weekend open thread – September 9-10, 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: Tom Lake, by Ann Patchett. Stuck together on their family farm during the pandemic, a woman tells her three grown daughters about the time years earlier when she performed in summer stock and fell in love with a star before he was famous. It’s like pulling a big cozy quilt over yourself.

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

{ 984 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. sally forth*

    A family with two kids (I think 8 and 10) moved across the street from us earlier this year. We don’t have kids but we’re in our yard a lot and their kids have taken to coming over to talk to us a lot. We don’t mind this some of the time, they’re nice kids and we like them and honestly it’s kind of nice to have kids in our life because we don’t have any nieces or nephews either. But. They are coming over All. The. Time. Sometimes I just want to garden in peace or hang out with a friend on the porch with some wine and chill with my husband out there. We don’t mind saying hi and talking a little but they don’t really leave (I’ve even said “OK, we need grownup time now so we’re going to say goodbye” but it doesn’t always work and when they see us staying out there they keep hanging around). I feel bad for them but I also want to be able to use my yard. I thought it would get better once they went back to school but it hasn’t. Tips for what to say to set better boundaries that isn’t mean?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Ugh solidarity, I feel this. I actually like the neighbor kids but … not all the time. And the parents in my case don’t ever seem to be around (because I assume they’d be quicker to pick up a hint). I say lots of “hi!!” and then don’t make eye contact and don’t engage. It’s more serious in my case because they love my dog, and it’s not mutual, and I don’t trust him, particularly if he’s teased.

      1. feline outerwear catalog*

        I don’t have kids and it’s a bit passive aggressive but I wonder if it would work if you started doing loud yard work when they start walking over, like, “oh, time to mow the lawn now!”, or run a leaf-blower, etc.

        1. Ginger Cat Lady*

          lol, kids would come back when you stopped. Or offer to help. Or chase you asking questions about the equipment. Noise doesn’t really phase kids much, and some kids find it cool.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            My toddler son once woke up from a nap and discovered his dad was mowing the lawn. Alone. Without the toddler! This obviously was not allowed to stand.

          2. Kayem*

            We had that happen with our neighbor kids. We were helping another neighbor clear out bamboo overgrowth, which required handsaws, a ripsaw, large loppers, and a machete. The kids were FASCINATED and wanted nothing more than to help us. We let them help carry the cut bamboo and thought surely boring physical labor would bore them and they’d wander off. Nope. I eventually cut the work short and fled inside. They tried to follow me, with many questions about the other pointy tools we had inside and how they could help with whatever we had going on there. I just did not have the energy to babysit kids with machetes on top of clearing a whole house lot of 80 ft. bamboo.

    2. frog*

      Use your words! Say: “It’s been fun talking, but I need some alone time in my yard, you need to get back to your house.” Say it kindly, but don’t expect kids to pick up hints, and be explicit.

      1. JSPA*

        This, except

        1. tell them when you’d be happy to see them again. They like you, and you’re important to their universe. You like them, at least in moderation. This can also be linked to imparting skills or knowledge. “I’m having private thinking time, but if you stop by tomorrow afternoon, I’d be glad to show you how to pinch tomato plants then.”

        2. be gentle–if they had a concept of “privacy outdoors,” they wouldn’t be there all the time.

        3. except…if they are anywhere on the continuum of neglected to abused (not fed; locked out of the house; in fear of a family member), you may be their best lifeline, not just their stop of convenience.

        Don’t prompt them to manufacture a crisis to be worthy of your presence, but do ask if everything is OK.

        “Hi guys, everything ok? My friend Jan and I are talking through some complicated, maybe private stuff. Could you hang out in your own yard, or with someone else, today and tomorrow?”

        “I’m doing work inside my head, so even though my body is out here, my brain isn’t available. It’s hard to tell from outside, so I got an idea from the internet. If I put a rock on the porch, here, it means uninvited guests and neighbors are welcome to stop by and chat. If there’s no rock, I need more privacy, for thinking or for invited guests.”

        Finally, I believe there may still be places where physically having a “welcome” mat outside the door means, you’re welcoming visitors. If they grew up with that convention, you’ll either have to explain that it’s not universal, or flip your doormat up?

        1. Jellyfish Catcher*

          Yeah, you may be an important lifeline, just with your presence.
          I met an 8 yo neighbor boy, when my twins were the same age. He started showing up about dinnertime and I realized he was hungry.
          I fed him for 10 years. He got the same allowance as my kids.
          I never met his single parent.
          After he put himself through college, he took me out to dinner and told me how important it was, to know that there was always a place to get food and a smile.
          My only regret is not having done more for him.
          You can and should have boundaries and be direct regarding alone time, but these kids sense you are good people. They are asking for a reason.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Bravissima– you’re magnificent.
            I too had an “extra, almost-mother” and I can assure you that you DID do more than you realize. It wasn’t just the food — it was having a loving accepting place to be for a time.

          2. WoodswomanWrites*

            It’s wonderful what you did for him. A friend I met as an adult grew up in a challenging household and it was his long-time neighbor’s kindness that got him through it. He came to call her his stepmom and they stayed close throughout his life.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          A porch flag could be a sign too — take your flower banner down when you’re feeling too tired to talk, for example. Or put up a specific flag when you’re hosting a get together–maybe the semaphore flag I’ve seen that has martini glasses on it.

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

          This is all great advice. I’ve read so many heartbreaking stories of kids who have a difficult time at home (due to neglect or worse). I think gently setting boundaries while continuing to be a safe adult they can talk to (or run to if things get really bad) is the kindest solution. Remember, that influencer person in Utah who is now in jail with no bail for apparently being worse than neglectful to her kids was caught because a kid was able to run to a neighbor and ask for help.

        4. WhatTheActualFact*

          I love the rock idea! And kids like that kind of thing too, it’s like a secret code for them. :)

          If you do this, please report back on whether it is effective.

        5. Laura*

          Love the scripts you’ve suggested there! It can feel hard to be direct with kids but they really don’t understand hints.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        This! Kids not picking up social cues that they were never taught (either explicitly, or modeled by the adults around them for a long enough time) is normal. If they miss the cue, kindly explaining the message is how they learn.

    3. Not A Manager*

      “Sweetie, part of being a good guest is knowing when to leave. I love spending time with you, but you need to respect when I’m not available. Off you go, now. Pop over on Tuesday if you’re around!”

      “Hey, it’s you again! I know it looks like I am not doing anything, but I am thinking my own quiet thoughts. Remember to be a good guest, and I’ll see you Tuesday.”

    4. Samwise*

      Ok, we need grownup time, so you need to go back home! Bye bye, go on back home!

      “We’re going to say goodbye “ = waaaay too subtle for kids to understand. Tell them straight out what you want them to do.

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

        Totally. And kids don’t generally take offense as badly as adults do either, so don’t be afraid to be direct!

    5. Hannah*

      My parents put up a four-foot iron fence and keep the gates latched. When the neighbor kids come over, they either wave and get back to what they’re doing, or if they feel like chatting they open the fence and step out. I understand that’s not feasible for everyone, though.

    6. Teach*

      I wonder if a little good-natured ignoring could support your direct requests that aren’t working on their own? Once you say it’s “grown up time,” show them that by turning to each other and starting to talk about boring grown-up stuff. If they try to talk to you more, finish what you were saying to the adult first. Make them wait for an answer, then repeat your request when you know they’re listening. If you’re acting boring (probably like their parents), they should eventually wander off.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I was thinking not to even ask them explicitly. Normally I’d advise against a somewhat passive-aggressive approach and advise being clear and direct, but 1) that hasn’t worked, and 2) these kids don’t seem particularly thoughtful or self-aware, which is not necessarily unusual or even concerning for that age. But, as a parent, I remember not having the energy to do something or engage with my child, and just saying “Not right now, Cosmic Jr.” or “Maybe later” with a vague smile.

        So maybe try gently deflecting then ignoring any attempt to engage. I’m thinking that because you don’t have kids, you are trying to make 100% effort to engage and train, and while parents try to do that, sometimes some of us have to take more defensive postures when we feel like we’re very low on spoons, because even active verbal engagement can be tiring!

      2. Samwise*

        Nah, best to be kind, matter of fact, and direct.

        Turning your back on someone like that is rather cold. No need to be unkind. Just direct.

    7. Melissa*

      You have to be explicit with kids. And it doesn’t hurt their feelings. “Okay, it’s time for me to work by myself, so it’s time for you to go home!” If you say it with a smile and a kind tone, it isn’t mean and it won’t hurt their feelings. They’ll think “Okey dokey, time to go home now.” They might ask “When can we come back?” so you may want an answer prepared for that.(I’m the parent of a 10 year old)

      1. AnotherMelissa*

        This! Kids often don’t get subtly. The ambiguity of politeness confuses kids more often than not. Melissa’s script is perfect. Say it cheerfully and you’re good. Kids need alone time too. They get that. Being direct is being kind. You’re not going to hurt their feelings.
        (Mom of 5)

    8. PhyllisB*

      This reminds me of when my husband and I bought our first house. We didn’t have kids yet, but the neighborhood kids loved us and our dog.
      My husband would go out and play catch with the boys, so I was constantly answering the door and being asked, “can your husband come out and play?” Or they (boys and girls) wanted to know if they could come play with our puppy. (She wasn’t a puppy, just a small dog.)
      Sometimes they didn’t know when to go home and I would have to gently shoo them away. But same thing, never saw signs of parents.

    9. Panda*

      My kids are at an age where the bring friends over all the time. When I want them to leave I just tell them to go home, but do so in a friendly tone. If another adult did this with my kids I would absolutely not mind, and in fact think of it as a way for my children to practice respecting other people’s boundaries.

  3. Elle*

    Where are you buying your twelve year olds nice dresses? We have a few fancy parties to go to and she’s rejecting everything (including pants). Everything from Macys, Nordstrom, Hollister, other mall stores are apparently ugly. I realize I’m probably dealing with a trolling puberty monster but is there a store or website I’m missing?

    1. Mrs. Intrigue*

      When my now older teen girls went through this stage, I handed them my phone and told them to find 5 outfit they could stand to wear for two hours that wouldn’t be mortifying. Ask for 5 because you’ll only get two. Buy them both and let them try them on and choose. It also helps if you sweeten the pot with the offer of shoes/accessories to go with.

    2. Wams352*

      What do you mean by fancy? Lilly Pulitzer has cute stuff, but $$ and pretty preppy looking. There are a lot of fast fashion websites out there- my daughter is older now but she’s gotten some dresses at some of those like schein type places and although I don’t love the stuff myself, at least it’s inexpensive. There’s also Francesca’s in a lot of our malls and they are pretty reasonable but not super fancy. Maybe have her look on line and show you what she likes unless that’s opening a huge can of worms because it won’t be something you’d be ok with.

    3. MP*

      I can’t even pretend to know what is cool for 12yos but Zara and H&M both have a nice kids/teen selection. H&M might be too casual. I have a toddler so sometimes I see the stuff for the older kids when I’m shopping for her.

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      No expertise here. My only child was a son with scant interest in style or fashion. Mrs. Intrigue’s suggestion sounds excellent.

      That said, here’s my idea: Might your twelve-year-old be, or become, interested in sewing her own clothing? From browsing various sewing blogs I see that pattern companies have expanded way beyond the basic trio of Simplicity, Butterick, and McCalls. Combine that with cool fabrics (patterns incorporating printed skulls; bubble cotton gauze; flowing rayon prints…) and the prospect of *total* customization of fit, fabric combinations, and funky buttons, and maybe she’d find something acceptable. She could also combine self-sewn pants and jacket with a store-bought blouse or t-shirt. Or maybe she could find an acceptable buttondown or Hawaiian shirt and/or shoes in the guys’ department.

    5. Elle*

      Queue maniacal laughter. She agreed to a couple of dresses from Macys that had been previously rejected. No clue why. Thanks for all of the suggestions! I do love Fransceca’s and we have a couple of hand me downs that she didn’t want.

          1. AGD*

            I remember being that age, buying a strappy sundress, trying it on, deciding I liked it, buying it, wearing it around the house, taking it off, putting it on again, deciding I didn’t like it, and never wearing it again.

    6. Dr. Doll*

      Does she really need fancy dresses, at 12? Will maybe the first fancy party where she looks out of place do the trick?

      I’m thinking of all the times my mom forced me to put on “stockings.”

      1. Filosofickle*

        A friend has a daughter this age, and she needed SEVEN semi-formal dresses this year for a string of graduation / school dance / bat mitzah like events

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          SEVEN dresses?! Good grief! (Should that be spelled $even dre$$e$? Oy vey.)
          Can your friend and the other girls’ parents start a clothing exchange? Maybe they could even make it goofy & fun for the girls…”The Sisterhood of the Traveling Dresses” instead of “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.” :-) Or maybe they can persuade everyone that vintage clothing is totally the bee’s knees.
          Okay, I’ll show myself out now. :-)

          1. Filosofickle*

            They got through it with a clothing subscription service — still expensive, but they got other use out of it too and avoided purchasing one-and-done dresses.

        2. Samwise*

          OMG. That child needs to learn that every occasion does NOT need a new outfit.

          And those parents need to stiffen up their spines.

            1. Elle*

              That’s great until you get into Mitzvah season in 7th grade and there’s one almost weekly. Inevitability they spill something on it and they’re a pain to clean.

              1. Samwise*

                Wash the dress. Or rotate two.

                Or tell the kid, if you want more dresses you can earn them. Babysitting, yard work, etc.

                Yeah, ok boomer, with parents born during the Depression. But we got a couple of fancy / party outfits. More than that, my folks could not afford. And somehow we got thru to adulthood.

        3. Pennyworth*

          I can recommend what a friend did with her daughter – she got her an absolute killer dress (designer) on the agreement that daughter would wear that dress to every event. It was such a lovely dress that she became known for it. These days you would get bonus points for sustainability and keeping clothes out of landfill! We still have fond memories of ‘the dress’, but I couldn’t tell you what any other girls wore.

    7. Fellow Traveller*

      I usually take my (tall) 11 year old to thrift or consignment stores when she needs a dress. I think she likes the treasure hunt aspect of it.

    8. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      What is she thinking is a nice dress? Can she show you an example? Then you could do a reverse image search and see what you find.

    9. JR*

      Is she big enough for adult sizes? If so, Rent the Runway? A lot of options will for sure be too adult, but they offer a very wide range and have good search tools.

    10. Workerbee*

      Is there a theatre/costuming store nearby? My dad took me to one for prom and it was fantastic. Rented a gorgeous dress for far less $ than a purchased one.

  4. Alexiiiiiiiiii5*

    thanks for all the lovely recommendations last week. I got overwhelmed with replies but am out of the hospital finally. thank you.

  5. Happily Retired*

    In cat land (unforgivably, I have forgotten this cat’s name; endless shame): “ALL the bananas. I own ALL the bananas.”

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Pro tip: the photo file name visible in the URL of the photo usually includes the cat’s name!

    2. Atheist Nun*

      What is it about those ‘nanas? My cat has had three in succession and has destroyed them all. The OG ‘nana dates from 2017, and I have refilled it with ‘nip and resewn it a number of times, and he still adores it after all these years.

      1. Seal*

        Mine too. Just one of those bananas makes my cats goofy – Hank really must be flying high with half a dozen of them!

  6. Favorite Mocktails?*

    Please help a girl out! I’m trying to reduce the amount I drink, especially at home on my own. At the end of my remote workday, I find myself reaching for a beer to indicate “yay, it’s fun time now, shift over!!” This is problematic for some obvious reasons, particularly as I am already going out with friends a fair amount and also drinking then. I’d love to get my consumption down to six drinks or less in a week, which is … not where I currently am. I am interested in mixing mocktails that really feel special and fancy. Currently right now I have had some success with making: 1) shrubs, but I could use more recipes if you have one 2) fancy lemonades with rosemary or agave syrup 3) bitters and soda. I think an astringent taste helps it ‘feel real.’ Any other suggestions? TY!

    1. Ranon*

      NA beers have really improved if you’ve not experienced that world lately. Athletic and Untitled Arts make good ones, an NA Heineken is a shocking match to an alcoholic one. There’s also a lot of hopped seltzers out there that are really tasty.

      1. mreasy*

        I was just going to say – I had a relaxation placebo effect from an Athletic yesterday after a long week.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      Strong ginger ale/beer mixed with lemonade or limeade makes a great mocktail. I also like to just put in some maraschino cherry juice (and the actual cherries) for a kiddie cocktail. Have you tried making agua fresca?

      1. Jackalope*

        Ginger beer works well with all sorts of fruit juices too. I particularly like ginger beer with cherry juice or apple juice (the apple juice might feel a bit too sweet for you in your specific context, though).

    3. tiny*

      There’s a mocktail cookbook called Good Drinks that was recommended to me. For me, the recipes were more involved than I was willing to do on the regular, but it might clue you in to some flavors/ingredients that you might not know about. Also second the person recommending current NA beers.

    4. Bluebell*

      Kevita’s line of kombuchas is a nice easy option I like. They have a variety of fruity flavors, though I think the mojito one is a bridge too far. Tart cherry and pineapple peach suit me, though I do sometimes cut them with a bit of seltzer. It’s a bit late in the season but Smitten Kitchen had a great recipe for a peach shrub.

      1. Pennyworth*

        Kombucha is a good idea, because it isn’t very sweet. I always think a replacement for alcohol should be the same level of sweetness, a sugary drink doesn’t fool me one little bit.

      2. Daisy*

        My local kombucha people have a dry hopped one that is a similar taste profile to beer—I drink that as my “work’s over, relaxing now” beverage on weeknights.

    5. Annie Edison*

      I’ve been obsessed with mocktails using shrubs from a local small business called Sauvie Shrubs- she’s based near Portland, OR but I believe ships across the US. Her shrub flavors are divine. You could check out her website for flavor inspo for your own shrubs, or just order some of her samplers if you have the spending money. Everything I’ve tried so far has been delicious

    6. What's next?*

      I like Raspberry fruit syrup, lemon juice and sparkling water. I also like making interesting ice blocks with lemon zest, a whole raspberry, a piece of mint or some other herb frozen in them. I have also tried the Seedlip non alcoholic spirit (I like the citrus one best) which might help with the astringent taste you like. Good luck!

    7. Forensic13*

      Have you tried using things like butterfly pea tea, which changes colors, or edible glitter? Or freezing fancy ice? Maybe the extra prep could make it feel more satisfying?

      Things that can be made slightly sour, like rhubarb, also seem like they could be a possibility.

    8. JaneDough(not)*

      Begging your pardon if I’m seeing something that isn’t there, but when someone says, more or less, “I’m drinking more than I want to be drinking,” one important question is, “Are you using a substance to cope with anxiety or other uncomfortable feelings?” (Most of us, myself included, do *something* that’s a little compulsive in order to run from our feelings, so no judgement.)

      If that’s a possibility, then investing a lot of time in learning about and making non-alcoholic drinks isn’t necessarily the answer that will be most helpful over time — facing your feelings is the solution. If I’m wrong about your situation, sorry — no offense intended, just wanting to help.

      1. ecnaseener*

        On the flip side, I’ve been where this poster’s at, solely because wine feels like A Tasty Treat For Evening and water or tea doesn’t. (Spindrift made all the difference for me!) It’s very much possible to be at a “this is not good for my liver, I should scale back” point without being emotionally or physically dependent on it, at least for some people.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Yes, the lure of the grape is strong, isn’t it? I was a wine lover, but I live in a family of people who have addiction issues so I had to stop because of them. It’s been over six years now and I still miss it, but not enough to compromise their recovery.

          1. WhatTheActualFact*

            Sometimes it’s the accessories that make the difference!
            I like even plain water or other mild beverages in a wineglass because it does make it feel special. :)

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I completely understand the need for a replacement “special time” signal, even though I dropped alcohol due to lack of interest years ago. I ended up reducing it more and more because the calories/expense/slight health impact just wasn’t worth it to me, and eventually lost the palate so it doesn’t even taste good to me any more. The thing about a drink that needs to be consumed in a minimised way though, is that when you do pop a cork or break a tab you know it’s “special time”. I do struggle to send this message to myself with other things!

    9. MissCoco*

      I don’t necessarily have other suggestions, but love adding some muddled fruit, herbs, or cucumber to a bitters and soda drink. Also charred lemon juice is a fun addition that makes lemonades and other citrusy mock tails taste more dimensional.

    10. Pippa K*

      I like the Australian standard lemon-lime and bitters. Some diet lemon-lime soda, a few shakes of Angostura bitters, on ice, and you have a perfectly nice drink that’s nicer than plain soda.

    11. Name (required)*

      Homemade rosemary simple syrup (1c water, 1/4c. Sugar, few rosemary sprigs – simmer 5 mins let cool)

      Frozen peaches
      Rosemary simple syrup
      Ice cubes

      Blend (add more to taste)
      Add club soda

      Pour in fancy cup and garnish with rosemary sprigs from syrup.

      Yummy!

    12. Alex*

      This is more something you can reach for rather than something you can mix, but have you tried hop waters? There are several brands available online, but also some local breweries are making their own. It’s non-alcholic but still feels kind of special. I’m obsessed.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I had this at a tapas place and it was really good! The sort of bitterness you want to go with food.

    13. AcademiaNut*

      As far as shrubs go, check out Chinese drinking vinegars – they’re somewhat sweetened fruit vinegars that are usually drunk as a digestive aid, but mix well with water. You get all sorts of flavours.

      My order of hops and pH metre arrived, so I’m going to experiment with making hop water. Hop flowers, steep in water with a bit of lemon, and used as a concentrate with soda water.

      A bit of chopped cucumber, sliced strawberries, mint or watermelon adds a nice flavour to sparkling water.

    14. EA*

      This might be irrelevant to you, but having something fun to do right after work helped me. Years ago it was running with a friend, now it’s dance or yoga class, but could be any class or hobby that makes you feel like yay, work’s done!

    15. Janeric*

      I like to make lemon simply syrup by mixing juiced lemon peels and sugar and letting it sit in the fridge overnight — liquid seeps out of the peels and makes a syrup that has a strong lemon oil taste.

    16. Amory Blaine*

      I love love love making homemade shrubs! My favorites have been rhubarb, currant, and basil (separate flavors, not mixed together!). My go-to recipe is to fill a quart or half gallon jar with berries or herbs, cover with apple cider vinegar, and let sit for a week, shaking twice a day. Then strain and mix 2 parts infused vinegar to 1 part sugar. Frozen fruit works as well or better than fresh. Shrub is delicious splashed into sparkling water and is good in the fridge for months.

      I also really like Ghia and Seedlip nonalcoholic spirits, mixed with sparkling water or ginger beer. You can add shrub or bitters for a mocktail with a little more depth.

    17. JSPA*

      if you don’t have any medications that interact badly with grapefruit (a startlingly long list!) grapefruit juice or fresh grapefruit famously makes it hard to tell whether there is alcohol in a drink or not. I’m thinking the other “san pellegrino” citrus flavors (blood orange, bitter orange, pomello, lime) likely do same.

      And, kudos!

      All the “day drinking” memes (and adult drinking game) ideas currently floating around lead me to think that a lot of people have ended up on the slippery slope to physical dependence, and would likely be better served by pulling back, than by further normalizing consumption.

      Eventually (and to be explored gently!) it would probably be ideal if the benchmark for relaxation shifted away from “kinda mimics real alcohol,” though. Maybe you can slowly redirect the focus on the (more subtle) pleasure of feeling better hydrated? (Or put cucumber slices on your eyes, or have a 5 part “coming home” stretch, or whatever else works for you.)

      1. Tiny clay insects*

        Another viewpoint: it’s okay if “mimics alcohol” stays as a qualifier, since the difference that matters is that it’s still non-alcoholic.

        (this is a touchy subject for me, a vegetarian who leans vegan but also loves fake meat. a lot of veg people think the ideal is to not have fake meat, but I feel like, no, for me what matters is not eating animals, period.)

        1. allathian*

          My sister’s mostly vegan although she isn’t an absolutist except with actual meat. She’ll eat baked goods made with eggs and butter, and she doesn’t avoid honey because she figures that without pollinators vegans would also starve along with everyone else. I’m a flexible eater, and when I go out to eat I’ll pick the most appetizing option, whether it contains meat or not. My sister doesn’t care about fake meat and doesn’t use it much when she cooks for herself, but when she invites people to dinner she’ll cook with it because it’s easier for the red meat lovers in our family to eat and enjoy.

          Fake meat’s great for the majority of the population in the West who enjoy meat. The aim isn’t necessarily to make everyone vegan, but for the general population to eat less meat, to protect the environment and to promote better heart health.

          I had a great cranberry mocktail earlier this year, but I can’t remember the ingredients even though I saw it being made.

        2. JSPA*

          I’m not questioning that there’s pleasure in something that tastes like a mixed drink with alcohol! I have an occasional one myself.

          But if your daily touchstone for “post-work relaxation” is “tasting something that reminds me of alcohol,” long-term, it can be really helpful to retrain your pavlovian responses.

          That way, when you don’t have access to mocktail ingredients, and do have access to a minibar at the hotel, you have other (better) relaxation options, if happens that the alcohol would not serve you well in that situation. (Even if it’s just that it’s one of those minibars where every item is 18 euros, because they know you’re jet lagged, and they know you’re not going somewhere else.)

    18. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I don’t really like alcohol, so when I’m out with friends or feeling mildly celebratory at home I have a 0.2l bottle of fizzy non-alcoholic wine.
      I’m too lazy / incompetent in the kitchen to make my own and there are some really decent-tasting ones (I’m in Germany, so no point giving our brands)
      Friends who drive say the non-alcoholic beers have become excellent too.

    19. Hopefully Yummy*

      Following with interest as I have a step-mom who can’t drink right now due to meds and wants to have something “fancy” with her friends and a daughter who is pregnant!

    20. Jay*

      You could try replacing that “end of the workday” beer with a really nice Jamaican Ginger Beer (Old Tyme and Goya have some nice ones). The good ones have a nice mixture of spices and flavorings that set them apart from regular soda, they have some serious burn that is vaguely reminiscent of hard liquor, and they come in the same kind of brown bottle that regular beer comes in, so it has the same ‘feel’ as a beer.
      Also, if it’s in the budget, try looking at a Soda Stream or equivalent fizzy drink maker. That can give you a hit of the “making something special to celebrate the end of the day” vibes.
      I had also heard a while back that those super low alcohol type beers/wines were making a comeback, like what they used to call “small beer”. It’s got alcohol, but so little it really doesn’t matter, unless you drink literally gallons of the stuff. I don’t know if it caught on, as I aged out of drinking much of anything anymore, helped along by a couple of serious overindulgences and the resultant OLD PERSON HANGOVER (if you’ve had one, you get the capital letters, also, if you find yourself thinking that mixing gin and tequila is a good idea, this is a sign that it is time to stop).

    21. PhyllisB*

      If you like astringent flavors, perhaps tonic water with lemon or lime added. (I preferred lime.) This really helped me when I quit drinking. However, a heads up: tonic water has a lot of sodium, so if you need to watch that, maybe sparkling water instead. because club soda is also
      high sodium. Another one I like is cranberry juice with lime. A virgin Cape Codder. If you like tomato juice a Virgin Mary might be good. Personally, I just drink iced tea with sweet n low now, but I’m watching this thread for ideas because sometimes I like something festive.

      1. Girasol*

        Tonic water with any fruit juice or syrup. We make a currant syrup and I love a drink that’s about one part each of soda water, tonic water, and syrup. Tonic adds that grownup bite that most sweet soft drinks lack.

    22. Pharmgirl2012*

      I follow an instagram account – Olivianoceda where she is trying to skip the same. She has tons of amazing mocktakl recipes.

    23. Ghostlight*

      From my friend in the bar industry, check out these instagrams:
      @mindfullycami
      @pamwiz
      @hilarywritesny

      From my own experiments, the non alcoholic wines I’ve tried are TERRIBLE (even the top rated ones).

      Also culture pop sodas are probiotic and taste to me like a cocktail (lemon ginger and orange mango are my favorites).

      I’ve also really enjoyed some flavored seltzers and thought of dressing them up with muddled mint or something similar.

    24. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Indulge in flavor extracts and you can go wild. I started with the obvious food extracts from grocery stores, then discovered that hobby stores sell a wider variety for baking&candy-making. I’ve also been reintroduced to ginger beer, which is bitey enough to feel alcoholic on my tongue even though it isn’t.

      I use them with commercial sodas, iced tea powder, fruit juices, and coffee. Sometimes milk even, but I especially love exotic custom Coca-Cola.

    25. Busy Middle Manager*

      My favorite Mock-tail is:

      half seltzer
      pomegranate juice
      a bit of freshly squeezes orange (sometimes I throw slices in the pitcher)
      Lime juice
      Alot of ice

      that sort of replaces red wine

      then I like seltzer, pineapple juice, and some ginger “juice”

    26. Jay*

      Oh, almost forgot this!
      Look up some of those old fashioned soda fountain-type drinks.
      Egg creams, lime Ricky’s, that kind of thing.
      They can be pretty amazing if you do them right.

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

        Ooh, yeah — sometimes, I make a coke float with cola and vanilla ice cream over ice, inspired by my mom, who always liked ice cream sodas.

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

          You can also make a purple cow, which I think swaps grape juice for the cola.

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

      I like to fancy up my caffeine-free diet pepsi by pouring it in a real glass with ice cubes and a very healthy amount of lime juice (lemon juice is good too). It makes it feel like it’s a treat instead of just hydration!

      1. Jay*

        I’ve been known to add vanilla to my Pepsi Zero, and that’s pretty good too.
        I’ll have to try the lime juice, though! I’ve never put that in a Pepsi product before. I’ve done lime Coke and that was pretty great, so the Pepsi version should be too.

    28. Can't Sit Still*

      For basic mocktails using standard cocktail recipes, use coconut water (should be clear or faintly pink) for clear spirits, e.g. vodka, white rum, silver tequila, gin, etc. and unsweet black tea for brown spirits, e.g. bourbon, rum, brandy, etc.

      Use fresh squeezed fruit juices and high quality ingredients, i.e. don’t use Rose’s lime syrup or grenadine. Bitters come in a vast variety of flavors. I especially like Mexican chocolate bitters. Use cocktail cherries (they make non-alcoholic ones, too) instead of the bright red maraschino cherries you get at the grocery store.

      Monin syrups can be a good substitute for some liqueurs. For example, they have a bitter orange flavor that can almost do a 1:1 replacement for aperol, but you’ll have to experiment to get a Campari equivalent. Monin, and I’m sure others, has an oak barrel flavoring that can be added to cold, unsweet black tea makes an acceptable mock whiskey. I’ve also added a few drops of oak barrel flavoring to my morning coffee when it really wasn’t appropriate to have an Irish coffee.

      Runamok has an amazing maple syrup that’s aged in Whistlepig bourbon barrels and it’s a great replacement for simple syrup in a recipe that calls for bourbon. Also delicious in a hot toddy, with or without whiskey. Runamok makes a variety of tasty maple syrups, like banana rum, cinnamon & vanilla and black jelly bean. If you like licorice, you have to try their black jelly bean flavor. I haven’t tried using it to substitute for an anise flavored liqueur in a mocktail yet, but it might work.

    29. NPTraveler*

      Get a soda stream! Use soda water, squeeze half a lime over ice. Works great for the astringent feel you’re looking for.

    30. crookedglasses*

      I’ve recently started having a one-person, one-song dance party to denote the end of the work day and it’s been tremendously helpful in drawing that mental line. I’ve found it to be more helpful than just taking a walk, which is another post-workdsy ritual I know many people use. I’ve also seen changing clothes as something that can be done to mark the shift.

      Good luck!

    31. Cuttingdownbooze*

      There are so many different types of bitters now and you can buy them in sample packs. Ironically, most of them seem to have no real use in cocktails, but 90% of the ones I’ve tried with soda are quite good. Especially if you’re already into bitter drinks, a bitters and soda really scratches that itch, I find.

    32. WhatTheActualFact*

      Check out your local bubble tea places – the variety and colours are amazing. If you stick to the fruity teas or plain milk teas with ice you won’t get the big sugar rush either.

    33. Thunder Kitten*

      Iced teas – unless you’re avoiding caffeine ?

      I echo the commenters above that doing something to make it “special” will also help. Special glass, special ingredients, dunno maybe a special activity to go along with?

    34. Hazel*

      The blog BenandBirdy by Catherine Newman has a March 2022 post with the same thoughts! She offers a recipe for a bourbon-like drink based on black tea for astringency and full body, plus ‘long drink’ recipes based on it. It is not sweet like many soft drinks.

    35. Annie Mouse 2160*

      Lemonade w/ hibiscus (tazo passion) tea.

      When I began cutting out liquor completely I also took “swigs” of apple cider vinegar.

  7. Snooks*

    Start with a few bottles of the fruit syrups available in shops that sell European goods. They make wonderful starters for drinks, in fact they are what many bars use. A single bottle will not cost more than an upscale cocktail.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I used to get Scandinavian saft at a European deli by my old office. I just learned my grocery carries Ribena on the international aisle so I’ll learn if I like it at lunch today.

  8. Aphrodite*

    Alison, am I misremembering? I thought you were going to not start the weekend discussion until late Friday or early Saturday but this week and last you are starting them on late Friday afternoon.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Friday evenings, which turned out to be best traffic-wise. This one went up a little after 8 pm ET and last weekend a little after 7 pm ET (but maybe that’s afternoon in your time zone?).

      1. Aphrodite*

        I’m in California, yes. Whatever works best for you works for me. I’ll remember the time going forward. Thanks.

      2. E Nash*

        sorry this question is randomly inserted in the thread, but what happened with Hank’s beautiful fur coat?Did he have a vet or groomer visit…hope he’s OK!

      1. zyx*

        Alison has said that the weekend open thread is active for about 36 hours after she posts, no matter when that is. (I might be misremembering the number of hours, but it’s not 2 full days.) So for people looking to ask questions, it’s helpful to ask at the start of that time.

        For those of us in later time zones, starting things at 4pm Friday means that by our Sunday morning, folks have mostly stopped posting and reading.

  9. anon24*

    I haven’t had a moment to sit down and breathe all week and have been out until late in the evening or night every day. I’m currently drinking tea and playing Baldurs Gate 3 while my cat who normally refuses to be a lap cat is snuggled up napping on my lap and purring his little heart out :)

    How are you relaxing this weekend?

    1. Rosyglasses*

      I’m looking forward to doing a trial packing run for our upcoming road trip, and swinging by our local nursery for some garlic and bulbs to plant when we get back!! Currently snuggled under a blanket sort of watching a show on Acorn.

    2. SparklingBlue*

      Exploring more of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom–It’s been a learning curve getting used to using a controller again after being in handheld mode for so long.

    3. Cookies For Breakfast*

      A thing I’ve craved since my partner and I got our secondhand bikes last month is cycling to my favourite breakfast place (best pastries I’ve had in this city). Eating there only makes sense on a sunny day, because part of the appeal is sitting outdoors in a waterside spot. We haven’t been there yet this year, because the weather has been miserable, and pre-bikes we’d have to plan to take a bus which isn’t very frequent.

      Well: it finally feels like summer here, so my long-awaited breakfast is happening tomorrow!

    4. carcinization*

      My husband and I were planning to watch our DVRed last 2 episodes of the current season of “What We Do in the Shadows” earlier this week, but nope, our cable company has cut that channel due to weird sports negotiations or something. So we’ve signed up for the free trial of Hulu in order to watch them, and may also check out the “new” (2014) “Sailor Moon” because I didn’t watch it when it was released.

    5. Middle Aged Lady*

      I’m cooking the bounty from our garden. Zucchini lasagna, a tian, tomato sauce, pesto. All the good things! While hubs puts up new blinds.
      Tomorrow I have a long bath with my favorite essential oils planned, and I am re-reading my novel draft to see what areas need work.

    6. Professor Plum*

      I went to the gym last night just to soak in the hot tub for a while. Very nice ending up a busy week.

    7. Pumpkinhead*

      Playing so much BG3 in our spare time! My partner and I have two local co-op playthroughs right now, which we’ve put a combined 75 hours into, and we are still in Act 1 in both. It’s such a massive game and I love being able to take my time and explore the world while still slowly following the overarching plot.

  10. Coming out of Covid*

    Removed — I’m going to direct you to your doctor on this one since we can’t give medical advice; your doctor will be the best source for this kind of question. – Alison

    1. Sitting Pretty*

      I think you’re asking about getting back to being around people and I’m answering a different angle on your question so please ignore if this isn’t relevant to you.

      I had my first and only (known) COVID infection in July ’22. Pretty mild. And since then… well, I’m now over a year into a case of Long COVID that’s getting worse and may soon put me out of work.

      This isn’t to scare you, odds are on your side that you won’t get Long COVID! But there is some anecdotal evidence of a strong correlation between being a little too active during the acute phase of COVID and/or getting back to regular activity too soon after. Like stress and exertion while still recovering MIGHT make someone more vulnerable to LC.

      I know there are a lot of unknowns around this, but if I could go back in time and do one thing differently, it would be to rest a lot more aggressively and for a lot longer. It was summer, and there was lots of fun outdoor stuff to do (in the heat no less, oy. I was so clueless). I ended up active and moving a lot through my acute illness phase and then pushing hard to get back to exercise and work much too soon after.

      So my advice to you is to rest much more than you might think you need. Rest even when resting is boring. Take the return to activity and work very, very slowly, like chill for maybe four or six weeks after you’re testing negative again.

      I hope you are feeling better and breathing easy again soon!

    2. California Dreamin'*

      If you want what the actual official guidance is, it’s that you can go out after day 5 if you still wear a mask on days 6-10. (But if you test negative, you can stop masking then.) I had my first case in July, pretty mild and I took Paxlovid. I had a social event I really wanted to go to on I think day 8, and theoretically I could have gone with or without a negative test, but I did test negative by then. You definitely don’t need to do three negative tests each 48 hours apart (again, if you’re asking about what the official rules are.) Even though I felt much better by about day 4, I had a lingering cough that lasted for about a month. This did not stop me from doing anything because I was long testing negative and I get a long lingering cough with any upper respiratory infection I ever have. Hope your case remains mild and that you’re soon back to normal life, however that looks for you!

  11. Blue suede shoes*

    Actually blue suede jacket! Found one in excellent shape at a thrift store, bought it, and discovered the lining reeks of the previous owner’s perfume. No local dry cleaners will handle suede, and had no ideas beyond, “ try the Internet.” Off to Google!

    The most common/plagiarized suggestion is to turn the jacket inside out, pour baking soda on it, mist it with water, then brush off. What do you think? I can give it a try but sounds messy so First doing a commentariat check.

    1. Joie De Vivre*

      Ballet companies spritz their costumes with vodka to get odors out.

      If you try it, test it on a small spot first. Good luck.

        1. Grits McGee*

          Rubbing alcohol is chemically different from “drinking” alcohol (isopropyl vs ethyl). According to Dr Google, rubbing alcohol is the better option when odors are being caused by bacteria, but vodka is gentler on clothes. So for stinky gym clothes, rubbing alcohol might be the better option, but with perfume+suede vodka seems like the better option.

      1. curly sue*

        Good old French Dry Cleaning! Do not use straight vodka – we mist with a 1 : 2 or 1 : 3 ratio of vodka : water. Cheaper, and much less likely to cause damage or colour bleeding. HOWEVER. This actually only works on B.O. – it’s got something to do with the properties of the alcohol binding to the sweat byproducts. (I’m a wardrobe tech, not a chemist.) It’s not going to do anything for lingering perfume except make it boozier.

        I’ve had good luck getting smoke smell out of leather by placing the garment in a rubbermaid tub with an open box of baking soda, closing the lid, and leaving it there to ferment. It took a few weeks and some changes / stirring of the baking soda, and then hanging the garment out in the wind for a while, but it eventually got all the smell out.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Seconding the vodka suggestion. I used it on perfumy cashmere recently and it was AMAZING. I used a mister and sprayed fairly heavily, until the wool was uniformly damp but not wet. For the suede, I would turn it inside out and try to spray just the lining. Hang or lay it to dry (still inside out) wherever it can get the most fresh air.

      It’s possible the suede itself will still have an odor. If so, test a bit of vodka on an inconspicuous spot, and repeat on the suede side except I would only lightly mist it.

    3. Bobina*

      if you’re on Instagram check the jeeves_ny page. it’s a dry cleaning company where one of the younguns uses social media to share all sorts of cleaning related stuff. there was a post about suede not too long ago which might help

    4. Doctor is In*

      There are sprays for stinky sports clothes that might work. Sweat X and others available on Amazon.

      1. Blue suede shoes*

        I’d actually tried that! The sun seemed to empower the odor, lol, so that a 10 foot radius reeked of the perfume, without ever lessening the smell on the liner.

  12. (Not crazy) cat lady*

    I am a cat lover and have three rescues of my own, which is the maximum number I am allowed under my apartment lease. I am dedicated to giving them the best possible lives. I also really want to do more to help the shelter cats in my city; there are lots. I am donating as much as I can afford and ‘sponsoring’ cats on the website who seem like they need it the most – I’m guessing this is the best thing to do? I obviously can’t adopt more or foster. I am considering volunteering in some capacity but I’m a big softie and it might just break my heart to see all the cats who need homes that I can’t give them. Anyone have experience or advice?

    1. (Not crazy) cat lady*

      I should add that I am donating money, not things, in case that wasn’t clear. I know the rescues can make the cash go further with their purchases than I could with mine.

    2. Sloanicota*

      If you have access to a car, my shelter has a motley crew of fosters and they often need rides for the cats to and from the shelter for various medical needs. It’s amazing how many appointments the little guys have, and not all the fosters have cars themselves. I’m not positive how someone would get on the list to be a driver (for our shelter, it’s the cat foster list-serve and we all exchange rides with each other) but maybe you can ask the shelter?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Also ask if there’s a transport chain you could help with.

        I learned that some rescues do this from a friend active in a breed-specific dog rescue group. She’s on call to help move a dog who is being adopted across regions. She would pick up a dog a state away and bring him a state in the other direction, possibly fostering him for a night or so if needed. It’s already adopted dogs on their way to new homes so no keeping them.

    3. iheartcats*

      I’m a foster hooman and I love cats too! I also wish we could save all the cats, and some days it’s hard to remember that I’m doing enough:-). I mention fostering literally every time pets come up in conversation in hopes of unofficially recruiting more fosters hoomans. Thank you for helping your fosters live their best lives:-)

    4. Hybrid Employee (Part Human, Part Wolf)*

      I bet you can donate skills to rescue groups! I’m sure, like every volunteer group, they have spreadsheets that need spreading and emails that need proofreading, etc. That could be a way to volunteer without putting yourself in the emotional line of fire!

    5. Zephy*

      If you are able to donate your time to your local shelter or cat rescue, there’s always something that needs doing in animal care. Cleaning litterboxes and washing blankets is not glamorous work, certainly, but it is extremely necessary to keep a shelter running. The cats don’t need your pity, but they do need your love and support to make their stay as pleasant as possible, and help them show their best selves to prospective adopters.

      Even if you can’t take all the cats to your home, you can help to keep their current spaces nice, so they will have a more pleasant time and present better to the public. When I coordinated adoptions for my local Humane Society, I relied a lot on the volunteers who were handling the animals on the daily to tell me what they were like – my role didn’t give me a ton of time to personally interact and get to know all of the animals in our care, despite my best efforts to do so, so it wasn’t uncommon for me to introduce a family to a dog or cat that I was also meeting for the first time that day. But, I could talk to the kennel staff or read the notes they added to the animals’ files and learn a bit about them first, which helped me make good matches. We had a really low return rate, and I think the volunteers were really a key part of that – more people interacting with the animals meant we had better data to help us match animals with the right forever families.

    6. Cat and dog fosterer*

      I don’t want to sound discouraging of any rescue or charity, so please continue donating to your current one, but maybe also look to see if there are TNR programs you can support too? For every female cat TNRd it prevents the birth (and ultimately death) of 10 kittens the next summer. It’s often unappreciated because the cats are often feral and are sometimes returned rather than adopted into loving homes, but kittens born to feral mothers have stressful, short lives so TNR makes a huge difference.

      If you’re lucky then your area may already have a lot of TNR!

      Ultimately please know that however you donate your money and time, you are saving lives and rescues are incredibly grateful for every bit of help that we can get. Thank you so very much <3

      1. Sloanicota*

        I initially was going to suggest OP could volunteer with a TNR program too, but to be fair, she says she doesn’t want to be confronted with heart-rendering kitty tales all the time, and for some people I’m sure it’s hard to see the cats returned to the streets, plus they are often hard luck cases – and they cats are understandably pissed/frightened when you’re dealing with them, which is probably hard on the empathetic among us (makes it easier not to end up Collecting Them All though! Because they hate your guts!!). Perhaps OP could be the intake call person or the supplies or fundraising person or the set-the-traps person but not the collect-the-traps person, or something. But it is a good use of your charitable dollar for cat lovers.

  13. Volunteer Ideas?*

    Looking for specific volunteer ideas for office work. I’ve got a medical adjacent background, decent writing, computer skills including Excel, Word & PowerPoint. I can pick up tasks quickly. I think I could really be of help in the right office. For medical reasons I want to avoid Covid exposure from the general public. I also have arthritis in my hands keeping me from grasping or handling. I did my stint fundraising and am not interested in that or event planning.
    Things in my community that I don’t want to do:
    1. Food Bank – unable to handle the cans & food. Don’t want exposure to public
    2. Meals on Wheels – exposure to public
    3. Library – unable to handle books, or exposure to public
    4. Hospital volunteer – too much exposure to sick people. They also want people to do fundraising
    5. Chamber of Commerce or Visitor Centers – exposure to public
    6. Political party volunteer – almost all want fundraising
    7. Thrift stores- exposure to public
    8. Museum or park docent – exposure to public
    I can’t seem to find a quiet office where I could do computer and office tasks. Do any of you know if this exists?

    1. Name (Required)*

      How about a Public Health Department? With your background in medical-ish but needing to stay away from CoVid that could be a good option.

      1. Washi*

        One of the hospices I worked at had a couple volunteers who did data entry related to the other volunteers’ visits with patients. And both had volunteers who (with some training) made bereavement check in calls to families identified as low risk. There’s also a lot of mailings and making info packets in a hospice though I’m not sure if that would be a good fit with the arthritis.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          Seconding this. There’s actually a Medicare requirement for hospices to have a certain percentage of work done by volunteers. Many volunteers want to work directly with patients – every hospice I’ve worked at would jump at the chance to have a volunteer who actually wants to do office/telephone work.

    2. Sloanicota*

      The political parties may all *want* fundraising, but I’ve certainly volunteered with groups that are also looking for people to make phone calls, and these days you may be able to do the from home so you wouldn’t be getting exposed in a call center environment. I also mailed postcards from home, which was engaging … there was a website that organized distributing the addresses – I designed postcards, printed them out, addressed them all by hand (but I bet you could print labels), wrote messages reminding people to vote on the right day, and got them to the mail. I paid the cost of the postcard stamps. Maybe there are other phone or letter writing suggestions?

      1. The bean moves on*

        I was going to suggest that as well, plenty of phone and text banking opportunities. There is also software to build ‘contact lists’ for different candidates- you might want to find a local party (county level)

    3. BlueWolf*

      You could try looking into local animal rescues? I seem to recall a rescue near me that needed help with office-type tasks like data entry, responding to emails, etc. and probably could be done remotely.

      1. Aquamarine*

        Along these lines… I volunteered for a wildlife center and did all the work from home – mostly maintaining their donor database and sending out thank yous for donations.

    4. EA*

      Could you help with grant writing for a small nonprofit that can’t afford a full time grant writer? Bonus if it’s a health related NGO eith your experience.

    5. JSPA*

      For just about all of them, I suppose you could offer to do grant writing to try to get them things like defibrillators, Narcan, or other appropriate health care supplies, if they don’t already have, and they do have the need?

      also, “Food bank” doesn’t have to mean handling cans and stocking shelves; you could see if they have (remote) pick-up-or-drop-off-scheduling jobs.

      I would be very surprised if someone were offering a private office to an intro level volunteer with general skills. (Part of what you are volunteering, if you don’t want to work with the public, is your internet connection and your ability to work from home.) Someone serving as Director in a volunteer capacity, yes, maybe?

      But in general, at this point, if you want to be out of contact with the public, and you’re not doing physical tasks, there’s little-to-no reason to be in-office.

      If you want to get out of the house, I suppose there’s always dog-walking at your local rescue (mask up to go in). That doesn’t use the specific skills you listed, admittedly! But at this point, I think basic excel basic word and basic power point are not a lot rarer than “a good heart and 2 good legs.” (Per google, more than 12% of the people on the planet use excel.)

      Once you’re a known quantity, they may have additional tasks that are more record keeping or quasi-financial, but I would not expect a random volunteer to be immediately let loose in the database.

      1. carcinization*

        She says she can’t do “grasping or handling” though due to arthritis, so I wouldn’t think someone with those difficulties could easily walk a dog?

        1. JSPA*

          I also have grip problems (though not from arthritis per se), and can vouch that walking an animal under 15 lbs or so has never been a problem. (Leashes are designed to be looped around your wrist, not grasped.)

          Really depends what’s coming in at the local rescue.

          At one point, there were a lot of rescue chihuahuas at the local rescue. (I don’t5 think it was a puppy mill; just that the celebrity fad had come and gone?) They were short-legged enough that they were difficult to walk at the same time as the larger breeds. Plus they didn’t provide the aerobic exercise most of the dog walkers were hoping for. Plus you could kind of argue that they got reasonable exercise in an indoor play pen. So they tended to stay inside a lot more, and get more frenetic (which doesn’t make a dog more adoptable).

    6. Texan In Exile*

      For political work, before an election, there’s a lot you can do from home that’s not fundraising – you can make phone calls and texts on behalf of a candidate and you can help a candidate with her website, messaging, and communications. I have done all of these things.

      My League of Women Volunteers wants people to do at-home data entry type tasks.

      Here are two examples:

      Vote411 Database Team Member
      Each Spring the League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County develops an online voter guide using VOTE411.org. We input the races and candidate data for both Milwaukee County and Waukesha County elections. To do this we need a team of individuals to prepare, manage, and enter candidate information into the VOTE411.org database for each Spring election.
      The database role requires good organizational skills and comfort level working with computers. The work can be done from home, on your own schedule and involves preparing races and entering race and candidate information. The most crucial time commitment is the first week of January when candidate registration closes. You will have about three days to enter candidate information provided by League volunteers who collect that data from local clerks.
      (For this one, they are also always looking for people to contact the election clerks to get the information. And this one is easy, too, because the Republicans usually refuse to participate – they don’t want to go on record where they stand on issues like abortion and school vouchers – so there isn’t that much candidate information to enter.)

      Highschool Outreach Coordinator Volunteer
      The High School Voter Registration project is looking for Outreach Coordinators. Coordinators facilitate registration events in the high schools – linking with the staff coordinators, [training and supporting students at registration events, – except for this part, but that’s the fun, easy part where it’s not hard to get other volunteers] and organizing the League volunteers. We have all of the training and registration materials, step-by-step directions for coordinators and a great system for getting volunteer helpers. You can start with just one school and add others as you wish.

    7. miel*

      I have previously volunteered at a food bank in an office role. I was calling people who had asked for help signing up for SNAP and screening them. The food bank’s full-time employees did the actual sign up process, but I got things started by entering their basic info into a database. I also referred people to food shelves in their area.

      The role could have been remote but I was doing it from the organization’s office.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I volunteered for a public radio station long ago. The fun part everyone wanted to do was help at live shows on the weekend… but the producers also appreciated help with mail & paperwork.

    9. Weez*

      Charities that do financial assistance for the needy often need a lot of volunteer labor to evaluate requests.

    10. Grits McGee*

      Is it important to you for the volunteer work to be local and/or in-person? If so, you might try local archives or historical societies. Chances are they would be open to a volunteer to do collections processing or cataloging work, which often involves a lot a data entry.

      If you’re open non-local or work-from-home volunteering, you might want to check out citizen scientist projects. I know Smithsonian has a bunch, ranging from transcribing plant specimen labels to identifying the shapes of galaxies.

      1. Betty*

        I was going to suggest archives or historical societies too.

        A historical church in a city near me has an archive, and I did some grant-paid work there where I typed up their hand-written baptismal, marriage and death records for 10 hours a week for a few semesters when I was in college. I’m sure places like that could use volunteers too.

    11. Anon-E-Mouse*

      How about volunteering with an animal rescue group, especially one that provides veterinary care where your experience might be helpful? Some of the work could be remote, some might be onsite but likely would have less contact with the public than some organizations.

      Rescue and animal care groups need help with record-keeping. Wildlife rescue groups often need volunteers to answer phones and give people advice about what to do about the injured / abandoned animal they’ve found.

    12. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      if you live in an urban area with fairly large museums that also have research libraries, the archives use volunteers to transcribe letters and journals for online use. Some, including national institutions in D.C., post requests for WFH volunteers; they send you the scanned document and you transcribe it. Some also need documents translated, if you are a fluent reader in another language. Even the on-site transcribing is usually behind-the-scenes, with no public interaction.

      1. Anna Crusis*

        My kid did this for their high school community service requirement. They learned some things about local history in the process! The state library here does a thing where it keeps track of how many lines of text you transcribe and you can opt to share and see who did the most that week, which game-ifies it a bit and also appealed to the kid.

    13. Volunteer Ideas?*

      Wow. You all are amazing. Thank you so much for all the great ideas. I’ve already found a couple of local non profits specifically mentioning office work. I’ll look into some of your ideas. Thanks again. What a wonderful community.

    14. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      If you’re in the US: Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve – the state committees always need stuff done online, like managing their social media, or arranging invitations and training databases.

    15. BreakingDishes*

      I volunteer at a thrift store. I do not interact with the public. I work in the back room prepping things for sale. Maybe check things out-perhaps assumptions you are making aren’t so. Good luck.

    16. Girasol*

      We have a local museum that hosts Saturday workshops not to meet with the public but to work behind the scenes identifying plants, insects, and fossils and cataloguing them. Also our Fish and Game office has run out of budget and they can use volunteers to input data and print maps.

    17. SophieChotek*

      My state also awards various grants to organizations and because it is public tax-payer funded, has to have people review grant applications. This was something I have now done 2x entirely remote from home. (I did have to go through a screening process but I would think that would be true of most organizations. I would actually feel a trifle concerned if an organization did not want some sort of references/background check.) Perhaps your state or local government has similar grants/funds?

    18. Observer*

      Check with these organizations about their back office operations. Be very explicit about that when you start the conversation. Because they all *have* back office operations. The only question is they can be done by a volunteer. And even places that “want” fundraising also have other needs that they might be happy to fulfill if you won’t do the fundraising.

      Also, as others have mentioned, there are some types of direct volunteer work that you might be able to handle without being in public. For instance, one of our programs makes a daily or weekly check in call to participants. That’s a lot of work. That’s work that can be done in the office (or may be even at home) without having to be exposed to anyone. I imagine that that there are other types of things that could be possible.

    19. Once too Often*

      Our area has organizations providing health services for the (working & not working) poor & homeless populations. They need admin support to keep services going.

      We also have a variety of meal providers, free lunch/dinner on site, bag lunches to go, who do a lot of referrals to free medical care & need organized admin support of various kinds.

      You sound like a fantastic addition to any cause.

    20. NotThatEasyToVolunteer*

      In my experience most volunteer office/administrative/technical/etc positions are highly competitive. They have sometimes even have the same type of interview process as paying jobs. Furthermore, a lot of places that used to use volunteers stopped because of liability or other concerns.

      It is beyond demoralizing to be told no when you try to volunteer somewhere and I stopped trying.

      Perhaps your experience will be different. Regardless, I wish you luck.

    21. grocery store pootler*

      If you’re open to online volunteering, you might find some tasks of interest at Distributed Proofreaders, which prepares public domain book transcriptions for Project Gutenberg.

  14. Sitting Pretty*

    Reading Thread!

    I don’t believe I’ve ever gotten here early enough to be the first reading comment, this is exciting!

    I just started a collection of short stories by Alejandro Varela called “The People Who Report More Stress” and I’m finding his writing absolutely riveting. I’m glad it’s a story collection because if this were one novel with these really compelling characters and situations, I probably would be staying up way too late to finish it.

    What are you reading?

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I’m about to start the next October Daye book by Seanan McGuire, which came out a couple of days ago. Book 17 of the series, so obviously not a good place to start, although the author is really good at keeping lengthy series fresh.

      1. SpiderLadyCEO*

        I love those books, and I’m about to start that too! I got derailed because I picked up The Spirit Bares its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White, and I couldn’t stop. It’s very good, but also very distressing and quite gorey, so I recommend anyone who wants to read it take the content warning seriously.

          1. carcinization*

            I finished it Friday afternoon, other than the novella at the end… I haven’t even started the novella because I accidentally left the book at place that must not be named when I left on Friday. Looking forward to the other side of the story coming out late next month, I guess….

    2. acmx*

      I just picked up What You Are Looking For is in the Library by Michiko Aoyama.

      I finished Mister Magic which was decent but not wholly satisfying.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I can’t remember if I commented last week but I’m still reading The Feminine Mystique, which is amazing, as well as listening to Very Sincerely Yours on audiobook. I feel like my reading has been skewing more toward romance lately even though it’s not something that typically interests me, but I’ve been wanting lighter reads and that seems to be what most of them are. I think I’m going to do a big re-read of some YA series I haven’t done for awhile to get the quick/easy reading experience back!

    4. Veronica Mars*

      I second Alison’s Tom Lake recommendation! Finished that recently and it was great.

      I also recently finished Kate Morton’s new book Homecoming. If you like her type of story (switching between a past mystery and a current day person with some connection to it) it’s a good read, although I thought it was a little long.

      1. Tinamedte*

        No fiction right now, instead finding myself absorbed by Bessel van der Kolk’s “The body keeps the score”. Gives me a lot to think about. Very fascinating stuff.

      2. PhyllisB*

        Speaking of Ann Patchett, her mother is (was?) also an author. Does anyone know her name? I know I read (and enjoyed) one of her books years ago, but can’t remember her name.

        1. Veronica Mars*

          Her mother is Jeanne Ray–I only found out her mother was a novelist when I read something about Tom Lake; I didn’t realize before and haven’t read any of her books.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        I loved that it’s based on Our Town (warmed my little theater major heart); I almost bought it when I went to visit my sister but didn’t want to bring a hardback cross country so I’ll probably pick it up now that I’m home, along with a copy of the play.

    5. Blomma*

      I just started The Survivors by Jane Harper. I’ve recently read her other 4 mysteries as well and really enjoyed them so I have high hopes for this one!

      I read All the Sinners Bleed by S.A. Cosby in one sitting earlier this week. It was very good but intense and I probably should have read it over a couple of sessions instead.

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        I love Jane Harper so much. Her books have so much texture and spirit. The mysteries are compelling, but it’s everything else that keeps me reading.

      2. Sitting Pretty*

        I just finished My Darkest Prayer by SA Cosby a couple weeks ago and also couldn’t stop. The pace and all-in noir intensity of his writing are captivating! I live in Virginia too so it’s cool to read a novel that so captures the essence of a place I’m familiar with.

        My mom and sister just went to Bouchercon in San Diego and I didn’t realize until after that Cosby was there… bummed that I didn’t have them go get a signed copy of something for me. Next year maybe!

        1. Magda*

          This is random but he’s doing a Noir at the Bar reading in Alexandria at a restaurant called Elaine’s on Sept 21st, 7pm.

        1. Blomma*

          I sampled the audiobook and I definitely would have enjoyed the narrator, but I read mysteries faster than audiobooks so I opted to read this one : )

    6. Ally*

      Just started “the naked don’t fear the water – an underground journey with afghan refugees” by Matthieu Aikins.
      A Canadian journalist living in Kabul leaves his passport and travels with his Afghan friend Omar on the underground refugee trail towards Europe.
      I just started so I am not sure how far they get but it’s really fascinating so far. The background is very in-depth as he is a journalist- won a Pulitzer Prize and many other things, and it is his first book.

      Another recent read on refugees, “My fourth time we drowned” by Sally Hayden, about people on the move and the situation in Libya, and at sea crossing the Mediterranean. Another first book by a great journalist. I have to say I am glad Sally didn’t try and follow this journey though- the Mediterranean route is deadly.

      1. M. from P.*

        Your comment has encouraged me to buy both these titles and now I’ve just finished the Sally Hayden one.
        Such a heartbreaking account.
        I’m going to recommend it further, thank you for mentioning it.

    7. Lemonwhirl*

      I’m reading “Looking Glass Sound” by Catriona Ward. I tried reading it last week, but I was struggling to get into it. So I put it aside and read “Girlfriend on Mars” by Deborah Willis (which is amazing – such compelling characters, even though one of them is very passive and inert). Then I came back to “Looking Glass Sound” and was able to get into it.

      I think I am realizing that I struggle with books that have super long chapters. Because I like to finish things, so I want to finish a chapter before I stop reading. “Girlfriend on Mars” had parts or sections more than chapters and the first one was most of the book, so I had to learn to accept that the scene markers are also places where I can feel like I’ve reached a finishing point.

    8. Angstrom*

      Making my way through “The Big Book of Female Detectives.” Just finished “The Secret Adversary”, Agatha Crisitie’s second novel, in which the main characters are a young couple who get involved in a plot involving a lost treaty.

      1. Lilo*

        I just started Secret Adversary! I’ve never read any with Tommy and Tuppence and thought I should give them a try. I’ll confess I’m having a little trouble getting into it.

        1. Angstrom*

          As soon as I got to the “post an advertisment looking for adventure” part I immediately thought of Bulldog Drummond from the same period.
          Secret Adversary is almost YA-ish with the plucky heroine and solid chum having adventures. Very different from the cozy mystery feel of a Miss Marple.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I love the Bulldog Drummond films–they’re fast and fun, and Phyllis the Perpetual Fiancee doesn’t stand around wringing her hands.

      2. allathian*

        If you liked The Secret Adversary, there’s a short story collection called Partners in Crime (1929) and 3 other novels: N or M (1941), By the Pricking of My Thumbs (1968), and Postern of Fate (1973). While I don’t find Tommy and Tuppence quite as fascinating as Poirot and Miss Marple, there’s one thing I really like about the books in that the author had enough sense to start with a pair of young detectives so that she could allow them to age as she wrote the stories.

        Poirot was about sixty in The Mysterious Affair at Styles, and except for a couple short stories that were set in Belgium, he was more or less the same age in the last Poirot novel to be written, Elephants Can Rembember (1972). She wrote Curtain near the end of her most productive period in the 1940s but she didn’t allow it to be published until she’d grown frail enough to stop writing.

      3. Mephyle*

        She came back to Tommy and Tuppence off and on again throughout her writing career. From the plucky young chums, to young married couple, to middle-aged married couple, to elderly, it seems that their age followed hers.

        By the last one, Postern of Fate, the pair is quite elderly and absent-minded, and so is the writing and plotting. And yet I found it a good listen. The mystery was all over the place and hardly made sense, but the parts in between the mystery, about the growing old and living with memories of one’s youth, was exquisitely drawn, no doubt because it concerned what Christie was living with herself at the time she wrote it.

    9. Atheist Nun*

      I recently finished two “thrillers.” One of them, The Cliff House by Chris Brookmyre, was great, and I recommend it. The setting (a luxury house on a remote Scottish island) and plot twists were fun, and there was an interesting/disturbing depiction of coercive control. The second book, The Last One, by Will Dean, was excruciating to read and not recommended. There were lots of plot holes, and the author seemed to escalate the tension and grossness for their own sake, not in service to the story.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m reading Index, A History of The, recommended here. Quite interesting. Lays out the early steps toward treating books as a large compendium of information, for which you needed a reliable map to quickly find only the part that interested you.

      One of those “I never thought about this, but yeah, that library of so many fantasy novels wouldn’t work for these underlying practical reasons.”

      1. The Blue Meeple*

        I just finished Under The Whispering Door, by T.J. Klune, after really enjoying The House on the Cerulean Sea. Under The Whispering Door is beautifully written, and very emotional, ( with themes of death and grief), and I loved it. :)

    11. Mitchell Hundred*

      I just finished “The Lighthouse Witches” by C.J. Cooke. It was about a family that goes to live in a lighthouse off the coast of Scotland, and has to figure out the weird stuff going on around it.

      Anyway, I didn’t really care for it. I felt like the story never really came together, and the author was a bit too fond of expository dialogue. With a stronger editorial hand it could’ve turned out better, but as is it’s not very good.

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      Recently read Before the Coffee Gets Cold, about a cafe in Japan where you can time travel from one seat. Lots of rules constraining what you can do so that the travel is very small scale and personal. In fiction I find that boundaries spur creativity and this is a good example.

      Started as a play and you can really feel that; if it were being performed near me I would definitely go.

      1. Sitting Pretty*

        This one just popped up on my recommended list. I put a hold on it and am looking forward to it!

    13. Nervous Nellie*

      Two new reads for me this week:

      The List of My Desires by Gregoire Delacourt, a French bestseller from 2012 about a woman who feels her life is boring and mundane. Then she wins the lottery and is challenged by her new options and starts to appreciate her old life. Very sweet, in a graphic and matter of fact French way. I am reading both a French copy and an English copy, and am disagreeing regularly with the English translator on word choice.

      The Galosh and Other Stories by Mikhail Zoshchenko – back when it was the USSR, in the 1920s during Lenin’s time, this author was as big as Cheever or Faulkner for Soviet readers. The very short stories are cheeky and satirical, about daily life in in the Soviet Union, and they speak surprisingly frankly about the corruption, shortages and nepotism, even while expressing a poignant kind of patriotism. It’s really moving, which I did not expect.

    14. word nerd*

      Read the Verifiers. It was fairly enjoyable to read, but I think it had a lot of potential to really engage me in stuff I’m interested in–Austen references! Asian immigrant dynamics! AI!–that didn’t really pan out. I wished it had more depth. And the framework of the main character constantly thinking about the mystery novels she loved took me out of the book–I saw everything through the lens of a constructed novel rather than just immersing myself in that world.

      I’m currently in the middle of The Wishing Game–cute read so far, but I think the main premise of the protagonist being a kindergarten aide who desperately wants to adopt one of the brilliant kids in her class but she’s too poor just feels a little *too* sentimental. I like a lot of cozy reads, but this one feels overdone.

    15. RussianInTexas*

      Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson.
      Just like his Devil in the White City and Isaac’s Storm, it’s engrossing.

      1. Blomma*

        I’ve really enjoyed the books of his that I’ve read! Though Isaac’s Storm was a bit too depressing for me with the descriptions of the aftermath of the hurricane.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          Isaac’s Storm gave me nightmares because I live on the Gulf Coast, of all places, been through few storms, and read the book in the middle of the hurricane season. I did not time it well.

    16. PhyllisB*

      Just finished a romance by Jodi Thomas, Breakfast at the Honeybee Cafe. It was good, but not great. I was sitting with my mom at the hospital this week so was perfect for something to pass the time without being too taxing.
      Right before that I read The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell. It’s about a baking competition filmed on the host’s estate.
      Now I’m starting on the fourth in the Baker Street Mysteries by Michael Robertson., Moriarty Returns a Letter.
      If you were ever a Sherlock Holmes fan you might enjoy this series. It’s about two barrister brothers who rent offices at 222 Baker Street. They receive letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes pretty regularly, and the lease stipulates that all letters receive a reply. Occasionally one of them piques the interest of one of the brothers and he digs deeper, and off we go, the game’s afoot once again!!

      1. PhyllisB*

        I hate autocorrect. That Jodi Thomas book is Breakfast at the HONEYCREEK Cafe. Wanted to correct in case anyone wants to seek it out. It’s the beginning of a series, so if you like this one there’s three more to follow.

    17. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My teenager has asked me to read Gideon the Ninth, and I’m having enough trouble getting into it that I would love someone to tell me whether/when it picks up.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I didn’t get into that one myself, so may not be of much help – but I did notice that it has an entry on the (beware: time-sink!) TV Tropes site. I’ve often found the entries there helpful in determining whether I wanted to read a book or not – though I should caution that it led to major immersion in a number of fantasy and/or manga series that I wouldn’t have found otherwise. In some cases the entries on that site nudged me into continuing with a book that hadn’t grabbed me, and it might be worth a try!

      2. carcinization*

        Have they, um, traveled off-world yet? It’s been awhile since I read the book, but I feel like things start happening fairly quickly after that….

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Thanks to both to both of you! Site sounds interesting…and nope they’re not off planet yet.

    18. GoryDetails*

      Audiobook: an old favorite, The Secret Garden, this version narrated by Carrie Hope Fletcher. I always enjoy re-reading this one, and Fletcher’s doing a very good job with the narration.

      Bedside book:

      The Museum of Whales You Will Never See by A. Kendra Greene: I’ve just started this one; it’s about a number of (mostly obscure) museums in Iceland. The first one: the Icelandic Phallological Museum (I am *not* making this up), a collection of phalluses from different species – including human. Anecdote: a man had volunteered to donate his own member after his death, and when he died his specimen was indeed collected, though apparently the preservation process did not go very well and the museum’s still in the market for a “younger and a bigger and a better one”! The writing style is a mix of memoir, bemused wonder, and occasional snark, and I really like it.

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

      Jesse Q. Sutanto’s *Four Aunties and a Wedding*, which I am enjoying. In some ways, her writing reminds me of the best aspects of early Janet Evanovich — there’s a little crime-related suspense, a little drama with one’s loving but out-there family, a little comedy, a little romance. She’s definitely on my “I would pick up a book by this person in a train station or airport bookstore” list.

      One of E.F. Benson’s Lucia novels about the machinations of a middle-aged lady, her presumably gay best friend, and their frenemies in a small English town. I find the series to be great comfort reading. Like P.G. Wodehouse, Benson writes amusingly about the small things in life that cause problems, but you know that everything is going to come out all right in the end.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I love the Mapp & Lucia books – very much cozy-bickering-from-privileged-people, where the keenest anguish has to do with whether or not one of them can keep her cherished “fancy dinner” recipe secret from her rival. [Amusingly, I discovered Benson via his ghost stories, which I adore; didn’t realize he wrote domestic comedies – the genre for which he first became famous – until the “Mapp & Lucia” mini-series came out. I enjoyed it, and then the author’s name clicked. “Wait, it’s *that* E. F. Benson???”]

          1. GoryDetails*

            Yes, loads of them – mostly very good, often quite creepy. One is my utmost favorite, a mix of creepy-ghost-story, tragic-back-story, and surprisingly upbeat resolution:

            “How Fear Departed from the Long Gallery”

              1. GoryDetails*

                One is The Collected Ghost Stories of E. F. Benson (ISBN 0786709804 ); there are more recent editions, though not all are as complete. There’s Ghost Stories (ISBN: 978-1784871901) from 2017, for one.

                Oh, and “How Fear Departed the Long Gallery” is available in a tiny stand-alone book from the “Seth’s Christmas Ghost Stories” series (ISBN: 978-1771961943).

        1. Mephyle*

          I joined a Mapp & Lucia group on Facebook and it’s fun to share the pleasure with so many other fans in the same virtual space.

          Some of the members are really hardcore; I wouldn’t go so far myself but I delight in reading about their reunions in period dress, visits to the real-life Rye, and their completist journey through everything E. F. Benson wrote.

    20. J.B.*

      I love this thread because I almost always find something to put on my list. I just started Midnight Riot recommended last week with a supernatural detective, right up my alley.

    21. carcinization*

      Current book is Later by Stephen King, which is for book club. I have read many, many books by this author, but hadn’t liked some of the more recent ones very much, they had seemed too long even though I’ve liked longer books of his in the past. So this short book of his that’s keeping my interest is a nice change of pace.

    22. allathian*

      Still reading a chapter a day of Alice in Wonderland. The stories really stimulate my sense of the absurd, and I feel like I need that right now.

    23. anxiousGrad*

      I’m reading Middlemarch. It feels kind of weird to read a classic like that outside of a class setting, but unfortunately I’m now officially past the stage of my life where I get to take literature classes. I’m reading the Penguin Classics edition, though, so the notes are helpful for getting historical context. I’m not too far into it yet, but am really enjoying Eliot’s commentary and turns of phrase so far.

      1. word nerd*

        Middlemarch is my favorite book of all time! I’ve only read (and reread) it outside a class setting, so it’s absolutely worth reading it for pleasure. Casaubon kills me every time…

        1. GoryDetails*

          It’s my favorite classic, and in my top ten of any genre; I re-read it with pleasure. Though I do often wish that some of the characters had access to a really good advice column and/or therapist – it would have saved them a lot of grief…

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I adore Middlemarch: the first time I read it I couldn’t wait to finish so I could read it again!

    24. Dancing Otter*

      I’m working my way through C.J.Archer’s Glass and Steele series on audio. (Budget limit, not lack of interest) I “read” the first of the next series, “The Librarian of Crooked Lane” (Glass Library series), first, which is n.o.t. the recommended progression. Both series are good so far.

      On the page, I started “Doctor Galaxy” yesterday: space travel as a change from magic.

      I abandoned Lindsay Buroker’s “A Witch in Wolf Wood” series. It’s not bad; I think I just wasn’t in the mood for more werewolves.

    25. goddessoftransitory*

      Re-re-re-re reading The Haunting of Hill House, one of my favorite novels ever. I just finished Over Tumbled Graves, a terrific mystery that takes apart the obsession with making serial killers “glamorous,” and Nettle and Bone, a terrific book by T Kingfisher, who does a fantastic job of blending humor into her stories without it sticking out in lumps and knobs.

  15. Alex*

    Any advice on how to change the kind of people you find yourself attracted to? (Not necessarily romantically, just generally as friends as well). For some reason, I tend to gravitate towards people who have endless problems. I don’t even know that they have problems when I first meet them, so it isn’t that I am attracted to the *problems*, but after knowing them a while, it turns out that they have severe mental struggles, substance abuse problems, etc. Sometimes I’ve even made a new friend and thought, ah! finally, a mentally well friend! But then time goes by and I realize I was wrong.

    By the time I realize this, I already care about these people and don’t want to desert them (although I have had to end some friendships that became too draining or I wasn’t being treated respectfully) but…I’m exhausted.

    I’ve tried going on some dates through bumble, and find it really hard to find people that I “click” with…so I’m wondering if maybe it’s something about me that is subconsciously seeking out this drama in my life that I don’t actually want. How do I figure out how to “click” with different kinds of people? Do I force myself to spend more time with people I don’t really feel a strong connection with? I feel like maybe that is sort of the answer, but then also unfair to those people.

    1. JSPA*

      I was warned early on about people who zoom in and are excessively friendly when you’re the new person at work.

      Sure, some of them just really are that outgoing! But they’ll still be like that, if you get to know them slowly.

      The others are

      a) recruiting for something (religion, MLM, timeshares, swingers club, whatever);
      b) making sure to make an impression before you hear ALL the dirt about them through the grapevine;
      c) more desperate for friends, approval or followers than is in your best interests
      d) a serial TMI-dumper, who have befriended and then alienated everyone else in turn
      e) just socially awkward (extrovert variant), in which case, refer to “simply outgoing” (they’re fine, you don’t have to mutually glom on, though.)

      Thing is, most people don’t get through life without some level of mental stress or baggage, (unless they’re packing it resolutely away and refusing to look at it, which isn’t actually the same as not having it). The problem isn’t having issues, per se. It’s the glomming (which you’re participating in as well) and the oversharing.

      People who assert that there should be nothing but truth and no boundaries between friends… and that one can quickly become true friends (soul mates, even) by eradicating such boundaries…tend to be (no surprise) bad with boundaries.

      this is even more true outside of work, where love-bombing-type behavior isn’t limited by professional norms.

      My track record with people who “knew they were my soulmate” or “felt an instant connection” ranges from someone recruiting, I believe, for NXIUM, to “have you considered egg donation.” to assault, to more average stuff like timeshares and sharers of The Good Word, the Good News, Free Vegan Feast at the Temple, etc.

      Spending a little low key time getting to know people without immediately knowing whether they are “your people,” is FINE. Look for some walking friends, look for some going to coffee friends. Those are good to have, even if they don’t mostly turn into bosom buddies.

      If you’re holding out for, “I feel like I can tell you anything and that feeling is mutual” right off the bat (or if you poison the well by chasing more average people off, by telling them about you bad luck attracting strings of weirdos), you select against people who have boundaries … and expect you to have some of your own.

    2. Informal Educator*

      I would suspect it’s less that you’re attracted to people with serious issues than it is that they are attracted to you. They probably see good qualities in you like empathy, being non-judgmental, or loyalty, etc. The solution can’t just be to be less of a good person, so my only suggestion is to be more guarded with new people until you figure out if they are as safe a space for you as you apparently are to them.

    3. Emma*

      I would suggest therapy. Sometimes therapists can help observe things that you don’t notice about yourself. The psychology today website has a good therapist database.

    4. Sloanicota*

      This is an interesting question. I think you’ve got the wrong end of the problem, actually. If you said you were attracted to people with a lot of drama in their lives, I might say being a “fixer”often comes from childhood patterns and is something you can discuss in therapy – but you say you genuinely have no idea and are disappointed when you find out, so I don’t think it’s that. I wonder if you are having problems with boundaries and leveling up early in the “friendship level.” Lots of people – probably most people – have issues of various types, but when you first get to know someone you should be screening them out if they’re not compatible with you, by maintaining strong, healthy boundaries from the start (no, if you show up 30 minutes late I won’t be waiting for you – oh, you’re telling me last minute you need a ride? What a shame, I can’t make it … We just met and you’re going on about your toxic ex-friend without asking me any questions? I don’t think I’m available for a second meet up). If you start with a casual friend level, not escalating is no big deal! Their problems don’t become your problems to deal with just because you got coffee a few times.

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

        This is great advice! I was also thinking that maybe a 12-step organization that deals with toxic relationships (like CoDependents Anonymous, Al-Anon, or ACoA) might be useful for working on making setting those boundaries early and being able to detach without being utterly exhausted a little easier.

    5. kina lillet*

      I wonder two things on opposite ends of the spectrum.

      One—is this something to avoid? Sometimes people (humans) will struggle with things; this is obvious, it’s the human condition, but it means there may be space for you to improve not getting sucked in to people’s struggles and dramas, over avoiding them.

      On the opposite side, I wonder if that powerful early connection you feel with the future drama llamas is part of the problem.

      Someone with expansive boundaries can make you feel super close super fast—you know, you’re having real conversations really early on, they’re showing you who they really are. That’s really enticing! And it feels good to become friends or lovers so powerfully so soon, instead of dealing with, idk, seven trips to Starbucks where you just talk about work. But then those boundaries stay expansive and all of a sudden you’re sucked in!

      Does that ring true? If so, still pay attention to who you like & don’t like! But maybe recalibrate to like the instant connection a little less, and the slower-to-open-up person a little more.

      1. Sloanicota*

        This reminds me of hearing that “being charming” is something one does deliberately. I sometimes find myself drawn to very charming people and overlooking quieter, less immediately appealing folks but generally once you get to know someone, the latter is often a better bet; they may seem dull at first but it’s because they’re calmly confident in their value and not putting a ton of effort into charming every new person they encounter. Perhaps rather than deliberately friend-dating on bumble, the usual advice to take a class or join an activity and meet people more organically is a good move.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I remember a Dorothy Parker book review where she just unloads against the main character who is supposedly the most charming person since snakes were invented, presented by the author in the cutesiest way possible. It’s priceless.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        I’m betting it could be #2. OP feels the connection because the future drama llama is not guarded and jumps right into sharing intimacies and that’s what clicking.

        Perhaps people with less dramatic issues are more guarded about sharing at early meetings.

    6. LemonDrops*

      pithy answer: therapy. with an appropriately qualified therapist.
      some more details: introspection, revisiting youth, and reprocessing past wounds will help with clarity on why it’s happening now, how you developed wanting unhealthy relationships, and what you want from relationships
      moving forward.

      good luck!

    7. AnotherMelissa*

      I totally understand this struggle. I have a good friend like this. (Oh no! Am I a problem person? Lol)

      She’s a fixer. She likes to fix problems. She fixes problems at work. She fixed her family’s problems even when we were in high school. She tries to fix her friends and boyfriends. I think she tries to fix everyone so she doesn’t have to look inward. It’s proxy fixing. I say this gently, but maybe a little therapy to figure out things.

    8. Generic Name*

      Like some of the other people have mentioned, I wonder if the feeling of “clicking” quickly stems from a lack of boundaries and oversharing (on both sides) early on in a relationship. I have a trauma history, and I’m finally learning to listen to my gut and having appropriate boundaries. I recently started to befriend a woman basically because we both trauma dumped about a similar (unusual) personal situation, but I also had a niggling “off” feeling at the same time as I was feeling so incredibly connected. I’m contrasting that feeling of “clicking” with how I’m feeling about a different woman at my new job. We’ve known each other for about a week now as coworkers, and so far we’ve had a couple of small talk conversations and we each know the other is married and has a kid. At this point I’m feeling like we could maybe be work friends. I’m learning that healthy relationships start slow and there really isn’t an instant connection. They’re more of a slow build of getting to know the other person. If I start to learn things about my new coworker that make me feel uncomfortable about her as a person, it won’t be a big deal to pull back on the friendship. So I suggest avoiding people who you feel that familiar click with and focus on slowly getting to know the people you feel neutral or mildly positive about. Obviously avoid people you have a bad or off feeling about from the get go.

    9. Alex*

      Thanks for all the input. There’s a lot to consider here.

      I definitely know that I personally *hate* the point in a friendship where we are just getting to know people, so suggestions that I become friends too fast definitely resonate. I guess I do this because the whole “seven trips to starbucks to drink a coffee” is like my version of hell. I try to get past that stage as quickly as possible because I hate it. Maybe I’m too impatient? I don’t know.

      I also know that this wasn’t the case with *all* of my friends who turned out this way, so maybe more than one thing is going on. And I don’t want to say that I don’t love and care about the friends I have in spite of their problems–I do!–but I just wonder why it seems I have more than my share of people in my life who, say, need inpatient mental health care (some of whom have received it, some need it but refuse), or are survivors of childhood abuse, etc. Sometimes I just feel like OMG I DON’T WANT ANY MORE FRIENDS but try to remind myself it’s not friends I don’t want, it’s crises and emergencies.

      I do have a therapist so maybe I’ll try to explore this more with her.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I got what I think might be good advice recently; that I should try to make friends as part of some engaging and social activity. I have the opposite problem to you in that I tend to shy away from people who overshare and wear their heart on their sleeve, so I avoid drama, but two reserved people who aren’t engaging with each other beyond small talk, aren’t going to connect either and that’s the pickle I’m trying to sort out. The advice giver said he stopped doing weights at the gym and started playing basketball, but neither of those activities are my bag. I was considering book clubs or maybe volunteering.

        1. Cedrus Libani*

          I’m reserved to a fault also, and shared activities are the reason I have friends. Ideally, the activity would give you some reason to talk to each other, such that you naturally get to know everyone’s personality and find the ones you click with. At worst, even if you decide that none of these people are friendship material, you’ve spent some time doing a thing you enjoy.

      2. allathian*

        I think you got to the point of the problem. By being too impatient with potential new friends you’re just getting to know, you’re driving away the ones with boundaries who don’t have so much drama in their lives. Or if they have some drama, they’ll share it with a limited number of friends that they’ve known for longer than a few weeks, not the new potential friend who just invited them for a coffee.

        I don’t have a lot of drama in my life, and I also know that I’d run like hell from a new potential friend who wanted to get too close too soon.

        Basically only glommers are willing to let you get so close so quickly, so I’m not at all surprised that that’s who you’re attracting as friends. Please also note that for people who prefer to develop their friendships more slowly, you’re a glommer, too.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        I think it might be worth exploring the whys of “seven coffees” is so hellish for you. Does it feel like wasted time? Like you’re not being truthful, or the other person isn’t? Like stalling? Does it remind you of past interactions where you felt shunted aside or relegated to “acquaintance” and felt lonely, or overlooked?

        I mean, nobody wants all their interactions stalled at that level, but there are slots between “Large mocha” and “LET US BOND.”

    10. Just here for the scripts*

      Same advice I’d give if you were asking about a romantic relationship—because relationships are built upon shared experiences. And I’m also seconding therapy to help with self reflection. While doing so:
      1. Think about the type of person you want to spend time with
      2. Sign up for activities, classes, events wheee you might find them
      3. Do the activity with them—and others like them
      4. Talk with the therapist about how you feel while doing this—who you think are good friend material, why, etc.
      5. Over time, connect with some of them to try other activities you have a shared interest in
      6. Rinse and repeat

      I’m someone who loves movies, plays, concerts, museums, books, etc.. I also loved to ski, ride bikes, travel, and dine out. I’ve joined ski clubs , show clubs, and attended “talk with the artist” events, museum events, tried a variety of book clubs…you get the idea. I’ve made a few friends through these activities.

      I am NOT competitive when it comes to cycling and hiking, so after attending one event where they stressed speed and “getting through” the environment rather then exploring/enjoying it, I have not joined the local bike and hiking groups. However, I do join meet up groups for rambles, strolls, bird watching, etc.. And when I do solo rides/walks I try to stay open to others who are doing the same. Worse case scenario, you have fun doing something you like (which you can talk about when meeting new people in other venues). Best case scenario, you make a friend or two for the activities you like to do—and maybe beyond the initial ones.

    11. RagingADHD*

      I don’t think recognizing that it takes a little effort to build a healthy friendship, and that good friends are worth it, is unfair to those potential friends at all. It’s respectful and realistic.

      One contributing factor you might consider is the ease / availability of new acquaintances to spend a lot of time with you right off the bat. People with strong networks of positive relationships have standing obligations and commitments.

      If someone you just met is immediately giving you bff-levels of time, ask yourself why they are at such a loose end.

  16. Elle Woods*

    How long have you had your fridge? My parents have lived in their house about 25 years. The first fridge they had, an Amana, lasted about 17 years. The first replacement fridge lasted about four years; the current one hasn’t even made it to three and it may have to be replaced already. When they called the store where they purchased it, they were told, “Oh yeah, fridges are only designed to last 3-5 years now.” What?

    1. PollyQ*

      Mine’s almost 19 years now, dating back to when I first moved into my apartment. Works fine, never had a problem with it.

    2. Not A Manager*

      I had a fridge from literally the late 1940’s in my basement that worked until I donated it in 2010, still going strong. It was built like a tank and used energy like a tank. I think now they are more energy-efficient but less sturdy than they used to be.

    3. lissajous*

      In Australia we have a “reasonable lifetime expectancy” – ie, even if the manufacturer warranty has expired, if the item hasn’t lasted as long as it is reasonably expected to, the manufacturer has to repair or replace.

      This does vary based on price, quality, etc. For fridges, from the Choice website:
      “Fridges:
      Cheaper to replace at 6–20 years
      Life expectancy:
      Budget / entry level: 6 years
      Mid-range: 9 years
      High-end: 13 years
      Faulty thermostats and damaged door seals are worth repairing, and the cooling performance of an older fridge can be partially restored by replacing worn seals. If your fridge is more than six years old and suffers a major fault (such as compressor failure) then consider replacement because a new one will be more efficient and have lower running costs.”

      Even outside Australia, that probably serves as a reasonable guide.

      (Choice is run by the Australian Consumer Association and is not for profit. They independently test all sorts of things.)

      1. lissajous*

        Having said that, my Westinghouse (so, mid range) had been going strong for 12+ years now. Did have to fix the door because it was trying to fall off at one stage (it started this on Christmas Eve, and I’d just made three crème brûlées, not to mention all the salad fixings!), but the fix has held and no other problems.

      2. A Reader*

        Amana model with icemaker and water/ice dispenser ca 2001 still working here (came with the house), got the fan replaced several years ago. Modern appliances use more plastic parts which fail earlier than metal components, hence the shorter lifespans. Was also able to find a new water filter from another manufacturer.

        1. Lime green Pacer*

          Another c. 2001 Amana. The freezer light has burned out and it won’t budge for replacement. Everything else is good!

    4. Enough*

      Lived in my house 39 years. Just replaced refrigerator. This is number 3 and each lasted about 20 years. I suspect though that this won’t last as long as nothing seems to any more.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      The main one in my kitchen (Whirlpool) is six or seven years old, the one in the garage (which is the one that was originally in the kitchen when I bought the house, and is either whirlpool or kenmore) is at least ten and probably a few more than that.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      We bought the fridge in 2000, when we bought the house. A basic model without ice machine, water faucet, etc as though are usually the first things to fail. Maytag, solid workhorse, my spouse has fixed a couple of structural elements (so one of the “so your catsup doesn’t fall out” bars is wood, as the plastic broke).

      We would probably replace it when we remodel or move, for energy efficiency reasons.

    7. ThatGirl*

      Okay 3-5 is silly. We’ve had ours for about…10? But I will say we had to replace the compressor last year which was about half what a new fridge would have cost.

      1. Girasol*

        Think how landfills would be overflowing with 3 year old refrigerators! Ours is about 20 now and makes the same funny noises as it did when it was new.

    8. RussianInTexas*

      We replaced ours last year because the old one was on it’s last legs. But it was almost 20 years old!

    9. Doctor is In*

      Replacing our 5 year old Samsung fridge today, chronic icemaker problems it is known for, and seals starting to wear. Hope the new LG will do better, it is higher rated by Consumer Reports at least. Don’t remember whether we checked CR 5 years ago but we were taken in by the drawer to put drinks in that we could set at 33 degrees!

      1. IT Manager*

        My parents and I both have the same Samsung fridge (mine is counter depth but otherwise same) and both ice makers failed within a year. They’ve had their whole fridge replaced within the first 2 years, mine is hanging on at year 5…

        1. Elle Woods*

          My parents’ second fridge was a Samsung and they had the same problem you described. Got the icemaker replaced and got a couple more years out of it before the thing totally crapped out on them.

      2. DeedeeWY*

        Oh no! We had an LG that stopped working a little more than 3 years after we bought it. The freezer broke first then a week later the refrigerator quit. This was in June 2021 and there were supply issues that meant we lived with a dorm fridge (in the dining room) and a chest freezer (in the basement) for more than two months waiting for the new fridge until Lowes offered us a loaner refrigerator (yay Lowes!) (and they took away the old one so we could have a fridge in the kitchen again!) which we had for about three more months until our new one finally arrived. A Samsung. (That’s why I said oh no!) Well, so far so good. But it hasn’t even been two years yet…

    10. Christmas Carol*

      Your posting made me stop and count, and I’m surprised to realize mine is almost twenty. But back in the early 2000’s we replaced an over 30 year old avocade green side-by-side and our energy use imedieately ropped by so much that the electric company accused us of bypassing our meter,

    11. MissB*

      Kind of off-topic but have you ever read about the history of the Amana Corporation? Totally fascinating. Google up “Amana Colonies” – should take you to a Wikipedia link.

      (Saw the road marker along side the road while driving cross country which took me down the path of their interesting history. We were in Iowa, location of at least one of the colonies.)

      I have a newer fridge. It’s a Bosch and has separate compressors for the fridge and freezer, so hopefully it’s at least repairable if it breaks. It’s on year 2. I still have my previous fridge which is about 5 years old, but it was relegated to the basement/garage.

      Back in the early 90s, my dad had a fridge from the 50s. It was so cool- spinning shelves. Probably not very energy efficient but it was still working when he moved across country and sold it.

    12. Observer*

      When they called the store where they purchased it, they were told, “Oh yeah, fridges are only designed to last 3-5 years now.” What?

      Find another store. Seriously. That’s ridiculous.

      You probably won’t get 19 years out of a refrigerator again, but 3-5 years? Nope. My current fridge has 10 year warranty.

      Consumer Reports may be a good place to look. Also, buy a fridge with fewer bells and whistles. Not only are they the first thing to break, they tend to raise the price. And from what I’ve seen, those in general tend to not hold up as well.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Built in ice makers tend to be overrated, I find: my sister’s fridge has one and the thing hasn’t functioned for more than five minutes at a time. The cube function regularly frosts over and the shaved ice one wore out in a week.

    13. DannyG*

      Kitchen remodel replaced a 15 year old fridge with a new one about 6 years ago. That one is working great. Make sure the airflow around the unit is good and the coils in back are dusted regularly.

    14. goddessoftransitory*

      Hah; we rent, and a couple years ago our fridge conked out. The replacement was a POS that literally had no circulating fan; the cold air just sat in the bottom of the unit like a cold, sulky lump. Our food was barely cool unless it was in a six inch square area. We complained and got a better one, but man, that first replacement fridge was just SO bad.

    15. Mztery1*

      This is our fourth in 35 years – we don’t know nothing, we just rent an apartment, but the first one lasted about 25 years and was at noon and we got here. We’ve had three in the intervening 10 years and the last time they delivered one they laughed and said “yeah we’ll see you again pretty soon. These are all brand-name, fridges – not with all the bells and whistles but relatively good quality.

  17. Valerie*

    Someone recently asked about eye care (stye) problems. I recently found weloveeyes.com….they have a lot of helpful products! PS: a neighbor’s cat also adores her banana toys!

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      That was me! Wow, this is so thoughtful. I’ll check it out!

      (After a month of doxycycline and steroid/antibiotic ointment, plus eyelid massage and hot compress, they are mostly cleared up. Doc thinks it was a reaction to the wildfire smoke)

  18. Roland*

    The movie Bottoms was so funny and good. It’s not getting a lot of advertising so I’m spreading the word! The premise is “a pair of lesbian best friends are tired of being losers and end up starting a fight club at their high school to get with cheerleaders”. I can’t remember the last movie where I laughed this much.

      1. ampersand*

        Right?! I was so confused watching the trailer but thought it looked pretty funny! It’s on my list to watch.

    1. SpiderLadyCEO*

      Oh my God agreed! It was SO funny and not what I expected at all, I really enjoyed it! We all could not stop laughing. And the lead football player is the same guy who played the prince in Red White and Royal Blue! He is so funny.

      1. Roland*

        It was very funny to see All American Football Hero Jeff! speaking with a British accent in interviews, ha.

  19. TV Suggestions*

    I’m looking for good “background TV shows”—shows that are enjoyable but not intricate and don’t require full attention to still enjoy. This is to have on in the background as I work on puzzles.

    Past shows that have worked for me in this capacity: Love is Blind (I didn’t say they have to be high quality!), Below Deck, Great British Bake Off. It doesn’t have to be reality TV, but I’ve found most dramas require too much attention for this. I’ve also rewatched some comedies like Parks & Rec or The Good Place.

    I have Netflix, Peacock, Discovery Plus, and sometimes have some of the other streaming services as well.

    Any thoughts?

      1. Anonymous cat*

        Oops! I just realized the double meaning there!

        By action I meant there’s something happening—animals hunting, baby animals running around, maybe the host interacting with them.

        But nothing complicated enough to require your full attention.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I rewatch Schitts Creek several times a year as a background noise show. Similar vibe to The Good Place (which I was also going to suggest!).

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Seconding Schitt’s Creek and adding Corner Gas. Both are lighthearted, happy sitcoms that are easy to have on in the background, and to stop to watch a 20-minute episode if one grabs you.

      1. Atheist Nun*

        I agree: these types of shows seem so formulaic that you can let your attention drift but still follow the narrative. I like to watch either Grand Designs or Escape to the Country (both via YouTube) while I embroider.

        1. Hazel*

          Those are my favourites too! I fall asleep to Escape to the Country. Escape to the Chateau and Escape to the Chateau DiY are great but perhaps need a bit more focus. Bonus, they all have a million seasons so you don’t have to find something new.

      2. Sloanicota*

        This and the apartment-finding ones like House Hunters. You only need to glance at the screen like, four times in a 30 minute show to follow the “plot” but there’s still some interesting slice-of-life settings. I like the ones where they build tiny houses too. These are actually genres of shows, god help us, in that there are spin offs of spin offs at this point.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      True crime TV is my go-to for background noise. I started with Forensic Files (then on Netflix but not anymore) and then pretty much anything on the ID channel on Discovery+. The People Investigates show is what I’ve been half listening to most recently.

    3. ecnaseener*

      Running with Bake-off, cooking competitions are great for this – Next Level Chef is very good, Cutthroat Kitchen is great for endless shenanigans, Nailed It is funny – many more.

      And I like good ol’ Survivor for this too.

    4. Pam Adams*

      I like PBS cooking shows- example, America’s Test Kitchen. And, there’s always the ultimate calming show- Bob Ross!

      1. WorkNowPaintLater*

        Our local PBS has Create as one of their channels. That is my usual go-to for these type of shows when reading, playing a game, etc

    5. EA*

      Rupaul’s Drag Race – the ultimate reality show IMHO, seasons 5 and 6 are my favorites
      Next in Fashion or Project Runway – formulaic, mindless fashion shows
      Blown Away – competition show about glass blowing, weirdly interesting
      Queer Eye – heartwarming
      Old Top Chef episodes will forever be my favorite cooking competition show
      Maybe Arrested Development?

      1. the Viking Diva*

        Second the rec for Queer Eye. It is nice to watch something about kindness (and predictable enough to tolerate semi-distracted viewing)

    6. Anon Poster*

      Superstore has been my go-to for this recently. The first time I watched it I thought I didn’t like it as much as Parks & Rec and The Office, but I’m on rewatch number three so I guess I changed my mind.

      I’m also watching Sex and the City for the very first time, and it’s been a great background show. I didn’t intend for it to be, but when I put it on I find myself actively looking for something else to do, like crochet or fold laundry or something. It really doesn’t need all of my attention.

    7. Double A*

      Netflix just released the most ridiculous competition show called Dance Monsters and I’m kind of obsessed. I love watching it with my kid.

      Project Runway is a good one too.

    8. CanadaGoose*

      Home design shows full this niche for me. For example, Love it or List It, or reruns of Trading Places.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I like lifestyle/DIY programming from regions I’ve never visited – when I started streaming Li Ziqi from Sichuan province China. YouTube started volunteering other shows from China, Siberia, South America, etc.

      I also enjoy history from any region — I particularly loved BBC’s Secrets of the Castle with Ruth, Peter and Tom. I’ve followed them from medeival France to Tudor England and beyond.

    10. Mari*

      i’ve been using “swedish death cleaning” and “baking it”, both on peacock, as background shows lately. “baking it” is a spin off of “making it” with amy poehler and nick offerman, which is probably also on peacock as well and is a great option.

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

      I stream *Rhoda* and *The Mary Tyler Moore Show* (free on YouTube) while I’m doing stuff because they’re really well written, so you don’t have to look at them to enjoy them. This works better if you’ve already seen at least some of the shows, though, so you know who’s who.

    12. IT Manager*

      Is It Cake – slightly funny, amazing cakes, formulaic so you can tune in and out and not miss anything. 2 seasons on Netflix.

    13. Nervous Nellie*

      Oooh, and I forgot – if you can get it, a BBC reality series from about 2015 called Escape to the Country. A couple ready to give up their bustling big city life are shown three homes for sale in their ideal region in England, Scotland or Northern Ireland. They give budget limits and broad parameters, and a TV host finds two that are a close fit, and a ‘mystery house,’ that is unexpected in some way – not one that the couple would have visited just by the realtor listing alone. I will say I often have had that on in the background, but dropped what I was doing to see the houses – some 400+ years old – and to cheer for the couple as they make a decision. It’s quiet & soothing. I love it!

    14. ina*

      Cooking shows. I pick up a tip here and there, good mix of talk and kitchen sounds, dramatic music. The works.

    15. SarahKay*

      I like Law & Order: SVU for this. It *is* drama, but usually the plots don’t need huge amounts of attention to keep track of, and it’s reasonably ‘talk-y’ so you can follow what’s happening without actually looking at the screen much.

  20. A tale of two foster cats*

    Not my usual nickname – if any colleagues stumble upon the photo, they’ll know who’s writing!

    I posted a few months ago to vent a little frustration that the cat shelter we foster with didn’t seem very active in finding adopters. I said I’d work out a way to pay the cat tax, and as our boys are getting adopted today, it feels like a significant enough milestone to share photos. I’ll put links in the comments.

    I don’t know that the next foster cat we get will get adopted more quickly, but for now, knowing these two are going to a family that fell in love with them at first sight makes me grateful for happy endings. They gave us so much joy, brought a special kind of love in our home, and we’ll never forget them.

      1. lissajous*

        Oh how lovely they both are, so glad they’re going to good homes!
        That first one looks so much like my lilac Burmese, right down to the copper eyes! Was he extremely playful and far too smart for his own good?
        (Or as I like to put it: precisely the wrong amount of brains. Enough to get into all sorts of trouble, not enough to not get into it in the first place.)

        1. A tale of two foster cats*

          We’ve been told he’s a Russian Blue! And you’re so right about his personality. He can be the most dignified, gracious cat one moment, and do silly things that make you wonder whether his brain is filled with sawdust the very next. The day he plunged face first into our houseplant while I was on a work video call with someone from a prestigious, internationally known institution will forever live in this household’s history.

  21. Bobina*

    Small joys thread!

    This is probably a bit bigger than small but I am in France to watch rugby and eat all the pastries and I’m quite excited!

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Oh, sounds a wonderful trip. Don’t forget the chocolate mousse too – whenever I’ve eaten this in France it was sensational.

    2. beep beep*

      I’m turning into one of those people who eats fruit whenever I have the urge for some sugar and I’m very happy about it. Sam’s Club had cheapish boxes of these golden-colored kiwis and they’re my new favorite! I’m expecting things to be harder when winter comes around, but for now I’m getting plenty of vitamins with my cravings :)

      1. What’s next?*

        Have you discovered the red kiwifruit yet? Watch out for them, they have an almost berry flavour and are totally delicious.

      1. carcinization*

        Last Sunday I had an osmanthus oolong that was amazing, this was at a restaurant but we’re probably going to order some online now.

    3. Yet Another (employed!) Librarian*

      I got some nice yarn to crochet a scarf, and I went on a lovely bike ride with my family.

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

        WOW, I just saw the switch in your user name. You’re employed! Congratulations on that (and the yarn and bike ride)!

    4. Anonymous in Connecticut*

      Helped setup for the library fundraiser book sale last night & this morning. A crowd of people excited about books is a great thing. And for once I was smart enough to leave before I conked out!

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Before the heat hit, I had an evening to sit on my front steps and finally got Merlin to capture the mystery bird call. It’s a Carolina wren–such a big song from such a tiny bird!

      1. GoryDetails*

        Wrens are amazing, aren’t they? I love the Carolinas, but the tiny house wrens are even louder, and I have no idea how they do it!

      2. Clisby*

        They are loud! For years, a nesting pair made an annual home in my parents’ garage. One year, a nest turned up on the flat part of a garden hoe that was hanging on the wall. My father needed the hoe, so he carefully nailed a piece of wood up to support the nest before removing the hoe.

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

      Enjoy France — how lovely!

      My small joys were making it through some medical procedures that were giving me anxiety and getting the books *Birds of New York* and *Trees of New York* so that I can work on identifying local fauna and flora.

      I also took a shallow bath with a book for the first time in 10 days after a procedure, and it was great!

    7. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Just came back from a bike ride that was a 1 hour round trip, to a very pretty riverside neighbourhood just south of where I live. Basking in the sun, having an iced latte near the water, and getting some outdoor exercise after a week of WFH made me feel pretty special.

    8. Girasol*

      In an area nearby that used to be a pioneer community there’s a trail lined with all sorts of different apple trees that people brought from back east. On a perfect clear blue morning we went walking and apple tasting.

    9. Paralegal Part Deux*

      I got to see Train in concert the other night and loved it. My boss surprised me with Row A pit tickets. I was thrilled beyond words.

    10. allathian*

      We harvested one box of potatoes and got enough to feed 4 adults and a growing teenager who eats at least as much as we do. We have another box to go.

      Enjoy your time in France! I have fond memories of the pain aux amandes and pain au chocolat that I got from the bakery round the corner of the street.

    11. The Dude Abides*

      I can’t wait for the RWC to come to the US, my ultimate goal is to bring my daughter to a game.

  22. Hannah*

    Does anyone have any recommendations for minimalist YouTube channels? Like The Minimalist Mom or Anna’s ArtWorld? I’ve just started getting more into minimalism and would like to see more.

    1. Weekend Warrior*

      I like Shannon Torrens, especially when she teams up with her mom Kathy. Their dynamic is great!

  23. Ally*

    Question:

    Am I stealing my neighbor’s cat if I sometimes feed her a little?

    She comes over and likes to sleep on my rug all day in the sun. Then she gets all begging for food, so I give her a little sprinkle of dry food. Ok, so I used to give her a lot more. But I promise now it’s just a little pinch.

    I should probably stop, right? The neighbors know that we do this and apparently have made some jokey comments about it to my partner. It’s just normal dry cat food I give her. We look after her when the neighbors go on holiday so I know she doesn’t need special food.

    1. Martiane*

      You should stop, or at least discuss it properly with her owners to get consent or refusal (and be genuinely willing to accept refusal and stop). “Joking” comments could just be that, or it could be an awkward attempt to communicate their discomfort with this situation without causing friction. Just stopping would probably be your best bet though. I’d be furious if anyone was feeding my cat without my direct and explicit permission.

    2. Kat*

      I’d say you’re overstepping (and I think you know that from the way you’ve phrased your question). Cats are brilliant at acting like they’re starving and desperately need food with anyone they associate with giving them food, and it’s lovely to be the person who can make them happy by giving them something, but the cat already has a home where it gets fed. I’d be really annoyed if I was your neighbour.

    3. Cordelia*

      yes, you should stop. I think you know that, though…you used to give her more food, but you stopped, presumably because you knew it wasn’t the right thing to do. But if you keep giving her a little, she’s going to think that if she keeps begging she’s going to get more. Even if you just feed her sometimes. Intermittent reinforcement is powerful.

    4. Lilo*

      Yeah, don’t feed her. Cats are notoious about having multiple families, but feeding her is going iver the line. They don’t know how much she’s eating and it’s definitely trying to make your place more permanent.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      Maybe talk to your neighbour about it. Given that they know, it’s worth checking with them about how they feel about it. They might say, “oh, it’s fine so long as you don’t give her much” or they might say they’d prefer you stopped. They might even not care at all. But it really should be their call.

    6. Forensic13*

      Could you give her water instead? That seems like less of an overstep to me, and she probably needs it if she’s really sleeping all day in the sun.

    7. I should really pick a name*

      When the neighbour’s car “claimed” us, we just asked the neighbour what they were okay with.

    8. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Yes, talk to them and say that you’re worried about giving the cat too much food, and think you should probably stop, even if it makes Grizabella complain.

      That way, they can say “yes, you’re right, thank you for asking” which is easier for a lot of people than “actually, her vet says we shouldn’t” or “thank you, but we only want her to be eating a home.”

      I don’t think you’d be stealing the cat, given that they’re asking you to look after the cat sometimes, but they may want to limit how much of the food she’s getting, or discourage her from begging.

    9. Grad School Attempt 2*

      I disagree with the other commenters about how big a deal this is; I don’t think it’s a big deal at all. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to talk to your neighbors and see if they’d like you to cut back on the treats, but also, I think it’s somewhat inevitable that outdoor cats will just help themselves to food on occasion, so if you let your cat go outdoors, you’re accepting that they might eat random things.

      I feed neighborhood strays on my porch, and naturally, some of the neighbor cats come by and eat some too. If a neighbor ever objected to this, I would stop feeding their cat when it explicitly begged for food. And if a neighborhood cat had a medical issue and needed to be kept away from my porch, I’d work out some kind of solution where I oversaw the distribution of the cat food more carefully; I don’t want to make anyone sick (my own cat has digestive issues and we have to be religious about never leaving e.g. cheese alone on the dinner table). But my assumption is that, until I hear otherwise, all cats are welcome at my porch buffet. Some of the strays really seem to rely on it; it’s lovely to see them get healthier as they keep coming back for more food. So I want to continue providing this service, which means I am also feeding the next door neighbors’ cat every day (which the neighbors are fine with). So yeah, I guess I just think it’s totally normal to be feeding neighbors’ kitties.

      1. Hannah*

        This is honestly a really entitled take to have. Just because if food is available a cat will eat it, doesn’t mean that it’s acceptable to keep providing it to them, and if food is out there 24/7 you don’t know which cat belongs to which neighbor, or even if all of your neighbors want their cats eating there. Frankly, you’re not providing a service, you’re doing a disservice to cats that have allergies, or whose families are monitoring them for diabetes and other health issues. Cats also don’t always stop when they’re full, and on an unlimited supply of food some will make themselves sick. You’re attracting any local wildlife in the area as well, some of which (like coyotes) would prefer to eat cat rather than cat food-in my hometown a woman had to get the city involved because she was drawing wildlife to her house along with cats, and some of the cats weren’t exactly coming out on top of those interactions. All the reputable TNR, rehabbers, and shelters will tell you that if you want to continue doing this, you need to be putting out small amounts of food at specific times of day and taking it in regularly. Just because you feel good doing it and it’s easy to do, doesn’t mean you’re doing something good.

        1. Goldfeesh*

          If people don’t want their cats wandering the neighborhood and hitting all the neighbors up for food- the cat woudn’t be outside on the regular.

          1. Clisby*

            That’s what I think – if you let a cat outside, you’re giving up control of what it eats. My cats were always indoor/outdoor and inside all night, but if they had had dietary issues where I wanted to monitor their food intake they wouldn’t have been outside at all.

            1. Clisby*

              Adding … I stopped leaving food outside years ago, but that was because raccoons kept showing up to eat. They haven’t been back.

        2. don'tbeadork*

          I don’t want my diabetic or kidney trouble cats to eat anything but their prescription diet, so I don’t let them outside. (Well, to be honest I don’t let any of our cats out because it’s just not safe for them or local wildlife.) People who need to control what their animals eat need to keep their animals in their own homes or on their own property, whether that’s via catio, fences, or just not letting them go outside.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I agree, but I think it depends on what the neighbours know about what their cat can access locally, and how much they can access. Outdoor cats are very common near me and just casting an eye over the different neighbours gardens there’s frequently food left outside for the pets. It’s only ever small amounts and the food gets brought back in after a short amount of time, but obviously the kitties are able to snag little bits here and there. An outdoor cat tends to be more active and whenever I’ve heard this discussed, the cat owner accepts the cat is going to eat something small away from home from time to time, (honestly a lot of the time they’re just glad it’s not a rat or a mouse). That doesn’t mean cats don’t have dietary issues, but where it is common practice and a cat is known to partake, it would be common sense for the cat owner to be one to raise this if it was an issue for their cat.

  24. Fruit Snacks*

    What’s cooking?

    I’ve came across a chicken parm recipe on TikTok and the cravings are real. But we are also experiencing Fall like weather here which makes me want roasted chicken with cranberry sauce and stuffing and mashed potatoes and all the other fixings.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Smitten Kitchen’s corn and farro. Excellent with farm stand fresh corn. Corn, butter, farro, onion and garlic, salt and pepper.

      The first time I made it I added the chopped herbs and the grated parmesan on top, and determined it honestly doesn’t need it. It is perfect as a one-dish meal, no need for salads etc.

      1. Reba*

        Lucky!!

        One of my favorite things is fig-onion jam, you can serve this fresh for a party with goat cheese or labneh, or can it for later.

        Fig does sweet and savory together so well. Saute or roast them with rosemary, balsamic vinegar, a little salt, a little sugar. Salad? Fig upside down cake?

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        Oh my goodness, a fig tree? Major garden envy happening over here!
        You can halve them, wrap in prosciutto, poke through with a toothpick and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes until the prosciutto is crisp
        Halved figs are also good with a sherry blue cheese spread: one block of cream cheese, one wedge of roquefort, a good splash of sherry, some chopped scallions or chives, ground black pepper. Squish up really well and top each fig half with some. Great on crackers too

      3. Decidedly Me*

        A friend of mine from Ecuador turned me on to dulce con higos- which is a fig dessert typically served with cheese, but also great with ice cream (I went with cheese, partner did ice cream). They take a few days to make, but there’s actually not much work involved. Highly recommend!

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        Roast figs. Put a little olive oil in a pan, line with figs, score tops (so they’re easy to break in half), optional drizzle with honey, optional add a walnut in each fig, and bake until soft.

        I serve these:
        • on bruschetta with goat cheese
        • with kofta, as a thing to add to the wrap
        • over yogurt with granola for breakfast

      5. WhatTheActualFact*

        Stuffed figs?
        Stuff them with cream cheese, even ice cream, quince jelly, or other fruits and honey with some cream on top.

    2. Forensic13*

      Tried making pizza in my skull pan last night and the result was. . . not terrible, but they were definitely underdone (as I should have expected). But they were at least satisfyingly skull-imprinted.

      1. carcinization*

        I made Budget Bytes’ “Best” Homemade Chili last week (used 2 cans of black beans instead of one can of black and one of kidney, followed the suggested additions of poblano and cocoa powder) and we enjoyed it even though it’s still in the 100s outside where I live. Looking forward to thawing leftovers this week.

    3. talking about food again*

      I came across a recipe from the NYT called cheesy white bean-tomato bake, and it sounds delicious, but it calls for an ovenproof skillet and I don’t own one. If I used a regular skillet for the stove-top part, then moved everything into a casserole dish to go in the oven, wouldn’t that work? Any other ideas?

    4. DistantAudacity*

      Tried the Gochujang Buttered Noodles recipe from the NYTimes website!

      Super easy, highly recommend; takes less than 10 mins (depending on your noodle/pasta cooking time).

      Found out where I could buy the Gochujang chili paste which is the tricky bit, and have tried it twice since: once with angel-hair pasta and once (just now! with egg noodles)

    5. GoryDetails*

      I don’t usually get sandwich-type things from Hello Fresh but I did get a meal kit for a veggie panini – roasted potatoes on the side, with roasted peppers and onions plus sauteed zucchini, with mozzarella, a red pepper crema on one slice of bread and a garlic aoli on the other. It was a bit fussier than I’d usually go for a home-made sandwich, but the result was utterly delicious!

      On the garden-produce side, some raids by an adventurous woodchuck have cut back on some of my tomatoes and eggplant (yes, the thing even nibbled the eggplant!), but I have lots of habaneros, so I’m checking out recipes for habanero jam or jelly. Oh, and I made a version of Jamaican cabbage; shredded carrots and cabbage, some sauteed onions, one whole habanero (braised with the vegetables and then removed), and a sweet-and-sour vinegar dressing. Really good, a dish I’ll happily make again.

    6. Cookies For Breakfast*

      A friend lent me Meera Sodha’s East, which suits my current resolution to reduce meat and dairy until Christmas very well. I made her summer pilau with tomatoes and cashews earlier this week and it was perfect. The recipe is in an online Guardian article too, should be easy to look up for anyone interested.

      I also made one of my favourites from Sabrina Ghayour’s Sirocco, which is a stew with aubergines, peppers, tomatoes and a small amount of spice. I don’t make it often because it needs a fair bit of hands-on time, but having a friend visit for a couple of days was a good excuse. Cooked it in a Dutch oven for the first time, and it was so much easier than using the wok (I usually have a hard time getting aubergines to soften to my liking).

      Also, we experimented with homemade hazelnut gelato and it was a pretty good first try. I wish I could do pistachio next, but damn, pistachio paste is so expensive!

    7. Girasol*

      I have too much spaghetti sauce left over from last year’s tomato crop so I’ve been using it to make potato and zucchini lasagna. Instead of noodles, two layers of raw red potato slices and one of raw zucchini slices, with all the usual spaghetti sauce and cheeses between, and then microwave it until it’s well done and bubbly. It’s my new favorite.

    8. Esprit de l'escalier*

      A current favorite is Clotilde Dusoulier’s Absorption Pasta. It’s so fast and easy. You saute minced garlic in oil, then add 4 oz (120g) of penne or other small pasta and stir it for 2 minutes. Meantime heat up 1.5 cups broth or water to very hot, and after the 2-minute penne saute, add just enough of the hot liquid to barely cover (save the rest, you may need to add some as the pasta cooks).

      Low-simmer covered for 10 minutes. Halfway through add a quick-cooking veg – she uses a thin-sliced zucchini but I prefer chopped-up fresh spinach. Check for needing to add liquid before the end, and cook a bit longer if necessary to fully cook your pasta. Serve with grated cheese; s&p to taste. She adds 1.5 tsp cacao nibs which I have never done. Yields 2 servings. We love it. It’s great not to have to boil up a big pot of water to get something this good.

      I suspect she used cacao nibs and zucchini here bc it was early days in her chocolateandzucchini blog.

    9. carcinization*

      My husband decided he wanted to pick out a recipe from the Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook for me to make him for his birthday, and picked Persian Eggplant. So I went looking for a suitable accompaniment, and ended up making rice with Tahdig for the first time. I didn’t get the latter exactly right just because I was worried about burning it, but the rice was still really great even though it could’ve been a bit crispier. More saffron than I’ve used in one dish before, but worth it!

    10. Professor Plum*

      Chicken breasts with a jar of salsa verde in the crock pot—perfect for shredding. Bagged and in the freezer for upcoming visitors. Another batch today, still deciding on different flavoring.

    11. goddessoftransitory*

      This week Husband is making goulash and blueberry pork chops for his two meals; I’m doing spaghetti at his request and have to come up with something vegetarian for my other one. Hmmm, probably a soup…

  25. Christmas cookie*

    Wedding gift- what amount of cash is appropriate?

    Couple (late 20s) lives in MA, we (family of 3 young kids + late 30s adults) live in MA. Wedding is in NH where the brides family lives.

    My cousin is the groom. It’s my youngest cousin- I honestly don’t even remember if he came to my wedding but if he did he would have been like 12. My whole family was invited, but I’m attending with 2/3 of my kids (DH is on a camping trip with the 3rd). Cousin and I aren’t really close at all but growing up I was close-Ish to his oldest brother who is my age. I’ve met the bride a few times, most recently at my uncle (groom’s father)’s funeral where bride-to-be really helped my widowed aunt arrange the funeral (aunt and her two sons were in a lot of shock).

    I couldn’t go to his brother’s wedding so sent champagne and $100 at the time (~2012).

    Does $250 cash sound right? Is more appropriate? I was not invited/didn’t go to the shower, if that matters.

    When I was in my 20s and going with DH to weddings all the time of close friends we have $150-200. I’m older and have more disposable income and fewer weddings so I’m happy to be more generous. I’ve also got a LOT of extended family attending and don’t want to be out of touch either way with what they gift.

    I also know weddings are $$ and it’s been a long time since I’ve thought about the pricing. “Back in my day” it was $80-150pp depending on where you held it. Has that doubled? I have no idea!!

    1. Christmas cookie*

      Adding: some quick panic-texting to my siblings and another cousin indicate they feel $200-$250 is right; they are single or coupled, no kids, and one isn’t attending. I’m now thinking $300?

      Does that seem right?

      1. CanadaGoose*

        You don’t need to outdo the others. Don’t gift more because your kids are attending. Since it’s similar to what the others are giving and it’s affordable for you, $250 sounds generous and lovely to me. But when I got married several years ago, my favourite gifts were handmade serving dishes, and a few things I had placed on the registry. Cash is easier, but things are harder to compare and you can just pick something you like and hope they like it too.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            Mmhmm, absolutely. I’ve heard people say you should try to cover the dinner costs if you’re attending the wedding, as opposed to just sending a gift, but that always struck me as crackers. Are you supposed to try to cover the other wedding costs too?! For one thing, attending a wedding as a guest is expensive! Hotel rooms, transport, outfits, babysitters… If you pay for any of those things so you can attend, you do it out of affection for the couple, not as a way to get a fancy dinner. The reverse is true as well; they aren’t catering a meal so they can get a gift as a trade off, they’re doing it so everyone can have a lovely time. With a gift, ask the same question; can they use this to get some enjoyment from it?

      1. carcinization*

        Yeah, I also thought $100, but my family is not super upwardly mobile and I don’t go to many weddings.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      It seems right.

      This stuff varies wildly, based on your budget, the closeness to the marrying couple, family or local tradition, etc. So checking with your close family was reasonable for sussing out the vibe there.

      I completely reject the idea that you calculate the cost per guest (using your psychic powers, or possibly by hacking into their bank account) and then must give that amount in cash, or as a blender. If people were attending weddings because that’s their idea of fun then there would be a chain of nightclubs offering an experience just like being a wedding guest, only you didn’t have to wait for anyone you knew to get married. People attend weddings because they care about the marrying people and want to wish them well as they launch off into this next life stage, much as they attend parties for graduations or retirements or birthdays without an expectation that they will hand over the cost of the catering.

    3. Emma*

      It seems like this is also a regional thing – less money in the south, and more money in the northeast. I think $250 sounds great, since you can afford it, and it’s family, and another family member agrees.

      But if it wasn’t in your budget, less is also fine!

    4. kina lillet*

      When I got married I was stunned by people’s generosity if they gave me more than a hundred, but my etiquette gears aren’t oiled. Also it might be cheaper (and totally acceptable) to just grab something off the registry!

    5. Fellow Traveller*

      I do $100 not because I’m cheap, but because it is what I can comfortably afford.
      I don’t know… i feel like there is no “proper amount” here. People who have expectations about how much money you give are just being rude.

    6. Anono-me*

      The, ‘I don’t want to give too little and be cheap or too much more and look like I am trying to be a Big Shot.’ dilemma.

      When I am unsure, I check if the couple is registered for china somewhere, and look at the price of a place setting. My normal confident amount is usually about the same, so I just adjust closer the the place setting if I am feeling unsure.

    7. I should really pick a name*

      People have a wide range of what they think is appropriate (and some have strong feelings about it).

      Give what YOU feel comfortable with.

      (for context, $250 seems really high to me)

    8. Daily Fan*

      If you gave $100 to the brother, I would not more than double it – a slight increase for inflation but not more than double. I’d go with $150 – no champagne.

    9. MP*

      Ugh I went through the same thing recently. My husband’s close friend got married and he was a groomsman. I asked around and was told $200 for us as a couple to go was totally reasonable. I’m also in the northeast.

    10. Samwise*

      $250 is a crapton of money. Holy cow!

      $100 is plenty generous. Or a gift that’s less that.

      Especially if you have to get a hotel room to attend.

    11. fhqwhgads*

      Mine was $180pp a year ago, but we’re in a very expensive location. But that has no correlation to reasonable gift amounts.
      I think the correct answer to your first question is always “whatever feels right to you and within your budget”. If you spoke to other people attending and it sounds like you’re all in the same ballpark, and the number you floated works for you, then it works. Is the couple registered for actual gifts? Or is this more of a cash-only-expected cultural situation? I ask because a good rule of thumb is to look at the registry and check out the average price of the biggish ticket items on there, and if you’re not going to send one of those, use it as your guideline for an amount. Especially if your goal is “more generous”.

      1. Christmas cookie*

        Update: I didn’t post this, but the wedding was yesterday :). I did peek at the registry but there wasn’t much.

        I do agree that this is all anchored on the “do what’s comfortable for you” but DH and I can comfortably afford to be generous. We just weren’t sure because it’s a cousin I’m not close to, but he’s much younger, and the last cousin wedding was a long time ago. At that time, I was pregnant and unemployed and we didn’t go to the wedding so $100 and champagne was what was practical for me.

        As it turns out it was a lovely wedding (we didn’t stay over) with lots of older extended family. We went with $300 and felt like that’s was fine.

    12. Glomarization, Esq.*

      When my cohort was first getting married in the 1990s, the rule of thumb was $100-$200. Now I’d put it at $200-$300, because of inflation and because we have higher paying jobs now at our age.

      The $200 would be for folks in our cohort (likely second or even third marriage); the $300 would be for our children (likely in the 20s and almost certainly their first marriage).

  26. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

    Dogs at State Park

    We’re renting a cabin at a state park that specifically does not allow pets in the cabins or in the area around the cabins. These are primitive cabins that have screens instead of windows. So our neighbor has a big dog that woke us up barking. I’m thinking of calling the park ranger on them when they open but I don’t know if that’s overreacting. It sounds reactive and dogs are explicitly not allowed. I’ve got a baby and a toddler and I just don’t want to deal with a strange dog owned by rule-breaking people. Thoughts?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        As a dog owner, I will say the people with the worst behaved dogs are the ones who seem most certain that the rules against dogs don’t apply to them.

    1. Lilo*

      Yes, call the ranger. I’m someone who both grew up with a lot of dogs (my grandma rehabbed dogs) but also has been attacked by a dog (owned by a family I babysat for). Trust your instincts and err on the side of caution.

    2. Double A*

      Dogs aren’t allowed for a lot of a reasons and one is the threat to wildlife. Definitely tell the rangers.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        And threats FROM wildlife! Plenty of dogs have tried to pick fights from animals from skunks and porcupines up to brown bears.

    3. sswj*

      Yes, notify the rangers. Dogs are not allowed in certain parks for a variety of good reasons. There are dog-friendly parks out there too, so no reason for people to skirt regulations.

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        They are/were. In my experience, camping seems to have few POC for whatever reason. The dog was a 100ish lb reactive Pitbull/mastiff mix of some sort when I saw it. Scared me. They ended up leaving the next morning before I had a chance to report them. Dog didn’t actually do anything (besides bark and pull on his leash) but I wouldn’t have wanted my toddler anywhere near him.

  27. Dwight Schrute*

    I have the flu and I’ve been absolutely miserable the last few days so today I am doing one of the in home IV drips to see if it will help me feel better. Has anyone tried them before?

    1. Lilo*

      Are you dehydrated specifically? I don’t think it does much for anything other than dehydration. So if you’re keeping fluids down, it’s probably just an expensive placebo effect. If you are vomiting, then it could maybe help.

        1. Lilo*

          Did you test positive for the flu? That kind of vomiting isn’t really typical for the flu.

          The thing about the IV is it is pretty temporary and unless you’re unable to keep things down it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference. My friend with horrific hyperemesis needed home IVs but still ended up hospitalized a lot. So IVs are really better for emergency situations and really severe vomiting.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Same! I am getting nauseated just thinking of putting that needle in by myself. We had to give our late kitty subcutaneous fluids and I almost threw up every single time. I can’t imagine letting anyone but a trained medical professional stick a needle in my body, much less try to find a vein.

      2. YNWA*

        Where I live there is at least one service you can call to come to your house and administer it. I don’t know the cost but it’s very popular with college kids dealing with hangovers.

    2. Synaptically Unique*

      I was doing IV sessions pretty regularly for a couple of years (perimenopause) and I would get a Myers Cocktail when I was fighting/recovering from an acute illness. Dehydration (my primary issue) was definitely helped. Depending on the additives, they usually helped whatever I was treating, but not tons. When you feel bad enough, even a little relief can be helpful, though. Hope you feel better soon!

    3. safari*

      well it depends what’s in the drip, but I assume it’s just fluids, if it’s not something prescribed by a medical professional. So, if you are severely dehydrated (as in with severe vomiting and diarrhoea) it might help, but you should see a doctor, not try to treat yourself. If you are able to keep food and fluids down, then it’s an expensive placebo.

  28. Care Package*

    A dear family friend, Gen Z (25 years old) is having top surgery soon. While there is some nearby family who is available to help during and after, I want to send some fun and comforting things to keep them company during recovery.

    They recently went through a breakup so they’re living alone (after family leaves) so that’s another part of the comforting I want to help with!

    Any care package item ideas for a young, creative NB dear one who will be healing from taking this brave step? I know some of their hobbies so can get personalized things (they write poetry and do a lot of sketching, so art supplies are easy). But if anyone here has other thoughts I’d very much appreciate them.

    1. o_gal*

      Go to a fabric store and head to their fleece section. Fleece does not run or unravel – you can just cut it and use it. Find lots of fun patterns, and buy about 2.5 yards of each. If you want to be fancy, you could cut large fringe around the sides, but otherwise you can leave it alone. It gives them a set of blankets that are machine washable, soft, and they can hug them to the top area if it gets sore. And then I’d combine that with a bunch of soup mixes that you only need to add water, so they can make soup and cuddle up in the blanket(s) :-)

    2. RMNPgirl*

      One of the best things I’ve gotten when having surgery (and have given to others) are fun socks with rubber on the bottom. Target usually has some good ones, last year I found giraffe socks for a friend. Hospitals usually give patients these but they’re plain and I’ve found the fun ones can just give someone a bit of joy. They’re great to wear when recovering and wanting to be sure on your feet.

    3. mreasy*

      I highly recommend a mastectomy pillow, a U shaped sleeping pillow and a travel neck pillow (for recovery sleep – I had a reduction which is very similar in how awkward sleeping is for awhile). Otherwise books, maybe some good headphones, and ready to drink probiotic smoothies… appetite is low and the general anesthesia does things to the body. Also Benadryl and colace. Not the most fun package and prob not all shippable together, but if they don’t have any of this stuff it will be a big help.

      1. saf*

        DO THE PILLOWS!

        I just had a double mastectomy with no reconstruction and the sleeping was the hardest thing. The pillows will be SO useful!

    4. miel*

      Congratulations to your friend!

      I don’t have specific item recommendations but I’m sure it’ll mean a lot that you’re thinking of them.

      also – my friends who’ve gotten top surgery have needed ~2 weeks to recover in which they needed a lot of help; stopping by to help might be much appreciated, if you’re in a position to do so.

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

      Congratulations to your friend! If they want to watch something very positive and affirming, the end of the documentary *We Exist: Beyond the Binary* is about the documentary’s subject, Lauren Lubin, getting top surgery. We get to see the BIGGEST smile of gender euphoria on their face when they see their new chest. It’s truly heartwarming.

    6. M*

      I was my best friend’s caretaker after top surgery and staying on top of pain management was one of the biggest things for them so maybe some kind of cute pill dispenser or container? Also maybe a nice mug and some peppermint tea as they had some issues with nausea, maybe some nice light snacks as well in case they don’t have a good appetite. If they have any kind of video gaming system including a switch you could get them a new light cozy game for that, or maybe a new card game that you come play with them after the first few days? My friend ended up bored but not able to be very active so anything to keep occupied without being strenuous. Also the first few days are rough so I would wait until day 5 or so to visit unless you are a caretaker in some capacity.

      1. M*

        also – a congratulatory card can be a simple but very meaningful keepsake, especially if there’s anyone in their life who isn’t supportive.

    7. Sunny Daze*

      They will not be able to lift their arms above their shoulders for some time. So—a grabber, sock-puller-on-er, things of that nature. Also, they won’t be able to shower, so dry shampoo or a gift card to a blowout bar are nice.

    8. The New Wanderer*

      Someone got me a portable desk for using while I was stuck in bed recovering from a double mastectomy. It was great for keeping an iPad, ice packs, and a drink right there in front of me. Super soft button front pajama tops are great too, especially during the drainage tube weeks. And the mastectomy pillow was awesome.

      Good luck to your friend!

  29. Help with attorney*

    I am working with an attorney for estate purposes of a relative. There is a problem and the attorney is going to be contacting other family members to try to resolve a dispute. I’m wondering what the usual time frame is for working with a lawyer. I guess I should’ve asked how this works. I met with him 2.5 weeks ago and thought it would get the ball rolling. Earlier this week, I asked for follow up and he said he’d get back with me this week but didn’t. Should I have higher expectations or is this how it works with an attorney? I am not a high dollar client and I know this office has wealthier accounts. I don’t have experience dealing with lawyers and I’m not sure how assertive I can be. This situation is extremely stressful and I’m so burnt out from caregiving. I really need the attorney to take action. Thanks for any feedback from others with experience.

    1. Generic Name*

      I am sorry to tell you this, but as far as lawyers and the courts go, estate stuff goes to the bottom of the pile in terms of urgency. Courts are monstrously backed up right now, and it’s made an already slow process even slower. For reference, I filed an emergency motion with family court because my didn’t bring my son back after his weekend. I didn’t hear anything from the court for 3 weeks, and my lawyer said she was surprised they responded that quickly. By the time we had a hearing, it was over a month later and my son had been home for weeks by that point. So please don’t get your heart set on resolving estate matters quickly. Mentally plan on it taking at least a year. All that said, your lawyer should have kept their word and gotten back to you when they said they would. Since it’s still early, changing lawyers now shouldn’t be too hard. I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s okay to start grieving now; you don’t have to wait until everything is settled. Hugs, if you want them.

    2. Help with attorney*

      Thanks for the comments and sympathy! We are not to the point of going to court yet and are hoping these conversations will prevent any major disputes. I will mentally prepare myself for a slow process but will hope for a better outcome. If I don’t at least get some communication in the next week, I’ll consider talking to other attorneys.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        If the goal is to prevent a conflict, it’s reasonable for the attorney to avoid pushing too hard while trying to work out the potential conflict.

        Although time is money when you’re engaging professional services, it can be a prudent use of your time (and his) to have a conversation about what his plans are to deal with the situation, what he thinks is a reasonable time to wait for the other parties’ responses, and what might be the most efficient way to manage communications between you and your lawyer. That could help you set expectations, so you have a better sense of what is reasonable.

    3. fposte*

      I think it’s important to find out what he anticipates the timeline to be. Right now it sounds like a pretty standard amount of time with one missed callback. It sounds like you might be feeling ready to take action immediately, and my guess is you won’t be able to take action for some time and he presumes you know that. So I think it’s fine and wise to contact him again and ask him to lay out a projected time. I do have some concerns about the dispute-resolving element—that has high potential to last a long time and eat up billable hours. Do you have a ceiling on how much this will cost?

    4. RagingADHD*

      Two and a half weeks is a very, very reasonable amount of time for him to have reached out to the other party and not had any substantive result yet. There’s probably nothing to report.

      Every time he talks to you, he’s billing you. Do you really want to pay for him to call you every time he leaves a message or sends an email, and is waiting to hear back? I mean, if you do, then let him know that in writing. I’m sure he’d be happy to oblige.

      Ethical attorneys don’t run up the bill with conversations that have no substance.

    5. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Estate matters take forever, to begin with. You say that the lawyer has to contact other family members to resolve a dispute. I see 2 factors that can make this matter take a long time. One, having to speak to multiple other parties (who perhaps didn’t answer the phone, didn’t return a voicemail, didn’t have time to talk, etc., so a phone call or meeting has to be scheduled). And two, having to resolve a dispute. So the lawyer has to gather records and a lot of facts from everybody he talks to. Once he has all that, the lawyer will analyze what he’s gathered, do legal research as necessary, and report back to you with his opinion as to your position, risks, and options. He can’t make the dispute go away; his job will be to give you the information you need to make your choices, and implement them in the courts as needed if you tell him to do so.

      A further reason — though not an excuse — for the delay is that we just had the Labor Day holiday. A lot of lawyers take time off in late August and triage their non-urgent matters to the bottom of their to-do list. Unfortunately, an urgent matter for you isn’t necessarily an urgent matter for your lawyer. It’s not a matter of disrespect for your matter or your bank account; it’s a matter of court deadlines, statutes of limitations, emergencies on other files, and other factors that make it impossible for the practice of law to be “your call will be answered in the order in which it was received.” Even during holidays, I try to answer client communications within 2 business days, but it’s not always going to happen.

      You might want to reach out to the lawyer and ask for his estimate of a timeframe. You can tell him you want him to take action, and you can ask him what that will look like in the context of your matter. You can also tell him that you want to be contacted on a monthly basis with an update, though you should understand that that will add to your bill (and more than just the time for the phone call, since the lawyer will have to retrieve your file for review and analysis before calling you).

  30. Air mattress advice*

    I have a guest coming. I have a second bedroom and a good-quality, double high air mattress, but the bed will have to be in the middle of the room as I have no wall space.

    What do people do without a wall or headboard to lean up against? Should I provide lots of extra pillows? I wish there were some kind of collapsable headboard you can attach, or a foldable bed frame with a headboard, but I’m not seeing anything like that.

    1. MaryLoo*

      Not everybody sits up in bed to read, etc so I think you don’t need a headboard. Does the room have a “comfy chair”? Provide some pillows and a footstool for the chair and your before-sleep readers can use that.

    2. miel*

      I wouldn’t have even thought of this because I never use my headboard!

      I think it’ll be fine! Bonus points if there’s a chair in the room.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yeah, I don’t think I’ve sat up in bed or leaned on my headboard for any reason in at least nine years. (That’s when I last moved, hence the specificity.)

    3. Filosofickle*

      Because it’s an air bed, a headboard isn’t very useful so don’t worry about it. I am a headboard user normally, I love to sit up in bed, but air beds don’t really work well for that. It is nice to have the bed pushed up against something solid, to keep pillows from falling off the top.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Can you just put one end against a seldom-used bureau or armoire or high backed couch?
      If not, some sort of bolster works for the purpose. A lot of college kids have stuffed armed pillows sold to college kids for lounging on the floor. I have an oversized stuffed animal I use in the same way.
      I do think some surface next to the bed is helpful for finding my glasses in the night in a strange place.

  31. beep beep*

    If you know their taste, fun/comfortable button-up shirts. You may know this already but for a bit after top surgery you shouldn’t lift your arms above your shoulders, so pullover tees and such can be hard. Also, if they have a microwave that’s wall-mounted up high, maybe a little countertop burner or hot plate, if that’s in the budget?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      This is a great suggestion! I got some camp shirts from LL Bean to wear while recovering from breast cancer surgeries. They now hang in the closet as a magic talisman.

      1. Care Package*

        Thanks for the suggestion! Crowlines is fabulous, and I just now bought one of the cute button-up shirts to send

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

          OMG, so many cute cat shirts on that site! Wow, that is a great suggestion.

  32. HannahS*

    Ideas for occupying a healthy, energetic toddler when her parents are so, so sick? So far we’ve watched a thousand episodes of Shaun the Sheep. We live in an apartment, so can’t let her loose outside.

    1. Pop*

      Just give into the screen time without limits. Other things: my toddler likes to play “nap time” where she spreads out a yoga mat, the parent lays on the floor and she puts you to sleep by gathering the misc things she needs. Does she like to read? Have her bring you books to read to her. Extended bath time (parent can lay on the floor in the bathroom). Do you have any trusted friends that can take her outside even just for 30 min? Water table or other similar setups?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        The good thing about limiting screen time is that kids are likely to agree it’s a special treat when you break that rule and let them watch as much as they want.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Sorting. Depending on her interests and dexterity, she can sort duplo or other blocks into bins by color, shape, size etc; books on the shelf by color; match socks; sort silverware; stack tupperware. Kids like it if they are “helping” so if there’s a backstory to why this is useful to you, she’ll like that better than busy work.

      Squeezies. My kids loved them. If you have a squeegee, let her spray water from a mister onto a full length mirror or a safe window and squeegee it off. Depending on her diligence, she might like to follow up with a buffing cloth.

      Food prep. Give her a big head of lettuce and a large bowl and tell her to shred it for salad.

      Sadly, all of these do involve you cleaning up after her, but I think almost anything with a toddler does. If she’s too young for these activities, maybe you can adapt them to her age.

      I hope you feel better soon!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        When friends watched my toddler for the first time, they commented that never before had they seen all of their tupperware arrayed outside of its drawer.

    3. Forensic13*

      Watching TV that gets the kid moving can be helpful. Songs (we like Super Simple Songs on YouTube, which come in hourlong compilations) or TV they’re meant to react to, like Miss Rachel.

      They make snack boxes that consist of a bunch of compartments that you have to push to open. I like prepping those when I need mental downtime, because they can have plenty of little snacks that they’re not eating all at once.

      They also have switchboard toys that have lots of buttons and switches that light up. That’s our favorite road trip toy.

    4. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      A super fun new play set depending on age and interests (fast shipping from Amazon or maybe target.)

      – little people
      – duplos
      – magnatiles
      – other dollhouse or play set with her favorite characters

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Is there a library near you? That can offer new and different things to play with, and a chance to check out new books. Several near me let you check out things like puzzles.

    6. miel*

      I don’t know if this would be feasible, but could you take her to a playground and just sit on the bench? (or get a friend or neighbor to take her to a playground?)

    7. CanadaGoose*

      “Fetch”: Either of useful things you need (box of tissues, an apple, a wiping cloth, etc) or have her bring you a ball and pretend to be a dog. My now-preschooler loves play acting like this.

      I second the idea of a spray bottle (water or kid-friendly window cleaner) and cloth or squeegee. Great for “cleaning” any windows, mirrors, or surfaces in the bathroom. If she hadn’t been previously allowed to help clean, this will buy you 15-20 minutes per day or two.

      Any moldable substances around? Think play dough + food containers, or cornstarch + water (plop everything in a dry bathtub to contain mess!) or buy/make ice and let her pour water and stir until it melts.

      Use couch cushions, chairs, etc to transform the living room or bedroom into a fort and/or obstacle course. Encourage climbing up, crawling through, carrying items to their new/old place, jumping off low surfaces (eg. From coffee table to pile of pillows), and stepping only on higher items (“oh, the floor is lava!”). Then have her clear it away and roll on the floor – arms up by ears – until crashing into the wall or too dizzy. Or slither like a snake.
      Meanwhile, you’re cozy in the fort Aka couch or bed.

      Meals/snacks can be picnic or tea party style. Have her invite her stuffed animals. Get her opinion on the food to order for delivery, if that’s how you’re getting fed.

      Does she have any dress-up clothes or can borrow some of yours? Ask her to act out very short scenes that you’ll videotape with your phone. String a bunch of these together and you will have made your own TV show.

      Do you have washable markers? Have her “paint” your fingernails or toenails (and hers). Extend to temporary tattoos via drawing all over your skin if you like. Then wash it off whenever you get a chance.

      Are things arriving in boxes or paper bags? These are free art supplies. Ask her to decorate with stickers, markers, crayons, or whatever you have. Popping bubble wrap is also satisfying for both of you. It won’t work, but have her try stomping/jumping on the bubble wrap as a way to pop them.

      Speaking of containers: have a low laundry basket and a short string or rope or robe tie? Connect them, and You now have an indoor drag-able wagon for her to … gather up dirty clothes and/or dishes, or give her stuffies a ride around the room, or toss all her toys into to move to a different room of the house.

      Have a flashlight? Turn off the lights and let her explore. Connects well with talking about camping in the same context as picnics. Song/poem: “we’re going on a bear hunt” has relevant actions to inspire her.

      Food containers + chopsticks and/or dry pasta make good drums and shakers for music time. Ask her to pound or shake along to a few favourite songs, while you play DJ.

      If you’re comfortable with it, relax in a warm bath while she plays on and around your legs. With enough bubble bath in the water, you’ll both get mostly clean with little effort.

      Hope you’re feeling more energetic and/or get some childcare relief soon!

      1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

        These are all such wonderul, thoughtful ideas!! I am not the OP but I have screenshotted your answer to have ideas in case I need them! Thank you CanadaGoose! (You seem much nicer than most of your brethren)

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Pillow forts, or chair & blanket tents.

      Let them set up a “pirate picnic” on the kitchen floor– put down an old tablecloth or beach towel for them to put out a bowl & a glass, and they eat supper without table manner because: PIRATES.

      If you happen to have a worn-out mattress you’re going to replace this year, drag it onto the floor and let them use it as a trampoline. Bonus if it’s their mattress let them sleep there and see if they can make up a story about who sleeps on the floor–are they a puppy? Cinderella? Are they camping?

      Feel better soon!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Also if you own your house, an idea for after you’re feeling better, to plan for next time. My parents put sturdy hooks in a beam in the basement and hung a swing for me. For years that was my favorite place all winter and during every thunderstorm.

    9. EA*

      Not sure of your kid’s exact age, but here’s stuff that entertains my kids who are 4 and under:
      -Making a “house” under my desk and pretending to sleep/go to school/eat etc. They also love playing birthday party or Christmas – lots of potential to have them “wrap” presents, make a piñata (fill a bag with small toys and dump it out when they hit it), serving cake…
      -Washing toys and playing with water – can be done in the bathtub
      -Playing with pots, pans, tupperware
      -Magnatiles
      -“Helping” with chores, especially sweeping and folding laundry (but maybe you’re not up for that)
      -Balloons and bubbles (can end in tears though)
      -Video calling grandma and other family
      -Those water pad things where you can refill with water and reveal a picture (an airplane favorite)
      -Dancing to the Frozen soundtrack… I put the music videos on YouTube and there is a special blue dress for this (lol)

      Good luck!! Granted many of these ideas are like 15-20 min max, but alternating these sorts of activities with shows and movies can help the time pass faster.

    10. Jill Swinburne*

      Sick parenting a healthy child is a special kind of hell. Usually we just give in to screen limits but encourage nice gentle things like Bluey (and Shaun/Timmy!). It depends a bit on the kind of sick, but music and audiobooks we found good for about 3 onwards.

      I remember the tummy bug we had when my kid was about 1, she went down first and of course we did just as she was coming right – I’d lie groaning on the floor with my top up, she’d toddle around, have a quick boob, then whoever could muster the energy would throw some cheese and raisins in her general direction.

      Get well soon!

    11. Llama Llama*

      Books! My daughter lives ‘reading’ books at the toddler age and also when I read them to her. You can relatively cheap ones on Amazon (Elephant and Piggie books were a favorite)

    12. Nack*

      My kids love to play Christmas. Give the kid a pillow case. They get to be Santa and pick a toy to “wrap” in the pillow case. Your job is to go to sleep, wake up, and exclaim joy and thankfulness for the gift. You literally get to lay in bed! My kids will happily do this for quite a while.

      We also get some mileage out of legos or play do, where the kid can play while the parent sits/lays nearby. Long bath times are great, just pull up a chair. Another very lazy idea: lay in your bed on your back, under the covers, and put your knees up. Instant tent/bear cave/hideout. Zero energy used.

      Get well soon!

      1. Nack*

        Thought of another one: washing dishes. My three year old could easily spend an hour on this. A few bowls/pots/cups in the sink with a splash of soap and water. You will need to dry the surrounding area afterwards and perhaps help them in to dry clothes!

  33. mreasy*

    Alison, have you been to Parnassus Books in Nashville? It is owned by Ann Patchett (one of my favorites) and it is truly wonderful.

    1. Sitting Pretty*

      My parents will be visiting Nashville in October and my mother is going to be so happy to learn about this!

  34. Nack*

    I need some makeup advice!

    I am looking for a product to cover/reduce dark circles under my eyes. I don’t wear make up at all, but we are having some family photos done and I’d like to not look quite so exhausted ;) is there a product that is on the cheaper end, and can help with dark circles, and can be used on its own? (I don’t want to go full-face make up). Maybe with mascara and tinted lip balm, max? Would appreciate any guidance!

    1. HamlindigoBlue*

      Tartar Shape Tape Corrector in pink works for me to neutralize the darkness. They have several color options.

      1. nopetopus*

        Seconding Tarte Shape Tape. I’ve had deep dark bags since I was 8 years old and Shape Tape is the only thing that has worked for me. I bought a travel size at Ulta and it was relatively cheap and perfect for the few events a year I want to cover the bags.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        What a strange brand name. Tape!?!

        I’m curious – does it stay on *without* foundation & powder? I usually don’t wear any makeup, but I’d love to stop getting comments about the apparently genetic circles under my eyes. (Always there, even after long relaxing vacations.)

        1. Juliette*

          You don’t need to wear foundation with concealer, but be careful about colour – I wear mine under foundation usually and so go a shade lighter for a brightening effect, but if using it without I’d make sure to match well. Do test carefully if you can.

          As for powder, that’s going to depend on your skin mostly – if it’s oily the product may slide off and would be better if set with powder, but on normal to dry skin Shape Tape (and other good quality concealers) should be fine without it.

      3. MissCoco*

        Agree on tarte shape tape! I highly recommend the “creamy” formula as it gets less trapped in my crows feet. If you go to a makeup store like Ulta or Sephora the staff can help you shade match. Also buy a spongy blender of some kind. My typical day to day makeup is just concealer and a swipe of tinted brow wax.

        I will warn you, I have permanent dark circles as well and I thought my face looked so weird and flat the first time I fully concealed them! You might want to use a light touch on your first few tries, or just a dab of blush so your face doesn’t look strange to yourself.

    2. Turtle Dove*

      Under-eye concealer is the only makeup I wear. I’ve used Covergirl brand for ages. The label on the bottom of the one I keep in my purse calls it “neutralizer.” It’s not expensive, and I find it at CVS or Target. (I see it on Amazon when I search on “COVERGIRL Smoothers Moisturizing Solid Concealer Stick;” it’s the small white and blue stick.) I think it comes in different skin tones. One stick lasts me a few years. I gently dab or draw a bit under each eye — about the size of a dime — and then blend it in with a clean finger.

    3. RagingADHD*

      A concealer that’s very well matched to you, and that blends well, can be worn on its own. I find that a creamy stick type is easier to work with than liquid.

      Don’t focus on the undereye area per se, because lightening it too much can make it look puffy. There’s usually a deep shadow at the inner corner of your eye socket that contributes a lot of the darkness.

      Moisturize your face and dot concealer on the inner and outer corners. Pat with your middle finger to blend up, a little over your lid, and a little bit down. Should brighten everything up without thick coverage.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Oh, and when I say “inner corner,” the darkest part may actually be the side of your nose above your tear duct. You have to put your artist eyes on and see what colors are really there vs. what you expect them to be.

    4. mreasy*

      I like the glossier stretch concealer. I’m not a big makeup wearer and it is super easy to use and feels light on.

      1. Anonosaurus*

        seconding this, I hate wearing anything on my skin but I can live with a dot of glossier concealer, and I no longer look like I’ve been exhumed.

    5. Zephy*

      Maybelline Age Rewind concealer is honestly magical. Most days that and some mascara is the only makeup I wear.

    6. Ghostlight*

      Trish McEvoy eye lift is miraculous (but pricy) and you can wear it without much other makeup. If you go to a makeup counter, they’ll help you try it out. (Also useful for light basic makeup if you want to ask them for help and then get something put on (or not) that day.)

  35. Llellayena*

    Y’all I’m wedding planning! Yay! …and oh crap. We’re doing something not unheard of in weddings but not standard: cosplay. I’m having a heck of a time finding cosplay (comics, movies, tv) themed wedding stuff. Right now I’m stuck on websites. Anyone know of a wedding website provider that has quirky themes that could include cosplay-type stuff? Or alternate (cheap! free!) options? Most of the options are very…flowery…

    1. RagingADHD*

      Why not pick a cosplayish or fandom themed website template designed for other types of events, and adapt it for a wedding? It’s a lot easier to change text than design elements.

    2. Forensic13*

      Have you checked Offbeat Wed? They’re a wedding blog that discusses lots of, surprise surprise, offbeat wedding ideas, including cosplay. They usually have good links.

    3. GoryDetails*

      Congrats! Sounds like a fabulous idea. I still recall the wedding of dear friends who used a general “costume” theme (encouraged for guests but not required – though the groom’s 60-something step-mother rocked a flapper outfit): I was one of the attendants, and we each got to choose a historical era for our outfits, so I made a medieval dress, another was Regency, and the most accomplished seamstress made an Elizabethan gown complete with starched ruff collar.

      I’d second the suggestions to look for fandom-themed sites matching your inspiration, and layering on whatever wedding traditions you like. Hope it all goes beautifully!

    4. Rekha3.14*

      Congratulations!! Exciting! and stressful.

      Are there instead aspects you could take from your fave sources instead of just “wedding” theme? like, if it’s Sailor Moon, theme the tables after colours and planets, use white and rainbow for the head table etc?

      what sort of vision do you have – people in costume regardless of the source? costume party vibe, or still very wedding but also anime? Only official sources that are characters in wedding gear (I hope that makes sense). stuff for a photo booth only? etc. I’m trying to get an idea of what you’re looking for online.

      I’m a cosplayer/con-goer, also married (didn’t combine the two for that, but more to say I’ve been there), and I love the creative “how can this work” mental exercise.

      1. Llellayena*

        We just settled on a Star Wars/Star Trek crossover. We realized we were thinking a bit broad. Still can’t find the wedding website in that theme.

        1. Rekha3.14*

          May have to find someone to do it custom, though I’d have thought that surely there’s something out there, those are both huge fandoms. A long time ago I had a coworker share his custom swim lesson planning sheets… which he’d somehow made to look like a TNG trek console. This was the 90s! So surprised there’s nothing.

          I presume you’re not going for the traditional Betazoid wedding… ;)

          You can have a lot of fun with this theme. I do hope you find it all enjoyable.

    5. SpecificsHelp*

      Most people I know who’ve done something like this did it based on one specific fandom (LOTR, Dr Who, etc) and mostly DIY plus a custom themed wedding cake. Cosplay is pretty broad – perhaps too broad to get a lot of useful hits on searches. Did you have something more specific in mind?

  36. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m posting in gratitude for tea season. Oolong, green, chai, Earl grey, I love them all. I need a pick me up because I foolishly played d and d with people who just went to dragon con so it’s weeks of COVID for me.

    1. Teaholic*

      Sorry to hear about COVID :( But teaaaaaa, I love it too! I still have some from over 10 years ago (yes they’re still good). My friend sent me some from Tea Forte which were good, and I’ve also liked the Kusmi brand though I don’t know how easy it is to find if you’re in the US.

  37. RussianInTexas*

    This is more of a rant than a question. Few months ago I started having string pain in my cossux area. After home remedies didn’t work, went to a doctor. She referred me to PT and gave the sets of home stretches, which I’ve been doing religiously. The pain mostly gone now.
    The first appointment for the PT was scheduled for yesterday. Even though the pain is almost gone, I wanted to see if I could get more pointers through it anyway. It’s a place in-network. A separate office in a street plaza, and even though it has a name of a large hospital chain, it’s not attached to a hospital (same as my actual PCP, part of the overall same medical group, but not a hospital).
    I check my insurance plan, it says $75 copay per visit. Fine, I can swing few visits.
    I get there, talking to the intake person, and she drops the bomb: they bill as a hospital, not an office. Why? Because why not apparently. So the first eval is $140, and all visits are $213, until I hit my deductible of $3000.
    No thank you. This is ridiculous, right?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Sadly yes, I would have to walk out of there. I assume there’s other options to get what you need without paying that kind of amount. Shame on them for not telling you about this when you booked or over the phone or whatever. They wasted their time as well as your own (don’t let them charge you for a canceled appointment).

    2. nonprofit director*

      In general, I agree and I would find a PT that is not affiliated with a hospital chain/medical group. Hopefully there are options in your network you can choose from. Where maybe not ridiculous is if you have a complex medical condition that requires PTs with special training in that condition. Doesn’t sound like this is you, so I’d go elsewhere.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        They totally stumped me with this one. The hospital group has physicians offices which bill as regular doctors offices, mammo centers that bill as such, urgent care that bill as standard urgent care. But not their PT and sports medicine office.
        Although a friend got caught with an urgent care once. You know how your insurance really prefers you go to an UC vs ER for minor things? Friend did just so, stand alone UC of a major hospital chain, say St. Barbara, for a badly sprained ankle. They took her UC copay. And then turned around and billed the insurance as ER. It was a mess.

        1. Samwise*

          Call your insurance customer service to dispute the charge. The EOB should have the number.

          I’ve found them to be quite responsive. They will investigate.

    3. Anonymous Lurker*

      If the insurance CS cannot help you or the EOB is unhelpful, you can also complain to the DOI or your local congressmember or the AG. All three typically have avenues to forward insurance claims to said-insurance company and because these are official claims with official due dates, insurance companies will almost always answer. The caveat is if they are right – or that PT person is in the right to bill that way, b/c it is an official claim, there won’t be much room to manovure. Whereas if one complains to CS, sometimes insurance companies will make “unofficial” adjustments. (

      1. RussianInTexas*

        The intake person allowed me to cancel the appointment on spot, before I went in. She also promised no cancellation fee, we will see.
        I cancelled when she told me the price, with their policy of paying on the spot, so you know right away, not when the bill comes.

        1. SofiaDeo*

          Whether something is billed as an inpatient or an outpatient, is determine by he patients’ status. If you are walking in off the street, you are an outpatient and should be billed as such. If they are billing outpatients as inpatients, that’s billing fraud (in my state, anyway).

    4. Llama Llama*

      The whole medical industry is a giant scam on much they can scam us out of money. I have two special needs kids and the sheer insanity of it all is ridiculous.
      My one I will rant about now is that my daughter has g-tube for water use only. Monthly she is delivered stuff I could buy on Amazon for 10 and an item that was 150 every 3 months. For two years, I didn’t get a bill and figured insurance covered it all.

      No they just forgot to send me the $2000 bill and was charging me an insane amount of money daily for a program by daughter didn’t need because I didn’t say she didn’t need to be in this program, all I said was that she didn’t need any of the stuff in said program.

      Ultimately I didn’t pay but had to be extremely persistent.

    5. Dear liza dear liza*

      That is very ridiculous. I’m in the US and my insurance (state employee) only charges $25 for a PT appointment!

  38. Grits McGee*

    Hope this doesn’t cross the line into medical advice!

    I suspect I have hypermobile joints, and I’ve started to notice slight pain that wasn’t there when I was younger (I’m in my mid-30s). Does anyone have recommendations for what kinds of specialists would be useful to see for diagnosis and treatment/preventative maintenance? I don’t really have a primary care dr, otherwise I would go to them for guidance.

    1. Lemonwhirl*

      A physical therapist can assess your mobility and design a home exercise program to help you strengthen your muscles to support your joints.

      I didn’t know my joints were hypermobile until I went to a physical therapist for help with some knee pain that I’d been having for years. I don’t have a technical diagnosis, but I’ve been exercising for two years now and have seen a real improvement in the quality of my life and the reduction of my knee pain. (Obviously, not medical advice, just my lived experience.)

    2. Doctor is In*

      There are rheumatologists who sub specialize in this but not many and it takes a long time to get an appointment. Many require a referral from primary care. A primary care physician could make a referral for physical therapy. Best wishes.

    3. Rekha3.14*

      Likely physiotherapy. See if you can find one experienced with hypermobile spectrum disorders; they can provide guidance and likely even taping advice. Not saying you have a condition, but many people do and go under diagnosed (especially if they’re women). If they have experience with Ehlers Danlos then they should be able to help with hypermobility.

    4. anxiousGrad*

      I have ligamentous laxity and saw sports medicine doctors when I got injuries from it. The result was pretty much just that they prescribed physical therapy, although they also did some investigation to make sure it wasn’t anything besides ligamentous laxity (e.g. looking for Ehlers-Danlos, bone breaks, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis).

    5. DecadesOfJointPain*

      The best starting point is probsbly an orthopedist. Depending on the cause of your joint pain, you may or may not get sent to PT for treatment (a good orthopedist will likely show you a few basic exercises to try on your own first if they think they might help) but PT does not diagnose and generally requires some type of directive or referral from a clinician before treatment. You might also be given a brace or be prescribed some other treatment.

      Note that some states have made it illegal to require a referral for PT so you might be able to start there, but they also don’t require insurance to cover non-referred visits and most don’t. The PTs I’ve discussed this with indicate that treatment without a referral is not only usually more expensive but also less effective.

    6. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      Oh wow, so many different answers below! I’m diagnosed with hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. I figured it out myself ~7 or so years ago (pain started around age 11 for me, but my scarring has always been wacky, plus many other symptoms). I asked my primary care doc, and she pulled up the criteria, agreed that I needed assessment, then referred me to a rheum. The rheum declined me, and eventually I got to my specialist, a physiatrist. She specializes in both EDS (etc.) and also rehab (accidents, surgeries), I think. I’m in Canada, but I know this varies even provincially; my sisters’ main hEDS doc is her internist.

      However: “Slight pain” is maybe not worth seeking a formal diagnosis on; in our public care system here I would suggest you not pursue a specialist appt since they are rare, and our community is incredibly underserved. I’m not trying to gatekeep, but for reference, I’m a moderate case and I spend on average 4-5 days per year immobilized by joint subluxations; I don’t remember a day without pain since I was a preteen. (And I’m an athlete, so my fitness keeps my muscles tight enough to do a decent job of holding me together). If you have potentially related issues (weird allergic reactions, fainting, tachycardia, severe stomach issues etc.) then it would be worth seeking a doctor.

      In your shoes, I’d recommend finding the Beighton criteria, reading into critiques of it, taking yourself through it, and deciding if you’re hypermobile. Then, seek out a hypermobility-informed physio and/or personal trainer, and work with them. If you can’t find one, find one that you feel you can trust, and ask them to look into how to work with your body.

      I’ve always been told that the main treatment for pain caused by my joint laxity is exercise (careful, graded, within conservative range of motion) – so staying active or becoming active could be key for you too. Avoiding hyperextending my joints (yoga, gymnastics, certain types of dance (not just ballet but also waacking, for example), doing party tricks, checking a million times if your thumb touches your writst) is also important for me.

      I find EDS social media (IG, reddit, twitter) quite helpful for knowledge, resources and products, and there are a few EDS specialists who produce youtube exercise videos that I’ve enjoyed when I was rehabing after long COVID. Obviously watch out for bad actors, but some of my favourite pain/compression/bracing aids were recommended by IG accounts of PhDs, MDs, and PTs with EDS.

      Good luck! I hope answer didn’t get too medical either.

  39. Jim was The Office villian*

    I know there are some regulars here who do animal rescue and I’m begging for some advice/tips. Last week we (M42, F42, F16, M14) adopted a golden doodle from a rescue group. According to his papers, he is a little over 5 months old. We live in an area with many, many breeders and puppy mills and this guy and 3 of his siblings came to the rescue when they didn’t sell. He was very shy and skittish when we met him, as well as just being filthy (I believe the puppies were bathed and groomed when they arrived at the rescue, but not since then, so about a month) with matted hair and smelling terribly. The rescue is based out of a kennel rather than foster homes, so I’m not sure the environment he was in there was that different from the breeder. He’s comfortable in a crate and can go 8+ hours without eliminating, so our assumption is that in both settings he basically lived in a kennel or crate and was only let out to go to the bathroom. He has no social skills whatsoever, to the point where he doesn’t even pick up on our older dog’s cues that she doesn’t want him following her.

    We got him on Sunday and started developing a cough on Monday. We got him into the vet on Thursday and he was diagnosed with (developing) pneumonia. He’s on antibiotics and coughing less than he was.

    So here are our issue(s):

    1. he is barely eating (the vet gave us some wet food to put on top of the dry just to entice him; he finishes that and some bites of the dry and calls it a day)
    2. he follows our older dog around and she wants nothing to do with him (less concerned about this one, I know it takes time)
    3. he has no leash familiarity so he won’t walk on the leash (we put it on him in the house and he won’t move) and we have to pick him up to take him outside. We don’t have a fence, so we bought a wire playpen and he’ll go to the bathroom in there just fine, but we have to catch him so we can pick him up and bring him out there. This is clearly being received with a trauma response from him.
    4. he’s not bonded or bonding to us that we can tell, so usual positive reinforcements with training aren’t doing anything
    5. he’s not food motivated (won’t take a treat from the hand or when it’s put on the floor), so rewarding him with food is impossible

    He’s very sweet and I’m sure there’s a great dog in there somewhere, but we’re at a loss. He’s our fifth dog and we’ve never had one who wasn’t interested in treats at the very least. The rescue requires that adopted dogs who are returned be returned to them, so that’s a no go as far as we’re concerned, but we don’t know what to do. Any tips or experiences would be appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      We had (different) issues with our rescue dog and the rescue org referred us to an amazing trainer who came to the house. Made a WORLD of difference and our dog is so much better.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        And he was never, and still isn’t, food oriented. Our dog really responds to talking, like in full sentences. So verbal praise and touching him in a soothing way really helped us make a connection and gain his trust. He was terribly physically abused, so we had that to get over with him.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Our dog was not food oriented until she became the senior pet and there was literally a new kitten standing in her food bowl eating her wet food and she was like “Okay, maybe I’m a little food motivated.” Head pats are still the best. (Cuddling doesn’t count–your hand must be making a patting motion somewhere on her body, or in a pinch just above her head. We pat her aura.)

    2. sswj*

      He’s had a huge upheaval in his not-great short life, and he feels like crap – give him time.

      What does he like? Squeaky toy? A ball? A gentle, skritch session? Those can be good rewards. Even leaving him alone can be a reward. For food treats, what have you tried? I know you want the best for him, but for now treat him with anything he shows interest in. His disinterest may change when he’s off the abx, feels better, and is less shut-down from stress. I’d try liverwurst, bacon (the real stuff!), deli roast beef, canned cat food.

      For the leash, maybe just let him wear it a while in the house. If he stays put that’s fine, just let him get used to it.

      He’ll come around, but if he’s had a rough go of it previously it may take quite some time for him to thaw :/

    3. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      some of this is time…he’s been through a lot and just isn’t familiar with the idea of a loving home. the rest of it- a good trainer is your best bet. in the meantime try seeing if there are specific treats he’s into. the lack of food motivation is hard -had the same issue with my parents dog but you’ll find ways around it in time. good luck!

    4. Zephy*

      This baby is still a baby, he’s never been a pet before, and he barely knows how to be a dog – it’s going to take time for him to learn, well, everything.

      Kennel cough/pneumonia immediately after adoption from a kennel is extremely normal – like, it would have been weirder if he didn’t get sick right away. Kennels are germy, going to an unfamiliar place is stressful, high stress lowers the immune system’s ability to fight off infection.

      The appetite should get better as his infection clears up; he probably can’t smell very well right now if he’s congested, just like you are when you have a cold, and if he can’t smell his food it’s not real to him and probably doesn’t taste very nice.

      As far as the not bonding, consider: from the puppy’s perspective, you kidnapped a baby from another planet, six days ago. Exactly how quickly would you expect a BABY ALIEN to adapt to living in a house with humans?

      Because this dog had a bit of a rough start in life, I’ll +1 the suggestion to contact a trainer, ideally one with experience/specialization in socializing puppy-mill dogs. Puppy mill dogs are not raised to be pets, they’re raised to be products, and what happens to them after they’re sold isn’t the breeder’s concern.

      1. Jim was The Office villain*

        Yep, I absolutely understand all of your points (although we hadn’t considered the smell thing; thanks for pointing that out—certainly explains his disinterest right now). I think our number one concern right now, knowing everything else will take time and patience, is that we have to pick him up to take him out and he clearly has been very roughly handled his whole life. We’re worried we’re re-traumatizing him every time he has to go outside. We murmur to him and gently touch him (also recognizing that this may not be soothing to him; all we can do is reinforce that he’s safe), as we’re holding him, but literally having to catch him to take him outside is stressful to us all, him most of all. He got off the leash once before we realized he was completely averse to the leash and ran away; we have woods behind our house and a large pond a few hundred yards away, so we can’t risk him running off. He is responding well to the play pen so we’d like to still use that. Any specific advice about how to handle getting him out would be welcome.

        1. Cat and dog fosterer*

          I have had timid fosters who lived in a harness for weeks because it was the best of all the options, and they were mostly in a crate so that I didn’t have to chase them around. I find that slow, gentle massages work well for getting them used to my touch.

          You can try pure chicken for treats. I agree that illness is likely affecting appetite, but also dogs don’t eat if stressed. I give stressed feral cats and undersocial dogs strips of chicken and it works so well.

        2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          When I got my rescue dog (who was an adult dog rather than a puppy), they had me keep the leash on him at all times, even in the house, for several days until he was less likely to try and run away and to make him more catchable if he did. (I don’t remember how long they said to do it or how long I actually did it.) I know you said that your dog just goes flat when leashed, but have you tried leashing him at a time when he doesn’t need to go out and seeing how long it takes him to decide he can still walk?

        3. Love me, love my cat*

          I knew a couple who adopted a puppy mill dog. Four years old and not housebroken. He had been kept in a cage his entire life, and housebreaking was tough. He freaked out when his little paws touched grass, he had no idea what it was. In the beginning, he would only sleep leaning against a wall. His cage hadn’t given him enough room to lay down in, so he didn’t understand doing that. I’m submitting all this not to depress you, but to stress how few “normal” experiences your pup may have been exposed to. And to maybe motivate readers to fight against puppy mills in any way they are able.

          1. My Brain is Exploding*

            this is why most places that adopt out dogs from puppy mills require the adopter to have another dog.

    5. Name*

      When our old dog started losing her appetite, we’d mix her dry food with some wet and then a little bit of warm water and stir it all together to make it really enticing. Getting him eating will help with his recovery, and he may well develop a more normal appetite once he’s feeling better. (So don’t worry too much that you’ll have to make him special food forever.)

      Our current dog didn’t like most treats when we rescued him, but we kept trying and finally learned that peanut butter flavor is his favorite. He also developed a lot more food motivation once he settled in a bit. So you might just keep trying different flavors, and cycling through previously rejected ones as well. And if your dog likes the wet food, you can always just use that as a treat/training reward. (Wet food mixed with a little plain nonfat yogurt and frozen inside a Kong is one of my parents’ dog’s favorites.)

      Probably what he really needs is just time to figure out that everything is okay now.

    6. My Brain is Exploding*

      OK…I agree that his appetite may increase once he feels better. If you are concerned that he’s not eating enough then the vet can sell you some extremely high calorie food. I would let him see you as much as possible interacting with your other dog…the dog on a leash, petting the dog, etc. Often watching another dog who is confident around people will help. He will know the dog’s signals. He may be skittish of hands; you could try picking him up using a small blanket in your hands to drape on him first? (Also have him watch you pick up/put down your other dog.) As long as the other dog isn’t bothered by the following, that’s a great thing. She is teaching him how to be a dog in your house.

    7. Sloanicota*

      At a week in, you’re not really seeing the dog yet. He’s basically still in shock. I adopted my boy at six years old and told the trainer he wasn’t food oriented in his second week – by our second session (six months in) the trainer could hardly keep from being knocked over when he held out a treat. The dog continued to settle into his real personality over the first year – it took a month longer than his longest prior tenure to believe this wasn’t just another stopover. Some dogs take it all harder than others.

      1. Jim was The Office villain*

        I think that’s what we haven’t experienced before. Our first dog and our older current dog were both six weeks old when we got them, so they were basically blank slates. While our older current dog was sort of wary when we got her, she definitely got comfortable fast. I remember taking her to our vet’s house when we’d had her for a week or so and she was already smiling at people to greet them. We also have a dog who just died of cancer (so we sadly have lots of experience in tempting a dog who won’t eat) at 11 and she was probably a bit younger than our little guy when we got her from the ASPCA shelter where we were living, but she had clearly lived in someone’s home before she either ran away or was dropped because the first thing she did when we brought her home was jump on the couch. My husband calls her “the perfect dog” (she was great, but definitely not perfect!) and it’s really occurring to us now how unique she must have been that she easily assimilated into our lives even coming from a shelter.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          I totally relate! We’ve always had rescues of various ages, but they all assimilated quickly, until our current guy. We’ve had him three years now (we think he was about a year old when we got him), and I would say it took a full year for him to settle in and he’s still relaxing more and more even now. He’s SUCH a sensitive dog, so I think he just took all this abuse and neglect so hard. Poor guy. I think time is your friend.

    8. Anonymous for This*

      I have no personal experience, but I have read that singing to a stressed-out dog can be helpful.

      Best of luck to you and your new 4-legged baby.

    9. Rescue pup*

      When we adopted our dog he was four years old. Never lived in a house, never been on a walk, never socialized with anyone. It took five and a half YEARS for him to be “motivated by food” or seek out treats. And, honestly, he only likes very specific treats still. He is also particular about his food, as he prefers to snack on his food throughout the day, a little at a time. He obviously had some trust issues with food, but if we gave him specific eating times, he wouldn’t eat. So we learned to just put all the food down for the day and he’d eat a bit here and there.

      My spouse had to carry him down the stairs the first several weeks because he was petrified of them. He needed to know and trust us and love us before learning to be brave. Your pup just needs more time. It may take more time than you may ever expect. A dog is an individual just like people, they each have their own personalities.

  40. Falling Diphthong*

    Was reminded of this by one of the books upthread: The Inheritance Games trilogy by Jennifer Barnes. A recently homeless high school student is named the heir to a billionaire’s fortune, to the surprise of everyone, and has to live in the dead guy’s home with his family for a year to come into the inheritance. He loved puzzles, so there are tons of Mysterious Puzzles To Solve and there are Dark Things Afoot (as happens when vast inheritances are at stake).

    This stood out for its rip-roaring pace. You can tell that there would be problems if you stopped and squinted and thought about things, but the book is charging right along to the next thing. It was really fun. Unabashedly YA.

    Anyone have recs (books or other) for things that are just really fun and fast-paced escapism?

    1. Dwight Schrute*

      Ah if you liked this series you should listen to It’s a Clue podcast! They re read Nancy Drew books and recommend other books in a similar genre to this series! I quite enjoyed The Westingame on their recommendation.

    2. EA*

      I read this series and know what you mean! A few ideas:
      The Lunar Chronicles and Divergent series if you haven’t read them yet
      The Kaiju Preservation Society (not YA but fun – I also liked Lock In by Scalzi)
      Ace of Spades
      Skyward series by Brandon Sanderson (YA, not as drawn out as his adult stuff)

    3. Silence*

      I haven’t read them for a while but the miles books from Lois McMaster Bujold have a protagonist who tends to accomplish things through momentum more then following procedures

    1. Hanky Panky Bananabakey*

      “Hank and the Six Bananas: A Novel.” Better yet, “Hank and the six Bananas” would be a great band name.

  41. costello music*

    I love history, and majored in it during college. After graduating a few years ago, I haven’t really read any history books but figured I just needed a break.

    Well, I’ve been trying to pick up history books and just can’t seem to stay focused while reading them. For both books that are more academic and ones that are more for a general audience. I thought maybe if I try another nonfic genre, maybe I just need to click something in my brain. But I can’t focus on that either.

    It’s making me mad (and I’m trying not to be cause obviously that doesn’t help). Any tips on trying to stay focused when reading something like this? I’m reading light fiction books otherwise so it’s not like my attention is being consumed otherwise. I don’t like writing in books plus a majority of them come from the library anyways.

    1. Sitting Pretty*

      This may not work for you but are audiobooks an option? Nonfiction works much better for me this way. I find I can relax and enjoy the history or exploration of the topic without forcing myself to attend to every paragraph. if my attention strays, so what? The reader keeps going and I just pick it back up wherever, and still get a lot out of it.

      I’m right now listening to “Tremors in the Blood” by Amit Katwala about the history of the polygraph. It has a very storytelling approach so it quite engaging! Also recently listened to Judy Batallion’s “The Light of Days” about Jewish women becoming resistance fighters in Poland during WWII and it definitely held my interest throughout.

      Good luck on your reading journey, I hope you find your way back into enjoying history books again!

    2. miel*

      My general philosophy in life is to not force things that are supposed to be for pleasure, and I think we all go through phases of being more or less into a particular thing. And that’s ok!

      Maybe you could come at this sideways.

      Perhaps other types of history info would appeal to you right now? Maybe longform videos, blogs, podcasts, audiobooks, movies, theater, or a museum? Wikipedia rabbit holes?

      Or maybe you can engage with history in another way – writing, education/ volunteering, reading historical fiction, etc.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I second not forcing it, and letting yourself come back around in your own time. Not like grimly eating fiber.

        I’d look for a completely different topic–I’ll toss out Entangled Life (fungi) and An Immense World (animal senses) as really good nonfiction science books I’ve read recently.

    3. frog*

      Obvious, but try reading the books when you are at your most mentally alert. That maybe only on weekends. I know there are certain non-fiction books I can only read for ~ 2hrs on weekends because they are mentally taxing. I can read other fiction at almost any time, but when details and logic are important, I need to focus.

    4. Ally*

      I just listened to an interview with a neuroscientist on how our attention spans are reducing, and he suggests putting your phone in another room. Even if you’re not looking at it, the fact that it is there next to you is somehow a distraction for your brain. You could try that!

    5. Betty*

      I’ve loved reading history books since I was a kid. As an adult, I’d say it’s gotten a little harder to read them because of less free time and more general life stress. Sometimes I spend a few months reading only fiction, sometimes I switch back and forth between a history book and a fiction book, sometimes I read a history book in under a week. Really just depends on the book and what else is happening in my life.

      Overall, the more tired/stressed out I am, the harder it is to read non-fiction (and sometimes just to read in general). So maybe you could try reading earlier in the day (or at whatever time you have more focus/energy)? Or maybe if you’re going through stressful times, wait until that’s over and try again in a few months?

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

      Could you try some historical fiction (like the *Wolf Hall* trilogy) that is reasonably accurate but told as a story?

    7. GoryDetails*

      I don’t know if these would appeal, but I adore Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales – history retold in graphic-novel format, with loads and loads of snark in among the impressively-detailed historical tidbits. The first one is “One Dead Spy” and is about the original Nathan Hale – who winds up pulling a kind of Scheherazade stunt, telling more and more historical tales WHILE STANDING ON HIS OWN SCAFFOLD. Indeed, the hangman is one of the more cheerful (if dim) characters… As to how Hale can tell tales of events long past his own lifetime, well, there’s something about a magic history book, but we’ll hand-wave that. There are volumes on WWI, on the battle of the ironclads in the Civil War, on Lafayette, and more, all great fun.

    8. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I’ve had problems with books for several years due to arthritis and eye issues. What’s kept me engaged is FB history groups – you just have to poke around to find ones that match your specific area of interest, and that provide legit citations or links, as any good book would. I’ve found so many websites through these groups, that my bookmarks folder is bulging with them! A lot of the sites are blogs and journals so articles rather than books. Much more manageable reading!

    9. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      I’ve also major in history and had the same problem. The thing that worked for me was picking texts on an obscure topic which I had touched on in lectures or classes at uni and which I had really liked. In my case: road building in the Roman empire. It had been one of the topics in a class on the Roman empire that I took at uni, and since I like infrastructure stuff, the texts I read years later still managed to grab and keep my attention for longer than texts on other historical topics. It also helped that I remembered a few things from the class and thus didn’t have to force my brain to think in completely unknown directions and ways.
      I, admittedly, still don’t read _many_ history books but every once in a while a book takes my fancy and I can usually just dive right in. It _has to_ be something that I am very interested in, though, no general overview books because those overwhelm me with information that my brain tries to process but actually doesn’t want to hang on to xD

    10. Jay*

      Have you tried history Podcasts? Especially the odder/funnier ones? I can vouch for things like Behind The Bastards (horrible people of history/modern times and the horrible things they did) and Lions Lead By Donkeys (military history with an emphasis on the stupidest blunders by leaders unfit babysit a goldfish).

      You could also try some of the less serious type of history to get yourself back into things.
      Dave Barry’s History Of The Millennium (it’s nothing but silly, but it is entertaining), or How To Fight Presidents (The premise: You are a time traveler who is so bad at it that you have managed to get yourself into a fight to the death with the sitting president in whatever year you have landed in. It’s hilarious, irreverent, and provides a surprising amount of factual and useful information about each US President.).

      I know that these types of books/podcasts tend to get me hooked on a particular subject and make the more serious stuff just more fun to read because you have something “fun” in the back of your mind while you are doing it.

    11. Rara Avis*

      I read very little nonfiction, but I just read The Black Count byTom Reiss — history but really engaging.

    12. History TA back in the day*

      Are there any particular books that you really enjoyed back in college? I’d be happy to try some recs based on old favorites (books, topics or styles)!

    13. The teapots are on fire*

      I remember writer Trent Hamm saying that when he reads nonfiction books he takes out a notebook and takes notes, trying to actively think about what he’s reading to stay engaged and get more out of it. I recall he was reading a lot of philosophy, which also doesn’t naturally engage the reader.

  42. LNLN*

    K-drama thread…
    I am watching A Time Called You on Netflix while I wait for the next episodes of Destined with You and Behind Your Touch to drop. The first couple episodes of A Time Called You were a little confusing but by episode 3 everything was falling into place and I am really enjoying the show.

    What are you watching? What are you waiting for?

    1. DistantAudacity*

      I’m just about dropping «my lovely liar». I really enjoyed «King the Land», where the lead actor is very good.

      I’m waiting for the third season of «tale of the nine-tailed!

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Watching: Only Murders in the Building S3, which is just delightful.

      Just finished watching: Afterparty S2, which was as good as the excellent first season.

      And Good Omens S2, which is just lovely. I think it was really smart to have the second season focused on much smaller personal and administrative problems of heaven and hell, since “the apocalypse again” would be repetitive.

      Waiting for: Severance S2.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Oops, didn’t see this was K-drama specific.

        I quite liked Sisyphus, about a tech CEO, his maybe-not-crazy brother, and a time traveler who came back to derail a nuclear war.

        1. LNLN*

          If you liked Sisyphus, I bet you would also like Vagabond (on Netflix). No time travel involved, but the lead actors are very engaging and appealing. Lots of action, too!

          1. Teaholic*

            Ohh I second Vagabond! Admittedly, Sisyphus is still on my list so I’ll bump that up… soon. (Maybe.)

    3. GoryDetails*

      Not a K-drama, but I’m really enjoying the live-action “One Piece” series on Netflix; have watched the first four episodes and am trying not to binge the rest. Great fun!

    4. Teaholic*

      I’m just finishing King the Land, which I surprisingly got hooked on (a good surprise). I’m also watching First Responders s2, and Uncanny Counter s2, though much more slowly than I’d thought I would. I adoooooored s1 and have probably rewatched it more than is “healthy” (and have Many Thoughts) which is maybe why s2 isn’t… clicking quite the same. I’ll be watching the Devil Judge at some point since they just added that, will get around to D.P. s2 when I’m ready to deal with– all of that, and my to watch list is chock-full of shows to get around to…

      Some I’ve watched this year/semi recently: Unlocking my Boss (surprisingly good!); loved Bloodhounds and Black Knight; Arthdal Chronicles (s2 coming very soon)… Absolutely recommend the movie Space Sweepers, which was a hoot with a fantastic cast.

      Will also probably watch One Piece at some point, but finishing the jdrama Why didn’t I tell you a million times?

      1. LNLN*

        I gave up on Uncanny Counter halfway into episode 1 of season 2. I had really liked season 1, but the intro to season 2 was too much. I also liked Unlock My Boss and loved Bloodhounds. I really enjoyed the relationship development between the two boxers in Bloodhounds, although the overall violence had me covering my eyes at times.

        I, too, got hooked on King the Land.

        1. Teaholic*

          !! I’m glad it’s not just me, it was… too predictable and felt like lazy writing? They upped the stakes by upping the violence/senselessness and I wanna say there are better ways to do that :( Yeah Bloodhounds was brutal, and I have my issues with the story too (and the… senselessness as well) but the acting and relationship development was top notch!

          I just rewatched the trailer for Behind Your Touch and adding it to my list… Are you enjoying it so far?

          1. LNLN*

            Yes, I am enjoying Behind Your Touch. There is a tolerable level of slapstick comedy and a really funny schtick about a local guy “translating” comments made by other locals to the guy from Seoul. I always swear I won’t start watching a series until all the episodes have dropped, but I broke my rule and started this show.

            1. Teaholic*

              Good to know :) The ‘translating’ schtick reminds me of when they have that one character who always remembers saying wrong (like in Strong Woman Do Bong Soon “stop motion” instead of stock options and the like! And other idioms, cracks me up just thinking about it.)

              Ah yes, I’ve broken that same rule beforehand but it’s much easier to stick to it when I… stop watching things long enough that things are out for over a year by the time I get there!

    5. Jay*

      Ashoka, whenever new episodes drop (it’s lived up to the hype and then some, don’t let the Basement Dwellers convince you otherwise!), and doing a rewatch of Bones for a “something in the background when I’m doing other things” show.

    6. SophieChotek*

      For K-drama
      I watched:
      Liver or Die (Prime)
      Queenmaker (Netflix)
      Designated Survivor 60 Days (Korean remake which I actually enjoyed more than US version) (Netflix)
      The Crowned Clown (Netflix/Prime)
      Abyss
      The Rebel Princess (Prime) – Chinese historical, not K-Drama
      Extraordinary Attorney Woo (Netflix)
      Revoluntionary Love (Netflix) – similar premise to Chinese/Taiwanese drama (Office Girls)
      The Tunnel (Thai remake also called The Tunnel; I think Thai version is currently on Netflix)

    7. E*

      Also watching Behind Your Touch and Destined With You. Haven’t really watched any K-dramas with fantasy elements previously for whatever reason but enjoying both so far. The ongoing 2521 parody in Behind Your Touch is hilarious even though the premise of the show is kind of questionable.

      I really enjoyed Not Others (on Viki in the US) – kind of a Gilmore Girls dynamic with the leads and really great found family elements.

  43. nails*

    I got a nail dryer for my bday a few weeks ago and been painting my nails more often now. But the base/top coat my dad got me that goes with it, just has the whole thing peel off. But the normal base/top I use is cracking and bubbling no matter if I shake it/don’t.

    I don’t remember what the new brand is, but I use sally hansen on the reg. Is it the brand that’s bad? Something I may be doing? Do you have any brand recommendations for a base/top?

    1. Reba*

      I recommend using separate products for base and top, not a two-in-one. They are very different functions, and a product claiming to do both will do neither one well. The other big benefit of separate products is being able to use a quick dry top coat!

      Sally is not bad at all, although I do think their base and top coat type products tend to get gloopy/thicken quickly. These days I am using Essie Smooth E base and Gel couture top coat.

      Other things to try could be your prep – skip the little warm water soak if that’s part of your process, and make sure they are really clean with acetone before starting to apply.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      I have good luck with OPI products. I use their ridge filling basecoat and that works really well.
      Have you tried multiple thin layers of polish? That seems to work well for me

  44. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

    In the same vein as the refrigerator thread above…
    My last several laptops have only lasted three years apiece. On two of them (an Acer and an HP) the battery died; on the third (also an HP), it became so slow after the first year that it became basically unusable. Are there any good laptops that are priced in the mid-three figures or should I expect a laptop at that price to only last two or three years? (Especially now that I can’t w–k from home, I don’t use a laptop enough to be open to spending much more than hundreds.) Thanks!

    1. Rick Tq*

      2-3 years on a laptop isn’t bad, they are designed for light weight, not to be especially sturdy, and the all the software out there expects a reasonably current processor. Older software becomes a huge security issue when the company stops supporting it for software updates, so there are good PC security reasons to not keep a laptop for 5-8 years.

      Did a good PC tech try troubleshooting the performance drop of your last laptop? Cleaning out temp files and downloads plus going back and removing old software and apps you don’t use any more can help keep performance up. I’m not aware of MS releasing code to intentionally slow down laptop processors like Apple did to iPhones back in the day.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I can’t with this world where phones are $700, apps are paid and the whole thing is expected to be replaced every couple years AND laptops are three grand, all the software is rented via annual subscrption & the expected lifespan is less than three years.

        1. Observer*

          $3K for a laptop is extremely unusual, and has been for a while. Most people can get good laptops for under $1k

    2. Flower necklace*

      Personally, I have found Lenovo laptops to be good quality. I have one that’s eight years old. I replaced it a few years ago, but it’s spending retirement as a backup laptop in my classroom. It spent a few years living in my backpack as I went to grad school and worked part-time as a tutor, so I wasn’t gentle with it, either. My current Lenovo is three years old and still works as well as the day I got it. Although I admittedly spend a little more on laptops.

      1. miel*

        My Lenovo (7 years old, higher-end ~$700 when bought) is still chugging along! I need to replace the battery though.

    3. Betty*

      I used a Dell laptop for seven years (carried it around in a backpack for four years in undergrad and then two years in grad school, and just left it at home the final year). It was still working perfectly fine after 7 years, but was getting slow, so I replaced it with my current Dell desktop (which at 9 years old is fine except it’s starting to get slow). My parents and both siblings have also had good luck with Dell desktops (basically waiting until they are ancient in computer-years to replace them).

      I highly recommend Dell. Looks like they have some laptops priced in the mid-three figure range.

      1. Betty*

        (Note: I did have to replace the battery after three years because the charge it would hold got too low to be useful for me. I think that would be true of any battery that you’re constantly draining and recharging though.)

    4. frog*

      My last two laptops were Lenovo. This one is 9 years old. I spent ~$500 to replace the screen in 2019 (sadly with a less-good-quality-screen). The current screen has a 1″x1″(2cm x 2cm) black spot on the corner, which doesn’t bother me, and the z key doesn’t work. (my fault, spilled tea. And then remapped the keyboard). Bought a new Lenovo (Carbon X1 or something similar) in ~ 2021, when I thought this one was finally going to die. It (new laptop) seems a bit less sturdy, random bits of it don’t work periodically (eg connected to bluetooth in the am but not pm yesterday). Both lappy’s are running Linux (fedora), paid $2500-$3000($Cdn) for each one. Both laptops get used 2-5 hrs/day, generally.

    5. frog*

      Also: can you not replace the battery? When I used macs, I’d have to replace the battery every 2-3 years. But that’s no longer possible, I believe, for macs.

      1. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

        I actually think I can, and it looks like batteries are cheap, which I didn’t expect. (I guess that would also explain why the batteries fail so quickly.) I like the laptop otherwise, so I’m going to look into that and see if it makes sense. Thanks to everyone for responses!

        1. Still*

          Oh yes, the battery usually dies waaay quicker than the laptop, and is much cheaper to replace. I’ve had my HP laptop for 12 years and had to replace the battery twice, but it’s still working.

        2. Observer*

          I actually think I can, and it looks like batteries are cheap, which I didn’t expect.

          That is what I was going to ask about.

          But also, on the newest one that slowed down, two questions:

          1. have you considered doing a wipe and then reinstalling only the stuff you need, using the latest version you have from the get go? Sometimes Windows doesn’t handle updates and install / de-install well. There are a lot of ways to deal with that, but this is the easiest. And the nice side effect is that if you happen to have some sort of malware / background bot (crypto miner, zombie attacker, etc.) this should wipe it out as well.

          2. What kind of hard drive do you have on there? Sometimes, especially with a non-SSD, this can be the first sign of a drive failure. HD replacements, even for laptops are not expensive, if that’s what’s happening.

    6. Hatchet*

      I’m seconding (thirding) the Lenovo laptops. My first one lasted 8-ish years; my most recent one is on year 2 and still going strong. Their website is great! You can browse their model lines to see what works best for you and your budget. I bought my current one directly from them on one of their sales/super deals at the end of November. I think it was the model from the previous year, but I felt I got a much better laptop than what I paid for. Good luck!

    7. slmrlln*

      Lenovo. I had a ThinkPad that lasted 9 years, and I just replaced it with another one. I hate changing computers.

    8. city deer*

      To answer only part of your question: from experience, I would absolutely only expect a laptop in any price range below $2k to last 2-3 years, if that. I’ve mainly had Dell laptops, but they always seemed to develop fatal hardware problems within 2 years — the kind of thing where even if you got it serviced the same problem would crop up again within the same timespan.

      On the other hand, my 2012 Macbook Pro lasted for a literal decade of extremely heavy usage (and still works okay for web browsing/email/streaming, just is slow and can’t handle the more taxing software I need to use on a regular basis). So I’m kind of skeptical that laptops are inherently short-lived. But I think you do have to pay for longevity.

    9. Sloanicota*

      Following. I also used to be able to easily swap out batteries and I see they’ve taken a page from the phone people and cut that off.

    10. Gatomon*

      Batteries should still be replaceable, but you may have to take it to a repair shop if it’s not a removable one. I’d expect all but the cheapest laptops to get to 5 years, unless you’re hard on equipment. But it doesn’t sound like you’re having physical damage issues.

      When a Windows device gets slow or starts having strange bugs, it can help do to a reset. Basically it reinstalls the Windows OS and deletes your programs, but not your files. So there’s some work involved, but you’re not fully starting over. There are tons of articles online that can walk you through the process.

      Another thing to consider as a possible issue is malware. Malwarebytes is a great tool you can download for free to scan your PC as a secondary option to the built-in Windows Defender. (Malwarebytes will push you to subscribe to their real-time protection, but you can just download it, run a scan and uninstall it again. Don’t pay.)

      Spec-wise, for the best longevity, you want as much RAM as you can afford. RAM has been really expensive for years so lower-end devices have skimped on it historically, but prices are better now. Minimum 16GB, in my personal opinion, but always more if you can. RAM helps your system multitask better, which is important if you have a lot of programs open, or even browser tabs. You also want to watch out for the hard drive, look specifically for an NVMe SSD. The hard drive will affect how long it takes to boot itself up, open a program or open files, because those tasks involve reading from the drive.

    11. carcinization*

      I’ve been using a $300 Lenovo Chromebook at home for longer than that, with no issues other than having to delete things once in awhile because the memory gets full. I wouldn’t think the price would have gone up over 3 figures for such an item in the past few years….

    12. Bob Howard*

      Laptops send their cooling air through very narrow and tight channels. If they get clogged, the processor wiill throttle back to prevent overheating. If the alternative is replacement, it may well be worth dissassembling it and trying to remove all the internal fluff & lint that will have accumulated. In some cases this has become so dense that it has been mistaken for a filter and almost replaced.

    13. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      First, there are consumer-grade and business-grade laptops. The latter are offered with three-year next-day service from the manufacturer (for an additional fee) and way more robust. It makes sense for businesses to buy them as a broken laptop usually means an unproductive employee, and for manufacturers to build them so they rarely need service.
      Second, I stongly recommend considering a used business-grade laptop. There are companies refurbishing and reselling them, usually three years old, for a decent price ($400 or so). Go with one of the major manufacturers catering to the business market (Dell Latitude series, HP Elitebook, Lenovo Thinkpad come to mind).
      You’ll get a capable, robust machine for an affordable price.
      I bought two HP Elitebooks for my nephews’ Christmas presents at around 10 years old and they lasted them until high school. One is still alive, 8 years later. Paid around $250 each at the time.

      1. Observer*

        I totally agree with this. These machines sometimes have fewer bells and whistles, but they do tend to be much more robust.

    14. Rara Avis*

      My kid has a MacBook that has lasted from 6th to 10th grade. Because we got education pricing, it wasn’t crazy expensive. And they are tough on it.

  45. Liane*

    Another dog question.

    Our older dog, 76lb Lab/Belgian mix, now has a problem with his knee. The kneecap is slipping in and out of place. He was limping, so we took him to the vet ASAP, since he has hip dysplasia. Aside from surgery, which is risky for 9 year old dog, pain meds are all the vet can offer. My boss suggested checking to see if canine knee braces existed & yes they do!

    Anyone here used those for their pet?

    1. Name*

      I don’t have any experience with knee braces but wanted to say that water therapy made a world of difference with our old dog when she was recovering from a spinal injury. If anyone offers it in your area, I highly recommend looking into it!

      1. Liane*

        Another dog question.

        Our older dog, 76lb Lab/Belgian mix, now has a problem with his knee. The kneecap is slipping in and out of place. He was limping, so we took him to the vet ASAP, since he has hip dysplasia. Aside from surgery, which is risky for 9 year old dog, pain meds are all the vet can offer. My boss suggested checking to see if canine knee braces existed & yes they do!

        Anyone here used those for their pet?

      2. Liane*

        (I have no idea how my OP got reposted, so will roll eyes & move on.)

        Unlikely there is water therapy offered here. It’s a very rural area. But there are a couple parks where we could take the dogs to wade in a river or creek.

    2. Pippa K*

      Our neighbor has just started using a leg brace for their dog, who is older, a big guy, and frankly quite poorly trained (so they couldn’t keep him from pulling on the leash or jumping up, etc., which was making his knee problem worse). Once they worked out how to get the brace on him, which was apparently a bit of a challenge, it’s been a big help. He’s going for walks again and they’re glad they decided to try the brace option.

      1. Liane*

        That is good to read. Mine is good on a leash.

        I do worry his collie cohort will try to eat the brace as said collie isn’t too demotivated but is VERY into chewing. LOL

    3. crookedglasses*

      I haven’t tangled with hip dysplasia, specifically, but my dog did have a torn CCL (doggy equivalent to the ACL) as well as arthritis in her last year or two of life.

      Pain medication plus physical therapy made a huge difference for her. I also go a help em up harness for her and that enabled me to get her up stairs, as well as in and out of the car. Fingers crossed you’re able to find a good way to help your pup with the pain management!

    4. EventingForChickeny*

      Google “find a CCRP” and you should get the UT CCRP database. Animal physio is called rehabilitation medicine because physio is a protected term. CCRP is the designation you want in your veterinary rehabber and there may be one closer than you’d think.

  46. Dragonfly7*

    Do you have any recommendations for moving cross-country in only a car? My packing is also limited a bit because the cats will take up two-thirds of the backseat.

    1. Rick Tq*

      Can you tow a trailer with your car? That would give you a lot more space for your goods and leave more space for the cats. It also means you know with it will arrive.

      If you are shipping the bulk of your household pack enough stuff to be able to ‘camp’ in your new home until your shipment arrives (and expect it to be late). Bedding, towels, enough dishes, cutlery, and kitchenware for basic functions (coffee is mandatory for me) will make the wait for your delivery more comfortable.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Are you limiting yourself to what you can bring in your car, or are you willing to ship? I’ve used UShip before and liked it MUCH better than interstate movers. It’s like airbnb or taskrabbit, for shipping. You can list as much or as little as you like, and truckers will “bid” to fit your items into spaces in their existing loads. You don’t have to meet some company’s minimum amount, or put your stuff onto a pallet, and you avoid the middleman costs. The commission to the customer on UShip is fairly low. Truckers are rated and reviewed by previous customers.

      I’ve had one or two less-than-pleasant but not disastrous experiences, just like any other direct-to-consumer service, but mostly it’s worked great.

    3. Reba*

      Yes, Pod, Lugless, or UPS. ;)

      We have one of those car-top cargo bag things and it’s great for this kind of thing. Drags your mileage down of course but for a one time thing, more economical than installing a permanent roof rack/hard side cargo solution.

      Avoid boxes and suitcases with hard sides, bags and duffles will be easier to manipulate into the nooks and crannies of the car. Small cooler for drinks and snacks. Keep your overnight bag and cats’ stuff bag where they are easy to reach/accessible through the doors.

      Good luck!

    4. Firebird*

      My son rented a Uhaul truck with a towing attachment for the car. He said it didn’t take long to adjust to the towing and it was nice to be able to just use the car without unpacking anything when they stopped for the night.

      1. Pippa K*

        One caution here, how easy it is to tow your car depends on what you’re towing. All-wheel drive vehicles have to be towed fully on a trailer, which can be an issue for weight (the total weight of trailer and vehicle may exceed the towing capacity of a light truck). Other cars can be towed with a dolly or flat on the ground, depending on the car, but it requires some attention to detail, and U-Haul can be a bit unreliable in what they offer/provide. I’ve just been through this and it was kind of a hassle, but could still be a good choice for you, of course!

    5. Chaordic One*

      I’ve moved cross-country several times and twice I ended up renting a U-Haul type truck AND a trailer to put my car on. I had the option of towing my car with the truck and using a towing dolly that lifted up the front wheels of my car while the back wheels of my car would stay on the ground as it would be towed. Renting a towing dolly was cheaper than renting a trailer for my car, but I was advised that pulling my car on a trailer would make it easier to drive the truck than pulling my car using a towing dolly. I didn’t question it. I found the truck and trailer easy enough to drive and, as a bonus, I was able to pack a few things in the trunk of the car and in the back seat in addition to what I had in the truck.

    6. Samwise*

      I drove from California to Chicago in a VW super beetle. The car was packed full. I used the front passenger seat and floor for a stuff I needed daily. I camped — sleeping bag, very small tent. My dad shipped a couple boxes after I arrived.

      Make sure you can see out your car windows and that the rear view isn’t blocked. If you’re not good at seeing spatially, get someone who is to help you figure out the best way to get everything packed. I had a boyfriend once upon a time who’d measure all the spaces, mark them out with masking tape on the living room floor, and practice “pack” there to get the most efficient arrangement.

    7. Dragonfly7*

      Thank you all so much for the recommendations! Some of these, like Uship and Lugless, are new to me. Most of my furniture is junky or not worth bringing with me, so I’m limiting to what can fit in my (and maybe one more person’s) car.

  47. Jackalope*

    Super late but here’s the gaming thread. Share what you’ve been playing this week and give or request recommendations. As always all games are welcome, not just video games.

    I am almost finished with year 4 in Stardew Valley. I just got my Island Obelisk and so I’m thinking about taking a bit of a break to play other stuff and bask in having reached this point. And in our D&D game we’ve just wrapped up a mini adventure and are starting out on another one, which is kind of different than anything we’ve done before, so I’m happy about that!

    1. CozyGamer4Life*

      Looking for recommendations for any cozy, non-farming games that can be played on PC Linux system, realizing that most of the ones I came across so far need Windows or Mac and I have a Windows available but would be nice to use Linux if possible.

      1. costello music*

        check out old man’s journey, untitled goose game, slay the spire, and the sims (base game is free now and there’s a lot the developers are still updating! if you do get it, don’t get the ea app. get it on steam. there’s issues with the app).

        i don’t have linux but a quick google says you should be fine. you can get them all on steam (you just need to make an account, which is free).

  48. Liane*

    (Separate thread for a different question.)

    Husband, due to assorted physical & mental health problems, has been trying to get disability through US Social Security for a couple years. He has a lawyer, pretty standard in our state.
    The original claim was denied, which is very common, per his lawyer(as well as an AAM post by an administrative law judge a few years ago). Also common for a denial to be reversed on appeal.
    The appeal hearing is set for early December and will be conducted by phone, not in person. Anyone here who has experience and can describe what to expect? I am guessing it will be like a conference call.

    1. Cordelia Drexel Biddle*

      Phone hearings usually take about 45-60 minutes. They are conference calls: participants are the claimant, the claimant’s rep, the judge, and the vocational expert (also a medical expert if there is one, but most hearings don’t). The basic purpose of the hearing is to give the claimant an opportunity to explain why s/he cannot work. The claimant will also be asked about the last 15 years of work history. Some judges ask the questions themselves, others will let the reps do most of the work. Your rep may have more info about the individual judge’s preferences.

      Your husband will be testifying under oath, but it’s not an adversarial proceeding and most judges are polite and professional; think deposition, not cross-examination on the witness stand.

      The vocational expert will classify the work history according to the federal dictionary of occupational titles and also answer hypothetical questions from the judge about what kind of work is available in the national economy for people with certain restrictions. (Your rep can cross-examine afterwards.) If your spouse is over the age of 50 or 55, there may also be questions about whether there are transferrable skills from the past work.

      The judge may or may not announce a ruling at the hearing. Some of them do, some of them don’t.

      It is *very* common for cases to get approved after hearing that were denied below.

      Good luck :)

  49. Busy Middle Manager*

    You know how when you watch one thing, and then youtube barrages you with the topic for a week? I made the mistake of watching a “genx comedian” and then I was getting loads of generational videos and made the further mistake of watching some, which led to more:-)

    As a later Xer, my question is, am I crazy, or are they retroactively overplaying the “latchkey kid” thing? I’m completely fine to be told I am wrong on this. But all I remember were SAHMs, some working moms, but they all came home at reasonable times. Yes, sometimes we’d go home and be alone for two hours. But it wasn’t a big deal. Mom wasn’t expecting us to whip up a Thanksgiving dinner or something. We just played and watched TV. Maybe washed some dishes or vacuum or wash floors and change the dog’s water but that was about it.

    Then there are the comments about drinking from the hose. Did that to, but it was just a novelty or laziness. Like we’d pretend to be on the prairie so would pretend it was a well. Are there really people whose parents didn’t let them in the house to get another drink, or to drink from a glass?

    I also used to sit by the radio for hours waiting for a song. But the huge thing all of these generational videos neglect to mention is that radio was far more varied then before iheart radio killed local radio. So it was more akin to browsing youtube than listening to Hotel California twelve times a day, waiting for a new song, like it is now.

    I don’t know, I’m getting intense “I walked uphill to school both ways” vibes from all of these videos. Did people really run the house for their parents but also get locked outside from sun up to sun down every weekend and summer day? Or does just a certain type of person self-select to make these generational videos?

    1. fposte*

      I think it’s exaggeration for comic effect. There’s not a lot of entertainment value in saying “We had it fine, with maybe a little less soccer camp.” Latchkey kids is an interesting one because it was a big media deal, though of course it had been a working class norm for ages. That’s why people can excitedly focus on pretty trivial things like hose drinking. It’s a small way of bonding, like talking about a known smelly hallway at a school reunion.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m with FPoste on exaggeration for comedy.

      I have a vague association of drinking from the hose in summer, because you were outside and it was easy and you didn’t even need to bother going indoors–I never heard of being locked out of your home. I specifically recall when we moved late-70s my sociable younger sister (about 5) went up to houses and rang the doorbell and asked if they had any kids her age who would like to play, which I think would be unusual today.

      There was a lot more “you can roam the neighborhood on your own” in bygone generations, but the specifics that make the recollection funny would trend toward “I was forced to fend for myself in the wilds of my suburban cul de sac.”

      1. Filosofickle*

        Sadly, I know kids that got locked out. Not my peers, but I was a city lifeguard and the number of kids that got dropped off hours before the pool opened and told us they couldn’t go home was disheartening. This was the 80s/90s. Luckily the city park was a pretty safe place to be and I’m glad the kids had that but it sucked for them when they were lonely and sunburned and had nowhere to go.

    3. ina*

      I find this kind of exaggeration to be a troublesome distortion of the past. People always tend to be “kids these days…back in my youth, we did XYZ” without realizing they’re not speaking to some isolated experience. They end up creating new histories for themselves that aren’t grounded but as long as enough people buy into the myth, that false history is a generational reality. There are plenty of 90s – early 00s kids who were latch key kids — they just don’t have that word to describe coming home and knowing they shouldn’t open the door or answer the phone for anyone. Or the older sibling that became the third parent because they’d get out of school the same time as their younger siblings and needed to watch them/walk them home/get on the bus or wait for the bus with them. The households of two working parents is more prevalent now than it was then. Lots of these experiences are still common for low income and immigrant communities.

      However, I suppose every generation wants to feel they’re special. Maybe one day it’ll be “ok, Gen Xer” rather than “ok, Boomer.” Lol.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        This is where I stand! It’s been bugging me this week. How we all have different perceptions of time and the past. At least I quit FB a while back so don’t see all of the “kids these days” from my sister’s classmates anymore (only 3 years older than me) who’ve been ranting like old men since, well, a really young age. I saw quite a few “back when I was at so and so place in 1995” and then I’m thinking. You were 20 then. 20 year olds looks like a baby to me now, but you’re talking about when you were 20 like you were this seasoned adult. It gets ridiculous at times.

        I’m also waiting for their to be a word for the wave of late 80s babies who were dumped in day care at a young age. I remember watching that in the 90s and thinking that had to be way more psychologically damaging that the horrors of having the house to yourself for two hours after school:-). IMO their stories are going to be more interesting than latchkey kid stories!

        1. MissCoco*

          I’m a millennial who was “dumped” in daycare starting at ~6 months, I’m actually still in touch with some of my daycare cohort (the earliest of us started at 3-4 months), none of our problems/childhood traumas stemmed from having two working parents or being cared for in a communal setting at a young age. It’s also interesting that you see this as a specific generational experience, as many infants have been cared for in group care settings for a long time, and many still are!

          My vague daycare/preschool memories are overwhelmingly positive. My daycare teachers attended some of my birthday parties, and were some of my first role models. I remember being so impressed at how COOL it was that Paige had a peace sign tattoo. As an adult I can see the *far* more interesting thing about her was that she ate canned beets for lunch! (I remember that because she let me try one and I have a lifelong aversion to beets to this day). Well there you go, maybe daycare did produce some psychological damage!

        2. Ginger Cat Lady*

          “dumped in daycare”? Really?
          The word that comes to my mind is “judgemental” but it applies to you, not the kids who turned out fine being in daycare.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          I second the yikes. Babies were cared for by other people for millennia before and decades after the 80s.

          If you were a baby in the late 80s you’re in your 30s now–I think there’s a reason the wave of confirmation for your view still hasn’t arrived.

      2. Sloanicota*

        All I can say is that as a milennial (though an old one) one of my goals is to be way more encouraging and supportive of GenZ and younger than what we got from GenX … because I often felt like they were more aggressively anti-milennial than the boomers were. I guess that’s just the too-cool-older-sibling vibe at play.

        1. AGD*

          I have this goal as well, half because I work with young adults on a college campus who are almost invariably wonderful, and half because the generation that breaks the useless subsequent-generation-bashing game will be the one that refuses to go along with it.

      3. Sloanicota*

        Oh lord this is what I’m gonna say mildly the next time someone is aggressively X-ing at me: “well, I guess every generation wants to feel they’re special.”

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      I think it’s mainly for comic effect. (My mom did work outside the home, and we did come home to a list of chores on the counter. But kids do chores, so that seems normal.)

      The drinking from the hose thing was a combination of convenience, novelty, and not wanting to deal with requirements to wash up when you went inside.

      I do think Gen X is the last generation that truly has freedom to come and go as we pleased in childhood. My parents generally knew where I was in a very vague sense, but not specific locations. That’s why you needed to keep change in your Kangaroos for a phone call.

    5. Jay*

      A lot of it would be comic effect exaggerations.

      But I’m a middle X-er and I caught the tail end of the old X-er life style and it was very, very different.
      I actually remember the specific summer things changed.
      I can’t remember the year, but, one summer my probably-single-digit-aged self was ‘encouraged’ (read: told to get out of the house) to take my younger brother to the neighborhood park alone for most of a day. This was normal and expected. I ran amuck through the salt marsh, vacant lots, wandered through long abandoned houses. This was all normal. I could leave first thing in the morning and not be back until dark, and my parents were not even curious about where I was, as long as I didn’t get arrested or break something expensive.
      The next summer, most of our parents were afraid to let us leave the street we lived on. Some of my friends weren’t allowed out of their yards anymore. It only became more restrictive from there.
      Whereas, the older “kids” in my high school were very much young adults, not children at all. They had been raised with tremendous freedom and autonomy (mind you, often much too much, sometimes very neglectfully too much). They often stopped living with their families in their mid-teens, moving into someplace else on the property, a garage or basement with it’s own entrance, etc. It was common enough for them to only interact with their parents at dinner time, a couple of days a week. Some of the upper middle/lower upper class families I knew that had kids four or five years older than me actually would rent their kids their own apartments starting at 16 or 17 in order to teach them how to be on their own. I often see on reviews of TV shows and movies focusing on teenagers, comments that the adults in that particular world are absent to the point of breaking immersion. This is where that world view comes from. People who grew up in a world where your parents were “done” being your parent sometime around age 15 or 16.

      1. Anonymous cat*

        Do you remember why they suddenly wouldn’t let kids leave their street? I’m guessing there was some kind of tragedy in the news that year? Or the city starting prosecuting parents who let their kids roam?

        I’m sure there were other possibilities but those are the two that come to mind.

        1. Jay*

          I never knew why.
          I don’t remember they exact year it happened, but, given the very conservative bent of our area and social circle at the time, it was probably one of those alarmist things they were always doing during the Regan years. The whole “It’s 10:00, Do You Know Where Your Children Are” thing, or some Satanic Panic crap convincing parents that everyone not in your immediate family is just lining up to sacrifice your kids to the devil and if you let them out of your sight for even ONE SECOND Evil Liberal Satanist Drug Addicts Will Eat Them.

    6. Maggie*

      It’s definitely played up for dramatic effect; I’m actually a younger millennial so probably 10 years younger at least and I do think there’s a huge gulf between what kids used to be trusted to do and what they are trusted to do now. My mom worked and starting when I was 8 I was alone all day during summer at home and prepared all my own meals and walked to and from swim team and stuff. I was also certainly allowed to come in and have water or food but “go out and play until dinner time” was definitely a thing. I wasn’t like, punished, if I didn’t but that was the expectation.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah ha ha I am always being told by someone that they were a Gen Xer, the last kids to be tossed outside to play all day and only allowed back in when it got dark. My childhood in the early 90s was still this, although thankfully my folks didn’t try to fledge their children for good at 15 as someone above said.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          It’s not like there’s a hard, bright line between generations. My dad is not technically a Boomer, because he was born before WWII ended. But he sure as heck doesn’t have Silent Generation memories of living through the Great Depression or wartime rationing.

        2. Christmas cookie*

          I mean…”told not to come back until dark” can be an hour outside between 4:30 and 5:30 in the winter.

          My kids are off the bus at 4. They have a snack and I shoo them outside for an hour.

    7. Samwise*

      Boomer here. We drank from the hose because 1. fun and 2. If we went inside we had to scrape off our shoes, wash our hands, rinse out the glass…

      If we were inside and noisy, mom would find something for us to do, and I don’t mean something fun. So we were outside a lot.

    8. RagingADHD*

      You are correct. It is a huge and inaccurate generalization. But of course, it’s comedy. Exaggeration is a comedic effect.

    9. NL*

      Surely you realize that comedy is exaggerated for effect?

      Respectfully, you come here to complain things you encounter online so frequently that I can usually predict what’s coming when I see your user name. But the sensibilities of stand-up comedians and 20 year olds ranting on Reddit are not things that should cause you this much concern or that need to be dissected with such seriousness. I strongly suggest reconsidering how much weight you’re giving to internet culture. It is not real life.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        we’re talking about youtube, I just re-read my comment and don’t see a mention of reddit. Though I have brought up reddit before in the work advice arena. Sorry if I am late to internet culture, I’ve been looking at more pop culture non-political non-economic stuff lately because I can’t take one more recession indicator article that then describes how this time is different and the economy is bad but awesome. I feel like the quality of discourse is just lower lately.

        Did everyone agree that people on reddit are 20 and lying about everything? I was starting to realize that some people are stretching the truth but my hometown area and a hobby sub says a lot of things I think or noticed so I assume it’s at least based in reality.

        But since you bring it up, do you have any alternatives to reddit? I love the chatroom format and the random interesting forums. I like it but the way politics and some anti-work stuff creeps into every freaking thread, even if it’s about knitting, is tiresome

        1. miel*

          I think there’s a wide variety of levels of truthfulness, along with age/ life experience, anywhere online.

          I like Tumblr. It both requires, and allows, you to curate your experience.

    10. Llama Llama*

      I think it’s exaggerated but what my mom allowed us to do versus what is allowed now is vastly different. In kindergarten, I remember a few occasions being home by myself before my mom got home from a siblings appointment. She freaked out on me that I allowed my 10 year old daughter to be home alone for 3 hrs for while we were at a siblings doctor appointment.

    11. Chaordic One*

      Not just YouTube, but also MSN and Yahoo.

      Right now I’m getting a ton of stories on MSN that are all about how someone’s boss was mean to them, they quit, and no one else could do their job, or everyone in the department quit and it cost their employer millions. Most of the stories (which leave out most of the details) are based on Reddit posts and not nearly as well written as what you’d find on AAM.

      I’m also getting a bunch of stories along the lines of, someone bought something at a thrift store, garage sale or found it in a dumpster and it was worth a whole lot more than what they paid for it (or didn’t pay if they found it).

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        Oh don’t get me started. Remember when reading the news made you feel smart? I’d love to go back to that, and save those type of stories for Seventeen magazine. Yahoo in particular seems hell-bent on “sticking it to the man” stories. I’ll see like five or seven when I scroll down. But when you read them, many of the ones that are framed as some sort of societal win are just people doing life stuff. It’s like the demand for “and everyone clapped” stories greatly exceeds the supply

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Elevate your hand above your heart and move your fingers to reduce swelling and prevent stiffness. Ice the surgical site for 20 minutes a few times a day. You may need to wear a splint or wrist brace for several weeks. If you experience increased pain and weakness for more than two months following surgery, get a referral to a hand therapist to help improve your recovery.

    2. Carpal tunnel surgery*

      I had carpal tunnel surgery (both wrists) and cubital tunnel surgery (both elbows) 12 years ago—all four joints at the same time. Surgeon warned me that my strength would drop to 10% post surgery and would take time to get back to where I used to be. He was right. I was too weak to lift glass of water for the first few days.

      Have plans for someone to help you the first few days. Think through in advance every little thing you’ll need if they can’t be with you all day. If you’re getting each wrist done separately, you’ll be able to do a lot more for yourself than I could.

      Recovery tips:
      Do whatever stretching exercises they tell you as much as you can.

      The surgeon said resuming my regular activities as soon and as much as possible was the best therapy and would speed my recovery. I play piano so I practiced scales to work all my fingers. I imagine typing could have a similar effect but it has less resistance.

      Even after you’re back to what feels normal, keep doing stretches.

      Hope this helps and wishing you a speedy recovery.

      1. fposte*

        Thanks for the tips. It would be one ata time, fortunately, and hopefully the EMG/NCS will rule out cubital tunnel. Fortunately retirement means it will all be less stressful, but I’m still kind of incredulous that the hands waited until I *stopped* typing 8 hours a day to fall apart.

  50. Betty*

    How do you let go of unfair/crappy situations that you logically know shouldn’t be a huge deal?

    As an example, I ordered a hoodie from Poshmark that was listed as being a child’s large (I’m very short so it would fit well), but it was actually an adult large. I filed a “size not as described” case asking to return it, and lost because “buyer could have asked for measurements prior to purchase.” Just really upset and angry that I have to donate a hoodie I was excited to find because it’s way too big for me to wear. Poshmark won’t even let me leave feedback.

    Logically, I know I only lost $35 on the purchase, which isn’t a ton in the grand scheme of things, but it still feels like it ruined my weekend and I can’t stop thinking about it.

    How do you guys keep things like this from bothering you too much?

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      “Buyer DID receive measurements prior to purchase”

      Argh

      This kind of thing gets under my skin too.

      Things that help me:

      Physically moving my body in intense ways – either slowly with a lot of focus (so stretching is fine!) or fast with heavy weights or anything in between.

      Cold showers – shock the system

      Thinking about a person who is going to love the $35 sweatshirt. Making up a heartwarming story about them.

      Getting absorbed in something else – so a riveting movie or book or podcast, or a hike, or something that has a stronger emotional pull than this situation.

      If that doesn’t work, you can also try delving into what it is about this situation that is so bothersome to you. Is it the injustice? The voicelessness you now have? Something else? Does it remind you of something? Can you go back in time and rescue the young version of you who was voiceless in some similar past situation, and stick up for them the way you needed someone to do during that time? Basically a re-do of the past situation.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Sometimes it helps to give yourself permission to be really angry for a set period, like half an hour of slinging bon mots at your couch cushions. Like you just accept that you are not going to fit your picture of Rising Above, and instead you are going to let yourself fully feel the anger. And refuse to shop with them again if they are this unreasonable. If you have a goody two-shoes history I particularly recommend giving this a spin. (Some people need to dial their rage down already, but some people learned to smother any awkward anger as children. And that mindset is really great for trying to take the high road and then swinging yourself right back down into that rut for one more round of “But I’m right, and they are wrong, and the universe should be on my side…”)

      The current Captain Awkward letter (about wanting to stop giving someone rides) has the great concept of a grudge timer, which is really resonating for me. Poshmark is not thinking about this at all.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        One thing that I really liked in Six of Crows is that the hero has been meticulously plotting revenge on the crime boss who destroyed his life… and he gradually realizes that the crime boss doesn’t remember him at all. What was life-crushing for him was “Tuesday” for the crime boss. I think this doesn’t get emphasized nearly enough in stories about the downtrodden finally getting a chance to deal out some payback.

        1. Betty*

          Apparently if you submit a case requesting to do a return, you lose the ability to leave feedback regardless of if they let you do the return or not. I didn’t realize that until I was trying to figure out how to leave feedback and saw someone explain it on Reddit.

    3. fposte*

      Comedian Mike Birbiglia has a whole show about this, calked My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend. It’s built on a cop’s admin error that lists him as the responsible driver in a car crash rather than the victim, and his protracted mission to fix it. Finally his girlfriend says, “You’re right, but you’re only hurting you.” And for him that was a pivotal moment.

      Can you separate out “You’re right” from the question of what you’re changing with revisiting this? Can you pretend that you accidentally spilled coffee on it or the cat shredded it instead? Can you think about looking back in 40 years and how small a bump in the landscape this will be? More practically, I also find that each good night’s sleep lessens the impact, and throwing myself into activity keeps my brain from picking at the sore spot.

    4. grilled cheese sandwish*

      Honestly, unable to return a thing would *burn* me. I would absolutely stop doing business with that shop. It sounds like the seller made a mistake, but it’s Poshmark’s “fault” for not letting you return it. So, apart from blasting on social media, and looking for a friend who would fit that size, I got nothin’.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah I feel like it’s the injustice that’s eating at you, so mete your own justice: you’ll never use Poshmark again, or you won’t even check the site for six months, or whatever feels like the right punishment to you. They’ll be so sorry they lost your business!!! (probably not but tell yourself this). Maybe treat yourself to something pricey from a conpetitor. Now you can move on, avenged.

        1. Betty*

          Definitely won’t buy from Poshmark again. I’ve only bought a few things through them and it was all clothes in brands/sizes I already own because that’s the best way to get something that fits. It doesn’t make sense that I’m supposed to assume the size could be wrong and verify measurements. In my experience, sellers don’t even respond to requests anyway (I’ve asked for photos of shirts unfolded if the only photos were of shirts folded up).

          Doesn’t feel like revenge to stop using Poshmark since they don’t care, but at least I won’t make the same mistake twice!

    5. Anonymous for This*

      Reselling well is the best revenge.

      Since there was nothing defective or inherently problematic about the item, sell it to someone else. Just be sure to list the size and measurements correctly.

    6. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      That’s infuriating! They’re essentially saying that seller-provided info shouldn’t be presumed to be correct and that it’s on the buyer to verify everything in the listing before purchasing. I got nothin’ for how to let go. I’d be fantasizing about finding similarly situated people online and filing a class action lawsuit. I’m the wrong person to ask!! My sympathies.

      1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        I just Googled credit card chargeback rules. Check the rules of the credit card you used to purchase. The Forbes article I found says that chargebacks can be used for products that are different than described.

    7. nnn*

      I know it’s not what you’re asking but can you do a chargeback with your credit card company? If you do, I think Poshmark won’t let you buy from them again but you’d get your money back.

      1. Betty*

        I just went through the whole process of filing a dispute with my credit card, and at the end it was rejected because I didn’t return the merchandise and I need to do that before filing a dispute. But I didn’t return it because Poshmark refused to let me return it. So frustrating.

        1. Betty*

          I called and talked to someone and they said they pushed it to investigations with a note that the merchant refused a return.

          I just realized I used PayPal, which then charged my credit card, so maybe I should have gone through PayPal?

          1. Betty*

            Submitted a claim through PayPal too. My credit card and PayPal are both likely to reject it anyway, so I figured I can’t make the situation any worse at this point.

    8. Lady Sally*

      Hi, I had the same thing on a minor scale- ordered a special skirt for my daughter and it came today – with a few holes in it.
      Maybe I should have asked for more pictures, but I think a seller should describe the condition. It bothers me right now, but I haven’t decided whether I will give feedback to the seller or let it go (my husband’s suggestion). For me, I know the biggest resolution will be the passing of time. In a week I’ll care less and in a month I may not care at all. I just have to distract myself until more time passes.

      1. Betty*

        I think the seller should have mentioned that there was damage to the skirt, or included photos specifically showing the damage. If you’re not going to try to return it, I would leave negative feedback to warn other buyers.

    9. Patty Mayonnaise*

      Wow, I know you are trying to let this go but this would be a big annoyance to me! This story convinced me never to buy on Poshmark. It’s not like the seller listed it as a child’s large and it was actually an adult extra small (which might be close size) – you were deliberately misled by the seller! I would definitely do the chargeback, and if you use Twitter/X or another public social media platform, I’d post this story and tag Poshmark.

  51. ina*

    Need a new oven…my old one has been kicking for just about 17 years but it finally gave out. Any recommendations?

    1. Jay*

      I’ve always preferred a gas oven to electric, personally, if that’s a consideration.
      Also, my landlord just installed a new one in my apartment that has a center griddle and I absolutely LOVE it and cannot recommend them enough.

      Always check to see how easy it will be to clean. Will you have to disassemble things/move the whole unit to access places that will need regular cleaning to avoid spilled food rotting away and attracting vermin? I’ve lived in places that had those and they are miserable. I found myself eating cold meals just so I wouldn’t have to spend my very limited time off cleaning the stove to avoid getting mice. With my current one, everything lifts right out, no need to take things apart and no hidden places to accumulate food crumbs, and it’s near life changing, my whole apartment smells fresher now, and I can clean it in no time flat.

      Will the burners fit your pots and pans as well as your cooking style?

      Is the oven big enough to handle everything you want it to do?

      Broiler or no broiler?

    2. miel*

      My relative has this double-oven situation (upper and lower) which is very cool – each oven heats up super quickly because it’s pretty small. And you can bake two different things at once.

    3. WS*

      Every time I see someone ask for oven recs I anti-rec Technika. One of their ovens came with the house I bought and it was the worst oven I’ve ever used. It was horribly uneven in heat, randomly went out, was terribly insulated so expensive to run, and worst was that the door was 60cm wide (standard) but inside it was only 45cm wide and my baking trays didn’t fit. I now have a Bosch and it’s great. It doesn’t do anything special but it is reliable, heats evenly, and is well-insulated.

      1. Part time lab tech*

        I’d like to second the Technika anti-rec and repair technicians have also said it’s generally better to replace rather repair that brand.

  52. Panda*

    I have a friend who gets upset over minor things. I hate telling people to “get over it” because everyone is allowed to feel what they feel, but that’s my honest internal reaction when she complains about things like, “Bob wished me a happy birthday two days late”, “I can’t believe Jean told me about her pregnancy a week after she found out, instead of straight away”, “My brother said [insert totally harmless comment that gets misinterpreted as mean]”.

    When I’ve gently communicated that the other person doesn’t seem to be in the wrong she ends up debating about why the other person is, in fact, morally wrong in their behaviour.

    Is there a kind script that exists to convey “You are being over sensitive and I think you need to get over it for the sake of your own mental health”? Or should I simply zone out and leave her to wallow?

    1. Rick Tq*

      Leave her to wallow in her self-inflicted drama and consider disengaging with her. Hyper-judgmental drama llamas are only happy when everyone around them dances exclusively and perfectly to their tune, regardless if their expectations are stated, implied, or simply assumed that “any good person knows X”

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      “I can see that’s really affecting you. What do you think you’ll do about it?”

      1. ina*

        This is the script. Make them do something about it or answer themselves rather than give them condolences and advice.

      2. jellied brains*

        Yep. Repeat repeat repeat. Don’t indulge them, make it so they understand you don’t entertain that kind of behavior.

        I sympathize, sometimes I take innocuous statements to heart and it’s tough when your brain is telling you the world is against you but she’s gonna fix herself on her own.

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      I use, “I’d move on” instead of Get Over It. For some reason, it comes across less harsh.

      1. Observer*

        It also is more realistic. And it doesn’t get into people’s right to feel their feeling. In other words “You can feel whatever you feel, but it’s time to move on, regardless.”

    4. BreakingDishes*

      I know someone who continually complains. Any suggestions for addressing the issue are rejected. She seems to enjoy being a victim. After a while I found it easiest to simply not engage.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I have a friend like this too. To the point that it sometimes seems like she is deliberately putting herself in situations that will go wrong. Think “oh, I’m really worried I won’t have enough gas in the car to get to work tomorrow. I really need to be there on time and I’m very low on gas,” “well, why don’t you go and get gas this afternoon?” “ah, no, I think I’ll risk it. Couldn’t be bothered going out now.”

        In the case of Panda’s friend, I really don’t think any kind of script here would be taken well. Given how she finds offence where none is even hinted at, I think she is likely to do it with any suggestion she is complaining too much.

    5. Samwise*

      Turn on that glazed look, turn off your attention, occasionally say uh-huh

      I’d be spending less time with such an unpleasant person, unless they had other extremely redeeming qualities

    6. allathian*

      Depends on how close you are to her. If you’re really close, I second Filthy Vulgar Mercenary’s suggestion: “I can see that’s really affecting you. What do you think you’ll do about it?” and see how it goes. If she reacts really negatively, do what you can to make whining to you less rewarding for her. Disengage, zone out, spend less time with her. If you aren’t particularly close, you can disengage without saying anything.

      What do you get out of this friendship, it seems rather one-sided to me.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      My mother is one of those people for whom the “he’s just not that into you” fad could have done some good. She still obsesses over a HIGH SCHOOL boyfriend who didn’t seem to feel as deeply as she did. My mother is eighty years old.

      I’ve found with her that this fretting is actually her way of self-soothing, like some people bite their nails or twirl their hair. It’s like a weird version of a Zen koan–if she just goes over every single detail closely enough she will achieve enlightenment about why this guy from over sixty years ago wasn’t overly interested in dating her.

  53. Firebird*

    My daughter treats me like a teenager when I kitty sit my grandkitty. She wants a list of snacks to buy me, because it will be two weeks this time. So far I have my favorite sodas on the list. Also, she will get Hulu so I can watch the Murdoch Mysteries, while cuddling the grandkitty.

    What are your favorite snacks for baby/kitty sitting?

    1. Pippa K*

      If someone were offering to buy me snacks, my list would definitely include Szechuan pepper-seasoned peanuts (Huang Fei Hong Spicy Crispy Peanut on Amazon) and some Trolli gummy llamas. Maybe some nice cheese and accompanying biscuits as well. Hanging with the kitty and enjoying snacks sounds like a fun couple of weeks!

    2. GoryDetails*

      How sweet of her! For me it might depend on how rambunctious the cat was – for some I’ve known, wine would be a requirement {grin}.

      Snack-wise, if you’re in the New England area check out Port City Pretzels – made in Portsmouth NH and available in supermarkets in various areas. [Primarily New England, though I see they have retailers across the country now.] They’re very tasty pretzels, and if your cat likes pretzels you can break off a bit and toss it down the hall for them to chase. (Mine aren’t keen on the feisty-hot version, but rather like the Tasty Ranch Dill.)

    3. Sitting Pretty*

      You know, when I actually was a teenager babysitting or dogsitting (a thousand years ago), one of my favorite things to do after the kiddos were in bed was to paw through the kitchen cabinets and freezer to find snacks I would never get in my own house. It was about the novelty and the surprise of discovering new goodies.

      So you could also suggest she get a bunch of assorted things she likes and stash them around the kitchen for you to find. Like your own snacky Easter egg hunt.

    4. Tiny clay insects*

      I dogsit for my friend’s family a lot, and they let me use their card to order all the groceries and snacks I want. I make decisions like I was 12 again or something.

      Peanut butter M&Ms, double stuf oreos, ruffles, things like that. :-)

    5. MEH Squared*

      Aw thats’ really sweet of her! I just got into Gratify gluten-free everything thin crackers. They’re soft, yet structured and taste like an everything bagel. Very Satisfying. Also, gluten-free double stuffed Oreos (or gluten-free mint Oreos) for the sweeter side. (I’m gltuen-free, if it’s not obvious.)

    6. Firebird*

      Grandkitty is not overactive, but is not above stealing my dinner if I turn my back. He is on a special diet and can’t have regular snacks.

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

      Your daughter sounds like a total sweetheart — you raised a nice human there!

      Maybe think about asking her for some meal-type items as well, since it sounds like you’re going to be staying in the house for 2 weeks?

  54. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

    What goes well with shepherd’s pie? We’re having friends over for dinner this week. I was planning shepherd’s pie because we’re coming up on fall weather and we’ve run through our other dinner staples when having them over, but I feel like I need to serve something besides just the shepherd’s pie itself. Ideas?

      1. Nack*

        Yes this was my first thought as well. Salad with fruit such as apple, cranberry or pear with pecans or walnuts and a vinaigrette.

        Roasted broccoli could also be nice. That crispy texture is a nice contrast to the pleasant mushiness of shepherds pie.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Definitely something fresh and astringent or citrusy. Maybe asparagus in a lemon sauce?

          For dessert I’d do something berry based, like a blackberry crisp or similar.

    1. Jay*

      Cornbread, or some other kind of hearty, rustic bread.

      Depending on the people you are having over, good fries can go with this. It’s too much potato for some, but if you are going heavy on the meat, it can work.

      Baked squash. Try Buttercup squash, if you can find it. Just cut it in half, take out the pulp, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and bake in a roasting pan at 350 for 30-90 minutes, depending on the size. 3/4 of the time covered by tinfoil, the last without to brown it.

      Baked apples.

      Garlic bread.

    2. HannahS*

      I think a salad with a sharp vinaigrette would be nice. Even just bagged/boxed leaves with basic vinaigrette would be nice to cut through the richness of shepherd’s pie.

    3. WellRed*

      I always love a good salad but I’ve honestly never felt a need to have anything with shepherds pie. It’s a meat, veg and starch all on its own ; )

    4. Not A Manager*

      Salad
      Brussels sprouts
      Assorted pickles; giardiniera
      Whole berry cranberry sauce

      I’d be looking for some combo of crunchy, tangy, spicy, and sweet

    5. Just here for the scripts*

      Red wine—if one partakes. Cider (hot or cold) if one doesn’t.
      Bread. Warm, crusty bread.

    6. Anonosaurus*

      I’d dice and sauté some greens (kale, baby spinach tenderstem broccoli, diced leeks, maybe even asparagus) with a little garlic, and drizzle with, idk, tahini, soy and lemon juice dressing with a pinch of chilli flakes. that’ll wake up your shepherds pie! Also if you do this, can I come too?

  55. HannahS*

    Favourite books for parenting toddlers? Parenting books, not children’s books. I liked Simplicity Parenting, Parenting Around the World, and Crib Sheets. I have 1-2-3 Magic on hold at the library.

    I’m not die-hard in any one parenting dogma and I’m not looking to be converted, if that makes sense–just trying to get a survey of possible paths through toddlerhood, as someone with a really minimal village.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Two I really liked:
      Magic Trees of the Mind by Diamond and Hopson. About how kids’ brains work; 90s but the science has held up. For example, learning that your brain is most connected at age 2 explained why my oldest was frustrated that she kept getting distracted, and then had trouble managing the surging emotions. I could look at her and think “The poor thing, her synapses are over-firing” and that kept me cooler, and not falling into the trap where you ask a 2 year old why they are being so unreasonable.

      The Scientist in the Crib by Gopnik, who does philosophy and child development at Berkeley. Similarly, about understanding how your child is making sense of the world.

    2. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      How to Talk so Kids Will Listen, and Listen so that Kids Will Talk byAdele Fabar and Elaine Mazlish.
      There’s also a toddler version by those authors

      1. Annie Edison*

        Was just coming here to suggest this one! Also, Good Inside by Dr. Becky. Her advice has been life changing

        1. Name*

          Yes! Good Inside is so, so useful. Also agree with the How to Talk… books, but Dr. Becky has been particularly great.

      2. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        Seconding How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen. I got very useful strategies from this book. They also do a good job explaining why some of the familiar strategies can be counterproductive.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      All Joy and No Fun – more like a history of parenthood/childhood but really interesting. Super validating when you’re having a bad parenting day.

      Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood – there are a bunch of Love and Logic books for different ages and settings, this was the most useful one for practical strategies.

      Brain Rules for Baby (I think there’s also a version just called Brain Rules) – kind of in between, with some background on brain development and some practical ideas based on that.

    4. Fellow Traveller*

      I really liked Playful Parenting.
      I have mixed feelings about Hunt, Gather, Parent but thought it had some good strategies to try.

  56. Rosyglasses*

    Anyone else having issues with the site reloading and bumping you out of the thread you were reading (usually higher up on the page)? I’ve been having issues for the past three days between my mobile phone and just experienced it three times on my laptop. Will submit a tech issue if it seems to be affecting others but wanted to make sure it wasn’t just me!

    1. MJ*

      I’ve been experiencing this on my iPad periodically for months, but it seems to be more frequent recently (at least a dozen times on this post so far).

      1. Gathering Moss*

        I had this issue using Safari on my iPad, so I switched to Chrome, and it’s been ok so far. I’m not too keen on Chrome as a browser, though; here’s hoping it behaves when I move to Firefox.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      Two questions:
      1) Are you using an adblocker?
      2) Have you cleared your cache and cookies?

      Clear your cache and cookies and see if it improves.

      If it does not, and you’re not using an adblocker, try one for a few days (or long enough to be reasonably sure if it made a difference). If that resolves it, use the “report an ad” link so AAM knows one or more are causing issues. Cite whatever ads you see when you turn the adblocker off.
      If you’ve already been using an adblocker when the problem happens, try turning it off briefly and see if that resolves it. If it does, try to switch to a different one as it’s interfering with something.

  57. Dr. Doll*

    Retired folks, did you begin to practice at all ahead of time? Like, I have all these things I want to do when I retire in 2 yr — volunteer for the local sustainability org, garden a lot more, keep the house a little cleaner.

    But will I really?!

    1. Sloanicota*

      I can’t speak to retirement but I was very lucky to get a sabbatical and … no, I didn’t do any of the tasks I thought I would. Stuff I don’t want to do now, like home repairs or neglected paperwork, were also tasks I avoided when I had the gift of endless time. It turns out I didn’t want to do them rather than not having bandwidth haha. I guess I didn’t realize how much you could fill a day by just puttering around doing like one errand. Next time I’ll want to have some guiderails put up in advance: a big trip planned and then a regularly scheduled commitment.

    2. Just here for the scripts*

      Advice I read—and strongly like—is really practicing. Things I’ve heard recommended include:

      1. Live for a year on the anticipated lower salary (while you still have the larger one to boost your savings/use for emergencies).

      2. Start making connections in the location you’re retiring to (vacations, weekend groups, book clubs, etc.)—they called it dating the location. I assume that volunteering might be similar to that—use this year and next to date a few different volunteer opportunities before committing full time to one. Same with classes and other activities. When you retire, you’ll be excited to spend more time with these groups (or relieved not to be doing so :))

      3. Set up some explorations—ideally with a friend (it’s for safety sake—former Girl Scout adult, teacher, single woman for many many many years). Explore new places, ways of getting somewhere, etc. as the argument is that as we age we tend to become less comfortable “getting lost” or trying something new. So widening your horizons now means your world won’t noticeably shrink in 5-10 years from now.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        With #2, if you’re planning to move to a new location, you might want to plan a visit of several days, and at a time of year when you might not think to regularly–for instance, if you always visit Town during X Holiday, try another season. That might give you an idea what it’s like there when everything isn’t how you “remember” it during a specific period.

    3. fposte*

      Nope! If I’d had the time to practice I wouldn’t have needed to retire.

      What I did do is make lists—okay, it was a spreadsheet—with possibilities in different categories. What I didn’t want to do is let a day go by because I wasn’t sure what to do (I’m fine with blowing everything off occasionally, but that’s a deliberate choice). It sounds like you’re starting to do that too, which I think is a good move.

      What I’m glad I didn’t make are resolutions or commitments. Turns out I really enjoyed some things on my spreadsheet, never got around to others, and found some things I didn’t expect. I don’t think you can be sure what you want to do until you’re there. It may be you get hooked on the volunteering and the garden waits for another year or two. It’s an interesting exercise in revealed preference—sometimes I turn out to like the idea of a thing more than actually doing the thing.

    4. Turtle Dove*

      I didn’t practice. I prepared financially, and I daydreamed. Otherwise, during my last few years of full-time work, I enjoyed the anticipation and trusted I’d figure it out. It took a few years (okay, several with covid) and some trial and error, but now I’m doing all the big things I daydreamed about. Maybe it would have gone better if I’d practiced first, but I didn’t have the time or energy (like fposte said). The first year felt like sailing off a cliff: scary and exhilarating. My biggest challenge was social disconnection because work had scratched most of my day-to-day social needs. I gradually expanded my social life.

      In general, do you prefer plans or freedom? I’m usually a planner but decided to go for the no-plans freedom of summers off school. As a kid, that was my favorite feeling.

    5. don'tbeadork*

      Nope, no practice. I’ve only been retired since June, and spouse only 10 days so far, but we’re both into a lot of hobbies, so we’ve been enjoying all the hobby stuff we’ve not really had time for. We are also very firmly doing X number of chores each day, because it’s really easy to think that since you have all the time in the world, you can put stuff off indefinitely.

      Mostly, though, I’ve been trying to convince the cats and dogs that no, they don’t really have to go out/be fed at 5 AM any more. Dogs can be convinced to go back to sleep until 6, but cats are struggling with the food bowls being less full for that extra hour…

  58. Windows 10 vs 11*

    I’m change-averse and am clinging to Windows 10. MS keeps encouraging me to switch to Win11, but I don’t wanna, because change. But should I go for it? What does 11 do better? What do you miss from 10? Is it a big change with an aggravating learning curve?

    I’m hoping for your voices of experience, and trying to keep an open mind. I don’t have any specialized apps to worry about — I lost those when I had to move from Windows 7 to 1 (who me, bitter?).

    1. CTT*

      I still have 10 at work but 11 at home and things are placed differently but otherwise it doesn’t feel like a huge difference. Until I thought about it now, I hadn’t thought about them being different systems.

      1. Windows 10 vs 11*

        What does that mean, exactly? “Things are placed differently” could be a problem for me, as I have low vision and depend on icons being in familiar locations.

        1. Generic Name*

          The search icon (magnifying glass) and windows icon (I guess it’s the start menu?) are in the center of the bottom bar on windows 11 by default, but you can change it to be in the left like windows 10.

          1. CTT*

            Yup, that’s what I was referring to. In the middle versus the left (although I didn’t realize it could be moved, so thank you!!)

          2. Chaordic One*

            I didn’t even know it was possible to adjust this. Thanks for letting me know. I was able to google how to set it to the left side and it was easy enough to do.

      2. Bookworm in Stitches*

        Like Decidedly Me’s comment below, I also tend to work with multiple tabs open. Do you also find they collapse? I often need to tab back and forth because of what I’m doing and that would irk me.

        1. CTT*

          They do collapse, but since I tend not to go tab-heavy on my home computer, so it’s not been an issue for me (but I that would definitely bug me at work, so valid concern!)

      3. StickWithWindows10*

        The biggest difference is that Windows 11 forces you to store files in the cloud instead of locally. I hate it.

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          Nope, you can still use Windows 11 without a Microsoft account.
          Just do *not* connect to the Internet (WiFi or wired) during the whole setup process, then it will allow you to create a local accou