weekend open thread – October 14-15, 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: Daughters-in-Law, by Joanna Trollope. A married couple struggle to adjust as their new daughter-in-law brings changes to their family.

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

{ 1,160 comments… read them below }

  1. Tina*

    I’m moving to a 600 sq ft single bedroom apartment and need to pare down my kitchen in particular. I have three great knives (chef, paring, serrated), three pots (6 quart, 4 quart, 1 quart) and three pans, but beyond that I’m a bit lost. For those of you who have had to do something similar, how did you do it? I have a bunch of things spices and non-perishables, but I’m realizing that in such a small space I can’t keep things in stock like I used to.

    1. Jay*

      I’ve had to do this a couple of times.
      I’ve always prioritized based on cost and ease of replacement, and it’s worked out well over the years.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      When I lived in a 250 square foot studio, I had my eye on a multipurpose device. I don’t remember the details now as that was like 13 years ago (ye gods) but nowadays it’d be one of those doohickeys that does crock potting, sous vide-ing, air-fryer-ing, possibly instant-potting, etc. (I never ended up getting mine because I realized the day I moved in that while I had a full sized fridge and a half-sized stove, and even several cupboards, the SINK in my kitchenette was about a seven-inch cube and I couldn’t fit even a full-sized dinner plate into it, let alone any sort of cooking vessels, so I basically ended up living that year on takeout and sandwiches eaten off paper plates. :P ) But if I was in your shoes, I’d look at something along the lines of one of the Ninja Foodi multi-cookers. As long as you have a big enough sink to wash it.

      1. MissManager*

        I’m on year 2 of this life and keep forgetting to buy more plastic fork for when the DoorDash driver forgets

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Is there overlap between the leases?

      If so, you could move over the most important stuff first, and stop when you are out of space.

      (I envy the relatives who moved into their retirement house this way–the house is gloriously uncluttered.)

    4. Snooks*

      Don’t buy any small appliances until you have lived there a while and have used the kitchen enough to evaluate space, outlets, counter space and storage.

    5. Clara Bowe*

      I live in a space roughly that size. Don’t go tossing your spices or stuff until you see and can mentally organize the space. But, honestly interrogate what stuff you ACTUALLY USE regularly.

      My kitchen natively has two drawers, two lower cupboards, two upper cupboards and the shorty over the sink cupboard. I’ve worked around this by only keeping 4-count dishwater, minimizing cups, and using a microwave cart w/shelves and a drawer (#3), buying a pantry cupboard, a metallic knife strip instead of a block, a small 2-drawer file cabinet for onion/potato and baking supply storage, and making liberal use of the above-cabinet/top of fridge storage areas.

      I also put up 3M hooks to hang pots and cutting boards on existing furniture and the wall, along w pot holders.

      Basically, think creatively with the space by using the walls and random furniture.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I second the suggestions here to use the walls. My kitchen is definitely a contender for the smallest kitchen in the nation competition. A few pots, a cast iron pan, and a dishtowel hang from hooks attached to the underside of the cupboard. I installed a spice rack on the wall to the right of the counter. And attached to a hook on the ceiling on a long sturdy cord is one of those metal mesh things with three hanging baskets for fruit, etc. It’s worked for me for many years.

        1. AlexandrinaVictoria*

          There are also magnetic spice holders that you can place on the refrigerator. I have them and they work great! And I have a lot of spices.

      2. Stephanie*

        Seconding the walls. May not get my deposit back, but eh. I bought spice racks that could be mounted on the wall as well as a magnetic strip for knives.

    6. Lil Bean*

      I lived in a tiny place like this. It required some big adjustments for me and habit changes.

      Kitchen items are competing with non-kitchen items for real estate. Pairing down other collections and things you own might be worth it to keep some extra spatulas.

      Get rid of things you don’t use regularly if they are cheap and replaceable. Get rid of machines and unitaskers if you can do things manually or a different way. e.g. I didn’t own an electric kettle in my tiny flat since I had a stove and could boil water that way. I didn’t own a toaster and used the oven or a cast iron pan to toast bread. If you have a toaster oven at all, don’t buy a toaster, etc.

      Because you won’t have space to bulk-purchase things like normal, limit bulk purchases to ones that save the most amount of money and take up the least amount of real estate. (Otherwise, you’ll end up doing weird things like using boxes of soup cans as coffee tables like I did during 2020 lockdown.)

      Get used to storing kitchen things not anywhere near the actual kitchen, or storing things where you normally wouldn’t but is safe (be careful of where you store anything a rodent could chew through and eat). It’s fine if you keep some extra utensils in a box on a bookshelf or the extra cans of soup under the bed. It’s fine to keep extra utensils in the fridge if you don’t need the space for food. As long as it works for you and you can remember you put it there.

      Sometimes packaging takes up more space than the item itself, and it’s worth transferring things to a smaller container. You can rip off the part of the package that has instructions/ingredients and tape it to the container. – You’ll start thinking this way once you get in the habit. Like sometimes you buy herbal tea and 30% of the box is air. Or bandaids and 80% of the box is air. Once you start noticing it, it’s bonkers how much of your house is essentially storing cardboard and thin plastic wrapping for no reason. Even though I have more space now, I still toss the packaging and re-store items (when it makes sense to).

      I put up dozens and dozens of hooks on the walls and under cabinets and hung everything I used regularly that had a handle, including non-kitchen things. I hung little bags of lightweight items (like teabags) on the walls, too. My belongings were my decorations.

      Some of my pots lived on the back burners and some of my baking sheets lived in the broiler. You want to keep some things in mind, though:

      Don’t store things outside cabinets and drawers unless they’re used regularly or in a lidded container because they’ll gather dust and grease (unless you’re OK with washing it before you use it).

      If you have an oven or stovetop, DON’T store ANYTHING on top of, inside, above, or next to the oven or stovetop if it’s flammable. Only store 100% metal objects inside the oven and on the stovetop. Just trust me, you don’t want to make a habit of storing glass and ceramic there because you’ll break it somehow or preheat the oven and forget to remove it and you can break pyrex by letting it set in a preheating oven.

      Keep your fire extinguisher in a place you can actually reach if the oven catches on fire. In a tiny space, it’s too easy to set it up in a corner and then the oven catches fire and you realize you can’t get to it without walking past the flames. Trust me on this. >_> (Everything turned out fine.)

      It’s tempting to use the space under the sink for storage but resist the urge to store anything there that will be damaged when it leaks (like rolls of paper towels). You will be tempted and you will regret it because landlords who own tiny apartments have predictably poor long-term maintenance.

      And overall, I shifted from the concept of keeping a kitchen that could cook meals for guests and parties to a kitchen that can only support the immediate household. If your friends or family want to come over, order take-out.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        I just wanted to say I’m marveling at the thoroughness and thoughtfulness of your reply.

        Also, glad everything turned out ok in that fire!

    7. Quandong*

      I moved to a much smaller place with barely any storage space, where the kitchen and living area are open plan & with limited wall space.

      What worked for me was keeping the equipment I use daily (including best knives) and then building up from bare minimum for everyday life. I basically made a ranking system for appliances and only kept the top ranked, frequently used, expensive to replace appliances. Now I use a very small range of pots & pans and appliances to cook and it’s fine, I don’t miss anything that I didn’t keep.

      I don’t have space to store bulk items unless I put them into a different room, so I don’t do that anymore. I also don’t host visitors or cook large quantities so that makes it easier.

      I changed to the most compact storage methods for everything – lots of Command hooks inside cupboard doors, my herbs are mostly in ziplock bags, I have undershelf hanging baskets, and containers that stack & fit into shelves and drawers. Getting some very narrow trolleys from IKEA has been incredibly useful too.

    8. Reeneejune*

      I put my spices into tins, and glued magnets on the back. Think round, flat tins or mentos tins. With the magnet on the back, I could store my spices on the side of the refrigerator rather than taking up valuable cupboard space.

      1. DannyG*

        I got adhesive spice racks online. Plastic, sticks to the inside of cabinet door, ideal for standard sized spice containers (just make sure it aligns with the open space of the cabinet when you mount)

    9. EdgarAllenCat*

      I bought a pot stand to store skillets, pots and pans. Thus didn’t need to store them in cabinets. Also look at yamazaki website for small space storage ideas.

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      Check out Laurie Colwin’s (at this point it sounds like I’m dating her) Home Cooking with its essay on kitchen equipment. One of her biggest recommendations is: do not buy any piece of equipment that only does one job. You will always need more rubber spatulas. It’s fine to eat out of the pot you cooked in.

      She has other great essays about living in a studio apartment for eight years and cooking on a two top hot plate on top of her mini fridge, too!

    11. Not A Manager*

      I moved into a much smaller space. I tried to furnish it for the 90%, not the 10%. By which I mean, 90% of the time it’s just me or a few friends eating, so I have service for 4. When I have more people, we eat off disposable bamboo or I borrow tableware. 90% of the time I use the same 5 herbs and spices. I kept those, and when I need something specialized, I buy a small amount or I borrow it. 90% of the time it’s just me here, so I don’t have a lot of towels and linens for guests. Etc.

      It’s sort of like Marie Kondo, but for space. Look at your stuff, and prioritize the things you used most in the last month, and maybe whatever else you use most seasonally.

    12. Despachito*

      What worked for us when we remodeled our little kitchen that was overflowing with stuff:

      we packed all the stuff in boxes and let it sit in the living room for a while (if you have the space to do this), and moved in the kitchen only things we were actually using.

      After a month or two, we donated or threw away whatever was left in the boxes, and never missed it.

    13. Sharpie*

      Take a look at your cupboard space. You may be able to get shelf racks to give you extra ‘shelf’ space (we’ve got some of the wire ones designed for cups) that will double your usable storage area at relatively little cost. If you can get a mug tree or hang your cups on hooks, that’ll give you extra space too.

      I’m not a cook but I would consider as necessities: two saucepans, a frying pan or wok, spatula, serving spoon, slotted spoon, tongs, mixing bowl, measuring jug, your usual cutlery and crockery. A steamer if you can, to sit on one of the pans so you can steam your veggies. A couple of baking trays. A crockery or other heatproof dish you can put in the oven (this may be optional for you).

      If you have enough countertop, a toaster and kettle (I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t have an electric kettle… but then I’m British!)

      Consider a lazy Susan spice rack for your spice jars, depending on space. Can you store a small hand mixer and set of kitchen scales somewhere? Are there spaces in the kitchen you could put a narrow pull-out rack for dry goods or other things? Could you keep a large mason jar on the counter for your most-used utensils?

      It’s entirely possible to fit things into a small space if you’re clever about it
      Good luck with the move!

    14. Vroom Vroom*

      A lot of containers we buy food in (cans, jars, …) are round. If you can, move the contents to something that is somewhat square in shape – it’s fascinating how many more items you can fit on the same shelf or drawer if you use squared containers.

      1. BlueMeeple*

        Katherine Whitehorn’s Cooking In A Bedsitter, while a bit dated in terms of the ingredients for some recipes, is an excellent guide to cooking in a small space. Her series of How To Survive Money, Children etc. books are also really useful – a little dated now, but some of the advice still applies. :)

        She also has an excellent sense of humour and a great writing style. :)

    15. Cookie Monster*

      Can you hang a rack from the ceiling to hang pots from? That’ll help free up cabinet space. Get a knife magnet so your knives are on a wall, not in a drawer or on the counter. Like others have said, use wall space.

      Basically think of how to use vertical space.

    16. Toast*

      I used to live in a 500 sqft 1 bedroom. My tips are: store your pots and pans in the oven, get creative with space (I hung shelves across the window in the kitchen so I had a place to store coffee cups), and get rid of your “unitaskers” as Alton Brown calls them. Also consider if you have space to add storage to the kitchen. I added a wire corner rack in an unused corner of the kitchen that served as my pantry. I also had enough space to add a small prep table that had drawers and shelves.

    17. Thunder Kitten*

      stick blender and attachments. mine has a blender, whisk, and mini-food processor attachments.

    18. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      This may seem obvious, but: if there’s space above/on top of your refrigerator or microwave, you can use it for storage. We keep silicone potholders on top of the microwave, because they’re flat and it’s near the stove.

      There are things that don’t need to be refrigerated, but can go in the fridge if you have more room there than in your cabinets, including vegetable oil, baking soda, and sealed bottles of jam or syrup. It’s also time to think about questions like, do you actually use both lemon juice and lime juice regularly, or multiple flavors of jam, and do you keep grabbing the raspberry jam even though there’s also strawberry and blueberry and peach?

    19. Dragonfly7*

      Thank you for asking this, and all of the folks replying! I’m preparing to move 600 miles in 2 carloads in a month or two and am dealing with both paring down and evaluating what is most important to me in an apartment. My own washer and dryer, even tiny ones, are surprisingly starting to win over the need for a separate bedroom in my living space.
      Since I have time to prepare, something that is helping me is going ahead and packing up the things that are most important and/or would be move expensive to replace. I have a lot of duplicates, so if it is something that annoys me, like the serving spoon and cooking utensils that are uncomfortable to hold, it’s definitely going. Most of my pots and pans were pretty cheap (my favorites are actually from Goodwill!) and could be directly replaced. The things I miss are staying packed.
      One thing I would keep in mind with the suggestions is some apartment complexes will charge for repair on move-out if you make larger than small nail holes in the walls, or any holes at all. I love the magnetic storage that can stick to the side of your fridge suggestions for that reason.

    20. 00ff00Claire*

      My parents downsized a few years ago and it’s certainly a challenge. They had time to work though their stuff and some of the process went well and some of it didn’t. So my first advice is just recognize that it’s probably going to be an ongoing process for a while. They had the time and we knew the kitchen space would be smaller, so this may not work for everyone. But before they started packing, my mom and I went through their kitchen and reduced the items stored there to a fraction of the cabinets, drawers, pantry, etc. We emptied out some of the cabinets, etc and my mom kept only the most useful or important items in their faux smaller space. That also made packing up the kitchen easier when it came time for them to move.

      Another piece of advice that I have heard from a minimalist that I follow is to reduce your stovetop cookware to whatever will fit on your stove at the same time. So, four items if you have a standard four burner stove. She points out that you can only use four burners at a time anyway. She also keeps seasonal items in a separate space from her kitchen. I kind of do that too – I have a set of Christmas dishes that I store with the Christmas decorations instead of somewhere in my kitchen cabinets.

    21. Ann*

      How much storage space do you have? You may not actually need to pare down. I’ve lived for several years in a 500SF studio with enough pots and pans and utensils to feed four people (and occasional guests). Kept the spices on a spice rack. Had cutting boards, knives, and soup ladle hanging on walls. I definitely felt crowded, but not to the point where I couldn’t have what I need.

      1. amoeba*

        Yup, that was my first thought – I did have a pretty minimalistic approach when I was living on 250 sqft, but 450 together with my boyfriend already was pretty “normal level stuff”, and the 700 I now have are huge with lots of room to spare! I do have a good layout though, and a nice basement for storage, which helps a lot. 600 for a single person seems pretty average though here in Europe…

        First question would be – how big is your kitchen, actually? I’ve also lived in a (shared) 1000 sqft place that had an absolutely tiny kitchen. We put up extra storage in the corridor. I believe the previous tenants even had a second fridge in the living room…

    22. HannahS*

      I lived that way for a few years. To your arsenal I would add:
      -1-2 sheet pans for roasting things or baking
      -1 large glass bowl for both mixing and serving
      -a measuring cup instead of a set of measuring scoops (less messy)
      -1 8×8 or 9×13 glass or ceramic baking dish
      -a rolling pin (if you use one)

      In general, I try to avoid single-purpose items and try to buy things that are more compact, so a stick blender vs upright blender. I also cooked differently in a small kitchen. I baked cookies, bars, breads, and galettes, instead of cakes, pies, and muffins which require designated baking dishes.

      Smitten Kitchen has her list of must-haves for a small kitchen; I think she has great ideas (that’s why I use glass mixing bowls, because you can serve things in them)

    23. Doc McCracken*

      Let your new place act like a container. How much room will you realistically have for spices? Then pick your top favorites/most used until that space is full and declutter the rest. Dana K White at A Slob Comes Clean talks about the Container Concept in her blogs, podcasts and YouTube videos. She’s the decluttering Queen for those of us who struggle to pare back.

    24. Alex*

      You might be surprised at what you can fit. I just moved out of a studio apartment that was less than 500 sq feet with no real kitchen to speak of. I had a sink with an under-sink cabinet, another cabinet with one drawer, a small over-the-fridge cabinet, and three very small drawers. About 30 inches total of counter space (and not in one piece). Oh and a couple of very small shelves. But with some creativity and some bleeding into the “living room” space with some stand-alone shelves and furniture, I managed to fit:
      A breadmaker
      An instant pot
      A food processor
      a Juicer
      a slow cooker
      a kitchen aid mixer
      a mini george foreman grill
      a full set of dishes
      a full set of pots (2 large, 2 medium, 1 small, 3 frying pans, a wok)
      a roasting pan
      4 pyrex dishes
      a small enameled dutch oven
      a corningware casserole dish
      3 baking sheets
      muffin tins (regular and mini)
      3 mixing bowls
      a collander
      3 cutting boards
      a set of silverware
      a set of knives
      various kitchen utensils (spatulas, whisks, spoons, etc.)
      a kitchen scale
      a large selection of mason jars
      a large selection of spices, beans, flour, etc.
      tea towels and rags

      All of these things had a place, and I don’t think it even looked that cluttered. My friends were amazed when I would be like “would you like some fresh squeezed juice” and pull a full sized Breville juicer seemingly out of my butt.

    25. Pyjamas*

      I order spices from thespicehouse dot com which has ‘flat packs’ as an option—small lined cardstick envelopes with a ziplock. They even sell boxes to store the flat packs (or you might have a rectangular cardboard box which will fit them) Takes much less room than jars and flat packs ship free.

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

        They remind me of the cuddly pics on the r/bondedpairs subreddit!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      They are resting/cuddling. They spend hours in that and similar positions! Then they wash each other and that turns into a fight and one of them runs off, and then 10 minutes later they are cuddling again.

        1. Cat lover*

          Honestly, relationship goals!

          Thank you for the cat pictures every weekend, Alison. They are always a delight.

  2. comedy please!*

    What’s something funny you’ve read recently? Funny novels in particular but funny articles, web sites, text messages, I’ll take it all!

    My own recommendation is “I’d Like to Play Alone” by Tom Segura which was a recommendation by AAM a while ago. A memoir by a comedian and I laughed out loud throughout it.

    1. word nerd*

      Strange Planet by Nathan Pyle (a comic collection that is geekily charming and funny). I also recently enjoyed A Damsel in Distress by P.G. Wodehouse (but if you are not already familiar with Wodehouse, I would recommend starting with a Jeeves/Wooster book or Leave It to Psmith).

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        And if you are familiar with PG Wodehouse, I recommend the two sequels by Ben Schott, Jeeves and the King of Clubs and Jeeves and the Leap of Faith, in which Bertie and Jeeves get to be spies.

        The books have geeky footnotes in the back, for those of us who enjoy those.

      2. anxiousGrad*

        Have you seen the movie A Damsel in Distress with Fred Astaire and Joan Fontaine? It was George Gershwin’s last musical and featured such great songs as A Foggy Day and Nice Work if You Can Get It. It also had George Burns and Gracie Allen in the supporting cast, and Reginald Gardiner. Very funny with great music and dancing!

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Nathan Pyle’s comics are the best. He also posted a thread of drawings of states as “[object] of the USA” and they are freaking adorable. They’re t-shirts now (nathanwpyle dot threadless dot com / collections / usa-geography). I need the “Massachusetts tiny elephant of the USA” one!

    2. Lover of old cozy books*

      I second PG Wodehouse, and recommend the 4 books for adults Betty McDonald wrote, and Auntie Mame and Around the World with Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis.

    3. RedinSC*

      The books themselves are funny, but if you can, listen to Carl Hiassen’s Skinny Dip narrated by Stephen Hoye.

      I was howling. Hoye’s tone is just perfect for Hiassen’s books.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Shirley Jackson’s Raising Demons and Life Among the Savages. Her description of her cat Ninki chasing a bat is side splitting.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          “Seems to me that a great big cat like you…”

          Love how they talk to the cats as part of regular conversations.

          1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

            Wait is that The Haunting Of Hill House Shirley Jackson? I must read that immediately (have only just read her – am not from the US so she’s less canonical)

              1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

                Domestic comedy by someone whose range also encompasses domestic horror sounds EXTREMELY my bag. Yayy!

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              Yes! She’s most famous for The Lottery and her novels, but she has tons of short stories in collection and those two memoirs, which are hilarious.

    5. BlueMeeple*

      Are We Having Fun Yet by Lucy Mangan. Bill Bryson levels of giggling out loud! It’s a bit like Bridget Jones’ diary if she had two children. :)

    6. Sharpie*

      Any of the books by James Heriot! The life of a vet in very rural Yorkshire in the 1930s, absolutely side-splitting. I can’t remember all the titles but the first one is, IIRC, All Creatures Great And Small.

      1. Victoria, Please*

        Some of my very favorites! All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Things Wise and Wonderful, The Lord God Made Them All, and Every Living Thing.

        His command of storytelling language is *outstanding*, as is his vocabulary. The phrase “sultana-laden comestible,” referring to a spice cake, will never not make me titter with glee.

        Cedric the farting boxer is indeed the height of scatological comedy. “Speak on, sweet lips, that never told a lie!”

    7. beetlecat*

      I love the Thursday Murder Club series! Four British octogenarians casually solving crimes, and very funny narration. I’m reading the newest (4th) book and all of them make me laugh out loud while having very touching moments throughout as well.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Alexandra Petri (WaPo’s political satire columnist) ranks 100 Christmas songs.


      If you are on the Internet long enough, there comes a year when you will be forced to rank something. Now it is my time. So I am taking the liberty of going through the 100 holiday songs being foisted upon us everywhere and ranking them from Most Especially Heinous to Best. This is probably a good idea, and I feel fit and confident! I bet this will be an easy, pleasant process. I’m amazed I haven’t already compiled several lists just like this!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Patton Oswalt’s rant on “The Christmas Shoes” is one for the ages. I watch the YouTube version with animation every year!

        “I died for your sins but those pumps are unforgivable.”

    9. The Week Ends*

      The humorous essays of David Sedaris. I’m especially enjoying listening to his audiobooks in the car.

    10. Bluebell*

      Just finished Blonde Identity by Ally Carter. A spy romance that also manages to be super funny. For throwbacks, I adore Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend this Never Happened and anything by Laurie Notaro.

    11. Jay*

      Anything involving 1-900-HOTDOG.
      It’s an internet comedy group formed by people who wrote for the Cracked website, back in it’s glory days, before it was sold off and gutted.
      It’s very, VERY NSFW, but also very, VERY funny.

    12. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Suds in Your Eye by Mary Lasswell, and the sequels. They’re novels about three older women who have a lot of comical misadventures during World War II.

    13. don'tbeadork*

      A Stroke of the Pen by Terry Pratchett. It’s a collection of short stories he wrote (under pseudonyms) for various papers he worked on. Recently rediscovered, with a foreword by Neil Gaiman. Since it’s his earlier stuff, it’s not as polished and thought-provoking as the Discworld novels, but a delightful read nevertheless. Some of the stories have been reworked and published in previous collection, but they’re still fun (and in some cases just a smidge different).

    14. mmmmmmmBop*

      I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley. It’s a collection of short essays, and they’re all hysterical. I re-read this the other week and enjoyed it just as much as the first time around.

      Seconding Pratchett’s A Stoke of the Pen! His essay collection A Slip of the Keyboard is also great.

    15. old curmudgeon*

      “Starter Villain” by John Scalzi, just released last month. Cats are sentient, dolphins are sentient and very profane, billionaires get their richly deserved comeuppance, all delivered in a fast snarky way that had me laughing out loud in a number of places.

      I prefer the old-fashioned way of reading but I have been told that the audiobook narrated by Wil Wheaton is hysterical.

    16. LivesinaShoe*

      Oh goodness, the audio version of The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs, by Alexander McCall Smith had me HOWLING and worrying I was going to crash while driving because of the tears.

      Also I love campus novels, so David Lodge books tickle me. Also Moo, by Jane Smiley.

  3. Despachito*

    How do you manage to maintain equilibrium in a conversation?

    I strongly suspect I am on the spectrum – I sometimes tend to hyperfocus on one topic, and I would be able to talk about it for hours. I of course know this is not acceptable, and I usually try to avoid it and rather listen to the other person and show interest in them. However, it often ends up with me feeling that it is THEM talking all the time. I know they are happy after that (so there is a positive outcome at least for someone) but I sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed because I want to butt in sometimes as well. (There are people with whom this does not happen and the conversation just flows naturally, so there is a possibility it’s not me, but I am not sure)

    Have any of you experienced this, and if so, how did you navigate it?

    1. Filosofickle*

      There is research that says that when ND folks talk to other ND folks, they communicate and flow just fine! Same with NT to NT. The biggest gaps come with ND+NT. So it’s not that you are the problem or they are the problem — the combination of people makes a big difference.

      I’m AudHD and after decades of working on this I have never solved any of it to be honest. My overtalking comes more from my ADHD side, so more interrupting and loops and less hyperfocus though both exist. When I manage to stay super quiet, I feel detached and not like me — that’s a pretty unsatisfying conversation for me TBH. But when I talk too much, I feel embarrassed and worried the other person feels like I don’t care about them. I try to be mindful, and sometimes I do better than other times. My goal is to take turns.

      FWIW I’m not necessarily sure other people are happier when I don’t talk — some of my friends chose me BECAUSE I talk. I went through a time of trying to talk dramatically less and it actually hurt my relationships. They were used to me being the one to drive the conversation, and when I didn’t they perceived me pulling back from them and being less interested in our friendship. Who knew?!

      1. anonymous nd*

        I have ADHD and struggle with this too. I don’t have ideas but following and sending you solidarity.

      2. Autistic with two dogs*

        Exactly – I am betting that when the conversation flows naturally, you are talking to another ND person.

        Context matters, so I’m not sure a broad question is going to get a satisfying answer.
        Equilibrium in every conversation is going to be different. Also, I don’t know how many people have a running scoresheet in their head that’s tallying up how much each person is speaking, so equilibrium might be a false goal.

        How do you want to feel during conversations? How are you feeling now? And what might be some options to get you to how you’d like to feel during conversations?

      3. Despachito*

        “I’m not necessarily sure other people are happier when I don’t talk ”

        I have somehow learned to cover this, at least partly. I hate awkward silence, and I think I have taught myself to be a good listener. I am able to place all those “Oh, really?” and “This must be awful” in the correct pauses, so I think the other person must feel good they are listened to and understood.

        But I am aware it leaves ME less satisfied, and I sometimes feel a bit like a liar, because I am partly faking it, and you are right that this makes me less interested in more interactions with those people.

        Another interesting thing I observe (and I wonder whether this may be a sign of NT/ND difference) is that certain people (NTs?) tend to prefer talking mainly about their relationships (kids, spouses, bosses, family) and/or health, but I (possibly ND) strongly prefer talking about events, trivia, interesting bits and pieces. I wonder whether it is something you people experience too or is it just me?

        1. Filosofickle*

          I have always assumed conversation interests are more related to personality than neurotype, but I don’t know. (My therapist is autistic, I should ask her what she’s observed.) Personally, i talk about all the things! I love to talk about people and relationships and feelings, and also am dying to share really random things I learn. I know a lot of ND folks and none are as prone to sharing randomness as I am (but maybe they understand it better when i do?). Trading trivia / memes / pop culture references as a communication style is commonly cited as an ND thing.

          I think you’ll find this interesting:
          (That’s not all true for me. I like small talk a lot, for instance. It’s scriptable, low intensity, and it’s how I find out if it’s safe to be me.)

        2. Nightengale*

          one of the biggest differences I have noticed – besides the “take turns infodumping” vs “short exchanges”

          Even when neurotypicals and I are talking about the same interest, our focuses are often really different. I am in health care and was SO excited during my training to have other people to talk with about ER, then a very popular show. Except they wanted to talk about who was dating whom in the show and who was cute. I wanted to talk about the problems with the diagnoses and the way medical education was portrayed, the continuity errors. . .

        3. misspiggy*

          I get round my huge discomfort with the white lies of small talk, and the sensory discomforts of social interaction, by using language with very ambiguous meanings, accompanied by a genuinely warm smile.

          Goodness, what an interesting shirt that is. It really brightens up the room! Is it from somewhere you’ve been?

          If people get the joke we’re instant friends. If people don’t, I always attempt to engage with them in a genuine way to find out whether they’re a nicer or more interesting person than I’d assumed.

          I honestly can’t tell whether I’m delightful or a mean girl. I hope it’s harmless fun for me, and it keeps me engaged enough to get something positive or interesting out of most encounters.

  4. acmx*

    I saw someone mention a service called the Nudge (nudgetext). Anyone else here use this and how do you like it?

    1. KJ*

      I use the Nudge! For context, I use the free version.

      I’ve liked that it surfaces plans and ideas that I otherwise might not have come across. I don’t always do them, but I’ve enjoyed all of the ones I have done

      I really like that it surfaces plans and events directly to my phone and I don’t need to use social media. I used to use instagram to find out about cool things in my city, but I am trying to stay off of social media for my mental health.

      My one complaint is in my city the ay long plans are often car centric, which is frustrating as many people in my area don’t have cars (including myself). I wish they put more thought into transit accessible options.

  5. Hit The Road*

    I was having a discussion recently with my sister; we were both born and raised in the United States, and she moved to Scotland during college, where she met a boy, and has been there for at least four or five years. I was telling her how my friends and I had recently driven an hour and a half one-way to go to a spa and drove back the same day. She responded in frustration that it is impossible to get her local friends to go anywhere over 45 minutes away. To them a location that is 45 minutes to an hour away is not worth a day trip, but they should get a hotel room for. Not just her friends from Scotland, she has two friends who grew up in Ireland now living in Scotland, and they are the same way. Now we’re curious if this is an American thing versus a UK/Irish thing.

    So what is the maximum distance you would drive one way to do a round trip in a single day, versus the distance, one way that it would take for you to get a hotel room and spend the night, and where are you from? Personally I don’t have an issue with a 2 to 2 and a half hour one way drive. It’s when I hit 3 hours one way that it’s too far.

    1. Kyrielle*

      About the same as you, 2-3 hours, but up towards 3 hours is too long. Over three is just too much. It can take 45 minutes to an hour just to cross my entire metro area, I’m not getting a hotel room and overnighting for that. Heck, once upon a time that was my *commute* time. (But it’s not now, and I love it.)

      1. tangerineRose*

        I’ll drive 3 hours there and back for something I really want to go to, but I won’t do it often. I’m in the US.

      2. Cj*

        same here. two and a half to two and a half hours with no big deal. three is pushing it, and I probably won’t drive much further than that for a day trip. I’m in the Midwest region of the US.

        I have commuted to my job about 45 minutes each way so it’s a couple of years. I know a lot of people have much longer commutes than half that they do daily. it seems really bizarre to me that they consider that too far.

    2. Teapot Translator*

      I’m in Canada (raised here). I have travelled 6 hours (3 hours one way) in a day for a hike, but I would prefer to stay in a hotel room for anything over 2 h 30 because I don’t enjoy driving. 45 minutes is nothing.

    3. Enough*

      I have driven 4 hours and back. My daughter played college soccer and we would go down and back in one day sometimes for games. And I would come if she needed something. One time it was to trade cars and I think I was there for less than an hour.
      Husband and I did 6 hours to pick her up from a basketball camp in middle school and back in the same day.

      1. Girasol*

        Me too, but it has to be something really special to go 4 hours out and 4 back. I’d do an hour each way to go to a store that wasn’t closer, or 2-3 hours each way for a nice hike.

    4. Angstrom*

      Perception of distance is definitely different in Europe than in the US. All of Scotland would easily fit inside many US states. The 11 largest US states each have more land area than the entire UK. Mainland Scotland east-to-west is approxiamtely 200 miles, roughly the same as driving from Boston to NYC.
      I’m with you on not wanting to drive much more than 3 hours each way for a one-day event.

      1. An American Abroad*

        Absolutely true. I’m an American living in Europe and found this in every country I’ve spent time in here, mainland and UK. Another thing to keep in mind is that traveling in these countries is in some ways more stressful due to the number of people in such small spaces: potentially cramped public transit, when driving there are narrower roads, fewer and narrower lanes, more blind curves, squished parking etc. That’s not all of it, of course, but it has played a role in my traveling radius, so I think it is non negligible.

        1. Buni*

          Thiiiis. If I want to go visit some relatives of mine it’s ~200 miles, which takes over 5 hours – the roads are small, single lane, wind-y (and often windy, come to think of it…) and if something takes one road out…well, once the potential diversion was over 100 miles just in itself.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        Totally agree with Angstrom about the perception of distance. I was once working with a lot of French folks and it took a looong time for them to understand that Chicago was not, in fact, part of New England, but was 1,000 miles away. And that Naples and St Augustine FL were not close at all. Etc.
        I always think anyone from another country (and also people here!) should have to drive across this huge beautiful country of ours, just to experience the different cultures and landscapes. That also would kill the whole “flyover country” thing. Just sayin’

        1. Samwise*

          Oh yes. Even within the US there are different perceptions of distance. East coasters often don’t get midwestern and western expanses. I’m from California— people in other parts of the US don’t realize that it’s almost 800 miles end to end.

      3. Bagpuss*

        yes, I am british, and driving generally is more effort – even if there are motorways or A roads they tend to be busy and a lot of journeys will involve lots of roads not designed for cars.
        I think most people would be willing to drive for more than 45 minutes for a day trip, however other variables like the weather and route also make a difference.
        (and of course the cost of fuel is much higher, so that may also be a factor)

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      It kind of depends on what I’m doing at the destination. My general rule of thumb is that I’d prefer to be doing the thing longer than I spend driving to and fro, but there are some friends for whom I would be happy enough to spend even just an hour hanging out with them to make the 2.5-hour round trip worthwhile. But if the thing is an 8 hour thing, then even a 2-hour one-way trip is not real high on my happy list for a same-day and I’d be probably looking to either drive over the night before and get a hotel, or hotel afterward and drive back the next morning.

      1. Wrexham*

        Same. For me it depends on how late I will be getting home and what was I doing. If I’m at a kids birthday party and I’ll be home around 10-11 pm, then I’m not staying, but if I’m at dinner with friends and having wine, then I’ll probably stay overnight. It’s not so much the distance/time than what’s going on around it. I used to drive 45 minutes one way to work, and that wasn’t with traffic.

        And I’m in Central Florida

    6. RMNPgirl*

      I’d probably say 4 hours is the limit but it kind of depends on what type of 4 hours it is. Am I in heavy traffic and it’s stressful, maybe I’d want to split that drive up, but if it’s out in the midwest or mountain west where you have 200 miles with no services then 8 hours round trip in a day is nothing.
      In my last job, I drove to one of our satellite locations 120 miles away every other Friday and came back the same day.
      I had a friend who studied abroad in Wales and she said the same thing about people there thinking certain things were too far away. When she explained to them that you could drive 10 hours and still be in the same state they were flabbergasted!

    7. Old and Don’t Care*

      I’ve driven 4+ hours each way to go to a college basketball game. It was fine. Much farther than that and you don’t have a ton of time to do whatever you did all that driving for.

      U.S. Midwest.

    8. 4HoursOrBust*

      I don’t drive but the limit for friends and family seems to be around 4 hours barring something out of the ordinary. I’d say anything over 2.5-3 is an occasional thing but less than that could be spur of the moment. And friends who live in the southwest or mountain states are likely to go farther without thinking too much about it.

      Many, many people I know have >1 hour commutes- 45 minutes as a travel limit is bonkers.

    9. Numbat*

      I’m from Western Australia, a really big, really flat state with lots of wide open space. You can drive 2 days and still be in the same state. Definitely encountered this; the idea of what constitutes “far” is relative. If a 45 minute drive only takes you across your city that feels very different to 45 minutes taking you across a border into another country! All that said, I’d have to be extremely keen to see something to drive more than 2.5 hours one way to see it on a day trip.

      1. Part time lab tech*

        Hello Neighbour!
        I don’t really like to drive and tend to fall asleep so 1-2 hrs away is my limit. I also wouldn’t want to be out more than 10hrs in total.

    10. Lil Bean*

      USA-ian here. I used to live in a rural state and got used to really, really long trips to get anywhere. I think 4 hours is a limit for a day trip for fun. Can do longer if the goal is short and necessary, like driving 6 hours to a good medical specialist where the appointment is less than 4 hours or a really special event like a concert for a favorite artist. We usually packed everything we wanted to do into one, long daytrip to save gas money and make the effort feel worthwhile.

      Now I’ve lived in a city again for a long time, and I don’t own a car and my perspective on things is different (I’m spoiled and don’t want to go grocery shopping more than a 15 minute walk away), but I will still be down for a 3-4 hour public transit trip for something fun, maybe even longer because with a bus or train I don’t have to worry about being too tired to drive. I used to commute 1-2 hours on public transit and hope to never return to that.

      When I had friends that biked and walked (everyone ubers and lifts everywhere now (except me)), we wouldn’t mind long trips to get places because traveling there was fun in itself, so we might make trips that took 2 hours via bike + train just for a restaurant and go home. We’d stop periodically whenever we saw something neat, like a mural or neat architecture or a really nice view of the city or a pretty tree or a dog or whatever, and to me the trip was as much fun as the destination. On public transit, we’d just talk and socialize and it was nice.

      I guess if you have to travel long distances, you learn to enjoy it or else go mad.

    11. Vroom Vroom*

      As the saying goes: Europeans think 100 miles is a long distance, and Americans think 100 years is a long time. It’s mostly a matter of perspective.

      Also on average Europe seems to be less obsessed with cars than the US – we don’t really have a history of glorifying driving, it’s more a functional thing (though I’m willing to be contradicted on this because Europe is varied and this impression mostly comes from fiction in television).

      I also find it interesting how teenagers in the US get to drive – alone! – before they’re old enough to drink. At least in my country we do it the other way around – teaches people their limits and demystifies alcohol before they get to drive heavy machines.

      Also also…an American who moved to the Netherlands and then proceeded to make a video in which he notes he hadn’t seen someone drive a car into a building yet and now I’m wondering what kind of hellscape he’s from where that was a regular occurrence. Not that it doesn’t happen in Europe, but it’s not something you expect to see while off to the grocery store. (He did proceed to explain why this is. Allegedly it’s our road design)

      1. Anon for this*

        Came here to share exactly this quote about 100 miles/years! Also, as a Scottish person, in most of my circles the staying overnight would be more about wanting to be able to drink at the destination than anything else. I grew up in a rural part of the country where longer drives were more common (and the roads were often very narrow, twisty, and difficult). Living in Edinburgh now, the roads are better but hardly anyone drives in the city. The people I know with cars probably only drive once a week, and a drive over 90 minutes would be into ‘let’s get the train and/or stay overnight so we can relax and not have to drive back’ territory.

        1. Kiki Is The Most*

          Same for much of the rest of Europe! If I need to actually drive somewhere (maybe not reachable by bus/train), then I need to rent a car and it’s a ‘plan’ to have a drive since being able to return to my flat and park would be a serious challenge if I forgot something. An hour drive here is not the other side of my city but actually a ‘road trip’, and usually easier by public transportation.

        2. Glencoe oh no*

          Completely agree. I’m in Edinburgh too. It would never occur to me to drive to the Highlands for a day trip, for example. Too far. Too much hassle.

      2. Sharpie*

        If you’re talking about Not Just Bikes, his channel is really good! I wish the UK was half as public transport friendly as the Netherlands, they seem so switched on over there.

      3. Wrexham*

        I would think some of this is a result of the fact that unless you live in a large city with decent public transit, driving is just a basic necessity so why not find some enjoyment in it (glorifying). If I want to get groceries, it’s a 20 minute drive; my middle school was a minimum 30 minute drive with high school being even further. If I wanted to have a job as a teenager/go visit friends/ anything, you had to drive. The closest stop to me for our local bus (did not have when I was a kid) is a little over 7 miles from me. And I’m not even close to be considered far out “from town” in my area.

      4. amoeba*

        Hah, yes, definitely less car-obsessed than the US, but still varies a lot – in Germany, unfortunately, car culture is still huge! No speed limit on the Autobahn, and all that… it’s probably a car industry/lobby thing. The Swiss are much less passionate about driving (also have much better public transport, although Germany is still quite OK. The rest of Europe has actually started making fun of us for our trains, though!)

    12. GoryDetails*

      I frequently do day-trips to places an hour or two away, and sometimes to places 3+ hours away – indeed, the Canadian border is about 3 hours from my southern NH house, and a couple of times I’ve nipped across for a quick visit before heading home.

      I think the longest one-day drive I’ve taken was 10 hours – drove to Toronto – but that was one-way, with a multi-day stay before I drove home again.

      I do like driving – especially with some good audiobooks on hand – and I make stops along the way, so it isn’t too arduous.

    13. Dublin liver*

      Not a driver myself but I’m a N American who married a European and lived in Ireland for decades. It’s been pointed out to me that distance driving is just easier in N America – as a rule roads are big and straight and not too crowded, highways are well serviced, cars are automatic, etc. Big contrast with a lot of parts of Europe. Especially Ireland, where roads are often narrow and winding! Can’t speak for Scotland but imagine it’s similar. So that might explain some of the mentality.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Rural roads can be, to an American used to freeways, insanely tiny and frankly terrifying!

        Back in the day my mom and I took a trip to England, and she booked us a day tour in the country near one of the places Jane Austen had lived in (I think after Bath?) and just generally soak up the thatched-roof cottage atmosphere. Our guide was a jolly gent who did tours as his his retirement gig, and he drove us around in his little car.

        I was NOT prepared for how narrow the roads were, or how high the banks on either side were–as in “there is absolutely nowhere to steer off or turn”–or the twisty, blind curves. To me this was an obstacle course, to him it was, of course, just his home town. We bounced along at easily fifty miles an hour around these terrifying turns with the giant walls of earth and rock on either side while he narrated the history of the surrounding area.

        Finally I casually asked something like “er, what happens if another car comes the other way on this road?”

        “Well, ‘opefully it won’t!” he said cheerfully.

        I have never been more convinced I was going to die.

      2. UKDancer*

        Yes I think the type of roads can make a big difference to how long people want to drive. Two hours on an empty 3 lane freeway is very different from 2 hours in a traffic jam or on narrow country lanes where you need a passing place if you meet a vehicle coming the other way.

    14. RLC*

      We’ll do a max of maybe 6 hours each way, 12 hours round trip. For an overnight trip 13-14 hrs one way is limit unless we take turns driving. US, Mountain West/Great Basin.
      My friends from Montana have similar patterns.

    15. Fellow Traveller*

      It’s funny- i’m Canadian/American and my sister in law married a British man. At the wedding, one of his siblings made the comment that there are some cousins they never see because they live so far away, far being about three hours. I thought, if my cousins lived only three hours away, I would probably see them at least once or twice a year.
      I think a day trip for me is in that 2.5-3 hr range, but if it’s something special I would drive up to five hours for a day trip.

    16. Ginger Cat Lady*

      My rule is that it cannot be more time driving than we spend at the place we are driving to. So I won’t drive 2 hours each way for a movie, that’s silly. But 2 hours each way for a 6 hour hike? Sure!

    17. RedinSC*

      I live about an hour and a half away from San Francisco, CA and that’s about as far as I want to go for a day trip. If it’s something super special I’ll go 2 hours.

    18. California Dreamin’*

      I live in the LA area and when my kids were little we would go to Legoland or Sea World in San Diego for the day, so that’s about two hours each way. Oddly, though, Santa Barbara or the central coast wine region are about the same drive in the opposite direction, and I never think of going there as a day trip, just as a weekend getaway (maybe because wine tasting doesn’t combine with day trip.) A beach day, something I’d do many times in a summer, is about one hour each way for us with LA traffic. Longest day trip I ever did was in the first week of the pandemic, I drove to get my dad in Phoenix, six hours each way with one terrifying stop for gas and bathroom (remember that first week?!)

    19. Pamela Adams*

      I’ve seen the opposite, where some of my study abroad students thought they could visit LA and San Francisco in one day.

        1. Samwise*

          You can drive from LA to SF in a day pretty easily, depending on traffic of course. Under 6 hours even at the speed limit.

    20. Kaleidoscope*

      that’s weird. I’m Scottish and used to take the train nearly 3 hours (and often back in the same day) to the central cities of Edin/Glasgow for events, shopping etc.

    21. Maggie*

      It really depends but I definitely think it’s a US vs Europe thing because we’re so used to driving substantial distances. Hopping in the car on a whim and driving a few hours is nothing to me. I would say 3 hours is my tipping point, although I’ve gotten a hotel for places 45 minutes away before knowing I was going to get drunk and not drive.

    22. goddessoftransitory*

      To quote Bill Bryson’s Notes From a Small Island, Brits tend to see distances an American would happily drive to get a taco as a full scale expedition. I think it’s just all perspective; far away is dependent on how you calculate nearby.

      On the other end of the scale is the cliche’ of British/European tourists not being able to really grasp how enormous America is. That you can spend three days driving across one state, and it’s really not realistic to plan “New York Monday, California Friday!” as a road trip.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        That was my first thought when reading this; Bill Bryson describing all the convoluted road/route advice he got in the pub, along with warnings to leave up at 6am “for the same distance an American would drive to get a taco”. To be fair, the warnings were all sparked by the fact he wanted to drive somewhere on a bank holiday. I do not try to drive out of town on a bank holiday at all! Though clearly, some people do.

      2. Sharpie*

        My brother and a friend gave themselves six weeks, I think, to drive from New York to San Francisco (California, anyway) just for the adventure of it.

        The friend did the booking of the flights and apparently forgot that at the end of said road trip they would be in San Francisco. And booked the return flight to the UK from Newark.

        Which meant that they then had to fly back across to the east coast before they could get their plane home.

        Apparently they had a really good trip, though, so that’s something.

    23. Ally*

      I think it’s to do with the likelihood of having a drink (or a few)at any particular event, too. I would guess it’s higher in most European countries.

    24. Lemonwhirl*

      I’m not sure if my perspective is more shaped by having lived in the US for the first 33 years or living in rural Ireland for the last nearly 20 years.
      I’d say I’m around the 3 hour mark for a drive. Possibly because it takes me an hour and a bit to get anywhere – not because of distance but because of road quality. Also, I have an electric car, so that complicates things a little because waiting for a charger can substantially increase the time for a journey. If I want to go to Dublin as a day trip, I am more likely to drive the hour and 10 mins to the train station and then have a 2.5 hour train journey rather than the 4-5 hour drive plus charging time.

    25. allathian*

      I’m in Finland, and I’d say a 3-hour drive one way, mostly down the motorway/dual carriageway (4-lane highway with a green verge between so you can’t crash into traffic going in the opposite direction) is about the maximum.

      This is less a dislike for sitting in the car, more because for me events that occur in the evening and that I’m willing to drive any distance for usually involve having one or two drinks. And even when I’m not drinking, I despise driving at night. Driving when you’re exhausted is as dangerous as driving drunk.

    26. Awkwardness*

      I think there are two points:
      In Europe you are very likely to get things at a closer distance. If you have a very good spa at maybe 1h, and a very very good one at 3h distance, I would not see the necessity to spend more time and gas on the location further away.

      And for me it is also about the type of activity? If it was for theatre, concert or anything else done in the evening, it does not seem enjoyable to drive back other 3h in the dark, on smaller roads with opposing traffic and varying speed limits, so that I am tired in the end instead of relaxed (as immediately after the activity). I did drive up to 6 hours when interviewing, but this was pure necessity.

    27. The Prettiest Curse*

      So, having lived in both the US and UK, the thing that Americans usually don’t grasp when it comes to this topic is that 1. British roads are not like American roads and 2. British cars are not like American cars. (Not going to discuss other European countries here, but many of them are similar to the UK in both respects.)

      1. Yes, we do have motorways (freeways), but as others have noted, we also have a lot of small, one-lane country roads. I live just outside a big city – 10 miles from here, it’s nothing but narrow country roads. A lot of people don’t like driving on these – this type of road makes short distances seem a lot longer, which is why locals will speed down them like nobody else exists. If a tractor going 10mph shows up, forget it, because you can’t go around them and there won’t be many places they can pull over and let you pass.
      American suburban sprawl with flat, straight roads is a lot easier and quicker to drive on. A lot of the road routes in the UK are so old that they weren’t even designed with cars in mind – that’s not the case in America.

      2. Because our roads and driveways are generally smaller and narrower than those in the US, compact cars are a lot more common here. Most of the popular compact cars in the UK market aren’t even sold in the US. Pickup trucks weren’t even sold here till around 10 years ago and are still a fairly unusual sight. How does this relate to distance driving? Well, it’s a lot more comfortable to be a passenger in a sedan or SUV than most compact cars.

      So in conclusion, those two factors (plus what was historically an okay inter-city rail network) make people in the UK less willing to drive long distances.

      1. ampersand*

        These are all really good points—I think Americans take good roads for granted in the same way Europeans take good public transit for granted and we forget the other has the exact opposite of what we’re (often) used to!

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Yeah, exactly! And also, petrol/gas is way more expensive here than in the US, which often gets overlooked in this discussion too.

    28. TechWorker*

      I’m British/live in England. Max for a day trip is 1.5-2hr travel, if really important could do more but that would be unusual. (Eg we drove 4hrs each way in a day when a relative had a house fire).

      People who live in a city where ‘most’ things are accessible within half hour/45 min probably get used to that but certainly people who live a bit more rural would expect to drive a bit more. Similarly if you live in a northern city then 1hr would be quite a long time in public transport whereas if you live in London (which is pretty sprawling & has great public transport, but can be slow) it’s usual to do 1hr + commutes, or to travel 1hr each way after work to visit friends in a different part of London.

      Obviously does vary between people and what they’re used to, I think plenty of Brits or Scots *would* drive 45min for a day trip.

    29. Empress Ki*

      I live in London and used to live in Paris before. 45 mn is nothing. I used to commute 1 hour each way to go to work. That’s pretty normal in capital cities.
      I would consider a hotel if I have to travel over 2 hours each way, not for 45 mn !
      Is your sister in a small town ? That may explain the difference with what we consider a long commute in big cities.

    30. Sharpie*

      I’m British and I have done a fair amount of long-distance driving in my day (Edinburgh to Kent, FWIW, approximately 500 miles according to my car’s mileage counter at the time). I have driven from Kent to Portsmouth (about 120 miles) and back in a day, but that wasn’t a visit, I was giving my brother a lift home after Christmas.

      About an hour there and back for a day’s outing is about right, much longer than that and I would want to make it an overnight or weekend trip.

      Don’t forget what they say: in the US, a hundred years is a long time, in the UK, a hundred miles is a long way.

    31. Irish Teacher.*

      I’m Irish and 45 minutes to an hour is definitely a reasonable day trip. Over two hours is borderline, depends what you intend to do what you get there.

      Honestly, 45 minutes is a fairly normal commute to work or college. I went to college an hour away and didn’t commute, but I was occasionally asked if I were staying in my college city or commuting. Generally, anything much under that and people would commute. One of my friends travels over an hour to work each day.

      I definitely think we have a different perspective about distance to Americans – after all, two or three hours pretty brings one halfway across our country – but I don’t think most people would consider an hour’s journey so long that you couldn’t come back in a day.

    32. Claire*

      I’m Scottish, living in Edinburgh. I would generally say anything over an hour away is not a day trip for me.

      I have done Edinburgh to Aberdeen by train and back in a day for a family thing, but it was a long, exhausting day and I did not enjoy it. I don’t drive (never learned, and don’t want to) so my journeys are generally by public transport which adds time (travel time from home to departure station, and from arrival station to destination), or as a passenger in someone’s car occasionally.

      Glasgow is about as far as I’d consider a day trip from here. I’m going to York next week which is two and a half hours away by train, and staying two nights there. I wouldn’t ever consider doing that trip in a day!

    33. Ellis Bell*

      I’m in the northern UK, in a large city and there are two large cities about 45 minutes to an hour’s drive away. I would find it very difficult to go along with a plan to drive an hour and a half just to go to a spa! We would pass many excellent spas on the drive, so it just wouldn’t make any sense to do that. You would also get stuck in traffic like at least twice. I don’t drink, but a lot of people I know would much rather leave the car at home entirely if they were having a day out so they could have a glass of wine or something with lunch. I recently went to a wedding that was a 45 minute train ride away and I decided to stay at the hotel rather than journey home. Most of the other wedding guests made this decision so they could drink, and not have to navigate unfamiliar roads at night. I decided not to bring the car at all because parking in a UK city is expensive, hard to find and you’re not always guaranteed a space. But taking public transport at night is also not the ideal end to an evening. I’ve driven up to four hours to go to completely different parts of the country, but that’s not what I’d call a small undertaking.

      1. UKDancer*

        I think the fact there are other places on the way is a key factor. I can see 3 decent spas within 20 minutes walk of my home. If I go into the city centre there are many more. If I get a train to the next pretty town over from my big city (about 20-30 minutes) there are 2 very nice spas. Why would I travel 90 minutes to one when I have so many nearer. Similarly with restaurants, bars and other facilities. England is quite compact in many areas (obviously not in very rural places) so you can get everything you need in a fairly small geographic area.

        I’d also probably choose to stay at the hotel after a wedding an hour away because I like hotels and nice linen and someone else making the bed. Unless it was stupidly over priced I’d probably pick the hotel simply because it’s a more fun experience of staying over, having fun and then having a really good cooked breakfast before heading off. It’s probably not technically necessary but it’s pleasant.

      2. Hit the Road*

        You’re focusing on a minor detail but, okay I’ll play. We went to a Korean style spa were you enjoy the heated water completely naked, with fellow naked strangers. Then you wrap up in robes and enjoy various rooms or different temperatures and minerals. It was lovely and yes, though there are other spas around, this is the nearest naked Korean style spa in driving distance.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I would definitely journey quite a way for that! (I went to Morocco mostly for the hammams after all). On seamless American roads? Double yes. But if the Korean spa is an hour and a half of British roads, I’d probably stay over. Definitely if it was two hours.

    34. Retail Not Retail*

      I’m in the US and there are definitely people who don’t like long distances. I used that to my advantage when dealing with UPS one summer. They would not leave a package where I lived due to pretty valid safety concerns and wanted me to come get it at the nearest place. Which was 45 miles away. I called and said how far it was and the woman said oh no! And they resent it to where I was working.

      The thing is, this was Montana so 45 miles is less than 45 minutes since the interstate is 80mph!

      I also drive shelter dogs to boarding and fosters and there is one boarding that is just TOO far for most of the others, it is 45 minutes from the shelter but it’s not the distance, it’s just this block most people have towards that area. Like psychological distance (not safety.)

    35. Falling Diphthong*

      For round trip in a day, two hours each way. This limit set by some muscle problems, and how to manage my sit-unmoving-time so I’m still mobile. There must be a very strong motivation, like seeing my beloved child play in an athletic thing that day.

      This is a notorious thing about Britain–Bill Bryson has written about it. The gist being that you drive for 90 minutes and the regional accent changes and bread rolls are now called something different.

      1. Sharpie*

        I think one of the other things to keep in mind, which has been mentioned above, is simply how compact and close together everything is in Europe. My supermarket is about ten minutes away by car. I drive twenty minutes to the next town every week for Guides (…Girls Scouts equivalent). My youngest sister lives less than ten minutes’ walk away, and there are three schools within walking distance of her house.

        When I lived in Bath, I was about half an hour’s walk from the city centre, and it was far easier to walk to the station and get a train to Bristol than it would have been to drive the 23 or so miles and find parking.

        My car is a 1.4 litre four-door hatchback, it’s fine for the windy country roads which are pretty much standard here. I can get to the nearest big town without going on the dual carriageway, it’s about 40 minutes away. I’m more likely to do park and ride (bus or tram) than to drive into the city centre, though. And once there, the shops are all close together and within walking distance of each other.

        As someone else suggested, the YouTube channel Not Just Bikes has a lot of interesting comparisons between North America and Europe – though he’s in the Netherlands which is one of the best European countries in terms of transport and getting around without a car.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I have a 1.2 litre city car. I’m about 50 minutes away from the lakes. On the one hand, it’s super economic for me to visit the lakes in her. On the other, she doesn’t like hills at all. Both she and I want a night’s rest after tackling tiny, congested up and down hill roads where only one car can pass on the bridges.

    36. Mid-West Nice*

      MidWest person here.
      Driving to Cedar Point from home is about 2.5 hours and I have done that more than once. Makes for a long day but for those who enjoy those types of rides it is worthwhile.
      In college the closest Taco Bell was a 1.5 hour drive one way. Being a bored college student did that trip once or twice. Also drove to sporting events about the same distance away.
      Then again to get across town (20 miles) could take upwards of 45 minutes just due to no expressway and surface traffic.
      It is all in what you are used to doing.

    37. RussianInTexas*

      I live in Texas, Houston area, and my inlaws and stepdaughter and family both live an hour away, still in the Houston area. My dad lives 30 minutes away, also, still in the Houston area. I see them all fairly often, not a day trip, more like dinner. My own city metro is larger than the entire state of Connecticut.
      That said, a 3 hours one way trip is a hotel trip. For me that would be San Antonio or Austin, and it’s too far for a day trip.

    38. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      When I was in high school, my parents, my sister and I went to Detroit and back, 1000 miles round-trip, in 24 hours to visit relatives. My parents’ planning was “Eight hours up, eight hours visit, eight hours back!” We also went from Illinois to Pikes Peak for a 3-day weekend, because why not? My parents continued to travel like that well into their senior years, once driving from Southern Florida to Michigan with only a 3-hour rest stop.

    39. Donkey Hotey*

      No advice for moving people being their comfort zone, but I will share this.
      Neil Gaiman once wrote:
      “The difference between the UK and America is that in the UK, 100 miles is a long way and in America, 100 years is a long time.”

    40. Seashell*

      I’m American, and I think that the two-hour point in each direction would be where I’d want to stay over. I have driven 5 hours in a row to go somewhere on vacation, but there’s not much activity besides driving on that day. I think a 2 hours’ drive, followed by a day of activity, followed by another 2 hours’ drive home seems daunting to me. My parents have done it, but they are retired and can spend days on either side relaxing.

    41. Can't Sit Still*

      I’ve had commutes ranging from 30 – 2.5 hours, sometimes the SAME commute, so I don’t mind driving that distance. (My current commute is 12 – 15 minutes if traffic is heavy, which is much, much better.)

      Driving to LA is about 6 hours one way, and I prefer to fly that distance, but I will drive in a pinch. While I do know a couple of people who have made that a roundtrip in a single day for a funeral when they couldn’t get time off work, I am physically literally incapable of such a feat. Some people drive to Las Vegas in a single day, but that takes 8-10 hours, and that’s way too much driving for me.

    42. Price*

      Irish (from and living in Ireland) here and I’d say around 4 hours each way would be the max I would travel return in one day. That said I did live in the US for a while, as well as living the opposite tip of Ireland to my family, and I *love* driving so I may be the exception rather than the rule. When I was a kid in the late 80s/early 90s anything more than about 30 minutes away was considered a whole day out (my sister and I still laugh about it now).

    43. The scum is winning*

      It’s really context dependent. I’ve done 11 hours round-trip (5.5 hours one way) in a day before. It was to pick something up plus a brief stop with friends. That was also pre-children. I’d do three hours even with children. But not as a frequent thing.

    44. Dragonfly7*

      Preferably 3 hours or less. My family occasionally does 3.5 – 4 hours one way while I am visiting so we can see other relatives in the same trip, but I would rather stay overnight so we have more visiting time!

    45. Lexi Vipond*

      I occasionally go from Edinburgh to Newcastle – 1.5 hours on the train – and back for an evening event, but I’m odd (and I enjoy travelling). I don’t know many people who would casually go to Glasgow to do something. Some people will go for a specific bigger event – say Celtic Connections – others are happy to stick to what’s on locally.

      And I wouldn’t do it by car – I can read or do things online on the train the same as I could at home, and look out of the window at views that I couldn’t see at home, so I don’t really count the travelling time as lost. And there are still things I’d rather stay over for, so that I’m not always thinking about when I have to leave.

      On the other hand, I know people who’ll drive 3 or 4 hours to a particular hill, climb it, and drive 3 or 4 hours home, so it’s very context dependent. I think, as other people have said, that it also depends on what you have available locally – if there’s plenty of choice, then something might have to be very special to make it worth the extra hassle of travelling to it.

    46. carcinization*

      So, I’ve not reading all of the responses to this yet, and likely this has come up, but I’m wondering if it might have to do with how small or big the geographic unit one identifies with is…. To explain, my husband is from West Virginia but has now lived in Texas for decades. “Up home” (what they say in WV) his friends and family thought things that were more than a 20 minute drive away were too far away to visit more than once a year or so. Here in Texas we definitely take day trips way longer than that. So we were wondering if it’s because WV is so much smaller than TX. Now that he and I are a bit older I’d say we probably don’t want to travel to somewhere more than 1.5 hours away if we aren’t staying the night, though, but 20 minutes is nothing, especially on the weekend.

      1. carcinization*

        (Obviously in the first sentence that should be “I’ve not read” not “I’ve not reading,” sigh….)

    47. Kim*

      From the Netherlands here. It definitely depends on the type of activity at the end of the trip. It needs to either last longer than the trip or be very exiting (concert or play).
      My inlaws live 2 hours away in another province. We used to take the train and walk the last mile/1,5 km but with two small kids (<3) I ain't doing that. They live 2 hours away by car during the day when I can drive 100km/hr and 1 ½ hours after 1900 hours, when I can drive 130km/hr. But this trip is quite draining since half the time there's no light next to the road and it's at least 70 euros in gas these days, at 2 euros a liter. Those factors do weigh a lot. My car is quite comfortable with cruise control and such but I would still prefer public transport. And when I go to a city centre I don't even consider my car, it's either public transport or my cargo bike since parking is too expensive and most city centres are not designed for cars so it's a veritable nightmare to drive in them.

    48. retrowaveRecluse*

      I don’t know if this has been mentioned much but seasons definitely matter to me, in northish UK: winter days with less than eight hours of daylight affect my willingness to spend hours in a car twice in one day.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yeah, I definitely don’t want to take any trips of more than an hour (1-way) in the depths of winter when the weather is horrible and we only get 8 hours of daylight.

    49. The Dude Abides*

      For me, it’s not about distance as it is about departure/arrival time. If either of those are in the wee hours, I’m getting a hotel.

      I’m from the Midwest, and am on the road most Saturdays as a referee. My *short* drives are 60-90 miles each way, longer drives are 200 miles each way, and Ive been doing it for over a decade.

      Longest I’ve done down-back is 350mi each way.

    50. Alex*

      I’m curious how long their work (or school) commutes are? Because my commute is at least an hour each way and I definitely don’t sleep at my desk lol. (And I’m in the US)

      Maybe her friends just enjoy. having an excuse to stay in a hotel? Because then it does feel more like an event!

      1. Lexi Vipond*

        Mine’s roughly 50 minutes, but that’s walk 10 minutes to the bus stop and wait, sit for 20 minutes on the bus, walk 15 minutes up the hill at the other end.

        People travel in to Edinburgh from Fife and East and West Lothian, maybe 20 miles around, but long distance commutes are probably quite rare unless you’re travelling into London (where all the transport is set up to get people over the distance quickly), or it’s quite a specialised job. I’ve known people live in Edinburgh and work for one of the Glasgow universities and vice versa, but that’s seen as a difficult thing to do.

        (I’ve never lived in a rural village, so that will be skewing my experience, but I think you’d still tend to travel 30-60 minutes to the nearest town or a big local employer rather than 2+ hours to the city.)

    51. European here*

      I can see several things going on at once, here.
      I would expect a spa outing to include alcohol, so not suitable for a day trip, no form of DUIs are considered acceptable. A «girls’ night out» with spa, drinks, nachspiel at the hotel is, however, very acceptable.
      Public transport in Europe is most often both existing, excellent and safe, so less focus on cars. The only ones of my friends who have cars live rurally.

    52. That wasn't me. . .*

      I’d say about the same as you, maybe a little less, 2 hrs ea h way doable, 2.5, stretching it, 3 for emergency or compassion – like a funeral – only. I’m American, Southern, East coast. Guessing Texas and the west would be different.

    53. Mztery1*

      Having driven in Scotland and Ireland, I’m wondering if their thought is something that is 45 minutes away could easily wind up being an hour and a half away each way if there were other cars on the road, etc. But specifically for spas, I won’t drive more than an hour to go to a spa for massages or whatever. I find I’m too wiped afterwards to want to drive very long home.

    54. Samwise*

      I used to regularly drive my son and his rock clu. teammates to comps two hours away (not counting time to collect teens, stop for donuts and hash browns), then spend all day at the comp, then add in time to feed them burgers fries shakes, then drop them off. About 14 hours.

      Four hours one way = hotel room. Or fewer hours but in a good place for rock climbing/bouldering, stay overnite, schlep crashpads food water up a mountain, schlep it all back down a mountain, stop for burgers fries shakes.

      I swear those boys lived on bananas and fried potatoes.

      So, up to three hours one way is a day trip. I do love to drive tho.

    55. amoeba*

      Switzerland here and I don’t really think that’s a US vs Europe thing – hereabouts, going two or maybe 2.5 hours each way for a hike or a day of skiing is a pretty normal thing to do! In this specific case, because that’s where the mountains are, haha. 3+ h, I’d probably want to add an overnight stay.

      And Switzerland is obviously on the tiny side, you can reach most of the country within 3.5 h from anywhere. Even the remote mountain villages.

      Most people go by train though – it’s somewhat already part of the trip, especially if you’re going with friends. Coffee and a croissant in the morning, a beer on the way home… driving seems much more annoying, although I also have friends who do that and I’ve done it as a passenger without any problems. Train is much more comfortable, though.

  6. nnn*

    Recommendations for comfort and peace during a terrible time—music, readings, rituals, anything that you find brings you peace when you most need it? All suggestions gratefully received. Thank you.

    1. RMNPgirl*

      Getting out into nature. Being able to hear the leaves rustling in the breeze and bird songs plus the other sounds of the wild. I find that brings me the most peace.
      (another thing that helps me, which I know can do the opposite for others so if this isn’t you then feel free to ignore. One of the things I like about getting into nature or looking up at the night sky is that it reminds me how big this world and universe are. In the grand scheme of the universe we are not even a blip. I find comfort in that because it helps me put things into perspective.)

      1. RLC*

        Second this one, nature can be a comfort. I particularly find that watching the movement of water calms me. Whether a mountain stream, lake water lapping at a shore, or ocean waves, watching the rhythm of it helps. Even a video of these can calm me.

        1. Neurodivergent in Germany*

          I like to sit under trees and watch the sun in the leaves. As a kid I would crawl into hedges to get a nature hug

    2. Past Lurker*

      If you like choirs, the groups Tenebrae and Voces8 have songs I find soothing. I hope things get better soon!

      1. Neurodivergent in Germany*

        I love listening to the virtual choir things from 2020; they brought comfort then and still do for me (no concrete suggestions because I mostly listened to hymns which are not for everyone…)

    3. Chaordic One*

      Well, you do need to turn off the news and listen to and do other things. Not that you have to shut yourself off from the world, but you can’t just have a news station on TV or on the radio as background noise 24 hours a day. Maybe, try to limit yourself to news in half hour increments in the morning, at noon, and again in the evening. I find listening to a classical or jazz music radio station often or sometimes just turning off the radio or TV altogether and enjoy the silence.

      1. Florence Reece*

        I also assumed this was about current world events, but it’s very possible it’s a personal tragedy. I agree with you in general, just comes off a bit unkind since nnn didn’t mention watching the news.

        1. TechWorker*

          I don’t think it’s unkind, even if it’s a personal tragedy turning off the news is good advice. You need to give yourself headspace.

          1. Observer*

            turning off the news is good advice. You need to give yourself headspace.

            That’s not universally true. And in this context, turning off the news doesn’t help- and can make things worse.

        2. anxiousGrad*

          I also don’t know why Chaordic One is assuming that nnn is upset because they’re constantly tuned into the news. I only read the news once a day but the events unfolding right now are upsetting enough that it leaves me upset for the rest of the day. And if this is in reference to current events, then I hope people can understand that it’s not something that Jewish people can escape just by turning off the news right now. Just to give an example of what it’s like, the Friday evening Shabbat service and dinner I went to this week was originally supposed to be held in a park but had to be moved to a secure indoor location and every person had to be scanned with a metal detector before entering. Some of the attendees had antisemitic things yelled at them as they were walking to the service. What’s going on right now is really upsetting and it’s affecting people not just because they watch the news too much.

      2. Chaordic One*

        Admittedly, my suggestion might only provide a very small amount of comfort, but it was well-intentioned and not made in any kind mean-spiritedness. I don’t think it was a completely ridiculous suggestion, but I could be wrong. If you find that the suggestion doesn’t apply to you and your situation, if it isn’t helpful, and/or if you disagree with the suggestion, that’s fine. Please disregard the suggestion.

        1. Observer*

          The problem with your suggestion is not that it’s not comforting, but that it makes a lot of assumptions while totally failing to address the real issues that many of us are looking at. At the same time it feels like it really is minimizing the fundamental problem.

          but it was well-intentioned and not made in any kind mean-spiritedness

          I believe that. But intent doesn’t really outweigh impact. Making the mistake in the first place. . . not so great. But please don’t double down because you “meant well.” Sure, but you still stepped on someone’s foot (except that it’s more like their heart, right now). Don’t imply that people should not be upset over that.

          Admittedly, my suggestion might only provide a very small amount of comfort

          This comment makes things worse, because it really sounds like you have not actually taken on board what people are trying to tell you. It’s not that your suggestion provide only “small” comfort. It’s that it totally misunderstands the problem.

          We’re not terrified, sad and in pain because we are listening to the news. We are listening to the news because we are terrified, sad and in pain.

    4. Mitchell Hundred*

      I recently listened to a podcast (https://www.cbc.ca/radio/tapestry/living-deliberately-university-pennsylvania-tapestry-1.6988112) about a university course where students have to live under monk-like conditions. I don’t know if it made people more peaceful, but one thing that stuck with me is that they said how being cut off from a lot of their conventional distractions made them more present in the moment, more aware of what they were doing right then.

    5. Purple m&m*

      Peppermint herbal tea with a sweetener & creamer. Sit with your tea, a cozy blanket and think of nothing but the tea. Just the tea. Hugs and tea to you.

    6. Part time lab tech*

      Nostalgic tv shows. A couple of years ago I watched the first 2 seasons of a long running soap drama from my childhood. (A Country Practice’s Dr Terrence is a reassuring character). It was also a social issue most weeks so it wasn’t always calming as might be hoped.
      Also social connection and nature on a regular basis. I organise walks in the park with a couple friends.

      1. BlueMeeple*

        I second nature and going for walks, ( I like to go out and read outside as well.) Music helps if it’s calming: I like Sutton Foster’s albums for peaceful songs. I’m a big fan of tea and also chatting to friends and family, if that helps you. :)

        I hope that things get better soon. :)

      2. Chaordic One*

        And I will second the nostalgic TV shows, especially old sitcoms. (There are a lot of episodes of different things online for free, like on YouTube, for example.) Sometimes it is nice to escape into a place with familiar friendly faces, great one-liners and people with simple problems that can be solved in half an hour.

    7. Sharpie*

      I like watching Luke Rowan on YouTube… He makes model railroad dioramas and he’s just so nice and calming to listen to, and it’s amazing to see him take bare insulation foam and bring a scene to life. Very much recommended if you just want something peaceful to look at/listen to.

    8. Sharpie*

      I like watching Luke Towan on YouTube. He builds the most amazing model railroad dioramas and he’s got a style of narration that is just really relaxing. It’s incredible to see him take a piece of insulation foam and turn it into a really realistic scene.

    9. Glazed Donut*

      As much as I try to resist, moving my body (going for a walk at the park) is beneficial.
      I also fall back to some TV series: The West Wing & Downton Abbey. Something about those and a sense of universality (they have ALL the emotions in Downton – and they move past them which is helpful to see, even if it’s fiction) helps me realize my current state won’t be forever.

    10. Rae*

      Helping people. I volunteer at a small local charity every week and it does a lot to keep me sane. Having anything you can point at and go “I am making the world (no matter how small a section of it) better” can do so much.

    11. Price*

      The ocean if I can manage to get there as it’s outlived all the trauma of life and will continue to survive it unchanged. It was here before us and our troubles, and will be here after we weather life’s troubles. That and The Golden Girls on repeat.

      Probably the biggest thing that got me through the hardest times of my life was seeing other people, I don’t mean hanging out with friends, but just seeing strangers going about life, surviving it, and living it. I would spend hours at the train station or even in the parking lot at the local mall just people watching. I’ve never told a soul that but seeing ‘normality’ is still out there got me through. Hope all will improve for you soon.

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

      Taking a long bath with a low-stress book, if you’re feeling up to reading. Streaming comfort TV sitcoms from the 70s, like *The Mary Tyler Moore Show*, on YouTube. Eating comfort foods. Even just sitting quietly and looking out the window at nature (or whatever is outside your window).

      If you belong to (or can join) a music group, I’ve found music rehearsals to be very distracting from whatever horrible thing is going on, since you have to pay attention to something else. I imagine sports teams might feel the same way.

      The advice here about getting out and helping others is also sound. There’s an anecdote I remember from *How to Stop Worrying and Start Living* by Dale Carnegie about a man who had suffered a terrible tragedy and was withdrawn into himself. One day, his son asked him for help fixing a toy, and he realized after he’d fixed it that he’d just had his first hour of real peace since the tragedy had struck.

    13. Ginger Baker*

      I’m a big fan of re-reading favorite books (not traumatic-yet-excellent ones, though – this is NOT the time to dip back into the Octavia Butler collection!). I love them, they are very familiar, and I often still find something new to appreciate about them.

    14. Dwight Schrute*

      Hope things improve for you!

      When I’m going through a very rough period I do lots of walking and podcast listening. I will go on many short walks a day if I can’t get a longer one in. My go to podcasts are Stuff You Should Know, Crime Junkie, Ridiculous Crime (non murder), Normal Gossip, and It’s a Clue, among many others.

      I will also rewatch shows from my childhood that I loved like Scooby Doo and will do coloring books for kids and word puzzles/sodoku

    15. Neurodivergent in Germany*

      Meditation is often recommended and if you can do that, more power to you!
      I have a hard time being alone with my mind especially during rough times.
      Don’t feel bad when you can’t do regular self-care stuff.
      When I need to calm my mind and just not think for a bit, I watch harmless entertainment (think Great British Baking Show) or shows that focus on helping others in need (the Dodo about rescuing animals or home makeovers a la George to the rescue).
      Turning on favorite music and singing my heart out also helps.
      I hope this crisis will be over soon!

      1. Doc McCracken*

        On Spotify and other music services there are healing songs. Search for “heart healing”. These aren’t songs per say, but tones at frequencies that are very soothing. Tibetian Bowls are really soothing too.

    16. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Writing or telling stories about funny or loving things that happened. Reminiscing with someone about a loved one or pet or event.

      Even if I end up crying, there’s a lot of soul connection that goes on in storytelling, and a felt sense of reminders of things I hold dear.

  7. word nerd*

    Reading thread! Whatcha been reading?

    I loved Nursery Earth: The Wondrous Lives of Baby Animals and the Extraordinary Ways They Shape Our World by Danna Staaf (full disclosure: author is a very good friend), written in an engaging way with fascinating facts about baby/juvenile animals and their importance in ecology.

    I also enjoyed Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve by Ben Blatt, which presents a hodgepodge of fun statistical analyses about books, examining differences among bestsellers, literary fiction, and even fan fiction. Who knew that grinning was especially associated with men in books? A lot of his analyses feel accessible for anyone to run, and now it has me thinking about if I want to run some tests myself!

    1. Teapot Translator*

      This week, I read Real Estate by Deborah Levy and The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow. Did not enjoy the second book.

    2. Annie Edison*

      I finished “Romantic Comedy” by Curtis Sittenfeld last night, which I believe was one of Allison’s recommendations earlier this year, and it made me so happy. I’m now wondering if anyone knows of other feminist, contemporary romance novels featuring protagonists in their thirties? I seem to be stuck on a romance loop lately because my brain is craving moments of predictable, happy escape, but I’m also fairly picky about writing quality. Would love suggestions!

      1. Rachel*

        I loved how well that author didn’t go right out and say “Pete Davidson” but Danny was definitely Pete Davidson

      2. word nerd*

        So this is not exactly what you asked for, but Amy Poeppel’s The Sweet Spot was one of my favorite reads this year. Has a romance in it but not a full-out romance novel, and the main three female characters range from young, 30sish (mom with young kids), and older. I mention it because I care about writing quality too, and this is very well-written and fun (and funny), uplifting without being saccharine.

      3. PhyllisB*

        Have you read Lessons in Chemistry? it’s not exactly a “romance,” but it has its moments. Also a feminist lead character.
        Warning: there is a rape mentioned in there.
        Also wish to mention, the main criticism I’ve heard about this book was that it was so unlikely that these things occurred (not just the rape, the general sexism) but I assure you it did. Any woman over 70 can attest to that. And if you really want an eye opener, talk to a woman over 80. (My 92 year old mother was a business woman, and she told me some things that curled my hair.)

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Both of those sound interesting!

      I haven’t been reading much lately but I’m currently listening to Song of Achilles on audiobook. Also still working on a re-read of Neverwhere but that’s a physical book so it’s going very slowly, I rarely just sit and read.

        1. word nerd*

          After reading the replies below, I guess I feel obliged to also add that I adored Circe while I liked Song of Achilles. All of my Goodreads friends who have rated Circe gave it a 5/5, the only time I’ve seen that.

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

        I really enjoyed *Song of Achilles*, and if you like it, the author’s *Circe* is even better, in my opinion!

    4. OtterB*

      I’ve been rereading the Green Man series by Juliet E. McKenna, beginning with The Green Man’s Heir. Book 6 in the series is coming out in another week. It’s a contemporary set in Great Britain with supernatural creatures from folklore. The main character is the son of a dryad and a human man; he looks human and for the most part is, but he has the ability to see the supernatural. He also has a connection to the Green Man, who will show up in his dreams and let him know where he should go to deal with some problem. Each book has a different type of opponent. At the beginning, he doesn’t know anyone else with his abilities. As the series continues, he’s acquiring a network of friends who can help him deal with dangerous situations.

    5. Lemonwhirl*

      I read “Whalefall” by Daniel Kraus, and it was amazing. Really well written and the descriptions made me feel like I was scuba diving right along with the main character.

      Now I’m reading “Girls and Their Horses” by Eliza Jane Brazier. It’s a thriller set in the world of competitive horse jumping. If you liked “Bad Summer People” and you’ve ever been horse-adjacent, you will probably love it.

      1. BlueMeeple*

        I read The Body In the Blitz by Robin Stevens last night. It’s latest of her crime series for children, and it was good. Not the best in the series, but a good read. :)

        I’m about to start reading Trelawney by Hannah Rothschild. :)

      2. GoryDetails*

        I enjoyed “Whalefall” too – it wasn’t what I’d expected at all, yet somehow it worked very well indeed.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher, in which a 30-year-old princess living in a nunnery sets out to rescue her sister from the prince to whom she’s wed. Thanks to everyone who recommended it in the “stories of ordinary people getting fed up and breaking shit” thread last week–hits that spot of both embodying and upending fairytale tropes.

      Now reading Let it Crow, Let it Crow, Let it Crow, the new Donna Andrews mystery. Delightful as ever, and I am enjoying the return to blacksmithing as a focus in this one.

    7. Forensic13*

      I read the second book, Painted Devils, in a fantasy trilogy by Margaret Owen. I think I liked the first one, Little Thieves, /slightly/ more, but they’re both really enjoyable books. I adore the worldbuilding.

    8. Nervous Nellie*

      I am reading The 3 Mistakes of My Life, by Chetan Bhagat. He’s a hugely popular author in India. I’ve read others of his, and they usually are about young people’s family pressure to go to engineering universities (Five Point Someone), or their experiences working in call centers (One Night @ The Call Center). This one is about three young friends who open a cricket shop (the sport, not the insect), but struggle with business realities and turbulent local & national politics. My Indian friends say his books exactly describe the life of modern young Indians. It is fascinating and lively. I highly recommend his books.

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      Zipping along through Dracula; I feel sorrier for Lucy every time I read this. She didn’t do anything wrong! I mean, I know that’s the point, but man, that poor girl. The part where she tells Seward how afraid she is to go to sleep is so sad.

    10. GoryDetails*

      On audiobook: just finished a re-listen of Pratchett’s “Going Postal,” just as much fun as the first time. Moving on to Ray Bradbury’s collection “Long After Midnight,” which includes one of my favorite not-supernatural-at-all stories of his, “The Better Part of Wisdom,” with a grandfather coming to terms with the realization that his beloved grandson’s roommate is actually his boyfriend. Lovely, lovely story.

      Print books: loads and loads of horror anthologies! Including some brand-new ones that I got at this year’s Merrimack Valley Book Festival in Haverhill, Massachusetts, where scads of authors of speculative fiction/horror of all styles congregate, and where I always buy more books than I meant to. Next in the queue: “Graveyard Smash: Women of Horror Anthology Vol. 2″…

    11. Dwight Schrute*

      I’m on the last book of ACOTAR and loving it! It’s fun seeing new perspectives that aren’t Feyre

    12. Elizabeth West*

      Currently reading The Coworker, a workplace thriller by Frieda McFadden. I can’t put it down! 0_0

      Prior to that, I finished Christopher Priest’s The Glamour, a British speculative novel about psychological invisibility. It was well written but I struggled with it — I found the characters super frustrating.

  8. Sally Sparrow*

    How do you find local events/activities to do? I like finding things to do around my area or when I’m traveling, especially events like festivals or parades or other such gatherings but how do you track them down?

    My go-to sites are Facebook and Eventbrite. I know many people are off of Facebook, but I have reasons I still use it, and one of them is finding events. It’s nice because there are so many varieties of Events and I can see things that my friends have interacted with. However it can be very hard to verify what is a legitimate event. I recently went to an event I found on Facebook that I thought would be a seasonal festival, but it turned out just to be something run by one local store where they had three local artists as vendors, and one food truck in the parking lot, so that was disappointing. EventBrite is handy and usually has legitimate events since it puts a little more work in a setting up an event on Facebook does, but those those events usually cost some kind of ticket price or entrance fee.

    1. Rachel*

      I use Instagram judiciously.

      One thing I really like is following venues or restaurants where I typically enjoy events to see what is coming up.

      There are also accounts for our library, neighborhood, city at large, etc. between all of them I have a pretty good selection.

    2. Angstrom*

      A lot of the small towns here have listservs where people post event listings.
      The local newspaper has a calendar of events.
      Some town websites have event calaendars.

    3. Nicki Name*

      For local events, my local paper has listings. If I’m travelling, I check the local tourism website.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Agree that in my city there is a local “paper” (not even sure it exists in print form) that lists upcoming / weekend events. I’m in the book world so I’m also usually in the know on those types of things, plus book fairs/festivals that might be coming up in the surrounding areas.

    4. I'm just here for the cats!*

      On Facebook do you follow any particular pages that would have events? for example I follow our local historical society, the library, a local, woman owner bookstore, a center for the arts and a few small local stores and art places. I’ve found that sometime they dont post in the events section of Facebook bit they do have posts about events.

      Another thing is to pay attention to your local news. either online, newspaper or TV. I see lots of events like today the local arts place had a spooky story thing for Friday the 13th.

    5. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Our tourism board has an events calendar that’s usually pretty good, though they do annoying things like list a museum exhibit as a separate event for every. single. day. that. the. exhibit. is. there. Which is sometimes 6 months! It really clutters up the calendar.
      But they have concerts, festivals, parades, sporting events, etc.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        This! A lot of smaller cities have a website that lists these kinds of events, too.

        Local news stations are a great source of information, either from their broadcasts or their websites.

    6. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      I google it! Or rather, duckduckgo it ;)
      Usually just put in the date(s) and place name or general area and then words like festival, exhibition, open day, museum – whatever I’d be interested in doing.
      Or I look on the local tourism homepage, both when travelling somewhere and also for where I’m living.

    7. miel*

      The public radio station has a weekly arts event segment where they highlight some upcoming events.

      And seconding Instagram – I see that as the primary way many events are advertised.

    8. Cardboard Marmalade*

      My city actually has a fairly active subreddit with a dedicated weekly thread to post events.

    9. WestsideStory*

      Meetup.com had been useful in the past for outdoor activities (fun hikes, impromptu ski outings) but it may be very “singles” focused these days.

    10. Girasol*

      In my small city, I can google “cityname events” and get several local calendars of concerts, winery and brewery events, kid events, parks and rec events, and so on.

    11. Dragonfly7*

      Following organizations that are important to me on Instagram as well as signing up for (and actually reading!) their emails. The library, the botanic garden, nature center, non-profits I volunteer with or support. They participate in or host local events and sometimes share each other’s events on social media as mutual support. I am more likely to attend something if some aspect of it is familiar, like a vendor or especially the location, rather than something entirely unfamiliar.
      Hashtags for the city were more useful before IG changed how Recent works, but I used that as well.

    12. Cj*

      My state and the surrounding states you have what I guess you would call tourism website it’s that list type of thing. not just big stuff like state paris, but festivals, o
      car shows kind of stuff happening throughout the state, including in small towns.

  9. I'm just here for the cats!*

    I had to take a mental health day. Between a student death on campus, all the stuff in Israel, and our own government mess in the US it’s just been too much. Although I didn’t know or work with the student (university staff) it’s still makes my heart hurt.
    Does anyone have any suggestions for mental health days and ways to REALLY recharge. I need more than just sleeping, taking a bath, or yoga/meditation.

    1. Vanessa*

      Everyone has their own ways to recharge,but I feel like the key is to go in to your day with a plan of what serves you. The best way to do that is to keep a list of ways that you recharge. Usually when we “need” these days we are already not in a headspace to think it through.
      My go to’s are savasanah, a day with my dog, home time (but not accomplishing anything), a hike in the woods, painting. My absolute fav is hanging on the couch with a good friend. The best hard parts of my life have been hanging out on a friends couch.

    2. Vroom Vroom*

      My go to’s are cozy games (like farming simulators or hits like Cat Cafe Manager and Handle With Care) and crochet (usually while listening to a podcast that doesn’t deal with anything too serious as far as topic goes). Especially the crochet helps, I’ve found – I guess it’s the repetitive movement and the fact that at the end I’ve made something tangible.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        If you like art, maybe visit an art museum? I also like our local botanical garden for art + nature. Getting out of the house helps me, and art or nature offer opportunities to experience whatever range of emotions you are feeling. If you’re not allergic, maybe visiting a therapy dog or cat cafe if you have one near you? I have a friend who goes to a place where you can play with therapy dogs in training since they need to learn socialization.

    3. anon24*

      I agree with Vanessa that everyone has different ways to recharge. I’ve found that sometimes my mental health needs different things. Sometimes I want to spend the whole day hiking and being physically active while my brain rests, some days I need to keep my brain busy and my body still and just want to spend an entire day in the comfort of my favorite video games, and some days I find rest in not getting out of bed, either by reading in bed, sleeping, or just existing in the warmth and safety of my blankets. The important thing is not to stress about having to “do a thing” and let the day just happen as it happens.

    4. RedinSC*

      There’s a spa about an hour away from me. It’s got a bunch of pools ranging from freezing to boiling (OK, not literally, but still). They have massage and such there too. When things have been too much I see if I can get in that day, even to just sit in the quite room or sauna and go to the pools.

      It wasn’t open through COVID mostly, which was when I really needed that, but it’s back now, and a lovely place.

      I also like to go to the Japanese garden and just be there.

      THe nice thing about both places, the spa is cell phone free and the garden is in a weird no service zone, so you can’t get distracted by every day life. I unplug completely when Im in either location.

      Take care.

      1. justabot*

        Cold plunge pools help me a lot too. I would love to find a place to alternate between the hot and cold temps. I know there is a spa in California that has a cool set up with lots of pools, but haven’t found anything similar around me.

    5. Kiki Is The Most*

      A walk in nature. Or if you’re in a city, then just a long walk. I tend to put the phone on airplane mode and either listen to my surroundings and sort out thoughts, a lighter podcast, or music to preoccupy my busy brain.

      Cooking. That tends to be therapy #1.

      Sharing space with a friend. If you have a person in your life that you can just hang out with and not have to talk, etc., that’s nice to be able to have someone else in your space.

    6. Qwerty*

      I find accomplishing something to be a good use of those days. Studies have shown that working with your hands has a huge positive impact on mental health, so if you have a hobby like crafting, drawing, sculpting / clay modeling, woodworking, etc – do something with that! Especially if it is an immersive project that takes up your attention. My usual crafts are easy baby blankets/scarves that are kinda mindless, but if I’m stressed or sad I’ll swap it out for an amigurumi or some other complicated item.

      Even doing stuff around the house like hands-on cleaning is good for the combo working with hands + getting something done. When I get random holidays, I spend half the day doing deep cleaning stuff like washing down all the baseboards or scrubbing the bathtub and feel super good after. When I was in a really bad pandemic job that had me panic-crying regularly, I felt like a completely different person after spending an hour or so building a new computer chair with my dad.

    7. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Cooking or baking something, I might try a new recipe but not a completely new technique: not having made chocolate chip oatmeal cookies before feels like a different level of new than never having baked any kind of cookies from scratch.

    8. I'm just here for the cats!*

      thanks all for your suggestions! I’m going to put together a list for future use.

      I ended up sleeping most of the morning and then later I did a few organizing projects in my room.

      except for watching some cute videos from one of my favorite YouTubers (gold shaw Farms) and playing my daily Wordle, and of course AAM, I didn’t go online at all.

      I’m going to continue this for the rest of the weekend. I really wish it was beter weather or i would go outside.

  10. Morning Dew*

    Wheelchair seat cushion recommendation needed!

    I am looking for something very firm to increase the seat height; current seat sits a bit low to rest arms comfortably so I need a booster seat for the wheelchair. I am looking for something very firm so it does not sink in the middle with time and usage.

    Cushions I found so far (on Amazon) claim to be firm but reviews say otherwise so if you have experienced something personally or know of someone who bought a firm wheelchair seat cushion, please attach a link or brand name so I can search. Thank you!

    1. Florence Reece*

      I don’t have experience with wheelchairs, so I apologize in advance if this is completely unhelpful. I also needed a firm booster seat to raise me up in my desk chair so my shoulders wouldn’t be in the toddler “uppies” pose all the time. (Mostly exaggerating but not totally.)

      I ended up with a ComfiLife seat and it’s been seriously life-changing. I got another one for my car. I wouldn’t say that it’s *very* firm, but because of the design it hasn’t warped at all. I’ve had mine a little over 6 months, and was recommended it by a friend who has used hers for over a year.

      I hope you find something workable soon! The shoulder/neck strain of holding your arms awkwardly for 8-10 hours a day is the woooorst.

    2. OtterB*

      I don’t know if this would work with a wheelchair, but I bought a Pressure Relief Seat Cushion from Cushion Lab for my desk chair. It is comfortable but might be too thick for what you need. They also offer a car seat cushion that is not as thick.

    3. Retired But Still Herding Cats*

      IDK where you are, of course, but I wonder if your area has anything like the MSHH Donor Closet (Tacoma, WA and at least two other Washington State locations).

      When I was there to buy a wheelchair for one of my housemates, they had LOTS of wheelchair cushions of every kind imaginable, and you could actually pick them up, squeeze them, and evaluate them firsthand before choosing.

      Prices were shockingly low, selection was large through lots of categories of equipment, and there are no restrictions at all on who can buy there.

      They are *super* helpful and might be able to tell you if there are similar resources near your area.

    4. AnonRN*

      This might be something a PT or OT can prescribe for you. In my hospital the PTs usually put people on Roho branded cushions but I am told they are very expensive. Not trying to get into medical advice but obviously your cushion needs to balance your posture needs and skin integrity to prevent breakdown…this could be the angle to take when asking for a prescription.

    5. Fiction Reader*

      My first suggestion is that if you are in a wheelchair all day, and this is a permanent situation, you should look into a custom wheelchair. I know they are expensive but if you can get insurance to cover it or can apply for a grant, it is a much better option than anything you can throw together. If not, an OT or PT with wheelchair fitting experience may be able to recommend an off-the-shelf chair that fits better than what you have now.
      If that isn’t possible or affordable, or this is a temporary situation, I would recommend starting with a solid/rigid seat platform if this is a folding wheelchair with a sling seat. Any cushion will sink down if you don’t start with a firm surface. They do make convex-shaped cushions that “fill in” the curve but I’m not sure how well they hold up. Then top that with a pressure-reducing cushion. If you need more height, try a balance cushion under the pressure-reducing cushion. They are usually blue and are very firm because they are made for standing on with full body weight. But don’t sit directly on it — you need something softer on top, especially if you aren’t standing up frequently.

  11. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

    I have a $50 Amazon card I need to spend and I don’t do much online shopping & I don’t really *need* anything, but I am sure that’s the minimalist in me.

    Any self-care things one would suggest? Stress relievers? Butterfly hair clips? Over-sized scrunchies? Some other other 90s/early 00s throwback accessory? Glow in the dark stars you stick to the ceiling? A pair of comfy walking shoes? Headphones?! I wanna get something silly and vain and light-hearted and that I’ll be happy to look at or use often. But there’s a lot of that out there, so maybe something useful, too. I don’t know. If anyone gets a kick out of online shopping or browsing for fun, drop some cool things you’ve found.

    1. anon24*

      Bath salts? Great smelling lotion or body wash? Expensive, but I love the Bella Des Scent of a Sorceress Lilac and Gooseberry products, they are strong scented but smell amazing. I also really like Jergens Body Butter Collection Lavender lotion and Eucalyptus Mint lotion. I used to use the Jergens lotion after showers and I had an old co-worker tell me that he didn’t want to sound creepy or like serial killer but that he hated when women wore scents or perfume but that I always smelled amazing. It’s still one of my favorite compliments because it was so awkward and hilarious and I still think of him sometimes when I use them.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        Your description of your coworker’s response made me laugh – and purchase them for myself!

        I had a (now sadly discontinued) conditioner that I loved (and bought on eBay till even the global supply ran out lol). I would shower in the mornings and put my hair up damp.

        I was in a small workgroup with a male coworker for something, so lots of hunching over the same product with our heads together. He said something similar to me about not wanting to be weird but my hair smelled amazing and a delighted me was like I KNOW RIGHT??

        Thanks for the smile today :)

        1. Cj*

          your comment about conditioner that smells great reminds me of its conditioner I used in high school. I think it was called Flex, and it was discontinued decades ago.

          this was when when there were a ton of ads on TV for gee your hair smells terrific. guys would bury their head in my hair and quote the ad. I thought of this earlier this week when I saw somebody is using that for their username.

    2. the cat's pajamas*

      During the pandemic I ordered international snack boxes. They are fun to try. My favorites were the Turkish one and the Japanese candy one.

      Otherwise, maybe fun/practicalcomputer accesories if you use a computer frequently? Like a fun case, wrist rest, external hard drive, etc?

    3. SG*

      Search “Desktop Vacuum Cleaner USB Charging with Vacuum Nozzle Cleaning Brush” — I love this thing! Great for cleaning up small, dry spills (spices, oats, crumbs on a car seat, etc.).

    4. Random Academic Cog*

      If you truly can’t think of anything you need, check out the wishlist of your local animal shelter. Most of them have an Amazon wishlist (best way to find it is to check the shelter’s webpage or Facebook) and they are all desperate for toys, food, litter, replacement milk, etc.

      1. Atheist Nun*

        I love this idea. Self care does not need to mean purchasing products (although Big Self Care wants us to believe that). Self care can include caring for, and connecting with, the community. That could be the local animal shelter, or maybe a local children’s organization that needs supplies.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          Exactly! Tbh, sometime taking a gift card off your mental load is helpful too. Transanta (a project that coordinates gifts to trans youth, @transanta on IG) is mainly run on Amazon wishlists, and there will be a lot of wishlists to fulfill in the coming months.

    5. TechWorker*

      Can get a good quality fake plant for that price, Amazon has a few. Or if you’re into cooking, some nice spice blends or flavoured oils that are a price point above what you’d normally buy?

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Sennheiser over-the-ear headphones.
      A nifty advent calendar. (I plan to get my daughter the Bonne Maman jam one, which someone recommended here.)
      3 books from the book thread.

    7. Professor Plum*

      Try a Spoonk acupressure mat. It looks strange but I love using this at the end of the day.

    8. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I love shower bombs so I can have a nice smelling shower. I mourn my old yoga toes because my feet felt so nice. I like a nice pen too

    9. Pyanfar*

      The small Aerogarden with herbs…I have one and I love being able to go over, prune the herbs, make some mint tea or a caprese salad with basil, or just smell the aromas. Incredibly low maintenance and a joy to watch things grow!

    10. carcinization*

      I hate regular maraschino cherries, but I love the fancy version of them, Luxardo cherries, and I think they run around $30 a jar on Amazon….

    11. old curmudgeon*

      See if you can find Kigurumi on Amazon. I actually just ordered one for myself after finding the post in the AAM archives about an IT manager who was working from home wearing her dragon Kigurumi and forgot what she was wearing when she took a video call from her boss. It made me laugh out loud, and I decided I needed a unicorn Kigurumi for the cold days of winter. I didn’t get mine on Amazon, but I’ll bet they’ve got them there; they’ve got everything else.

    12. Silence*

      Loss titanium head phones
      Your fav perfume or a sampler box of perfume if you don’t have a fav yet.
      E books tend to be cheap and take up no space. I just read ‘to hive and to hold’ which is just a lovely book including magic bees, a witch, a sorcerer and a slow courtship involving lots of delicious food.
      Craft supplies

  12. Mitchell Hundred*

    Something I’m curious to hear from other people about: what’s the most memorable example of something in a work of fiction breaking your suspension of disbelief? I’m not asking to be judgmental or anything, I just like hearing about how other people engage with stories.

    Mine might be a bit controversial: the choice to keep Shakespeare’s dialogue in Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet” ruins that movie for me. The combination of an unambiguously modern setting with a form of English that pre-dates it by several centuries rubs me exactly the wrong way, it’s like the uncanny valley.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Medical administration screwups. One of my favorite shows almost threw me out really early on when a cap carries a literal child with a gunshot wound into an ED and the nurse tells him this ED doesn’t accept patients with gunshot wounds, sorry. Also in House when Cuddy says something about having set aside $500,000 in the budget every year for his malpractice lawsuits. That is … SO not how hospital budgeting works. :-P

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I read a book where the pregnant side character had her baby before her husband could get there. When he should have been maybe a five or ten minute run away, and they called him as soon as his wife went into labor.

        Granted it was urban fantasy, but there was no indication that the characters didn’t have normal human pregnancies and births.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        House made my dad INSANE. He couldn’t have it on for more than a minute before he started ranting about what a liability House was and no hospital would give him privileges.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Oh god no. “He’s 3 years behind on his charting!” Then they suspended his privileges two years and ten months ago. Sorry, we track that ish.

      3. WS*

        There are hospitals that don’t treat people with gunshot wounds (including my local one)…because they don’t have a trauma center. If the hospital has an ED for the cop to run into, they will treat the patient! I suspect the writers read about many Chicago hospitals not accepting patients with gunshots and didn’t read about why.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          (I do this for a living, is why it cranks me off so bad. :) )

          The trauma center isn’t the relevant part (because there is a difference between a trauma center and an emergency department). EMTALA requires that any medical center with an emergency department MUST at the very least provide a screening exam to any patient who requests it for an emergency condition, and that they can’t refuse to treat a patient in an emergency condition to at least get them stabilized. A true trauma center has a much higher and more detailed set of requirements. I work with 14 EDs, 5 of which are certified trauma centers.

    2. OtterB*

      It was a really small thing, but threw me completely out of the story. In “Red Mars” by Kim Stanley Robinson, the main character normally works from home but is taking the DC Metro to a meeting. He was leaving from a station not far from my house, so I had a clear image of where he was and what he was doing. As of a couple of years ago, all Metro fares are paid with a refillable fare card, but at the time I read the book those cards existed, but there were also single-use paper fare cards. Tourists or people who didn’t use the Metro often used the paper cards. Regular users would have one of the other fare cards. And the book character arrived at the fare gate and inserted his paper card, and it threw me completely out of the story. Someone who went to regular meetings as a consultant would slap their fare card against the card reader. They just would.

      There was also a movie my husband and I watched on TV years ago. I have no idea what it was. But in the opening credits, there was a background of snowcapped mountains that looked like the Rockies, while the voiceover was telling you that the story opened in east Texas. That is NOT what East Texas looks like. East Texas has cattle grazing, pine scrub, and occasional marsh land.

      1. Mitchell Hundred*

        I have not seen the Jackie Chan movie “Rumble in the Bronx”, but I do know that whoever made it either didn’t know or didn’t care enough about what kind of landscape surrounds The Bronx. There are apparently shots where you can see the mountains that surround Greater Vancouver (where it was filmed) in the background.

        1. Sister George Michael*

          In the TV show “24,” they lost track of someone because he was driving through “the mountains in Iowa.”

          1. Goldfeesh*

            My second thought for this question was any mountains in Iowa or, alternately, showing Iowa as flat as Kansas. Iowa is neither.

            My first thought was the Batman Dark Knight movie where the bad guy attacked the stock market. Hello, trading would immediately be halted. The bad guy’s plan would not work at all. Pulled me completely out of the movie as silly as that sounds

      2. Cj*

        on a similar note re: the opening scene, there is a scene in Fargo where they’re coming into minneapolis, supposedly from the northwest. what they showed was the skyline of Minneapolis coming from the southwest, which I have done hundreds of times, so I know what it looks like.

    3. Jackie Daytona, Regular Human Bartender*

      I watched Kong vs. Godzilla the other day and I could NOT get over plunky teens infiltrating Evil Corporation. Also, taking a little girl on a deadly journey to the middle of the Earth, which has like birds and plants. Like, what’s going on here?

      To be fair, it was a movie called Kong vs. Godzilla.

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      For me, it’s movies that use the wrong actual landscape to represent their fictional one. When the movie River Wild came out in the 90s, a friend of mine who’s a river guide wanted to see it so we went. The plot is dreadful but we endured that for the scenery. The movie took place on a single river but it was really obvious they were going back and forth from Oregon to Montana. (In looking this up just now, I see that Netflix this year released an updated version with the same title but a variation of the violent plot. No thanks, I don’t watch movies with violence anymore.)

    5. Dodubln*

      Years ago, my husband and I were watching an episode of the TV show “24” as it aired for the first time, and a character mentioned the “mountains between Illinois and Iowa”, or something to that effect. As my husband is from Iowa, and I am from Illinois, and there are definitely no mountains between those two states, we burst out laughing. To this day, we will turn to each other randomly and mention those “mountains”.

      1. Pippa K*

        The West Wing has an episode where Bartlet leaves the White House to go somewhere nearby* and his car drives past National Cathedral, at which he casts a contemplative and meaningful gaze. My then-partner and I looked at each other and went “how the hell…?” I can’t remember what the episode’s about, but many years later I remember the implausible route!

        (*I had to look it up – he was supposedly going to the State Dept. The Cathedral is *so* not on the way!)

        1. Cookies For Breakfast*

          On a similar note, while some of the main scenes in Ted Lasso are indeed filmed in the London suburb of Richmond and there’s big emphasis on a community feel in the town, there’s no way all the characters’ homes shown in the series are in the area. Not that it matters – the stadium and training ground locations are not in Richmond either, in real life they’re two separate locations on opposite sides of London.

          I have lots of examples with this series . My old and current neighbourhood both appear multiple times. In one case, they must have filmed round the corner from my former home while I was still living there, and I didn’t notice a thing!

          I found it more amusing than annoying – I love recognising “niche” places I know in films and on TV.

          1. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

            I have the same issue with Psych. Loved the show before I actually lived in the Santa Barbara area. Now that I’ve lived there, the fact that they’re not actually in Santa Barbara is just glaring to me.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        Stuff like that annoys me, because it’s so easy to check out. While I was laughing about a reference in Agatha Christie to the 1916 Rising which makes no sense on a number of levels, a lot of it (apart from who was shot) is not stuff you’d necessarily think to research, but who the heck writes about mountains without checking they exist?

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Also, the border between Iowa and Illinois is the Mississippi River, which famously features in US history and literature. Even if a person has never been there, I would expect school children to know this. (There are bluffs on the river, but definitely not mountains.)

      3. Mitchell Hundred*

        I’ve never lived in LA, and only visited there once many years ago, but my impression was always that that show had a skewed idea of what traffic was like in that city.


      I once won a newspaper contest for the worst movie one had seen. I submitted two movies, a Ken Russell film called Gothic and an abomination called Single White Female. In Single White Female, besides having a ludicrous misogynistic plot with the worst Sony product placements I have ever seen, it has a needle scratch scene which drives me crazy. Here is the thing, you can’t just step out of a taxi without paying the driver. This infuriates me in media.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, it infuriates me too.

        And you can’t leave cars with doors unlocked, especially not in neighborhoods with a high crime rate. Sure, now some premium cars unlock as you approach, so you can shrug it off with the character having the key fob in their pocket (or a cellphone with the car app). But those things didn’t exist 10 years ago, never mind 40. Yet it happens so often on cop shows that it’s become a trope.

        Another thing that annoys me is when someone’s running a fever and they’re feeling hot and sweaty when they should be shivering with cold, you sweat when your fever goes down again.

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      Also a Leo movie – in Titanic when he says he saw something in a nickelodeon. Completely insane dialogue choice in 1997 when most people are going to immediately picture the green slime TV channel and may not even know the name came from the old-timey theaters.

      Generally, anything with an extremely dated pop culture reference, like in Clueless when teen girls are talking about how hot Mel Gibson is. It was fine at the time but feels jarring now!

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        Are there really people who don’t know the original meaning of “nickelodeon?” It can’t be that obscure, since it popped up on my 21st-century phone as i was typing. Or if people did not know it, what a good opportunity to learn something, even if it was from a cheesy movie!

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I didn’t know what a nickelodeon was when I saw that, but I assumed it was a theatre show that cost a nickel.

      3. Esprit de l'escalier*

        Cue chirpy musical background: “Put another nickel in, in the nickelodeon, all I want is loving you and music music music!” (and now I’ve given myself an earworm)

      4. Anonymous For Now*

        I couldn’t watch Titanic because the premise was so absurd. A 3rd class passenger would not have been allowed access to the upper deck area.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      Films/TV set in Seattle (hometown) that don’t have the slightest idea what’s next to what or how long it takes to get places.

      Some more memorable examples:

      The US remake of The Ring, where Naomi Watt’s ten year old son walking, alone, to his “gifted kids” school under the monorail tracks. Then and now, that is both a LONG walk and frankly a sketchy area where kids should not be walking alone.

      The Fraiser episode actually filmed in Seattle, where the characters flat out teleported between the farthest-flung neighborhoods in seconds.

      The show The Killing, that posited another ten year old kid could run from Pioneer Square to Sea-Tac airport in under an hour. Also, that a serial killer could attach bright orange balloons to every single one of his kill sites under a direct flight path to said airport with not one single pilot wondering about those exponentially multiplying markers.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        When Grey’s Anatomy has college students say they go to U-double-U or University of Washington instead of U-dub.

        1. Danish*

          Eh, I went to UW and call it the u-double-u. U-Dub is for people with a lot of if school or hometown spirit, neither of which I posses, and if you’re not talking to locals they have no idea either.

      2. Donkey Hotey*

        Let’s not forget Tom Hanks taking a little putt putt boat from his house boat on Lake Washington and ending up on Alki (Sleepless in Seattle).

        Or John Cusack lamenting his breakup in Say Anything. He’s driving and looks to one side of the road and sees the Guild 45th theater… Looks to the other dude if the road and sees Westlake Mall.

      3. Danish*

        Don’t forget the view from Christian Grey’s office in the 50 shades poster! He’s looking back at the waterfront from what had to be the middle of the sound.

    9. The Prettiest Curse*

      Honestly, and I almost feel bad talking about specific actors here because accents are HARD, but a really bad accent will do it for me every time. I could not buy Anne Hathaway as a Yorkshire woman in One Day because the accent was so bad – plus, she doesn’t have Yorkshire vibes at all, so was totally miscast too. In the other direction, early-career Colin Farrell did a bad American accent in several films, though he’s improved a lot now.

      It’s always a bit annoying to see American actors butchering British regional accents, especially as there are so many British actors who are great at accents. People from outside the UK often don’t realise that many of our best actors almost always do roles that are outside their natural accents. Jodie Comer rarely gets to play someone from Liverpool, Matthew Rhys hardly ever plays someone Welsh, James McAvoy and David Tennant don’t often get to do Scottish characters (etc.)

      1. Vroom Vroom*

        Or people playing Canadians saying “abood”.

        I’m not Canadian or American so I guess there may be some region where they actually say it like that, but I have yet to hear any Canadian pronounce it that way.

        1. anon for this just in case*

          I sat in on a dialectology class shortly after college – this is definitely a stereotype and an exaggeration. Immediately before a few consonants, Canadians do say the beginning of the vowel in “about” a little higher in the mouth than most Americans do, and that’s a process called “Canadian raising,” but it’s subtle. No one actually says “aboot,” but people from the East Coast sometimes strike Americans as saying “aboat.”

        2. Sharpie*

          The only Canadian I can think of who does this as part of his speech pattern is JJ McCulloch on YouTube.

        3. The scum is winning*

          I disagree with this. I know a few Canadians, I listen to a couple on podcasts – the commonality in all of them is there is a DISTINCT difference in how they say about. It is so noticeable! Even Canadians who’ve been in the states for years.

          1. Vroom Vroom*

            Oh there is definitely a difference, I’m not denying that part. But they’re not saying “aboot”.

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I grew up in Michigan and when I’m tired, the word comes out dangerously close to “aboat” often enough that my husband will notice it and ask me if I’m up past my bedtime, my Canada Light is showing :P

      2. Lemonwhirl*

        I believe it was Roger Ebert who described Julia Roberts’ accent in “Michael Collins” as her being from “County Beverly Hills”.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Ha, that’s another notoriously bad accent! Even outside the accent, some actors just can’t convincingly play anyone outside their nationality purely because they just seem so American (or whatever). Julia Roberts is one of those – others that come to mind are George Clooney, Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise.

          Weirdly, it almost never seems to be an issue with actors from Australia or New Zealand, but they almost always have to be outside their natural accents too, so maybe they have to get the hang of pretending to be American at the same time.

            1. The Prettiest Curse*

              Yeah, I remember a lot of commentary saying how awful his accent was when that film was originally released!

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            I think Julia Roberts is a pretty lousy actress, anyway, and I had no idea what she was doing in Michael Collins.

            1. Anonymous For Now*

              I love Julia Roberts and I think she’s great though I never saw Michael Collins.

              Some bleeping critic complained about her accent in Steel Magnolias. Roberts is from Georgia so she starts off with a southern accent. In addition, she was chosen to play the part by the guy who wrote the original play and the character is based on his late sister!

          2. Nervous Nellie*

            I have a friend who is a speech pathologist who describes Americans’ generally lesser ability and British/Scottish/Australians’ generally better ability to flip their accents as the former has to add sounds, but the latter only has to subtract them. I think that’s a neat theory.

            Being good listeners also helps. Many of the superstars are known to be, ahem, unskilled at taking vocal direction…..

            1. Lemonwhirl*

              That’s a very interesting theory. My other theory is American films and TV shows are readily accessible and kids grow up watching them in a way that isn’t necessarily the same for British, Irish, Australian etc content in the US. (Although maybe Bluey will result in a generation of American kids who are great at Australian accents.)

              1. Nervous Nellie*

                Firmly agreed. I will never forget being surprised at seeing American TV shows on TVs in Euro hotels in the 80s and 90s! You couldn’t get away from it.

                You are right that the growing exposure in the US to international content may broaden Americans’ experience. Although I know a few Americans who couldn’t get into Game of Thrones, because they couldn’t understand the dialogue. All the while I was giggling through it, as actors from very distant parts of England (or elsewhere), with audibly different accents were so often cast as family members.

      3. Sharpie*

        You might like the videos on accent that Erik Singer has on the Wired YouTube channel. He’s a dialect coach and has some really interesting videos about people doing accents in films and TV shows. (Also, he’s done a video on conlangs that’s well worth a watch!)

      4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I was watching a making-of the latest Guardians of the Galaxy movie and texted my husband, “Karen Gillan is Scottish??” (I am not a Dr Who fan, so my experience with her is the Marvel movies and the Jumanji movies.)

        A few minutes further in, one of the other actors commented that her Nebula voice is like Clint Eastwood, then they yell CUT and she suddenly sounds like Mrs Doubtfire. (Which, I’m sure Robin Williams’ accent was goofy, but the general concept still amused me.)

      5. goddessoftransitory*

        My husband can’t bear shows set in Maine because unless you were born and raised there it’s apparently impossible to do the accent correctly.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          I have heard that it is one of the most difficult accents to get right, so that doesn’t surprise me.

      6. Femme d'Afrique*

        Oh, I HATE it when Hollywood has “African” characters! The studios (or whoever) seem to have decided on an “African accent,” that often vacillates between the Caribbean, Nigeria and some atrocious doesn’t-exist-in-the-real-word dialect where each letter is painfully sounded out. And it never matters which country the character is supposedly from! Turns me off every time.

      7. Jenny F Scientist*

        I once heard several British actors trying to do Southern accents and it was likewise SO bad. They hit New Jersey, Alabama, and Florida in the course of a single sentence.

        1. Mitchell Hundred*

          I assumed that Daniel Craig’s accent in the two “Knives Out” movies was from Louisiana, because his name is French. But then I saw some people from the southeastern US talking about it, and apparently nobody can agree on what he was going for.

          1. Patty Mayonnaise*

            I personally think the accent was intentionally bad. It got a big laugh in the theater when he started talking.

          2. fhqwhgads*

            The character is supposed to be from Louisiana, but my recollection is Craig knows he did terribly with the accent and they just ran with it.

    10. Vroom Vroom*

      In the Agatha Christie’s Poirot series there is an episode called “The Chocolate Box” in which Japp and Poirot go to Brussels.

      The sign on the train station may say Bruxelles, but that station is very clearly Antwerp Central.

      (Mainly this was by necessity, as it is the only old train station that still looks like one both inside and outside despite having been modernised)

    11. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I’m with you on the Shakespeare dialogue. It made the film really hard to follow, to the point I felt stupid (first time in my life not even subtitles helped). I had high hopes for a very entertaining film, instead it was frustrating.

      Mine might also be a bit controversial. Lots of people loved the book The Appeal by Janice Hallett. I couldn’t stand it, because the storytelling through email back and forth between characters felt completely unnatural. I can’t get myself to believe that:

      a) people who live close to each other and meet in person often have long, intense personal conversations via email every single day. The timestamps show replies that take entire pages being sent within five minutes of the previous message – who checks their inbox and writes so fast?

      b) email would really be their medium of choice, especially for the characters who are supposed to be my generation or younger. I live in the UK, and don’t know a single person who emails outside of work. People chatting on Whatsapp and social media, now that I could buy.

      c) The email transcripts are the only evidence the lawyers are able to consult. In a criminal case in the 2020s? Come on.

      1. Mitchell Hundred*

        Oh, I could follow the plot just fine. It was specifically the disconnect between dialogue and setting that killed my immersion.

    12. matcha123*

      Since moving to Japan it’s been American TV shows or movies set in Asia or even Japan.
      I watched the latest John Wick film and the Osaka Continental looked suspiciously like the National Art Center Tokyo (which I’ve yet to confirm) and the subway scenes looked like they were shot on an American subway train with a Japanese voice for the announcement. Weird Chinese character fonts used on shop fronts in various TV shows. Always smoke pouring out of something. Overly formal and stilted family relationships where everyone is bound by “honor.” As a mixed race person, I absolutely hate it when shows/movies have a monoracial person playing a mixed race character. There seems to be this assumption that a person who is half white and half Chinese MUST look and be played by a full Chinese actor. Or that a half black and half white person MUST be played by a black actor. In Lucifer when the couple had their angel baby, the little baby actor they got was not mixed at all. I’m not sure if it’s laziness on the part of casting or if people really think that “non white” genes are so strong that they strangle the whiteness out of a biracial kid.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        This reminds me: in movies and shows when a chase goes through a city’s Chinatown, the fleeing/pursuers ALWAYS go through a New Year’s Parade with dragon dancers, no matter what time of year it is (and it’s NEVER winter/February!)

    13. Sharpie*

      In Jane Eyre, where she hears her name borne upon the wind and realises she has to return to Thornfield because Mr Rochester needs her.

      Reader, I threw the book across the room at that point. I literally only finished the thing because I was reading it for school, but from that point on, I hated it. With a fiery passion.

      1. Jill Swinburne*

        Haha, I love that book and am currently re-reading it, but I hear you! Mine in that book is Jane happening upon the Rivers family and it oh-so-conveniently turns out that these random strangers are her cousins. Charlotte Brontë is certainly the master of the deus ex machina.

        1. Anonymous For Now*

          I think I liked the book Jane Eyre, but I love the original movie.

          I highly recommend it. For those who are not film buffs, the little girl who is Jane’s friend Helen at Lowood Institution is played by Elizabeth Taylor.

    14. Sharpie*

      Oh! Another one! The 2007 adaptation of Persuasion… At the climax, Anne (who has been staying in, apparently, number 1 the Royal Crescent, which is very much not where the family stayed according to the book) goes running after Captain Wentworth. Without a bonnet or hat on. And turns in a direction that is completely the wrong way for where she ends up

      I lived in Bath for some years, the places shown in that version are all very real and can be visited… And the geography is so screwed up at that point.

      (I much prefer the far more budget and more believable 1995 version with Amanda Root and Ciáran Hinds.)

      1. Crafty*

        Your comment about the lack of bonnet or hat reminds me of the TV series about Enola Holmes. Supposedly she is a master of disguise, like her brother, yet she runs around London all day in a red, low-necked dress without hat or gloves.
        Somehow no one on the street notices that she is dressed to host a dinner party, even though she sticks out more than a woman wearing a ball gown on a school bus would today.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          It’s such a huge thing and you’d think people working on period productions would be more aware of it!

          I remember when I read The Woman in White, and the footnotes pointing out that one reason the protagonist is so at sea when he meets Anne is that she’s all in white but with no hat or cloak, at night and alone, and this would usually be a pretty sure indicator that she’s a sex worker of some kind.

    15. Vroom Vroom*

      My biggest gripe with that movie was that Friar Lawrence was suddenly a Catholic priest for some reason?

      Friars are not priests, and Lawrence being Franciscan is actually kind of important to the plot in many ways, not in the least to explain why his message about Juliet not actually being dead doesn’t reach Romeo in time. A modern Catholic priest could’ve picked up the phone and called him. Even if we assume phones are somehow not a thing, a Catholic priest would still have more means at his disposal than a Franciscan monk.

        1. Vroom Vroom*

          True, and I have zero explanation for that error.

          Help, I’m turning into a Hollywood studio! :p

    16. Taki*

      Both the new Indiana Jones and the second season of White Lotus are set in Sicily, and both of them filmed scenes in one town that were set elsewhere. And I know this is really common, but they would be in front of the Duomo that is the centerpiece of the town and say they were elsewhere, it wasn’t like generic shots. in WL most of the beach shots were filmed in Cefalu but said they were in Taormina… then some characters went to Cefalu, which confused me because as far as I was concerned, everyone was in Cefalu and I couldn’t remember who was there and who was “not.”

    17. Vroom Vroom*

      Oh, and any scene involving hacking or video games.

      Particularly thinking of that scene in NCIS where Abby and McGee realise they’re getting hacked so they start frantically typing to stop the hack. On the same keyboard. It’s a computer, not a piano, you can’t quatre-mains it. The most realistic part about that scene was Gibbs stopping the hack by unplugging the computer (assuming they were trying to get into the computer and not a server somewhere because then Gibbs accomplished exactly nothing, though he gets a pass due to being a Luddite).

      And gaming on TV…people playing Nintendo exclusive games on a PlayStation, people talking like they’re playing Fortnite when they’re clearly playing Horizon: Zero Dawn (Google them and you’ll see how ridiculous that is immediately, even if you don’t know the first thing about video games), actor’s hand movements not matching what is happening on screen at all, one noteable case where they forgot to edit out the video timing bar on the game that was being played live,…the list goes on.

      Funnily enough one studio did make a game that is basically the Hollywood idea of hacking (Uplink) and it’s quite fun to play. Genuinely waiting for the day where we get a Hollywood hacker getting into a bank by very clearly playing Uplink.

      1. nerd*

        The NCIS scene was written (per the writers) to see how ridiculous they could make a scene before the studio said no, so at least that one is supposed to be insane.

      2. Girasol*

        Futuristic space scenes in which a computer screen offers an green-on-black MS-DOS prompt (command prompt).

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          On the other end, law enforcement/CSI geeks who have outrageously futuristic and expensive equipment that probably cost the entirety of the city’s budget for a decade (looking at you, Bones.)

    18. Angstrom*

      In action movies: Everything explodes with a fireball.
      Even in an Evil Villain Lair, if your control panels can burst into fireballs somebody has done a terrible job of wiring. ;-)
      Also in action movies: people tend to be terrible at emergency medicine. Heros/heroines who are supposedly highly trained don’t seen to know about tourniquets and other basic trauma care.

      1. Agnes*

        I read one book where the characters met in the Peace Corps. They were British and were doing a gap year. The Peace Corps is for American citizens and usually requires a degree. They also were in a country that the Peace Corps hasn’t been in for decades, but that seems a little more forgiveable.

        1. Taki*

          Tbf, I would also think of a year between college grad and getting a “career” type job as a gap year, especially if you were doing a necessarily temporary thing like the Peace Corps.

          1. Agnes*

            I was trying to describe it succinctly, but it’s made clear that it’s straight out of high school-equivalent, maybe not even that.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I must admit, watching Foundation when they need to break into the imperial spaceship and it has guns mounted over the doors BUT also lots of cover to hide from the guns while you sneak up on the access panel? I was beyond delighted that they managed to hit everything on the Evil Overlord checklist for an evil base.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        You hardly ever see anyone even apply digital pressure to a wound, which is something anybody in Girl Scouts would learn in basic first aid!

      4. Silence*

        The last Rocky movie which admittedly is just filler around some good action scenes but going in angry ended badly but going in ‘smart’ should have involved a plan for medical care or at least a first aid kit with narcan.

    19. Irish Teacher.*

      This one is probably daft as it’s in a fictional world within a fictional world and involved magic, but…the college (OK uni, as it’s in the UK) at the end of Carry On. One student was abducted at the beginning of the book and then talked about going to a particular university which you would have had to apply to at the point where he was abducted, people talked about “just taking a general course” (what even is that? What did they actually write down on their UCAS forms? You can’t just apply for “general course”.)

      Actually, it wasn’t just the university applications. The whole thing sounded so American that when I was reading Fangirl, the book it’s a fictional world in, I was thinking, “oh, so it’s basically a sort of Harry Potter typed story, only in America” until they mentioned the story being set in the UK. At first, I thought it was that the characters were getting it wrong and using the American terms, but…reading Carry On made it very clear that it wasn’t.

      I think it was that it was so easy to research and something that should occur to the author to do. Surely, if you are writing about a character applying to university in England, you’d at least google “how to apply to university in England.”

      Oh, another one that didn’t so much suspend my disbelief as just have me thinking “how many misunderstandings can one have in two sentences?” was from an Agatha Christie when they were talking about the 1916 Rising in Ireland and it said something like “(my dad) was a follower of Roger Casement during the last war. He was shot afterwards with all those other Irishmen”.

      OK, firstly, while 1916 was undoubtedly during World War I, I cannot imagine any Irish person describing it that way. 1916 is probably the second best known event in our history after the Famine and World War I, for all kinds of reasons, is pretty much glossed over. Yes, they were talking to English and Belgian characters, but I think “1916” makes it clear enough when it happened without having to clarify it took place during the First World War.

      Secondly, Roger Casement wasn’t the leader. There were a group of leaders and he wasn’t even among the 7 who signed the proclamation. And anyway, people weren’t exactly following Pearse and Connolly. If they saw themselves as “following” anybody, it would be people like Tone and Emmet, leaders of previous rebellions in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Heck, Connolly was a socialist, fighting largely for greater equality. I doubt he would have approved of people being referred to as his “followers.”

      And lastly, there were 15 or 16 men shot at the end of the Rising (I think 15 shot and Casement hung). Their names are easily obtainable. I could probably list 10 or 12 of them off the top of my head. You can’t just add in a random fictional character. These are the people our rail stations are named after.

      A believable way to say what they wanted to was “my father took part in the Rising in Dublin in 1916. He was killed in the fighting on O’Connell Street.”

    20. Falling Diphthong*

      In The Road to Roswell the alien who has abducted all our characters needs to find the thing. But he doesn’t know the word for the thing. (I’m going to call it tssipurisstssispan as an example.) He’s managed to write it out phonetically, but they can’t figure out what it is.

      The species communicates visually. There is no “phonetic” version of this concept, because the language is not spoken.

    21. SoreThumb*

      1. I grew up in eastern NC. “Where the crawdad sing” is supposedly set there but the geography and location and environment are totally wrong. So, so wrong.

      2. I think it was “Abandon” by Blake Crouch. Snow storm with a couple of feet of snow. The characters were post-holing as they hiked out. They hiked 20 miles in one day. Anyone who has ever hiked in those conditions know that is beyond belief.

      1. Anonymous For Now*

        I believe it was at Goodreads that someone posted a lengthy “review” of everything that was wrong with the crawdads book starting with the title; apparently, crawdads don’t sing. It went downhill from there.

    22. Falling Diphthong*

      Rim of the World, which I was all set to enjoy for some ridiculous adventure. The characters hide in the pit of an outhouse. The large open pit with multiple toilet openings on top that is about twenty feet from the door to the kitchen, which has plumbing and electricity and all that stuff you would expect.

      1. not bootstrapping today*

        See, that one wouldn’t bother me, because I went to a summer camp like that. For two years. *

        I went back as an adult, when I was teaching kids, and I still had some trauma when there were 5 pit toilets in the bathroom, all full.

        * I think they had plumbing for water, but would have seriously needed to upgrade for toilets.

    23. The Week Ends*

      All of these are great! I’m in a natural resources career, this is really specific, but when the trees are totally wrong for the location. I’ll notice an oak or pine forest in an area they don’t grow. Sometimes it’s a curse to be able to ID the specifics.

      1. Pippa K*

        Related, we have a long-standing joke about how alien planets all look like British Columbia (since so much 90s sci fi was filmed there).

        1. Mitchell Hundred*

          You’re not a true Vancouverite until you start recognizing the locations where a bunch of TV shows and movies were filmed. I distinctly remember watching the fourth Mission Impossible movie, most of which did not look like Vancouver, and then being blindsided by the final scene (which 100% was shot in Vancouver, I’ve got a pretty good idea of the exact spot).

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            In a similar vein – Liverpool, my hometown, has a couple of streets that apparently look a lot like New York. So a lot of “New York” scenes in film and TV are actually Liverpool – recent examples include Florence Foster Jenkins and It’s A Sin.

      2. The OG Sleepless*

        A great many movies are filmed in Atlanta these days, so I’ll be watching a movie that is supposed to be set in, say, California or the upper Midwest, and the scenery will look like it could have been shot outside my house, and I think, mm, I bet it’s not supposed to look like that.

        The writer of Baby Driver had originally set it in LA, but they were sent to Atlanta to shoot it. He very wisely rewrote it to be set in Atlanta. There was even a very realistic mockup of the front page of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that a non-local probably wouldn’t even notice. He mostly did a decent job making the dialogue accurate too, except if I recall there was one part where they escaped from downtown to Dunwoody via Buford Highway, which makes no sense at all.

      3. Grits McGee*

        Yes! In all of the outdoor nature-y scenes for NCIS, it obvious they’re in California and not the DC area because the oaks are wrong.

    24. funkytown*

      I read The Cartographers by Peng Sheperd and almost all the characters are people who are all allegedly in the cartography field, and I positively hated it because I was a geography major and studied cartography and it’s just….. absolutely nothing like portrayed in this nonsense book. Creative license and all and I know it’s semi-fantasy but it just took me out immediately.

      1. Agnes*

        I’ll also say, any portrayal of a clinical trial, which is always a miracle cure which for some reason is being withheld from sick people. Most clinical trials don’t work! Those that do usually don’t have big effects! Or have side effects! That’s why we need to test them!

    25. No Tribble At All*

      This is very niche and silly, but… the very start of Bioshock, they specifically give a year this happens (1960) and your character gets in a plane crash that drops them into the ocean where they find this underwater city. HOWEVER, during the “plane crash” you hear the cockpit voice annunciator say “altitude, pull up, altitude” which was not invented til the late 80s. You’re telling me this world with rampant capitalism with no regard for human life (I knew about the setting bc a friend recommended the game to me and vaguely described it) invented aircraft safety features two decades early?? Especially something with fairly sophisticated electronics? It completely threw me. It’s such a silly thing to get stuck on!

    26. Random Bystander*

      “The Manor” starring Barbara Hershey. Pretty decent light horror, if you like that sort of thing (at least until the ending which just infuriated me), but oh my does it take a lot of suspension of disbelief, taking it right to the breaking point and beyond. You have a nursing home which is housed in some sort of multi-floored structure that could easily have been a re-purposed “The Munsters” house–stairs! no elevators or even chair lifts for those stairs. And that’s just the beginning of where the realism goes off the rails (about 5 minutes into the movie).

    27. Not A Manager*

      Ha! I just thought of one and it completely broke the book for me. In The Giver, only some folks are allowed to form a family unit and each couple apparently only raises two children. The community wouldn’t last many generations with that math.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        The Scholomance series too. The whole plot is around the AWFUL mortality rates for the kids. If I recall correctly, only a quarter of adolescents make it to adulthood. Which would mean everybody needs to have at least 8 kids, on average, to keep the population from falling. Instead, family size seems to be 1-3. The math just doesn’t work.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        Oh, actually what got me in The Giver was the number of birthmothers. If only about one kid from each year becomes a birthmother and they only give birth three times, that’s like three kids being born each year.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Oh, what was that anime about the brainy kids who are raised for devouring by aliens–the smarter, the tastier? The story tries to have it all ways by having some smart kids used as breeding stock as young adults, after which they’re matrons to the homes where the kids are raised–but at the same time, the smartest kids, who you would think would be set aside for this purpose, are being devoured at about age ten!

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        I find quite a lot of sci fi guilty of this kind of thing–the story wants to make a point about overpopulation or eugenics or whatever, but refuses to acknowledge that meaningful population control in any form would have to consider basic gene pool stats.

    28. RussianInTexas*

      Two very niche ones:
      1. In The Americans, Philip and Elizabeth’s handler, in the USSR, in the 1960s, owned a Golden retriever.
      2. In Independence Day, in the “everyone is panicking” montage, they use my hometown, and it’s really not it. I bet they just picked a random Russian city, and since this was before Google, why onion domes will do.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I think Independence Day lost me when there are alien spaceships, and one character is rushing around trying really hard to get to her stripper job. (So many issues to unpack here, but mainly it seems like that would be a nonessential business that wouldn’t be open.)

        Oh, also it was a super boring movie that just happened to have a lot of fancy special effects.

      2. Nervous Nellie*

        Thank you! That Golden Retriever was just odd.

        And to add to that example, after watching the whole series on dvd, I went back and watched the bonus features. After a month of evenings watching Matthew Rhys using a perfect American accent, it was startling to hear him in interviews with his fabulous, real Welsh accent. A young neighbor, who had joined me for weeknight binges, looked at me in shock and said, “Is he gargling? What’s going ON????” We replayed the interview and he started to hear the accent better (and was very proud of himself for learning something new).

        But then while Matthew Rhys nailed it with an American accent that never pulled me out of the story, I was always pulled out of it when he or Keri Russell would say any Russian names. As Russian-born characters, I doubt they would say Russian names ‘as Americans’ but would pronounce them as any Russian-born person would do. They just sounded clunky.

    29. fposte*

      I have a bit of a meta answer, because I think it’s also funny how granular people get on this and it depends on their own specialized knowledge. And my favorite example of this was at a special screening of When Harry Met Sally at the University of Chicago, in thanks for being a filming location. And right in the beginning Meg Ryan gets in Billy Crystal’s car and they drive out of the quad through an arch. And the whole audience collectively roared with laughter because there’s a gate across that arch to prevent cars going through it. I doubt I will ever be in a group so universally focused and reduced to hilarity by such a trivial break rom reality again.

      1. what name did I use last time?*

        Similarly, at the end of one of the James Bond movies, there’s a long shot of a quite glamorous building that is supposedly some Top Sekrut headquarters or something — in Berlin, maybe?
        In fact, it was a stock shot of the Canadian Mint, here in boring prairie Winnipeg. The whole crowd in the theatre burst out in loud laughter.

      2. WhatAMaroon*

        And then they go south on Lake Shore Drive past downtown Chicago to head to NY

        *waves*, AB’92 here

      3. Arsloan*

        I was also thinking about the meta situation here. Partly, I think people like feeling clever and having special knowledge so they do cling to that a bit haha. Yes, I notice when media set in my city get the geography wrong (which is *very common*) or when the metro is obviously some train or bus in California, but it rarely ruins the whole thing for me – might at most just pop me out for a minute, but then I’m right back in the story carrying on. I understand the expediency involved. I think about this as a writer doing research too; to me, in fiction, research is secondary to story, and I’m hoping folks don’t put the whole book down in disgust over one minor error. But if it’s their specific area of expertise, or they think it is, they certainly will.

    30. Seashell*

      Similar to Romeo & Juliet, I couldn’t get through Moulin Rouge with its modern songs. I like a musical, but that just seemed ridiculous to me. The couple of modern songs also bugged me in Dirty Dancing, but there were enough oldies and other likeable elements that I enjoyed it.

      I watched the first episode of How to Get Away With Murder, and the entire plotline seemed so unlike anything that an actual attorney would do that I couldn’t watch it. Sorry, Viola – you’re a great actor, but the show was ridiculous.

    31. Ellis Bell*

      I felt the same way about that film, and it’s the same reason I can’t watch Bridgerton; the cod-Austen dialogue is truly painful to me. I don’t mind fantasy at all and I really wanted to like it! … but it’s like you say, it just breaks the suspension of disbelief too much to me.

    32. Girasol*

      MMPORG type games in which the clothing options for female characters suggest that women’s preferred clothing choice for navigating a dangerous snowy landscape is a bikini.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Also, women who enjoy wearing “armor” that leaves their entire abdomen/vital organ center bare to the elements, swords, and laser blasts.

        1. anon24*

          Viva La Dirt League on YouTube have a hilarious recurring theme in their early videos of their Epic NPC Man YouTube series about this! If you search YouTube for Epic NPC Man female armor you’ll find some of the videos. One of them features a male player being offered a perfectly appropriate military breastplate and he doesn’t want it so he throws it on the ground. The lurking female player in a bikini top gets so excited for a chance to finally have appropriate armor but when she runs over and picks it up it morphs into the female version and turns into a bikini top. The whole series is hilarious and worth following if you like games, but especially their acknowledgement that girl gamers and female characters are just treated differently sometimes.

    33. Grandma Mazur*

      I have a couple – one specific and one generic:

      In Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, when Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman walk from Dover to Nottingham via Sycamore Gap on Hadrian’s Wall… in a day.

      Generally, every time in tv or film that a taxi arrives and people start an elaborate goodbye that takes several minutes – they’d have started the meter running and charged a fortune for that where I live.

    34. Llama face!*

      Jaws 2 when the shark explodes as it dies. Why does it explode? Because, in the orginal Jaws movie, they kill the shark by exploding an oxygen tank in its mouth and the sequel makers were cheap and just reused the footage. There is no reason in the second movie for why the shark should have exploded. (Admittedly the original explosion was also technically dubious but at least there was some kind of justification)

    35. Irish Teacher.*

      Oh, another one that is specific to Ireland and I don’t actually remember the title of the book, but the characters were asking this kid from a council estate how he intends to go to college and where he will get the money for the fees. This made zero sense as in Ireland, the fees are means tested. There is no way he would have to pay them. He also lived in a city where it is very likely he would live at home while attending college so…it really wouldn’t be any more expensive for him than secondary school.

      The author was Irish, so I was really thinking “um, does the author live in a bubble where they don’t know anybody whose family earns less than €40,000 a year?”

    36. BunnyWatsonToo*

      Mine goes clear back to my childhood. Even at my young age, I knew that the three kids in the TV show Family Affair were not from Indiana, let alone Terre Haute, if they pronounced Haute as Hut.

    37. Derivative Poster*

      The various British TV series based on Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse novels usually do a good job of portraying Morse as erudite. However, in one episode of the original series, Morse says “imply” when he means “infer.” I gasped.

    38. Danish*

      I could never get past the first episode of Ichabod, the modern headless horseman hot sad man remake, because of the black female cop in a small town who instantly puts her entirely livelihood at risk by deciding to just… Let the very sad puppy eyes naked man walking down the middle of the highway go, and then later that same ep helps him break into a govt building to help him find what I think is a weapon? Because he told a very convincing “I’m a ghost” story ig.

      The friend who recced the show to me was so exasperated with me – she was like, so no problem with the concept of ghosts and coming back from the dead but it’s the cop that triggers your suspension of disbelief?? But yes! It’s a ghost show, I accept ghosts! I do not accept a professional law enforcement officer who is already trying to keep her nose clean just deciding to be like “EH” becauese of sad puppy eyes

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        That show drove me bonkers for so many reasons (not the least of which the showrunners throwing away once in a lifetime chemistry between the leads because they harassed the Black female lead character off the show) but a big one was that she was NEVER in the office and unreachable 99% of the time! That’s not how law enforcement works; she would constantly have worried coworkers trying to track her down thinking she was hurt or being held hostage.

    39. mmmmmmmBop*

      That’s so interesting! I love hearing other people’s perspectives on this kind of thing. I absolutely love productions that play with anachronism, especially in dialogue (David Tennant and Catherine Tate’s Much Ado About Nothing is to me the gold standard.) I just think it’s fun!

      On the other hand, I absolutely cannot stand CGI representations of real actors in films. It’s just so unnerving. Rogue One was almost ruined for me because of this. Overall I think it’s a great movie, but as soon as CGI Peter Cushing comes on screen, I’m immediately thrown out of the story. 100% uncanny valley.

      1. allathian*

        They made that movie about 10 years too early. AI-augmented CGI has improved a lot since then, which is the basic reason for the SAG strike.

    40. anon24*

      One of the Jason Bourne novels. I held on through the ridiculously described car chases, including when he laid his motorcycle on its side, slid, underneath a semi truck trailer, and then stood it back up and continued on its way while racing down the highways of Washington DC, but I just completely got lost later in the book when he got washed over the edge of a waterfall and ended up underneath the ice of a lake that was completely frozen over edge to edge and had to punch his way out before he drowned. I was like well how on earth did you get under the ice idiot you didn’t just teleport there.

    41. Victoria, Please*

      Can’t stand whatever writing tense this is: “Henry sits down and picks up his goblet. Anne watches him uneasily,” for books set in, you know, many centuries ago. It’s supposed to give a feeling of immediacy and urgency, but when the book is historical, it doesn’t work at all.

      I wanted to read the Wolf Hall series, but could.not.do.it because of that writing tense.

    42. SarahKay*

      Jurassic World: no-one, but no-one, runs around in swampy ground in high-heeled stiletto shoes. If the heels didn’t break on their own anyone with any sense would snap them off on purpose after the second time of the heels sinking full-length into the ground.
      I pointed this out to the friend I saw the film with and he sort of *looked* at me and said “Wait, you’re willing to believe in cloned dinosaurs but not someone’s shoe choice?!?”
      Yes, I am, because cloned dinosaurs is the point of the film, but the shoes are just *silly*.

      Swordfish: John Travolta’s character tells Hugh Jackman’s character to take over driving and Hugh says he doesn’t know how to drive shift. John points a gun at him and says “Learn!” at which point Hugh does all sorts of seriously impressive driving including reversing and goodness knows what else.
      This is clearly bananapants. I’m from the UK; most of us learn to drive in a stick shift (aka manual gears) car. When learning to drive my first attempt at starting the car resulted in about ten bunny-hops forward and a stall.
      As did my second, third, and fourth tries. On my fifth try I finally got it right and was so startled by this I forgot to brake and the car knocked down our neighbour’s fence-post. (Luckily the car was undamaged, probably because the fence-post was very rotten at the base, and the neighbours were easy-going and prefectly happy with my step-dad’s offer to replace the fence-post.)

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, the stiletto heels got me too. Granted, they bugged me in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as well…

    43. GoryDetails*

      I’m generally pretty willing to forgive some of those types of glitches – if I’m enjoying the rest of the story/film – but sometimes they do leap out. In the apocalypse-comedy “2012”, our protagonist the divorced struggling-SF-writer limo-driver takes his kids on a trip to Yellowstone Park, all well and good – but they live in Los Angeles, and it’s something like a 15-hour drive to Yellowstone, and while the trip there might have been edited to remove any overnight stay en route, the return trip is presented as taking place within an hour or two of their arrival, and seemingly taking a few hours at most. Heck, if the guy really did drive his kids from LA to Yellowstone and back non-stop he’d probably have fallen asleep at the wheel… (For a movie that had fun with the sheer immensity of illogic and flawed physics this is a mere quibble, but it does fit the question!)

    44. noncommittal pseudonym*

      Was watching an old NCIS rerun (forget the episode now) where McGee refers to “the 495”. NO ONE in DC would use “the” in front of a highway number. That is pure LA speak. (Note: I’ve lived in both DC and LA) Pulled me straight out of the story and started me thinking about LA actors on a sound stage.

    45. Jackalope*

      There’s a fantasy book called Mastiff by Tamora Pierce (be warned that this will contain spoilers!). The main character Beka is working in a small group that includes her work partner Tunstall. He is in a long term stable relationship with a woman who is a higher class than him socially. They have been romantic partners for years at this point and everything is going well. Then suddenly he sees her doing some high-class activity, gets jealous, and decides to betray them and sell them out so he can.. get more money? He clearly states in a conversation with the group all of the reasons that the group he betrays them to will never follow up in their promises. And how betraying them would make utterly no sense. And then he gets hit with the idiot stick and does it anyway, for no reason. This is an emotionally stable and streetwise character selling out his romantic partner and his good friend/work partner for.. false promises. It makes NO SENSE. NOTHING about his character indicates that he would do such a thing.

      Also, this is the third book in the series. Beka is specifically described through the entire series as having an uncanny ability to read people. She’s an early version of a cop, and on a number of occasions earlier in the series she is shown recognizing that someone she cares about is the villain. The other two people in the group are Tunstall’s romantic partner and Beka’s new semi-partner (they eventually get together), both of whom are also explicitly described as having amazing people-reading skills. The 4 of them are traveling in a group where they are together almost 24/7 for a couple of weeks. And somehow NONE of the three of them notice that anything is at all off about Tunstall, or that this false promise (that again he knows is a stupid lie) has changed him from a decent sort to the kind of man who would murder a child in about a week and a half.

      Argh. I can’t even. It’s been years since I read that book and I still can’t accept it as canon.

      1. Agnes*

        This is TV, not books, but I saw an old episode set in New Orleans which showed streetcars going up and down hills.
        New Orleans is the flattest place in the world. I don’t know where they found those streetcars, but it sure wasn’t New Orleans.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          OMG, the last season of The Mentalist.
          Set in Texas.
          Houston wasn’t Houston, even the street signs were wrong color.
          And then they had an episode set on a Naval base near Galveston (??), and there were snow (!!!) capped mountains (!!???!!) in background. On the Texas Gulf Coast. Where the nearest real mountains are about 600 miles away.

    46. Lore*

      A long ago ex never quite forgave me for bursting out laughing in the middle of one of the Star Wars movies (the early 2000s trilogy; not sure which movie) at a scene where characters were traveling from one planet to another in the rain with umbrellas and wheelie suitcases. You’ve got interstellar travel down, but no one’s come up with better ways to protect against rain and carry your stuff?

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Well, they don’t really have ultrasound either, so they obviously have some holes in the scientific development.

    47. Elizabeth West*

      The entirety of The Bone Collector, particularly the scene in the sewer where he 1) sends a rookie patrol officer into the pipe alone, and then 2) tells her she has to cut a handcuffed corpse’s hands off to take it down. Both of these things occur before any M.E. gets there — the main character would have known that is 100% not how to handle a crime scene! In fact, all the forensic and police activity in that movie was so over the top and ridiculous it made me want to scream.

      An example of a good crime story scene is where they discuss the book code in Manhunter. It draws you in and is simply fascinating.

    48. Nervous Nellie*

      One more – anytime in any movie when a world leader or any higher up official pronounces nuclear as ‘nuke-you-lar.’ Seriously? TV is going off.

      1. allathian*

        They’re taking after real life politicians. Two former US presidents said it that way, if I’m reading your phonetics right. It’s a regional accent thing, so I shouldn’t be bothered by it, but for some inexplicable reason I am. (Although not as much as I’m bothered by people who pronounce “cavalry” as “calvary,” the level of rage that generates in me is utterly and completely irrational, and also my problem, not anyone else’s.)

    49. Not that Jane*

      So late to this but had to add :D

      Mine is every single alien planet in Star Trek TNG. I’m a botanist and I can often tell which plant species – native to southern CA! – are in the shots of “alien planets.”

    50. Jenny F Scientist*

      “She could feel the pain of chemical bonds breaking” at the beginning of a book about a medicine pirate. Friends, I am a biochemist and noped right out.

  13. Sunflower*

    Can someone recommend some renter friendly-ish options for hanging and affixing things to plaster walls that aren’t command strips?

    No matter what I do, command strips never work for me and they just fall down! I was exploring some heavy duty double sided tape but seems it can rip chunks off- anyone know of a safe way to remove it? I have no problem spackling the wall when I move but putting screws in just seem so complicated.

    1. SG*

      For framed items and similar, those picture hanging hooks work well and they only have very small pins that go in the wall — much thinner than nails. Google “picture frame hanger” — the brass ones are common, with one or two small pins depending on the weight you need to hold. They are also very strong!

      1. Dragonfly7*

        Yes, these! I didn’t try them until the past two places I’ve lived, and they are wonderful.

    2. Pippa K*

      Acrylic double-sided mounting tape is often recommended for this. It’s strong, rubbery, and usually peels off surfaces without harming them. The specific brand I’ve used is from ‘AJ Sign World’ on Amazon – the roll looks red because of the backing but the tape is clear.

    3. Sharpie*

      Picture books which come with those brass nails. They leave tiny hole but they can take a fair amount of weigh, just be careful of the wall you’re putting them in.

      (I’ve got three pictures up on a veryuch not structural wall… But I’m living in my parents’ house which isn’t rented, so I’d be cautious)

    4. Angstrom*

      To use screws in drywall you need to use screw anchors unless you’re going directly into a stud. Not difficult, but you need a drill and a hammer, and to match the hole size, anchor size, and screw size.
      The nail-in picture hangers work well. That’s what we use for our framed art.
      For very heavy things, like wall-mounting a TV, you need to locate the studs and screw into those.
      For adhesive mounting, make sure the surface is very clean. Alcohol is a good degreaser.

    5. Jay*

      Goo-Gone, or similar products (or even nail polish remover) can take double sided tape off of walls most of the time without causing any damage. Just be careful to test it on a small, obscure corner of the wall just in case it reacts in some way with the paint and causes discolorations.

  14. Cat Guardian*

    Dramatic story: I was leaving the house this afternoon and noticed the back door was cracked. I didn’t think much of it. “Lucky I found that before the cat,” I vaguely recall thinking. Cat was upstairs asleep when I was changing clothes to go. Out the door, off to dinner and an event over an hour away, then an hour’s drive back so I just got in. Cat always comes to greet me at the door – no cat. She is elderly, so honestly my first thought (once I checked she wasn’t shut in the downstairs) was that she may have passed away somewhere. Checked all the spots. No cat. Suddenly, I remember the cracked door – any chance the cat got out?? She has not been out of the house since I adopted her over ten years ago. I’ve been gone for six hours. Where would she even go? I walk around the bushes, rattling the food bowl. It’s dark, I can’t see a thing. I make a circle of the garden. Meep. Cat is in the shed, looking up at me with heartseyes because she wants the food in the bowl. Cat comes back inside, cat guardian is never leaving the house again, curtain on scene.

    1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      How it makes your heart pound when you can’t find them! So she had an adventure, then dinner and a lot of cuddling no doubt. You may have a new situation now along the lines of “How do you keep them down on the farm, once they’ve seen Paree”.
      A relative of mine who just adopted a 17 year old indoor cat experimented with a harness for him, and he is very happy to stroll around the garden.

    2. Random Academic Cog*

      Aw, so glad you found your baby after her little adventure! We have 4 inside-only kitties who were all feral kittens when they started coming for dinner (two oldest are either littermates or cousins within a week or two of age, younger boys are from later litters before I was able to trap the remaining mama for TNR – fostered out another four kittens and the two little girls outside now are littermates of my youngest boy, but weren’t friendly at all so I had to go with TNR).

      My little girl snuck out a couple of months after we brought her inside. I realized she was missing around an hour later and found her in the bushes right outside the door just waiting for a chance to get back inside. Another fell out when the screen on the window ripped (he wasn’t trying to get out – just took advantage of the opportunity when it arose). My husband flipped and I told him to calm down, the cat would come back. He had his little adventure and showed up a few hours later crying at the back door. Neither has tried to get out since their adventures.

    3. MEH Squared*

      I am so glad this ended well for you and your cat. Give her all the cuddles and treats she will accept!

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Man, cats are just little goblins sometimes. Thank goodness your found your moggy safe and sound!

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      With The Spanish Inquisition, we’ve learned that there’s a 99% chance she is napping somewhere in the house with stealth mode engaged.

      One of my favorite meme genres is “My house, not my cat.”

    6. No Tribble At All*

      Oh how scary!! Glad you were able to find her!

      We had a scare like that where we couldn’t find one of our kittens, and we were worried she snuck out when my roommates took their dog out. Ran all around the yard with a can of tuna. Eventually go back inside to get some water, and the kitty is sitting in the middle of the floor of the living room, looking up at us. I have no idea where she went. She was probably up inside some furniture. Either that, or the mothership had more instructions for her and beamed her up for a few minutes.

    7. The OG Sleepless*

      Aw, I’m glad she came in ok! My cat got out a few years ago and stayed missing for about 3 months. Infuriatingly, she wasn’t truly “missing”-she just chose to live as a feral cat around a couple of nearby houses and refused to be rescued. She would run away if we tried to approach her. I guess somebody over there was feeding her. One of my neighbors would occasionally send me still video from his security camera. One day she came up to the door and meowed, and casually strolled inside like nothing had ever happened.

      1. GoryDetails*

        A friend of mine had that happen with their cat once – a Siamese, no less. Disappeared, no response to ads and calling and so forth; a month or two later there she was, having spent the time pretending to live with another family. The mix of relief and exasperation is… intense.

        One of mine went missing for over a week one winter. She was an indoor/outdoor cat – mostly outdoor – back when I let any of my cats outside, and she was very adept at finding hiding places and staying out of trouble. But when she didn’t come home and DIDN’T come home I got frantic, knocked on doors and left food out and roamed the area calling… About 8 days later I came home from work to find her on the porch nibbling the cat food I’d left out for her. She was a bit thinner, and had pine-pitch in her fur, and I deduced she’d sheltered under an evergreen during a snowstorm and the snow had weighed the branches down so she couldn’t get out until it thawed a bit…

  15. Chaordic One*

    Now that fall is here, does anyone have any good recipe recommendations for preparing squash? I have a love/hate relationship with squash. They look so pretty and would seem to be an excellent vegetable to serve as side. But the honeynut, yellow, butternut, zucchini or spaghetti squash are just so kind of bland and meh. I serve them with butter, salt and pepper, and various other spices and that helps a bit, but… Suggestions would be appreciated.

    1. Annie Edison*

      This is my favorite easy squash recipe:
      Cut 1 acorn squash in half and scoop out seeds and stringy stuff
      Put a generous pad of butter in the center of each half and add and any combination of brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, and/or nutmeg that appeals that day
      Roast at 400ish until the squash is a little soft and squishy when poked with a fork
      Use a spoon to drizzle the melted butter and other stuff all over the squash, and then eat by scooping out bites with a spoon

    2. SG*

      This isn’t a recipe per se, but it was a game changer for me in terms of ease of preparation. You can bake squash whole and then cut it and remove seeds after it’s cooked — so much easier than cutting through a raw one! All you need to do is poke some holes in the squash with a sharp knife to let the steam out, and then bake it as normal — works for any winter squash.

      For spaghetti squash, I like it with pesto and red pepper flakes.

      Also try delicata squash for variety — it’s delicious!

    3. Knighthope*

      Microwave version of Annie Edison’s recipe – 1 serving. Microwave whole squash 2 minutes on HI. Cut in half, remove strings and seeds, and heat one half for 2 more minutes, cut side down in a bowl. Save the other half for another time. Turn right-side up, put pat of butter, some brown sugar, and nutmeg/cinnamon/apple or pumpkin pie spice in the cavity, cover with a square of waxed paper, and heat 2 more minutes.

    4. Bluebell*

      Laurie Colwin’s butternut squash from More Home Cooking. Cut into 1 inch cubes, shake in flour, place in buttered Pyrex 9×12, sprinkle about 1-2T minced garlic, drizzle w olive oil, bake in preheated 400-425 oven for 35-40 mins. Divine.

      1. Bluebell*

        Oops – after the garlic, also sprinkle w 1/4 grated Parmesan cheese! Very important part of the recipe!

    5. OtterB*

      There’s an online cooking site called Julia’s Album that has some tasty squash recipes with things like other vegetables (green beans, brussel sprouts, etc.), pecans and dried cranberries, or sausage.

    6. MaxKitty*

      Taste of Home Wilted Spinach Salad With Butternut Squash. Uses chili powder on the squash. When we make this, my husband will eat all the leftover squash by itself.

    7. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      We used to have acorn squash as a regular dinner growing up. Halved and baked, then filled with sausage crumbles, raisins, apple sauce, cinnamon, and a bit of brown sugar.

      Kaduu/Kadoo/Kadu is a delicious Afghani dish with pumpkin/other winter squash. I don’t have a favorite recipe, but there are lots online. It’s also delicious (though not at all authentic) if you take the same spices etc. and cook it with ground beef, then serve over roasted squash. Again, more of a main than a side.

      Butternut squash lasagna is amazing, but also a a pain. I’d make it again for a special occasion, but for everyday I’d cook up the butternut squash and serve it over regular noodles with a dollop of ricotta. I can’t find the recipe I used, but it started by roasting the cubed squash with an onion to get all the nice caramely roasted outsides. I’d probably leave the squash kind of chunky instead of pureeing it.

      Summer squash (zucchini and yellow squash) are a different sort of thing. I’ve never been particularly fond of them by themselves. Zucchini pancakes, zucchini bread, and yellow squash casserole, on the other hand, are delicious. They are also great thrown into a saute.

    8. Pamela Adams*

      I like to put winter squash in curry, usually along with potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, and either chicken or chickpeas.

    9. kt*

      I like spaghetti squash with full meat sauce on top.

      I am planning to make squash muffins this weekend. Just dump some baked squash into a muffin recipe.

      Roasted butternut squash is good (rather than baked). Small cubes, rosemary, garlic, celery, etc.

      Squash red curry is good. Squash, coconut milk, red curry paste, veggies you have around (red pepper is a nice companion).

      Delicata squash gently simmered in apple cider with rosemary is good. Cut it in half-moon slices. Or delicata squash half moons roasted on a baking sheet with olive oil, rosemary, garlic, and maple syrup.

      I think I actually saw a pastry with thin slices of squash, like a galette, sort of a sweet-savory thing. I couldn’t eat it due to an allergy but a family member liked it?

      Sean Sherman has several nice recipes (squash + apple soup, something with maple in his cookbook….). Heid Erdrich has some good recipes in her book Original Local, as well.

      Last, you can always make pie :)

    10. all too well*

      I’ve added strips of squash to burritos. The sweetness of the squash nicely balances the spice of the chillis and the heartiness of beans.

    11. key lime pie ice cream*

      Delicata and koginut squash have more flavor IMO!! Maybe that will also have an impact on your enjoyment??

    12. Professor Plum*

      I like to spiralize butternut squash into noodles. Quick sauté of the noodles and then add cooked sausage, chicken or pork. Add Alfredo sauce, or make a high protein low carb sauce from cottage cheese with a bit of parmesan.

    13. Professor Plum*

      Plus you can roast your squash seeds. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt. Can take the flavor profile in different directions if you add cinnamon, rosemary or chile spice. They’re great to add to salads or soup.

    14. Cardboard Marmalade*

      I don’t think of squash as bland at all, so my main diagnostic questions are:

      -are you saute-ing/frying/grilling them at high enough heat to get some carmelization/browning/blackening going on?

      -Are you using plenty of cumin?

      If the answer is no to either of these questions, please adjust accordingly and try again.

    15. PhyllisB*

      For a Southern take on yellow squash, slice or dice (don’t peel) put bacon grease into a skillet, heat and add squash, onion, sliced or diced, salt and pepper and a small amount of water. Not much water because squash gives off a lot of liquid, just enough so it won’t burn. Stir really good and cover and steam for a few minutes. Five minutes maybe until it softens. Remove cover, turn up heat a bit, and stir until you break it up and boil the liquid down a bit. Delicious!!
      If you don’t use pork products, you can use a bit of chicken or vegetable broth.
      For a slightly healthier way to cook it or zucchini, (I like a mix) just sauté in butter or olive oil with onion. green or red pepper, with a bit of garlic, and mushrooms if you like them. This makes a great side dish with steak or chicken. I even like it just served over rice without anything else.
      Another way to serve it is sliced and served on a veggie tray with dip. I used to love that, but can’t eat raw anymore because it gives me a horrible stomach ache. Hope these ideas help.

    16. Jay*

      Firstly, try different squashes.
      Buttercup and Honeynut squashes are fantastic. They’ve got much more flavor and a much better texture than just plain Butternut.
      All I do is half, clean, brush with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and bake.
      To bake, you put it in your roasting pan and cover with tinfoil (poke a few holes to let the steam out). Bake between 30 and 90 minutes, depending on the size of the squash. 45 min. to an hour is most common. Check it by sticking a fork in it. When it’s tender, it’s done. Remove the foil and cook for an additional 15 to 30 minutes to brown. That’s it. You’re done. Enjoy!

    17. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I love squash. Honey Nut is my favorite– I think it’s the opposite of bland, but that’s just me. I cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, paint with a mixture of olive oil, miso, maple syrup, salt and pepper, then roast them. Sometimes I cut them up and caramelize with onions and serve over pasta. No need to peel.

      Delicata is my favorite. I cut it, scoop out, slice, roast. Sometimes with smoked paprika.

      I love stuffing squash. I usually use acorn or carnival, but I’ve used delicata too. I slice them in half, scoop out the seeds, coat the cavity with olive oil and salt, roast for a good 40 minutes or so. Then I stuff them with grains and beans and greens and mushrooms, sometimes dried cranberries, top with feta or parmesan and bake for another 20 minutes. A perfect vegetarian main.

    18. Unicornucopia*

      I am about to make butternut squash risotto! That’s my favorite ever method of consuming it, and it’s time consuming but I wouldn’t call it hard. Most recipes are pretty similar online, but I like to cook the squash in the microwave until soft and mix it in at the end. I also add feta, fresh sage or rosemary, and balsamic vinegar to serve it. My other go to recipe is a sheet pan sausage and roasted veggies that’s heavy on butternut squash, topped with lots of Parmesan for perhaps an easier entry point to the world of squash.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I discovered farrotto recently – risotto-style but using farro instead of rice. Goes beautifully with the roasted squash, and in the recipe I used there’s cream cheese as well as Parmesan – and fresh sage. Lovely!

    19. Seashell*

      For zucchini and yellow squash, I slice and roast them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Not a side dish, but I like putting them on homemade pizza (either a white pizza or with tomato sauce & mozzarella).

    20. Girasol*

      Me too on stuffing it with breakfast sausage crumbles, apples, and onions. Also mashing it with salt and butter and orange juice concentrate and cinnamon, with or without sweetening. The mix of sweet and tangy and salty is nice.

    21. Just Here for the Llama Grooming*

      Fritters with shredded squash are easy (really!) and delicious. You can add other vegetables (shallots or onions, minced; scallions, minced; carrots, shredded; whathaveyou). Just shred or chop into small pieces. Good seasonings (use whatever you like) — chili powder, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, sage, thyme, and of course salt and pepper. Then for every 2 cups of veg, combine 4 ounces by weight all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt with 1 large egg and 4 ounces by volume of liquid [milk, water, stock, juice]. Pour the batter over the vegetables and fry [1/4 cup is good size] [neutral oil, half inch deep, 350 degrees] till golden and crispy. Drain on rack set over paper towels or brown bag, sprinkle with coarse salt. Keep warm in 275 oven but they’re best eaten right away.

    22. not bootstrapping today*

      I made an excellent pasta topping: firstly, I parboil the squash so it’s easy to peel and chop. The recipe is: onion, good quality sausage, sliced, mushrooms, squash. Season with a drop of almond essence, nutmeg, salt, pepper and parmesan. Serve on pasta.

    23. carcinization*

      Creamy Butternut, Blue Cheese, & Walnut Cavatappi (google “my recipes” with that title in quotes) is the most flavorful squash recipe that comes to mind, though obviously one has to like blue cheese.

      Other ones that I really like are Smitten Kitchen’s Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils & Goat Cheese, my recipes Winter Squash & Tofu Panang Curry, and Half-Baked Harvest’s Crockpot Crispy Caramelized Pork Ramen Noodle Soup (I know, winter squash isn’t in the title, but it is in the recipe!) or Creamy Butternut Squash Butter Chicken.

      1. carcinization*

        And oh gosh, I didn’t see you were also asking about zucchini rather than just winter squashes. Smitten Kitchen is also a great go-to for zucchini recipes, I’ve made a bunch of hers and they’re usually quite good. I could go down a rabbit hole here so will just say that Homesick Texan’s Tex-Mex Squash Casserole is also excellent/is something I’ve been making for decades, though I do make it a bit less spicy than she does.

    24. Chaordic One*

      Thank you for all of the thoughtful and delicious-sounding suggestions and recipes. Many of these are things I would never have thought of that I’ve never heard of before. There are some varieties of squash I’ve never tried and intend to, as well as some interesting combinations of squash with other spices, vegetables, cheeses and meats. I look forward to trying many of these. The idea of not removing the seeds until after the squash is cooked was certainly new to me and I’m definitely going to give that a try and see how it turns out.

    25. Samwise*

      Butternut is the best. Roast it, then purée it for soup.
      Fave combos for puréed butternut squash soup:
      Chicken broth, carrot, onion, parsnip, apple or pear; garnish w sautéed apple or pear, fresh thyme, a bit of sour cream or labneh

      Chicken broth, onion, garlic, tomato, your preferred curry spices or curry blend, coconut milk; garnish with fresh mint and toasted shredded coconut

      Chicken broth, onion, garlic, tomato, roasted chiles (canned chipotle in adobo is good, or roast fresh ones of your choice, or toast and then soak dried chiles of your choice); garnish with toasted pepitas, sour cream or cream, fresh cilantro, maybe some fried garlic.

      Sub a nice veggie broth if you prefer, leave out the dairy to make it vegan.

  16. Ashby*

    When I need a chill video to relax to, I usually go to YouTube, and watch the channels of people who make clothing and costumes from all different time periods. Bernadette Banner, Rachel Maksy, Morgan Donner, Abby Cox, PricklyAlpaca, those kinds. I’m not much into sewing myself, I just find their videos very relaxing, and they make me smile. I was telling a friend about this, Liz because I was curious if she had watched any of them as she’s a costumer for theater.

    This prompted an angry ramble about how all of these costuming influencers on social media Get their history all wrong, their costumes aren’t authentic, and they are usually married to a rich spouse, so they don’t have to worry about money when my friend has to go from single show contract to single show contract. I was definitely taken aback by her reaction. I could certainly see not being a fan of them, but the amount of hatred and how they were all inauthentic that had took me by surprise. It’s not like she thinks this about other popular YouTube channels; she just seems to have a hatred for these costume channels in particular. Obviously I’m not going to discuss this relaxing habit of mine with her anymore when it enrages her so.

    Have you had a friend blow up at you unexpectedly for something completely harmless and out of left field?

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      That’s funny, because my daughter is a costume designer in the theater, and she loves those accounts.
      Maybe your friend could start her own and do it better, and get some side income at the same time.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I like some of those channels, but there is one (I don’t want to name) that is very aesthetic and relaxing to watch, but when they try “experiments” with historical processes, it is painfully obvious that the host has done very minimal if any actual research. They create ridiculous difficulties that didn’t exist historically. And in some cases, they fail to apply basic life skills / common sense from modern-day techniques either. It’s frustrating.

        So I have learned to skip those videos and just watch the pretty clothes.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I think bringing up influencers to a working professional in the field is always going to be dicey. I’m sure my doctor has Opinions about wellness YouTubers, and my kids’ teachers have Opinions about homeschool Instagrammers, etc.

      1. skadhu*

        Yeah. A lot depends on whether what you perceive as “completely harmless” is actually something that does significant harm to the other person. Many people in creative industries have spent a lot of time and money acquiring subject matter expertise, but can no longer make a living doing what they love because a lot of other people have decided that they don’t care about that expertise—or in some cases even if what is produced functions properly. In those circumstances the people who are losing or may lose their livelihoods are going to be bitter. (Who, me? Nah…)

        Honestly, this is what I foresee as the future of most creative jobs, because what is valued is (1) momentarily cool and (2) cheap and (3) cheap. It will be crowdsourced or AI will do it. Or influencers—because while some are actually experts, the system doesn’t reward expertise. It rewards people who can talk compellingly, even about things they know nothing about, and those will be the ones making the money if too many others value performance over content.

        1. Sharpie*

          In the case of the people named above, though, these are people doing research and making things for themselves. They’re making clothes to wear themselves, not to sell or for actors to wear on stage or film.

          I can understand that there can be problems with other fields but I doubt that the majority of YouTubers are actually stepping on professional toes and crossing the line into things professionals get paid for – though equally, I don’t doubt there are people who are and do. But it’s the few bad apples that spoil things for everyone…. And do t tar everyone with the same brush.

    3. Sharpie*

      Haven’t had a friend blow up at me but you might like to add Vintagebursche to your watch list. He’s German and does more of a 1920s look. He’s done a Collab with Bernadette Banner so you may already be aware of him.

      Perhaps your friend is a little jealous that these people have the skills and confidence to make and wear period clothing and she couldn’t do that?

      And I’m sorry your friend went off on one, I watch those channels too, and they’re all lovely people. (Add Cathy Hay and Rachel Maksy to your list as well if you haven’t already!)

      1. Sharpie*

        I went and re-read your post… Please ignore my entire second paragraph above!! If your friend works professionally as a theatre costumer, of course she has the skills necessary to make clothes.

        I don’t see the lack of historical knowledge and research in any of the people you named above, though. They just have different approaches to what they make and how they make it… And why they’re making it

        1. Sharpie*

          … obviously this was supposed to be a reply to the OP with the friend working in theatre, and not to me.


    4. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      Not an answer to your question because I just can’t seem to think of that happening to me (though it well might have; my memory pushes those things faaaaar away) but I am very surprised your friend went off on a rant about the costubers you mentioned. Because Bernadette, Abby, Morgan and associates are definitely doing their research and are basing things of historical resources. (Bernadette has a literal link to notes and citations in the dooblydoo of her videos for goodness sake!) Their interpretations might differ from others’ but that’s just how historical research works. And as far as I’m aware none of them tend to come to overly dramatic conclusions or anything.
      And as Sharpie wrote, they all make stuff for themselves, not for sale – apart from selling their knowledge via books or courses but why would anyone blame them for that?!
      I have a feeling your friend is generally unhappy with how her area of work is developing and trying to find reasons for that development. Maybe some influencers do have an impact and she’s grasping at the straws she can find. In any case, nothing to blow up at you about!

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Some of them (but definitely not all), are educated or costume professionals. Bernadette Banner used to work in theater costuming on broadway. Nicole Rudolph and Abby Cox have graduate degrees in related history fields and used to work at Colonial Williamsburg.

        Some of the others are definitely making fun historically inspired costumes instead of historically accurate clothes, but the ones I’ve seen don’t pretend otherwise.

        1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

          True, and some simply borrow ideas and run with them, putting their own spin on it etc. But they also say exactly that and don’t pretend anything else. (Rachel Maksy comes to mind, who has a less academically inclined approach to her sewing and costumes. And Morgan Donner sometimes isn’t “historically accurate” but always says so if she takes some freedom of interpretation).

          1. Sharpie*

            Morgan Donner’s creations are pretty cool, taking something historical and making it with modern materials. She’s pretty open about it when she does it, too, and never says those things are supposed to be in any way historically accurate.

            Rachel Maksy just has fun and combines a ‘vintage-inspired’ aesthetic with ‘hobbit-inspired’ or whatever. One hundred percent historically accurate? By no means, but she never says it is. One hundred percent fun shenanigans? Absolutely!

      2. fposte*

        But there’s also been controversies in that milieu about things like appropriation and failed Kickstarters and people approving of things they later regret, but stuff gets deleted later so the history looks a lot smoother than it was in the moment.

    5. Chaordic One*

      I can certainly understand how these videos might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and there’s at least a little bit of truth in your friend’s assessment of them. (Personally, I think that’s a part of the videos’ and their creators’ charm.) But, yes, her reaction was over the top. I’m not sure which of her buttons you might have inadvertently pushed, but it really wasn’t about you.

    6. Jill Swinburne*

      No, but there’s a lot of that around. See what people have to say about Baumgartner Restoration. To be honest, in the creative spaces there’s quite a lot of gatekeeping baked in, and it’s a hard industry to make money in, so you can see where resentment can build up (fairly or unfairly).

      (I also like those channels, too, especially Abby Cox’s unboxing Victorian gowns and how she nerds out over the construction.)

  17. Apple Recipes?*

    I’m going apple picking on Sunday, anyone got good apple recipes? At one point in time I had a cinnamon apple muffin recipe that I really liked that seems to have vanished and other recipes I’ve tried have not been as good. I will take any recipe recommendations you have, bonus points if it is a cinnamon apple muffin.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Old Fashioned Apple Cake recipe from King Arthur Flour, though I prefer a maple cream cheese frosting to the one in the recipe.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        LOVE that cake. My husband doesn’t do cheese so I stick with the brown sugar frosting and mmmm.

    2. Llellayena*

      Jewish apple cake! Wonderfully moist with a crispy top and chunks of apple! Now I need to go eat a piece of the one sitting on my table…

    3. Girasol*

      Fried apples: Peel and slice apples. Melt butter in a skillet. Fry apples until they’re softened and a tad bit browned, then season with brown sugar and cinnamon and cook another minute or so until it’s beginning to caramelize.

      Proper applesauce: Peel flavorful apples and chop coarsely. Stew until they’re just starting to soften. Mash them a little but leave them mainly chunky. Then add a little honey or molasses, lots of spice (cinnamon, allspice, clove, nutmeg), and maybe some lemon rind, aiming for flavors like apple pie or mincemeat. If you’re into canning you might can that. Good applesauce isn’t anything like storebought, where they take flavorless apples, cook them into baby food, and add nothing.

    4. old curmudgeon*

      I love making homemade applesauce and eating it warm. If you’re serving something like roast pork, it’s especially good as a side dish.

      I don’t so much use a recipe as follow my nose to what smells right. It usually includes three or four apples, peeled, cored and sliced, a quarter to third cup of sugar (depends on how sweet the apples are), a quarter cup of apple cider, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, a pinch of cloves, and about a tablespoon or so of a good balsamic vinegar. Bung it all in a saucepan, cover, simmer on low until the apples soften, stirring occasionally. If it looks too juicy, take the lid off and cook down the liquid a bit.

      I know balsamic vinegar is a strange thing to add to applesauce, but honestly, it adds a depth that is amazing.

  18. Just a Name*

    Family drama. At least that’s how I perceive it. I don’t want to go home (the old family-ish home) for Christmas. How to tell my remaining family that I am done at least this year? Backstory: since my mother passed (2003), I’ve been the one in my family who got us all together. Maybe just me perception. Dad sold the place 3 years later and moved in with his gf, but we couldn’t do “our” Christmas there. (Lots of drama, my sister hated her,etc) so I would rent a space, arrange/send $ for food/get catering. Last year I did all that, and due to an ice storm, it didn’t go off. Meaning I made it to the nearest airport and sat in an AirBNB for a few days, then flew home. So much more Drama since then. My sister and her daughter are now estranged. Her daughter has offered to host, but her new home has issues with accessibility (my sister uses a walker) and they have 9 dogs that have to be physically separated. No good space for general group gathering.

    I am thinking of skipping it. We usually go back in September and try to have a family reunion then, but people skipped, ok fine.

    But how do I tell them. Maybe they will be relieved. It was always more important to me when our dad was alive (died 2021 after a lot of trauma).

    I’ve never woken up in my own home on Christmas Day ( aside from the Covid year). And I’m 61.

    I’m anxious because I feel responsible for holding it together but how can I when some of them are apparently irretrievably split. Yes, I’m torn, guilty, and anxious about it but think up I can’t do it this year. Sorry if this feels more like a rant than a question. Families, am I right?

    1. OtterB*

      It sounds to me like it’s better to let it go this year. You don’t want to plan it, not everyone wants to get together with everyone else, you can’t rely on the weather … Let people know soon so they can make other plans. See if people miss it, and maybe make plans for some other time of year.

      1. Just a Name*

        Thanks. So hard to let it go but it’s so hard for some reason. Probably admitting that dad is gone and I need to let go of that part at least. Shifting times and all. I worry about my sister as she is all alone.

        1. OtterB*

          It is hard to give up the traditions as you lose members of the older generation. If you would be alone otherwise and your sister would be alone otherwise, maybe plan something for the two of you.

        2. Cordelia*

          could you and your sister do something together then, if she is the one you are worried about? Can she come to your house, or do her mobility issues make this difficult? could the two of you go to an accessible hotel for a couple of days, or something?

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      It’s tiring just reading this and it doesn’t sound like you would feel like you’re missing out. Is it only a sense of obligation or tradition that makes you feel bad, or do you think you might regret not seeing family on Christmas?

      Keep in mind, you backing out doesn’t mean no one else CAN get together if they want to – you’re just communicating your plan to not host/organize/attend. If that means “Christmas is ruined” for the rest of them it’s not your fault.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      I’d let it go. Heartbreaking as it is, you can’t fix the family relationships, and this sounds like more stress and work than it’s worth.

      Instead, I’d invest your time and money in creating a personal holiday, in your home, for you. If you want to invite some family that’s fine, but make it clear you aren’t focusing on reproducing past traditions for the sake of them. It might be even better to stick to just a couple of friends.

      Cook all the dishes you love but don’t make because no one else likes them and you’re too busy with everything to bother. Buy the kind of decorations/tree/lights you’ve always wanted to have but why bother when you use the same “family” stuff every year. Watch your favorite movies without sarcastic commentary. Bake cookies and frost them any way you want to.

    4. Jackalope*

      I don’t know if this helps, but I’ve moved to having a family get-together at a different time of the year. For a long time I made a point of doing extended family stuff at Christmas but people started getting busier and had in-law stuff, etc, and eventually we didn’t have a significant percentage of us. So I planned a get-together at a different time of year that wasn’t a big holiday and it worked much better. It was less work because we didn’t have to do all of the holiday things, but we still got to see each other. And I’ve had some Christmases in my own home, which has been nice.

    5. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Honestly, I’ve had a lot of success with being honest. “Sorry folks, I’m just not feeling up to all the coordination this year.”

      I’m so sorry for your loss of your dad.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        + if you want, follow it up with “I’d be glad to see you all on a Zoom call/virtual Scrabble/etc around the holidays”

        But only if that’s true.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      “We’ve decided we’re doing a quiet Christmas at home this year. Wanted to let you know so you could plan.”

      “We’ve decided we’re taking a cruise over Christmas this year. Wanted to let you know so you could plan.”

      (If you normally host or plan, I think it’s polite to give everyone a heads-up that that waiting for you to tell them the plan won’t work this year.)

      When people have done this in the past, what’s striking to them is how everything flowed onward. It was fine.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yep, I used to host 20+ people at Thanksgiving every year for eight or nine years, and when I stopped (for various drama I didn’t want to host) I just made an announcement in I think September that I was not hosting the feast this year, and I went to Disneyworld instead :P (And then I decided that was an excellent new tradition and kept doing it.)

    7. WellRed*

      No family drama but last year I simply refused to go to my mom’s for thanksgiving or Christmas (4 hour hard high traffic drive) plus we don’t really do it up. I was exhausted and was tired of not waking up on Christmas to plug in my own pretty tree. In your shoes “ after last year, I need a break.”

    8. fposte*

      I’ve skipped family Christmas for years and love being home for the holiday. We do do a Thanksgiving together, and it helps to have a deflection point so you can say “I’ll see you at [other thing] and we’ll FaceTime on the day.” If there’s no specific other time identified, with the failure of the September reunion, I think you can still deflect yo a vaguer future plan.

      I’d also say last year’s disaster is a gift. Be brisk and cheery and say “After last year’s mess I’m not up to a repeat. Have fun, everybody, and we can talk about a visit later in the year!” Anybody pushes back, sympathetically and briskly agree with them like you’re stuck in the airport again. “I know, it’s a bummer! We’ll find another time.”

    9. WestsideStory*

      Look, things change over time. Tell them you are not up to organizing anything but if anyone else would like to, that’s fine.
      If you’re afraid of being alone maybe just invite one person (doesn’t have to be a relative) to your home. Or volunteer somewhere, which can be a rewarding and joyous way to spend the day.
      There’s always a Zoom gathering option, but while you may want to suggest this, DONT be the one to organize it. Pass the torch.

    10. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I’d email or call or otherwise contact people and say something like “after spending last year’s holiday alone at the airport, I’m taking a break and staying home this year.”

      Maybe someone else will organize things, maybe not. Either way, you’re not making a decision for the rest of your life, or even for 2024. And if anyone asks “but what will we do?” tell them that you’re confident they can manage for a year without you.

    11. Just a Name*

      Thanks all for the kind replies. While I do worry about my sister, I think that part of my angst is that my dad was the main reason for keeping the Christmas Eve dinner tradition going, and I’m feeling that loss as well. Calling everyone this week to let them know. Thanks for the support.

      1. Criminology Major*

        I’m so sorry for your loss. Be gentle with yourself over the next few months and best wishes for a relaxing holiday time.

  19. AntiqueQuestion*

    My Mom, who is in the Baby Boomer generation, has a lot of stuff left to her by her mother. She wants to downsize and would like to find out if some of this is valuable. How does someone go about figuring this out? This is in the USA.


    1. Indolent Libertine*

      One option is your local auction house. They will send someone to look over the things you might want to sell, and although it’s not a formal appraisal, they will take photos and do some research and give you an idea of what they estimate it would sell for. If you don’t have a nearby auction place, maybe some of them will give you ballpark estimates from emailed photos?

      You can also look for “estate sale” outfits near you.

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’ve found eBay to be helpful in getting a rough estimate if the items are something you can find with a common search. For example, I’ve looked up sets of antique place settings with plates, cups, and saucers that are comparable to ones I have. This of course isn’t as thorough as an in-person appraisal, but it’s given me a sense of whether the items I have are in the ballpark as valuable enough to get an expert to look at them,

    3. Retired But Still Herding Cats*

      I’ve noticed that people who haunt secondhand stores to snap up stuff to resell at a profit use a tool called Google Lens to identify items, then they seem to often search up his much similar items SOLD for (not just listed for) on eBay.

      1. Vroom Vroom*

        Yes, checking how much an item actually sells for is very important. I collect retro games and sometimes people want ridiculously high prices for something because “they found an eBay listing for that much”. They usually don’t appreciate my asking how long that listing has been up, either.

        I can list an old shoe with dog poop on it on eBay for $1000, that doesn’t mean the shoe is worth that much.

        1. fposte*

          Somebody was just asking about a replacement for a cherished cup, and there’s a current eBay listing for $1500. I found a sold listing from a week ago for $25.

    4. Vroom Vroom*

      If there are particular groups of items that you can discern? For example large amounts of pottery, large amounts of silverware, a lot of antique books,…? If an auction house is not an option, finding an expert in those items might also be a good idea.

    5. Seashell*

      If you are on Facebook and there is anything that is collectible, there may be a Facebook group dedicated to those collectibles who could tell you if you have anything worth a lot.

    6. Don’t put metal in the science oven*

      I found value on about 35 to 40% of similar items from my late FIL’s house with simple Google searches. I’d write it on a sticky note & put on the item. It helped a lot to have a decent magnifying glass to see little marks and logos on the items

  20. stillLikeMyCar*

    I have a 2005 Toyota Camry LE. It works well and is in good shape with low mileage. I wish I could connect my cell phone to the radio so I could play music or audio books, and I wish I had GPS on my car, and I wish I had a rearview camera. I’ve been wondering if upgrading the car to have this type of thing would be a reasonable thing to do.

    Have you done something like this or know anyone who has? Was it worth it?


    1. I need a good name here*

      You can have those things installed on older cars. I think they make radios you can put in that have all that included. It’s probably cheaper than buying a new car for sure.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I don’t know about all of it in one unit (though I wouldn’t be surprised) but I know that Best Buy, at the very least, sells and installs upgraded radio units that would include the bluetooth and GPS options, and also separate rearview cameras. I had a radio upgraded there at one point and it was pretty simple, they were able to order all the parts that made the new stuff talk to the old stuff as well as make sure my key fobs continued to work properly (apparently the part in the car that they talked to was attached to the radio or something).

      2. Rage*

        Yes, I had a new unit installed in my car a couple years ago. My car wasn’t THAT old, but Honda’s system didn’t allow for navigation to display, and though I could run my phone through it for music/audiobooks or bluetooth calls, the system (HandsFreeLinik) would only connect to certain models of phone, and when they would auto-update the software, I would find out because my phone stopped connecting. So I purchased a JVC unit. Now I can connect my phone, play music or audiobooks at the touch of the screen, display navigation, etc. Cost about $600 including install. I already had the backup camera, so you’d have to get that extra piece, but it’s definitely doable. If your car is still running well, it would be money well spent.

    2. Me again*

      Google Bluetooth car adapter. You stick it into the cigarette lighter in the car, find a radio station that isn’t playing anything, and connect your cell phone by Bluetooth to the adapter and it will play out of your radio. These are relatively cheap, probably under $20.

      For GPS, if you want to use your cell phone, you just buy a cell phone mount. You can get the kind that attaches to an air vent in your car, or the kind that just sticks onto your dashboard. Then put your cell phone in it and you can follow directions on your phone while driving. Also very cheap.

      There are also rear cameras you can purchase that either attach to your window or can display in your actual rearview mirror. This is much more expensive than the previous fixes – our Uber driver had an awesome camera setup that he had hooked up himself, where there was a rearview camera, a dashcam, and a way to record audio from within the car, and he controlled all of it via his rearview mirror. I think it cost about $200 just for the products though. But even with installation fees (like from Best Buy) it would still be cheaper than buying a new car.

      1. anon24*

        I have a Bluetooth adapter that plugs into the aux port on my radio and then Bluetooth connects to my phone, so I don’t even have to find a radio station. Was also about $20, maybe every 6 months to a year the aux adapter goes bad from bumping around and gets staticky but it’s $5 for a pack of 2 double male connectors so I just replace that part and I’ve had it for probably 8 years at this point.

        My husband is an auto technician and has worked on different makes of cars and after hearing all the problems with GPS units built into cars I would never spent the money on a built in GPS unit – it’s a very expensive scam – when I can use the GPS in my phone for free. I’d love to have a newer car where I could plug my phone in and use Android auto, but for now I have a vent mount and use my phone GPS.

      2. Observer*

        Google Bluetooth car adapter. You stick it into the cigarette lighter in the car, find a radio station that isn’t playing anything, and connect your cell phone by Bluetooth to the adapter and it will play out of your radio. These are relatively cheap, probably under $20.

        It’s good that they are so inexpensive, because a lot of them don’t work very well. And even the ones that do get good (honest) reviews can be iffy, in my experience. But because they are so inexpensive, if your budget is not really tight it’s a low risk experiment.

        For GPS, if you want to use your cell phone, you just buy a cell phone mount. You can get the kind that attaches to an air vent in your car, or the kind that just sticks onto your dashboard. Then put your cell phone in it and you can follow directions on your phone while driving. Also very cheap.

        Good point. Especially given that some newer cars are using the same exact GPS as your phone…

    3. Pennyworth*

      I have Shokz blue tooth bone conduction headphones and use them all the time to listen to stuff through my phone when I drive. Because they are positioned just in front of my ears I can still hear ambient traffic noise which is an important safety issue for me.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        You’ve just convinced me to get the Bluetooth version. I’ve loved my old AfterShokz for swimming, but they’re the kind you have to manually load songs onto using a computer, and I haven’t tried books.

    4. Decidedly Me*

      You can definitely install these things, but I also don’t think upgrading to get them is bad either. I’ll probably replace my current car before it’s dead for the same reason – it’s missing things I wish it had.

      1. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

        The problem is that new cars have become extremely expensive and if you don’t want an SUV or a large sedan, you’re pretty much out of luck even if you can afford it. I don’t blame the OP for wanting to hold on to their 2005 car.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          You still have many models of smaller cars, by the Korean and Japanese make, plus VW.
          Source: I am driving a 2022 Mazda3, fully loaded, bought for $26k new. SIL got a brand new Corolla for $23k last year.
          Large sedans is the segment that is dying and being directly replaced by the SUVs. Even the long time favorites like Honda Accord.

    5. BellaStella*

      Great question and will follow for more info since next year where I live all of our analog radio shuts down and my 1996 car is gonna need this kind of upgrade for music

    6. Angstrom*

      All of those things can be added.
      I’ve had good luck with Crutchfield for aftermarket car audio equipment.

    7. WellRed*

      Please don’t upgrade if your car is perfectly usable. The market is nuts so unless you have lots of cash look into what can be done on the Camry.

    8. fposte*

      I agree with the aftermarket idea. My 2021 car didn’t come with GPS so I bought a phone mount. For my prior, 2003, car, I just used a compact Bluetooth speaker in the car as the sound system. I actually had a nice little ledge in the dash that I could Velcro it onto. The backup camera you probably can’t just kludge but they’re a pretty common aftermarket addition.

    9. Aly_b*

      A lot of the safety features are a lot better these days too. My car will do things like hit the brakes if you’re about to hit something or run a red light. It shows you a camera when you turn on the right turn signal that makes it a lot easier to see pedestrians or cyclists that might be coming up behind. It’s all stuff that you don’t necessarily think or care about until something happens and you really, really care.

      If you go electric, or maybe hybrid, you’ll get better fuel efficiency, but otherwise since cars/SUVs are so much bigger now, you could wind up paying more in gas.

    10. SBT*

      I had bluetooth installed into my 2011 Honda Accord once the auxiliary cable went out and I could no longer hook up my phone to the car. If I remember it was fairly cheap – maybe $100? And I had it done at a car shop. They had mentioned they could replace the whole radio/console area and install a backup camera. At the time I decided not to spend the money (I want to say that was closer to $500?) because I thought I’d be getting a new car within the next year. That was three years ago and I wish I’d done it.

    11. Observer*

      I’ve been wondering if upgrading the car to have this type of thing would be a reasonable thing to do.

      Yes, it’s a reasonable thing to do.

      Having said that, it may not be the best choice for you.

      How much are you spending a year on maintenance? How much *time* do you spend? What is the gas mileage on this car? What does your budget look like? Can you pay mostly cash for a newer car with the features you want? Can you install these features in your car, and what would it cost?

  21. Marian*

    I have a friend who is celebrating 40 years of sobriety (she’s in her early sixties). She always calls herself an alcoholic. I don’t get this. If you’ve spent that much of your life not drinking, why would you still call yourself an alcoholic? I smoked for 30 years, and haven’t smoked for 15 years now, and I don’t call myself a smoker, although I was genuinely addicted to nicotine. Can someone explain this to me?

    1. Not A Manager*

      As a gentle inquiry, why do you care? It helps her, or matters to her, to call herself that. Isn’t that reason enough?

      1. Mztery1*

        You may not be a smoker, but you would still be considered an addict in many circles. And that if you had another cigarette itv would be hard or almost impossible to stop. But as others said why do you care?

    2. RagingADHD*

      Because alcoholism isn’t about the alcohol. The alcohol is a dysfunctional coping mechanism that masks the larger issues. Those issues can be very deep seated and complex, and often have to be grappled with for a whole lifetime.

      It’s her way of acknowledging that she needs to keep actively working on her recovery, every day.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        This. The term “dry drunk” didn’t come out of nowhere–it’s parlance for someone who isn’t actively drinking but not living a sober lifestyle, with all the ensuing chaos.

        Alcoholism has a profound effect on one’s entire life and outlook. It’s not just the physical substance and whether or not a person is drinking it at any one moment.

    3. Autistic with two dogs*

      Identity is a personal choice. Your friend has reasons for why she calls herself an alcoholic. If you have the kind of relationship where you can ask her personal questions, gently phrased, and receive the answer with an open, nonjudgemental heart, then maybe you could ask her.

    4. Vio*

      An alcoholic is not somebody who drinks a lot of alcohol, it’s somebody who has an addiction to alcohol. The addiction being under control does not make it go away.
      Some alcoholics can recover to the point that they can be around alcohol and not care. Supposedly some can even really have “just one drink” and not have another.
      But for many it would be very dangerous to stop thinking of themselves as an alcoholic because that implies that they could safely drink alcohol.

      To compare to smoking, you may not be a smoker but you may still be a nicotine addict. They may not be a drinker but can still be an alcoholic.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I refer to myself as a recovered smoker. It’s doubtful I would ever go back to it, but I recognize that while I can occasionally sit around someone smoking and not want a cigarette, I cannot live with smokers or date them. Same with pot smokers too, because it’s still smoking. (Also weed just reeks, blecch. I’d rather smell a skunk!) I can’t have it regularly in my life, nor do I want to deal with someone’s smoking-related health issues.

    5. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Kind of how a person whose diabetes is very well-managed and completely under control…they still are a diabetic. They still have a problem with the way their body produces insulin.

      Same with alcoholism. Some people will never be able to drink in a moderate way.

      1. Jelly*

        This is so accurate, at least for me. I am a former smoker, and while a whiff of secondhand smoke makes me recoil in genuine disgust, stress sometimes makes me feel tempted.

    6. Irish Teacher.*

      I don’t think the term “alcohol” really equates to “smoker,” at least not in my mind. I’d take the drinking equivalent of “smoker” to be “drinker”. Somebody is a non-smoker or a non-drinker.

      “Alcoholic,” on the other hand, I’d take as meaning has an addiction to alcohol and not being able to drink in moderation. It’s not really about whether you drink or not. It’s about whether you could, if you wished, have one drink and then go on about your business, about alcohol being a substance that you find addictive rather than just a drink that you sometimes choose instead of a soft drink.

      I wouldn’t consider somebody who hadn’t drank for 40 years to be a drinker, just as I wouldn’t consider somebody who hadn’t smoked for 40 years to be a smoker, but they could both still have a tendency towards addiction to the substance.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If you stopped smoking, you are no longer a smoker (but still a nicotine addict), while she is and always will be an alcoholic (though she is no longer a drinker), so your comparison is not valid. There just isn’t a shorthand word for “nicotine addict” the same way there is for “alcohol addict.”

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        Can you expand on this a bit? You’re not still addicted to nicotine after quitting. You maybe still have a propensity to want to smoke a lot even after quitting, so you can’t even smoke one cigarette because you’ll dive back in to full addiction and dependence – is that what you mean?

        I had not thought of it this way before, because we have more of a social drinking culture in a way I don’t really associate with cigarettes as much…though I guess there are people who “only smoke when they drink/etc”.

        Thanks for the food for thought!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I’m not sure what you’re asking to expand on, heh. From a medical standpoint, addiction is permanent, quitting smoking doesn’t make the addiction go away. If quitting (something) ended the addiction to it, people wouldn’t fall off the wagon as often as they do.

        2. Vio*

          The chemical component of addiction can sometimes go completely away after a long enough period but the psychological component is much more difficult and can never be completely removed, only supressed.

        3. Jay (no, the other one)*

          In the 50s and 60s in the US there definitely were social smokers – people who smoked when they were with friends who smoked, or when they were at a bar, or when someone offered them a cigarette and then went days or weeks without smoking again. When smoking indoors was banned, taxes made it much more expensive and smoking became less socially acceptable, social smoking pretty much vanished.

          I know people like your friend who have decades of sobriety and they still refer to themselves as “recovering,” not “recovered.” For many recovering addicts it is a lifelong process. And really – it’s her choice. Why does it bother you?

    8. PhyllisB*

      I have a daughter who is 7 years sober, and she still refers to herself as an addiction. (Drugs, not alcohol.) She says even if you never imbide again, you are still an addict. Also she says it helps keep her accountable.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I hate autocorrect!! That was supposed to say she still refers to herself as an addict, not addiction.

    9. Florence Reece*

      It’s a common lesson in AA. My mom has also been sober for about 40 years, and also calls herself an alcoholic. She’s quite willing to talk about why. I second Not a Manager that I’m not sure you should care about this — but since you do, have you considered asking your friend to share why that identity is important to her?

    10. Despachito*

      I think she possibly thinks of herself as forever prone to alcoholism, and probably does not touch alcohol at all for fear she might become addicted again.
      She may feel the potential is still in her.

    11. Busy Middle Manager*

      As someone who had substance abuse issues and had to completely stop, it’s a couple of things that seem more like personality types rather than simply do they drink/smoke/snort or not.

      The main one is the inability to do things in proportion. I don’t think there is inherently anything wrong with this in the sense that it’s not negative or a mental illness, it just sort of is. Some of us are wired differently. It can lead to being open minded and more accepting of new ideas in some cases, but can also lead to overindulging or doing things too hard in other cases. For me, this means things like not being able to mentally rest when there is too much food in the house. So I shop very often, or when I cook something indulgent, I eat some and throw out the rest if no one else is around. When I go out to eat, I’m already thinking about the next course before the first arrives. Or I go on 7 mile walks because a regular length stroll is just not enough. Or being a workaholic but feeling like I haven’t accomplished anything even when I just worked 10 hours. With regards to this, leaving at 6 to me feels completely arbitrary, not like a real boundary, for example.

      Another is an overriding urge for connection. Many of us really want that warm fuzzy feeling we had when you were a kid on Christmas and all your grandparents came over, and aren’t finding it in real life. And not for lack of trying, sometimes the mechanics of life just prevent it. For example, my use got out of control when I was unemployed, and got a job in ex-urbs, and moved there, and found it simply impossible to meet people, and spent too much time alone, wondering where all of the people were and why everyone was so reserved.

      Some of us are also too sensitive for this world and used to numb that pain with stuff. I’ve gotten over it but there was a time when little comments people said would stick in my head for years on replay. The particular brand of ones that made me use/drink were ones that were completely unnecessary. I lived somewhere where social climbing was popular and there were people I met 10 times and they pretended not to know me because I wasn’t special enough for them to engage with. Then I’d find out they made nasty little digs about such inconsequential stuff, like my shoes, and it would just stick in my head.

      Lastly, sobriety becomes a sort of spiritual quest for many people. That’s why there are meditation meetings. Many people unpeel “layers of the onion” of their minds and the general human experience and by year 5 or so, it’s more about self-analysis a la Teal Swan (look her up on youtube) rather than “I want a drink and a drug today!”

    12. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I think part of the difference is whether/how you think about smoking now. For example, is having been a smoker only relevant because your doctor wanted you to have a lung CT scan just in case, or do you still find yourself craving cigarettes? Similarly, how difficult was quitting, for you?

      The social context is also different. Some ex-smokers still find the smell of a stranger’s cigarette tempting, even after years without. But they don’t have to worry that someone at a party will try to convince them to have “just one” cigarette, or expect them to justify not smoking, or tell them they’re ruining the party if they won’t come outside to have a cigarette.

      It sounds like your friend still needs to think about not drinking, or make an effort not to drink.

    13. I'm just here for the cats!*

      if you have a good relationship and you think she would not be hurt or offended, why don’t you ask her about it?

      as others have stated an alcoholic is not just someone who drinks. she is a recovering alcoholic, meaning she is still addicted, probably still has cravings and rights the urge to drink. Its a mental illness. A person with depression is still depressed even if they are in therapy and taking medication. A recovering alcoholic is still an alcoholic even though they aren’t drinking.

    14. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      You were a former smoker. I’ve never smoked. If I smoked one cigarette (as I think I did in college once or twice), I’d start coughing, dry heaving and maybe puke. Would the same thing happen to you? Or would you be down the slippery slope from smokes at parties to smokes a pack a day? We’re not the same in regards to nicotine. Same for your friend and alcohol.

  22. Jackalope*

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

    I haven’t actually been playing anything this week, but am looking forward to getting back to Final Fantasy 6 in a couple of days.

    1. Jay*

      I just got the deeply relaxing, low stakes, Steam version of My Little Universe. It’s sort of a Mincraft-ish, RPG-ish thing. Fun and relaxing. For when I want a bit more excitement, I’ve been playing State Of Decay II a little.

    2. nopetopus*

      Stardew Valley, always and forever. I finally beat the Mr. Qi’s bean challenge after two in-game years!

      1. FrontlinER*

        Wow I salute you. This is literally the only thing in the game I haven’t beat. Junimo Kart? No problem. Mr. Qi’s bean challenge? No way.

    3. Analyst J*

      I have a huge game library I didn’t have a chance to play until Covid lockdown so I’m really, really, really behind anything current but I’ve just started Borderlands and am finishing Fallout 4. I figure I’ll get to Starfield by the time Fallout 5 is released.

    4. don'tbeadork*

      I have been sucked into the black hole that is Baldur’s Gate 3. So much so that the other games I’ve been playing are falling by the wayside.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Oh it is just so much fun! I am entirely new to gaming (this is my first real game) and holy moly it’s a blast.

    5. spiriferida*

      Amazing Cultivation Simulator, which I am not good at but nevertheless enjoy. It’s one of those resource-building/community survival type games (think Rimworld or A Dark Room) but as described, uses a xianxia-style world with Chinese cultivation tropes instead of western fantasy or scifi. A bit of a learning curve if you’re not familiar with some of the cultural bits like the 5-element system, but I usually get lost in it for a few hours whenever I start up a game.

    6. Dwight Schrute*

      I’ve started my first ever computer game as an adult! A friend suggested BG3 and I am HOOKED!

      It is so much fun and I love playing it. Plus many of the characters are attractive

    7. The Dude Abides*

      For any Whovians on here, Wizards/Hasbro’s Doctor Who commander decks just went on sale. From listening/reading to people in both fandoms, the designers did a really good job in terms of flavor.

      On my end, I picked up a few “premium” reprints so that I can upgrade various decks.

  23. BlueMeeple*

    Book recommendation request! :)

    Can anyone recommend a or some good epistolary novel? Thanks in advance! :)

    1. Sharpie*

      It’s not epistolary, but episodic: The Comfortable Courtesan by L.A.Hall, which I read literally as the author wrote and posted it online. Lovely gentle story, told in the first person, of Clorinda Cathcart, a courtesan who made an overnight rise to the dizzying heights of a Marchioness. It’s available as an e-book, I don’t think there’s an audiobook (but it’s surely only a matter of time!)

    2. Retail Not Retail*

      Ella Minnow Pea! It’s about an island community dedicated to the sentence “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” and writing in general. The letters are written as the plaque with the phrase falls apart and those letters are then banned from written communication. I really like it!

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        That’s a fun one! And the author wrote some other novels where he plays with language, too. (Read a bunch years ago. Ibid. is entirely in footnotes.)

    3. UKDancer*

      Dracula is my favourite. I think it’s brilliant and I love Mina in the book. For a man of his period, Stoker wrote a surprisingly modern heroine. Mina is bright, a capable teacher who is making her way in the world. I think she’s often watered down in the films but I like book Mina a lot.

      The other great epistolary novel to my money is Tenant of Wildfell Hall which is a brilliant story about the damage an abusive partner can do, and how difficult it was for women at that time to escape them. In my view it’s the first really feminist novel of the 19th century. I think if she’d lived longer, Anne Bronte would have eclipsed her sisters as a novelist.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Reading that now! I know Stoker dismissed it as a “potboiler,” but it’s really carefully constructed, with multiple points of view, newspaper articles and phonograph dictation used to make the story seem modern and up to date so the battle against ancient evil is heightened.

        Book Mina really holds the entire story together, and it’s her foresight and acumen that put everyone on the right track (literally! Lots of trains!)

        I adore Tenant as well. It’s such a clear, unstinting presentation of A) the misery of life with an active, abusive addict and B) how the canard of “a good woman’s love can save him” ruins so many lives.

    4. Irish Teacher.*

      The Perks of being a Wallflower. Oh and, it’s a kid’s book, but So Much to Tell You by John Marsden.

    5. Fellow Traveller*

      The Appeal, which Allison recommended recently was pretty fun.
      I also really loved Where’d You Go Bernadette

    6. Bluebell*

      Romantic Comedy has an epistolary section but it doesn’t take up the whole book. It is good though!

    7. MaxKitty*

      My two favorites are 84, Charing Cross Road and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

      1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        These are 2 of my favorites, too. It’s one of my favorite genres.

        I love C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters (a devil writing to a junior devil advice about how to corrupt a human)

        Meredith Alladay has written a number of epistolary novels set in the Regency period. I’d start with Letters From Bath to see if you like her style (not much happens in the books, it mostly the characters you immerse yourself in). My favorite is Letters To Julia, but it is almost 600 pages.

      2. Anonymous For Now*

        I second 84 Charing Cross Road, especially because it’s true. Maybe that’s why I liked it so much when I don’t normally care for that style. (The movie adaptation was pretty faithful to the book.)

    8. Not A Manager*

      Years ago I read one called Griffin and Sabine. I don’t remember much about it except that it had literal removable letters and postcards in it, and that I enjoyed it. I do think it was a bit dark, though I don’t recall why.

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

      Not exactly epistolary, but *Bridget Jones’s Diary* and its sequel *The Edge of Reason* are both done in the form of diary entries, and they are some of the funniest books I’ve read.

      Also not 100% epistolary, but *Up the Down Staircase* (about a first-year New York City public school teacher in the 1960s) is a combination of notes from the overwhelmed new teacher to her friend and fellow teacher, students’ papers, inane bulletins from the school administration, etc. I loved this book when I read it as a kid (and still love it now), and I think it really influenced me in terms of the demographic of students that I enjoy teaching the most.

    10. PollyQ*

      Sarah Caudwell’s mysteries are not 100% epistolary, but they have large chunks that are. I highly recommend them–they’re very funny while still being solid mysteries.

    11. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m not generally a fan of the epistolary style, but House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski held my attention pretty well, if you like spooky.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        That’s a terrific book! His sister is the musician Poe, and she did a whole collaborative album with him based on that book!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          YES thank you, I knew there was something musical associated with it (because that was why I first picked it up way back when, despite not being a fan of epistolary fiction) but I could not remember what it was.

    12. ReadersAdvisory*

      Letters from Yellowstone, by Diane Smith

      If you work in academia, “Dear Search Committee”, by Julie Schumacher

    13. Chris in Scotland*

      I enjoyed Dorothy Sayers’ The Documents in the Case, mostly told through letters. And another vote for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society!

    14. goddessoftransitory*

      For a fun period novel, I like Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson. It’s a ridiculous but fun read, with lots of italics and persecutions and elaborate clothing descriptions. I do love how Richardson had to consider how a teenage maidservant got her hand on so much ink and paper, too.

      Shirley Jackson, in the collection Let Me Tell You, wrote about Richardson and his novels and why she loved them, which inspired me to read it in the first place.

    15. Pam Adams*

      Sorcery and Cecilia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot*, by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, started as actual letters between writers having fun, rather than a planned epistolary novel. Very enjoyable, and its two sequels are also epistolary.

      *A pot to hold chocolate, rather than an AAM-style pot.

    16. FantasyOfManners*

      The best epistolary novel I’ve ever read is Sorcery and Cecelia by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede. They wrote it as a game of letters and it is fantastic.

    17. cleo*

      Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer is my very favorite example of this genre. It started as a letter game between the two authors and it’s just delightful. It’s dedicated to Jane Austen, JRR Tolkien and Ellen Kushner, and that kind of tells you everything you need to know.

      Set in alt Regency England with magic, two cousins / best friends exchange a series of gossipy, snarky letters after one of them goes to London for her season and stumbles into a trap meant for someone else. There are balls and picnics and sick headaches and also spells and intrigue and a little romance (although neither of the heroes are as interesting as our heroines).

    18. GoryDetails*

      I love that format! Many of my favorites have already been mentioned in this thread, but here are a few more:

      Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger, set in 1940 and ’41, with the letters between a young boy (a budding con artist) and a baseball player; very funny and touching. (I love all Kluger’s work, btw; most if not all is in some kind of epistolary format, via letters, diary entries, bulletin-board notices, etc.)

      Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher consists of letters by a college professor whose life seems to have turned into a constant production of letters of reference for students or co-workers, while the college he works at seems to be dismantling the English department. Lots of academia-specific snarkery and frustration, with some poignant touches here and there.

      Love & Saffron by Kim Fay, an epistolary novel set in the 1960s, about a friendship between two women at very different stages of life – based on mutual interests in cuisine, among other things.

      Letters from Yellowstone by Diane Smith, set in 1898, and involving a scientific expedition into Yellowstone National Park. A professor of botany, invited to join, surprises the other members of the team when they find that “A. E.” is actually a woman – but the story focuses more on the surroundings, the study, and the differing personalities than on romantic possibilities.

    19. NeonFireworks*

      “Impossible” by Sarah Lotz, if you don’t mind email and a lightly sci-fi romance. It’s very funny (mostly about Brits being witty/snarky at each other).

    20. OtterB*

      Freedom and Necessity by Steven Brust & Emma Bull. Set in mid-1800s Britain, an alt-history universe with magic, mystery/adventure. There are several tropes in the book that I don’t care for, but it didn’t matter – something about it just grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.

    21. OtterB*

      Oh, this is an old but fun one. Daddy Long-legs, by Jean Webster. A young woman in the early 1900s aging out of an orphanage learns that one of the trustees will put her through college. She is to write him a monthly letter, to which he will not reply. If you like Lucy Maude Montgomery books, try this.

      1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        Forgot about this one. Very good. There’s also a sequel, Dear Enemy, with a protagonist just out of college who reluctantly agrees to temporarily take over as matron of the orphanage from the first book. The letters are mostly between her and the doctor for the orphanage who sees her as a flighty young woman unsuited to such an important role.

        1. Nightengale*

          everything I know about the eugenics movement in American came from that book. Well not everything, but I read the book as a teenager and when I learned about eugenics later on, I felt I had been well primed and prepared.

      2. The OG Sleepless*

        Both of these were favorites of my mother and she gave them to me to read when I was in middle school. I didn’t like them quite as much as she did, but I did like them. I should probably read them again.

      3. GoryDetails*

        I enjoyed the novel Daddy Long-legs, but I’d already seen the 1955 movie with Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron, which did slant my reactions to the book a bit.

    22. Not Totally Subclinical*

      Sorcery and Cecilia and its two sequels whose titles I’m blanking on, by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede. Regency fantasy.

      1. GoryDetails*

        How could I forget “Liaisons” – it was awesome! Even with so many really horrible people {wry grin}.

    23. Nightengale*

      I love epistolary novels and my favorite will forever be, “Up the Down Staircase.” It tracks the first year of an idealistic English teacher in NY in the 1960s and is told by letters to a friend, school memos, postings on the classroom bulletin board, the school newspaper. . . my favorite is the school euphemism “let it be a challenge to you” which means “you’re stuck with it.”

    24. Ali + Nino*

      “e” recommended on this site is told entirely in emails. Iirc it’s about a marketing agency in the early 2000s. I thought it was hilarious!

  24. Helvetica*

    What’s a piece of media – film, book, etc. – that has delivered an emotional punch without you expecting it and without anything straightforwardly sad/tragic happening? So not necessarily “Marley and Me” type of punch but more ambiguous or even something you would have a hard time explaining to someone else why.
    I just watched “Aftersun”, which for the first half was not really delivering much for me, and then the second half it suddenly hit me quite unexpectedly and I’m not sure what triggered it.

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      The book “The Most Fun We Ever Had” by Claire Lombardo, which I found through an Alison recommendation.

      I wasn’t too bought in at the beginning, but it grew on me – it’s a very good family saga. What I wasn’t expecting is to find myself crying, around three quarters of the way in, because of the way I related to the feelings of a character that had been fairly unlikeable prior to that. I can count the books and films that made me cry on one hand, and I have read plenty of books that talk about similar situations, so it was all the more unexpected.

    2. Anon Poster*

      The final episode of Fleabag season 2. I remember sitting on my couch, clutching my half-finished gin & tonic, with this sensation of FEELINGS swirling around in my chest. I couldn’t verbalize what any of the feelings were, there were just a lot of them. I tried to describe it to a friend the next day, and remember saying that I was moved. It wasn’t exactly the right word, but it was close enough.

      1. Doc McCracken*

        Seeing Wonder Woman in the theatre when it first came out. I actually cried and understood how powerful it was to see a fully fleshed out movie hero that I could identify with as a woman. It changed my whole perspective on representation in the arts.

        1. Patty Mayonnaise*

          Same! I understood the appeal of kids playing superheros in a completely new way! I heard that people cried at the no man’s land scene and thought, “well that’s silly” and then of course, that scene happens and I am bawling – and I knew it was coming! I had advance warning! But I had no idea how it would feel to have a woman portrayed that powerfully.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      The British series Unforgotten, about cold case murders. The first series, especially, hit me like a sledgehammer–a young man’s body is found, it’s a forty year old crime, and the lead detective says that when she called his mother to tell her they’d found him, she cried her heart out, that for her no time had passed since he disappeared.

      I watch tons of crime shows, Brit crime especially, but this one does a terrific job of emphasizing how it doesn’t matter how long it’s been for the victims and their families. In another series, the same detective snaps and someone who says something is “ancient history”–“People keep saying that. And it’s really not. The damage these crimes do are right here and now.”

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      This is maybe less ambiguous than you have in mind because it is intended to be an emotional moment to some degree. But when I’m watching the LOTR movies, and I get to the Battle of Helm’s Deep, no matter how many times I steel myself for it – the exchange where Gandalf says “And Theoden King stands alone” and Eomer moves forward into the light and says “Not alone” just absolutely wrecks me, like instantaneously reduces me to ugly sobbing. It’s not anything else in the scene or the movie or even the series, it’s that specific exchange of phrases. I did not see it coming when it hit me the first time, and I’ve never managed to get past it since.

    5. Mitchell Hundred*

      I won’t spoil it, but the scene at the end of the movie “Lady Bird” where the protagonist opens her luggage hit me like a ton of bricks when I saw it in the theatre. People have mentioned other moments, but that one was particularly emotional for me because I misinterpreted the setup for it, and thus didn’t see it coming.

    6. The Dude Abides*

      Definitely hit me the first time I beat it, but still sometimes gets to me – the ending to Link’s Awakening.

      Pretty straightforward game, but the bosses drop hints that come together in the end credits – the “world” takes place inside a dream, and part of the ending shows the entire island disappearing.

    7. Anonymous For Now*

      “The Best Years of Our Lives” from 1946. It’s about what happens to 3 men who were in WWII, survived, and are now coming home to their fictional home town, Boone City, based on MacKinlay Kantor’s home of Cincinnati. I never read the book, but the movie is amazing. It won 7 Oscars including Best Picture and is listed in AFI’s Top 100 Films. While it’s pretty serious there is definitely some humor. And Hoagy Carmichael is in it playing the piano.

      The other one is “Mrs. Miniver” from 1942 about what it was like to live in England during WWII. It also won many awards.

      Teresa Wright who was one of my favorite actresses was in both movies.

    8. Gyne*

      Oh man… the entire movie “Lost in Translation.” I don’t know what it even was about it but I went with the guy I dated through half of undergrad. I thought I was going to marry him, but we got home from the theater that night and both looked at each other and realized it wasn’t in the cards and broke up.

    9. Chaordic One*

      There’s an episode of Rod Serling’s “Night Gallery” called “The House,” that people of a certain age still talk about. “The House” was haunted but not scary or sad or tragic. I was a bit disappointed with the ending of the story and it kind of left me thinking “Huh?” or WTF? The story was haunting and definitely ambiguous and I can’t explain why it resonates with me. Some people claim that part of the story’s punch comes from the performance of actress Joanna Pettet and I have to say, maybe so?

      If you have about half an hour to kill, you can watch it on a website called Daily Motion at the following link: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6p38ve

      1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        This reminded me of another Rod Serling creation – the Twilight Zone episode “Time Enough at Last” – I empathized with the Burgess Meredith so much that the ending gutted me (I also wore coke-bottle glasses).

    10. Chaordic One*

      The episode of “Columbo” called “Any Old Port in a Storm.” The murderer’s lovelorn secretary (played by Julie Harris) figures out that he committed the crime and provides an alibi for him. But she now expects for him to marry her. Lieutenant Columbo, of course, figures out who the murderer is and how he committed the crime, but the can’t get past the alibi. In the surprise twist ending the murderer decides that marrying his secretary would be worse than going to prison and confesses to the crime.

      The emotional punch comes at the end from actress Harris’ portrayal of the disappointment and hurt of being rejected by her boss. Her character says something along the lines of, “But we could have been so happy together. Many couples have less in common than we do.” It was a sad/tragic happening, but the unexpectedly strong and emotional performance from a truly great actress ripped my heart out and this episode of Columbo ended on a much more emotional note than your typical episode of, say, Midsomer Murders.

    11. Amey*

      Oh, a very recent one for me is the Australian comedy series Wellmania (I watched on Netflix, not sure if it’s an original or not). Really funny but starts out very lightweight and unexpectedly (but convincingly) goes much deeper by the end. I binged the whole series in a night or two but found myself in real tears in the last couple of episodes.

    12. connie*

      Jimmy Buffet’s novel “A Salty Piece of Land” was that for me. I borrowed it at a hotel library to read while we wound down one night. The writing is incredible. I was reading a section where the main character was reflecting on his childhood. I went from chuckling to almost crying in the space of a couple sentences. The shift was so subtle but so powerful because of the writing, and I would never have expected it.

  25. Ellis Bell*

    Does anyone have any good apple punch recipes that don’t involve cinnamon? I’m making hot drinks for a family get together, and while everyone is a fan of apples and apple juice (I think this is called apple cider in the US, but here cider is alcoholic, and I don’t drink). Both my partner and mum dislike cinnamon and cloves, but nutmeg should be okay. When I make apple pie it tastes great without cinnamon, but I feel like a hot drink would need a little more oomph. I’m going to put cinnamon sticks on the side for those who like it.

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Not a recipe, but Cardamon, allspice and star anise are all good in cider. You can look for recipes for “homemade mulling spices” and just leave out the usual cinnamon and cloves.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Cardamom is a great substitute for cinnamon.

      e.g. in cinnamon rolls, if you have someone who is allergic to cinnamon. It’s not the same flavor (so disliking cinnamon shouldn’t rule it out) but hits similar notes.

    3. Llellayena*

      I’ve used allspice as a cinnamon substitute in recipes. I second looking at mulling spices though.

    4. Name (Required)*

      Cardamom, black peppercorns, allspice, ginger, and lemon and orange slices make a lovely mulled (American) cider. (And yes, you’re correct that Americans call fresh-pressed apple juice that’s unfiltered and unpasteurized “cider.” We call it “hard cider” when it’s allowed to ferment and become alcoholic. American apple juice is more processed and much sweeter – it’s historically a drink for small children.)

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I really like the idea of orange and lemon slices! Yes, I can get great quality apple juice that isn’t sweetened at all (unless I dash in some maple syrup perhaps?). Not sure whether to go with cloudy apple or clear. I usually buy sparkling, but doubt that would be good for heating.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      Ah, cardamom is a genius idea! We are big fans of cardamom for curry and rice pudding in this house but somehow I didn’t think of it.

    6. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Ginger can be good in apple-flavored things, and would definitely provide that oomph. Also, I agree with Damn It, Hardison!’s recommendation of cardamom.

      You could also try mixing the apple juice with hot black tea, with or without sweetener and lemon.

  26. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

    Question for the runners in the audience.
    Let’s say you’re running a race with a 7:30 am Sunday start time that starts right in front of a commuter train station, and you have these three options for how to get to the start. Which would you choose?

    (1) Take the train. There’s only one train that makes the start and it arrives at 7:05 am. You’d have 25 minutes to get your race number, use the bathroom, and line up. The train has about a 90% on time rate. The race will not be delayed if the train is late.
    (2) Drive your own car to the start. The race is 50 miles from home. The parking lot is two miles from the race start and you would need to take a shuttle bus from the designated lot to the race start.
    (3) Take a car service/Uber to the train station where the race starts, then go home by train. The fare for a 50 mile ride would cost more than the race fee.
    (4) Drive out there to pick up my race packet the day before, then take the train on race day — you’d still have the same 25 minutes, but one time-consuming variable will be removed.

    Yes, this is a race I’m actually planning to run — I think I may have lost my mind temporarily when I signed up — and I can’t make up my mind on what to do. Thoughts from the runners out there?

    1. Annie Edison*

      I’d do 4. No worries about parking on race day, cheaper than an uber, and even if the train is delayed you’ll still have what you need to do the race

    2. Sharpie*

      How often does the train run late? I think I’d probably drive and shuttle bus, or train if it’s generally on time/only a few minutes late. Maybe recce the train thing the week before if you’re worried.

      Good luck with the race, I no longer run since I don’t have to any more!

    3. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      Not a runner myself but closely related to one:
      Option 2 seems most reasonable, time and money and resources wise.
      – if you are not a morning person and driving the distance before the race would mean a less good race for you, take the train
      – if the train fare (with a return ticket) is less than what you’d spend on petrol to go there and back the day before, pick up your race packet the day before and decide on the actual race day how to go there

      Have fun and Good Luck!

    4. Camelid coordinator*

      2 and 4 sound the best. I’d probably drive on the day of but I am a morning person. Have a great time!

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        Actually, sorry, I slightly misread the setup. I live some distance from the end of the train line and there are multiple trains, but they don’t run super frequently because public transit in my city sux. I pick up my race packet ahead of time, then drive and park at said end of the line and take the train to the race start.

    5. Old and Don’t Care*

      Do you get a shirt/jacket/something else you care about? If so, what would you do with it if you picked option 1? I’d do option 4 if there’s anything in the race packet other than the race number. Otherwise, option 1.

    6. acmx*

      I would modify 4. I would take the train to get my race packet and the drive to the race.

      To Old and Don’t Care’s point, is there a place you can stash your shirt? Sounds like this is a race without bag check so you might need to do something with the shirt. Unless you can wear it…. (I’m in the south, I don’t wear the shirts running).

      What about a hotel? Make it a bit of a short weekend getaway?

      1. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

        Thanks everyone. A couple of details I left out:

        There are no feasible hotels in the area, so there’s no option 5 available to me — stating overnight. That actually would have been my preference. I guess I could have looked into an Airbnb, VRBO or something similar — but too late now as the race is in one week.

        The driving option means I’d have to drive in the middle of the night since sunrise is so late this time of year — something I’m not comfortable with given that the roads I’d have to drive are rife with speeders and reckless drivers even during the daytime. I would also hit Sunday traffic on my way home when I’m exhausted after running the race. Yuck.

        That leaves the train, which I’ve watched three Sundays in a row and it’s been on time all three times. But not sure how much a much larger crowd (presumably) on race day will slow it down. More people to onload at each station, more tickets to check etc.

        It sounds like the packet pickup before the race will be just the race number, with the rest of the stuff being handed out after the race. However, the train is scheduled to arrive at 7:02 and packet pickup closes at 7:15… 13 minutes… yikes. That’s where option 4 (picking up the day before) comes in, but that’s obviously a big inconvenience, waste of gas, etc.

        I am kind of inclined to roll the dice given how much I don’t want to drive. This may be a mistake, but we will see…

        1. Gyne*

          Reframe this thought that it’s an inconvenience and waste of gas to get the packet ahead of time. The race sounds fun; going a little out of our way to do fun things, especially things that help us both physically and mentally is worth a little effort! Having your number and registration on race day takes a major stressor out of the equation. It’s perfectly logical to do as much as you can ahead of time to make race day as smooth as possible. Then, even if the train is a bit late, you could even join the course a little delayed. But an unexpected car accident or road closure could also delay you on race day!

    7. Jeans Buyer*

      How large is the race? Are you interesting in starting at the front or are you ok with the back? If it’s a large race and there’s multiple start waves, that might give you some wiggle room if you take the train. I’d do number 1 or 4.

    8. o_gal*

      Does the race use chip timing, or “everyone starts at the gun time” timing? If it’s chip, take the train. It doesn’t matter when you get there, because you will eventually cross the timing mat. Just not at 7:30am. If it’s not chip timed, option #4 is the one to go with.

      1. anonandon*

        I would recommend 4, or drive and then get a ride service from the parking lot to the race start, just to save time and conserve energy.

  27. BlueMeeple*

    Has anyone been watching Lessons in Chemistry? I started watching the first episode, and it’s great so far. :)

    1. Maggie*

      I just started the book! Will watch after my book club finishes! Glad to hear it’s good though.

  28. Christamas Carol*

    Very old joke:
    Two farmers, one from Texas and one from Vermont were talking. The Texan bragged, I can get in my truck, drive all day, and still not reach the boundary of my ranch. The Vermonter replied, un, yup, I have a lot of car trouble too.

  29. Stephen!*

    I recently saw a place to rent that was in a location that I was interested in, but the listing was one photo of an outside shrub- not a lot to go on. I sent an email to the rental company asking about a tour. A week and a half later, they said they could let me see the place after I pay $40 to apply. I replied thanks, but no, I wasn’t going to pay before I had a tour. I’ve never encountered that before, even in a competitive rental space, but my sister said it was becoming common. Any one else encounter the pay to tour before?

    1. mreasy*

      I live in maybe the US’s most competitive rental market (NYC) and have never heard of that. It feels very scammy to me or at least ridiculous.

    2. nopetopus*

      I have heard of that where I live, but we have a non discrimination law for rentals that means that the first person to apply for the listing and pass the rental screening must be the one the property management picks to live there. (The applicant can back out if they don’t want the unit after seeing it, luckily.)

      It means that you do tend to apply sight unseen, but it also means that landlords are incentivized to be quick in their responses to applicants and have accurate pictures of the entire unit lest they have multiple people back out once they see it.

      In your case, the combo of a very slow reply and no actual picture screams scam to me.

    3. Jelly*

      Never heard of this. How it should go is that you get a tour, and, if you want to further pursue, you complete an application for a fee, which the leasing company then uses to pay for its background check on you.

      Good for you for saying ‘no.’

    4. Anonish*

      A favorite podcast,scam goddess, has talked about people scammed into renting what are actually air b&bs. So they pay all the deposits to someone who they can’t trace and are left with nowhere to live.

    5. Rosyglasses*

      This happens quite a bit in the area I live in (Portland, OR) where we have issues with squatters and theft. We also have quite a hot market, so often you’ll have 30 people that have applied sight unseen. But for some of the self-tour homes, they would insist on an application before you could tour. Only a few also required paying a fee, but you did have to fill out the application first.

    6. Katie*

      I didn’t even see my house until I paid my deposit.

      They had lots of pictures but it was insanely risky. I wouldn’t have done if it wasn’t a reputable company renting it.

      Luckily the house was good.

      1. Katie*

        To note, I at least drove and saw the outside of the house and could peer in. So I at least knew the outside was good and looked ok on the inside (and was empty).

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      In hot markets (e.g. around a college) I’ve heard of only doing tours if people will climb over the hurdle of filling out a from first, to eliminate the casuals who mostly are curious about layout and furnishigns but not planning to move in. But I have not heard of paying.

      This sounds like a scam. If the property were so desirable that they could charge money to view it, it would have rented in that week and a half. A better scam would be to steal the photographs from a much nicer listing, rather than just a shrub. I would not be surprised if the person maintaining the listing and trying to collect $40 does not live within 1000 miles of the location and its shrub.

    8. Kiki Is The Most*

      This is unfortunately quite common in the European city I live in. And it’s 99.9% a scam of some sort…to either take your money before either seeing it or sending more photos, or to get you to pay a deposit. They also do it with fake photos so that the renter sends money prior to seeing it. I’ve heard horror stories of this type of rental theft. You’re on top of it to decline immediately!

    9. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I have seen that too. or that you have to apply first and then get a tour. It seems backwards to me. I would check your local laws, because it might be a way to get around laws. Like my state there is rules about application fees. and if the application is denied it has to be returned they can charge a non refundable fee for background checks but it’s limited on how much they can charge.

      so they are probably trying to get more money.

      1. Anonymous For Now*

        Someone on my local Next Door just posted that they saw their own home listed for rent! They are living in it and are not renting it out. Clearly a scam.

        Everyone looking should be very careful; about turning over any $$$.

    10. Tris Prior*

      This happens a lot where I live, and it’s a scam. Never pay money before you have seen a place!

  30. Frustrated & Footloose*

    How can I deal with a dismissive team member?

    I am in a group where we work in male/female pairs. There is one guy on the team who is really getting under my skin and seems to go out of his way to downplay the effort/contributions that the women make to the team.

    Everyone else on the team is genuinely wonderful, and I’m not going to quit over one bad apple. I don’t think getting support from the team leader is realistic, so what are suggestions for how to make this into a fun game where this one dude’s annoying comments/patterns can roll off more easily?

    More info/examples in reply.

    1. Frustrated & Footloose*

      Examples: Whenever we discuss what we want to rehearse he is always full of ideas for what the women can be doing better. At the same time he is not open when the women point out things that can improve on his part. When we post videos of our rehearsals in the group chat he will praise the men by name with no mention of the women, and if someone does chime in noting our contributions, or even just complimenting the group as a whole he will chime back in calling out the men specifically again. The other men in the group are very open with their praise/encouragement in person and on the chat.

      Beyond this, we did have an interaction where he hounded me at a party for more than an hour trying to initiate something while I shut it down until I was able to leave. We are still polite to each other, but we stopped any occasional texting/extra interactions we used to have. Another of the women on the team also had a bad interaction with him of a different variety so I am pretty sure he is just a jerk. But he is a jerk who is impacting an activity I really like! And seems to be taking out his dislike on all the women as a group.

      I guess the frustrating part is the team organizer sees these messages/behavior and doesn’t address it, and I am doubtful he will because he has said in pep talks that if there is “drama” in the group not to bring it in the room. I think in his mind, this would be drama and the women being overly sensitive.

      It just feels very middle school and I want a way to work around one bad dude in an otherwise very fun, kind group.

      1. Random Academic Cog*

        The next time he does that in public, ask him (in public) why he dismisses the women. Why do you only say that to the women? Why do you only praise the men? Why do you accept ideas from John, but dismiss any ideas from Mary and Joan? Why did you talk over Susan but allow Mark to complete his thought? Just name it and then stop. Wait for him to explain (pro tip – he can’t without being clearly an ass).

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        Are there other men in the group that could speak up? Ask a few of them to notice these things and call them out – like if he compliments a guy that guy should make a point of complimenting a woman, or if he brings it back to the guy a second time “dude you already said that” type responses.

        I’m sorry the team leader is useless. Until you mentioned the harassment I figured well, some people are just annoying, but if he’s following women around at parties making them uncomfortable he should be kicked out or at least given firm boundaries that could result in getting kicked out.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Yeah, he isn’t “just” annoying or a bad apple. He’s a harasser who’s actively working to diminish women in this group.

        2. Sloanicota*

          Unfortunately I agree that in such situations, the Bad Apple is more likely to listen to the men in the group – their tolerance of the behavior (or tacit agreement?) is what allows him to thrive. If the team leader isn’t going to lead on the issue, is it possible you could say something to a few people he respects, and ask them simply to lead by example if they’re not willing (common) to call him out directly? At least ask them to shut down any unnecessary criticism of the women and point out positive things in response to Apple. I agree that the harassment outside of the activity is a different / more serious thing than being a jerk in class – definitely grounds to avoid this guy entirely and warn other women. But it may be hard to get him kicked out of the group for behaviors occurring elsewhere, in my experience, particularly if the leader isn’t inclined.

      3. WellRed*

        I’m admittedly curious about the M/F structure of this team but at the heart of it; it doesn’t matter how awesome most of the members are, if the organizer (good grief) doesn’t see this as an issue and might even buy into tired stereotypes of hysterical women, you’ve got bigger problems than one irritating dude.

        1. Frustrated & Footloose*

          It’s a dance team – in our case we happen to have all women as followers and all men as leads

          1. Heel Turn Hippie*

            You’re a formation team, I’m guessing. Does that mean your team organizer is a coach or a peer? If there are coaches around, it might be worth getting one of them involved. (It also might make things worse–you probably know which by the coach.)

            I did ballroom for years–I get that this is probably extra frustrating because finding this many people to get together and practice regularly is a pain. And finding experienced guys is especially difficult. But the culture of your partnership or team is not incidental to your success on the floor–it’s a cornerstone of it. Lose it, and you won’t be able to cooperate, and the likelihood of your staying together long enough to really improve will suffer.

            A couple thoughts: Have you talked to the other women in the group, and do they share your concerns? As you probably know if you read this site, speaking up as a group is usually more effective.

            Some of the framing of this may also be helpful. You may want to think about codifying a set of team norms, and rehearsal processes if you like. After all, there are definitely SOME boundaries that your team would agree to for all members. Say one of your members was hit by a bus, or suddenly moved out of state, or whatever. What would you require of a new team member? Probably that person wouldn’t be allowed to stay on if he like, groped you or something. And hopefully the other members would support that (though if you find out they won’t agree to that, what a good thing to know now!)
            You can find some examples of team norms here. https://www.med.upenn.edu/uphscovid19education/assets/user-content/documents/leading/guide-to-establishing-team-norms-final.pdf
            It’s important everyone is involved in their creation, so when you call them on it later, you’re always referencing something they have already agreed to.
            This can also provide the face-saving cover of “Oh, SURELY you didn’t KNOW you were being awful to us, because OBVIOUSLY you would have STOPPED and not continued being AWFUL, right?”

            In terms of reviewing rehearsal and video, it’s also worth considering putting deliberate structure into your rehearsal and feedback sessions. Reviewing video together and going around having each person say ONE thing they like about EACH dancer’s performance and ONE thing they think EACH dancer can improve on is a simple but effective way to do this. It won’t remove the gushing about the men, necessarily, but it does mean you can stop the criticism and say “Hey, I just need one thing from you, thanks” or “We’ve decided to do our reviews during the review time, please save it for that,” and push him off in agreed upon ways. If your rehearsals are somewhat unstructured, this may provide an effective focus anyway.

            One caveat: As some other commenters have noted, hounding your for AN HOUR at a party trying to initiate something romantic is a very different beast than different dance feedback for men and women. In the workplace, if someone did that to you, even outside the workplace, it would be sexual harassment. It is a BIG DEAL, and he was clearly violating your boundaries and ignoring norms of consent, over and over. This person is not just a “jerk.” This person is likely taking advantage of the power dynamic (it’s likely easier to find a follower replacement than a lead) in order force you to endure unwanted sexual advances, and that is completely unacceptable. It sounds like he may have done this to MULTIPLE women on your team!

            If it were just the rehearsals and feedback comments, I would push the norms, but this kind of behavior is not okay. You cannot violate people’s sense of safety and make them put up with unwanted sexualized behavior, period.

            I would honestly consider talking to your other female members of the team, and see if they would stick by you in kicking this one guy out of the group. Then call a meeting with everyone except the harasser and push them to stand by you and remove him. At this meeting, I would only mention the harassment, and that it is just unacceptable for someone you have to dance with regularly to be allowed to treat you like this with no consequences. If you can get all the women on your side, you will have a simple majority anyway.

            As we all know, lots of people defend perpetrators, so this isn’t guaranteed to work. But don’t forget, you can always organize your own team! It’s a pain, but if you can set one up that guarantees respect for its members and will defend it, it will attract the people you want.

      4. Ellis Bell*

        What do you mean that he hounded you and tried to initiate “something”? That sounds really alarming and not to be brushed off, possibly? Re the other stuff: Is there any particular reason why he can’t be called out directly for what he’s doing? Like when he only praises the men could you just say flatly “Yes, they were great, but you completely forgot to mention Cagney and Lacey” as opposed to just saying “Cagney and Lacey were also great!” Or “Okay, I’m sure you didn’t mean to only praise the guys after Katniss’ incredible performance there”. That might not sound like fun, and he might be a huge baby/energy vampire, and maybe you don’t have the bandwidth for direct call outs, so in that case I’d probably go with feeding him as much rope as humanly possible for him to continue making a fool of himself before shutting him down completely like: “What should I be doing better? What do you mean? Can you show me really slowly? Can you repeat it? I don’t get it. One more time?…. Actually never mind, I’ll just go with the original plan.” I would like to say that I don’t understand why you haven’t spoken to the group organiser about the basic rudeness and misogyny of this participant, but I do know why; it’s because of the warning of possibly characterising anyone having a complaint as dramatic, but honestly I’d consider making the organiser say that flat out in regards to this.

      5. goddessoftransitory*

        The director is playing the “drama” card so the women who are being harassed and silenced will hesitate to say anything for fear of being tarred with that brush. He’s actively colluding with this guy at this point.

        You aren’t dealing with just one bad apple. His rot is flourishing because it isn’t being shut down by his boss, and that can and should be addressed. You aren’t being dramatic, he isn’t “just” doing something annoying.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Yep, all he has to do is use the word “emotional” for someone’s misogyny bingo card to be filled here.

  31. M2*

    What do you do when families don’t reciprocate play dates? This is not a high stakes question but I have two/ three families that drop their kids off (multiple) and they never reciprocate. One of them is a neighbor. This isn’t a one time thing either, the kids have been to my house 4-10x this year and they don’t invite mine. It isn’t a behavioral issue or anything.

    When one of the families asked me “same time next week?” I replied with “might we do it at your home next Saturday?” and I get responses such as “we are just so busy” to “we love having this free time away from our kids.” It is getting to be a lot since they are usually over anywhere from 2-4 hours at a time.

    I have now cut the play dates to 2 hours, but am feeling a bit used. All the kids are around the same age and some families have one more child that comes over. It also isn’t a period I have free, I usually make them all a snack or a meal and do an activity like art or a game, etc. They aren’t old enough to leave alone either.

    My spouse and I both work but my spouse travels a lot during this part of the year including some weekends. I have a babysitter who comes a few hours one weekend afternoon, but it would be great if they could reciprocate so my kid could see their homes and I could clean or have a moment to myself in my home.

    I don’t want the kids to miss out on play dates so do I just have play dates with families who reciprocate or offer to meet at playgrounds? I don’t even need equal reciprocation just once in awhile! The issue is two of the families are my kids closest friends. If a family is having an issue or struggling I don’t mind, but I am feeling like the neighborhood free babysitter at this point.

    I told one parent when they asked if we were doing the same time next week that I was tired and didn’t have the bandwidth to host and asked if they could host one play date and they said they didn’t have the time. Any ideas?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Wow. I’m kind of blown away by the folks who straight up said “[We don’t want to host,] we enjoy having time away from our kids,” no shame there about taking advantage of you.

      I don’t have kids and I’m not very polite when people are taking advantage of me (and these folks are 1000% taking advantage of you to be sure) so take this with a grain of salt, but if you’re not comfortable being blunt

      “Hey, Sam and Chris, I’ve hosted your kids at playdates 7 times this year including meals, snacks, and craft projects, and you’ve not reciprocated at all, so I’m gonna need you to take a couple of turns before I’m up for hosting anymore.”

      Or you could try a pointed comment and see where it goes –
      Sam: “It’s so nice having this time away from the kids!”
      You: “I wouldn’t know, I’m always the one hosting, we’re at seven times and counting! When is it my turn?”

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        (Ok, so every suggestion I ended up coming up with is fairly blunt and I forgot to correct my phrasing around the examples, sorry :) )

        1. Jelly*

          I understand them, though, and responses like this are deserved!

          Too add to those responses, I’d just say “You’re using me as a babysitter for free, and then don’t bother to reciprocate. Why?”, take a step back, and wait for them to answer. It’s time you told them what you’ve told us here, LW. Find out why they think what they’re doing is acceptable. I know I’m curious.

          1. The scum is winning*

            Yea, I think I’d say something like this, too! That’s pretty wild. With my own SISTER, we try to keep things more or less even.

    2. Llellayena*

      For the “we love having time away from the kids” crowd you can respond “so do I, so can you host a day so I can get some free time too?” The “we’re too busy” crowd is harder but same concept “I’d like to have some time free to get to other things on my to-do list too.” You might have to be “too busy” for a week or two to drive the point home though.

    3. SofiaDeo*

      Unfortunately it seems like you need to cut back on the playdates for ypur own sanity, until the neighbors stop seeing you as their free babysitter. Insist on them being at playgrounds or orher public places where the parents must stay to watch. It won’t be harmful to your kids overall, many of us dodn’t have drop off playdates regularly & we are normal mbers of society. My parents/grandparents sometimes had me help with various chores if I was bored and made it fun.

    4. Anonymous cat*

      No real suggestions but when I read the line “We enjoy having this time” my first thought was for you to say Ditto!

      So self centered to say that to you!

    5. California Dreamin’*

      Wow! I’ve raised three kids and I can’t even imagine another parent expecting you to host play dates but telling you they’re too busy to do the same! I have a couple of thoughts. First, you don’t say how old these kids are, but it sounds like you are doing fairly structured play dates if there’s a craft. Unless the children are, like, toddlers, you could probably give them a much more unstructured experience, so just have the guest children over and let the kids play and run amok and entertain themselves while you go about your own business in the house. So make it lower impact on yourself. And definitely don’t serve a meal unless you specifically planned to invite kids for lunch or whatever! (Snacks are probably still necessary most of the time.) Another thing is if your kids are still preschool age, I almost feel like you can choose who their friends are for them . For example, most of the play dates my kids had when they were that small were with the kids of my good friends. So we either reciprocated a lot or just hung out together while the kids played. I definitely would simply stop inviting the non-hosters because that’s just not cool! Stick to the families that understand social norms.

    6. nopetopus*

      I say keep doing what you’ve done. Continue saying “no” to requests when you don’t feel like doing it, but definitely keep explicitly asking for them to reciprocate. Their responses tell you tons (as you already know!) and if I were in your shoes, I’d stop hosting for anyone who responds any less than “Yes, we’d be happy to! This week is nuts, but what about [date]?”

    7. Ellis Bell*

      As well as being blatantly selfish, this is really short sighted on their part. If they gave you just a little bit of reciprocity, they’d be able to call you up on the off chance you’re free when in a real bind, or emergency situation and ask if you could take them. As it is, I’d only take the kids for playdates if and when it suits you and your children. Like if the friendships are really important to your kids, and on a much more spaced out schedule than if it was shared, so you don’t burn out. If there’re other families with better reciprocity, I totally think it’s valid to only deal with them. Offering to meet at a park is one idea, but these people are so shameless I wonder if they’d even make the time to join you, or if they’d expect you to watch their kids at the park while they go home! I have to say as a teacher, I feel bad for their kids. It’s like they don’t want to share in their kid’s friendships or experiences at all. Whenever I encounter this sort of attitude with a parent (the best quote I ever got ‘I don’t care if he can read’), its always a child who doesn’t go anywhere, or have that many experiences with his or her parents.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      People are telling you to your face that they see you as a free babysitter! I’d start saying no more often and replying to any excuse with things like “yes, I’m busy too but I want the kids to have fun together” or “yes, I would like time to myself too so I would appreciate taking turns with the playdates” etc. Just really explicitly make it “you’re treating me badly and we both know it” but in a polite way.

    9. Not A Manager*

      I would cut them off completely. To any suggestion that the kids come to your place, respond with, “that won’t work this time, should I send them to your house?” When they say they are too busy, respond with, “okay! Let me know whenever you’d like them to come over.”

      My guess is that they’ll quickly decide that the benefit of being able to foist the kids off on you is worth the cost of hosting your kids sometimes. But you have to set that boundary before they have the realization.

      Once they do start reciprocating, then I think you can be explicit. “I know you’re both busy, but I need you to host once for every two times that I host,” or whatever works for you. If you need it to be 50/50, then say that, but if you’re okay with a different structure just name whatever you need.

      You’ll probably need to reset the boundary a few times after that because they will try to stealth into you doing more of the labor. I wouldn’t name it at that point, just revert back to “that won’t work for me, when can the kids come to your place?” They’ll get it.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      I don’t even need equal reciprocation just once in awhile!
      This is what it comes down to in so many unbalanced human interactions.

      Two thoughts:
      First, they sound kinda like those people who believe that the people inviting them to dinner parties just like hosting free nightclubs and don’t care if any guests actually show up or not, and don’t expect it to be reciprocated because they just don’t have the genetic code to enjoy hosting the way they can tell you can, or because they are “busy” which is a condition that obviously doesn’t affect most young families. If they’re very close you can talk about how you don’t enjoy the dynamic and want it to change. If they’re not very close then it’s “Whelp, draw your boundaries and then hold them; they will not be reciprocating.”

      Second, is it easier to watch your kid + 1 other kid, compared to your kid alone? (Note: I find that when this is true for your kid + 1, the tagalong sibling very often renders is not true.) If so, then I would keep hosting the kid’s closest friends. As a nice thing for your kid, and for these little kids who don’t have any choice in the process. But you can decide that that’s now 1 Saturday morning/month because you, too, are busy and tired, damnit.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Also, in my days of hosting playdates (my children are in graduate school):
        • For preschoolers, where the parent stayed, it was often the case that it wound up being at the house of the person with the baby, so the baby could be put down to nap as needed.
        • For schoolage, where the parent was elsewhere, reciprocation was the norm. If not reciprocated, I did the “Child and I like Young Louie, and watching them play is less work than entertaining child, so I will invite Louie as long as that works for me, Child, and Louie.”
        • The afterschool playdate lended itself to no tagalong siblings. A neighbor tried to establish tagalongs as the norm–and she would reciprocate, except the other adults didn’t want that as the model. And her younger child was quite a bit younger and badly behaved (I felt like she thought this was less apparent with much older kids, since of course he was less mature), so people wound up not inviting the perfectly charming 9 year old because they didn’t want to get stuck with the tantrumming 5 year old. It was hard on the poor 9 year old, who on his own would have been invited to friends’ frequently.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      I feel like you could really use this piece by Captain Awkward, which really resonated with me. A grudge clock is what you start when you do a favor for someone, but resentfully.


      One thing that I’m really seeing in a lot of contexts now is her two groups of people, on being finally told you don’t want to keep doing the favor:
      One group never considered it a favor because it’s no big deal to them, and just shrug and don’t ask again. But they aren’t retroactively grateful.
      One group believes that you are a minor character in their life and they take that favor as their just due, and plan to continue doing so.

    12. Grandma Mazur*

      Like everyone else (and as a parent) I’m truly shocked that people would brazenly say these things (although I also note it’s evident in their behaviour had it never been spoken aloud). With parents I don’t know well and where they hosted first I would never expect a repeat invitation until we had hosted at least once (and in general it’s easier for us to host as we have two kids close in age both of whom are at school). If we hosted first I would repeat the invitation only if I continued to feel like I benefited as well as my child/ren (eg I get time to make dinner while they all play upstairs). After that I would just not extend any further invitations. That said, most playdates we’ve had are ‘stay and play’ not ‘drop offs’ and I only invite people whose company I enjoy so I almost always have as good a time as the kids! All the advice here is good – and you are a better person than I am for being so selfless.

    13. goddessoftransitory*

      You feel like the neighborhood babysitter and used because that’s what’s happening! They’re flat out using you, and the help you’re paying for!

      They may not have the time, but that doesn’t mean yours is up for grabs. Call a halt to play dates until a much more equitable system has been established and stuck to for a definite period of time (no reluctant hosting once or twice and then everybody tries to push it back in your lap.)

    14. Neurodivergent in Germany*

      I agree with everyone that this is not okay, they absolutely should reciprocate.
      But I hear you wanting to do this for your kids.

      Could you make it easier for yourself by not doing a craft but just setting out paper and crayons or letting them play with dolls/blocks/toy cars…? No meal, just a very simple snack, like pretzels and some fruit.

      Maybe other parents would be up for doing
      the same at their house. I might feel intimidated by very elaborate playdates and like I can’t keep up.
      We usually just meet up at the playground so nobody has to prep anything. I bring fun toys like bubbles or sidewalk chalk.
      Finances vary widely in our neighborhood, with a mix of the projects, broke and insecure exchange academics in small apartments and tenured academic homeowners living close together, so it’s easier to just play outside.

  32. sagewhiz*

    A hip-hip-hooray cheer of thanks to all who offered info/ideas about my upcoming hip replacement! Took copious notes from your great advice. And connected to the FB THR forum, which I hadn’t known of. First day I was able to post, first post I read was from a woman asking virtually the same questions I’d asked here. So, passed along your suggestions and also gave a shout-out to AAM as the source. You helped a lot more people than just I, and for that I thank you!

    1. Voluptuousfire*

      I wore a long top and was able to tuck it in my pants and it looked great! I pretty much never tucked my top into my pants because it looked weird but I’ve lost about 20 lbs since the pandemic and I have a lot more self confidence.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I was debating stopping into the Whole Foods that is farther from my house (I’d been to the art supply store nearby) and resolved to just do it, I was nearby. And they had mini pumpkins! Which my farmstand hasn’t had, as the wet summer did them in. So now I get to draw faces on them and put them along my fence posts after all.

    3. Price*

      I read a side-splitting customer review of something I was thinking about buying and am still laughing about it a few days later thinking I’d love to buy the person coffee as I think we’d get along!

      1. Morning Dew*

        Can you share what it said if you don’t mind? I love reading funny & unexpected reviews like that when I am in a serious mode reading through the reviews about purchasing.

    4. UKDancer*

      I’ve booked my holiday to the Canaries in January for some winter sun and an escape from the grey English weather which will be a wonderful thing. I have a week in a very nice hotel planned where I shall relax, eat good food and swim every day.

    5. Busy Middle Manager*

      At the place we do not speak of, I coded something I didn’t think I was capable of. Would have been completely impossible for me to imagine even a few years ago. It was such a rush, felt like creating a work of art

      1. Just here for the scripts*

        Congrat! As a pre-computer theater major who now works in tech, I know this feeling well!!! Enjoy it!

    6. Cookies For Breakfast*

      My partner and I visited an art fair today – we found free tickets and had no other plans, so we stopped by with no particular expectations.

      We saw a vertical print with beautifully illustrated jungle animals in black and white, that would fit perfectly on a tall, narrow space in our living room. We both fell in love with it and bought it on the spot, and just ordered the frame online too. I can’t wait to see it on the wall!

    7. Past Lurker*

      Watching live TV coverage of the annular solar eclipse earlier today! I’m on the opposite side of the US, so glad to see it even if only on TV.

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        I’m in Los Angeles and didn’t specifically look at the sun/moon relationship—our eclipse was only a partial anyway.

        When it started, though, everything went completely still: birds were silent and squirrels were sitting motionless in the trees; and there was not a breath of a breeze—the leaves themselves were completely stationary, not the slightest movement even in the very tops of the tall palms that line my street. Everything was absolutely motionless, as if the whole planet had just … paused … for the eclipse.

        I was moved, even if nothing else did.

      2. David*

        It was pretty great! I traveled to see it in person, which was exciting, but you can definitely get a more detailed view from some of the coverage on TV and especially online.

    8. anon24*

      I, the mathematically challenged person who had to study like crazy just a year ago in order to relearn how to add fractions by hand and other basic arithmetic so that I could pass into the lowest level of college level math without having to take remedial classes, found out I got a 95% on my Unit 2 Calculus 1 test this week! I’m on my 4th math class this calendar year to catch up to where I need to be, and boy am I tired of math but I am working so hard and I am so happy!

    9. PhyllisB*

      We got a new stove!! I’m so thrilled!! (Even though hubby does 90% of the cooking.) We’ve been trying to find one for three years but the kind of drop in we had (house built in the 70’s) wasn’t available anymore.

    10. not bootstrapping today*

      I went to the Eras movie last night. It was fun watching all the kids singing & having fun.

    11. Sage*

      I had a little nostalgia trip by installing MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 on a virtual machine. I also programmed a simple calculator on QBasic and played Nibbles.

    12. NeonFireworks*

      I worked hard, so I bought a freezer pizza on the way home from the office yesterday and ate the entire thing.

    13. Damn it, Hardison!*

      My mug warmer! I love my slow Sunday mornings, when I sit reading for hours with my cuddly cat and my cup of coffee. I was tired of lukewarm (or cold) coffee, so I bought an inexpensive mug warmer on Amazon. Now my coffee is really warm as long as I want to sit (ok, as long as my cat wants to sit there, as she is a demanding but benevolent dictator with iron mitts).

    14. Nervous Nellie*

      This week, at a tiny used dvd/cd store, I found a copy of The Quiet Earth, a New Zealand film that I saw when it came out in the 80s. I have been searching for a dvd of it since dvds first came out. It was $1.50. Thrilled!

    15. Bibliovore*

      I worked our local book festival yesterday and an author who I didn’t know (friend of a friend) whose manuscript I read a few years ago came up to me and said thank you for the encouragement. AND that I had recommended an editor who eventually published it. I forgot about recommending the editor but it gave me joy that I did some good.

    16. Elizabeth West*

      Yesterday, we FINALLY had a Saturday where it did not rain. I went to the Boston Book Festival at the Central Library and bought a book from one of the Sisters in Crime authors, took a marketing photo of my books outside, traded books with an indie fantasy author/publisher (mine for hers, haha), saw my bus friend (she works there), and ate a terrific (though expensive) beef hot dog on a park bench in Boston Common. I went home a bit early; it clouded up and got cold, plus I was tired and in pain from my bad knee and a double flu/Covid vaccination the night before, but overall, it was a really nice day.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        YES to the rainfree weekend here in New England, as something totally new and different!
        And I had a reaction to my flu shot on Friday as well. Sheesh.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I don’t mind the rain; I just wish it would happen during the week. I’m at work then and I don’t care!

          Every time I get a flu shot I feel yucky. The Covid shot was in the same arm. I felt okay when I left in the morning, but by the time I got to the Common, the aches were starting to kick in. Still better than the alternative.

  33. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Does anyone have any tips on getting your engagement ring right? Also has anyone had a photoshoot for their engagement? what was that like?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      What do you mean, getting it … right? If the person who has to wear it is happy with it, and you’re engaged, there isn’t really a “wrong.”

      In a previous marriage, my ex was really sincerely cranky about the style of ring he wanted to get me (the “traditional” diamond solitaire) vs a style of ring I wanted (a band with a flat-set stone that was not a diamond) – I told him that he could get me whatever kind of engagement ring he wanted, and I would wear it during our engagement, but that if he wanted me to continue wearing it after we got married, it needed to be a style I was comfortable wearing, or I would stop wearing it when I had a wedding band. (He also pitched a tantrum about the idea of not having a traditional wedding cake, NEVER MIND THAT NEITHER OF US LIKED CAKE. I should have minded the red flags. :P )

      With my current husband, I have had to get my e-ring repaired several times – the original was fire opals in a fairly inexpensive setting, so first one of the opals (which are super fragile) chipped, then we had them replaced with more durable stones but the setting was giving out in some parts so the replacement stones also fell out. After the third fix in three years, I put the original ring (along with the original fire opals) away in my jewelry box and we got a “placeholder” infinity band with flat-set sapphire and citrine (orange for me and blue for him) that I wear along with my wedding band instead. (I’d have been fine going without, except that my wedding band is super super narrow because I picked it expecting to have an e-ring alongside it, and it looks wonky to me by itself.)

      So I guess, I would say, to get it right, make sure the person who’s wearing it is happy with it, and be educated about the durability of the materials so the person who’s wearing it knows how to take proper care of it. (I didn’t know until five years in, when it was too late, that fire opals are second in fragility only to pearls and in fact a lot of jewelers won’t actually work on them as a result.)

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Wow, you are like me, right down to the argument with my ex about not wanting a traditional diamond solitaire! I ended up stuck with this ring he bought me as a surprise, that caught on everything because the mount was so raised. Annoyed me every time I put on tights. My second engagement ring is so much less expensive, and more me, and is flat so feels comfortable and practical. Both of us have been engaged before, and ended up with possession of the ring; hocking a second hand engagement ring leaves you in no doubt about the the mark up on this type of jewelry, so we steered clear of the mostly diamond engagement branded stuff. I also really wanted an emerald in spite of it being not recommended for daily wear. I also wanted a mossy emerald, even though that is the worst type to wear regularly! My fiance just shrugged and said we’d replace the stone if we ever had to, it would still work out cheaper. He didn’t get hung up on the supposedly eternal nature of the stone at all and it’s actually lasted perfectly well; the setting was inexpensive, so we did have that shored up. If I wasn’t so gaga about mossy emeralds, I’d probably go with a ruby, sapphire or diamond which are high on the hardness/durability scale and have beautiful color variations. One jeweller, in a bid to talk me out of emeralds, showed me beautiful violet sapphires and a pretty cappuccino coloured diamond. I think as long as you’ve sized it correctly, it’s your style, it’s comfortable and it’s either durable or you’re willing to maintain and fix a less durable stone/style how far wrong can you go?

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yep – I don’t usually care for raised gem settings because they get caught on things, but Husband put more thought into picking it out than just “engagement ring must be diamond solitaire” and I ended up really loving it, I’m still pretty bummed that it’s not sturdy enough to hold up to me these days. Maybe for our tenth anniversary I’ll look into having it recreated in a higher quality setting so I can go back to it again. :)

        2. Girasol*

          Engagement rings aren’t even a real tradition but one that was invented by DeBeers as a marketing tactic to sell more of their diamonds. Why not shake off all the rules of what you’re supposed to do for your wedding (which are mainly marketing tools for a lucrative wedding industry) and do whatever is meaningful for you and your fiance to start a successful marriage? Let everyone know you’re unique.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        That guy sounds like he sucks. I don’t wear rings but I thought an engagement ring would be super romantic since I’ve never been married before. I’m looking at a sapphire because it does look nice to have a colored ring. My bf doesn’t care since it’s just a favor to me…

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          He did suck :P He did end up picking the e-ring I liked in the end (though he gave me guff about it for years), so I was kinda bummed to stop wearing it when we split because I really liked the style. But like someone else said, e-rings are a “tradition” invented by the diamond companies, so if you want one, that’s awesome, and it should be one that you love. :) Sapphires are pretty sturdy and should hold up for a good long time!

          My mom’s engagement ring 48 years ago was just a plain solid band, and when they got their wedding set her wedding ring had diamonds on it, so the whole time people have assumed they were reversed.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      I don’t know about “right,” but my engagement ring was a black pearl and I love it. I don’t wear it now because pearls are fragile (see fire opal commenter) and because our actual wedding rings weren’t purchased as a set. Instead we picked out two rings from an antique store. Mine’s from the thirties and Husband’s is from the fifties, but they are similar in style and really beautiful.

    3. GoryDetails*

      I didn’t want an engagement ring at all; barely tolerated a wedding ring and that was only because we got them made by a local craftsman to our specifications. If I had wanted an engagement ring, I hope I’d have been able to talk it over with my fiance as to preferences and cost; would make sense to go try on rings together to see if there was one that made us both go “Oooh!” (and that didn’t break the bank).

      As for a photoshoot for an engagement, that’s not for me. The whole process of deciding to marry and making/accepting an official proposal was very personal; I would never have dreamed of doing it in public and/or having it recorded. But for those who’d love it – well, as with the rings, talk it over. Make sure you’re both on the same page re just how perfect it’s supposed to be, just how public (in front of guests at someone’s home? Jumbo-tron at a game? Times Square on New Year’s Eve?), will you want any re-takes if the sound isn’t perfect, etc.

      For those who get surprised by rings and/or staged proposals that they aren’t happy with… I dunno. For me it’d be a huge red flag; that person doesn’t know me, has no idea how much I hate this, how can they even THINK I’d want to be with them now. But for many it’d be a mild “oops,” with a ring that can either be tolerated or replaced later on, and a proposal that might become a fond anecdote if the actual marriage works out.

      1. Heliotrope*

        If you want an engagement ring it needs to be something you would actually wear, and not necessarily what the DeBeers diamond advertisements have pushed, like the ring having to cost a certain percentage of one’s income. Don’t fall for that nonsense.

        I never was into this engagement ring business (been married 25 years, didn’t want an engagement ring). In fact some college friends used to refer to engagement rings as “putting a deposit on her”!

        You read stories of people wondering when their sweetie was going to propose. Aren’t you grownups?? If a couple has had conversations about marriage, and they decide Yes We’re Going To Get Married, then they are officially engaged. And why would there be no conversations about marriage until after a pop-the-question event? There’s no “we’ll only be officially engaged if one of us has an engagement ring”, or until somebody gets down on one knee for a hallmark moment.

      2. Cj*

        I totally agree about photographing a proposal. if it is a surprise, but if they say no, or want to say no and feel like they can’t because it’s being recorded and or in public?

        if it’s not a surprise, then is the actual proposal, or did it already happen earlier, and it is being restaged specifically to video it?

        1. Cj*

          I should have added in there regarding recording proposal, if that’s what the couple wants to do, that’s fine by me, and I certainly wouldn’t criticize them. but we are being asked for our opinions here, so that’s what I’m doing.

      3. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        oh god I’d never do the whole public proposal thing. I was technically proposed to maybe a year or two ago with ‘ so you want to get married? ‘ but we forgot and are just now actually getting married

    4. Reba*

      No e-ring here. Was interested in spending the money on other things, lol. My only advice is to make sure you are on the same page with the other party. I know that surprise is a big part of the romance for many, but I think you can have both candid conversations and still preserve an element of surprise if you want that!

      My sis is a former pro photographer, and we had a very quick session of portraits so we would have something to put on the wedding website. We actually went out to the wedding location, you can’t necessarily tell from the pics but it’s a special place to us so that adds to it. They are actually great–and I am nutty about having my picture taken, so it felt like a bit of a chore and I knew that a big session with multiple outfits would not help me feel joyous about the occasion, to say the least. But I’m glad we did them!

    5. mreasy*

      My ring isn’t really an “engagement” ring because my husband & I didn’t have a traditional proposal etc… but he did get me a diamond ring for my birthday after we decided to get hitched, knowing I like sparkly pretty things. He asked 2 of my good friends and got a very pretty and unique custom ring with a low-carat sparkler cut recycled diamond, and it is truly beautiful. Though the jeweler had agreed that if I wanted something different they would re-set the stone. I am also a chaos agent and it’s a very secure low-set stone to avoid getting caught on things.

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

      I’ll just chime in to reinforce the idea that it’s fine to get a placeholder ring for the engagement ring or the wedding ring if what one of you wants isn’t immediately available or if you don’t know what the other person really wants.

      My friend’s fiance had put off ordering the handcrafted rings they were going to use for the wedding and the rings weren’t going to be ready in time for the ceremony. Instead of settling for something she didn’t really want, my friend got them some cheap placeholder rings for the ceremony and to wear until their nicer rings were ready.

  34. fposte*

    I hope this isn’t too heavy. I’m looking for media, short reads or watches, that lay out the case for trans rights for somebody who is not otherwise conservative but is skeptical. I think they’re willing to explore a thing if I offer it, but I’m having trouble finding something that isn’t completely youth focused, isn’t a simple factual overview, or isn’t largely preaching to the choir (a lot of advocacy is doing this without realizing it). Contrapoints’ Gender Critical video is the only real rec I’m seeing, and though I’ve not seen it I’ve liked some of her other videos so this seems like a strong possibility. Is there anything else people could recommend?