was last weekend (always the last Monday in August here in England and it doesn’t have a special name, just the summer bank holiday). I ran 9 miles last Sunday, woke up bank holiday Monday with a scratchy throat, lo and behold it’s Covid round two! Still feeling crap so it’s a weekend on the sofa with water, vitamins and ice cream for me! At least I didn’t really have any plans (though I was meant to be running 10 miles!)

    6. Hotdog not dog*

      My first weekend with an empty nest…we dropped the kiddo off at college on Wednesday. I’m planning to give his room a deep clean and air it out. (teen boy funk has a life of its own!)

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I wanted to run all around but my knee is messed up and I can’t! :(

      This will probably be a sorting, cleaning, and writing weekend. Guess I’ll have to wait to go sightseeing. The advantage will be that the leaves will be changing by the time I can do stuff again. :)

      1. londonedit*

        I missed that you’d moved, Elizabeth. So pleased for you – I hope you’re somewhere you’ll enjoy living!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’m in Boston!!
          So far I like it. Ask me again in the winter, though, heh heh. If I can get my knee back to normal, I’d like to try some winter sports. I might even dig out my skates again — I always wanted to skate outside at least once.

    8. Mitchell Hundred*

      A movie theatre near me is streaming a pro wrestling pay-per-vew event. I’m gonna go see that this afternoon.

  3. Ask a Manager* Post author

    In case this interests people — a reader contacted me recently to say that she used The Storygraph (which is an alternative to Goodreads) to create Reading Challenges for each of my yearly book recommendation round-ups. Anyone can join them and mark off the books they’ve read. The links are here:

    2015 Recommendations
    2016 Recommendations
    2017 Recommendations
    2018 Recommendations
    2019 Recommendations
    2020 Recommendations
    2021 Recommendations
    2022 Recommendations

    1. Malarkey01*

      Ohhh love this. I started 2023 following your recommendations to get back in the habit of reading and off screens. Loving it!!

  4. Falling Diphthong*

    Anyone have thoughts on stories that use other stories to interpret events?

    Was thinking of this after reading The Verifiers (about employees at a small company who verify the details of online dating profiles) in which the heroine often refers to a fictional series of mystery novels set in historical China, plus the occasional Austin nod.

    Afterparty leans into this in a different way, with each episode filmed like the genre that matches that character’s view of their life. (So their memory of the events of the afterparty is a romantic comedy, or a spy thriller, etc.)

    Would be interested in any recs of stories (books or TV/movie) that frame events with other stories.

    1. word nerd*

      I’ve been on the fence about reading the Verifiers–would you recommend?

      Trust by Hernan Diaz (a novel that won the Pulitzer last year) has lots of story in a story with various perspectives and layers (what’s real? what’s fiction?) that make it pretty interesting, although I have to admit it left me a little cold emotionally.

      1. word nerd*

        Ooh, I also have to mention If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino. It’s pretty experimental, disjointed with lots of little pieces of other supposed books in it, but you can tell Calvino was having a lot of fun with it and enjoyed commenting on the process of reading and writing. One example: a character decides that she can read a list of words a book uses, with the most frequent words at the top, and say that she has read the book (but a lot more quickly than actually reading the book). The book is definitely weird, but I loved it!

        1. Atheist Nun*

          Not the OP, but I read and would recommend The Verifiers. I especially liked the narrator’s voice: she is a quirky and sympathetic character.

        2. Nervous Nellie*

          I LOVED this Calvino! It grabbed me immediately. It talks directly to the reader, and is such a smart puzzle. It’s cheeky & lively. I think it is his best book.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I would recommend The Verifiers. It pulls a lot of threads together very skillfully. Mystery novel. Musing on AI. Immigrant family–the family dynamics are especially well drawn. What privacy violations we casually sign away, and the flip side of how easy it is to convince people that someone signed a disclaimer so the shady thing is fine, there’s a disclaimer.

        1. word nerd*

          Thanks, I’ll check it out–mystery usually isn’t my genre, but it sounds like there’s plenty of other stuff going on to keep me hooked.

      3. Yoli*

        I thought the Verifiers was just OK. Very interesting premise, but some interesting side threads (including the ones about family) weren’t fleshed out meaningfully.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          SPOILERS about the ending:

          One thing that caused quizzical eyebrow raising on my part, and eventually upped my rating of the book, was that at the end the various characters return to doing what they were before… even though they now know it’s illegal… because, well, they can… and it’s interesting… and humans aren’t big on change, or personal inconvenience…

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t know if this is quite the thing you mean, but Seanan McGuire has a book called Middlegame (currently available on Kindle Unlimited, apparently, as is the companion book Seasonal Fears) that has a young adult book series that is frequently referenced in it, and she actually also wrote and published the whole 4-book series as well, The Up-and-Under series written under the name of A. Deborah Baker.

      (For Dark Tower fans: I also have a hard copy of Charlie the Choo Choo by Beryl Evans.)

      1. Jessica*

        This reminded me of Rainbow Rowell, who wrote a book called Fangirl whose protagonist, a first-year trying to figure out life at college, is also a writer of fanfiction about a fictional book series (kind of a gay vampire Harry Potter vibe). She has the usual problems with her family and her roommate and her classes and the two guys she might like and general social awkwardness, but when she opens her laptop she also has thousands of fans clamoring for the next installment.

        Anyway, then a few years later Rowell wrote a book (now with 2 sequels) that basically is the story of the fantasy characters her earlier protagonist was writing fanfiction about. That book is called Carry On, and now we’re just in their universe, and it’s pretty great.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I remembered another one: The Tightrope Walker by Dorothy Gilman, which is about solving an old murder of the author of the protagonist’s favorite childhood book.

      This is an old book (set in the 70s?) that I return to often–the quiet heroine trying to take charge of her life and figure out what she wants really resonates.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I LOVE The Tightrope Walker! (And her other standalone, The Clairvoyant Countess.) Her style is terrific.

          1. Reluctant Mezzo*

            I just wish there were more of those, but alas, when a writer suffers Permanent Author Failure, there we are. :)

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      Cloud Atlas! The stories are all nested and some exist in each other, so like you start reading one story, then in the next chapter a character is watching the TV show of that story, and in the next chapter a character is reading the book of that story, etc.

    5. Pam Adams*

      Catherynne Valente had an imaginary children’s book The Girl Who Sailed to Fairyland in a Boat of her Own Making in her book Palimpsest.

      She eventually crowdfunded Fairyland a chapter at a time, and now it’s a series.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        Moone Boy had some fun episodes about the fall of the Berlin Wall and Irish politician Mary Robinson.

      2. Jessica*

        Wow, I read TGWStFiaBohOM and had no idea of its origins! Now I guess I need to check out this Palimpsest book.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      Highly recommend Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian by Hazel Jane Plante.

      A trans lesbian mourns the death of Vivian her best friend, a straight trans woman that she was in love with. Vivian was a fan of a (fictional) short lived tv show with a cult following call Little Blue and the main character deals with her grief by writing an A-Z encyclopedia about Little Blue which also includes reflections on her relationship with Vivian and musings on music (real bands).

      The experimental form functions at once as a manual for how pop culture can help soothe and mend us and as an exploration of oft-overlooked sources of pleasure, including karaoke, birding, and butt toys. Ultimately, LITTLE BLUE ENCYCLOPEDIA (FOR VIVIAN) reveals with glorious detail and emotional nuance the woman the narrator loved, why she loved her, and the depths of what she has lost.

    7. SoLongAndThanksForAllTheFish*

      Surprised no one’s mentioned Venus on the Half-Shell by Kilgore Trout. One of the most famous instances of a fictional book referenced in a real book that eventually got written. It was also the first one I every encountered.

    8. carcinization*

      I guess at least some of what’s going on in Harkaway’s Gnomon is like that. I probably read it over too long a period of time for it to make much sense, but I did like it.

    9. JustForThis*

      Goethe’s _Sorrows of Young Werther_ has several such scenes: quite early on, Werther and Lotte look out of a window on a rainstorm, and both simultaneously frame their perception of the foggy woods through a (then-famous) ode by the (then-famous) author Klopstock, and when they realise this, it strengthens their attraction to each other. Later on, Werther reads out a part of his translation of Macpherson’s _Ossian_ to Lotte, and they both frame their own current situation through it.

      1. Jessica*

        You reminded me of another great literary interaction! Connie Willis’s terrific novel Bellwether is conceptually framed around the Robert Browning poem “Pippa Passes.”

  5. third sarah*

    I am curious about other people’s experience local buy nothing groups, freecycle, Facebook marketplace, etc. I’m trying to do some decluttering and have been listing a lot of items to give away for free. This has mostly been great. I have gotten rid of a lot of things and as far as I can tell they are going to someone happy to have them, which makes me happy.

    But some people are so rude. I’ll get messages that just say “give it to me”—why would I, when other people write in full sentences and are polite? I had someone earlier today message to say she wanted an item. I asked what time she could pick it up and gave my address since I figured she’d need where I’m located to know to be able to tell me a convenient time for her. Well, she messaged back, “I’m on my way, will be there in 5 minutes.” I wasn’t even home at the time so couldn’t put it outside for her! When I told her that, she was huffy.

    Is this part for the course? Any tips for making it go more smoothly?

    1. trvh*

      I have found if you put it up for sale, even a nominal charge, people act generally a bit better. Maybe try that?

      1. Venus*

        I think it depends on location. They are great on Buy Nothing here, and anything that’s for sale has higher expectations. They want to pay less, get it delivered, are pickier about pickup times… whereas our Buy Nothing seems to be a good group of people. It probably helps a lot that the admins make it clear that anyone messaging outside of the page, in particular to be pushy about wanting the item, gets warned once and then banned.

        1. Filosofickle*

          100% for me, Buy Nothing is orders of magnitude more pleasant than trying to sell. There’s just so much less to negotiate and manage, and people are WAY nicer. Any time I try to sell something I regret it.

          It probably does depend a lot on the group and area. My current group is generally quite polite and responsive. Once in awhile I do get someone rude or demanding, and I ignore them. Anyone who messages me on the side (vs. commenting, as BN rules stipulate) is automatically out. No shows don’t seem to be as much of a problem for me as others — no idea why. I stick to BN as much as possible, thought it does take some patience.

        2. fposte*

          Yes, I’ve had great experiences in my local Buy Nothing. And weirdly, much better than on its predecessor, Freecycle, which bred no-shows like a business, or on NextDoor. Sometimes I think I’m probably enriching somebody really grabby or adding to a hoard, but that would be true with stuff I donate to places, too.

          1. Reluctant Mezzo*

            I got rid of the front fence that way–one group picked up all the slats while someone else pulled out the iron posts. My husband would have had to pay to dump it and do most of the work disassembling it. Life is good. :)

    2. MissB*

      I’ve been decluttering a lot, especially since we discovered how bad my mom’s hoarding had gotten. Spending more than a few minutes at her house made my Dh and I want to clear out all.the.things.

      I generally put stuff in our local buy nothing group. It’s well run, and folks either list things as flash offers (usually noting priority given to the first person that makes arrangement to pick up) or simmers. If listing as a simmer, folks usually indicate when they’ll pick a name (like 5 pm friday etc). If I’m doing one of those, I just use a random number generator and then match that to the person that commented on that position. (So like out of 7 folks, if the generator picks number 5, then I select the 5th commenter). If they fail to show up, I give them one or two misses before letting them know I’m picking another number. Most folks aren’t flaky, life happens and most are polite about missing pick ups.

      As quickly as I like to get rid of stuff, I’m pretty slow about listing things. I’ll do about 5 things a week.

      I also don’t give our address until just before they come over. So if they tell me today that they won’t make it until Sunday, I’ll reach out on Sunday and confirm they still want it and wait for the response before sending my address. I give a general area – like by X college when first communicating. I’ve only had one person show up unannounced because she’d been here before. It was fine, she was apologetic and I was fine with it.

      I rarely put stuff on FB marketplace. I don’t love random folks showing up. The buy nothing group is very local; fb marketplace is not. I’d rather give stuff away too.

      Sometimes I reach out to folks on the buy nothing group. Like I saw someone wanting magazines from another poster so I messaged her and said hey, I have a ton of National Geographic mags, do you want them? She said yes, it took us almost a week to connect, but I also gave her a bookcase while she was here. It’s all very casual in our buy nothing group.

    3. WellRed*

      I’ve never had an issue with rude or entitled people. There are people that I recognize as folks who will never pick up stuff after you make arrangements so second strike they are out. In our group, lots of people will say “must pick up tomorrow” or something like that. I don’t give my address until the pickup time is agreed on.

      1. WellRed*

        I also live in an area where everyone dies porch pick ups, no need to be there but realize that isn’t always possible.

    4. Alex*

      I use these groups a lot. That said, people….well, they suck. A lot. You’d think this would be so easy, but I have dealt with a LOT of no shows, or incomprehensible messages, or demanding people. I truly don’t understand what is so hard about “I’ll be over at 6” and then actually coming at 6, but apparently it is hard.

      I try to make it as easy on myself as possible when giving stuff away. I often do curb alerts so I don’t have to deal with coordinating pickups, or will tell the person “I’ll leave it on the steps,” and then if they don’t pick it up when they say, I just give it to someone else.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I find this “saying I’ll do it is as good as actually doing it” attitude surprisingly prevalent at my job. We get people who call up, order in good faith, and then just…never show up at the store, or aren’t home to receive the order. They aren’t scamming or pranking, it’s like their brain checked off “get dinner” after they called or ordered online and then just totally erased the part where they deal with actually getting the food. Then we have to eat those costs, which is no fun in food service.

        That’s why we’re strictly pay upon ordering now–it’s cut way, way down on that. Actually dealing with money seems to be a mental goad whereas not paying leaves everything floating in a “good enough” brain space.

    5. Knighthope*

      Buy Nothing is great for getting rid of things that can’t go to a thrift store or food bank. I haven’t encountered any rudeness, just people forgetting to pick up, sometimes. Good for giving random recycling items to teachers and crafters that request them, such as paper towel cardboard rolls, fabric scraps, broken costume jewelry.

    6. Aphrodite*

      I once had someone come out in response to a BuyNothing ad I had posted to give away some RFID holders for passports. I had left it on my driveway stairs. I was home but inside. She overlooked it so instead of looking around she went all the way around the house–twice.

      I was incensed but I waited a week to notify the moderator who suspended her for a week and let her know that any more complaints would result in her being banned. She’s still there but won’t get anything more from me.

      However, everyone else has been great!

      1. Aquatic*

        “She overlooked it so instead of looking around she went all the way around the house–twice.”

        I really don’t understand how her trying to find the item triggered such an overreaction in you. What was the thought process here??

      2. OpalescentTreeShark*

        Wow. Was she peeking in your windows and stuff? I’m not sure I’d interpret confusion as something to be incensed about, so there’s gotta be more to this story!

      3. Nancy*

        But it sounds like she was just looking for the item and missed seeing them on the stairs? RFID passport holders are small. Did you go out to help when you saw her looking around?

      4. Aphrodite*

        She went onto my entire property, searching it thoroughly. I had told her I’d leave it on the back side of the driveway stairs and it was easy to see if you looked on the backside of the stairs. But for some reason she either overlooked it or missed it. I wouldn’t have minded that but then she decided to look all around, trespassing into areas where she should not have. I had seen her drive up out front but was working from home that day and on a business zoom call and could not leave it. I would have strongly preferred she respected my property lines beyond the indicated stairs but she did not. No, I did not help her.

        1. The Charioteer*

          But why did you report her? Everything you mention suggests she was confused and didn’t receive help so that seems like a huge overreaction.

          1. LilPinkSock*

            I agree. There is someone in my neighborhood who also overreacts (even worse, in fact: in addition to complaining on community social media, firearms are also always involved) and even Girl Scouts cross the street.

          1. Aphrodite*

            It is not. I did report that she violated my entire property and that I was upset by it (but I reported it after I had long since calmed down). The moderator indicated it was not the first complaint about this member. So I did my part but no more.

            I do not want people coming on my property without permission. It’s a safety and security issue for me.

            1. Sascha*

              Why would the moderator tell a random group member about complaints against other group members? Mods are not normally at liberty to do that.

            2. Robin*

              If this is how you feel about it then you probably… shouldn’t invite people onto your property at a time when you’re not going to be available to meet them?

    7. Professor Plum*

      I’ve acquired some things in the past and have just recently been posting some items. Can’t get rid of a giant heavy armoire. Had 3 heavy bags of salt for a water softener that were here when I moved in—no longer have a water softener—they were claimed immediately. Right items at the right time for the right person—and a lot is out if your control.

      I think most people are courteous and grateful, but for some reason the entitled can color the whole experience.

    8. Erica*

      I haven’t had rudeness in language probs but ppl can be flakey in my area on the BuyNothing app and Freecycle. I started putting in my post exactly how I want ppl to request my item (eg, DM with their # and when they would pick up) and it helps quickly weed out those w … suboptimal communication styles . I’m not sure how big the following is in your area but my BN app has a lot of the same active characters so I also learned relatively quickly some flakes.

      Overall, it’s been a great experience and great way to de clutter as you say. And I also found a ton of free baby stuff when we were expecting.

    9. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’ve used Freecycle for many years, both giving away and receiving, and haven’t encountered the rudeness you describe. Every once in a while someone hasn’t shown up, but that’s rare. Occasionally people have brought me small thank you gifts–cookies, flowers, cards.

      Years ago when I first started using Freecycle, I picked up an item someone was giving away. She and I talked, swapped contact info, and became friends.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Also, as others have suggested, I do the porch pick-up thing for Freecycle and if someone doesn’t show up, I can just pass it along to the next person on the list. I’ve also done the Craigslist curb alert for things that I think would be harder to give away with the smaller list of people on Freecycle.

        For example, it was great to give away shoes that didn’t fit me to someone local through Freecycle. After I got a new car, the Craigslist curb alert was perfect for a couple unopened containers of motor oil more suited to my old car.

    10. Emma*

      if you go the Buy Nothing route, I would do porch pickup, and tell them it’s set out, and they need to pick up by X day and time, so that way you’re not coordinating with anyone, and you also have an end time.

    11. English Rose*

      I use Freecycle here in the UK. Similar experiences, sometimes people are great, sometimes really rude.
      I’ve learned, especially with popular items, to wait several hours before making a decision. And to post “Taken” when it has been.
      Oh, and I use a specific email alias only for Freecycle, so no-one has my real email address. Same with phone – I have a really old pay as you go mobile I use so as not to give random strangers my actual phone number.

      1. Emma*

        Great idea with the phone number, if you need one to give out! in the US, Google Voice is a free option for an alternate phone number. you do all calls and texting through the app.

    12. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      My experience is that with free stuff there will be more issues than if I ask at least some money for it, even if it’s just 1€. Also on problem that I think hasn’t been mentioned yet are the people who communicate by Google translate or something like that. It often gets really weird.

    13. Yoli*

      I use our local Buy Nothing group occasionally and use the block function a lot for: people who flake on pickup, people who give away stuff in poor/gross condition, and people who’s profile content would not make me feel safe giving them my address. I also don’t do first to comment/random number selection, even if I need something gone fast (I’ll say, “will pick someone by 3pm today; please only comment if you can pickup by tomorrow morning”, for instance.)

      In your case I’d also block the people sending DMs since that’s against the rules of our group (and also just annoying).

    14. The OG Sleepless*

      I sell things occasionally on Facebook Marketplace. Most people are reasonably polite, some are amazingly nice, and a few are just rude, like the human population in general. I try not to let it bother me too much. One thing I do is the first person to show up with cash, gets the item. Period. No holding things for anybody. And obviously none of this “I’m overseas so my representative will be calling you” funny business. Show up, in your vehicle, cash in hand, see ya.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I used it a lot when I was moving out of OldCity. I met a couple of people in parking lots for stuff I could carry, but for things like furniture, they had to come to the house. Almost everyone was polite and nice. I loved the people who bought my oak desk for their kids to have a study area. The kids came along to pick it up. They were cute and SO excited about the desk. :) I had a hard time letting go of that desk so it made me happy it was going to a home where it would be appreciated.

    15. Generic Name*

      I left my local buy nothing group because I got tired of being proselytized at. There were constantly posts for “free bible” and “free Book of Mormon” and “free lunch at X church/temple”. I have nothing against organized religion, but if I’m looking for household stuff, I don’t want to wade through a bunch of thinly-veiled attempts to push someone else’s religion at me.

    16. Katefish*

      If I do a Craigslist curb alert, I do it so it’s first come, first serve with no ability to reply to me.

    17. Nancy*

      I usually just post and say that I will be leaving the item on the curb at X time and that it will be there until someone picks it up. Occasionally I will let individual people claim an item, but in those cases I say in the ad that I will leave it on my porch and that they must be able to pick up on X day. First person to say they can pick up on the specified day gets my address. Never had a problem.

    18. GlowCLoud*

      I use my local FreeCycle page, it’s been a brilliant way to shift all the random stuff that can’t go on eBay or to a charity shop. I’ve seen people offer up broken concrete paving slabs after they remodeled their patio, and the things get snapped up!

      Yeah, people are likely to be rude, because humans just be like that. But out of a dozen requests for an item, I just pick the person I feel is most deserving (who was polite, would make the best use of the item, had the most convenient availability to collect it), and then politely message the rest to say “thank you for your interest, but this item has already found a new owner. Best wishes.”

      You’re giving something for free, so you don’t have to interact with the people who belong on r/ChoosingBeggars if you don’t want to. Prioritise your time and convenience.

    19. fhqwhgads*

      Most of what you describe is par for the course. Some of the suggestions others wrote to mitigate are good ones. In my experience the most common thing to happen is person who seems reasonable asks for a specific date/time for pickup. I agree and say it’ll be on the porch. Then as the time they suggested approaches they ask to reschedule. So it’s like “can I get it at 2pm Tuesday?” Sure. “Sorry how about 3:30pm?” Sure. “Srry 6pm?” And I’m like “I put it on the porch for you. Come whenever.” I don’t really care. As long as they actually pick it up. This has happened 9/10 times I post a free thing.

    20. Heffalump*

      I used to use Freecycle before they went away. Now I sometimes use Nextdoor.com. I’ve had some experiences with no-shows. Not enough to totally sour me on Nextdoor (yet), but enough that I sometimes just donate the item to Goodwill, which is about a mile from me. I’ve posted a couple of “don’t jerk people around” PSAs on my local Nextdoor. Maybe I should look into BuyNothing.

  6. ThatGirl*

    I posted a few weeks ago looking for ideas for a dress for a wedding party. I ended up buying a dress from Amazon – Belle Poque vintage sleeveless swing midi dress (god the keyword stuffing – that’s only half of them). Anyway it’s a cute cherry pattern and retro looking. Just what I wanted.

  7. The Week Ends*

    Anyone have experience with a kitchen renovation? They’re coming Tues to start removing cabinets and expect to take 6 weeks beginning to end. We will have stove and refrig but not counters or sink for much of that. I’m looking for suggestions on how to make it go smoothly for our meal prep and any good hacks for doing dishes,etc. I’m setting up a mini temp food prep area in another room with crock pot, microwave, etc. and thinking about freezing a bunch of meals too.

    1. Mostly Managing*

      Crock pot, microwave, kettle/coffee pot.
      If you can get one of those two-burners, sits on the table top things it’s great.
      Barbecue. Plan to eat lots of burgers!

      Plan to order in a bit more often than normal. There will be days when you just can’t face cooking after all the noise/chaos, or the fridge door is blocked by a stack of tiles you don’t want to move, or….

      Plan which sink you will use. Even if you go “all disposable dishes” there will be cooking utensils or the occasional cup. Decide where the temporary dish station is, and make sure you have dish soap, cloths, etc there

      Use this weekend to make things ahead and freeze them (if you have the freezer space). Stuff like meatballs, lasagna – things that take a lot of prep but are easy to reheat once they’re made

      Enjoy the new kitchen!! I had to leave “my” kitchen behind when we moved a few years ago, and there are days I still miss it. :)

      1. Grad School Attempt 2*

        Seconding portable burners; I have an individual extra burner which plugs into a regular 3-prong outlet and it’s great for when the kitchen is out of service!

        (Also great for Thanksgiving when you find yourself needing 5 pots on the stove at the same time. Or for making tea in your bedroom when you are trying to avoid an unpleasant housemate. Or for your work’s chili cookoff day, for reheating your pot of chili at your desk. Really they are just great and I recommend them to everyone as an overlooked kitchen essential.)

      1. JR*

        100% this. We didn’t move out through a 5 month kitchen/living room/etc gut remodel. The whole thing was hard, but the worst part was washing dishes in the bathroom sink. It’s a limited period of time – just do paper.

    2. Happily Retired*

      – And if you still have time to tweak your cab orders, get lower (base) cabinets that are three drawers. You can store way more stuff, and your back and brain will thank you when you don’t have to climb halfway into the cabinet to get something.

      1. Firebird*

        Yes, I loved my kitchen drawers and pullout shelves. It’s the thing I miss most since moving into a rental apartment.

    3. MissB*

      Our kitchen remodel was a lot longer (Covid, supply chain issues). I bought a cheap imea sink setup- it’s on a lightweight frame that looks like it’d blow over if you leaned on it.

      We set it up outside on our drainage rocks area and ran a hose to it. Worked great. We just used an electric kettle to get hot water when needed.

      I also used a metro shelving unit on wheels as a substitute to having cabinets. I rolled it into the dining room. It was stocked with items we’d use- plates, silverware, small cooking dishes that fit the toaster oven, etc.

      1. Cormorannt*

        We started a complete kitchen and bath reno in late February and it wasn’t fully done until June. Everything takes longer than you think even with some of the supply chain issues easing off. It’s impossible to get the timing of everything perfect so the second the floor is done the cabinet installers show up, etc. There were several pauses in the work between phases. You also cannot rush inspectors, and that often takes a few days. We had a table with the microwave and the fridge was next to it in the family room. We didn’t have a sink on the first floor most of the reno. We used paper plates and I kept a plastic dish tub on top of the fridge for glasses, silverware and other non-disposable items. I would take it to the basement laundry sink at the end of the day, wash them, and bring it back up. We had a large pitcher and a gallon jug for water so we didn’t have to go up or down the stairs every time we needed water. We ate a lot of sandwiches. We did go to a hotel for four days when they did the floors. The way the kitchen is located it would have been really difficult to get around without walking on the tile while it set. It was very dusty as well. They hung plastic sheeting and were diligent about cleaning up at the end of the day, but it was still incredibly dusty. Our GC had cleaners come at the end of the project which was a delightful surprise.

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      I froze a lot of meals and set up a microwave in another room. Used a lot of paper plates and plastic utensils. Baked and froze cookies and blueberry muffins. We ended up going out of dinner way more than we had planned on. I think it was to get out of the house more than anything! We have a very small house, so having the kitchen done really impacted most of it.

    5. Sloanicota*

      I was lucky with my kitchen reno because I had a chest freezer in the basement. I could fill it with frozen microwavable foods. My friend borrowed a minifridge for hers. I bought that box milk that doesn’t need to be refrigerated for my coffee (those little creamer cups would probably work too). Then I set the microwave, crockpot, and a shelf of camping staples in the living room, plus plates forks etc. It worked out although I hadn’t anticipated they would stack all the cabinets in such a way that it briefly blocked my access to other things.

    6. Anna*

      We did one recently and it was much less painful than I had expected. We set up a little cooking corner in the living room, with a plug-in electric stove with two burners (I hope I’m using the right terms here, English is not my first language). Cutting the vegetables at the dinner table, then cooking on the ‘cooking table’, and we did the dishes in the shower (not while showering, just using that space). I had expected we’d eat a lot of take-out, but we cooked every day.

  8. EA*

    Parents – interested in how you approach screen time and your kid’s age?

    I have recently been thinking that the whole concept of “screen time” limits is misguided – it covers so many different activities, while also totally disregarding the actual content. I also think telling parents what NOT to do isn’t particularly helpful… it would be better to encourage setting goals for outdoor time or creative play or book reading instead of focusing so much on the limitation side of it. My own (little) kids do watch TV a fair amount, but we don’t do one kid-one device (ie tablets or phones) at all.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I suspect there are a lot of valid approaches, and we are still hashing things out.

      We never had TV as such, but the rise of streaming and Netflix dvds (then) meant that was a different experience for my 90s child and my aughts child. It was much easier to watch or play something for the second, rather than it being a bit of a production to set up with a parent also watching or playing.

      I do wonder if our tech is promoting problems with sustained attention. My brother in law observed that being bored when he was a child was good and got him to come up with things to do, and that has really resonated with me–we don’t experience boredom very much, because we can always scroll.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I’ve also noted that it’s often tech people embracing the no screens under a certain age for their own tots, and that really makes sense to me–that they are deep in observing how you make infinite scroll hard to put down.

      2. Double A*

        I definitely want to encourage my kids to get bored. The problem right now is 1) they can’t read yet and a) aren’t old enough to be unsupervised. So a screen that will keep them in spot while I make the house run is pretty essential.

        But I do worry about transitioning. My almost-five year old is old enough to play independently but she… won’t. She demands to be around us at all times, unless she is watching TV or playing on her tablet (and even then prefers to do those things around us). My 2 year old will play more independently than she will. She also LOVES TV and always has, while my son is more indifferent. So there’s a whole temperament aspect to screens as well.

      3. EA*

        Very much agree with your BIL. My kids have a fair amount of unstructured time where they get “bored”, and sometimes it doesn’t go well, but they also come up with a lot of creative games! Especially when playing outdoors. I do think that’s something screens can’t replicate.

        I think one thing that isn’t discussed much is the importance of modeling independent and pretend play, which can then be so fun and open ended for kids, but I really believe they need practice and modeling. My sister in law always says her son (age 2) “hates all his toys,” but she’s never taken the time to show him how to play with stuffed animals or whatever.

    2. Ranon*

      The problem with screen time is what it replaces- so if the answer for us is nothing (e.g. when the kiddo is “just lay on the couch and rest” levels of sick, or long car rides or what have you) we don’t have limits, day to day we limit to some in the morning and a little wind down time but otherwise want the other things like playing outside with friends or endlessly inventorying Pokemon cards or what have you to be happening.

      My kiddo is a social creature so even on his tablet he’s always wanting to share what he’s watching or playing so that’s not been a concern for us

      1. Lilo*

        My Dad’s a pediatrician and this is how he approaches it. For, say, toddlers, screen time shouldn’t replace interaction time, but the alternative is your kid grabbing your legs while you’re trying to cook dinner, it’s okay.

        I was a stronger no screen time parent until the pandemic hit and the harsh reality of trying to work without childcare hit.

        So screentime as an opportunity cost is a good way of framing it.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, this is the way it works for us, too.

          It also depends on the kid, some get overstimulated and start climbing the walls after 30 minutes, others can use a screen of one type or another for hours without any ill effects. My son’s always been in the latter category and now that he’s 14, he voluntarily does something else when he’s had enough of his screens. Admittedly he’s never been
          at all interested in imaginative games, possibly at least partly because he’s an only child and the only adult in his family who’d play with him with any regularity was my MIL. He built things out of Lego but he never played much with what he built, not even when he had a friend over on a play date.

          He’s a reader and in this he takes after family because my husband and I are readers, and so are both my parents, as well as my sister. My SIL also enjoys reading, but I don’t think she’s as voracious a reader as we are. My MIL certainly isn’t, but she doesn’t really care for fiction in any format, and her intellectual curiosity seems to be limited to Christian (Lutheran) spirituality.

          My son’s a member of a gaming group and he does a lot of socializing with his friends on the game server. So far we’ve only allowed him to play with people he already knows in person, but he learns things like collaboration to reach a common goal, how to deal with disappointment when things don’t go as he wants, and other basic friendship skills.

    3. Parent to a young teenager*

      Screen time is such a personal decision and is dependent on so many factors. We have a general allowance for screentime and encourage other activities. Also, the basics like chores, homework, music practice, etc have to be done before screentime.

      As your kid gets older, having a phone becomes important for social connection. Our kid is a young teenager now, and they have had a phone for nearly a year. It was MUCH sooner than I would have liked, but meetups were being planned by phone and the kid cycles into town for the meetups, so the phone had a dual purpose. The phone was super-locked down, but literally every other kid in the school was on Snapchat, so our kid was missing out on stuff. And having the phone locked down didn’t prevent having a classmate send something inappropriate.

      We let them have Snapchat this summer, and it turned out to be a positive decision. He started high school last month and was able to connect with and get to know kids who are coming from another town to the school. I think starting school was easier because he knew a lot of kids from Snapchat groups. He has had to learn how to have Snapchat, and we locked down the privacy as much as we could, and I use the Family Center to see who he’s talking to.

      In the end, screen time and phones are very much like other parts of parenting – you can have whatever rules and approach you want, but you’re still going to have to send your kid out into the world, where all bets are off.

      1. EA*

        Great to hear this perspective from someone with older kids. And I wonder how much will change in the 8-10 years until mine are going to high school.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        My youngest was like “Eh, I don’t need a phone, I can borrow other people’s phones” and I did start to feel uncomfortable about this and was a bit relieved when he hit the “okay, I guess it would make sense to have my own phone” point. (Kids had to put in I think $10 out of their monthly allowance for the phone.)

        In contrast, I recall driving a van full of middle school girls who all had cell phones for the first time (probably about 2008) and they were showing each other the different sounds each phone could make and I thought I would fall asleep at the wheel it was so boring.

    4. kz*

      This is definitely a case for my favorite parenting mantra: “There are a lot right right ways to do this and probably just a few wrong ways.”

      My kids are 3 and 1 so of course my 1 year old watches way more TV than my older kid did at his age because now I have a toddler who likes to watch his shows, so there isn’t really a way around it. Some guidelines we have around it (so far) are: 1) he watches TV but doesn’t have a tablet or anything. For us, that would feel too tempting to pull out too often 2) he has designated times where he watches his shows rather than whenever we need a break 3) we try to limit TV time to about an hour a day. and of course at his age we pretty much control the content since he doesn’t know about any alternatives yet lol. curious to hear what other folks are doing!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, I was careful of letting my oldest watch scary things (she was sensitive to this) and then when she was in school with a toddler brother he got to watch what she watched, usually.

        He was unbothered by Pirates of the Caribbean because his sister informed him that it was pretend and so he should not be scared and he trusted her.

        There is one episode of Dora the Explorer that he found absolutely terrifying and always made us skip, and we never knew why.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I will toss in my husband’s observation when the kids were around elementary age, filtered through the context of screen time above, that the older had a narrow comfort zone but was able to go outside it pretty easily; the younger had a broader comfort zone but it was surrounded by walls of reinforced steel. This held true as they went on through life, and influenced a lot of “for my older A, but for my younger B instead.”

          As noted elsewhere in the thread, different kids react differently and what is no big deal for one might be a real problem with their sib. (It is such a bummer to realize that half the stuff you eventually learned with the first kid doesn’t apply to the second.)

        2. allathian*

          Yeah, some kids are a lot more sensitive than others. To my knowledge my son’s never been particularly scared by anything on visual media (he was 8 when we watched the extended editions of LotR for the first time) because he knew even at that age that the violence was completely faked. Fantasy violence’s one thing, but he didn’t react much to, say, the sex scenes in the 007 movies when we watched those when he was 11 and 12, either.

          1. allathian*

            He did react very negatively to some of the overt sexism and racism in the Connery Bonds, which was a positive surprise.

    5. Jay (no, the other one)*

      tl;dr: it all depends on the kid, and not all screen time is created equal.

      My kid is now 23 so we weren’t dealing with as many streaming option – TV was still cable or DVDs in a public space, which made that easier to manage. Once she had a computer we talked to her about screen time as a passive viewer and screen time as a creator. So if she was making something on Garage Band or editing a video, no limits. If she was watching YouTube unboxing videos, we encouraged her to find something else to do.

      We also treated screens the same way we treated all other toys: if the toy creates a problem, the toy goes in time-out. From the time she got her first personal screen (a Nintendo DS) we told her that 1) people in the room outrank screen time; when someone talks to you, at least pause the game 2) if we think the gadget is having a negative impact on your behavior the gadget will go into time-out. “Negative impact” included not being able to stop when asked to do so (we always gave her at least a five-minute warning). She was able to do that most of the time – she didn’t have an issue regulating herself. Some kids do and if she had been one of them we would have to figure out a different strategy.

    6. Generic Name*

      My son is almost 17. He has his own phone (which I told him I won’t look at unless I have concerns for his safety). He’s agreed to install a family tracking app on his phone so I can go get him in an emergency. His computer is in the family room. As long as his grades are good, and he’s not getting in trouble at school, there are no time limits beyond his devices need to be off at lights out time. When he was younger and got grounded, we took his phone away (and gave him a flip phone so he could contact his dad if he wanted to). He sees his friends in person plenty, but they also play video games together and chat and he has an online DND game with some local friends he plays once a week. If he didn’t have anything else going on in his life, I might set time limits.

    7. Clisby*

      My kids are both in their 20s. We haven’t had a TV since child #1 was a baby, so TV time wasn’t an issue. We didn’t do this out of any child-rearing principle; it was just that we were moving, realized we watched 3 hours max of TV in a week, gave away the TV, and never missed it. So the only way they could watch anything was if we got a DVD and played it for them on a computer monitor, and later they learned how to get to pbskids.org and the like. Anytime we went traveling, they could watch TV all night as long as they didn’t bother us. ( I’m still surprised that you can be in a place with cable/satellite and have access to 40 channels, and almost *nothing* is worth watching.

      I didn’t worry about what they were watching at friends’ houses.

    8. Rekha3.14*

      We are going to have to change his we approach things, start of the new school year, as the 8yo will sit like a lump all afternoon if no one interrupted her. We will set timers and she turns them off and when we ask, she says “I forgot what it was for”. YouTube is the biggest issue, she’s a bit less bad with Netflix but if it’s screen she wants to look (even if it’s your phone or an ad on a computer when you’re looking up something like a recipe!). we are currently discussing going back to scheduled tv times, like we had as kids. “this show is on at 4 and it’s over at 430” and if you miss it, you missed it.

      The optometrist said no more than 90min screens per day (that aren’t required, as she understands virtual classes happen sometimes) at this age, and 2 hours of outside time daily. Its the break from looking at something close specifically for the eyes, and I think the fresh air and general stuff for health.

      I imagine the 90 min limit is good for everyone, same with the outside time… (I’d accept indoor sports as outside time).

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Some kids really struggle with timers, for many different reasons. For me, timers don’t work because of ADHD – a timer abruptly interrupting my focus is intolerable to me, so what will happen is I will turn the timer off, so I can “finish up” on the thing I was focused on, and then before you know it I am back down the rabbit hole. I definitely find a similar issue with some students who are neurotypical so it’s just one of those behaviours some people have. Something I try to do is to have two reminders (the first one is like a five minute warning to finish up), or there are visual countdown reminders you can buy, (like an hourglass, or kids alarm clock with the colour block disappearing over time) where you can see how long you have left till the finish line. Also, if a kid sucks to keep pace with timers, you can also set limits on units, like “ten Youtube shows”, or however many ones add up to x minutes. “You need to pick the ones you want to see in advance”.

    9. Patty Mayonnaise*

      As someone who works in children’s media, it makes me happy to read this comment! The content of the screentime is often ignored and it makes a huge difference in whether it’s harmful or not. For example, Sesame Street has been around for so long researchers can do longitudinal studies, and one found that kids who watched Sesame Street had longer-lasting educational gains than kids from the same demographics that had Head Start. SS doesn’t advertise that a lot because their goal is not to replace Head Start, but it terms of talking about screentime I think it’s important to keep in mind that high quality educational material benefits kids a lot!

      I also agree with the comments talking about “what is screentime taking away from.” Most of the studies I’ve seen that show negative effects of screentime find problems start when kids are using screens 4 or more hours a day – which is a lot! I’d argue kids shouldn’t be doing MOST activities for 4 hours a day (except maybe free play outdoors, and sleeping obviously), because it’s taking away from other beneficial activities.

      I’m not too concerned about tracking screentime but we have always balanced our kid’s schedule with time to play outside, do family activities, read books, etc every day, and that has worked for us and our kid (which I know is not necessarily typical, I think kids often need limits, especially with media that encourages them to keep playing like video games).

  9. Firebird*

    Way back when my kids were little, the only thing that motivated my son to read was the need to be able to read video game instructions and Harry Potter books. He was smart, but not interested in reading in general.

    We didn’t do laptops, but set up desktop computers in the family room. Both kids got their own pc on the same table. They talked to each other while doing homework or playing games. It was a natural limiter, since they couldn’t go in their rooms and isolate themselves. They would also get distracted by other things going on around them. As long as homework was finished, we didn’t need to really enforce limits.

    I didn’t worry too much, because I kept an eye on their grades, and that they also had friends and activities outside along with their computer use.

    Both kids turned out normal, as far as I can tell. My son even got his first fulltime job after college through a fellow gamer he had been playing with for several years. The gamer and his boss did a three way phone call with my son (pre Zoom). My son didn’t even know it was an interview until they asked when he could start.

  10. MED*

    Vacation/Travel ideas

    I looking to go somewhere in late october / november. Solo traveler, willing to go anywhere, except resorts, I like to explore.

    Flying from Montreal, Canada

    Looking for a not so expensive trip for 1-2 weeks

    Thanks

    1. Daniel*

      Del Rio, TX. It’s a small Texas border town. There’s nice hiking nearby, a historic downtown, Ciudad Acuna not far away…but the tacos are amazing, the highest concentration of good tacos anywhere.

    2. Kiki Is The Most*

      Fall in Europe is amazing. My top three affordable vacations here are:

      Spain: the train system is fantastic and incredibly affordable. The weather will be perfect and if you go to Catalunya (Barcelona), the water is still great for swimming, kayaking, SUP. The NW of Spain will be chillier but great for hikes, views, food and wine. Accommodation stays are cheaper then, too.

      Croatia: Easy to drive this country and see so much in 1-2 weeks! Again, heading into low season will keep all rental prices down for car and hotel/airbnb.

      Bulgaria: Sofia is a hidden gem in Europe. I found all sorts of things to see, do, and the food is wonderful. Has the cheapest accommodations of the three recommendations. Also easy to get to the mountains.

      I realize that the flights are a big cost but the experience of any of these countries at this time of year paired with food/stay costs definitely make it worth it! Enjoy your holiday.

    3. travel envy*

      How exciting! I love planning trips.
      I wonder if you’d get more replies if you narrowed it down a bit for us?
      Where have you been before that you have really enjoyed? Are you looking to stay within North America or go further afield? Do you like nature, cities, history? Activity or relaxation? Well-developed tourist infrastructure or off the beaten track? Will you drive when you are there, or rely on public transport? Weather preferences?

      1. MED*

        True !

        I’m open to anything as long as it’s not too hot.

        I’m more of an explorer with active hobbies, I do envoy the history and occasional churches and museum.

        I can drive or use public transit, I might be reluctant to drive on the other side of the road tho.

        I loved my time in Eastern Europe the best so far and despised my time in a resort if thta helps.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      We did the following around the start of October:
      Fly to Phoenix, low desert
      Drive up to Sedona and Flagstaff, high desert
      Drive across AZ and NM to Albuquerque and Santa Fe, high desert (unexpected highlight, gorgeous spare landscape that kept changing)
      Up to Denver and flew home from there

      The variety of the landscape was the appeal for the first part and wound up holding true for the second part. Did a lot of hiking, and Santa Fe could be explored largely by foot. I recommend botanical gardens for an overview of what you’ll see on local hikes.

    5. Quetzal*

      This is funny because I’ve been thinking of going to Montreal in late November but I’m worried it will be too cold to be enjoyable.

      1. Mephyle*

        You can’t really know ahead of time. In late November you could get anything from mild autumn-like weather to winter cold with or without blizzards. Or both! within a span of a few days.
        Also, “too cold” depends on what is too cold for you relative to where you live now or have lived. If you are able to get out and about without suffering when the temperature is in the 2o’s (F)/negative single digits (C), you will probably be able to enjoy it.

      2. MED*

        I guess it depends of what you consider cold !

        Early november is usually just chilly, but we do get a little snow sometime. Late November is usually not that cold, but again, it depends on what you find cold !

        Fall is very nice in Montreal, but I would have suggested October rather than November.

        Enjoy your visit if you end up coming

    6. Anon-E-Mouse*

      I have taken language study holidays as a solo traveller in a number of countries and really enjoyed how they helped me provide a nice balance of structure / free time, opportunities to get to know people from the city and all over the world (the students), plus insight into the local culture and a chance to live a bit more like a local.

      I’m a fan of the Don Quijote chain of Spanish language schools and have taken their courses in Madrid, Barcelona*, Granada*, Salamanca, Guanajuato* (Mexico) and Ecuador. * to mark my favourites. I’ve also taken and French and Brazilian Portuguese courses this way.

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      Boston and the north shore of Massachusetts is wonderful in the fall. There is so much history The Freedom Trail in Boston, Concord) to explore, as well as museums (small local ones, the MFA, the Isabella Stuart Gardener, Harvard Peabody museums, etc), beaches, whale watches, the New England Aquarium, coastal towns (Rockport, Gloucester, Beverly, Ipswich, Essex), antiquing, nature (check out the Trustees of Reservations, the Audubon Society, Essex Greenbelt for trails and sanctuaries)
      Plus you could drive here from Montreal easily

    8. somehow*

      Thought I’d share that my family and I are going to travel along to Maine next Spring. I imagine Fall travel there is more expensive, and, while we’ve never been to Maine, we have relatives in Mass. who travel there all the time and love it. Best of both worlds not too far apart, i.e. rocky coasts and deep forests, with Acadia National Park there, too, and coastal towns, as well.

      I hope that helps provide some inspiration, and that wherever you decide to go you have fun and meet interesting people along the way!

    9. KeinName*

      Fly to Vienna and then take trains in all directions, to Prague, Salzburg, Munich, Bratislava with an overnight stay in each place?
      I wouldn’t fly that far myself (i take a 30h train journey several times a year to avoid flying), but it would be a very atmospheric Autmn city trip with lots a delicious food and architecture and maybe some spa baths if you are so inclined (Therme Laa in Vienna for example).

    10. Bluebell*

      I really enjoyed going to Puerto Rico alone and it wasn’t too pricey. Went to Santa Fe with a friend one April and it had a lot to offer. If it’s November, you do avoid the expensive foliage season in Boston and there’s lots to see. I traveled through Spain alone many years ago and loved all the art and culture.

        1. Hola Playa*

          Seconding Puerto Rico! With one or two weeks, you really could see the whole island with space to enjoy each area. Amazing food, beautiful beaches, fabulous rain forest, coffee farms in the mountains, and just so much rich history and culture everywhere. Not much reliable transit so car rental would be required outside of San Juan.

  11. Cat and dog fosterer*

    I’m having a crappy week, as part of a crappy animal rescue year. Is it a local problem or are other rescuers struggling this year?

    It seems that anyone who planned to get a rescue animal got them in the past few years, and the adoptions really slowed down late last year when the economic situation became bad. There are fewer adoptions and more requests, and it is so hard constantly explaining that we can’t help.

    Sorry to be negative but I’m hopeful things are better elsewhere, or if they aren’t then at least it isn’t something our rescues are doing wrong.

    On the positive, I have an adorable litter of kittens in my home who were born in an area popular with coyotes, so I get to cuddle with adorable little tabbies knowing that they are incredibly lucky! We can’t change the world, but I’ve changed their little worlds forevermore. Their eyes are opening up today and soon they will be stumbling around a safe and warm foster room.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I think it’s nice of you to at least try to explain. The rescues around here don’t even answer the phone or reply to messages during kitten season.

      I understand now why they don’t have the bandwidth, but when we first found kittens, we sure wished someone could have told us what to do.

      1. Golden*

        Same boat! I recently was interested in making a cash donation to our local shelter for a relative’s birthday, and unfortunately it was difficult even to get info from anyone about how to do so!

        I used to volunteer at a different shelter, and the adoption rules were so draconian that we had adorable baby kittens regularly stay for years and years because nobody could pass the requirements. I’ve seen a couple videos/ read articles describing how a lot of what’s in some animal adoption contracts isn’t enforceable, but the average adopter probably doesn’t know that.

        1. Cat and dog fosterer*

          This is a problem with some places. I really like the rescues here because they are realistic. Our one rule is no unsupervised time outside, and if someone really wants an outdoor cat then they can go to the local shelter.

          1. Jackalope*

            Yeah, back when we were looking to adopt I learned first person how difficult some rescue organizations make the adoption process. One of them had a pair of kittens we were interested in so I sent them a message. They sent back their application form, which was SIX pages long. It asked all sorts of really intrusive personal questions, many of which were not super relevant, and were clearly screening for rich people only to be able to adopt. Several places wanted to do house visits, plural, and a friend who was familiar with the process said that some places wrote it into the contract that when they came to visit, if they didn’t think you were treating your current pets well enough they would confiscate them from you. Which sounds awful enough, but is even worse considering that “mistreating your pets” included things like leaving them alone for part of the day. You know, that thing that happens with MOST pets when the humans in the house go to work or school? And that included cats; I know cats like their people time, but they are perfectly capable of napping much of the day away and then hanging out with their people in the mornings and/or evenings. It was unreal.

            In contrast, the shelter where we ended up adopting our pair of kittens had only a two page application. The kittens were fixed before they were adopted out so the only thing we really had to agree to was that we would never declaw them (which was beyond easy to agree on). And they didn’t do any home visits or anything, but when they saw that we had a pair of older cats one of their volunteers sat down with us to talk us through introducing everyone and had some super helpful ideas. 10/10 for the shelter, have recommended to others, would try again down the road. But the private rescues, no.

      2. Cat and dog fosterer*

        I’ll admit that our response is a form letter, but I did take time to add a bunch of details about what to say (how many cats or kittens, how old, friendliness, photos help). I help a small rescue so we say no quite often. If I get a request for advice then I take the time to respond, like the woman a few years ago who had just rescued a neughborhood cat who then gave birth and was leaving the kittens everywhere. She put them all in one place and within a few hours the cat had calmed down and started nursing! I know groups can’t respond because they’re overwhelmed, but because we take in so few I try to help in other ways.

    2. Rara Avis*

      The cat rescue I volunteer at made a lot of placements during August (Clear the Shelters), so that seems good. But the city shelter is overwhelmed and not accepting any animals, and Nextdoor is stuffed with people looking to rehome animals.

    3. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I’m fostering a bonded pair of cats, and even just looking at them, everything you’re saying makes total sense. They are young, very healthy, absolutely stunning, and easy to look after. It’s impossible to look at them and not fall in love. And yet they still haven’t got an adopter. We’d been told they would likely get snapped up quickly; they’ve been with us nine months.

      If I had to guess at the reason why, I’d say people are thinking twice before committing to a pair, because of the costs involved (double vet bills, double insurance, double food and litter, etc.). I’d have the same doubts if I was looking to adopt permanently. Our household is safe and stable right now, but the uncertainty about how things are going to be in the space of months or years feels like too much at times. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

      Also, the heartbreaking thing is they got rehomed because their original family was forced to move, and couldn’t find rented accommodation that would accept pets. Which is yet another argument supporting the cost of living point.

      Anyway – I’m pretty sure that, as soon as these two are adopted (we’re meeting some applicants today!), the shelter will ask if we can take on another cat pretty quickly. I agree with the impression that rescues are overwhelmed. You’re doing something wonderful and kind, as a rescuer and with your little tabbies, so have a virtual hug from this cat-crazy internet stranger :)

      1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        When we adopted our current cats, the shelter gave us a ridiculously low adoption fee — $25 for two cats — because a lot of people only want kittens, and it’s also harder to place a bonded pair than a single cat.

        The paperwork we got with these cats said that their previous owners had surrendered them because they were moving and couldn’t take the cats with them. I don’t know whether that was rules about rental housing, an allergic new spouse, an overseas job… but they are fine and remarkably well-behaved cats, and we were happy to bring them with us when we in turn moved across the country.

      2. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Thank you!

        And yes, I think uncertainty and the cost of living weigh heavily on more people right now.

        Thankfully our city has a rule forcing landlords to allow pets. It makes a big difference because we’re near a city that doesn’t protect tenants and their shelters get a lot more abandoned animals because of housing problems.

    4. My Brain is Exploding*

      Around here it seems like 90% of the dogs in the local shelter as well as in the neighboring towns are pit bulls or look like them. There aren’t a lot of people who want to adopt one!

      1. fposte*

        Same in my area. Pits and pit crosses are very common dogs, but I do think they’re disproportionately represented in shelters near me. And I’ve loved many a pit, but they’re not a good fit for me and I really wouldn’t want a brachycephalic dog of any kind if I can avoid it (though a boxer might sneak past that rule).

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I’ve known some lovely pit bulls… but also a pit mix who became markedly more aggressive at age 2. I wouldn’t get another one.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Pitties are such a gamble–they can start out lovely and then just cross a mental barrier, while others are mellow their entire lives.

      2. Sloanicota*

        Yeah and worse, one of our major counties here has laws about them, so nobody who lives there can adopt them even if they want to (although our shelter seems to call a lot of them “lab mixes”). A lot of our apartments also bar pitties.

      3. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Here there are too many border collies and cane corsos. They are not good dogs for most people because they need a lot of time (BCs are bundles of intelligent energy, and power breeds of unknown genetics can be trouble). There used to be too many hounds because they howled, but at least they often did well in a kennel and were easily kept happy until they got adopted.

      4. Pamela Adams*

        In.my region- Los Angeles- we have lots of pitties, but also lots of Chihuahuas/Chi-mixes. I believe they occasionally send batches of them elsewhere, as small dogs are popular.

    5. Lilo*

      I adopted a cat last week and the shelter made a comment that they’d had a huge number of kitten adoptions that week.

      Dogs are a bit trickier as they often are more expensive to care for, need more constant care,and you are more likely to have dog restrictions than cat ones in a housing rental.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        That makes me happy, thank you! We often get more adoptions in September and I’m really hopeful for the next few weeks. We did get 3 adoptions this week so that’s promising.

    6. Sloanicota*

      Things seem pretty bad in DC. Once our shelters get overcrowded we start seeing waves of canine flu or worse, kitten panleuk. I wish I could do more.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Panleuk is so preventable with vaccines, but it’s hard to vaccinate feral cats. We have it here too, and it can be pretty bad on the feral kittens.

        I help with TNR programs because I think they reduce suffering the most. I wish that I could do more too!

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      We got a lot of kitties here in Seattle from the shelters in Maui trying to open up space for the pets that needed shelter after the fires, and almost all of them have been adopted! (Not the pets that are being sheltered, these were kitties that were already there and waiting for forever homes.) I love the image of all those moggies flying to a new life here in the Emerald City.

    8. Synaptically Unique*

      I can’t foster because my little tortie already gets very aggressive to my three boys when she sees others cats though the window (two TNRs we feed daily who are the sisters of my youngest boy but too feral to bring inside and the huge calico who lives in the house behind ours – can’t keep her out of my yard). But I donate money and cat supplies to a lady who regularly fosters pregnant ferals. We are seeing an explosion in numbers because the TNR programs were shut down for a long time (not enough staff). Even now that most of the programs have started up again, availability is less than it used to be. There just aren’t enough homes available and my friend has 5 or 6 extra cats because the rescue that usually takes them when they are weaned couldn’t. The local shelter told her to just TNR them and put these sweet, socialized cats back outside. :-(

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        I’m so sorry, but yeah… it isn’t just you :(

        We also didn’t have much TNR during the pandemic and the effects are obvious!

    9. Chauncy Gardener*

      Very sadly, I think what most of us predicted is coming to pass. All sorts of people adopted animals during the pandemic and now they’re giving them up.
      It really makes me sick how so many people view animals as disposable.
      We’re doing just ok in my area (New England) adopting out, but taking so many rescues from the south that the shelters are full all the time.
      :(

      1. Sloanicota*

        I’ve heard different accounts, but I’m not sure the statistics bear out an extreme number of animal returns?

      2. Rainy*

        I mean, it’s worth considering whether this is a “people are jerks who view animals as disposable” problem or a “people need housing, homes are impossible to buy, and landlords are jerks who force renters to give up animals or be homeless” problem.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Yeah, I see a lot of re-home shaming and of course I get it but also …well…I live in a tippy top housing market. Finding a place to live highly competitive even at the highest income level and most people are already living farther and making major compromises to afford anything at all. (No, everyone is not fleeing the bay area, I wish they were.) So then if your landlord bumps you and the choice is between your pet and housing that’s safe, doable on your income (I won’t call it “affordable”), and not hours inland, I get that too. Or you owned so you got the dog, but then lost the house and ended up back in a rental. You try to make smart choices but this economy and housing market are the worst.

          That said, I rented for a very long time and it factored into why I didn’t get a pet. I knew that was the reality. Many years ago in San Francisco, I saw a stat that only 10% of rentals allowed dogs (and maybe a third allowed cats?) — no idea if that’s true but ouch.

      3. Victoria Everglot*

        I remember early in the pandemic seeing my local news channel celebrating a shelter that had been completely emptied. Everyone treated it as a wonderful story in tragic times, but I cringed. I knew what was coming. Sure enough, several months later came the stories about people bringing the pets back because they weren’t in lockdown anymore and couldn’t look after them, among other reasons. I don’t know if every region did this, but I know some shelters here pushed the “lonely during lockdown? adopt a dog! maybe 2! and some cats!” thing. And then people did, without realizing that we weren’t going to be in lockdown/quarantine forever. sigh.

      4. Cat and dog fosterer*

        We aren’t getting more returns, rather we aren’t getting adoptions. People who maybe wanted a dog or cat at some point got one, and this year adoptions are maybe half or 2/3 compared to previous years for the rescues that are public with their adoptions. There are also a lot of puppy mills that aren’t able to sell their pups and abandoned them with rescues (but kept the parents so they’ll be ready when things improve, jackwagons!), and cat hoarders who can’t afford their colonies and want them to be rehomed. TNR programs were shut down so there are so many kittens. But we’ll keep going and do what we can!

    10. Person from the Resume*

      I don’t know where you are, but it is terrible here. I have a friend who does rescue transport. Driving animals from a shelter to foster or occasionally to their forever home. She’s cried over the animals they cannot save.

      I absolutely agree that anyone looking for pet has got one already or has so many options to choose from. And the foster-ers are maxed out too.

      The root of the problem is more animals than people who want pets. People need to spay and neuter their pets so they stop making more. Like I consider that basic pet care, but apparently not.

      1. Rara Avis*

        The cat rescues in this area have an ongoing problem Finding vets to spay and neuter, and many pet owners do too.

      2. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Completely agreed, although completely agreed with Rara that rescues are struggling to find vets to do surgeries. I focus on TNR programs right now because it’s the best way to reduce the pet population. When I heard Bob Barker had died this week my first thought was “Spay and neuter your pets”!

    11. Ryan Howard’s White Suit*

      Can I ask about this? We just put our 11.5 year old mixed breed down and it was awful and sad and we miss her so much. Thankfully, we have a 5.5 year old who is getting all of her humans’ love right now, but we’re also looking for another dog. Our first dog came from a rescue group, our second from the ASPCA shelter, and our third (the 5.5 year old) was from an unexpected litter of my husband’s aunt’s dog. We live in the mid-Atlantic, so we have access to rescue groups/shelters in as many as six states (DC/MD/VA/PA/DE/NJ). We’ve been approved by two rescues that seem to get a lot of rescues from breeders when the puppies haven’t sold or the dogs are too old for breeding. But since they’re all fostered already it doesn’t really feel like we’d be making a difference—like actually SAVING a dog. Should we be looking more at shelters if we want to meaningfully change a dog’s life?

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Around here (gulf south) if you adopt from a foster group, they’ll immediately rescue another dog so I don’t think that makes a difference. You’re making space for them to foster another one.

      2. Former Rescue Coordinator*

        Agree with Person from the Resume. Adopting from a rescue will free up a foster spot so they can rescue another dog.

      3. Cat and dog fosterer*

        I’m supportive of good breeders, but rescues that adopt out unsold pups from breeders… suggests that they’re working with sketchy breeders who don’t take responsibility and rely on rescues. It’s not awful, but I’d look at other options. Our local shelters get owner surrenders, unplanned litters, and abandoned dogs and pups from remote communities with few vet services so they have more unplanned litters, although there are groups trying to help get vets to visit.

        For your benefit I’d recommend foster-based rescues. Shelters can hide behavioral problems in dogs.

        1. Rainy*

          There’s a puppy “rescue” in my area that charges $600+ to “adopt” a rescue and doesn’t accept surrenders. Where do you think they’re getting those puppies? Why, they’re buying them from mills, probably for under $100 a pup, getting all their supplies donated, “fostering” the puppies with volunteers, and then 80% of that “adoption” fee is pure profit.

          This is not unusual at all, in my experience.

          1. Sloanicota*

            I ran into a situation just like this on Petfinder and was half convinced it was a breeder herself I was talking to. And the process she outlined was basically the same as just buying a purebred puppy, although she had a page that looked like a small rescue. I did not get a puppy from her.

    12. Cj*

      I live in Minnesota, where they’re actually shipping in dogs from the south because there aren’t enough dogs available here for adoption.

      Besides finding homes for dogs in need, it prevents people that are going to get a dog one way or another from buying one from a puppy mill.

      I’m not sure what the cat situation is like. I think people around here are somewhat more likely than some other places to have even their outdoor farm cats fixed. there used to be a no to low cost motorhome that they would come around to the rural areas and do the spay or neuter at local shelters, but as far as I know, that’s only available at their location in a minneapolis suburb now. this is at the same shelter that was an interviewed for the article about taking dogs from the south.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        We used to have huge numbers of dogs shipped in to us from the south, from remote communities east and north of us, and so many potcakes. And now we have so many local pups that are aging in foster homes and I look forward to the days when we start shipping them in again!

          1. Cj*

            we had plenty of heartworm disease around here long before they started shipping dog food from the south. we had three dogs that needed to be treated for it (they didn’t get it on our watch – they had it when we got them) and that was years ago.

            1. Rainy*

              Mine didn’t and my vet said it has been difficult to convince some long-time dog owners that it’s necessary to test and give preventives to their dogs now that heartworm has arrived, simply because it was never before.

    13. Christmas cookie*

      I don’t know but we are in MA and ready to get a dog. It’s not my first, but I’m gun-shy on rescues since the last one we had needed to be rehomed once we had kids (he was always aggressive but was ok with his people; new baby was not His People).

      We are debating the hassle of a puppy vs a rescue and, ugh. I think we are going to buy a puppy which I hate but I just can’t chance another rescue with young kids unless it’s been a extensively vettted/fostered.

      If anyone fosters within 3 hours of Boston and has a family friendly dog with 7+ years of life left let me know! We are ready!

  12. Tiny clay insects*

    As I was hit in the face by a seagull today, who then stole the sandwich I had been eating when I tossed it in my panic, I thought I’d ask if anyone else had stories that perfectly straddle the line of horrifying and hilarious.

    1. Daisy*

      I was having a chill day at the park, working on my laptop under a tree.

      AN ANT

      FELL

      INTO

      MY BRA.

      Had to pack up that laptop reeeaaalll fast and high-tail it back to the car.

      1. Anon for this*

        About this time last year I was up in the local hills, and in middle-of-nowhere fashion did a pee behind a rock, and then wiped myself with some moss. Only when I started walking again there was an odd stinging feeling, as if there’d been a scrap of nettle in the moss – but my hand didn’t feel stung.

        There was an ACTUAL ANT in my ACTUAL PANTS.

        (UK pants.)

        It was supposed to be a lesson to me to behave more civilised, but it hasn’t really turned out that way. No more ants, though.

        1. Llama Llama*

          I once was getting my kid in her wheelchair for school drop-off. I stepped on a big anthill. At first I didn’t know what I did but they started biting me like crazy while pushing my daughter. I was jumping like a crazy lady in front of a bunch of people because of the hundred bites on my foot and ankle.

        2. amoeba*

          Hah. I once found a chili flake in my (UK) pants. Thought something was wrong, hopefully not some kind of infection, what the hell? Next time I went to the bathroom cleared that up quick…

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Wow, can you imagine the stories the ant will tell back at the nest? “One minute everything’s jake, the next I’m in this bizarre netherworld!”

    2. Alex*

      The other day I got stuck behind my couch. It reclines, and I was kneeling on it and reaching behind/over it to try to plug something into the socket behind the couch. Well, it reclined…onto my arm, which as then pinned. And the harder I tried to wriggle out, the more furiously it reclined. I was STUCK! And PANICKING! I live alone so there was no one to help me and for a moment I thought…I’m going to die here. I did eventually (it seemed like years, because this hurt like hell) extract my arm but now I have a giant black and blue mark.

      Lesson learned. Don’t kneel on a reclining couch.

      1. Pearl Grey*

        Your story reminds me of a recent incident that occurred during a closet re-organization project. I tried on a few items, including a Laura Ashley black velvet bridesmaid dress from 1995. This was a dress that had too tight shoulders which I had to let out before I wore it the first time. Now, umpteen years later, the shoulders are still tight (thank you overhead presses with 12 lb. weights in each hand), but I was able to get the dress zipped up all the way. This is a keeper, I said to myself, then I was going to take off the dress. The invisible zipper had other ideas though, and refused to let me get the right grip on the pull. So here I was in August, on the second floor of a house with no AC stuck in a long sleeved, calf length voluminous black velvet dress and my husband had just left and wasn’t expected back home for several hours. Only the threat of embarrassment if I had to call the neighbors for help gave me the fortitude to keep trying the zipper. Luckily, I harnessed my inner Yogi and simulated Gomukhasana arms (cow face pose) which no doubt finally helped me get the zipper undone. Thank goodness!

        1. Bobina*

          Oh my god. This should be a genre in and of itself. I’ve had a few scary moments in changing rooms in shops where you managed to get in the dress just fine, but trying to get out of it has turned into a whole production. Fine if you were shopping with a friend who you can ask, less fine if you went alone!!!

          1. Gina M.*

            As someone who worked retail clothing for a long time, if this happens, please just get the nearest staff member ASAP. Don’t risk hurting yourself (or damaging the clothing) by contorting yourself to try to make it work. I promise we have seen it a thousand times, we do not judge you, and we will be happy to help.

          2. WellRed*

            I once wrenched a shoulder trying to pull off a cheap dress in the dressing room at Forever 21. I might have torn the dress slightly. I was well over 30 at the time. Serves me right!

          3. The OG Sleepless*

            Yes. Has happened to me a few times. There is a moment where you think, oh my God. I’m trapped. They’re going to bury me in this dress.

            1. Rainy*

              In a similar situation to the top comment, I once tried on a dress I hadn’t worn in a few years while home alone, ended up stuck, and Hulked my way out of it because I’m claustrophobic.

          4. goddessoftransitory*

            Oh, God, yes; Clothing spite is definitely A Thing.

            Ever punched yourself in the face trying to get out of a sports bra? Not that I’ve done that, or anything…(shifty eyes)

            1. Rainy*

              I was putting my exfoliating gloves on in the shower recently and when my fingers slipped off the cuff of the first glove, I punched myself super hard in the boob.

            2. lissajous*

              Not that one, but I did once get a surprise! cat in the bra whilst pulling on a tshirt.

              He had recently worked out that he could jump up on me while I was standing, and I’d catch him. He had not worked out that I needed to see him to do that. Luckily he is very polite about claws on bare skin and did not try to catch himself.

              We are now working on jumping up *only* on cue. I think we’re at the stage now where he knows darn well what the rule is, he just needs to test it several times.

            3. Iselle*

              No, but I had shoulder issues for a while and couldn’t get out of a pull-on sports bra without my husband’s help.

              1. Happy*

                Look into any quarantine requirements in the new location for the pets. And traveling restrictions. For instance, my grand-dog is a boxer and not allowed to fly (breathing issues).

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Oof, this is one of my fears. If I have to move a tall item of furniture or flip a mattress, I NEVER EVER EVER get behind it. Always off to the side where if it falls, it won’t fall on me.

        I’m glad you didn’t end up as a sofa casualty!

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

        This happened to me too once (same deal — I was trying to plug something in behind a reclining arm chair) when the arm that wasn’t trapped happened to be fractured, so I just didn’t have the strength to push my body weight back. Thank goodness I lived in a rooming house. I gave a scream like I was being murdered, and someone rescued me, but I was having the same “I am going to die trapped by this chair” thoughts that you were.

      4. Victoria Everglot*

        I got stuck under my bed a few weeks ago. I knelt next to it to find something that fell behind it and my leg got stuck. I’m usually good at contorting into and out of tight spaces but I couldn’t get my leg to straighten out. Fortunately my husband was sleeping on the bed so I just called for him till he finally woke up. He couldn’t even find me for awhile! He was looking around the room trying to figure out if he’d dreamed my voice calling or not. I was more panicked than I should have been because I wasn’t alone or anything but man, feeling trapped destroys all logical thought. Especially once you have that dawning horror realization that you are, in fact, stuck. Ugh. You have my sympathy!

    3. Ode to a goose*

      I was really low on funds in college & had packed a tuna sandwich to eat by the creek during the only break I had all day. I sat on the bank and a goose snuck up behind me and grabbed my sandwich. Most of it landed on the dirty, goose poop filled bank. The goose swooped in and gobbled up my sandwich. It was all the food I had. I still don’t particularly like geese today

    4. Bluebell*

      I had to stare down a few seagulls on the beach today too! Luckily they didn’t get the delicious sandwiches my friend made us. earlier this summer I was at the town pond and a gaggle of Canada geese decided it was time to change locations and they flew over me and quite a few other folks. Lots of kids were exclaiming eww because geese can fly and do other things at the same time. (hope that’s not too yucky to share)

    5. RLC*

      Years ago, I came home from work to find that our four cats (three Siamese, one Abyssinian) and my Golden Retriever had unzipped the beanbag chair at the far end of the house and had spent the day joyfully distributing the filler in a path through the house. Thousands of tiny static prone white filler pellets, in drifts and trails, and on five little guilty faces. The pellets were even static-clinging to the ceiling. Horrified by the mess but the sight was hilarious. The pellets are easily vacuumed up, BTW. So, so wish automated home video cameras had existed back then, might have made a good YouTube video.

      1. Pippa K*

        I once came home to find that my dog had pulled a 5-pound bag of flour off the counter, dragged it into the living room, and opened it. There was flour, and flour-paste footprints from her drool, everywhere. It was appalling but also just so comical I still laugh about it.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          We packed up our kitchen for a renovation, put all the boxes in the dining room, and went out to dinner since we’d just packed up all our food. Came home to find the dogs (black lab and Golden Retriever) had chewed the corner off one of the boxes full of pantry stuff. They opened a bag of cornmeal and somehow managed to get the top off the little can of Coleman’s dried mustard. Then they ate the mustard. Then they went to their water dish. There was a trail of cornmeal footprints through the kitchen into the utility room and a little dune of cornmeal in the water dish.

        2. PhyllisB*

          This reminds me of a couple of incidents with my kids. I have three children; girl, boy, girl. (I mention this so you can keep them straight.) This was involving the first two.
          The older one was about four and a half and the younger was about 13 months old. I was in the back folding laundry when I heard giggling. Being the suspicious mother, I went to investigate. They had managed to open the bottom kitchen cabinet (even with child safety locks) and dragged out a gallon jug of cooking oil and poured it all over the floor. And were SWIMMING IN IT!! Do you know how hard it is to get rid of cooking oil? Or how hard it is to shampoo out of hair? My husband came home that night and said, “The kitchen looks great!! You really got a shine on that floor!!”
          A couple of years later number 3 had come along. We lived in a different house. She and older brother were partners in crime for sure. One day when he was about three and she was a year old I was in the back putting away laundry (you think I would have learned by now.) Things were suspiciously quite, so I went to investigate. They had managed (once again) to outsmart the child locks and pulled out the flour. They looked like little ghosts. Then before I could reach them, they got into the dog’s water bowl so then I had flour paste to deal with. Sigh. The cooking oil was a cinch compared to flour paste. I couldn’t help but laugh both times even though I wanted to snatch a knot on both of them. This was before the days of cell phones and I didn’t think to get my camera.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            My mom did have the presence of mind to snap pics of me and my sister the day we “washed” our hair in dead leaves from the trees in the back yard! We couldn’t figure out if she was mad or not–kept laughing and then muttering invective while rewashing our hair with more conventional shampoo.

            1. PhyllisB*

              I did get the camera when my oldest daughter, at the age of 18 months grabbed the spatula when I was frosting a cake with chocolate frosting. Not only did she smear it all over her face, (no surprise) but when I got back with the camera she was dabbing it behind her ears like perfume.

        3. Longtime Lurker*

          Ha – this happened to my neighbors, except it was the dog and the mischievous 4-year old…who had locked the rest of the family out of the house somehow. They could only watch in horror as the pasty footprints went absolutely everywhere. As a bystander, absolutely hilarious!

    6. Anonymous for a sec*

      Ok, anonymous for this because I’ve told this story at work too recently and don’t want to out my user name to a colleague. At a barn where I used to ride, there was a big show horse, a huge warmblood. Walking past his stall one day I noticed that his nose was bleeding a little, so I stopped to check him out. As I was looking up at his face, saying “aw buddy what happened, you got a bloody nose,” he suddenly went sniff…sniff…ACHOOO. He put his whole chest into it, seemed like it blew my hair back, cartoon-style. I stood there with a face full of blood and horse snot, thinking “yep, I sure do love horses, this is great. Sigh.” But, y’know, barn life. I wiped my eyes on my sleeve and went to find the barn manager, who took one look at me and laughed. It really was equal parts funny and gross.

      1. Rainy*

        My mum knows what horse earwax taste like because her teenage horse once tossed his head while she was telling him to calm down and shoved one ear fully into her mouth. He spent the next two minutes disgustedly twitching the ear that had been in her mouth while she spat and scraped at her tongue trying to get the flavour of horse ear out of her mouth.

    7. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      A couple years ago , I went on a short bike tour with two friends. I forget our first bird encounter on that trip – I think I was pooped on, on a ferry? (This has happened to me an unusual number of times, which might be a story in itself)

      Later that evening, a good while after sunset, an owl swoops down from a tree and nearly takes off with my friend’s toque (we guessed that the pompom was moving rodently?). Luckily the owl left it behind, as it was a chilly night.

      The next day, we’re riding down a spectacularly beautiful road, laughing about omens coming in threes….and a pigeon falls, totally dead (this is an ex-pigeon!!) on the road only a metre or two away from us. We don’t joke about omens anymore.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I’m going to be giggling about the pompom “moving rodently” for some time, I think. Very well put! (And a good thing the owl’s talons didn’t reach your friend’s head!)

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Dave Barry wrote about a cross country skiier that was basically stalked by an owl; it took his hat, his vest, and then his SHIRT. The guy was left, quote, “half naked and skiing for his life, hoping to reach safety before the owl developed a hankering for his pants.”

    8. Jessica*

      The original seagull story reminded me of the time my friend was sitting on a bench in Harvard Yard, eating a sandwich, and an extra bold squirrel literally jumped up onto her knee and made a play for the sandwich!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Squirrels have no shame and form gangs. At one of our local lakes if you try to eat anything you are immediately surrounded by beady eyes and bushy tails, all flicking little switchblades and murmuring about how what a shame it would be if you got hurt on such a lovely day…

        1. allathian*

          My SIL got bit by a squirrel when she was a teen. She made the mistake of eating peanuts outside and when she wouldn’t give any to a greedy squirrel, it jumped on her hand and bit her. The pain made her drop the peanut and the squirrel ran off with it. She had to get a tetanus shot, too.

    9. Erica*

      Woah this is my nightmare!!

      When I was little and my mom was walking me to school, a squirrel fell out of the tree and landed on her head! Scrambled off pretty quickly but was frightening/hilarious

      Funny these are all about animals

    10. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I have a seagull story too! This happened when I was a teenager, on holiday with my mother, at a seaside hotel that had terrace seating and a buffet breakfast.

      I had left a bowl of yogurt and cereal on our table, and walked back into the breakfast room to get something else. As I returned, I saw a seagull fly down towards our table at breakneck speed, and plunge its beak into my bowl, trying to steal my breakfast but only really making a huge mess. It was spooky, because, seen from that distance, the seagull looked HUGE (and what if we had been sat down – it was a terrace full of people and the seagull didn’t care!). Now that’s something I never thought seagulls would do.

      I got another bowl and all was well, but that put me off from sitting in my favourite terrace spot for the rest of the holiday.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        They are surprisingly big. I glanced out the window at work one day just as a gull landed on the ledge of the building nearby. I thought damn, I could ride that thing. We have a deck at work — they had to put bird wires up because eating lunch outside was a seagull free-for-all.

        If you want to see one of my all-time favorite things on the internet, go to YouTube and search “Sam the seagull stealing Doritos.” :D

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I read (maybe here?) about a restaurant where you couldn’t go on the side deck because the seagulls would just bomb you. Once a tourist couple wouldn’t listen and went out there, and the waiter just counted “one…two…three…” and they ran back in, lunchless and terrified.

    11. LGP*

      I also have a bird story lol. I was on a trip to NYC and was waiting in line to get into a taping of a TV show. You had to stand outside for hours before getting into the studio. During this interminable wait, I got pooped on by a pigeon! It got all over the back of my dress. And of course I couldn’t leave to go clean up because I would have lost my place in line. Luckily I had an extra pad in my bag, so I just used that to wipe off what I could. Good times! :P

    12. allathian*

      I also have a seagull story, or rather two.

      This July we went on a day cruise to Stockholm, and as we were walking down the street eating ice cream cones, a seagull swooped down and stole our son’s cone, and then another flew right at him and sky-bombed him. Thank goodness we had taken our backpacks with us and he had a spare t-shirt in his backpack. I grabbed one of my spare shirts to use as a screen when we went around the corner into a less busy side street and he changed shirts. Thankfully we had several plastic bags for dirty laundry, so we put the shirt in one of those, tied it up, and threw it in the nearest public trashcan. The smell was indescribable and there’s no way I would’ve taken that shirt home again. Thankfully it was an old one and getting a bit too small for him, so it wasn’t a great loss.

      We bought our son a new ice cream cone, too.

      Sometime in the last decade I was in downtown Helsinki where the gulls are notorious for stealing food out of your hands. There’s a market right next to the shoreline that’s very popular with tourists in the summer months, where I saw a random person get their hotdog stolen by a seagull. Now they have signs in multiple languages warning tourists to watch out for greedy gulls. The gulls are completely unfazed by people, they’ll only move out of your way if you’re about to step on them.

    13. anon for this*

      Going anonymous because I’ve told this story recently. Back in the middle of the previous decade, I had a trip to New York coming up for the wedding of a pair of friends and discovered I could save enormously if I stayed in Newark. So I booked flights in and out of there and grabbed a hotel just north of the airport, which turned out to have easy access to the AirTrain and thus to NJ Transit. The wedding was wonderful; later, the party was on a rooftop in Brooklyn, and went on for a while (until about 12:30 AM), and things got decidedly tipsy. Fortunately, after all that, I got myself to Penn Station fine and managed to get on the correct NJ Transit train. After which I completely spaced out and missed my stop.

      Fortunately, the stop I was being taken to instead (North Elizabeth) was clearly just another ten blocks or so down the line, and there was a road parallel to it the whole time. The task of walking back up to the Newark Airport stop seemed pretty foolproof, and even not-very-sober me knew how to get from that stop to my hotel. Okay, easy. I set off along Newark Avenue in the correct direction. And still somehow ended up getting lost.

      Through the entire thing, I was less than a mile from the Newark airport, and yet I somehow ended up at a total loss. There was no one around whatsoever. I pulled out my phone to help, and it was at 2% battery and I did not have a powerbank with me. I needed that 2% battery, so I used it in an attempt to find walking directions to the NJ Transit stop I needed, but I couldn’t make sense of them, so I zoomed in and panned around several times. And then my phone gave out.

      I stood there for a second and tried really hard not to laugh.

      Decided to swallow my pride and go find some humans I could beg for assistance from. The only sign of civilization I could see was a single hotel sign for a Best Western way off to my right. I couldn’t tell whether I’d even be able to get to it (the railroad was a wild-card, plus there could have been fences and/or highways), but I had no better ideas, so I crossed a field and a couple of big parking lots. I was able to get to the front desk and self-deprecatingly ask if they’d mind calling a taxi for me.

      Yes – but the taxi in question spent nearly half an hour navigating the freeways around Newark. Up one, down another, up one, down another, etc. (The driver also watched me giggling, drunk at 2 AM while trying to tell this hilarious story of how I’d just ended up totally lost in New Jersey in the middle of the night after the wedding of a pair of friends, and he said, “Wait, are you always this happy?”)

      Looking at the map, that tangle of freeways north of Newark looks like a respectable helping of spaghetti. Even if I hadn’t gotten lost while trying to walk to the Newark Airport station, I’m not sure I would have been able to access it by trying to walk up to its backside – which would have been my first strategy – and who knows whether the 2% battery would have let me find the real entrance with the AirTrain to the terminals from which it was easy to walk to my hotel.

      I finally got back to my hotel room at about 3 AM, which was just in time to sleep for about three hours before my early-morning flight back to the Midwest.

      The wedding was worth it, though. And years later I cracked up my now-married friends with the story.

      1. anon for this*

        Postscript: I just looked at the map again and it might have been the Hampton Inn where I requested assistance rather than the Best Western. The story would be funnier if it was the Best Western, though, because that’s across only about half a parking lot from the front entrance to the very NJ Transit stop I needed.

        Moral of the story: New Jersey was not built with the needs in mind of drunk pedestrians from out of town.

        1. NancyDrew*

          As someone who lives nearby to this area, that’s very funny. I get lost going to/from Newark airport all the time, and once I ended up taking the train to Newark Penn instead of Newark Broad. So annoying! And I live here!

    14. sagewhiz*

      Another seagull story. Not mine but happened to one of my best friends.

      She was the event planner for the international organization we were both part of, and one year the annual conference was in Victoria B.C. at the glorious Fairmont Empress Hotel. On arrival the day before the conference a lovely gift basket of treats was in her room, courtesy of the hotel. Delighted, she opened the cellophane wrapping.

      Now, due to lack of bugs and the balmy temperate climate, you should know there are no screens on the hotel windows, which open. She opened a couple to enjoy the weather, then left the room for a while.

      On her return, three seagulls were inside pecking at the gift basket goodies! Poop everywhere! Horrified, she managed to shoo them out, then used all the towels to scrub up the evidence. After washing them out as much as possible in the bathtub, she had to make up a story to get fresh towels from housekeeping. She never told a soul.

      Until…several years later one of us came across an article about something that had occurred years earlier at the Empress hotel and shared it on our listserv: a good deed gone very wrong resulted in a fellow being banned for 17 years. Yup, seagulls! Between 30 & 40 of them. The place was trashed!

      I’ll post a link in a reply.

    15. Elle Woods*

      A horrifying and hilarious story from a trip to EPCOT many years ago. We were visiting the American pavilion which tends to have a lot of seagulls near it. My grandmother, who was very particular about her appearance (not a hair out of place, clothes always clean and pressed, etc.) had her hand in her shorts pocket when a seagull swooped by and pooped right on/in her pocket. It’s bad enough when they poop on you but having them poop *in* your pocket is even worse.

    16. fposte*

      I was almost trapped for life in a parking garage. Not because of the gate, either.

      This was my first time with my new car in the city, and I was parking in an old underground parking garage. “Old” meaning the spaces and aisles were not built with modern cars, especially SUVs, in mind, and the ceilings were claustrophobically low to boot. I went down an aisle that turned out to be a dead end, pulled into a space to turn around, and realized I was too close to the car next to me (which had backed in) to back out for a three-point turn. But this was a new car that had proximity warnings and protections, so when I did the maneuver I’d have done on my old car, coming in very close to the neighboring car and then angling straight, the proximity protection kicked in and straightening out left me *closer* to the other car. Lather, rinse, repeat, with my car cozying up tighter to the other car each time. I couldn’t back out far enough straight and then correct because of the SUV parked behind me.

      Now that I know the car better and have time to breathe, I know I could 1) fold the side mirror back for clearance with the car next to me and 2) turn off the damn proximity warning so I could get the additional two inches I needed. But these did not occur to me in my rising panic, and I started wondering if I could just crawl out the passenger side and wait until the car next to me solved the problem and got out, or if insurance would drop me forever if I just scraped both cars, and if I would survive the ridiculousness of getting lodged in a parking space, Eventually I got the timing enough to straighten the car just before the proximity warning kicked in and inch back to a distance that allowed me to get out.

      Or else I died there and am haunting the place, while dreaming that I escaped.

      1. GoryDetails*

        OMG – I’ve had nightmares about that kind of thing, driving into some increasingly-narrow spot (whether in a parking garage or a wilderness road) and realizing there’s no room to turn… {shudder!}

    17. somehow*

      Many years ago, when I was in high school, I was at the bus stop one morning with the other neighborhood kids. I’d placed my books and brown-bagged (literally!) lunch on the ground, and stood around talking, when I noticed a friend’s small dog walking toward us, as he sometimes did in the mornings. As we were petting him and cooing and all, he eyed the bag, strolled over, sniffed, lifted a leg, and peed all over it. We couldn’t stop giggling (and it was a decent lunch as I recall, lol).

      I had the good fortune of sharing that memory with a couple of my minds from that bus stop, at a high school reunion not long ago. Cracked us up as though it’d happened that day!

      RIP, Poo.

    18. Miss Buttons*

      Horrifying part: I badly sprained my ankle several days ago, indoors. So physically shocking & painful that I immediately broke into a sweat, felt nauseated and almost fainted. Then a moment later had an urgent need to go to the bathroom. Dragged myself to bathroom, did the business, then felt faint again. Maneuvered off the toilet onto the floor, lying down, so I wouldn’t hit my head on hard surfaces when I fainted.
      Hilarious part: my big lumbering 85-lb dog, who always accompanies me to the bathroom, was totally flummoxed that I landed on the floor. He just sat down on top of me with the funniest quizzical look on his face. I howled.

      1. stuck in a boot for 6 more weeks*

        Oh no, that is awful! A PSA from someone who “sprained” my ankle a few months ago and recently learned it was actually broken and will probably never heal correctly because I waited too long for treatment: please see a doctor if you haven’t already!

    19. The OG Sleepless*

      I was sitting on the beach watching a family set up their beach chairs and tent. Their 2 year old had a handful of chips, which he tossed to the seagulls when the parents wasn’t looking.

      The seagulls SWARMED these people for the rest of the afternoon. You could see the parents asking each other why the seagulls were targeting them.

      1. Generic Name*

        This happened to my family, except I know exactly why the seagulls were swarming us. It’s because my mom (we are from Nebraska and we were visiting the beach in CA) handed me and my sister the heels from a loaf of bread and said, “here girls, why don’t you feed these to the seagulls”. Never made that mistake again.

      2. PhyllisB*

        My son and his best friend nearly got us thrown out/banned from a beach condo because they were feeding potato chips to seagulls of our balcony. Needless to say, this friend did not accompany us on any other vacations.

    20. Elizabeth West*

      Gulls are assholes.

      This reminds me of the time I was sitting on a beach with a guy I was seeing, and a flock of pelicans flew over and bombarded us with giant poops — PLOP PLOP PLOP PLOP! We had nothing but towels that we threw over our heads. I don’t know how we escaped unscathed — none of them hit us. It was hilarious but had the potential to be extremely disgusting, haha.

    21. The Prettiest Curse*

      A few years ago, I was at a concert with my husband, dancing and otherwise minding my own business. The group of men next to us had a member who seemed less than sober, but since I didn’t interact with or accidentally bump into him and he seemed fairly chilled out, I just ignored him. Around 2/3 of the way through the concert, there was a massive scuffle, the drunken dude lunged drunkenly towards me and was instantly yanked backwards by all the other dudes in the group.

      So as far as I can work out, the drunken dude wanted to body slam me (no idea why, since we didn’t interact at all.) Maybe he just had a tendency to do that type of thing when drunk and his friends knew to look out for it, or maybe he told them of his plan to body slam me. Regardless, his plan (such as it was) failed badly. I think his fingers brushed one of my arms, but that was it.

      Obviously, if he had succeeded in body slamming me, it would have been awful and upsetting. But seeing him get yanked backwards like that was so weird and stupid that it was actually kind of hilarious. His group then retreated to the other side of the venue for the rest of the show, so unfortunately I didn’t get to thank his friends from saving me from being drunkenly body slammed.

    22. goddessoftransitory*

      OMG. Don’t tell me animals can’t think/plan/reason/enjoy maliciousness!

      Reminds me of this tweet:

      sobbing ‘i’m an apex predator! i’m an apex predator!’ as a seagull waddles closer and closer to me and my sandwich

    23. Jackalope*

      Okay, I’ve shared this story here so some may recognize it, but it fits the theme (and I have an UPDATE!). Back in 2020, I was trying to go camping with a friend, but we drove out to the campground I wanted to stay at and for reasons that still baffle me, TPTB had decided to close it. (I’m assuming it was COVID-related, but it was out in the middle of nowhere and has never gotten a ton of traffic; it’s got maybe 10-12 sites and I’ve never seen all of them taken in all the years I’ve camped there.) I really needed the bathroom, and the outhouses were locked, so we drove back down the road a couple of miles to an outhouse that was at a trailhead. When we got there, my friend and I noticed that there appeared to be a lot of…. bees around, but I REALLY needed to pee and wasn’t paying attention as closely as I could. I got out of the car and started walking towards the outhouse. This was NOT a popular decision. All of a sudden there was a swarm of agitated buzzing around me. I kept going (note: your bladder should NOT be making the decisions in such a moment!), but got more and more nervous. I kept walking towards the outhouse. More ominous buzzing, more “bees”. I finally got to the door, and there were “bees” crawling all over the handle. I couldn’t bring myself to touch it, since apparently SOME part of me still had an ounce of sense, but eventually they all moved for a second and I tried the handle. It was also locked, which looking back was probably really good for my health and safety because we opined later that the hive nest was probably in the outhouse itself.

      Meanwhile my friend was sitting in the car, watching these “bees” dive bomb the car and crawl all over it. She’s reasonably good at species identification, and she noticed that they didn’t really look like bees – they were black and white with little skull faces. I came back to the car freaked out (although by some miracle, not stung), and when we got back into cell service range I looked them up. Friends, they were bald-faced hornets. If you look them up on Wikipedia, the picture does perfect justice to what these little skull-faced hornets look like. If you read the Wikipedia page you will also notice that in ADDITION to stinging, they can also spray venom from their stingers into the eyes of anyone trying to break into their nest and cause temporary blindness. (I have also verified this on a university webpage from someone who was researching them, so this appears to be true and not just something made up on the internet.) I was so LUCKY that they were comparatively mellow and did nothing more than swarm around me.

      And update – this summer I went back to that campground; it’s one of my all-time favorites, and one of my happy places. I learned something about myself on that trip. If brains worked in a completely logical way, then what I would have learned from the Outhouse Incident would have been that as long as I leave bees/hornets/wasps alone, they’ll probably leave me alone. I mean, I went right up to where their nest probably was, and they were remarkably restrained. What my brain actually learned from that experience: HORNETS ARE SCARY. The campsite was fine; maybe an occasional member of the bee/wasp/hornet family here and there, but nothing out of the ordinary for being outside in August. But for some reason my car (which was parked up a little hill from the campsite itself) was fascinating to these little creatures, and often in the afternoons there would be 5-10 of them flying around the car and investigating it. No big deal, right? Wrong. On my last evening there I came up to get my hiking boots for a hike I was planning on, and there were around ten wasps/hornets on the side of the car. Two of them were bald-faced hornets. I panicked! I managed to get myself into the driver’s side (which was the other side, with no insect investigations), and then sat there listening to them fly into the car and thwack against the window, and almost had a panic attack. Ultimately I made it through, still no stings, and the rest of the trip was fine, but… yeesh.

    24. goddessoftransitory*

      I got locked into the cemetery where Brandon and Bruce Lee are buried and had to climb the fence to get out. Thank God this was a couple decades ago–there’s no way I could manage that today.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        My daughter and her friends almost got locked in the historic Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta on Halloween night. As cool of a vibe as that would have been, they were relieved when a groundskeeper finally saw them and let them out.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Nobody says anything about hours operation! I presume they were posted but of course, dumb me didn’t look (it was summer and very light out even though it was evening and it simply didn’t occur to me.)

    25. noncommittal pseudonym*

      Not me, but I read a story of a woman in, I believe, Texas, who was just standing on her property, when a 5′ long snake dropped out of the sky directly on her head. She starts trying to fight the snake off when the hawk who had accidentally dropped the snake swooped in to try to recover its prey. So, now she’s trying to fight off both snake and hawk. Her husband ran in and managed to scare both of them off, but the photo showed her pretty beat up, between hawk scratches and snake bites.

      1. Pippa K*

        A hawk once dropped a pigeon…well, most of a pigeon…on my husband when he was out with the dog. Husband’s reaction: “oh my God, that’s disgusting!” The spaniel’s reaction: “wow, this is great! Are there any more up there?”

    26. Clisby*

      It didn’t hit me, but earlier this year, as I was drinking coffee and gazing into my back yard with the kitchen door open, a hawk flew straight into the kitchen at me. I screamed, which apparently caused it to swerve into a window. Fortunately (a) it didn’t break the window; and (b) it at least stunned the hawk a little bit. I summoned my husband, and with the aid of an afghan, managed to shoo it back out the door. It sat there for a couple of minutes, and flew straight up into a tree, so no worse for wear, I guess. We’ve had birds fly into the house before, but more like a mockingbird or crow – nothing this big!

    27. Nona Selah*

      reminds me of the time I was out running and a cardinal flew into my face – well, really close to it at least. I was like Excuuuse me!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I was walking down the street in Santa Cruz one day, and I passed a bottle brush shrub — a really big one. It was covered in red flowers. A hummingbird crashed right into my chest, hovered for a second, and then flew around me. So weird, lol.

    28. Librarian to the stars*

      Years ago, a friend and I were traveling with a group in India. We had reached a hotel that was situated in small, hilltop town. We were both traveling light, and we decided that we would wash all of our underwear and hang them out on the balcony to dry while we had the time. Our mistake was made when we then decided to take a nap. I woke up to a scuffling noise, and saw a group of monkeys on the balcony trying to steal all our underwear! I flew out of the room and shooed them all away, but I still wonder how we would’ve made it through our trip, sans clean underwear, knowing that a group of monkey toughs stole it all.

    29. Coworkers know this story*

      Many years ago, walking around a bougie DC neighborhood with friends who lived there. Visiting from chicago , so I thought I knew how to deal with aggressive panhandlers.

      Nope.

      I give money to panhandlers. I did not have any more left. Which I politely told this fellow. Who screamed at me and threatened to hit me…with a jumbo can of tuna.

      All I could think, was, does he have a can opener?

      My friends pulled me away.

    30. 00ff00Claire*

      When my husband and I were visiting Paris, we wanted to go to the Pompidou Center, particularly the art exhibits in the Museum. Since the Museum is on the upper floors, usually you ride up the escalator on the exterior of the building to get to it. My husband and I are both afraid of heights. He had been to the Pompidou before and ridden the escalator without a problem, but I was afraid to try it. Someone at the desk spoke English well enough (better than my French!) to explain that there was an elevator we could take instead. And the elevator was right over there – inside the building, or at least the *door* to the elevator was inside the building.

      Turns out, the elevator itself is not inside the building. And even worse, when it stops at the Museum floor, the 5th I believe, you exit onto a balcony that resembles a catwalk. You have to walk the entire length of the building on this catwalk-balcony to get to the door that will let you into the Museum. We only made it about one-third of the way. My husband was the first to lose his nerve and once he lost it, mine was gone too. Our composure just kept going further downhill as we frantically (but cautiously, lest we fall off what is actually a very secure balcony!) made our way back to the elevator. I was practically hysterical once we were inside the relative safety of that glass box, and I vividly remember the bewildered looks from the strangers who got stuck riding it with us.

      In the moment, I was laughing as you only can when you are wildly afraid of something, but now I find the whole episode – from interacting with the Pompidou staff to the looks from our elevator companions – absolutely hilarious. I’ve only visited the bookstore, but I’ll never forget the Pompidou!

      1. allathian*

        I don’t like crowds, cramped spaces or heights, so riding in a full landscape elevator hits all of my buttons at once. I definitely have vertigo, but my other dislikes aren’t at the level of actual phobias. I can ride an elevator with glass walls if I have to, although I’ll draw the line at a glass floor!

    31. GlowCloud*

      My partner & I once took a day trip to the coast, and had sat down on a wall at the beach front to eat our sandwiches. We leaned in for a kiss, and a split-second after our faces had parted, a Seagull poop landed on the wall right between us! A very near thing!!

  13. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Post what you’ve been reading, and share or request recs.

    I’m currently reading Work Will Not Love You Back by Sarah Jaffe. A bit dry at times but very interesting and anger-inducing.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I finished A Restless Truth and it wasn’t as good as A Marvellous Light, all the separate elements were great but it was really slow paced and I just didn’t feel as invested in these characters compared to the first book.

      Also reading The Feminine Mystique and it’s amazing? I’ve never highlighted so much in a single book lol.

      Today I started Very Sincerely Yours, which I’m pretty sure was a rec here. Basically a rom com about Mr. Rogers, it’s very cute so far!

      1. Forensic13*

        I wanted so badly to like that book! It had so many things I love. But I just really didn’t like the writing style of any of the “traditional book” writing. (Liked the “found footage” stuff! It’s my absolute favorite genre.)

    2. Lemonwhirl*

      Still trying to get through “The Boy on the Bridge”. I wish I hadn’t read it right after “The Girl With All the Gifts” – I think I would have enjoyed it more if I could have read it as its own thing rather than having the direct comparison of the first book in the series/world.

      Hoping to finish it today, and then I’m not sure what to read next. I have a couple of horror/thriller/mysteries that I downloaded from the library.

    3. Rara Avis*

      Locke & Key — I started watching it on Netflix, and then discovered it was based on a series of graphic novels. I don’t usually do well with horror, but this is restrained enough.

    4. Forensic13*

      I’m reading You Look Like a Thing and I Love You by Janelle Shane, which is about AI and trying to train it to do things. My favorite story so far was about a group that was trying to train AI to sort benign moles from cancerous ones. But because they used medical diagnosis photos, they just trained it to sort pictures with rulers in them to those without, because all the cancerous moles had to be measured for diagnosis.

    5. Teapot Translator*

      I’ve discovered the murder mystery series by Robin Stevens and I loved the first two books (I’m waiting for the third one from the library). I probably got the recommendation here? If you liked them, do you have similar recommendations?

    6. Richard Hershberger*

      Claire North’s new one just came out: House of Odysseus. This is the follow-on to Ithaca, which is a terrific retelling of Penelope waiting it out. I just started the new one. It is (at least so far) written from the perspective of Aphrodite, who is very snarky.

    7. word nerd*

      The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu by Dan Jurafsky was a fun read this week (included in Audible memberships through 9/12). Each chapter focuses on a specific topic: either the history of one word (e.g. ketchup), usually tying together a lot of different cultures and history in the process, or some cool linguistics thing like what differentiates a menu from a fancy vs. inexpensive restaurant or why certain sounds seem to be associated with creamy vs crunchy foods across cultures. Light and fun read!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I remember this one! Am often reminded of it when reading a menu with either detailed descriptions or brief allusions to ingredients.

        Also fascinated by the observation that negative reviews are in the first person, as this terrible thing happened TO ME. Which I have found to hold true.

    8. allathian*

      I just finished Hildur by Satu Rämö. She’s a Finnish author who’s lived in Iceland for 20 years. She writes in Finnish and has a great outsider/insider’s view of the culture. The main protagonist, Hildur, is a detective in a small community. Her main sidekick is a Finnish cop on a Nordcop internship in Iceland. He doesn’t speak Icelandic (yet) and his authority’s very limited because he’s only an intern. But there’s a serial killer on the loose that they have to catch… The murders happen off-screen and the descriptions aren’t particularly graphic (I can’t read much Nordic noir because the descriptions of the corpses and how they died are so gross).

      I enjoyed it. There are two more books out in the series so far, but I’m waiting until they come out in paperback.

      It’s been translated into several languages, but English isn’t on the list yet.

    9. GoryDetails*

      Some of my recent/current reads:

      The First to Die at the End by Adam Silvera – it’s a prequel to They Both Die at the End, which I *adored* (and sobbed over), and deals with the origins of the Death-Cast “notice of your death-within-24-hours” technology. (In-story, it is made clear early on that there is in fact a very specific method by which the Death-Cast technology can identify those who will die within the next 24 hours, but nobody is saying anything about it – which is just as well, as it makes No Sense At All.) The format is similar to “They Both Die”, short segments on a timeline, switching viewpoints from some charming protagonists (one of whom has received his 24-hour-at-most notice) to the company employees AND the founder. Intriguing so far.

      On the lighter side: Pirate Island, a choose-your-own-path book from a New Zealand-based publisher (who has a whole line of these, it seems); it features lovely descriptions of the Caribbean setting, wildlife, people, etc., with the find-the-treasure story and options working out pretty well.

      Graphic novel: Crush, by Svetlana Chmakova, about middle-school kids and their various crushes, friendships, coping-with-bullies, etc. – nicely done.

      Oh, and my carrying-around book is The Confidence-Man by Herman Melville, one of his later novels; it’s… rather strange, and a bit like those all-star-cast disaster movies where one is introduced to tons of characters who interact with each other in different ways as the disaster plays out. [I don’t know if there is a disaster in this one, but everyone’s on a riverboat; the core of the story is a con artist (or several) moving from passenger to passenger to try and gather funds. It actually could make a pretty hilarious film in the right hands.]

    10. Nervous Nellie*

      Ooooh. this week a pal gave me the book Lincoln in the Bardo by George Sanders. I am halfway through and it is dreamy. I deeply disliked his short story collection, Tenth of December – I thought it was self-important, with gratuitous swearing for effect. Meh. But Lincoln! It is a magical story of Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie, who after passing away from illness at 10, is stuck in the bardo, a Buddhist stage similar to purgatory for Christians. The story is told as a series, page after page of ‘quotations’ from Willie and others also in the bardo, and mixes actual quotations from real history books (ie. Doris Kearns Goodwin). It is the most imaginative book I have read in a long time – because of the subject and the poetic format and style of the telling.

      That said, not much about the bardo is deeply imagined or really described in the book. I am doing a double feature read to balance it. As a companion read I am reading Mind Beyond Death by the beloved Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche- the best in-depth analysis of the bardo stages. I saw him lecture on this in the early 2000s.

      And then peripherally related, for dessert I am reading Living With the Gods by Neil MacGregor, a wonderful history of how many of the larger religions came to be, and how societies define themselves because of religions. It is not a history of religion, and the author is not for or against religion. It is more about the sociology of religion. Each chapter uses examples of religious artifacts held in The British Museum to expand on the idea. It has lots of color photos, and feels like something James Burke would make a 22-episode TV series out of. It is unputdowneable!

      I clearly won’t find time to clean my living room rug today…..oh, well!

    11. PastorJen*

      I just started Happiness Falls by Angie Kim and it’s great so far. This weekend I should finish Tom Lake by Ann Patchett, which is also good.

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      Rereading The Moon Spinners, while saving Samantha Irby’s latest collection and Over Tumbled Graves for my trip to visit my mom and sister.

      1. EA*

        I was sadly disappointed by Samantha Irby’s newest collection – didn’t finish it – and I’ve loved her other work.

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

      Re-reading some P.G. Wodehouse after a medical procedure, as that kind of reading is my valium.

      1. word nerd*

        Read recently that Douglas Adams called P.G. Wodehouse’s work “word music,” which seems on point to me. Hope you recover soon.

    14. Girasol*

      Just finished Birnam Wood. Although it is well acclaimed, I found it unsatisfying. Great characterization but I was still turning pages at the end to see where the rest of the story was.

    15. Person from the Resume*

      Just started Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis. It is absolutely beautiful so far. I am excited and hopeful that it continues to be as good as it started.

      1. Jackalope*

        What are you thinking of it so far? I just finished Part 1 last night and am hoping to finish it this weekend. The last couple of chapters hit home for me because I previously worked in retail and then at a nonprofit. Her analysis is really interesting so far although it’s a bit dry in places.

    16. Nervous Nellie*

      At your mention, I looked into Work Won’t Love You Back and have ordered the updated edition from my library. This edition has a valuable new foreword about the Great Resignation and its equivalent in various countries around the world, the reaction to basic income proposals and of the impact of the pandemic on workers who could not work at home, especially low-paid service workers. If you are reading an older copy you might appreciate seeing the new foreword. And thank you for this recommendation, especially on this Labor Day Weekend! Most apt.

    17. Nervous Nellie*

      One last thing for all us wild-eyed bibliophiles – my brother alerted me to this. In Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, a 12-year old Lego whiz was commissioned to create a model of a very famous bookshop for their 60th anniversary. The shop is Munro’s Books, and was started by a family member of venerated Canadian author Alice Munro. The building is an intricate stone structure, and the interior is complex. The work is incredibly intricate, and the 4-minute video about his creation is sweet and deeply moving. I may take some time off and go to the bookshop’s anniversary party in a couple of weeks to see it in person.

      https://www.cheknews.ca/island-boy-makes-painstakingly-detailed-lego-replica-of-munros-books-1167185/

  14. Jackalope*

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

    Still working my way through Stardew Valley. I’m close to getting the Island Obelisk and excited about how that will make things easier for me.

    1. Daisy*

      Ooh! Nawalli! Card game along the lines of Magic: The Gathering inspired by Aztec mythology. I love the art!

    2. Not Totally Subclinical*

      I have achieved the Aromatic Acorn 7-star certificate in Animal Restaurant. Not sure what my next game goal will be — collect all the pets, get enough bells to buy all the backgrounds, unlock the booth owners I don’t have yet? We’ll see.

    3. Mornington Cresent*

      I’m finally coming up on the end of Tears of the Kingdom! Just got one more temple and then it’s a straight shot through to the final boss.

      I’ve gotten all the shrines and lightroots, but there’s a lot of side content (wells, caves, sidequests, Korok seeds) I’m just plain skipping for now. TotK is almost *too* big, with an overwhelment of content, and I’m pretty much ready to put it down now.

      1. Claire*

        Good luck! I’m finished with the temples/sages and only have Ganondorf left of the main questline, but I have a bunch of shrines and sidequests left and I’ve avoided the depths as much as I could so I need to conquer that before I go to the endgame.

        I’m definitely not planning to 100% the koroks though, I didn’t do that in BOTW either.

        1. Jackalope*

          Question on TotK: is it a game that has a specific end, and once you finish the main quest line it’s over? Or does it go on for as long as you want that specific game to continue, i.e. can you finish the main quest and then go back to doing side quests with the same character?

          1. Shy Platypus*

            Once you beat the BBG, you can go back to your save from before the last battle and keep exploring.

            BBG is the Magical Reason why monsters roam, so after his death the world would become much less challenging

        2. Mornington Cresent*

          Thank you!
          I didn’t 100% BotW either, although I did complete almost all the sidequests, get enough Korok seeds to fill out my inventory, got all the shrines and towers, and completed the compendium!

          I think because I completed so much in BotW, I feel way less inclined to do so in TotK- I already did some of this stuff on this map already, so I don’t feel like doing it over!

      2. SparklingBlue*

        I got TotK as a birthday gift (as well as a new Switch dock, so I can play it on a TV)–am excited to jump in!

    4. Dorota*

      It’s been ages since we last played Balloon Cup, but now I’m getting hooked again and remembering why I liked it so much (simple rules, but still allowing you to strategise in various ways). Also saw there‘s a new (to me, at least) extension deck for Exploding Kittens, so I might buy that soon.

    5. Forensic13*

      I’ve been playing a lot of Dysmantle! It’s a post-apocalyptic zombie game, with the twist being you mostly focus on smashing everything around you and crafting it into supplies. I’m the kind of person who mostly like to dig in Minecraft (it’s relaxing) and the smashing has a similar vibe. I am pretty bad at the zombie fighting though, heh.

    6. Skates*

      I’m playing Stardew Valley for the first time! I’m getting toward the end of Summer Y3 and have finished the community center!! Skull mines are still kicking my ass though. I have been trying my best to just play and vibe and not check out game guides.

      Also I married Shane but I am refusing to upgrade my house because I’m not ready for children.

    7. Shy Platypus*

      Still making my way through Baldur’s Gate 3. I am truly amazed at the last act. The world is so rich! And the gameplay remains really fresh, even in this last segment: impossible moral conundrums! Sweet talking ourselves into great deals and terrible situations! Several heists! A very time-constrained prison break (unrelated to the heists somehow)! Infiltration! And regular but interesting battles.

      M. Platypus and I gamed the whole day yesterday and we had SUCH a great time! I really recommend it to anyone who likes tactical rpgs with a great narration and rich background.

  15. Daisy*

    I am just here to say how much I love cucumbers. In a salad dressed with sugar and vinegar, in tzatziki, with chili-lime salt, cucumbers will never let you down.

    Any other cucumber lovers here? Cucumber fans, unite!

    1. The Dude Abides*

      Hiiiiii!

      I love good ole fashioned cukes and onions, and they better make me pucker. When I make them for myself, it’s at least 2/3 vinegar 1/3 water.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I like the mini English cucumbers with a thin skin. They don’t need any sauce, just crunch ’em straight down.

    3. peanut butter*

      me! me! my favourite memory is as a kid I was allowed to eat cucumbers straight from the garden for breakfast. I still like them straight, plain.

      1. Thunder Kittenioooooooiiiio I iiioi I I I ooikoiioioiiiiiìoiiii I iiii I ooo I ooikoiioiìiiioioooiiiiiiii I okiiiooooooioiiiì I i I oiooiì*

        Thats my favorite too- fresh garden veggies need no dressing or condiments. I planted cucumber vines this summmer and they turned out BITTER. :,(

        1. Daisy*

          What? TRAITORS!

          I really like Armenian cucumbers, or the heirloom Italian varieties that are round and really fuzzy– they’re more heat and disease resistant and the flavor doesn’t have the usual potential cucumber flavor problems.

      2. GoryDetails*

        When I was a kid I’d sometimes cut a cucumber in half crosswise, hollow out one half with an apple-corer, and fill the hollow with French dressing – and then eat it like a veggie ice-cream cone. [I am not making this up. Though now I’m finding it a bit hard to recall just where I got the idea – possibly a vehicle for consuming as much French dressing as possible?]

    4. Dorota*

      Love that Chinese cucumber salad where they smash them with the handle of the knife before marinating them.

      Also, home-made cucumber/mint/lime lemonade has been getting me through this insanely hot summer, so yay for both!

    5. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      – Sprinkle some sumac or za’atar on them and some EVOO
      – In a raw corn salad on top of Greek yogurt with EVOO and red wine vineger.
      – Salted with a drizzle of tahini over them.
      – with tzatziki
      – with sour cream and onions
      – homemade dill pickles with my grandmother’s recipe

      I’m sad that cucumber season is almost over for my sister’s garden, they were very plentiful this year. I’ll have to buy them now.

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

        Ooh, my parents were big on the sour cream and onions version — I love those too!

        1. Trixie Belden was my hero*

          They were a staple on the table for my Hungarian grandfather. Hungarians put sour cream on everything!

    6. allathian*

      I love cucumbers, plain ones are great. Although I have to admit to a soft spot for very salty fermented Russian cucumbers, an essential ingredient in Beef Stroganoff.

    7. RussianInTexas*

      I started to make cucumbers – Greek yogurt soup for lunches this summer.
      cucumbers, yogurt, dill, salt, pepper, lemon juice, basil, olive oil, and a little bit of honey. So refreshing, and will stay in the fridge for few days.

    8. GoryDetails*

      I do like cucumbers, though I have a surfeit of them this year – my cucumber plants are vining into the trees (I do not exaggerate here), and are producing lots of cukes, many of which I don’t find until they’re quite large. (Funny how well they camouflage themselves.) I’ve been having cucumber salads and quick-pickled cukes, and grated-cucumber-and-carrot slaw – and, thanks to a suggestion from one of the commenters here last week, some green gazpacho, using cukes and hot peppers.

    9. fposte*

      I love cukes and while I enjoy messing with them now and then, my favorite is still the simple prep of my childhood—sliced raw with Lawry’s seasoned salt.

    10. somehow*

      Yes! I make a ‘salad’ of cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions marinated in sugar, oil, and vinegar, and omg. Occasionally I’ve left out the tomatoes and omg x 2.

      And only local cukes. I just can’t abide the bitterness of the grocery store ones anymore.

    11. Clisby*

      Yes! And I didn’t know it until I was maybe 7 years old. My father liked pickled cucumbers, but loathed fresh cucumbers, so we never had them at home when I was growing up. One day my sister and I were visiting the little girl across the road – her mother gave us a salt shaker and sent us out into the garden to eat cucumbers. Seriously, that was the first time I had ever tasted a cucumber that wasn’t dill-pickled.

    12. My Brain is Exploding*

      This year I asked my mother-in-law for her refrigerator pickle recipe. I just love those pickles! Now I know why…they are basically candied cucumbers. (Lots of sugar in that recipe.)

    13. Cj*

      my husband loves cucumbers. one of his favorite meals is thinly sliced cucumbers with lots of salt on them, let them soak in the salt until they get wilted and pour half and half on them. then put the mixture over boiled potatoes. not something I would eat, but he loves it.

    14. Samwise*

      Yassss!!

      Cucumber paletas with cilantro or mint, and lime.

      Slice thin, dress with sour cream and fresh dill (that’s how my Polish great grandma fixed them)

      Thai style salad: dressing made with lime, fish sauce, a pinch of sugar, garlic, chiles. Thinly slice the cukes and red onion.

      Cold cuke soup with dill and buttermilk

  16. T'Pol*

    How do you decide when to not finish a book?

    I usually finish what I start but I’m 90 pages in to Black Leopard Red Wolf and I’m not invested in the story so far, have limited time to read, and I’m nervous about the content warnings. Looking back at my Goodreads there are some that I wasn’t invested in at the beginning but ended up enjoying, some that I felt meh about the whole way through, and some that I feel meh about looking back but apparently enjoyed enough at the time to give a good rating.

    1. EA*

      Such a hard decision for me! I’m reading a book that I like OK right now, but I have others on my list I’m more excited about. But I find it hard to quit. I’ve even slogged through whole series just to finish them!

      My aunt is one of the biggest readers in my family, and she is ruthless about this – if at ANY point in the book she feels like the book is no longer worth it, she’ll quit. She’s also the one who convinced me to quit audiobooks if you don’t like the narrator’s voice, even if you like the book itself. Be like my aunt!

      1. Just here for the scripts*

        I’m with your aunt! And I use the same process for rereading/re-listening to books… Who do I feel like spending time with again?

        I’m very character driven — if there are characters I like and the writing makes me want to care about them, then I continue. If not – bring on another book.

      2. mmmmmmmary*

        I had an audiobook earlier this year that I dropped less than ten minutes in because the narrator’s Texas accent for one of the leads was just too over the top. I get most of my books through Libby and the wait for the ebook was another six weeks but it was worth it.

      3. PhyllisB*

        I’m a big Stephanie Plum fan (they get repetitious, but fun in small doses. ) I got an audio of one of them, and I didn’t realize how many times Stephanie mentioned her message bag. “I hung my messenger bag on the back of the chair, ” or “I picked up my messenger bag.” In print it’s not so obvious. I guess I skim over it. I took the audio back and checked out the print version. I never would have finished otherwise.

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

        I’m with your aunt. If I’m not feeling it, I’m not feeling it. I might try it again later, when I’m in a different headspace.

        That said, if the book is going okay and holding my interest well enough, even though it’s not great yet, I might keep going in case things pick up. Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s books are mostly slow burns like that for me — I start out reading one just thinking “This is okay,” and then at some point, I find myself staying up all night and crying as I finish the book.

    2. Ranon*

      I skip to the end and decide if I’m interested in finding out how the author gets the characters to that point or not.

      There are a gazillion books in my TBR pile, I’m not going to read them all so might as well ditch what’s not working

      1. Sloanicota*

        I also skip ahead! Sometimes I never go back and read the middle but I end up enjoying the last quarter anyway (and sometimes it adds a challenge trying to figure out what happened). If I’m also bored at the end I’d skip to the last page and be done with it.

    3. Double A*

      I usually give a book about 100 pages but I’ve stopped after 30 and I have also stoped with like 30 pages remaining when I find I don’t care what’s going to happen next. I can’t think of a book I slogged through that was worth the payoff. Life’s too short; stop reading it.

      1. Double A*

        Oh, and to more clearly answer your question: I stop when I can’t see myself caring what happens next and nothing else about the book makes up for a lack of plot. I’ve also bailed when it’s clear a plot point is going to be upsetting, or when the plot just gets too stupid or illogical. And again when there’s nothing counterbalancing these issues; amazing characters and excellent writing can keep me moving forward.

        Although I have to say the last book I slogged to finish was Witch King by Martha Wells (of Murderbot fame). Great writing, great characters, interesting world, but the central conflict of the book was hollow and by the end that was just too glaring to ignore. I *think* I finished the book but I cared so little at that point that I have no memory of what happened. Wish I hadn’t wasted my time finishing it.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I also quit when the Author’s Message overshadows the story. I read one book years ago about a guy who meets a ghost on the Bay Bridge and has to help her cross over (I think it got made into a romcom, too.)

          Anyway, the story itself would have been fine, but the author couldn’t let it alone and kept ramming entire, page long speeches about the Importance of Life and Love And Valuing Life And Love into every character’s mouth–like Victor Hugo and the sewer system, but all New Age-y. I was actually mad at myself for finishing that book because I felt like I was rewarding a really badly botched premise and a writer that didn’t have the trust in the readership’s intelligence to “get” what was “important.”

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

            Wait, the sewer system was a metaphor? Okay, now you’ve rocked my world. See this is why our school system should’ve scheduled that book for when we were a little older.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              I think he actually was describing the real system, but in the context of how it represented the history of exploitation of the poor? It was Schrodinger’s Metaphor!

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        For a series (book or TV) I do find that sometimes the first entry is a little rough and then it’s in subsequent installments that everything clicks.

        But with a single entry, book or movie, if I am not into it after a chapter or so, it’s just not going to get better. I gave up on Midnight Sky when I realized that the brand new Earthlike planet with a highly developed ecosystem, breathable air, earthlike temps, etc, was a moon of Jupiter. We just never noticed it before. That was like 10 minutes in, when I paused to google what must surely be a misunderstanding on my part… nope.

    4. MEH Squared*

      I used to be a ‘I have to finish this book’ kind of person. Then, I did a Writing & Consciousness MA that included a lot of fiction reading. There was a book I had to read for one class that I hated. I grimly finished it, threw it against the wall, and declared it f***ing bulls***. After that, I realized there were so many books, why finish one I didn’t like? It was a very freeing feeling and now I’ll put a book down at the slightest provocation.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        My life was genuinely changed for the better by an NPR interview with someone who started reading a lot more once he gave himself permission to try the first chapter and drop it if it wasn’t holding him. Before I had been very much of the mindset that I had somehow made a promise to the book by reading the first page.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      It’s purely emotional for me, I realize I’ve been bored for quite awhile or haven’t been reading at all for too long and I don’t care anymore how it ends.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I read until I feel like it’s not worth the trouble anymore. Sometimes that’s page one. Sometimes it’s halfway through.

      I probably DNF more books than I finish these days. There are too many books and too little time to waste on ones that feel like a chore.

    7. RedinSC*

      There are so many books, and really a limited amount of time to read the ones you want! I have given myself permission to dump a book if I just am not looking forward to reading it.

      90 pages, to me is a solid start. If you’re not interested in, go ahead, put it down and pick up the next one. You can always go back if you feel like it later.

    8. Jay*

      When it stops being fun or when/if I start getting hints that the author might just be the BAD kind of crazy. I can sometimes just go from one page to the next and realize that, yeah, I’m done reading this.
      If I’m lucky, it’s just a case of the author ran out of ideas and managed to triple the length of the book without actually adding anything else to it.
      Sometimes it’s much worse:
      I used to force myself to finish what I started, but then I ran into a couple of books where the first portions were fine. Nothing special, but a decent way to relax with a nice cup of hot chocolate of an evening. Then, slowly, usually starting around the half way mark, they began to go from fantasy/sci-fi/horror/comedy/whatever to some terrible person’s manifesto.
      So, now I drop it when I start seeing the warning signs.

    9. Jessica*

      Recently my book club read a book in a style of literature I already know I dislike. I’m very committed to this group and to reading the book no matter what, so I read this book. It was about 500 pages, but I gritted my teeth, assigned myself a daily quota, and force-marched through it. It was just like this style always is and I disliked it in all the completely predictable ways and for the completely predictable reasons that I haven’t liked other books of this genre. And I was really asking myself why I did this and what sense it made to devote time to something I already knew that I would not enjoy. Not the same as trying new things, right? But then we had the book group meeting, and at least two people (might have even been three) said that they normally do not like this type of book, BUT they really liked this one! That wasn’t my reaction, but who knows, it could’ve been! Hearing them say that just made me feel like okay, things might not be as predictable as they seem! But with that said, I probably didn’t have to read the entire dang thing to figure out it was more of the same.

    10. Jackalope*

      For me it depends. If it’s by an author I really like, or if it’s for my book club, for example, I will push myself to finish. If it’s just something I picked up off the shelf to try, or heard and thought it sounded interesting, then I’ll give up sooner. But most of the time it’s that I’m not enjoying myself anymore, or I put it down and can’t bring myself to pick it back up again. In that situation I just let it go, or maybe pick it back up and skim the last 30 pages so I know how it ends. (This is a big thing for me because it helps me get closure.)

    11. AcademiaNut*

      I have two variants. If I’m just not clicking with a book, I set it aside, and might pick it up later in a different mood. If a book is actively annoying, I DNF and don’t go back.

      Two recently were one book which turned out to be the YA-ist of YA cliches, and got metaphorically chucked across the room after a couple of chapters, and a humorous fantasy, which was entertaining, but the plot depended on the characters, experienced mercenaries, wandering into obviously dangerous situations with zero thought and being absolutely shocked when things went wrong.

    12. Atheist Nun*

      Specific: I read Black Leopard Red Wolf. I liked it, but it was definitely difficult to read (and it becomes much more disturbing and violent after the first 90 pages). I would recommend that you set it aside.

      General: I am a picky and overwhelmed reader, so I gladly set a book aside after the first 2 chapters/5-10% if I do not like it, so that I can move to the next book in my to be read list. I like mysteries, so I need to see a murder by the second chapter or I am over it. I am also skeptical, so if I find myself questioning the writer’s premise too often, I leave the book because I sense I will just become more and more irritated.

      Life is too short for bad books!

    13. The bean moves on*

      I bailed on that book too! I think I knew it wasn’t right for me because I kept forcing myself to try to read it rather than feeling eager to read it.

    14. No Tribble At All*

      If it’s violent or gross. I can do drivel, but I’ve become more sensitive to violence lately. Last book I DNF was Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb (and apparently I didn’t even get to the bad part!) The only downside was I’d brought it on a plane, so then I had another three hours of nothing to do.

      I wish I’d skipped out on Trail of Lightning because of one scene near the start. It’s so highly reviewed though! I think I’ll start vetting with content warnings more. I feel bad when it’s a highly reviewed book by a minority author but it’ll have the one type of thing I can’t deal with. And once it comes up, I’ll usually skip anything else by that author.

      1. Jackalope*

        This touches on one of my issues too. I’ve found as I get older, and especially post-pandemic (which was stressful and traumatic for pretty much everyone), that there are certain kinds of tension and stress in books that I can. Not. Handle. I haven’t pinned down what exactly is the connecting thread between the scenes or themes that makes me unable to deal, but I can feel it when it happens. When this first started, I would try to forge ahead and finish things. Now I am much more willing to either skip that bit if it’s something I’m enjoying, or drop the book entirely. For awhile I felt badly about this, but I’m reading for fun and there’s no reason to push myself to keep going if it’s not fun.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Yeah, when I was a kid we had shelves full of all kinds of epic books. But when I was a teenager my mom used to beg off of really tragic or disturbing movies, books, etc. She said she’d had enough sadness by that point.

        I rolled my eyes at the time because it was ART! But I get it now.

        1. Jackalope*

          There’s a certain genre that a friend of mine calls “a beautiful bummer”, which seems to think that only if you’ve written beautiful prose about terrible things happening to someone does it count as a good book. For a little while I was fooled by this but I’ve since decided that life is too short to get myself depressed reading the beautiful bummer genre.

          1. SparklingBlue*

            Beautiful bummers–I like that description! If you think about it, you could describe a lot of the so-called classics we had to read in school as beautiful bummers.

    15. Falling Diphthong*

      I would have been out at this point.

      I recently gave up on The Historian. I think if I had it as a paper book I would skim to finish, but it was on Kindle and I spent so much time staring at that little 32% read, wondering how much more I had to slog through to get it hit 33%, etc.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I made myself finish The Historian; it was good but one of those “this could have been an email” meetings in book form for at least a third of it.

        1. UKDancer*

          I thought the Historian could have been about 1/4 shorter without being damaged for it. I was reading it for a book group so I slogged through it but the pacing was so slow it was a struggle. Everyone else in the book group really liked it though.

    16. Hlao-roo*

      Coincidentally, I am returning Black Leopard, Red Wolf to the library today after only making it through about 80 pages. It’s been on my to-read list for a while but for the past few months when I’ve seen it the library, I haven’t been in the mood. Last time I was in the library, I thought if I checked it out and started reading it, that would put me in the right mood for the book. Nope, didn’t happen. Like a few other commenters have mentioned, there are other books I’m excited to read so I’m going to dive into one of those after I drop off Black Leopard, Red Wolf. I also figure if I ever am in the mood in the future, I can always check it out of the library again and give it another shot.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        This is a great way to look at it: the book isn’t going to vanish in a puff of smoke (hopefully) if you want to set it aside. It’s okay to try again later rather than have a bad reading experience.

    17. CTT*

      There’s no one thing that will make me stop reading a book, but if I start feeling like “I would rather clean my kitchen than read this,” that’s my sign. There are some books that are a Worthy Slog; like, in order to read this book about a leprosy colony in Louisiana, I must get through ten dry pages on the industrial development of this corner of the state, but I care about where it’s ultimately going. If I’m just bored or fed up with everyone, then I’ll stop (I am also someone who will quit a show literally mid-episode for similar reasons.)

    18. Falling Diphthong*

      General rule, the eight words of doom: “I don’t care about any of these people.”

      I’ve learnt that if I don’t care a few chapters in, I’m not likely to. It’s frustrating when something is well-crafted, but I just don’t feel drawn in.

      1. Random Bystander*

        Mine is related–a little shorter (five words): “I don’t care what happens.”

        Similarly, I will give a book a chance for the first few chapters, but if the author hasn’t made me care about what happens next by then (and I generally allow 50 pages), I don’t expect it to change.

    19. UKDancer*

      If I’m not enjoying it then I stop reading it. Life is too short to read books I’m finding difficult or dull.

      Aside from it being boring the main thing that throws me out is really unconvincing behaviour by characters (e.g. doing things that nobody would do) or (especially if I’m reading something historical) inaccuracies or anachronisms that throw me out of the plot. I particularly chalk in this inaccurate corset wearing / people being laced in so tightly they can’t breathe or premature or unrealistic feminism.

      1. Jackalope*

        I’m sometimes into romance novels, and I read one recently that did this to me. First of all it had the Third Act Break-up, which generally drives me crazy as a plot device. But it involved the female lead thinking that the male lead had betrayed her. She had this fight with him in which she would not even consider listening to him, and then one of her best friends beat him up and sent him away (in a scene that was supposed to be slapstick and amusing). Later on that day he ran into her other best friend, who in a matter of under 5 minutes figured out that he’d clearly been framed and helped him get back into the female lead’s good graces. I was so annoyed that a) shoving this Third Act Break-up into the action here required the female lead to take a stupid pill – if her other friend could figure this out so easily and she knew him better than her friend did, she could have come to the same conclusion, and b) it was seen as NBD that she reacted the way she did. I wanted to take the male lead aside, and say, “Look, I know you’re glad she took you back, but you’ve only been dating a few weeks and she’s clearly shown that she doesn’t trust you and think physical violence is an okay way to deal with that. My dude, you can find someone better for you.”

        1. UKDancer*

          Yeah I hate the third act break up trope especially if it requires a protagonist to behave really stupidly.

          Also anything where someone sees their amour having a meal with someone else and makes the assumption it’s a romantic thing with no evidence. It just seems so stupid. I mean why you wouldn’t check out or ask who it was and have an actual discussion I don’t know.

          I just can’t enjoy books where people act in a really illogical way.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Long ago I finished one romance because I was convinced that the heroine was going to fall in love with the nice man she would meet at the UK consulate who would help her escape from the psychos in her deceased husband’s family.

          Apparently it was not that type of story.

          1. UKDancer*

            I would read the heck out of a book about a nice man at the British embassy whose job involved rescuing people from their late husband’s family. That sounds like a great premise. I dated someone briefly who had worked in an embassy and it sounded very interesting.

            1. Isobel*

              Did you ever see “Ambassadors”? It was on the BBC about ten years ago, with David Mitchell and Robert Webb working in the British Embassy in “Tazbekistan”, but much more a drama with some jokes than a comedy. I quite enjoyed it but they only made three episodes.

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          Roger Ebert used to call that The Idiot Plot; that is, a conflict that could have been resolved in five minutes if all the characters were not idiots.

          It’s one thing to create an emotional state where a character isn’t thinking rationally–Shakespeare pulled it off with Cymbeline and A Winter’s Tale, for instance–but that requires a really careful character design, and most importantly, not having all the other characters support the irrational person’s thinking no questions asked!

    20. GoryDetails*

      I’m comfortable with ditching a book that isn’t drawing me in, however early on I discover that. I may skim to the end to see if it’s the kind of book that just takes longer to get going – there are some of those that have turned out to be favorites of mine, though in most cases the skimming just lets me know whodunnit or whether the galaxy was saved or whatever {wry grin}.

      1. fposte*

        Similarly, I’ll ask myself (and the same goes for TV series) if I’d rather just read a Wikipedia or other summary to find out what happens. That was a very liberating realization.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Yep. If all I care about is “did the dog live?” or similar plot points, I can find out quickly and move on.

    21. Nervous Nellie*

      That’s easy – the moment I sigh and feel disappointed reaching for the book, I am done. Life is too short to slog through something unappealing. We change the channel on the TV if a show doesn’t appeal, and I have always felt the same about books.

      In the 90s a charming little book came out called Better Than Life by Daniel Pennac and in it he had The Reader’s Bill of Rights. I loved it. The 2nd Right is the right to skip pages. The 3rd is the right not to finish. The 10th is the right to not defend your tastes. I got a promo poster of the rights from a bookshop when it came out, and it hangs beside my bookcase to this day.

    22. PhyllisB*

      I won’t finish a book (or even start it if I know ahead of time) if it has child abuse, graphic violence or explicit sex.
      About the last, I understand there will be sex in books, but I don’t want to read detailed descriptions.
      I’ve also abandoned books that meander on and on without really having a point.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Another thing that will make me abandon a book is a lot of swearing. I understand adults swear, and I can tolerate some of it it in context, but to swear just for the sake of it…no. And if they use gd I’m outta there.
        I was reading a cozy mystery series that I really liked, but the main character had a real garbage mouth. She explained in the beginning why she talked like that, (it was to irritate her late husband who didn’t like hearing her swear.) I thought okay, we got that out the way, maybe she’ll calm down in the rest of the books.
        Well, I started on book 2 and she said gd four times in the second paragraph, so I noped out of there.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I can handle that a bit better in third person if it’s clear that this is the way a certain character talks, but first person is just wearing. I’m not your late husband, fictional character lady.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Yeah, I’m with you. Reading explicit sex scenes is gross to me, like watching someone chew with their mouth open. I’m happy you’re enjoying yourself, but I don’t need to see it.

        Kids in jeopardy is one I can’t deal with anymore, either. Didn’t used to bother me, but my book club was reading Poisonwood Bible right after my first was born, and it’s like a switch flipped in my head. I couldn’t finish the book because I could tell something awful was going to happen to the little one. Nope.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Even worse is on audio. “Excuse me, narrator, you and I do not have the sort of relationship where you should be talking to me about this. Even if I am alone in the car.”

          1. Person from the Resume*

            Exactly! I just listened to an audiobook romance and it was good, but I could do without sex scenes in an audiobook.

            In some ways, I was thinking just I want to get back to the plot. You captured me and this interlude is not driving the plot forward. If I were reading, I might skim.

            But I do read explicit content and I’m fine with it, but having it read to me is weird..

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Mainly, for me, the third one is because explicit sex scene are a lot harder (rim shot) than they seem to write well. I’ve read terrific erotica online that beats “literary” sex scenes completely; like, there’s no contest. That’s because many mainstream authors are still paranoid about anything too graphic.

        Barbara Kingsolver wrote a terrific essay about this: she needed to write something fairly bold and was just wrapped up in knots about it. Her best friend questioned her and she blurted out “what if my MOTHER reads this???”

        Best friend looked askance and pointed out that Barbara had been married twice and had a child by that point and she was pretty sure her mom knew she knew about Grown Up Fun Times. Kingsolver obviously knew this too, but still stalled out at “my mom can’t know I know about sex!” for a long time.

    23. somehow*

      I find that if I don’t care about the characters, I become disinterested.

      It’s why I adore Ann Tyler. Talk about character development – hers are stories I don’t want to end.

    24. LuckySophia*

      I have limited free time to read, so … if I decide (usually about 100 pages in) a character isn’t someone I want to spend my limited time with… I don’t finish that book.

      I had that reaction recently to “The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night Time” by Mark Haddon. I just…didn’t enjoy “sharing my evenings ” the protagonist. I’d previously read and enjoyed Haddon’s ” A Spot of Bother” so I was taken aback by my reaction to “Dog”.

    25. goddessoftransitory*

      Be like Nancy Pearl, the librarian that rates her own action figure at Archie McPhees! She (of course) has a lot of books to get through, and her rule of thumb is, if it hasn’t grabbed her three chapters in, it’s not going to. Sometimes she’ll give the book another try later (everybody’s had that thing where their mood just isn’t letting them enjoy a certain book), but basically she just doesn’t have the time and brain space to make herself like something that isn’t her cup of tea.

    26. Girasol*

      I end up procrastinating a story that just isn’t interesting, intending to read it later, until the Libby app yanks my ebook back to the library. Then I go find a new one.

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

      I don’t like books where people are mean. I’m good with supervillains and cartoonish evil, but realistic cruelty, especially to animals or children or anyone helpless is not my thing.

      I could not make it through *David Copperfield* in the early pandemic. People are just so !#@$#@!ing mean in that book. I did make it through *Great Expectations*, but just barely — again, too many people being mean, but it was a little more cartoonish in places, so I was able to take some of it less literally. Basically, I have come to the conclusion that I can’t read Dickens.

      I think that the reason why they say that you probably like Wilkie Collins or Charles Dickens, but not both is that Collins has villains who may be evil, but they are sort of larger than life, while Dickens just has a lot of realistic abuse. Give me cartoonish villainy any day.

      1. UKDancer*

        Dickens I think could have benefited from an editor (he wrote for serialisation so things are massively padded out and a bit rambling because hadn’t planned the endings out at the start).

        I agree though, his books can be deeply bleak and miserable. He had a miserable early life and David Copperfield is heavily autobiographical. He also really cared about the poor, the disenfranchised and helped run a home for “fallen women” to try and get them off the streets. So I admire a lot of what he did but his books are not very cheerful.

        Wilkie Collins had a much happier early life and it kind of shows in his work.

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

          Ooh, interesting! Poor Dickens — I’m sorry he had to deal with such a rough childhood. Yikes.

          1. Ukdancer*

            Yes his father was bankrupted and went into the debtors prison. Dickens was made to work in a factory from about age 11 I think to help pay it off. Then when his father got out of debt he went to a school he hated. I think David Copperfield was probably some form of catharsis for him.

          2. goddessoftransitory*

            Yeah; it was a classic unstable childhood with parents that did not/could not protect him, and that was in all his later work, even the frothiest stuff. Characters like the Cheeryble brothers in Nicholas Nickleby are often criticized for being gooey Easter Bunny versions of a Dias ex Machina, but they’re versions of the father he felt he deserved–kind, trusting, intelligent with money and generous–and never had.

        2. Just here for the scripts*

          Totally agree about Dickens needing an editor!

          I used to tell the high schoolers I taught dickens to that if you’re reading it in installments—and keep in mind that it could be MONTHS before you get the next installment—you need the “previously on ‘such-and-such dickens novel’” recaps.

          But we’re not reading the stories that way. Rather we’re reading a novel—which is more akin to binge-watching an entire series in one weekend. However, the compilers of the novel (‘cuz we can’t call them editors as they don’t edit anything out) never offer us a “skip recap” function. And so we have to suffer through the embedded recaps and reminders.

    28. Person from the Resume*

      It’s a little odd.

      When I don’t care about the characters or am just really with it. When I can’t bring myself to pick up the book to keep reading and it is past the point (page count) where I should be engaged.

      But I have finished books I disliked when I still wanted to know how the plot was going to wrap up or if a disliked character get their comeuppance.

    29. Can't Sit Still*

      I’ve quit on the first page and with only a few pages left in the book. If I don’t care anymore, I stop. It’s quite liberating! Life is too short to be bored or annoyed by your entertainment. There are lots of books out there.

      However, if I think I’m just not in the mood, I set it aside and try again later. If I pick it up later and I can’t remember what was happening or I’m still bored/annoyed/whatever negative emotion, then I stop reading it and remove it from my life.

    30. SarahKay*

      I rarely make an active *decision* not to finish a book; it’s more that if I’m not really enjoying it then I get distracted by a different book (often a re-read) and just never get back to the first one. It sits in the pile by my bedside (or, these days, more likely lurks on my eReader), gradually getting covered over by other books that I want to read, or am reading and finishing, then eventually gets moved to the bookshelves when I do a big sort-out of the pile.
      Then when I do a purge of my shelves to make more space it probably goes to the charity shop although occasionally it gets another chance.
      Usually the only time I’ll actively decide not to finish is for violence or gore.

    31. StopIfYouWant*

      When I was younger I finished everything. Full stop. As I’ve gotten a bit older I do tap out at times. It’s a judgement call. Sometimes I recognize I’m in the wrong mood so it’s more not now, maybe I’ll try this again at some point later. Sometimes it’s because the writing is atrocious – this has become more prevalent as it becomes easier to publish books. Sometimes I read a few pages, stop, eventually read a few more, stop, etc and I decide I’m clearly not interested in reading whatever it is.

    32. allathian*

      I very rarely abandon a book, but I frequently postpone reading it when I’m just not feeling it. Currently I have Asimov’s Foundation and Empire and Pratchett’s Lords and Ladies in my incomplete pile. I have’t touched the Asimov for about a year, and I read a chapter of the Pratchett every now and then, so I haven’t given up on that completely yet. I love the Discworld books about Ankh-Morpork and the Unseen University, especially if they feature Rincewind and The Luggage, but the books about the witches are a bit of a hit and miss for me because I loved Witches Abroad but L&L is a bit meh.

      The most book I abandoned completely was A Game of Thrones. I found myself skimming so much of the violence that I lost the plot, so it wasn’t worth it. I have a very active visual imagination so reading violent scenes is much more difficult for me than watching the same thing as a TV show or movie, I can filter out a lot of the violence in those because I know it’s all a fake.

      Another book I abandoned within the last few years was Camilla Läckberg’s Änglamakerskan (Buried Angels) because it features children being abused until they die, and I just can’t deal with that.

      1. SarahKay*

        I found the first half of Lords and Ladies a bit slow, but there is an absolutely fabulous bit with a suit of armour later in the book – I’d say it’s worth keeping going for that bit alone.

    33. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      I never set these up as hard roles to follow, but this is my reading habit and I’ve been reading this way since I was a kid, so I think it’s not going to change.

      I don’t consider a book really ‘started’ until I’m 50 pages in, and that’s where I might abandon it if I’m not feeling it (aka if I am bored). Once I’m past 50 pages, I will finish. It might be in 3 days, it might be in 4 years (shout out to Lies of Locke Lamora, at 4.5 years still the undefeated champion), but I will finish at some point. I should also say though that I… enjoy grappling with books I don’t enjoy? I don’t know how to phrase that better, but I enjoy reading books I know full well I will find difficult to like. Sometimes I want to fight with a book!

  17. Professor Plum*

    DIY Chopped Challenge. I’ve got family coming to visit in mid-September and have been thinking about how to set up a Chopped challenge as one dinner/evening activity. It will be more cooperative than competitive. I can divide the six adults into pairs. Each pair will be given a mystery basket of secret ingredients that have to be used—and they can add whatever else is available. One pair will make an appetizer, another the main meal and the third will dessert. Thought it’d be fun to crowdsource some ideas for secret ingredient combinations. What are your ideas?

    1. Rosie*

      This is such a great idea! I suppose you want to make it more or less difficult depending on how much cooking your participants do? So maybe one major ingredient for each dish to be based around as a starting point. If you want specifics, for some reason seafood, sweet potato and lemon are in my brain right now!

      1. Professor Plum*

        We’ve got a good range of adventurous cooks and foodies—that’s one reason I think it’ll make for a fun activity. And yes, I’ll take any and all specific ideas—I’ll have great fun planning this.

    2. California Dreamin’*

      Fun idea! Our family spent our covid lockdown year doing a lot of theme dinners that were based on a specific ingredient. (Or Sometimes a country.) Some of the ingredients I remember having great success with were pomegranate, basil, lemon, and tomato. Also potato, but I don’t remember that we had any desserts come out of that one.

      1. Professor Plum*

        Nice. I definitely want to combine some familiar and some not-so-familiar ingredients. Wouldn’t have thought of pomegranate.

    3. LHH*

      We’ve done chopped challenges at home a few times. We make it an entire event though by breaking into randomly drawn pairs, then we all go to the store and each pair shops a set of ingredients. Then we swap them around so you are cooking with the items another pair bought. None of us great chefs so this works out pretty well as still a challenge, but maybe not totally crazy ingredients.

  18. Cacofonix*

    What household items have you paid to temporarily store because you *really* needed or wanted it, then found months later you wish you hadn’t bothered?

    I just finished purging, packing and storing the contents of my 2800 sq ft house to prepare for a big renovation. I gave away so much via Buy Nothing, donating to several non profits depending on what it was, sold things, made many trips to the recycling station, and *still* feel like I have packed away and stored too much. I’m wondering what I’ll regret unpacking. I’m living in a 550 sq ft apartment with my husband during the reno and it’s going surprisingly well. Why do I need so much stuff?

    1. Awkwardness*

      This may not be the answer you are looking for, but this seems to come along with the space available. Houses in the US are among the largest in the world (on average). The following link is one of the first I found to include Europe and the US (and there might be better detailed one available):
      https://shrinkthatfootprint.com/how-big-is-a-house/

      I have always lived in small apartments and had to reconsider every new household item two, three or even more times. Very often I opted against it as an occasional use two or three times a year would not justify the space. If space is nothing you need to worry about, even occasional convenience is a buying argument.
      Having that said, I am sure you will be fine and your life running smoothly at the moment is nothing to worry about. De-cluttering is freeing!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        People absolutely do expand their possessions to fit their space. Same thing with chores or work tasks; it’s been shown many times that an office or crew automatically calibrates their attention and endurance to fit the time allotted.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Absolutely. Twelve years ago I moved across the country in a Smart car. Now I have a four bedroom house and it is chock full of nonsense.

    2. Kiki Is The Most*

      Minimalist here. My recommendation is to not pay to store things. Years ago I was contemplating this same thing and decided to sell those certain items and use that money towards a ‘reward’ for paring down my life. (My reward is travel, as yours might be something different). It doesn’t seem like a reasonable expense as it’s a recurring monthly/annually to keep your stuff…not in your own home. It sounds bananapants to me unless it’s a car/motorcycle/boat type of situation.

      Best things I let go:
      sets of dishes/flatware that are only used once a year, if ever
      furniture-smaller pieces that really didn’t have a good spot in my home anymore
      shoes (didn’t even miss them!)
      bathroom toiletries (samples, minis, old make up)

      You might find that doing a second round of purging would work in some areas where you think you have too much stuff. Good luck!

      1. Cacofonix*

        I agree on never paying to store things. Except we had to clear completely out and we’re renting a furnished Airbnb so we don’t have to move our stuff multiple times. Living with suitcases and our cat for 8 months. I think you’re spot on with toiletries and shoes. Got rid of lots of both, plus donated a ton of clothing but I definitely see letting go of at least half of what remains.

    3. Erica*

      I got rid of a lot of decorative items at my partner’s urging. It was sad to say goodbye but I don’t miss them at all, and now dusting is so much easier!

      1. Cacofonix*

        Yes! Dust collectors, the lot, my mother used to say. I found and gave away 7… seven! decorative plate stands and I don’t own decorative plates. Whyyyyy?

    4. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      I purged the contents of my condo and moved states and put it in storage for over 2 years while building my house. Used to say I missed my stuff.

      While I don’t regret storing my furniture (I had gotten rid of some) as I was opening boxes, it was like Christmas. I’d forgotten about some things that I packed that I was sure I loved and needed. I currently have about 4 boxes of “extra” stuff, books (which I had pared down before the move) inherited knick knacks (ugly and not valuable. I have the nice stuff displayed) and other various kitchen and house stuff.

      I have so much extra room and can’t envision allowing myself to fill it up. I come from a long line of pack rats, grandparents grew up during the depression (1929) but I am a very organized, everything in its place person.

      While I thought I only kept the most versatile and useful furniture, I did have to replace a couple of things that didn’t fit in the new place. I still need to organize some closets and expect that I will have more stuff to go. Not even close to going thru the Xmas stuff, which was purged, but that will have to wait for November.

      Even though I have plenty of room, I have the urge to pare down more. I just don’t want to have to dust it, display it or store it. Depending on how long your stuff will be in storage, you will learn which stuff you can’t live without and what you forgot you had and what won’t work after the renovation. Designate a space to gather these extras and you’ll be able to look it over and decide what to keep or get rid of.

      Out of sight, out of mind.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        We have been paring down, and then youngest moved back in for a few weeks between apartments and I now want to randomly throw out more stuff.

      2. Cacofonix*

        Thanks for the lived experience. I think some things will be like Christmas and others … groan. I thought I was so smart at starting to sort and purge months before, but it was still a frenzy in the end chucking stuff into boxes. I hope I’ll be like you and have the urge to pare down more. I have a minimalist friend who has been giving me tips. Yes on the purgatory space for uncertain items.

        1. Double A*

          You can think of unpacking as Phase 2 of the purge. Anything you groan at when you unpack can go straight to the donations. It unrealistic to think you won’t store *anything* that you won’t regret. Sometimes it’s hard to know that before you actually start living with the renovation.

    5. WellRed*

      Maybe not quite what you asked but I will never understand the need for people to have so. Many. Kitchen appliances. They can be so big and bulky and never used as often as the buyers think. Giant juicers. Food processors. Bread machines. And those coffee makers with the little, I don’t even know what, handle thingy that sticks out several inches in front. I mean absolutely if you love espresso or whatever d we very say or need a food processor great but otherwise? Ditch it.

      1. Elle Woods*

        I don’t understand it either. We were invited to a wedding several years ago. When we shopped for a gift, we were baffled by some of the things that the couple registered for like an herb stripper, corn stripper, toast tongs, s’mores maker, and quesadilla maker. Yeah, those are mostly smaller items but they still take up room and probably won’t get used that much.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I honestly would take the corn stripper if it actually gets all the damn silk off the corn!

          1. Anono-me*

            Have you tried Microwaving your corn?

            Take 1 unhusked ear of corn, wrap it in a damp paper towel. Microwave for 4-7 minutes. Use a sharp knife to wack of the base of the ear of corn just above the widest point . Using a potholder grasp the top of the ear of corn and squeeze out the corn on the cob. Most all of the silk stays behind.

      2. Cacofonix*

        I agree, but my spouse and his love for cooking and gadgets … we had too many. But even he realized he doesn’t need to store a spiralizer or a chafing dish just for the rare occasions we host something bigger or fancier.

      3. HBJ*

        Oof, same. All of our kitchen appliances, we use regularly. Sometimes, I think “oh, I’d like an instant pot/air fryer/whatever,” but then I think, so I really need it? Would I really use it?

      4. Trixie Belden was my hero*

        I ditched several small appliances and bought an Oster 10 in 1 counter top oven. Makes toast, pizza, air fry, wings, roast, bake, convection, etc. Best appliance ever, the pizza setting makes pizza so much better than regular baking. I haven’t even used my regular oven yet.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      My future goal: Slightly older relatives bought their retirement house. Moved in slowly, with just the amount of furniture they would use, and got rid of the rest.

      1. Enough*

        This is what I want do. Except I want to move into the house I live in now but with all the changes and updates in place. After 39 years I still really like my house.

    7. Not A Manager*

      Well, temporarily storing is different from when you don’t have enough room and you store things forever that you don’t remember you have and couldn’t find if you wanted them.

      I think the thing about temporary storage is, usually your life is kind of in turmoil for one reason or another, and you just don’t have enough energy to be thoughtful about anticipating what Future You is going to miss. If you have the money to spare, I recommend erring on the side of keeping the things you’re iffy about. Think of it not as wasting money on storage, but on purchasing insurance against the regret of having over-purged.

      I’m pretty ruthless about getting rid of things that are easy to replace. I’m more likely to keep the sentimental items. I find that by the time I unpack them, it’s pretty clear to me which things continue to delight me and which ones don’t. Could I have saved some storage costs if I’d made that cut before packing instead of after unpacking? Yes. But part of my process is discovering how I feel *after* things have been out of mind for 6 months.

    8. Elle Woods*

      A kitchen table and chairs I didn’t like anymore. An old bedroom set that had sentimental value but had seen better days. A bunch of old knickknacks. An old futon. I felt so much lighter and freer when I parted company with all of that stuff.

    9. fposte*

      I’m no minimalist and have loved stuff for years, but I’ve finally gotten to a point where divesting is really satisfying too. I’m a slow mover so I think of myself as starting the Swedish Death Cleaning early. It might be different if kid stuff were involved, but I don’t store anything offsite.

      It’s not just you—the sheer bulk of our households can make this really labor-intensive. I think there’s an archeology of possessions, at least when it comes to getting rid of them, and that once you get past the obvious it can be hard to mentally move an item from “it’s nice and I was happy to get it” to “but I don’t need to keep it.” Especially for kitchen stuff, I work a lot on the percentages of need—it makes more sense to get rid of twenty items and rebuy one later than to keep all twenty just in case. A lot if it also is un-demonizing regret: it’s okay if I later wish I hadn’t gotten rid of something, because 1) it will fade and 2) sometimes that’s the price of getting rid of lots of things that really have to be gotten rid of.

      1. Not that Jane*

        Un-demonizing regret is a very helpful concept for me. Currently trying to help a pack rat 7 year old and a pack rat husband pare down their piles… and also trying to be better about modeling minimalism in myself. I have tons of things that I keep only for sentimental reasons.

      2. fposte*

        Oh, as I’m cleaning some closets, I realized another trick I use: shrinking the container. What if instead of one shelf for my workout/yard work bottoms and another for tops, I trimmed them down enough to both fit on the same shelf? What if the miscellaneous electronic peripherals and cables got pared down to fit into a storage basket rather than a whole shelf? If you’re relocating and boxing up anyway that may be a good time to say “What about one bin fewer of thus category?”

        1. Trixie Belden was my hero*

          I did that and more several years ago. No more packing away summer/winter clothes. Pared it down so everything fit in my bedroom. It was hard with my work wardrobe, but I tossed anything getting shabby (was saving them to wear on weekends running errands, but I never did) and only bought new stuff that went with what I had. Versatile pieces that went with multiple outfits and layers for spring/fall. I also follow the buy 1 new thing, toss something old. I did keep 2 or 3 sentimental pieces. Recently I cut up an old leather bomber jacket that never was gonna fit again. Don’t know yet what I’m going to do with it, maybe cover a picture frame?

    10. somehow*

      I can so relate, and the solution I found was to think about whether I already have a suitable substitute. Obvious, I know, but I’m terrible with a budget and am working hard to not be.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      EVERYTHING.

      I got rid of a vast amount of stuff before I moved, and looking at it now, I still could get rid of more. One thing I can’t bring myself to let go of is a Federal thumbprint glass punch bowl. It’s in a box on top of my cabinets. I don’t need it — but I might.

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      I would say: think about what’s stored and why.

      Some things are obvious, like holiday decorations or sports equipment. You use them regularly, but not all the time.

      Some are heirlooms or kids art projects or old books or similar. These are things that you can return to and decide what still holds you and what you’re just still holding onto.

      Some are wishful thinking, like old outfits or records or things that represent a way you used to be. It’s okay to not fit into twenty five year old pants or admit you have outgrown this particular band. Life happens.

      Some are mistakes you don’t want to admit to: fancy kitchen ware, elaborate exercise equipment, patio furniture for a lifestyle you admired but never really wanted to actually live. These are accoutrements for parallel lives–the ones you daydream about but are not anything you’re actually going to do, but don’t want to admit you aren’t going to do them.

      Some are “stuff I’m taking to the Goodwill”–that is, in perfectly good shape but you’ve never got around to getting them on their way. This is the easiest to deal with–make an appointment with yourself to haul all this away and let those things move on to actual usefulness.

  19. Pam Adams*

    I put a lot of stuff in storage in 2018. Finally got it out a couple of months back, and have given away 90% of it. I don’t want to think how much it cost.

    1. WellRed*

      How much the storage cost or the stuff itself? If it was the stuff, remember, you had it in storage for five years so it couldn’t have had that much value (no matter the cost) to you. And you’ve spread the wealth by generously giving it away. If it’s the cost of five years storage, well 1. you bought yourself time to deal with it and 2. Lesson learned.

      1. Pam Adams*

        the storage, of course. The books got checked over, and I only kept a few sentimental ones and a batch that’s not available in ebook format. 30 boxes got donated.

    2. Christmas cookie*

      If it makes you feel better my inlaws have 2 storage units they never use. They got them in 2004 :/.

  20. Erica*

    Advice on how to fall back asleep quicker? I get up a couple times a night with my baby but not ready to sleep train him yet. Feeding him takes about 20 min but then I’m lying awake for another half hour after which really cuts into sleep. I do use my phone while feeding bc otherwise I’m bored / don’t want to turn light on to wake him up further, but this probably isn’t helping (doing this right now!!)
    Thanks!

    1. AcademiaNut*

      A dedicated eReader might be better than a phone, re-reading a favourite book. It’s more like reading text than a phone, and you can’t easily bounce between stuff.

    2. Just here for the scripts*

      I play podcasts and audiobooks—not the exciting ones, but soothing voices (I think there are ones seven marketed / listed as best to fall asleep to). One ear piece in, one out and laying on that side. I’m asleep in minutes!

    3. Emma*

      if you use your phone, put it in black and and white with no sound for the night, and lower the brightness.

    4. Lbd*

      Soft music to listen to might help keep your brain from fully engaging with thoughts while you feed. Something like a crossword puzzle or sudoku can help keep your mind from more exciting things while you are trying to get to sleep (my bedside lamp has the dimmest light bulb I can find).
      But at a time when I needed all the sleep I could squeeze in, I would get comfortable, close my eyes, and firmly bring my mind back to, for want of a better word, neutral thoughts whenever it wandered. I managed to train myself to fall asleep quickly.
      Whatever suggestions work for you, I wish you wonderful sleep and many happy times with your little one!

    5. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      This is weird and might not work for people who are not me, but I like to pretend I’m somebody in a story, also falling asleep. So my stagecoach is rocking across the plains going somewhere interesting and I’m tucked in the corner dozing off. Or we’re crossing the mountains on the way to rescue the lost princess and have camped safely under the magic tree. Or I’ve just escaped the bad-guys and have bedded down in a hiding spot. Then I just keep imagining details for that story until I actually fall asleep.

      1. acmx*

        Huh, this is interesting. I want to try it. This type of idle, non reality thinking sounds like it would work for me.

      2. Lexi Vipond*

        When I was little I used to imagine that I was travelling off to the land of sleep in a spinning top. I don’t know why a spinning top, which would presumably be quite uncomfortable!

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      The kindle is better in the light-to-your-brain-signaling sense. And I like Academia’s suggestion about rereading old favorites–it’s easy to put down.

    7. Professor Plum*

      I like the YouTube channel Sleeping Vibrations for an 8-hour uninterrupted sound bath with singing bowls.

    8. Sloanicota*

      I play boring mental games – just a challenge enough to keep at it, but not interesting enough to keep me awake: name 20 animals beginning with the letter P, a bird for every letter of the alphabet, memorize the alphabet backwards, name all 50 states from west to east. The more I did this the more I trained my brain to immediately get sleepy when I started in.

      1. office hobbit*

        Was going to recommend the same thing. The trick I learned was to think of a category (fruits, things you’d keep in your bag, etc.) and go through the alphabet naming one thing for each letter. The other trick along these lines I’ve heard is to mentally calculated doubles (2,4,8,16,32…) but that wakes me up when I get too into it in the higher digits lol.

        My main method is podcasts (you might have to try several–some wake me up while others knock me out).

        For your phone, try an intense red tint filter setting. I think iPhone lets you set that in the OS night light setting, for Android you can get the Twilight app. You can set a widget toggle to turn this on and off easily when you need it. Or, I know some people get blue light filtering glasses.

    9. New Mom (of 1 1/9)*

      I know this sucks to hear, but you should try not using your phone. Read a book with a booklight maybe? Get a non-digital radio (like on an alarm clock) to listen to?

    10. Vanessa*

      I agree with the recommendation for sleep podcasts. Also yoga nidra meditations help me get to sleep more quickly. I’ve read that warming your feet helps you to fall asleep more quickly. So having slippers on while you are doing the feeding or if you have time a couple microwaveable warm pouches on your feet.

    11. somehow*

      I like to fall asleep/fall back asleep to well-told biographies, meaning soothing voices of the narrators. My favorite narrators are Morgan Freeman, Meryl Streep, and Peter Coyote.
      For me, biography shows are bedtime stories, and I have a history degree, so there we go, lol).

      I also re-watch “Spirited Away” occasionally to make myself sleepy, because it’s where everyone goes when they sleep. :)

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      I mentally sing One Hundred Bottles of Beer. Seriously, it’s the best steer away from mental babbling I’ve found. Every time my brain wants to earworm or obsess I just veer back to “Seventy nine bottles of beer on the wall…seventy nine bottles of beer…”

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

      This might not work because you’ll have been up for a while, but when I get up to go to the bathroom and get a drink, when I lie down again, I try to remember the last thing I was dreaming about and try to go back to that dream.

    14. Zephtree*

      With my tiny human, I listened to BBC radio in the middle of the night (just interesting enough to stay awake) and read slightly boring nonfiction books on Kindle to go back to sleep. Still use the Kindle for anxiety brain.

    15. Mephyle*

      I listen to a very good novel that I’ve listened to dozens of times before, so I don’t feel the need to stay awake to find out what happens next. I have the device set to turn off after about 45 minutes – I usually fall asleep within 5 0r 10 minutes, but if it turns off sooner than 45 minutes, I’m not into a deep enough sleep, and I wake up.

    16. GlowCloud*

      I try to do a mindfulness practice where I scan down my body and relax any tension that I’m holding – I sometimes don’t even realise when I’m lying with my neck awkwardly, or that my muscles are tensed, or that my thoughts are racing about how upset I am to be awake at 2am. The body-scan helps with that. If you want to use an app to help you develop the technique, I recommend Headspace.

  21. The Prettiest Curse*

    Continuing the music theme of recent weekend threads – who is your favourite under-rated musical act? I really like the now-defunct band Grandaddy, whose lyrics are all about the inland parts of California that never made it onto the tourist trail. I’d recommend starting with their 2003 album “Sumday”, and I’d describe their music as hazy rock.

    My current under-rated favourite is Japanese Breakfast. (Wikipedia describes them as indie pop, though I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate.) Most of their songs are sad and uplifting at the same time, and their most recent album, “Jubilee”, is totally brilliant.

    Add your under-rated musicians below, and feel free to include a song or album that’s a good starting point.

    1. Taki*

      If you’re interested, The lead singer of Japanese Breakfast, Michelle Zauner, wrote a memoir a few years ago called Crying in H Mart.

    2. WellRed*

      I wouldn’t say they are my favorite by a long shot but I don’t get the hate for Nickelback. Sometimes I just want to hear loud, raunchy rock by musicians that are having fun playing it and they fit the bill.

    3. mreasy*

      I share your Grandaddy love! Being from central California I saw them on one of their first ever tours as a teen and have been hooked since. Agree on ‘Sunday’ but ‘Sophtware Slump’ is a very close second in my books. I work in independent music so lots of the acts I deal with are on the obscure side, but two artists I truly think have the potential to be so much bigger are Dougie Poole and Joan Shelley. Both great singer-songwriters who are engaging performers and just write phenomenal songs.

      1. mreasy*

        omg I read this and then saw the “best new reissue” Pitchfork review that just posted about Sumday! What timing!!!

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Wow, I’ll have to read that! I have never encountered another fan of Grandaddy, so thank you for posting. :)

          1. carcinization*

            Weird, I remember their song “Crystal Lake” and its accompanying video being in rotation way back when (google tells me that was 2000), and seeing them at SxSW (South by Southwest) in a fairly large venue around that time as well.

    4. Elle Woods*

      I’m a huge fan of The Avett Brothers. I love their how their music tells a story about their thoughts, what’s going on in their lives, what’s going on in the world, and everything is performed with heart. I’d describe them as Americana folk rock. I suggest the album “I And Love And You” as a good starting point. My favorite song of theirs, “No Hard Feelings,” is on the “Ain’t No Man” album.

    5. Nervous Nellie*

      A huge departure from my usual musical tastes, but fascinating & fun is King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, an Australian band that is wildly imaginative. One album is jazz fusion, the next one comes out and it’s heavy metal. They’ve never had a hit, but they fill stadiums from word of mouth. They are clearly having a lot of fun with all of this. And their jazz fusion/progressive rock tunes are pretty catchy!

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      The Clumsy Lovers; their song London Bridge is everything a love song should be.

      Cowboy Junkies; the moodiest band to ever mood, and the best cover of Sweet Jane ever recorded.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Oh! and Mary’s Danish! Home is Where The Heartbreak is just gets you right in the feels.

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

      Michael Franks. I had a summer roommate who had a cassette of his, and I was like, “Why have I never heard of this guy?!”

    8. Clara Bowe*

      Sub Radio Band got a little internet famous for their parody songs (Mr. Darkside, Stacy’s Dad), but their regular music is fantastic, fun, synth rock that is just catchy and a great vibe. Their stuff is up everywhere to stream, but I bought a few albums off Band Camp and have been playing them regularly.

      Also, The Civil Wars. They are SO INSANELY GOOD.

      And The Builders and the Butchers. You want dark, stomp Southern Gothic Americana? The Builders and the Butchers have you covered.

      1. SarahKay*

        Agree 1000% about The Civil Wars; they are amazing. I wish they’d made more music before splitting up, although I am enjoying both of their individual music.

        1. Clara Bowe*

          Hard agree! And I do like their separate stuff. I am just super sad they didn’t do more together. Ah, well. At least there are YouTube archives of their live shows!

          And I really respect them for keeping their mouths shut on why they broke up, and never talking poorly about the other. Both seem like classy people.

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Seanan McGuire is often recommended here as an author, but her Stars Fall Home and Wicked Girls albums are also among my favorite CDs.

      Specific songs:
      “Four Color Love” is a love song about comic books and features the line “But don’t you be Bart Allen / You’d be gone before you came” and I snicker like a twelve year old boy every time.
      “Snow Queen Dreams” featured heavily in my husband’s and my early relationship.
      I have a tattoo with lyrics from “My Story Is Not Done”.

    10. carcinization*

      Well, my husband and I were just saying that we’re probably the only non-Australians who like the band Blank Realm, so I guess they qualify!

      1. carcinization*

        I noticed that favorite songs of the band’s were asked for, so that would be “Falling Down the Stairs” and “Reach You on the Phone.”

    11. Leodensian*

      Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip. The most quintessentially Leeds man to have ever existed. A true local legend.
      Favourite tracks: ‘Dad Muscles’, ‘Sweet Leaf of the North’ and ‘Library’.

      Also, world’s greatest band ever: Biscuithead & the Biscuit Badgers. They describe their sound as ‘Moustache-powered tuba cabaret’ and frequently perform dressed as woodland animals. Their song lyrics are frequently derived from David Attenborough documentaries, gardening manuals, and GCSE science textbooks.
      Favourite tracks: ‘The Seaweed Under The Sofa’, ‘Land Hermit Crab’, ‘Flea Beetles’, ‘The Meat in the Sandwich’ and ‘Snow’ will always be my Christmas No 1.

  22. Bobina*

    Gardening thread! The end/start of summer is approaching, how goes it?

    I have been much less active than I thought I would be, so I think this is perhaps a good lesson as a first year garden owner that I need to really slow down on my expectations. I still have quite a lot of cleanup/weeding to do, and I’m ashamed to say I’ve let some bindweed get a bit more out of hand than I expected. Trying to decide if it would be better to try clearing it now or wait until winter gets it for me and just focus on not letting it grow next season.

    Things I have learned – more tulips for next year. Aliums are great. And I definitely need a few more perennials.

    Oh, and I finally have my first cherry tomatoes! Still very green, so who knows if they’ll have time to ripen before the weather turns, but learned the lesson that cheap compost isnt always worth it (literally none of my seedlings were growing until a friend mentioned their experience with cheap compost and how plants didnt grow in it. Transplanted them and they took off immediately!)

    1. Pippa K*

      For the cherry tomatoes – any that haven’t ripened on the vine can be pulled off and ripened in a dish on the countertop. At least in my experience, this has worked well and really extended my harvest.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have a patch of weeds I need to clear out and then I’m hoping I can transplant some raspberry bush cuttings to that corner of my yard. The original bush is huge, like some parts of it are six or seven feet high, and it’s put runners out under my deck that are popping up through the deck surface three feet up from the ground and five or six yards away from the main bush, so as long as it takes hold it should go like gangbusters.

    3. GoryDetails*

      I hear you about the weeds! My yard is so overgrown that it looks like a lumpy green carpet. At this point it probably will be easier to wait until after frost to have it cleared…

      But my container-garden is doing well (despite a visit from a very motivated groundhog, who climbed into the fenced-in box and sampled my eggplant). The habaneros are all ripening at once, making the pepper-plant container blaze with vivid orange.

    4. Glazed Donut*

      Oh I want to plant some alliums next year! I had plans this year to clear out a patch of ivy (most of it died last winter with an unusually hard freeze) and plant wildflower seeds, allium, butterfly bush, etc. to make a pretty little patch of color. I cleared some of the ivy but never got around to the next step and now it’s a weed haven – next year, I suppose.

      As we begin to close out summer here, I’m mostly disappointed at how few blooms I got from my roses this year. Last year they continually bloomed (I had a pretty good watering schedule 1-2x week, made sure to put good soil around them, etc). I feel like I’ve done mostly the same this year, but have been pretty disappointed with the number of blooms.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      My cheapo pink petunias are still going strong. I have them in a small plastic cauldron outside the front door on the walkway. Regular deadheading has kept them blooming. When autumn hits in earnest, I’ll trade them for mums. :)

      I didn’t get around to doing tomatoes in pots this year — next year for sure. I found an envelope of Cherokee Purple heirloom tomato seeds I’d socked away from my patio crop in OldCity. No idea if they’ll sprout, but I’ll give it a go in the spring. Those were my favorite of the heirlooms I tried.

    6. Girasol*

      One of the two grapes on the arbor died. Since the other buries everyone I know with grapes, I tried scarlet runner bean as a shade vine for the east side. It started putting out bright red-orange flowers early in spring. It’s still going and attracting hummingbirds! It’s lovely to sit on the arbor bench and have them humming away right next to me. Definitely planting scarlet runner bean again!

  23. Thunder Kitten*

    Suggestions for car games to play with elementary age kids ? especially those that encourage looking out the window? Thing1 and Thing2 are very very prone to carsickness, so books and screens are a no-go.

    We already do the alphabet game (find signs starting woth each letter of the alphabet in order) and the license plate game (which states are license plates from), but those get repetitive on very long drives.

    1. Erica*

      You can do a kind of oral madlibs where you give a shell of a story and the kids jump in with words to fill in the blank in real time. It gets very silly very fast.

      similarly, you could all create a story by taking turns inventing one line at a time.

      It doesn’t encourage looking out the window, but you can do the alphabet game with animals and geography instead. It might even be better — I get very carsick and did as a kid, and even reading signs outside the car isn’t good for it.

      Good ol’ 20 questions is also a great car game

    2. allathian*

      Counting all the cars of a certain color could work, that doesn’t require them to focus like trying to read signs does.

    3. MaxKitty*

      Make up some bingo cards with things like cows, horses, barn with sign, billboard for a restaurant, etc.

      Name something (red mailbox, green trash can) and see who can be the first to find one.

      We recently found an audiobook made the time pass surprisingly quickly.

    4. londonedit*

      We play Cheese on Wheels, which is where every time you spot a yellow car, you have to be the first person to shout ‘Cheese on wheels!’ (or just ‘cheese!’). There are more yellow cars and vans around than you think! Lorries and buses can also count – with lorries the main colour of the cab needs to be yellow for it to count. Whoever spots the cheese first and shouts out gets a point.

      1. SarahKay*

        Mostly thanks to the radio series Cabin Pressure, my sister and I (both now in our fifties! play Yellow Car. Very much like Cheese on Wheels, except that the rules are even simpler – when you see a yellow car the first person to say Yellow Car wins.

    5. Not A Manager*

      Not exactly on point, but whenever we would cross state borders, we used to create a rendition of “The Stars and Stripes Forever” using our hands as imaginary kazoos.

      The kids loved it and it made crossing the state line special.

    6. DannyG*

      Ok, kind of odd, but day one of ground school when I was learning to fly included learning the phonetic alphabet (alpha, bravo, Charlie, delta…). The instructor told us the best way to learn was to practice with the license plates we saw on the road. It’s an unexpectedly useful skill that I use regularly at the hospital and in other circumstances where precision in communication is required.

    7. fposte*

      I sometimes practice “codes” (really ciphers) on the signs.What letters correspond to the mileage sign numbers? What numbers do the town name letters convert to?

    8. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      that was me as a kid. books on tape! these days you can download them from your library

      also license plates from different states. the non driving adult can record

    9. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      We like to play one of two games when we’re on the road

      “mother went shopping” (though you can also call it “father went shopping” or “I went shopping”) where one person starts a list of items that were bought, and the next person has to repeat what was bought and add one item. For example: A says “Mother went shopping and she bought milk.” B says “Mother went shopping and she bought milk and a toy car”. A (or C) says “Mother went shopping and she bought milk, a toy car, and a dinosaur tooth.” and so on. The aim is, of course, to get as long a continuous shopping list as possible.

      We also play a variation on the alphabet game where the first person says a word, and the next person has to say a word that starts with the last letter of the first word, and so on. For example: housE, ElephanT, TouchdowN, NewarK …
      You can make it harder by restricting the category the word has to come from, like nouns or verbs or things that are outside, or …

      1. talos*

        We used to do that with countries (and occasionally states/cities). So many places names end in A that it always devolved into “who has the best memory for countries that start with A”.

        Fun times!

    10. Green beans*

      oh we played the word game: you had to say a word starting with the letter the last person’s word ended with, no repeats, no proper nouns, different versions of the same word (excited, excites, exciting) sometimes allowed, depending on who is playing.

    11. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      We did the alphabet game with the first letter of car makes and models instead of signs. So Acura, Buick, Corolla. And you didn’t have to read the name, just recognize the car.

      For suburban and city driving, we had a very energetic game with motions for lots of the things we passed – we had to lift up our feet to “jump” over all bridges, “swing” like Tarzan on all power lines , and hold our breath under all overpasses and tunnels. I forget all the details – we kept adding more motions to make it harder.

      Also, audiobooks. ALL the audiobooks.

    12. Mephyle*

      Mountain climbing. As you drive by hills, cliffs, mountains, valleys, trees, you imagine yourself climbing them. If passengers find they can get into the game, it also has the advantage that each one plays it individually, silently. It kept my kids amused for long stretches of time when we drove through the right kind of landscape.

      Audiobooks is another one. Just a few days ago my (now adult) kids reminded me of the books I had read onto cassette tapes, and we had listened to them countless times both on the road and at home when they were small. They were seized by nostalgia to hear those again, and asked me to look for the cassettes.

    13. Fellow Traveller*

      We just got the road trip card game Shotgun and it’s hilarious. It’s a bunch of card with trivia or tasks or what not on them and people gain or lose points. Like “Turn on the radio. First person to identify the song gets a point.” “the person who brought the most bags on this trip loses a point.” Or my favorite- “Does the driver have just one hand on the wheel? They lose a point.” (Because my husband always drives with just one hand.)
      My other favorite car game (my kids are 11, 6, and 4)- is to teach the kids to pump their arms at truck drivers and see who can get them to honk back.
      There was a thread on Gofugyourself a little while back about car games and they had one called cows and cemetery that sounded fun. Basically you count the cows on your side of the car- each for a point. If you see a cemetery, you lose all your cows. If you see a church, you double your cows.
      (I’ll see if I can find the thread and post a link!)

    14. SarahKay*

      The Minister’s Cat was our family go-to game for car journeys. You go through the alphabet from A to Z, finding words to describe the Minister’s Cat. So, first person says “The Minister’s Cat is an Acrobatic cat.” Next person has to find a B word, and so on.
      For added difficulty, you can instead say that everyone has to find an A word, then a B word, etc, with the last person to go for each letter being the first person to go for the next letter.

      1. Lexi Vipond*

        The version I know you say “The Minister’s Cat is an Acrobatic Cat, and its name is Abel”. Then “The Minister’s Cat is a Beautiful Cat, and its name is Betty”, and so on.

    15. Anemone*

      Not window games, but my family played “geography” where one person names a place (ie Spain) and the next thinks of a place starting with the last letter (ie New York) and so on. “Word Association” was also a hit – just name a word that comes to mind based on the previous person’s word, the sillier the better.

    16. Lexi Vipond*

      There’s the cow game, where you count the number of cows you pass on your side of the car, but lose them all if there’s a graveyard on your side.

      Only the first time we tried to play it – group of friends rather than family – we kept getting distracted and pointing out other things – “Oh, I’ve got some sheep!” – and the friend whose game it was kept saying “You can’t play the cow game with SHEEP!”

      So any time after that we seemed to put less effort into counting cows than into finding new things that you can’t play the cow game with. You can’t play it with horses. Or crows. Or alpacas.

    17. Rekha3.14*

      Rainbow cars – finding cars in the order of the colours of the rainbow. (Thanks Bluey)

      The last letter of the word game (called Shiritori in Japan, where we first learned it), but leveled up to use the last two letters. So you have to think carefully about what weird you say, too, as of it’s not possible, then you lose.

      And the usual travel bingo printouts, etc. I also bring Crayola Color Wonder markers and paper because no less (younger kids). They also have “boogie boards” for drawing. No ink, no paper, and a button makes them blank again. The 8yo likes to be given a random squiggle to turn into a picture somehow, to take turns drawing one thing in a scene, or drawing the same topic picture as someone else (eg “a rabbit riding a horse” and she and a parent drew), or trying to draw the same picture as someone else had drawn but they give descriptions only. The 3yo likes to just scribble on hers, or draw happy faces or print her name and some other letters.

      I used to navigate as a kid (paper maps!) and if it was a familiar drive for the parent, just daydream. someone mentioned mountain climber, it was along those lines. What would life be like if that was my house, this farm here? or this small town? etc.

      One long drive I did solo with our then 4 yo I gave her window gel decals to play with. No real stickers on the windows or in the car.

      Good luck!

  24. t4ci3*

    it’s possible that this is one of those questions about human behavior that cannot be answered, and maybe i should take it to reddit or something. but here goes:

    Why, filling out paperwork or even just a sign-in sheet, do other people always want me to hand over the pen I used instead of taking an unclaimed pen from the pile on the table in front of them? Is it a social thing? Do you want the pen that someone else verified as ‘good’?

    1. fposte*

      I think so many situations have a dedicated pen that we default to assuming that. And when we find an answer that seems correct on a small matter, we don’t hunt around for corroboration—which is why we often push doors marked “pull” before seeing the sign.

    2. RagingADHD*

      They didn’t see the cup of pens at all. They are looking at the other human and waiting their turn.

      Passing the pen is the passing of the turn.

  25. 2023 Got Better*

    Tallahassee, FL: we survived Idalia with minimal damage. Most folks who lost power have been restored. We get to enjoy our long weekend now.

    But the price of this relief is that this nasty hurricane went east about 30 miles and caused massive damage there. Recovery will be months, if not years in some cases. It’s hard to get too happy that we were spared.

    1. somehow*

      Gainesville here and I know what you mean. I am glad we were spared but it’s cold comfort when there is suffering all around. I hope those who have suffered and remained bewildered about what just happened start connecting the dots on cause and effect.

    2. Invisible fish*

      I’m in Texas, and I experience that same “please don’t hit us but don’t hit them but don’t hit us either” feeling when there’s a hurricane. I feel relief and guilt and worry… wondering how I can help and yet paralyzed with uncertainty …

  26. softie*

    I’m looking for suggestions for nature documentaries/films that do not have scenes about animals on the hunt, with a narrator talking in a suspenseful voice (as if a crocodile is actually thinking like a human hunter), and suspenseful music in the background. Almost all nature documentaries I try have scenes like that. Even ones that start out good then suddenly move to “the hunter and the prey”. Another thing I don’t like is if the film/docu focuses too much on the people making it instead of the animals/nature. I’m in Europe, have access to Netflix/Amazon Prime/Disney Plus/HBO Max. (Not looking for suggestions of films that only have a little of it, I really want none. Also not looking for suggestions to toughen up)

    1. BellaStella*

      I wish I knew some. Ideas for non hunting animals tho which may have docs on them include sloths, quokkas, and koalas and maybe songbirds?

    2. t4ci3*

      “Dancing with the Birds” is on Netflix and doesn’t come with the warning tag for potentially disturbing visuals or animals hunting.

    3. allathian*

      Your two requirements are going to make it a bit difficult to find something suitable for your sensibilities, given that all ecosystems have predators and prey. The ones that focus on the animals, especially predators, will show them hunting, because that’s what a sizable majority of viewers wants to see. The ones that focus more on the research or the ecosystem as a whole will feature the people making the documentaries or doing the research.

      I do remember watching a documentary about the kea in New Zealand, I think it was on National Geographic/Disney+, with no predation that I can remember. It did feature the scientists who ran a conservation program for the species.

      1. Solokid*

        We were taught the four “F”s in ecology class – feeding, fleeing, fighting, and mating.

        Animals are likely doing one of those things at any one time.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          In nature docs that’s what they’re doing.

          “Taking a nap” occupies a great deal of actual animal time.

    4. Seltaeb*

      Dancing with the Birds (I watched it on Netflix) has cool and funny visuals of bird mating dances, was quite interesting, not about hunting at all.

    5. WellRed*

      What about Earth? Came out 10 or 15 years ago but I recall it being a big seller in the store I worked.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      One Strange Rock was really good, and was focused on, say, one sense per episode. (Hearing the way the Earth moves in response to the moon’s pull; how things look in the deep ocean with the reds all filtered out.)

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t know if this is quite what you’re looking for, but I really enjoy the behind-the-scenes zoo documentaries on Disney+? There’s people in them, obviously, but they’re people who are very animal-focused and that’s what they’re talking about. There’s a few about major US zoos, plus I really like “Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom” (which also frequently blips over to Epcot to talk about the marine critters at the ocean pavilion). There are often discussions of animals with injuries or health problems and how the veterinary staff treat those issues, but definitely no hunting, other than like, “we give the cheetahs enrichment by creating this radio-controlled ball that randomly sprays smelly stuff and encouraging them to hunt it through their exhibit” type things.

    8. documentary lover*

      1. Birders: the Central Park Effect: “reveals the extraordinary array of wild birds who grace Manhattan’s celebrated patch of green, and the equally colorful New Yorkers who schedule their lives around the rhythms of migration.” Truly beautiful and uplifting.
      2. My Garden of a Thousand Bees (PBS) Oct 20, 2021 —”A story of surprise and revelation. A wildlife filmmaker spends his time during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown filming the bees in his urban garden.” Also beautiful.

    9. The Prettiest Curse*

      Not sure if it’s available on streaming, but The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill I’d a terrific urban nature documentary.
      In a similar vein (though in this one you see birds suffering due to human-caused pollution), All That Breathes is another documentary, about an organisation which works to save the bird life of New Delhi.

    10. beep42*

      I’m liking “Extinct or Alive” more than I expected. It follows a biologist traipsing to places around the world to try to find species that haven’t been sighted in a while–like a soft shelled turtle in Viet Nam or a tortoise species in the Galapagos. It’s on Animal Planet in the US, not sure about where you are. He does mention sometimes why they’ve become rare (hunting, habitat loss), but doesn’t really show that. It’s not as over wrought with drama as some series are.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I don’t have cable or streaming services, but when I had a family member in the hospital they had something like a “cute puppy footage” channel. Maybe someone knows what that is?

    11. WoodswomanWrites*

      If you look for documentaries about birds that aren’t raptors, that should give you options. I’m seconding others’ suggestions for the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill as well as Dancing with the Birds. I saw an incredible documentary about different species of hummingbirds around the world, but I’m forgetting what it was called.

      Thanks for this thread, I’m now planning to rewatch the Wild Parrots film which I haven’t seen since it came out.

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      Oh, what was that wonderful insect documentary? I remember the local movie theater showed it and had HOT SNAIL SEX up on the marquee as advertising!

      Microcosmos!

    13. Samwise*

      Werner Herzog, Grizzly Man. It’s fascinating, beautiful , a bit heart breaking. Not a nature documentary in the sense of focusing solely on critters. Herzog resolutely does not anthropomorphize.

      You do have to love Herzog’s voice however as he narrates…. I like almost everything he’s made.

  27. BellaStella*

    Jimmy Buffett has died. This on the heels of the death of Sinead O’Connor has made for a sad few weeks personally. What is your fave song of his or album? For me his albums Son of a son of a sailor plus Far side of the world plus One particulour harbour plus Don’t stop the Carnival are my faves. will make a margarita tonite in his honour.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Oh, that makes me sad! “Come Monday” has always been one of my favorite songs.

      I loved seeing him in the move Hoot (which was a great movie). I wish he had done more acting.

    2. CTT*

      Another “Come Monday” fan here. And since my parents had a greatest hits CD of his that got a lot of play in the summer when I was little, I still have a little kid love of “Fins” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise.”

      Also, HIGHLY recommend the New Yorker article from a few years ago about the Margaritaville retirement/ILF community.

    3. ThatGirl*

      We are currently listening to a playlist. We played Fins at our wedding reception and have eaten at several Margaritavilles… and my 39 year old husband is taking A Pirate Looks at 40 very personally today.

    4. The OG Sleepless*

      Another vote for Come Monday-I thought I was the only person who liked that song best! My second favorite is Son of a Son of a Sailor, such lovely poetic lyrics.

      We used to sing Cheeseburger in Paradise any time we made burgers when my kids were young.

    5. Voluptuousfire*

      Come Monday for me and also Changes In Latitude, Changes in Attitude.

      I find it fitting he passed Labor Day weekends, at the need of summer.

    6. Jay*

      Damn!
      I hadn’t heard.
      I will always have a special place in my heart for Beach House On The Moon, One Particular Harbor, The Desperation Samba, and Tin Cup Chalice. Also, his cover of Lawyers Guns And Money was better than the original, and no one will ever convince me otherwise.

    7. Chaordic One*

      Before he moved to the Caribbean, Jimmy Buffet lived for several years in Montana. His song, “Livingston Saturday Night,” has a special place in my heart because I used to have several friends who lived in Livingston, Montana and I visited there several times. Lots of college students from Bozeman would come from over the hill to Livingston to party and I had some great nights there. Ah, nostalgia.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      I like Margaritaville–it’s one of those songs that’s good enough to survive its own fame. The actual song is about regret and slowly admitting “it’s my own damn fault, ” and also admitting you’re going to do the same damn thing again, which is kind of rare in pop music culture.

    9. Happily Retired*

      He Went to Paris
      Son of a Son of a Sailor
      A Pirate Looks at 40

      – the thoughtful, looking-back songs

    10. carcinization*

      Another “prettymuch only Come Monday” person here, but boy is that a good song. I mean, I know all the words to all the other songs on “Songs You Know by Heart” because my mom liked to play that cassette in the car in the late 80s/early 90s, but I got tired of most of the other ones.

  28. Peanut Hamper*

    I have a weird dishwasher issue.

    I only wash dishes in it about once every four or five days. In the meantime, water starts to accumulate in the bottom and starts to stink. I can’t figure out where this water is coming from. Has anyone ever run into this before? Did you figure out what the source was and how to fix it?

    I’m handy with tools and want to avoid calling a plumber.

    1. Professor Plum*

      Haven’t run into that but can commiserate with a dishwasher problem. Heard a loud noise yesterday in my kitchen, couldn’t see anything out of place. Later as I went to close my dishwasher door (I often leave it open for a long time), it was so heavy and hard to close. After some quick googling I’m guessing the dishwasher door spring broke. Fortunately it looks to be an easy repair. Good luck with yours!

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Do you clean the filter out regularly? Might be clogged with food debris that is both getting funky and causing the water to back up instead of draining properly? Could also be a drainage issue between your sink and dishwasher, though I’m not sure of exactly how that worked – I did call a plumber when my sink was backing up into my dishwasher, because I am not so handy with tools, but that was the issue in my case – a food clog somewhere in the plumbing.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Well, I have no idea how to identify and fix this issue, but I do have a workaround. If your dishwasher has a mechanism to cancel a cycle in progress, in between actually running it, you can start a cycle (“rinse only” or any other cycle), let it run for 5 minutes, and then cancel it.

      The “cancel” option should audibly drain the machine before turning off, as opposed to when you just interrupt a cycle and water sits in the bottom. I’ve had machines with a cancel button, but I’ve also had ones where you have to depress the “start” button or some other button for 4 seconds and that triggers about a minute of shut-down activity.

      Running the machine for a few minutes should eliminate mustiness between cycles, but more importantly the draining routine will eliminate your standing water.

      If your machine is generally smelling musty and you’ve cleaned your filters and stuff, try putting 1/2 cup of vinegar in a shallow bowl face up on the top rack of your dishwasher when you run your next load.

    4. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      does your sink have a disposal? we dealt with this once and running the disposal daily / more often stopped it

    5. Jay (no, the other one)*

      It’s possible the drain hose is not properly located. We had that issue with the dishwasher that was in this house when we moved in. We thought it was the dishwasher and just put it with it. Then that dishwasher died and we had the same problem with the new one, at which point my very handy husband pulled it out and realized the drain hose was too low. I can’t explain the specifics but basically the dishwasher is supposed to pump water out and if the drain hose is too low, dirty water from the sink can get into the dishwasher.

      1. Commander Shepard's Favorite Store*

        As a handy person who has DIY’d dishwasher repair in the past, this would be my first guess. The dishwasher drain hose needs to have what’s called a “high loop”, where it loops up above the sink drain and then comes back down to tie into the drain. If it comes down directly from the sink drain, water can go back down it and accumulate in the dishwasher. Fortunately this is a really easy thing to fix. I think I just zip-tied mine to something when I installed it.

  29. BellaStella*

    Are there books or websites you can share to help me to understand how to accept that my brother and the woman living with him are ultra worried about ‘tracking’ so have turned off location services on their phones but do not seem to understand that a new iphone and a new android will both track users even with these things ‘off ‘? And the standalone garmin in the car is the same?

    This came about when my phone battery was dying in my rental car and bro could not navigate us home as he ‘fixed’ his brand new android phone to have all kinds of stuff off…after saying google upset him. Um androids are google right?

    I would like books or sites that help one to cope with family who are uber afraid like this. Also I only met this woman this past week as she refuses to come to family stuff and has lived with him for a few years now and I live abroad so….and she has social media but will not accept my request as we are opposites on the views spectrum.

    Any tips or books or websites? I did ask if he felt she was isolating him from family and he said no and he does meet up with them at times but she manages to keep him home at big holidays and it worries me so am not sure what to do to learn to accept this situation and not be afraid for him.

    1. GoryDetails*

      Much sympathy! I think your last sentence is actually the key here; finding ways for you to cope, rather than ways to convince your brother to be less worried. Since you’ve already raised the issue of whether he’s being isolated by his partner, it sounds as though you can comfortably stay in touch with him – offer to listen if he’s having concerns, meet when you can – but don’t push back re the tracking thing. (You can definitely mention your own fun-with-Google-maps if you want to, but in passing, rather than “see what you’re missing” mode.) Good luck!

    2. fposte*

      I don’t the specifics really matter here—this sounds like the common advice column problem of accepting that a family member is making different choices than you do or you wish them to. It sounds like the physical distance from your brother makes it hit a little harder than it might otherwise.

      He doesn’t have to have a consistent or logical take for you to accept it as his call, and there are plenty of people who feel roughly the same way. Lots of people aren’t big tech users and it doesn’t mean they’re isolated from people. He sees family, and he’s not required to come to your side’s family holiday.

      If you think he’s going down more of a general conspiracy rabbit hole that’s harder, but I think you’ve asked the right question and it’s likely it comes from him as much as from her. So find out ways it does work to keep in touch with him/them and focus on those.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I would separate out the phone / tech stuff from the rest of it. A lot of people are uncomfortable with the Big Tech constant surveillance and we all approach it different ways, some of which aren’t fully logical because it’s really complicated. It’s okay if your brother doesn’t use his phone as long as you can use yours, and now that you know he feels like this you can probably work around it. But you want to stay in touch and feel close and be connected, and that’s important. I like Captain Awkward’s Darth Vader boyfriend (girlfriend in this case) posts for this.

      1. Angstrom*

        Let the phone settings issue go unless you think it’s a symptom of a larger paranoia. A lot of people aren’t comfortable with the idea of being tracked, and I can’t argue with that. I know people whose default is to have their phone powered off until they want to use it.
        And not liking Google…if you’re getting an online service for “free”, you are the product. Your information is being sold. Not liking that is not being “uber afraid”.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I have tons of friends who tell me they never worry, they download any app on a moments notice and never worry about that scary consent box, they synch everything across every device, have a smart home that runs on apps, whatever. I think they’re crazy and they think I’m crazy! But we love each other so we connect around other stuff and agree to disagree.

    4. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Maybe think of his partner as his partner or his girlfriend rather than “the woman living with him” and see if it humanizes her in your eyes. And then start thinking of their decisions as just the way they want to live, rather than a rejection of your way.

      1. security flunkie*

        If you know anything about cybersecurity, this isn’t creepy at all. In addition to surveillance, we now live in a culture that rewards narcissism and violates boundaries. For example, who cares if my YouTube video exposes a domestic abuse survivors location because they happened to walk by in the background, it’s about my fragile ego that is only measured in likes and shares…ugh.

        That said, maybe old fashioned paper cards/letters would work better for reaching out?

        Google is android, there is an open source version of android that some people have modified to be more privacy focused like lineageOS, but they require advanced tech skills and only work on certain phones because it’s a volunteer project.

        Edward Snowden’s memoir might be a good place to start.

        1. Aquatic*

          “For example, who cares if my YouTube video exposes a domestic abuse survivors location because they happened to walk by in the background,”

          I’m sorry, what

    5. talos*

      No comment on a lot of the stuff, but specifically on the “androids are Google” thing:

      The core of Android is open-source, meaning that it’s publicly available for any company (or enterprising individual) to put on a phone. This phone would not have any Google tracking on it. Google, manufacturers, and carriers additionally writes a whole bunch of other software that makes the phone more useful but comes with the downside of them potentially tracking your location, internet usage, etc. But on some phones, it’s possible to go back and put just the core Android on it, without most of the tracking stuff (look up LineageOS or GrapheneOS). If you’ve done this, it’s possible but generally tricky to get certain kinds of app notifications and certain map apps to work well. So if he has said he did this, he probably is telling the truth, has successfully assuaged his paranoia, and might not appreciate your skepticism about his understanding of Android.

    6. SnappinTerrapin*

      Think of it this way:

      The fact that the tech companies have work-arounds to enable them to spy on us even after we disable everything we can, does NOT invalidate his concerns about their intrusiveness.

      As for the family dynamics, I don’t have anything useful to suggest, and will leave that to others.

      1. No location on if I can help it*

        As someone who doesn’t have location turned on (unless when I use the app it needs it, think CalTopo, banking app) I am agreeing with your brother. No location info in photos, no photo album geolocation if I can help it. No apps on the phone unless I really need them (and I do read all the privacy info before downloading any app) I do understand that phones have 2 GPS chips, and turning off your phone will still ping off the cell tower at the minimum when necessary.

        Tech/tracking/privacy aside, if you’re headed anywhere you really should have a backup charging cable/battery pack, just for cases like this. You need to be able to rely on yourself, what if brother wasn’t in the car to begin with?

    7. JoJo*

      I think if my significant other’s sibling palpably disliked me (“the woman living with him”? really?)I may not want a relationship with that sibling either. You can choose to try to make these relationships work or you can choose to stockpile random “evidence” that one or both of the people suck. You can’t really do both.

    8. RagingADHD*

      I don’t think you need a boom or a website. Just the Serenity Prayer.

      Your brother is a grown man and you can’t change the fact that he gets to date people you don’t like. He also gets to make dumb choices like travel without a paper map if he won’t use GPS.

      Just like you get to make choices like traveling in a rental car without a charger.

      This entire scenario could have been solved by stopping at any gas station, convenience store, rest stop, or Target. They have both paper maps and car chargers at all those places. I’m not sure why your default was to get torqued about his girlfriend’s social media instead of just solving the practical issue at hand.

  30. New Mom (of 1 1/9)*

    I just found out I’m pregnant with my second and I’m telling the commentariat because I don’t want to tell people IRL yet ;)

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Yay!

      Morning sickness was better with the second.

      Also I bought a baby bjorn because that was what I really wanted with the first but she wouldn’t have gotten much use out of it by the time I figured this out. (We had inherited a bunch of cheaper baby carriers, none of them actually good.)

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

      Yay! Very happy for you. I hope you enjoy being a parent and have lots of happiness raising your kid.

  31. Myrin*

    I’ve been thinking about animal behaviour and personalities recently so now I’m wondering – Alison, do you think Sam and Lucy would’ve gotten along with the newcomers in your household?

      1. Mahalia*

        I don’t know why these exchanges you occasionally post amuse me so much but they do. I’ve also enjoyed the ones I’ve occasionally seen you have with your (oldest?) niece on Twitter.

        1. Anne Shirley*

          Can we have an update on the nieces please? It’s been a long while since they have been featured here.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Sure! The oldest, who you know as M., is now 23 and graduated from UC-Santa Cruz and has been living in (and traveling around) Australia for the last year. She was recently hospitalized with pneumonia so my sister has flown there, convinced her to move out of the hostel she was living in, and installed them both in an AirBnB while my niece recovers. My sister told me that when she first brought M. from the hospital to a hotel (pre-AirBnB rental), M. said, “Wow, this is like where the Kardashians live.” My sister said it definitely was not; it was a Ramada Suites, but M. had been in youth hostels for so long that it looked huge to her.

            It remains to be seen whether she will be convinced to return home when my sister leaves (probably not).

            The youngest, A., now 19, is studying STEM (not traditionally a Green family strength) at the University of Massachusetts, and also writing a science blog, which is very good. (She’s the one on Twitter.)

            They have both become lovely adults!

      2. Myrin*

        Oh wow, thank you for specifically getting Husband Insight on this, this was really charming and interesting!

  32. PhyllisB*

    I’ve shared this before, but I used to be a long distance operator. At the end before our office closed, we worked at consoles that were in cubicles with half walls.
    One day I was helping a customer when a HUGE tree roach fell on my forearm. I jumped up shrieking and shaking my arm for all it’s worth. (I just disconnected my customer, there’s no way I could explain that!!) I often wondered what he thought and if he mentioned it to anyone else.

  33. GoryDetails*

    Little joys thread: Anything that’s brought cheer recently?

    I had another hummingbird encounter – and I wasn’t even wearing red this time; I was at the window watching the hummer on the feeder, and it zoomed up to the glass inches away from me and hovered there. That never gets old, even if I can’t tell whether it’s a “thank you!” or “the service here is terrible, please refill the feeder at once”!

    1. GoryDetails*

      Another one for me: I watched the first episode of the newly-released Netflix series “One Piece”, a live-action adaptation of the long-running pirates/humor/adventure manga. And it was excellent! (It doesn’t hurt that the live-action characters are more attractive than the often-grotesque manga versions – but they do reflect the original characters’ traits beautifully.) The whole thing, from set-design to special effects to pacing and snarky banter, is great fun – a rollicking piratical adventure, with violence and humor, stealth and martial arts, found-family, and an irrepressibly upbeat hero in Monkey D. Luffy (played by Iñaki Godoy).

    2. more fires*

      Cute. I was at a botanical garden last night. There was a hummingbird in the rose section that kept trying to perch on the tallest rose branch, being trained over an arch. It wanted to be the top bird, but the branch was not to its liking. Hummy would perch on the branch, then hover above it for a bit, then perch, then hover. It would fly around in large circles and come back to perch/hover. I watched it for about 10 minutes, before it took a perch on a branch ever so slightly lower down.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I grew up going to a big Renaissance faire every year – the big elaborate kind with permanent year-round structures for shops, stages etc, vendors who do the faire/con circuit for a full-time living selling really high quality handmade goods. Especially in my late teens, I had a whole assortment of garb, got season passes and went every weekend, the whole shebang. Then when I was 20 I moved out of state and since then (over 20 years) have not lived in a state that had a faire that was any more elaborate than Ye Olde Flea Market In Costume, so most of my garb got lost along the way. Through a random turn of events, I’m going to two Big Proper Faires in adjacent states during September, so this week/end I’ve been getting out what garb bits and pieces I have left to see what I can do, and that’s been making me so happy – some of it has memories, and some of it is just excitement for doing the thing again. And bonus, almost all of my bits and pieces still fit and are in excellent wearable condition, so all I had to do is wash them! (And the one piece that does not still fit, the original vendor who made it back when I bought it is going to be at next weekend’s faire, so I can go show them what excellent condition it is still in after 25 years and replace the sized panels with new ones in the correct size.)

    4. Jay*

      I am finally, after more than TWENTY YEARS of failure, learning to make Greek Coffee properly on the stove top! And it was, of all things, a random YouTube video on Cowboy Coffee that I clicked on just to have something easy to watch while relaxing with a video game for a little while before bed that showed me what I was doing wrong.

    5. Girasol*

      On the way home from camping I stopped at a little hippy bakery that I’d always wanted to go to. Murals on the outside, veggies and flowers burgeoning out of containers at the door, and a cute old house rebuilt as a tiny business. They fed me a lovely breakfast and the best Americano I’ve ever tasted.

    6. Nona Selah*

      Found a lost key. It was not where I thought I’d put it and we’ve been searching for it for weeks. What a satisfying moment when I found it by accident while cleaning out something else, and handed it to my husband (who’d been ragging me about it)!

    7. Nervous Nellie*

      I was walking past a vintage car meetup this morning, and overheard a conversation between a little boy and his Dad. They were just parking to walk over to the show, but the little boy, as Dad was helping him out of the car, was saying, “WOWWWWWW! Loook! Wowwwwww! Loooooook!” Dad asked him what he was seeing, and the little boy replied, “Nothing yet. The cars are over THERE Dad. I’m just practicing…..”

    8. Professor Plum*

      This is more of a big joy for me—after a contractor who said he could finish a bathroom remodel before guests arrive in mid-September flaked out on me, I found a new contractor who is fitting me into his schedule, working late afternoon/evenings and weekends. I had way more confidence in new guy after one conversation with him. He shows up when he says—or texts when he runs late. He cleans up after himself. The work is getting done and looks fantastic. The bathroom will be finished in time! Yay!

    9. Mitchell Hundred*

      Rode my bike yesterday morning for the first time in a while. There are a few hills around my apartment, so I got some good exercise in.

    10. Clara Bowe*

      I got to sit on a porch repeatedly this weekend. I listened to the bugs and birds and world go by and it was downright lovely.

  34. Captain Vegetable ( Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

    Archivists of AAM! What is the best way to store magazines? They’re from the 70s and 80s, if that makes a difference.

    1. Another Janet*

      I’m not an archivist, but I’ve worked with lots of materials like that as a researcher! Away from light (especially sunlight, but any really) and acid, and protected from extreme temperatures and humidity, should keep them in good shape.

      You could definitely get some archival boxes (acid-free, cardboard-y material) and store them there–the foot-long boxes that look like bankers’ boxes would work fine if you just want a safe place to keep a bigger collection. (The magazines I encountered were always mixed in with other paper files in those things, and they held up just fine.)

      If you want easier access, I think there are vertical archival boxes that are a bit smaller. When I worked in a library, we just stored periodicals on bookshelves as though they were paperbacks, so that might be another option.

    2. Grits McGee*

      The biggest thing is to minimize light exposure. Try to keep humidity and temperature stable- 35-45% humidity and about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure they’re stored so that they aren’t bending or distorted, and use an acid-free box. I’ve never worked in an archive where magazines were stored in plastic sleeves, but if you go that route make sure the sleeves are made out of Mylar. Most plastics degrade and off-gas over time, which can damage materials the plastic comes in contact with. Gaylord Archival is the purveyor-of-choice for most archival supplies; I don’t know how much I would trust other retailers for long term preservation materials.

      The absolute biggest thing is DO NOT USE TAPE! Never put tape on anything you love, it will always betray you.

  35. Roland*

    How do you move internationally? Like, practically? Any websites or checklists anyone cam point to?

    I have legal matters squared away and I have a place lined up on the other side for a few months. I just don’t know how to get from “living in my condo with all my stuff here” to “living in a smaller apartment with less than all my stuff there”. I have pets who I can’t stay in a hotel with so once I’m out, I need to be on the way. I’m a capable person who could muddle through, but I’d love a resource that talked about all the considerations and steps along the way. As an adult in charge of logistics, I’ve never moved more than a 30 minute drive away.

    1. fposte*

      I would look specifically for “moving from [country] to [country].” How you set up life in England is going to be different from how you do that in a South Korea, for example. Sometimes the country’s immigration pages have some practical guidelines, too.

      And as you’ve doubtless been hearing, trim your stuff down as savagely as you can bear, especially since you’ll need to move pets and their stuff as well.

    2. Not A Manager*

      I’ve done a bunch of complicated moves but no international ones. My process is to plan for a transition period at the end of living in Place A and the beginning of living in Place B. It sounds like you have started that by securing your new place for a few months. I assume that you’ll be hunting for a more permanent place once you’re there?

      If it were me, I’d sort my stuff into “not moving with me” (not sure if “less than all my stuff there” means you’ll store it, or get rid of it); “moving with me but I can do without it for a few months;” and “bare minimum I will need in Place A and Place B to keep me and my pets happy.”

      Arrange for the second pile of stuff to be shipped/delivered ideally when you find your permanent digs. Try to keep the third pile of stuff down to whatever you can transport with you when you and the pets physically move, or that you can easily mail/ship to your temporary location. Remember that you can always buy a few inexpensive things onsite rather than schlepp everything you need.

      Since the pets can’t stay in a hotel, the biggest challenge will be physically getting all of you from Place A to Place B without stopping to sleep. You might need to borrow temporary bedding for Place A for after you’re packed up but before you depart, or you might need to abandon some last minute items when you leave.

      I just completed a big move, and I slowly went from sleeping in a bed to sleeping on a mattress to sleeping on a camping pad. It all worked out, though.

      1. Roland*

        This is helpful, thanks! My temp apartment is like half the size of my current place and whatever more longterm digs would still be smaller than now for the next few years, relative housing costs being what they are. Idk why I didn’t consider just borrowing some stuff from friends if I’ve shipped mine, great idea.

    3. Books and Teapots International*

      I’ve done several international moves, specifically US and Germany. If you can swing it financially, get movers. They are expensive but worth every single penny. We went with a local company with great reviews and they did a knock out job. They packed, they moved, they did aaaaallll the customs paperwork! Not a single thing broke (can’t say the same for moving via post or suitcase). Did I mention they did all the customs paperwork?

      The move with movers did take longer because we had so little to move that we got bundled with other moves in their shipping container and had to wait for that. That meant we arrived and had almost no furniture for a few weeks. We bought cheap IKEA mattresses which we now use as fold up guest mattresses, which was both fine and the cheapest option by miles.

      When evaluating what to get rid of, think of this: is shipping it or getting it moved by movers cheaper than buying a new thing when you get there? Most often the answer is absolutely not. IKEA furniture? Get rid of it and buy it there. Kitchen stuff like colanders and wooden spoons and cutting boards? Get rid of it and buy it there. Used cat tree? Ditch it and buy a new one. The quilt aunt Edna sewed you? Irreplaceable, ship it or take it with in your suitcase.

      Think also about electronic devices: will they even work there? Will you need a step up or down converter in addition to a new plug? If so, consider ditching it and getting a new one because that is a real pain and also costs more money. Much easier to just buy a nice new toaster rather than going to the trouble of packing it, shipping it, importing it, buying a converter, having to have counter space for it AND a converter, etc. The counter space point counts double for US appliances in e.g. Europe because US appliances are generally larger.

      When I have moved internationally I have gone through this thought process for every single item in the house: how easily can I replace this when I get there? If the answer is anything other than hard, out it goes. My one weakness is books and teapots, but that is what I pay the movers for.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      My clients tend to hire movers. I’d second the recc to find a company that says they do international moves, and ask them if they have familiarity with your destination country.

      As for planning, one website that is specific to Canada, but which offers a ton of information that is transferrable to any international move, is “Moving Back to Canada –
      Resources for Expatriate Canadians returning to Canada after living in the U.S. or further abroad,” at kurucz dot ca slash expatrepat

  36. All het up about it*

    Happy long weekend for those who get to enjoy!! I hope you get some relaxation in. I’m planning on pool time and a hot stone massage myself.

    I credit this site for helping me realize that I have ADHD and becoming another late diagnosis lady. There have also been times since where I’ve gotten some recommendations on how to deal with this new diagnosis, which I also really appreciate. However, sometimes I just want to vent or solicit suggestions and waiting until the open thread is killer. :) Are there any recommendations for Facebook groups or something similar that anyone finds helpful? I’m on groups for somethings that are really helpful, but I’ve left ones that are literally just hot mess expresses. Any recs or thoughts appreciated!

    1. RagingADHD*

      I have an anti-recommendation. Stay the heck away from ADHD or ND Twitter. It was a garbage fire even before the recent changes, I can only imagine what it’s like now.

      There were a lot of people trying to give support or wholesome advice, but for every one of them, there were 100 who were spouting harmful disinformation, selling “magic cures” or just being their worst selves in every way.

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

        I’ve enjoyed seeing some birds on my fire escape, and then today, I saw a bunch making a water fountain in the park into their birdbath.

        Made it through my scary medical procedure this week relatively intact.

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

          Oops, that was meant for the “small joys” thread above! Oh well, I was also coming here to likewise recommend r/adhd on reddit. — Another person who got diagnosed at an older age with ADHD thanks to the weekend commentariat here.

  37. office hobbit*

    Robot vacuums: I’m thinking of getting one, I’ve never used one before. I’m looking at models without a wifi connection, like the iLife V3s Pro (I don’t love smart devices in my home). For those of you who’ve had an older or “dumb” model, how effective did you find it? Does the random “bounce off walls” method of cleaning work well enough? Are you always having to retrieve it from getting stuck? etc. A lot of reviews I’m finding assume you already know how well a no-frills roomba works, and…I don’t!

    1. fposte*

      I have a dumb Eufy and I’ve been very happy with it. I use it mostly in my bedroom and always in a single room at a time, so it’s easy to clear obstructions in advance and it almost never gets stuck.

      I think it’s worth considering what it will save you on your regular cleaning practices. Is it keeping the pet hair down to a dull roar? Are you an indifferent and occasional vacuumer? In cases like these a robot is great, because these are people likely to be happy with a burden that’s imperfectly lessened. Are you a weekly baseboard scrubber or a prewasher of dishes before they go in the machine? Then the robot’s missing of deep corners and leaving of chair leg spiderwebs may make you crazy.

      1. office hobbit*

        I am definitely the infrequent and imperfect sweeper haha. At first I was looking for a nice stick vac before I remembered I would have to…use it. Eufy is the other brand I’ve been looking at so this is helpful, thanks!

    2. Hatchet*

      We have the Eufy 11S pro. Overall it’s good and we like it. It does get stuck in corners/tight spots at times, so we’ll have to fetch it and reset it. And it seems to get the long hairs caught up in it and needs to be cut out often enough. But we wanted one without wi-fi and this seemed to be the best one in our price range. I’m happy with it, but it’s not going to get every single thing off the floor, and that’s okay.

    3. lissajous*

      I have a no-wifi roomba, and as a person who is a) very infrequent on vacuuming if I have to do it myself, and b) pleased to be a servant to two feline overlords, I love it. This is my second one, first one survived for about five years in sharehouses with four (usually) long haired people and the two aforementioned cats.

      If you have pets, always check there have been no accidents before using it; I have made that mistake once, it wasn’t pretty. For that reason I prefer not to schedule mine, others probably vary in how they manage that aspect.

      It is fantastic to be able to set it going just as I head out of the house, and come home to vacuumed carpets. Or I’ll run it downstairs when I’m upstairs, or vice versa.
      Or as my friend put it when she first got hers: “I’m doing the vacuuming! By which I mean lounging around on the couch reading a book.”

      1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

        Seconding scouting the house before releasing the robovac if you have pets. The first vac ate the liquid mess and died. The second vac was NOT FUN to clean, but at least it still works. It’s a self-emptying model. Fortunately my husband got suspicious at the change in sound and intercepted the vac before it got back to its base.

    4. mreasy*

      I had a dumb Roomba and while I truly truly hate vacuuming, we have too many obstacles – cords, cat toys, etc – that I ordinarily just pick up as I vacuum. With Roomba I’d have to do it all up front which felt like way more work! So I gave it away to a friend with sand electrical wiring, a kid, and no pets, and she loves it.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I am in the same boat – I wish I could just have a robot vacuum run each night, but I have waist-length hair, a husband who despite being short-haired still manages to shed three times as much as me, two cats and two dogs, a floor covered with chewy bones and cat toys, a variety of floor types (hardwood, tile and rugs) and furniture that needs to be moved first,. I’ve tried different ones three times, and it got stuck all the time, or it needed to be babysat and emptied every ten minutes, or the brush got clogged up, or usually all three, and I’ve gotten rid of it quickly. The ones that are smart enough to find their way around furniture and rugs and empty themselves and have self-cleaning brushes are like $800 and I’m just not there for it.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          … huh. And right after I typed that, I looked on Amazon and found a refurb Shark IQ that claims self-emptying, an app that allows you to map your room, and a self-cleaning brush, for $149. :P (I don’t care if it has wifi or not, personally.)

          1. office hobbit*

            I think I found the same model in my searches! (Not that refurb tho, you won’t be stealing it from me haha.) I could compromise on the wifi if it makes a material difference in how useful the vacuum actually is, which is what I’m hoping to find out. Everyone’s answers have been helpful for that!

    5. kina lillet*

      I like it. I do have to babysit it a little, and I have an alarm to sweep through its area and pick some crap up off the floor. All that is WAY better than vacuuming every day, and it’s amazing to have a vacuum run every day. My floors are CLEAN. I don’t walk around and get little pieces of crud stuck to my feet. It’s amazing.

    6. fhqwhgads*

      I have a not-wifi Eufy I got – I think – in 2018? It’s effective but it’s loud and takes a very long time. It does “learn” over time from it’s “bounce off walls” method, which is good in the sense that it’ll get faster/better at it the more you use it. Unless you move anything in which case it’ll have to relearn every time.
      The biggest pain for me is emptying it. The model I have is not intuive to empty. I read the instruction manual and could not make sense of it. Had to watch youtube videos and still found it tricky. I have not had that with any other gagdets ever, so it may be a quirk of this model.
      If you have a room or rooms that are free of stuff that can jam it up (super thin carpet, random sock, reusable grocery bag, anything mesh-like) and want it vacuumed without you having to physically do it, and you don’t mind the background sound, shut the door and let it do it’s thing. It’s great. Mine was most useful in the kitchen where the stuff it’d bump into doesn’t move around much. Chairs are mostly always pushed back under the table in very close to the same spot, cabinets are built in, yadayada. DO NOT USE IN BATHROOM IF YOU HAVE A BATHMAT.
      For me it doesn’t completely replace regular vacuuming, but it’s a great holdover either for “ugh I don’t have time for this” or “ugh I vacuumed this yesterday and it already looks like it needs it”.

  38. Frustrated and angry and struggling*

    What do you do when you are just done with your live-in partner but the partner has no place to go? He’s unemployed again and sinking into depression again, but *I* can’t do this again. He has no friends. He has no family to speak of. He has no job to even get a different place to live. I don’t bear him any ill will, so I wouldn’t want to just put him on the street. I just can’t support him emotionally and mentally anymore. (He’s finally taking a beneficial SSRI, and he finally has begun therapy.). Over the years, he’s just become a sponge or a barnacle, latching on to me, waiting for me to give him direction. I just cannot with this anymore.

    Thoughts? Suggestions? Ways to reframe my thin