weekend open thread – February 10-11, 2024

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: We Were Once a Family: A Story of Love, Death, and Child Removal in America, by Roxanna Asgarian. An infuriating, heartbreaking look at how six kids ended up removed from their families and adopted by a couple who abused and killed them. Much of the press coverage of this case focused on the adoptive couple; this book instead focuses on the kids’ original families and how the child welfare system failed them horribly.

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

{ 897 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

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

  2. sarah*

    When you move into a new neighborhood, do you do anything special to try to meet the neighbors? Or if someone new moves in next to you/on your street do you welcome them in any way? When I was a kid it seemed traditional to welcome new neighbors with brownies, etc but it seems to have mostly died out. We have a new next door neighbor moving in soon and I’m wondering if it would be overkill or even unwelcome for me to take brownies or similar to them in their first few days in the new place and offer to answer any questions about the neighborhood.

    1. Junior Dev*

      I think it would be lovely to bring brownies! You could also bring a note (typed if your handwriting is as terrible as mine) introducing yourself to leave if they’re not there when you come by, that’s what I did with my current upstairs neighbor.

    2. DannyG*

      With all of the emphasis on dietary restrictions, allergies, etc. I’m not sure how well that would work in this day and age. When we moved here 34 years ago some neighbors brought home baked bread, which was wonderful. I’m still the new guy on the mountain, so not much recent experience.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Taking brownies (or whatever) to the neighbors isn’t about the food itself. It’s a symbolic offering of welcome.

        There are people who receive a kind gesture as it was intended, and people who nitpick. That’s the same as it has always been. I’m sure there was someone in the ancient world who turned up their nose at the gift of bread and salt.

        1. NeonFireworks*

          I thought DannyG’s comment was thoughtful and considerate of people like me. If someone brought me brownies (or soup or pretty much anything other than plain rice), I’d have to decide between being appreciative but gently upfront that I’m allergic to almost everything (I’d probably suggest that we go around to visit more neighbors and distribute the brownies together) and just accepting them but then quietly throwing them out and feeling terrible about it.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Neighbors gave us a blueberry pie as a thank you. I hate blueberry pie. That last bit was such a teensy, minor detail–my spouse ate the pie. I appreciated the gesture just about exactly as much as if it had been something I do eat. (Other food was available to me! The pie was not intended to sustain me on its own for a week.)

            For a recurring thing it’s worth mentioning that you can’t eat wheat, or that your kid is no longer into Pokemon. For a one-off, the spirit of the gift is the main thing.

            I would much rather move to a new neighborhood surrounded by people who did welcoming things, even if those weren’t perfectly attuned to my own tastes, than one where everyone pre-analyzed all the things that could go wrong and so did nothing.

            1. AGD*

              Allergies are an accessibility issue, so let’s not equate them to taste preferences.

              I’m also not seeing the case for hypothetical paralysis. If I want to offer food to someone, I check with them first, because I don’t know if they have allergies or religious intolerances or a history of eating disorders or whatnot. If they say yes, great! If they say no, I come up with something else to take to them instead. Widespread food issues don’t mean I don’t express welcoming gestures; they just mean I’m a little more careful about it in advance.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                Okay. My daughter’s boyfriend was sent a gift basket by his remote workplace during the pandemic. It had some nut-based stuff in it, to which he is deathly allergic. So he gave all the stuff he couldn’t eat to us.

                It would be nice if they had caught the nut allergy, but for a one-off gesture it was mostly the gesture of offering food that mattered.

                In all of these cases, it’s not remotely akin to inviting someone to a dinner party and refusing to listen to their claims of allergies or other dietary restrictions. In the cases of neighbors giving banana bread, the people have other food available to them. This is intended as a possible extra treat, as a nice gesture. It can land as such even if the details missed. (For another example, I talked with someone who was following a precise diet post cancer diagnosis. Neighbors hearing of the diagnosis gave her banana bread and pie. She figured out who had teenagers and passed the food on.)

              2. Not Totally Subclinical*

                Whereas I would find it weird if a neighbor asked me my dietary restrictions on our first meeting — why do you want to know? Sure, maybe you want to check before bringing a treat, but maybe it’s the first sign that you’re really nosy and will be up in all my business.

                1. Falling Diphthong*

                  I think this is a real thing, in the Scylla and Charybdis of seeming interested but not too pushy or needy.

                  For me, “Hello. Here is a thing I enjoy making, that many people enjoy” lands at the right level. If it’s not perfect–it has cheese which my child can’t eat, it has coconut which I dislike–it didn’t need to be. If we get to know each other better, we’ll learn to better aim our food offerings over time.

                2. Washi*

                  I wouldn’t find it weird but I would feel compelled to do the dance of “no, you don’t need to do that etc”. I don’t eat meat and if someone brought me a meat dish I would be touched by the thought and give it away, I don’t find it to be a big deal.

            2. Rose*

              The point isn’t about not appreciating the gesture as what it is. It just feels crappy to throw away perfectly good food that someone took the trouble of making.

        2. Lenora Rose*

          There’s a rather famous internet kerfuffle created when a woman noticed her neighbours’ trash was always full of takeout containers – she knew they were college kids and she wanted to bring them some homemade chili. She was absolutely torn up one side and down the other at the very thought she might make a friendly gesture to a neighbour – they might be allergic! Her food might be terrible! How creepy was it that she would dare come to their door and knock! How ablist of her! What was she thinking, offering strangers food without asking?

          It was treated like she had suggested the worst faux pas in the history of rudeness.

          Turns out the neighbours were delighted to get a home cooked meal and completely friendly about it.

          Not saying your comment went this way – but REALLY really hoping the replies don’t.

          Yes, there can turn out to be some delicate areas to navigate with such offerings, food allergies being the most obvious, but the truth is the vast majority of people would either still take it in the spirit in which it’s meant, or find an honest but kind reason to refuse, and in both cases would probably think better of the friendly gesture.

    3. Filosofickle*

      My neighbors didn’t bring me gifts, but a couple of them did make a point of coming out to introduce themselves when they saw me outside before I moved in. One put a card in my mailbox welcoming me and giving me their phone numbers — that was super helpful.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I had to borrow the laundry room key from one of my neighbors on my second day here, so the Xfinity guy could get in to the internet box (I didn’t have a key yet). She is very nice, though she keeps to herself a lot.

        The other neighbor was not home that day but when she did come back, I discovered she is super friendly. Didn’t expect it because big city, but I’m glad. It was helpful to have someone to tell me where stuff is — the laundromat, thrift store, shortcuts, etc. Oh and she introduced me to Ocean State Job Lot — I think I want to marry that store, lol.

      2. Abundant Shrimp*

        Mine did the same – honestly I didn’t want or need any goodies. The neighbors introducing themselves and being friendly was a far better welcome gift. Sadly, the one guy who put a note with his phone number in my mailbox did it because he wanted to, uh “get to know me better”, which was super awkward and unhelpful. (He was a former neighbor’s brother so since this neighbor moved away, I’ll never see him again – happy ending, I suppose.)

    4. Sloanicota*

      Brownies are a good idea! My neighbor brought over a bottle of wine when I moved in, and I did the same for the new neighbor who bought his house when he moved out. But brownies are a better idea since not everyone drinks wine. It’s good to be on a friendly (but maybe not too friendly? YMMV) basis with neighbors, because they can look out for your house when you’re gone, bring in your bins if they end up at the wrong house, etc.

    5. Ranon*

      Ha ha my neighbors just rang my doorbell and introduced themselves and were like “so we heard you had a kid” and then I got names and phone numbers.

      Our block is maybe a little unusual in this day and age in that I know so many of my neighbors and our kids are in and out of all the houses all the time but I think it’s always great to introduce yourself, exchange a phone number, etc.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I envy that. Friends of ours chose the neighborhood where they would buy a house based on it being the sort of place that had block parties, and it has a strong integrated feel that I think is rare now.

      2. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

        I’ve been in my house for 25 years.

        When we first moved in my neighbor came over and introduced himself. We’ve now been friends for 25 years.

        Over the years, the neighborhood has changed and I’m now the “old guy” surrounded by young families. I made a point to introduce myself and welcome them to the block. I didn’t go knocking on doors — that’s not me — but just when when we met on the street.

        I think it’s great and leads to a nice sense of community.

    6. KR*

      My last neighbors gifted me banana bread (home made), dog treats since they noticed we had a dog, a nice card with recommendations & an intro of their family, and a couple local canned drinks that are signature to the area. It was so kind and sounds like a lot but it really just took up about a single small shopping bag and was a great way to start a friendship.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I never did, and I still mostly don’t know my neighbors. (And the ones I do know about are jerks and terrible pet owners anyway.) But a couple weeks ago, someone bought the house across the street kitty-corner, and he came to my door and offered us cookies. He seemed very young and very earnest. It was cute.

    8. Ginger Cat Lady*

      When we moved into this house, our next door neighbor came over with an index card. She had put her name and phone number there, and a short note that if we needed recommendations on anything in the neighborhood, we should text or call. On the back was the addresses of three local grocery stores, the library and a park with a cool playground.
      It was really nice, and though we are not besties, we do know each other and have a friendly relationship.

    9. Throwaway Account*

      I have done that and I have had neighbors do it for me. We have dietary restrictions so we brought the treats to work. They were still very welcome! So go for it!!

    10. Kale*

      We generally just try to catch new neighbors when they’re outside, introduce ourselves, and chat a bit. Brownies would be friendly but I tend to be hesitant about homemade baked goods from people I don’t know well. When we moved in, a neighbor introduced herself and gave us a card with names of some of the other neighbors and a bit about everyone.

    11. RagingADHD*

      We usually take cookies or homemade jam within the first few weeks. We missed the latest set because we were never home at the same time. But we have met them to chat since.

    12. Ellis Bell*

      Gluten free person here trying to make easy flourless brownies more of a thing; but honestly they’ll just take them to work, or thank you for the gesture if they can’t eat them! Baked goods aren’t really a thing here in the UK but our neighbour just came over to say hello and to ask if we knew the area well. She also knew our wheelie bin would be full (there was a huge clear out pre exchange because the lady who lived here inherited the house from family, and lived to 100 years old) and she arranged for us to use her bin and another neighbour’s the first week. She also gave us some plants she had propagated that she knew would grow well in our garden. Actually, the sellers also deliberately left us some really useful things like some tools, toilet roll, kitchen paper and a barely used vacuum – these were put to use, as was the bottle of wine they left (useful by regifting it, because we don’t drink…wow, we are impossible!)

    13. Lilo*

      My new neighbors brought iver Christmas cookies and we got their number for game night. But we would have done that without the cookies.

    14. just here for the scripts*

      I live in NYC and so I used to stop by with takeout menus of my favorite places in the neighborhood and introduce myself and hubby.

      Now so few places have them to hand out (cost cutting? They all say “it’s on our website”), so I compiled a list with web addresses and phone numbers. Included the local mom-and-pop pharmacy (they deliver crutches at 9am!) and other useful info on the neighborhood. I give them that now.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Definitely cost cutting. Prices and menu offerings change so much now it’s too expensive to print paper ones a lot of the time.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Website is easier to update and in theory cuts down on “but this menu (from 2008) in my junk drawer says your large pizza is $10, why are you charging me $15?”

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I get some in the mail, with coupons. I guess around here they’re kind of old school. Of course, some of the restaurants in this neighborhood have been here since God was a pup.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        We’ve done the list in the past – starting to rebuild it now for this house.
        The internet can give locations & surveys, but it’s nice to have someone give the nitty gritty.

        (Marco’s has the best thin-crust pizza; Antonella’s does the best deep-dish. But if you need delivery, Andretti Brothers is the only one that gets here before it’s cold!)

    15. RussianInTexas*

      No. Until 9 years ago I lived in rentals and never knew my neighbors at all, not even by sight. Now I’m in a house, and I can pick my neighbors out of the lineup, even occasionally talk with the ones on the right, but don’t even know their names. It’s been 9 years.

    16. Panda*

      When we moved, I found it really useful when neighbours dropped by with a card that had their names and address in it – we were meeting a lot of new people, and it felt really embarrassing when we forgot someone’s name and had to ask again. Some neighbours brought over treats for our dog, others gifted us cookies or a casserole.

    17. adipucey*

      When we bought our place, a couple of neighbors stopped in to introduce themselves as we were moving in, which we appreciated. One neighbor, however, stopped in to tell us how happy he was “a nice young white couple” had bought the place… In a way, we were grateful he introduced himself so honestly, because in the years we’ve lived there, we’ve been well-informed to avoid him like the plague. Brownies are definitely better.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Removed this and the thread that followed because of politics. Y’all, please do not ask me to moderate political stuff on the weekend. – Alison

        1. adipucey*

          My apologies, Alison! I didn’t mean to bring politics into things, and didn’t even think of that when I posted my comment.

    18. dude, I forget*

      I sometimes bring a card with a small gift card ($10?) to the closest grocery store. I feel like its the modern equivalent of brownies, a small food-like token that acknowledges that there are a lot of dietary preferences and restrictions out there.

      Plus, I like writing down my name and number in the card, and its no biggie to leave it in the mailbox if the new folks aren’t home.

      1. dude, I forget*

        writing your name and number down on a card removes the ‘am I going to remember this information?’ worry in the moment, and also removes any rush to find a pen and/or scrap of paper. Its something folks can file away and look at if they need to call or text.

    19. Texan In Exile*

      I take brownies to my new neighbors. (And to people who have new babies. And when there is a death. Brownies are Welcome/Comfort Carbs.)

      I especially wanted to know my new next-door neighbor because the previous neighbors were our snow shovelers. That is, in places where it snows, if you go out of town, you still need to make sure your sidewalk is shoveled. I suppose I could pay someone, but it’s easier to make a deal with the people who live by you – that you shovel their walk when they’re out of town and vice versa.

      Also, I just want to know my neighbors!

      1. What the what*

        The kindness of strangers and neigh is so humbling at times! I’m super thankful for people who help neighbors out with snow, debris, etc. My aunt lives 800 miles away from us and she is very elderly. Her neighbors shovel her out, help her with her cell phone, etc. So incredibly kind. We rarely (sadly) get the chance to shovel snow since we are far enough south. We get more hail….I guess we could shovel that since it comes down pretty deep at times? Our big thing is storm clean up because our neighborhood is very wooded. When my husband got a chainsaw (oh my!) he couldn’t wait for limbs to come down in the neighborhood!

    20. nopetopus*

      No, I don’t. But I’m a single woman living alone in apartments. When I was younger I tried to go out of my way to be friendly with neighbors, only to have it turn out that multiple folks were…. not mentally stable and became fixated on me and it was unpleasant. Now I stick to myself.

      1. Kay*

        This applies to not just single women – there are plenty of people you really don’t want to be associated with. I’m so glad I didn’t give my new neighbors my information – we found out later they are…not good people.

        1. Stay-at-Homesteader*

          This is the eternal debate between me and my husband. We live in a walkable and quirky neighborhood in a mid-sized Midwestern city. I’m super outgoing on know all of my neighbors at least by sight or by their dogs, if not by name. My husband is from an extremely rural area and a hardcore introvert, so he doesn’t talk to anyone if he can help it. Mostly it’s been a huge help knowing the neighbors – I have so many stories about them being kind and helpful and just brightening my and my kids’ day. But we’ve had a couple brushes with some pretty bad situations and knowing there’s someone unstable nearby who knows where you live and is mad at you is not a comfortable situation.

      2. Shakti*

        Yes I bought my first house 2 years ago and I’d never lived in a house before so I was very excited to meet the neighbors and have our kids play together. Fast forward 6-8 months turns out some of our neighbors are uhhh not mentally stable. One guy got arrested for throwing fireworks into another neighbor’s yard for months. Another woman thought it was ok to scream at another neighbor because she didn’t say hello to her. That poor neighbor was on her phone and didn’t hear her. This is a very nice diverse beautiful suburban neighborhood. I’ve very much cooled it on interacting with neighbors and leave it at hey! and the weather lol

    21. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      It’s a fabulous idea, with one caveat…give them time to settle a little first! I had a neighbor come knock on my door the second the moving truck drove away, on the hottest day of the year, and I was a sweaty mess. All I wanted was a shower and a nap!

    22. BikeWalkBarb*

      Do it! My husband and I moved to a new town, new neighborhood three years ago (fall of 2020, Year 1 COVID Era). This is the first place I’ve ever lived where two sets of neighbors came over within the first two days to introduce themselves. A third who isn’t very mobile sent one of her daughters over with a couple of bags of Schwann’s frozen cookie dough and a half-sheet cookie pan. We felt so welcomed! And of course now we keep an eye on their houses when they’re gone and my husband takes care of the garbage cans for the one who can’t get out, if her daughters aren’t there.

      As we walk around the neighborhood we stop and introduce ourselves to other neighbors if they’re out in their yards. We know most of them by name and sight now. I have genuinely never experienced this before, unless you count when I was a kid growing up outside of Lewiston, Idaho, and of course we knew the two families who lived a half-mile away in either direction on the country road.

    23. Kathy the Librarian*

      In the 70s, my mother belonged to Welcome Wagon. They welcomed new residents to our community with a giftbasket full of flyers, coupons and gifts from local merchants. I’d see her putting them together and couldn’t wait to get one for myself someday. It never happened. But I loved the idea.

      Maybe instead of food, a little basket of neighborhood information and, ok, maybe a few cookies. I bet if you asked local merchants, they’d be happy to give you something.

    24. ypsi*

      I did. When a new owner moved into the house opposite to mine (a single mom with 2 boys), I baked some kind of coffee cake and I brought it over. That was about … gosh, I am not sure how many years ago …. likely 7 years ago.
      Now, I am home with a triple ankle fracture and the single mom of the two boys comes over every evening to check on me and to take my dog for a quick walk.

    25. No Tribble At All*

      Well, no, I rarely have. Once you introduce yourself, they know who you are and where you live!! You can’t avoid them!

      Or maybe I’ve just had bad experiences with neighbors. In an apartment complex everyone’s way more up in your face, from the people who smoke weed inside to the dude with the subwoofer.

    26. don'tbeadork*

      When I was a kid our backdoor neighbor welcomed us to the neighborhood with a sack of tomatoes from their vine. In this neighborhood we just kind of randomly wave at each other — not much socializing going on.

      I wonder if just a nicely typed up list of stuff that’s important/useful to know — when is trash day, where’s the nearest grocery store, how often and where is the local farmer’s market, or a list of good places that offer take out and so on would be welcome?

    27. Quinn*

      I bought a little bouquet for my new neighbors that moved into the other side of the townhouse building I’m in. I made sure that it was pet-safe with no lilys (very toxic to cats) bouquet and a little welcome card with my partner and I’s cell numbers on it in case of emergency. I also dropped off some banana bread when I had extra later that month. They invited us over for dinner whenever we’re an available but I’ve been too exhausted to take them up on their offer.

    28. YrLocalLibrarian*

      I usually take a small fruit basket with a dog or cat toy if I notice they have a pet. It seems easier to pass along a pineapple or some oranges if your allergic/don’t like them.

    29. Elle Woods*

      When my husband and I moved into our new house a couple of years ago, one of our neighbors came over with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. It was a lovely gesture and a great way to meet her; I also appreciated that the flowers were in a vase as we hadn’t unpacked those yet.

    30. Ghostlight*

      Please do! I moved into my first house a year ago and I truly wish my neighbors had done that. We now know the neighbors on both sides of us. One is a couple a few decades older with grown kids who have lived here for years and have been really helpful with local recommendations. The other side is the shared wall of our duplex and they moved in a month after us. The wife is now one of my close friends and we’ve tried to come meet the couple new people who moved after us because we know how much it would have meant to us. We haven’t made any other real friends but we have some acquaintances and it’s so much nicer knowing some of our neighbors.

      Either leave a note, bring some goodies, or just knock on the door to say hi. It will definitely be appreciated if you’re planning to be there long term. (I also lived in rented apartments for over a decade and only met one or two people and that was fine too.)

    31. Pink Candyfloss*

      I don’t take food to anyone I don’t know because there’s so much risk around allergies, special diets, and personal tastes, it’s too much of a risk. Just saying hello is a nice gesture. Wait until you get to know them better before offering food so you don’t step on any restrictions they may have.

    32. danmei kid*

      I wouldn’t bring food because of risk of butting up against any dietary restrictions, but I have welcomed neighbors by dropping off our phone numbers for emergencies and giving them menus from our favorite local takeout and pizza places, which they appreciated!

    33. Quinalla*

      I personally don’t bring food to people I don’t know as I have many food allergies in my family, so I’m always thinking in that vein, but I also think it is fine to bring something if you want :) I think at the very least it is kind to introduce yourself and if you want to offer phone numbers (don’t have to if you don’t want to), offer yourself as a resource for questions, invite them to a gathering, etc. that’s all good.

      Myself I will introduce myself and let them know if they need something to feel free and ring our doorbell and I usually tell them a little about my family, etc. I usually tell people I WFH and my husband does a couple days a week as well so they know we are around during the day in case that is relevant and talk about my kids a bit and maybe mention that we like to play board games as I’m always looking for more people to play with haha!

  3. Always Tired*

    Who has fun alternate to the superbowl plans? I will be going on a hike, hitting IKEA, then doing my traditional trip to Costco for membership renewal and shopping when there is now crowd during the game.

    1. Filosofickle*

      Is that this weekend?! When I lived in Illinois and Indiana, I always made it a “big shop” day — grocery store and Target were never so empty as during the big game :)

      I live outside of SF, and normally the SuperBowl is not a big deal here. But guessing it will be different this year…

      1. osmoglossom*

        I’m in the East Bay — I’m going to drive to my favorite Costco in Novato because it’s going to be a ghost town. And I’ll likely be the only driver on the freeway! I love Superbowl Sunday for this reason.

        1. Generic Name*

          I went to Costco in Denver the year the broncos played the Super Bowl when it was in Denver. There were like 3 other shoppers. One lady kept exclaiming, “It’s like the zombie apocalypse!!”

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Dang, I should have waited until tomorrow to go shopping (it’s supposed to snow on Monday/Tuesday, so gotta get the bread and milk, lol). The four-way stops at the shopping mall were a free-for-all, and what was with all the honking today?!

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Taking pizza orders for said game–should be interesting hearing all the Taylor Swift theories :P

      1. What the what*

        Ha! Travis and Taylor are fascinating…..I don’t follow celebrities, but for some reason I can’t look away from their story!

    3. Middle Aged Lady*

      Going to a lecture on the Sumerian goddess Innana, which is about the direct opposite of the Super Bowl, I supoose. I didn’t even know it was this weekend.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Well, before the Swifties it was the direct opposite. The conspiracy theorists may have mixed her up with Innana.

    4. The Prettiest Curse*

      Back when I was in the US, I would skip the Brain Damage Bowl by going on a hike and then watching the Puppy Bowl. Alas, the Puppy Bowl isn’t shown on TV in the UK. I do miss watching adorable puppies scamper around for an hour!

      1. fposte*

        I totally forgot about the Puppy Bowl until you mentioned it! I’ll have to check to see if I can find it streaming.

    5. sagewhiz*

      In Flori-duh, Super Bowl Sunday is a great day to hit DisneyWorld. Still crowded but much less so than any other day at the House of the Mouse.

    6. o_gal*

      Snow tubing! There is a downhill skiing place about an hour away from us. We have season tickets that are also good for their snow tubing runs. It’s become a tradition to go there on Super Bowl Sunday for a few years now. One year there was a grand total of us 3 and 6 other people there that night, compared to the hundreds that are usually there.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I’m going to spend the day with a friend who lives further away who I don’t get to see often enough. :)

      1. osmoglossom*

        Ha! I’m going to Costco, too! I replied above to Filosofickle that I’ll likely have the freeway and my favorite Costco all to myself. Yippee! Then in the evening I’ll be at my local pub — that doesn’t have a television — for a weekly knitting meetup. I expect we’ll have our choice of seating, which is a rare occurrence. Love love love Superbowl Sunday!

    7. carcinization*

      My husband and I usually do some kind of new or ambitious (or both) cooking/baking project for the Superb Owl, this time we are making Banoffee Pie (Paul Hollywood’s version). We are nowhere near the part of the world where that is a popular dessert, so have never even tried it before, much less made it.

      1. Mrs. Frisby*

        I love banoffee pie! Discovered it while visiting my mom who lived in the UK for a while, and now it’s a favorite treat (although I’ve never made it). It is on the higher end of the sweet scale, though, so be prepared for that.

    8. GoryDetails*

      There’s a popular regional food truck fleet focused on lobster, with a couple of the trucks due to be in my general area on Sunday – one at a brew-pub and one at the grand opening of a plant nursery. I’m guessing the plant nursery might be *slightly* less crowded {grin}. Am thinking of swinging by, and if it turns out that it is jammed I’ll just drive on by and do something else.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        In the off season my local plant nursery does a stellar “farmer’s market” (largely local specialty foods, but today I got some incredible root vegetables–first time someone handing out fresh raw carrot slices has lured me in when I intended to pass by). Last year I stumbled into it on its last day and it was like Black Friday with everyone fighting for the last bag of excellent pierogi.

    9. ypsi*

      That’s a great idea. I typically do nothing because I don’t even register that there is SuperBowl happening so it goes completely unnoticed.

    10. Generic Name*

      I guess I’ll go grocery shopping after kickoff, which is somewhat annoying, as it’s later in the day than I normally go to the grocery store. Well watch the game, likely, but neither my husband nor I are football people. I have been wondering how each team will be differentiated given that both team colors are gold and red. Ha ha

    11. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Trying to get my wizard (who dies if you breathe on him) in FFXIV up a few levels so those wretched doblyns don’t keep killing him. Also, maybe streaming The Marvels.

    12. Agnes G*

      I bask in reduced-machismo environments that are normally dude-heavy. Most years this involves shopping for power tools blissfully uninterrupted. This year the Super Bowl starts late in my time zone so the wood shop will already be closed – Costco’s not a bad idea though!

    13. Abundant Shrimp*

      I wanted to go to the gym for the same reason (empty during the game) but then realized it’d be evening and I’d be devoid of energy, so went earlier and ran into the one person I didn’t want to run into there. (We pretended not to notice each other so it’s all good.) Then took a nap and did a small house project (taped carpeting to basement stairs so there’s less risk of slipping and falling on them).

  4. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

    We just had a radar-indicated tornado pass over the house which isn’t early for where I live since we had this back in November (I’d like one month where I don’t have to take the cats into the basement, thanks). But unlike back in November, this one didn’t bring snow with it. Which is so weird to me because growing up I was told that tornadoes only happened in warm weather and it was always muggy with oppressive heat when they showed up. So I am not amused by this failure of education.

    But that’s a drop in the bucket compared with all the other incorrect things I was taught growing up. What weird thing did you learn as a kid that you unlearned as an adult?

    1. Malarkey01*

      It is not in fact illegal to drive with the interior light on or without shoes….apparently all dads in America were in on that conspiracy to tell kids otherwise.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          And you can’t see the road as well. I never thought it was illegal, just not a great idea. (That’s why map lights were invented.)

          1. Heffalump*

            Once when I was about 6, I was in the back seat and wanted to turn on the dome light so I could read. My parents got agitated and said I couldn’t do that. I really didn’t understand why at the time.

      1. Usually Lurking*

        My brother and I were just talking about that! Also: If you eat anything out of the minibar you will bankrupt the family :-) and if you run the garbage disposal without running the water the house will fall into ruin!

        I love that it was a conspiracy of all the dads in America! Ours was definitely in on it.

        1. Annie Edison*

          Wait um, you can run the garbage disposal without the water running? I’ve done it by accident a few times and always leap to shut it off (or turn on the faucet) as quickly as possible. Although now that I think about it, I don’t know what I was told would happen, just that you shouldn’t do it

          1. ThatGirl*

            You really should run the water. But it’s not going to wreck the entire house if you forget for a few seconds.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Maybe you won’t burn out the disposal, but you will probably increase the rate of gunk buildup in the pipe. (Just had to replace the disposal and the plumber showed me an almost entirely clogged drain pipe.)

        3. fhqwhgads*

          I wouldn’t say the house will fall into ruin, but you will potentially burn out the disposal itself and muck up the pipes right there. Like…not from running it dry once, but it’s not a myth to run it with water. The instruction manual of every one I’ve ever had says to do it.

        4. allathian*

          Having a waste disposal in the sink feels so weird because I’ve never seen one.

          In my area they’re pretty much telling us not to put anything organic down the sewage except human waste to avoid attracting rats.

        5. Abundant Shrimp*

          As long as you don’t drop a chainmail cloth down your garbage disposal and then forget/fail to notice and turn it on, it’s all good. (Yes I did the chainmail thing this past summer, had to call the plumber to get allll the tiny metal pieces out. Do not recommend.)

      2. A perfectly normal-size space bird*

        Dang, I think my dad was in on that too. I just realized I was still unconsciously thinking that was true.

        1. fposte*

          An Indian-American friend of mine says his father would go around the house turning off lights left on while saying “What is this, Diwali?” Dadding is global.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Oh my God, I think that will come out of my mouth now even though.
            I’m not Indian!

      3. Texan In Exile*

        My dad told me it was illegal to drive barefoot and 27 years after his death, I still feel guilty every time I slide my feet out of my shoes when I drive.

        1. BubbleTea*

          My driving instructor told me the police could pull me over if I wasn’t wearing shoes! On reflection 15 years later, I don’t know how they’d be able to tell.

      4. Resentful Oreos*

        This is funny, I was told the same thing. Then I moved to a town where it wasn’t unusual to see this. The state high school for the deaf was there!

    2. Throwaway Account*

      I was taught that all children grow up to be adulty adults. They learn to make good decisions, are responsible, and stop being any variation of mean girls. I was sorely misled.

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        I wasn’t taught this, but I had the firm belief that I would have a gap between acne and wrinkles because That Would Be Fair.

        Life is not fair.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      When microwaves (insert your own office microwave joke here) first became widely available, there were a few scare stories in the press about them. My mum believed the scare stories and has never owned a microwave. Growing up, she told us that microwaves were totally unsafe, so well into adulthood I’d get alarmed whenever I saw one in someone’s house. I eventually got over this fear and now have my own microwave.

      And before I visited America for the first time as a teenager, my dad (who had visited the US many times previously) told me that I’d see stickers on cars saying AAA, which stood for American Alcoholics Association. (AAA actually stands for American Automobile Association. The equivalent organisation in the UK is AA, the Automobile Association.)

      This meant that the teenage me got to America, looked at the cars and wondered why so many Americans enthusiastically advertised their alcoholism. Fortunately, I didn’t share this thought with any Americans and eventually I realised that my dad had played a joke on me!

      1. AlexandrinaVictoria*

        We did have a microwave, but my mom was so scared of it at first we weren’t allowed to stay in the kitchen when it was running!

      2. Kit Franklin*

        I worked in a laboratory with a lovely woman who is terrified of microwave ovens. I did a deep dive in researching the safety of microwaves. As it turns out, no one has ever died from the microwaves of kitchen ovens, the purpose of the door and imbedded metal grid isn’t safety but, instead, to concentrate the microwaves, the discoverer of the microwave was an engineer with a chocolate bar in his pocket who discovered it melted when he walked past a device, you can see the universe’s background radiation when you tune an old cathode tv to no channel and hear static noise, and, if you have Wi-Fi, you are swimming in microwave radiation.

        1. Generic Name*

          I wish you could tell this to my friend’s husband who “did his own research” on the dangers of microwaves and refuses to have one in their house. I keep my mouth shut because he is a stay at home dad and does all the cooking and cleaning and generally treats her like a queen and she adores him….

        2. Might Be Spam*

          When my grandmother got a pacemaker, my parents were worried about her near the microwave oven. So we always had to warn Grandma when we were using it so she could stay away.

      3. Patty Mayonnaise*

        Well your mom just didn’t want a science oven taking all the nutrition out of your food and setting your house on fire.

    4. allathian*

      I was told that if you swallow chewing gum it’ll block your intestines. Not true unless you do it frequently or in large amounts.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        *laughs* I pretty much thought they were all corrupt, given that our taoiseach (prime minister) in Ireland when I was a child was…well, openly spending three times his annual salary or something and for the most part, people acted like that was to be expected, of course those in power would take advantage of it.

        Turns out most politicians aren’t quite that bad and scandals on a monthly basis and stuff like three different governments in 18 months is not the norm.

        1. Goldfeesh*

          “I’m from the government and I’m here to help dismantle mental health care in the US” is what Reagan actually meant I believe.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      There comes an age where everything about you locks in and you will never change again. (For adults, this age is often given as current age plus five.)

      All the research about how people change throughout their lives is intriguing, and to me now reassuring. And yet people and circumstances continuing to change around us so often lands as a surprise, that the way things were 5 or 15 or 25 years ago was not the only way they could ever be.

    6. Jay (no, the other one)*

      It is safe to drive wearing clogs/Dr. Scholls/other footwear with thick soles. My father used to make me change into other shoes.

    7. What the what*

      Tornado alley dweller here…..where we live it’s considered too expensive and impractical to have basements because of how rocky it is here. It IS very rocky, but I can’t help but wonder if that’s a myth fueled by cheap builders. (Not all builders are that way but the ones who built many of the communities in my town have done some dumb$& things to these homes.). The newer homes do not have basements but the older homes do (first half of 1900s). Scares the $&@& out of me to live here with no basement. And then there are the tarantulas that just run around here……it’s the stuff of nightmares.

      1. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

        I saw the Pee Wee Herman movie when I was a kid with the joke about there being no basement in the Alamo. So I of course believed it. Then years ago I moved to San Antonio where I couldn’t find a basement in a single house there (polled neighbors, coworkers, family, random clerks now and then). Turns out basements are a bad idea there because either you’re in the part of town that always floods or the part of town that has poor grounding when building into the bedrock. Not so many tornadoes there but there were some wicked thunderstorms with disco lightning that made me wish we had a basement!

        1. What the what*

          Pee wee was a comedic genius. I’d forgotten that line.

          North Texas seems like they get a lot of tornadoes like in the Dallas area. I can’t wait to move away from tornado alley haha. But good thing is, we get warmish weather in the winter on occasion!

    8. Irish Teacher.*

      A minor one but that the Battle of Clontarf was a battle between the Irish and the Vikings and Brian Boru drove the Vikings from Ireland.

      Yeah, no. That was written by propagandists hired by Brian Boru’s…grandchildren, I think?

      In reality, it was more of a battle between Munster and Leinster for the high kingship of Ireland. Dublin, a Viking city within Leinster allied with the Leinstermen and got support from mercanaries from Scandinavia and yeah, those mercenaries fled when Munster “won” the battle, but the Vikings of Dublin…remained in Dublin and the Vikings of Limerick (which is in Munster) were essentially “neutral but friendly to Brian Boru”. By the time of the Battle of Clontarf, the Vikings had been settled in Ireland for over a century and well part of the political and social scene, allying and intermarrying with the Irish.

      I put “won” in brackets because while Munster technically won, Brian himself was killed by one of the fleeing mercanaries and I believe a couple of his heirs were also killed and basically both sides inflicted so much damage on each other that the king of Meath, who had just stood back and let them butcher each other, stepped in and took the high kingship for himself.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I suspect the history of many places gets way more interesting to read as an adult, with the shocking bits left in.

        Also the Greek myths, and any other old stories you encountered in sanitized versions as a child.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          The first time I read the story of persephone the author dumbed it down badly: Persephone ate grapefruit slices.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          It’s quite a shock discovering just how much incest was going on on Mount Olympus and earlier!

      2. WS*

        I found this really interesting here in Australia – in the seven years between me and my youngest brother, the history of the early white settlers in our area changed from “brave white explorers in the wilderness fighting off the natives” to “the white settlers killed large numbers of the local people to take their land and farm it.” Since then, the true extent of the massacres has become more widely known, to the point that the name of our local electorate was changed, but it was interesting to see how the teaching changed.

    9. Lil Bee*

      When I was a kid, I paid particular attention to instructions on how to get out of a quicksand pit. 68 years later, I still haven’t seen one. I think I still remember how, but I’ll probably just avoid them instead.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think quicksand has played a much smaller role in all our lives than we were led to believe from childhood entertainment.

  5. Yay snacks*

    Hi y’all! I’m starting a new office job this week and I need snack ideas- preferably ones that fill you up and are quick/easy to assemble. I shop at Aldi and am trying to avoid bringing granola bars every day. I’m not sure what the fridge situation is, in relation to the desk, so I’d also love ideas that I can just keep in my bag. Thanks in advance!!!

    1. Anonymath*

      I’m quite a fan of nuts.com. They have all sorts of shelf-stable snacks, from nuts to dried fruit to chocolate. Some come in single-serving and most come in larger zip-top bags. Just don’t shop there on an empty stomach!

      1. Alex*

        I recently got a gift from nuts.com and was amazed at how much more delicious the nuts were than the ones from the grocery store! So good. I’ll be shopping there from now on.

    2. WellRed*

      I used to do Mott’s applesauce in individual containers. There’s also lots of canned fruit in individual servings if you like that sort of thing.

        1. Gigi*

          Is it common to just eat applesauce on its own? The only place I’ve seen it is as a snack option on the Sims and I always thought that was so odd..

          1. Snell*

            FWIW, I grew up eating it as a snack on its own. The grocery store sold it in individually portioned cups, intended to be packed in kids’ lunches. Then when I showed more interest in my parents’ grocery shopping, I learned about the bigger jars, but just figured that was for snacking at home or something. I actually remember as a child asking my dad what people ate applesauce with—after all, it’s applesauce, right? He said sometimes it’s served with pork chops, but literally nobody in my family ate pork chops with applesauce, so this remained theoretical knowledge. Somewhere out there, where I have never personally seen, people serve pork chops with applesauce.

            1. Seashell*

              There’s a reference to pork chops and applesauce on a Brady Bunch episode.

              As a kid, I wanted no part of most vegetables, so my mom would give me apple sauce or cranberry sauce in place of the vegetable part of the meal. (I like pretty much all vegetables now. My palate matured around puberty, and roasting, instead of boiling/baking, as my mom did, helps.)

              One of my kids liked those little applesauces to take to school. Otherwise, I haven’t had applesauce except for making it when my kids went apple picking and came home with waaaay too many apples.

              1. Snell*

                All you guys talking about the Brady Bunch got me thinking that maybe that’s where my dad got that information haha. He never ate pork chops with applesauce himself and the way he talked about it was definitely like “it’s something other people do.” I guess now I’m wondering how Gigi typically eats applesauce—a small cup on its own maybe with some spices added seems exceedingly normal to me.

                1. Gigi*

                  I don’t think I’ve ever had applesauce! Lots of apple crumble, though, which is why having only applesauce seems lacking – it is only a component of a meal/dessert!

                  Might be a cultural thing; I am not American (and I have never watched the Brady Bunch).

          2. Nightengale*

            I eat applesauce as a snack, although usually with Triscuit crackers. Sometimes with cheese and Triscuits at which point it starts to cross the line into a small meal.

    3. Clara Bowe*

      Aldi’s dried fruit selection is surprisingly lovely. I also really recommend their Lot section for branded snacks. (Personally I really DO love Aldi’s store brand granola bars. The cashew ones are great.)

      1. Yay snacks*

        Oo I’ll have to check the dried fruit out!!! Nothing against granola bars, I’m just trying to eat a little healthier if I can. :)

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          The Pure & Simple Apple Pie bars are basically dried fruit in a bar and very yummy. I don’t recall if the Aldi version is shelf stable, but the laughing cow cheese wedges are. A friend got me the mini individually wrapped slim jims once, adhd the Aldi version was good, too. I haven’t seen them since though, might be seasonal?

          Also seasonal, but I love the almond butter filled pretzels when they have them. They’re not as strong as the peanut butter ones.

    4. costello music*

      Love a good peanut butter and crackers (graham or ritz). I think their beef jerky is pretty good too.

    5. Pearl Puffin*

      I love mixing Aldi cashews and dried cherries for snacking. Sharp cheddar cheese tastes really good with it if you get to use a fridge there.

    6. Panda*

      I often throw some almonds and raisins in a container and put them in my purse for work. Bonus: I don’t feel weird snacking on them in a meeting (unlike pulling out a sandwich or yogurt, or crunching on carrots).

    7. adipucey*

      I have found that neutral polos are the way the go with this! Golf attire companies will be your friend in your search! (I am somewhat masc leaning myself and have many friends who are moreso – easy polos and slacks have been a great to go for all of us).

    8. milkdudsnotdrugs*

      I’m gluten-free and do not have the luxury of grabbing quick food or even using the vending machine at work, so ready-to-go snacks are a necessity for me.
      If you do have a little bit of space in the fridge that you can claim for yourself (I put my stuff in a little brown gift bag so that the items can stack inside and not take up as much real estate)- I highly recommend the following;

      Yogurt Cups (Greek for protein!)
      Hummus w/ Baby Carrots, Snap Peas or Crackers
      Sliced Salami/ Sliced Cheese (Adult Lunchables)
      Nuts, Seeds and Dried Fruits (Are you sensing the charcuterie theme?)
      Peanut Butter with Sliced Apples
      Microwave Popcorn
      And of course, ample granola bars.
      Congrats on your new position!

  6. Cat Fancy*

    Any suggestions on finding a masc leaning gender neutral capsule wardrobe? I need to invest in some good quality clothes, and since work from home started a lot of my clothes are leaning too casual/not put together.

    1. Lucia Pacciola*

      My suggestion: Do a search for “capsule wardrobe”, and look at websites that specialize in capsule wardrobe recommendations. Someone here might know about some good sites already, but you’re probably better off cutting out the middleman and finding them yourself.

    2. Throwaway Account*

      There is a great person on TikTok who does this! I’ll try to find them and paste a link in a reply. There is a company called Wolfgang that has clothes like that. Might work as inspiration

    3. office hobbit*

      Masc leaning lends itself well to a capsule wardrobe! I would worry less about the “capsule wardrobe” piece and focus on finding pieces you like, and then acquire a few of each in whatever ratio and colors you’ve decided you need. Hard to suggest specific brands without knowing what level of formality you need, but I always like the menswear from LL Beans.

      1. anonymous nb*

        I’d also appreciate hearing about gender neutral options that are NOT button down shirts. I’ve been wanting to dress more neutral and just don’t like them. I have some regular shirts but they are really hard to find without gendered patterns on them.

        1. office hobbit*

          What do you mean by regular shirts? I think a solid-color t-shirt under a nice cardigan or blazer is pretty gender neutral. A plain pullover sweater is too, and if the sweater is lightweight enough you could wear a blazer over it if you need. I’ve gotten plain/solid shirts and sweaters from places like Uniqlo, Beans, Lands End, and Eddie Bauer in the past. If it’s the collar on button-ups that you don’t like, you could look for shirts with a mandarin collar (no lapels). Those still have buttons down the front tho so may not help. Polos can be gender neutral but often have connotations so ymmv there.

          1. office hobbit*

            Upon reading your reply below I think I may have just told you things you already know…sorry!

        2. Junior Dev*

          A Henley shirt maybe? They’re long sleeve with a little slit in the front and seem popular with men, they’re sort of between a tee and a button down in formality

    4. anonymous nb*

      I don’t have to dress up often, but have found that blazers, vests or cardigans can make an outfit look more put together. Sweaters are good during the colder months.

    5. BikeWalkBarb*

      How formal do you need to feel in these clothes? If it fits your wallet and having top stitching rather than hidden seams is appropriate, SmartWool base layers are a nice neutral without a collar. They cost more but you can wear merino wool time after time without washing and they’ll last forever.

      I like what Office Hobbit said about skipping over the capsule wardrobe concept unless that’s super important to you. If you find the perfect shirt and they have it in three colors you like, nothing wrong with having three of a great item.

      If you’re in a bigger body Virginia Sole-Smith’s Burnt Toast newsletter is pure gold for discussions of clothing, recommendations of specific sources, and a lot of support and welcome. She discusses the capsule wardrobe in the context of diet culture (https://virginiasolesmith.substack.com/p/are-capsule-wardrobes-just-for-thin).

    6. Banana Pyjamas*

      The fall collections and sometimes the spring collections of Ralph Lauren tend to be menswear inspired. Fall leans more dark academia with lots of browns. plaid, and tweed. Except I just check prices so maybe not. OOF. In general, fall will have the most crossover from menswear regardless of the brand. Femkit is a German brand that ships internationally, and they have some excellent vest options, but the rest leans very well… femme.

      If you are up to making clothes, the YouTuber Nicole Rudolph has several videos adapting men’s clothes to keep the the general shape, but fit better. Some Videos:

      The Secrets of Drafting: Patterning a 1920s Men’s Coat
      This specifically addresses drafting men’s jackets for AFAB bodies. It doesn’t cover construction at all.

      I Messed Up Making a Pair of 1920s Trousers. And Fixed Them.
      The 1920s was the transitional period into modern pants.

      How to Make a 1920s Suit: the Vest
      This is the first video in the series. It also addresses adaptinIt does cover construction.

      She also has a whole series making Victorian Gonzo (from The Muppets Christmas Carol). Probably not what you’re looking for, but enjoyable.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*


        How to Make a 1920s Suit: the Vest
        This is the first video in the series. It also addresses adapting menswear for the AFAB body. It does cover construction.

  7. Cat and dog fosterer*

    I was going to email this to Alison but remembered it’s Friday evening and I can share to all who care for cats.
    FIP treatment is legal in Canada. Link in the reply.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s great! Long overdue.

      I’ve been increasing my volunteering with the FIP organization that helped us here; I’m training to do initial intake for people whose cats have FIP or are feared to have FIP and to get them help. So far it’s probably my favorite volunteer thing I’ve ever done: you get to see the work make an immediate difference (and I remember how how grateful I was to the people who helped us in that situation — it felt like they were all angels).

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        This is great. I do worry that it says vets will have to order it for each parent and can’t keep a supply in stock in clinics, since FIP is so aggressive and a lot of cats would die if they had to wait a few days before starting treatment. So it sounds like there will still be a need for local networks to connect people with starter meds before their official meds arrive, unfortunately — but that infrastructure exists already, and if this brings the total cost down and makes it more accessible, it’s a really good development!

        1. Cat and dog fosterer*

          I noticed that too, but easy enough to have a little pack of starter meds and expect people to pay it forward each time. There are already networks as you say, and much easier if the network only has to ‘loan out’ pills at the start.

          Such a massive change. Makes me so happy!!

  8. Little Sushi*

    I am seeking advice and experiences on this.
    I lived in City A for 4 years, then moved away for 2. I’m now moving back to City A and am curious about friendships and some gut instincts I’m not having!
    I made a good effort to stay in touch with my friends. Some engaged & it’s great; some dropped off (and fair enough, life is busy!). But, there’s one or two who whilst they were great friends whilst I lived in town, I now am not sure why we’re friends? They’re older than me and sometimes have the “aunt who comments on everything (social media wise)” vibes. They’re still a nice person; I just don’t connect as well?
    We met through the same, small hobby circle.

    1. Little Sushi*

      and to clarify the awkward part: I’d love to back off and just be acquaintances. They’re not really accepting of this.

      1. WellRed*

        Well that’s unfortunate for them not to accept it. They don’t have a choice. You’re allowed to realize your feelings have changed. Don’t engage at all or do a slow fade?

    2. Alex*

      Sometimes we just outgrow people. It happens! That happened to me with a lot of my college friends–we were SO CLOSE in college/years post college, and then eventually I realized I wasn’t having fun with them anymore. Our interests had diverged a lot, and while I look fondly on my time with them in my younger days, I ended up pulling back on the friendships. That’s just the way life goes sometimes.

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

        I’ve been on the other side of this. I was SUPER close with two people in college and pretty close (I thought) with them after, but when I was in my 30s, these friends I loved both independently dumped/ghosted me. (I swear that I did not turn into a horrible person in my 30s.)

        It suuuuuuuucked, but that’s life. At first I couldn’t accept their never being in my life again–these were “would 100% be bridesmaids if I got married”-level friends–but you know what? I learned there’s no one in this world that I can’t live without. I stopped being devastated and got strong.

        One of them reached out to me a few years ago and supposedly wanted to reconnect, but when I asked her to call me, she ghosted again. The other one is dead. Stuff happens.

        1. StudentA*

          That’s frustrating, and I’m not even you! Have you tried asking what happened when they ghosted you? Or did you just focus on other friends or other interests?

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

            I never asked why (and since one is dead, I’ll never get to ask her). Her widowed husband had a guess that had to do with my coming out, but he doesn’t really know for sure. I came out in my 30s, and in different ways, that might have changed how my friends felt. But when I look back, I think they were both pulling away somewhat before I came out too, so maybe that wasn’t entirely it? Who knows?

            When the other one originally ghosted, I left an upset message on her answering machine, and she did call back and I thought we’d be good, but then nothing really changed. She’s the one who tried to get back in touch and then ghosted again when I asked her to call me. If she wants to try again, I’m easy to find online, so up to her.

            Yeah, I just focused on other stuff. I think my wanting to keep up the friendships when they clearly didn’t was in some ways about my ego — I saw myself as someone who kept her good friends in her life forever instead of realizing that sometimes, it’s okay when friendships end or, preferably, evolve. I got better at seeing that when some of my other close friends had little kids. For a while, our friendships had to scale back a bit, but they bounced back as the kids got older.

      2. Little Sushi*

        Thanks. I’m feeling super guilty about it, as they were very supportive during the covid years. But, a little put off by how quick they are to reply to anything I do on social media (how are they not focused on work? Doing other things?)…it started to feel too much, even though I was 600 miles away.
        We’re in our 30s and 50s too. There’s far too many early-20s-woes vibes here for me!

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

          I totally get that it is hard to say, “Hey, I don’t really want to be friends anymore.” There isn’t really any great way to do that.

          Captain Awkward has a great post proposing an African Violet of Broken Friendship that we could give to people when the friendship has run its course, like a symbol of a friendship breakup: https://captainawkward.com/2011/01/18/reader-question-5-how-do-i-deal-with-a-clingy-friend-who-tries-to-make-over-my-life/

          And don’t feel too guilty. You know, another useful thing I learned from this experience is that I don’t get to make someone be my friend and I need to accept that. Like, I can be sad, but it is absolutely their right to decide that they don’t want our relationship anymore.

        2. Blue wall*

          Hey some people are just fast responders on social, and it’s their habit to respond (like, engage, whatever) with most things on their feed. Have you re-engaged with them in person? I’m wondering if what you are seeing as cloying social media behavior is not representative of their in-person behavior, and you have different ways of being online from them, which is causing you to notice this difference, whereas they might be perfectly delightful in person.

    3. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Of course you’re allowed to pick and choose your friends, but I do wonder if you’d have the same reaction to the things they do that irritate you if they were your age instead of older?

      1. blue rose*

        Not OP, but I’d guess probably, since their objection as detailed above is the unexpectedly immature behavior.

        1. un-friend-ly*

          OP’s objection is (1) un-friend is ~20 years older; (2) un-friend comments too quickly on OP’s social media posts; and (3) OP doesn’t feel the connection anymore. Snoozing’s query is an invitation to examine reasons why the connection might be gone. In any case, OP isn’t feeling it and it is in their power to set and keep a boundary against the friendship. Nothing has to be “wrong” with or the “fault” of un-friend to choose not to be friends. And if the social media commenting is too much for OP to have to see, then block the un-friend.

          1. blue rose*

            OP said: “There’s far too many early-20s-woes vibes here for me!” The person who I responded to asked if OP would feel the same if they were 30s age, like OP, instead of 50s age that they actually are. Given OP’s quote about early 20s woes vibes, if the former friends were 30s age and still acting like that, I would still think OP would probably feel the same or similar. That’s what I meant by my comment. I also did not bring up “wrong” or “fault.” I hardly answered to OP, even, I was mainly responding to just this one comment.

      2. Washi*

        I have a friend who is several decades older and the age difference is something I only really think about over text/social media as there are broad generational difference in how people communicate that way. If that was the only way we interacted due to a long distance friendship, we might start to not feel like a good fit as friends anymore. I do wonder if OP might end up feeling more fondness towards these friends if rejoining the hobby circle again and interacting in person.

        1. Little Sushi*

          This is a really good point! I think it’ll be a slow re-entry, and just see how it pans out.

          Thank you everyone for your thoughts. It’s really given me a lot to think about.

  9. Anon-E-Mouse*

    Let’s share the names of our favorite musicians and musical groups who we think deserve a wider audience. Ideally, list the musician or group and one or two favorite songs.

    I’m going to focus on Canadian Indigenous artists:

    Aysanabee, start with “We Were Here” and then check out his recent song “Come Out” featuring Raye Zaragoya

    William Prince, start with “Breathless” and then listen to his album Stand in the Joy

    Julian Taylor, start with “Murder 13” and “Seeds”

    Celeigh Cardinal, start with “Song by the Supermoon”

    Sara Kae, start with Rise”

    Willie Dunn, start with “I Pity the Country”

    1. fallingleavesofnovember*

      To continue the Canadian Indigenous theme (specifically, Wolastoqey): Jeremy Dutcher! Mehcinut, from his first album gives you a good sense of his style, which mixes his classical training with old recordings of traditional songs. From the newest album, I love Skicinuwihkuk and Pomawsuwinuwok Wonakiyawolotuwok.
      Also very worth seeing live, he has a very natural and fun stage presence.

      1. AGD*

        Came here to say this. I would have loved to see him in concert! Maybe someday.

        While we’re talking about Indigenous musicians, I also like rock band Eagle & Hawk from Winnipeg.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          To give a more specific Eagle and Hawk ref, start by trying “Song for the Sundancer”.

          Another Winnipeg rec: Leonard Sumner. He gets into rap and spoken word poetry as well as rock and a touch of folk. Try “Raindrop” if you’re not sure you enjoy rap, and “Pulse” if you do. “Mourningstar” is probably his best but it’s also both rap and a gut punch (the title is not a spelling mistake).

    2. Dannie*

      RÓISIN for respecting yourself and your boundaries: try “I Won’t Love” and “Right By You”

      Katelyn Tarver for mental health honesty: try “You Don’t Know” and “Shit Happens”

    3. StrayMom*

      Tragically Hip – “Poets” “New Orleans is Sinking”. I live near Buffalo, NY and the Hip have been favorites in this border town for years.

      1. fposte*

        They have a gorgeous song on the soundtrack of The Sweet Hereafter and I kept meaning to look up more—thank you for the nudge!

      2. Laika*

        As a Canadian, describing the Tragically Hip as a musical group that deserves a wider audience is really funny- they’re a household name up here. Glad to see it’s spilled over the border a bit!

        1. k*

          Yeah, I think something like 1/3 of the population of Canada watched at least part of Downie’s final concert. Not exactly a niche bar band!

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Two of my favorite Canadian bands: The Clumsy Lovers and Cowboy Junkies.

      For the former, start with the song London Bridge, for the latter, the album The Trinity Sessions (in particular their covers of Sweet Jane and I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.)

    5. StrayMom*

      The Tragically Hip – another Canadian band headed by the late, great, Gord Downie.“Poets” “New Orleans is Sinking”. I live near Buffalo, NY and the Hip have been favorites in this border town for years.

    6. Vanessa*

      So glad to get to put this here…
      Chris O’Brien
      He won some npr contest maybe 15 years ago. His music is really lovely.

    7. CTT*

      Anjana Vasan! She is primarily an actress (“We are Ladyparts” is amazing for readers who are British or have Peacock) but she did an alt-country album that is wonderful. It’s funny and sad and hopeful and while I recognize that she has better things to do than be a touring musician (I saw her in Streetcar opposite Paul Mescal and…hot damn), I would love nothing more than to hear “My Name is Johnny Cash” live.

      1. Bluebell*

        She was also terrific in the latest season of Black Mirror. I’m still hoping that We Are Ladyparts will return.

    8. Irish Teacher.*

      These are well known in Ireland but not outside:

      Johnny McEvoy – “John Williams” (it’s about the Titanic).

      Christie Moore – “The Knock Song,” “Dunnes Stores,” “Joxer goes to Stuttgard,” Weekend in Amsterdam.”

    9. Helvetica*

      Rationale – love “Fuel to the Fire” album and the song by the same name but basically all of it; “Every Mountain” is a recent one. He has an amazing voice, soulful feel.
      Geoffrey Oryema – Ugandan folk artist that touches something deep within, especially “Exile” album and from it “Land of Anaka”.
      Rita Ray – unpexcted Estonian jazz and soul – start with “No Greater Love” and then follow on to “Love Ain’t the Same”.

    10. Nervous Nellie*

      Great thread! I am building a shopping list from it. Thank you!

      I would add Canadian Indigenous band Kashtin – their Akua Tuta album charted in the 90s and is really catchy. The title track is about preserving one’s culture and heritage. I have always loved them.

    11. Bibliovore*

      Mare Winningham, Refuge Rock Sublime (2007) the whole album speaks to me as someone exploring my Jewish Roots.

      Til Their Eyes Shine (The Lullaby Album) (1992) I return to this again and again. It is my comfort album.

      Zero Church (2001) Suzzy and Maggie Roche- Also a comfort album

    12. Anonymous Educator*

      “Fire for You” by Cannons
      “Better Left Unsaid” by Lily Holbrook
      “Growing Up” by The Linda Lindas
      “Speak Easy” by Maria Taylor
      “Fever Dream” by mxmtoon
      “A Thousand Eyes” by Sarah Kang
      “Wild Young Hearts” by Noisettes

    13. heckofabecca*

      What a great thread idea! I hope you’re doing wonderfully :)

      – Carsie Blanton, who does very dance-able music about sex positivity, boundaries, and politics! Start with “Baby Can Dance” (sfw, a favorite for dancing) and “Vim and Vigor” (nsfw).
      – Daniel Kahn, klezmer. Start with Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” in Yiddish.
      – Apollo’s Fire, baroque with a broad repertoire; I love their Sephardic music. Start with “Seven Ways to Cook Eggplant (Siete modes de guisar…)” and “La Komida Manyana.”
      – Viv & Steve. Start with “Maybe It’s You” and “You Missed Out On Me.”

      Bonus: Not a group, per se, but I love Putumayo World Music too! They do collections of global music. I love Swing Around The World, but you can find a bunch of albums on Youtube (as playlists or a single video) of different flavors.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      Maybe better known in the UK than here, but James Vincent McMorrow. I first heard “Follow You Down to the Red Oak Tree” over the credits of Third Star (the saddest movie I’ve ever seen!!!) and started with the Early In the Morning album. He’s morphing away from the folk-ish stuff and more toward indie, but I love him.

      Just last night, I discovered that Matt Berry has a prog-rock album called Witchazel. It has a very ’60s vibe and a cover that looks like Laszlo Cravensworth if he could go out in the sun, lol.

    15. Lemonwhirl*

      Pillow Queens! A band of four women who are about to release their third album in April.

      My favourite song is “Liffey”, which was on their first album. Their first single off the third album, “Suffer”, is also quite good. But really, I love all their songs.

    16. MissElizaTudor*

      Reach Row Throw GO! is a great band local to my area (Washington DC). A good place to start is their song “Metro Tunnels”, which is a fun song about living in the DC metro tunnels after society collapses

      Bacchae is also a DC band, and their song “Read” is about wanting to be left alone to read instead of having some dude try to pick you up.

      My favorite local band is Trash Boat and The Ambush. “Things Fall Apart”, which is about misuse of intellectual property law, and “The ICE Man Cometh”, which is about the horrors of the US immigration system, and “The Ballad of Rahul Dubey” is about the guy who saved a bunch of people in DC from getting got by the cops during protests in the summer of 2020 by inviting them to stay in his home until the morning.

      Not local to me, but Window Smashing Job Creators are great, and I think “Applebee’s Blues” and “Power of Friendship” are good songs to start with. The former is about being a nerd as well as a revolutionary and the latter is about pursuing a better world with your friends (including killing god with the power of friendship).

      Finally, Troll 2 is my favorite band. They do a mix of bluegrass and folk and folk punk and they’re amazing! “The Ant and the Grasshopper” is a riff of the classic fable, “Fire in the Water” is about the harm oil and other natural resource extraction causes, and “Hard as a Man” is about a woman working as hard as a man but not getting her due and not being paid the same.

    17. Also Cute and Fluffy!*

      Since the closing ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, First Nations popular music has been a huge part of my life.

      Derek Miller: “Mystery Train” and “Damned if you Do (featuring Willie Nelson)”

      Attic Ramblers: “Roll With Me” and “Need Your Love”

      Mark LaForme: “Blue Plate Diner” and “All Souled Out”

      Leela Gilday: One Drum

      Art Napoleon: Jambalaya

    18. Lenora Rose*

      William Prince is excellent and Breathless is a great first recommendation.

      The only Canadian Indigenous groups I haven’t either already seen mentioned or mentioned in another comment I want to add are Jerry Alfred and the Medicine Beat, from the 90s and early oughts, start with “the Other Side”, and Shun Dun, Jerry Alfred’s later band in a similar style.

      Some other (Non Canadian Indigenous) recs I think don’t have enough attention:

      Lennie Gallant: PEI folk-rocker. “Tell me a Ghost Story”, “Sequoia” or “On the Minnehaha” – though to be honest I prefer the lyrics of “Sur le Minnehaha”, the French version he did as part of duo Sirene et Matelot with Patricia Richard. For one of theirs specifically, “Trois Hommes En Noir” is nicely spooky, and “Je ne Peus Pas Te Sauver” is lovely.

      Heather Dale: Ontario musician with a style loosely based on folklore and Celtic music. “Mordred’s Lullaby” is probably her most famous song. She has a free album called Perpetual Gift that’s mostly live versions. (The version of Mordred’s Lullaby is excellent but also the most widely divergent from the original.) She’s been focusing on ambient meditation-style music during Covid, and I’m less interested in that.

      Steam Powered Giraffe: The schtick is that they’re robots built in a Steampunk version of our world, with its own whole backstory. This means their videos are often worth a check. I find the music a mixed bag (the weakest branch overall is when they get into song about various specific characters), but when they’re on they’re ON. Try “Honeybee”, “Malfunction”, or “Hot on the Trail”.

  10. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Share what you’ve been reading and give or request recs.

    I finally finished The Wild Ones by Nafiza Azad. It’s a YA book about a young woman who is abused, runs away, and gets the magical ability to go to a place called The Between and invite other girls who have been abused to become a Wild One. They can walk a magical path around the world to any city, and they end up on a quest. The book was fun and had a lot of fun visits to places around the world (and FOOD!). The author is incandescent with rage about how girls and young women can be used and discarded and that definitely comes through. It’s not a heavy book but be warned if you consider reading it that it does have some heavy moments.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      This was a productive week. I finished Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan and read What You Are Looking For is in the Library by Michiko Aoyama (not to my taste), A Bali Conspiracy Most Foul by Shamini Flint (I’m giving up on this series), and Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson (fun book, willing to try the next one).

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Interesting! I chased down a copy of the Aoyama book for a book club last month and felt the same. The lesson in the story was repetitive and heavy-handed, and the translation sounded childish. Meh. A much better book of a somewhat similar thread is Mild Vertigo by Mieko Kanai.

        1. word nerd*

          Agreed, and I didn’t understand why each character focused so much on the librarian’s unusual appearance–was there supposed to be some deep message behind that that I wasn’t getting?

          1. Nervous Nellie*

            Eaxctly. The harsh judgments each had about her size and appearance drove my impression of it being childish. She was even compared to the marshmallow man! Bizarre and rude. One or two characters actually described being frightened of her. Oh, please. Adults aren’t afraid of other adults in this way.

            That they each were lost in some way and received helpful guidance and inspiration from her didn’t undo the narrow-mindedness. Eccch. No discussions I can find have suggested any deeper message about the characters’ alarm at her appearance, but have dismissed it as representative of Japanese culture. I can’t speak to that, but I am guessing that maybe this book just doesn’t translate. Ever onward!

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Just rereading Haruki Murakami’s Men Without Women–it’s been a while so it was like reading it for the first time. A collection of short stories about men and their bewilderment about how to interact with or understand the women in their lives.

      A lot of his stuff might be classed as “magical realism,” but I don’t think it quite fits that category–in translation at least, his characters tend to be very straightforward and oddly accepting of all the whackadoo situations they find themselves in, which I find very refreshing to read.

    3. costello music*

      Re-reading the Star Wars Revenge of the Sith novelization by Matthew Stover. Hadn’t read it in over ten years, when I was in high school and much deeping in my star wars fandom days. Love it, love star wars, miss the pre-disney days. Can’t wait to get my heart broken <3

      1. Snell*

        Ooohhh, that is a good one. I am long overdue for a reread (years ago, an unrelated IRL horrible thing happened to me when I was last reading it, and because of the negative association, I haven’t picked it up since). It is such a comfort read (so long as having emotions is comforting to you) for me. Like, fetal position in a big squashy chair, swaddled in a thick duvet, quiet time, to just wallow in my feelings.

        It only occurred to me just now, maybe because when I last read this one, I was in childhood, but you know how at the end of The Slippery Slope (A Series of Unfortunate Events) when Quigley gets washed away into the frozen stream and the Baudelaires also get washed away into the frozen stream, but separately, and they don’t know where Quigley’s going or where he’ll end up, or where they’re going or where they’ll end up, but they’re all definitely going somewhere? I cried when I read that, which was really strange to child-me, who didn’t understand why adults cried over fictional things. I wasn’t crying because I was scared for the Baudelaires, or anything sharply negative like that, but because of this little bit of just enough sparkling hope beneath heaps on heaps of forlorn longing and also the author ends on a bit where he goes on about the Garden of Proserpine which I thought was beautiful (again, this was strange and new to child-me, who had never found something fictional to be outright beautiful before).

        That’s a lot how I feel about Stover’s Revenge of the Sith. I push this one when I can, although even for people who are both into Star Wars and into reading, I don’t think I personally have gotten anyone to read it. I kind of get it, in that a lot of people probably figure why read a 400-page book when they’ve already seen and liked the movie, you know? And it’s part of the old EU, which is a whole thing built up over decades that’s probably pretty intimidating to get into if you’re not already into it and now Disney’s nuked the whole thing. Plus, rightly or wrongly (and honestly, sometimes it’s very rightly), novelizations as a whole have a poor reputation.

        Anyways, if you’re a Star Wars fan who “hated” Revenge of the Sith when it came out in 2005, reading the book will make you hate it less (for the record, I do not hate the book, not even close).

        1. Gigi*

          There’s an audiobook, too! I haven’t heard it nor read the book but I found this amazing fanvid: >> anakin skywalker | forever; audio novelization of revenge of the sith (link in next reply)
          It sounds almost like poetry!

    4. fallingleavesofnovember*

      I am also reading a YA novel, On Silver Tides, by Sylvia Bishop (only available in the UK at the moment). It’s about ‘silvermen’ who can breathe on the water and travel the rivers of England, and what happens when a child is born who doesn’t fit with their traditions and teachings at the same time that there is environmental and social change. I’m find the world building very convincing so far and the story has me totally hooked! (I do have a slight bias, as the author is a friend!)

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Wow, that sounds wonderful. Do ask your friend to lobby the publisher for North American distribution. I will put it on my Hope To Read booklist!

          1. fallingleavesofnovember*

            Fingers crossed! I did order it from Waterstones to Canada and shipping wasn’t too crazy!

    5. SnickersKat*

      I was just given and finished a YA novel called The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. I’m still processing how I feel about the book. It was good, and definitely not something I would have picked up on my own, but there’s something that rubbed me the wrong way that I haven’t been able to place yet.

      I recently finished the entire Discworld series and couldn’t speak more highly of it! I have a ton of favorite characters, but if I had to pick only one, it’d be the Librarian.

      1. Angstrom*

        The Discworld series — it’s interesting to see how they evolve. The first couple of Rincewind novels are clearly parodies of the fantasy genre, but then Pratchett starts to find his own voice. The last few you can see the effect of the Alzheimer’s: the ideas are there but the language isn’t. The bulk of the series is just delightful — I can reread and find nuggets I missed the first time. Ex: Errol, the “backwards” swamp dragon who save the day in Men at Arms is referred to as a “whittle”, which seems like a quaint diminutive. Turns out that Frank Whittle was the inventor of the turbojet engine…

      2. GoryDetails*

        Another Discworld fan here! Death is probably my favorite character, but there are so many to choose from…

        Heck, Greebo the cat gets some stellar scenes, whether he’s been turned into human form as a devastatingly charismatic brutal-thug/pirate, or – in pure cat-form – is dealing neatly with a hapless vampire that thought a trio of roving witches would be easy targets. Heh.

        And then there’s history monk Lu-Tze, who sweeps the floor and is frequently underestimated, despite the maxim “Do not act incautiously when confronting little bald wrinkly smiling men!”

      3. Mrs. Frisby*

        I have very similar feelings on The Disreputable History … To me, it read very much as “Frankie just isn’t like other girls,” and while it’s ostensibly feminist, Frankie and I disagree about what that means! I liked that it talked about gender roles in general, but the execution didn’t work for me. And so many people LOVE that book–it’s a huge favorite for so many of my reading friends. I didn’t hate it, but I don’t get the love!

    6. Rara Avis*

      Also YA for me — a new-to-me series by Patricia Wrede: The Thirteenth Child, Across the Great Barrier, The Far West. She’s one of my favorite authors with really interesting characters, but it made me uncomfortable that her alternate frontier America (with magic) had no Native Americans.

      1. Virtual Light*

        On the flip side, I just read an interview on Slate with the author of Cahokia Jazz, Francis Spufford (a Brit, FWIW). He made an alternate history where the people of the Cahokia Mounds in Illinois maintained their sovereign status as a multicultural indigenous territory with ties to the Aztecs, and then I guess it’s also a noir mystery? I was intrigued enough to add it to my holds!

        And thanks for reminding me of those Wrede books. I’ve been trying to remember what they were but remembered no identifying info!

        1. Pamela Adams*

          That does sound good- I like Spufford’s nonfiction, and hadn’t realized he’d started on fiction.

    7. Nessness*

      Currently reading The Bee Sting by Paul Murray – I highly recommend it. It’s a family drama that alternates between the perspective of different family members, and the story just unfolds in a really interesting way. My only complaint is the lack of punctuation – there are no quotation marks throughout, and a long section of the book has no periods or commas. I understand what he was aiming for, but it makes it challenging to read.

      1. Still*

        I started reading it on a trip to Dublin and I only got maybe 80 pages in. Perhaps this is my reminder to go back to it…

    8. PollyQ*

      A bunch of mysteries, including a few that play with the form:

      * Magpie Murders and Moonflower Murders, by Anthony Horrowitz, both of which include a full mystery novel inside the mystery, and
      * The Appeal, by Janice Hallett, which is told through email and text threads.

      1. Blomma*

        I love Magpie Murders and The Appeal! I haven’t read Moonflower Murders yet, but have also enjoyed several other books by Horowitz.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I loved the Murders books! They’re great fun and I like that the consequences of characters’ actions actually exist. Not always fairly, at all, but it’s not like the crimes happen in a vacuum.

      3. Irish Teacher.*

        Magpie Murders is amazing. I want the entire Atticus Pund series. I don’t even care about the framing novels. I just want more Atticus Pund.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      Galumpher, you were right. I just finished The Secret Commonwealth and I am SO. ANGRY. Only thing stopping me from literally flinging it against a wall is that I’m using my new Kindle. If I’d been reading instead of listening I would’ve started skimming a looooong time ago. I can’t believe how long it is compared to how much happens (and how much of that is actually interesting/enjoyable). It makes me dislike Philip Pullman as a person, lol.

      1. Galumpher*

        Yes to all of this! Also the story just seems to end with no conclusion? Like structurally it’s half a book, which makes its length and lack of moments that drive the plot forward even more annoying.

        And yes to liking Philip Pullman less as a person afterwards! I feel like his authorial choices (and his “justifications” after publication) betray some ugly things about how he thinks about women/girls, who has power in a sexual relationship, and the humanity of people from other countries (particularly those from the Middle East), among other things. Like I said last week, it really made me re-examine those things in the first trilogy and see it overall a lot less favorably. For example, the centrality of Lyra’s budding sexuality to the plot of the 1st trilogy reads a lot differently given how he wrote the Lyra/Malcolm relationship here :-/

        Sending empathy for that feeling of wanting to throw a book across the room! It’s so frustrating to invest so many hours with a story only for it to be rotten at the core!

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Since I was listening to the audiobook I didn’t realize at first how long it was, and then as I was getting to the end it lists the credits section as a “chapter” so I was kind of like “man he’s not leaving a lot of time to wrap this up” but still didn’t catch on it would be a Part 1 of a longer (looooonger) story.

          And yeah, I’m thinking back to the Sally Lockhart books, which I also loved. As an adult I recognized the orientalism of the opium plot but kind of saw it as just fitting with the time period of the books. And I remember as a teen being weirded out that 16yo Sally’s love interest was in his 20s (and there’s another relationship like this too in the series) but again they didn’t get together until she was an adult and I was like “oh but the time period.” Now it’s a pattern of this guy being incredibly sketchy about really specific things and… ew.

          Less important but still annoying, I feel like he straight up forgot Lyra’s world is a parallel universe that has similarities with ours but is NOT a fantasy version of ours. People started referring to the Authority as God in this one? There’s a Savior and a Virgin Mary (and now I want to know about Jesus’ daemon)? I think there was also a reference to Shakespeare by name -_-

    10. Phryne*

      Just finished The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. I really liked it, it has the same intellectual fairy tale feeling as The Night Circus, but if did leave me with questions.
      It is not open ended or anything, I’m just really a ‘one year later scene’ kind of endings person I guess. But it is beautifully written in the way where nothing is ever really explained and yet it is perfectly clear what this world is and how it works.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      Starter Villain by John Scalzi. Read it for the cats.

      Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes. Nonfiction about the different ways the stories of women from Ancient Greece were told, from 500 BCE to last year. Really interesting and compelling. For example, even back in BCE a playwright gave Helen a speech about how all three bribes offered to Paris would involve war between Greece and Troy, so it’s not like the humans were offered an out here–the gods wanted a war. And Zeus was setting Paris up because HE is helpless against Aphrodite’s power, but somehow Helen was supposed to be able to shrug off the goddess?

      I am still working on Orcus by T Kingfisher, about an 11-year-old girl named Summer who is sent off by Baba Yaga to have an adventure. I can point to a lot of things I like about this–strong vibes of Alice in Wonderland/The Phantom Tollbooth/Dorothy in Oz–and yet my attention seems to drift away from it.

      1. carcinization*

        I finished Summer in Orcus in a single night because I found it so engrossing, but… everybody’s different! I got my mom a copy for Christmas once it was finally easily obtainable in paperback, I guess I should see how it struck her.

    12. RussianInTexas*

      I am reading Killers Of the Flower Moon, the non-fiction book the movie was based on, and all I can say is “WTF people”.

      1. Heffalump*

        If I could successfully pose as a loving husband while plotting to kill my in-laws, I’d think a career on the silver screen awaited me.

    13. Valancy Stirling*

      I reread a few Greek tragedies, and was reminded that the human species hasn’t changed a bit in three thousand years.

      1. Valancy Stirling*

        That’s rounding up a bit. Make that 2500 years. Perhaps there was some change in the 500 years before.

    14. DrKMnO4*

      Rereading the Ciaphas Cain novels by Sandy Mitchell. They are set in the Warhammer 40k universe, which is notorious for its GRIMDARK setting. The Ciaphas Cain novels do have their GRIMDARK moments, but the overall tone is much lighter. They actually have…*gasp*…humor! And a protagonist that wishes he was anywhere other than on the battlefield, plus several references to romantic entanglements. The Cain novels are funny, interesting sci-fi novels that I enjoy rereading.

      You don’t need to know a ton about 40k to read these, either. Actually, pretty much all of my 40k knowledge comes from these books.

    15. MMB*

      I hadn’t picked up a book in months then last week I stumbled on Jeff Wheeler’s Kingfountain prequel series about the Poisoner Ankarette and read all four. So, now I’m rereading the Kingfountain series. If you haven’t read them, don’t read he prequel first it introduces some minor inconsistencies that (for me) are a bit distracting.

    16. word nerd*

      I just couldn’t help listening to the Saints of Steel (Paladin) series this week despite my best intentions to not start an unfinished series. I can’t resist non-horror T. Kingfisher.

      So now I have to wait forever (ok, a few months) for the audiobook version of Paladin’s Faith to become available, not to mention the other planned books in the series. I guess I could just read Paladin’s Faith, but I have to save my eyes for work and ideally books that are much better in print (graphic novels, books with lots of graphs, illustrations, etc.).

      This is why I’ve been resisting checking out The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi (which looks very much up my alley) until the trilogy is finished, and why I’ve also held off on The Priory of the Orange Tree…

      1. Phryne*

        Priory of the Orange Tree is pretty self contained. There are bits of story where a sequel can be attached, but the book has an ending of it’s own story arc so I’d say it is safe to read before the series is complete.

      2. Teapot Translator*

        I agree with Phryne. I read The Priory of the Orange Tree and didn’t even know there would be another book.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Same for The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi: It seemed set up to allow a sequel, even a series, but the story is self-contained.

    17. Lilo*

      I’m reading Station Eternity about 70% of the way through and I’m debating bailing. I’m tired of the author constantly cramming in new characters, awkward exposition, and twists. It just feels I’d like some progress in the actual core mystery? I like the world building but not the characters. Since I have other stuff on my to be read list. Is the ending worth it?

      1. Loredena*

        That’s about where I bailed. I like other books by the author and the concept appealed but it didn’t work for me.

    18. GoryDetails*

      Audiobook: A novella, UNFIT TO PRINT by KJ Charles, narrated by Vikas Adam. It’s set in Victorian England, and features a crusading Indian lawyer whose attempt to find a missing youth brings him in contact with his former best friend from school – who’d disappeared without a trace back then, due to having been discarded by his family after his father’s death, for being illegitimate and mixed-race. They have some challenging issues to get through – for one thing, the cast-off youth managed to make a living as a seller (and sometimes author) of pornography, which the lawyer has some concerns about {wry grin}, but it’s clear they are still very much attracted to each other. And when they join forces to try and track down the missing youth – and find that his disappearance may be related to the brutal murder of another young male in the sex trade – things could get dicey…

    19. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

      I just finished The Majesties, by Tiffany Tsao. A woman is the only survivor of her sister’s attempt to poison their whole family and she has to figure out why her sister did it. Well written and an intriguing premise. The story takes a hard left turn at the end that I both kind of guessed was coming and was kind of mad about it when it happened.

    20. Nervous Nellie*

      Two for me this week: First, A Jest of God by Margaret Laurence. It’s the 2nd of 5 books in the Manawaka Series. Tight, plain, perfect writing that has me rereading passages out loud to myself.

      And The Origins of Canadian and American Political Differences by Jason Kaufman. I have close connections to both countries and have always been mystified by the dramatic differences of ideology, culture and beliefs. Another piece of the puzzle.

    21. Pamela Adams*

      I just read some children’s books by Eve Garnett, starting with The Family from One End Street. The first, published in 1937, won the second Carnegie award. The books focus on a working class family in England. Very enjoyable. They reminded me of All of a Kind Family.

    22. Jamie Starr*

      After finishing Mudbound, I decided to finally read A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O’Connor since the author of Mudbound mentioned O’Connor in the context of Southern Gothic writers who were active during the time in which Mudbound was set. I’ve had the O’Connor book on my shelf for ages so it seemed like the right time. I read the first two stories (including the title story) and didn’t really like them so I’m trying to decide whether to keep going. I get that the characters and stories are supposed to be quirky or weird or unlikeable but not sure I can make it through another 200 pages.

    23. Charlotte Lucas*

      Finally finished “Murder Must Advertise,” and am now moved on to “The Nine Tailors.”

    24. BikeWalkBarb*

      Not all read this week, but relatively recent ones:

      Longbourn by Jo Baker: Pride and Prejudice story is the backdrop, story centers on Sarah, one of the maids. Your view of the beautiful gowns is very different when you’re the one trying to get the muddy stains out from all of Elizabeth Bennett’s walking and you’re dealing with the underclothing of a house full of menstruating women. Gives the housekeeper Mrs. Hill a backstory too.

      A Walking Life, by Antonia Malchik, something of a history of walking along with the politics of bad infrastructure. She writes on these and other themes at https://antoniamalchik.com/.

      Fantasy trilogy by Kevin Hearne that begins with A Plague of Giants, then A Blight of Blackwings and A Curse of Krakens. Storytelling structure that jumps from one “ordinary” character to another so you’re seeing a big series of events unfold through multiple cultures and perspectives. Each nation has a specific “kenning” (power over something: water, air, earth, etc.) but to get it you have to take a chance on whether you’re going to get the kenning or die trying, and overusing it ages you prematurely and can kill you. They come to understand the nature of their kennings over the arc of the three books. Characters have diversity in appearance; a couple of the characters we follow throughout are in loving same-sex marriages.

      Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield: Haunting and heartbreaking science fiction.

      Inside Out: The Equity Leader’s Guide to Undoing Institutional Racism by Caprice D. Hollins. Each chapter ends with some specific things to think and maybe write about and recommendations for other materials on the topic. She’s done some trainings at my ****place (since we’re not supposed to talk about that in this thread) and is great.

    25. WellRed*

      I’m just staring new Bal McDermid, Past Lying. It’s set in April 2020 so lots of early lockdown etc. It’s not easy being fictionally transported back to that time.

    26. Sutemi*

      I recently finished Old in Art School, a memoir by Nell Painter on going back to get her art degrees in her 60s after a full career as a historian and professor. I found it fascinating, there is a whole world of fine art career that I’m not familiar with, to hear it how she navigated it as an older Black woman.

    27. Seashell*

      I read When We Fell Apart by Soon Wiley. I enjoyed it, although the subject matter was sad, and thought it was well written.

    28. RC*

      I read “We were once a family” over the winter break and yes it was infuriating and devastating and also not surprising (from my limited experience I’m really, really hoping that the foster care experience is better in California, but even here some of the chords it struck were too familiar). I’ve been periodically picking up “14 talks by age 14” by Michele Icardwhich I’m hoping osmosisizes in to my brain for how to talk about some things with my CASA kid(s).

      I also started listening to the audiobook “Better Living Through Birding” by Christian Cooper; I’m not usually into audiobooks but I was about podcasted out for my cleaning regimen and so I grabbed that one and I was glad I did because: bird sounds! (Anyway I’m only a few chapters in so far).

    29. Bluebell*

      Wide range of reading this week: You Only call When you’re in Trouble by Stephen McCauley, which I enjoyed, but probably wouldn’t recommend for people who aren’t his fans. Girl at war by Sarah Novic, is an intense novel of a girl who suffers tragedy during the Croatian war for independence, then lives in the US, and then visits Croatia. Then I went lighter and read Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date, a cute lesbian romance, and just finished the second Murderbot.

    30. Lilo*

      I’m reading Just Stab Me Now by Jill Bearup (she does fight analysis on Youtube)YouTube. It’s sort of about an author trying to write a fantasy romance and her characters resisting her tropes. Pretty early in it, but it’s pretty fun so far.

    31. carcinization*

      Late entry, I just started reading Park’s Celestis. This had been on my wishlist for years and I finally found it at a used bookstore with a quite comprehensive speculative fiction section.

      It’s… not my favorite so far. But I’ll finish it.

    32. Mobie's Mom*

      late to the party, but just had to comment! Had a 10 hour car ride this week and listened to “Starter Villian” by John Scalzi and LOVED it! I think it was recommended here awhile back, and if it was any of you who recommended, thank you so much!

  11. Jackalope*

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

    My husband has been wanting me to listen to a podcast with him for awhile. We finally made it to the finale of Season 1, and while we listened together I played Dr. Mario again. I managed to make it from level 1 to the last level a couple of times while we went through; it was perfect for giving me something to do with my hands while still being able to listen.

    1. Pterodactyls are under-cited in the philosophical literature*

      The Librarian’s Apprentice by Almost Bedtime Theater! https://bronsonlowe.itch.io/the-librarians-apprentice It’s a solo-journaling roleplay game about adventures in an infinite library. Really imaginative, digital copy is cheap, physical copies are available and there are community copies for librarians, teachers and anyone who can’t afford to pay. The webpage has links to actual plays if you’re not sure what a solo rpg looks like! My apprentice is going to talk to a pteropher, or possibly a philosodactyl, to learn how to reach the Room of Inconspicuous Dinosaurs to find a document written on a plaid banana. (My 12-year-old has assisted with some inspiration.)

    2. Pterodactyls are under-cited in the philosophical literature*

      Forgive me if I wind up double-posting, my first attempt seems to have disappeared –
      Recommending The Librarian’s Apprentice by Almost Bedtime Theater, a solo journaling roleplay game. You’re creating a story about adventures in an infinite library, trying to prove yourself as a very junior librarian. The game gives you lots of imaginative prompts and a structure to move through the story making decisions or leaving them up to chance. If I have correctly remembered the inspiration my 12-year-old suggested, my apprentice will be talking to a pteropher, or possibly a philosodactyl, to learn how to find the Room of Inconspicuous Dinosaurs wherein resides a document I must find, written on a plaid banana.

      I’m not going to include the link this time in case that’s what ate my first attempt, but if you google the game name and developer it’s easy to find! Digital and physical copies available, and free community copies for librarians, teachers and anyone who can’t afford the game.

      1. heckofabecca*

        I love Bananagrams! On Monday I visited a friend and played with their middle schooler—it was a VERY close game! Super impressive :)

        For board games, I’ve also been playing Shifting Stones and Azul—both delightful, Shabbat-friendly games.

    3. Gaming sparingly*

      I discovered my abandon ware a couple weeks back and sank one evening into Zoombinis and Rayman, and it was so fun to revisit my childhood for a bit. Can’t forget to try Lemmings next!

      1. Wordnerd*

        “Fleens? You’re not Fleens!”
        *stomp stomp stomp*
        “Well, whatever you are…MAKE ME A PIZZA???!!!!”

        1. Gaming sparingly*

          Lol! Yesssss, and then get so offended when you try toppings that OBVIOUSLY can’t go together! xD

    4. DrKMnO4*

      I’ve stumbled back into Hades. I started a new save file because that’s my MO when I’ve been away from a game like that for a while. I haven’t touched it in at least a year, so I was interested to see where my skills were.

      When I started playing after it came out, it took me 44 runs to beat the final boss. On this save file, I beat him on my 16th run. I was impressed with my muscle memory and ability to get back into the rhythm of the game.

      It’s a roguelike with a great story and nigh-infinite replayability (imo). It has good queer and poly (depending on your choices) representation as well.

    5. heckofabecca*

      I’ve been doing a bunch of ttrpg-ing lately!

      – The online D&D campaign I play in weekly was on hiatus for a couple months, and we just started back up again on Thursday. It’s going great! (During the break we did some short games, but it’s nice to be back to vampireland aka Barovia – Curse of Strahd.)

      – The online D&D campaign I run has session 18 tomorrow. We started in August and I’m so delighted with how it’s going! I have such wonderful, engaged players. You can read about our adventures and my homebrew world if you want here: https://xl.obsidianportal.com/

      – I ran a session of Society of Rafa, a cozy healing TTRPG inspired by Jewish folklore, with 3 strangers a couple weeks ago—and it went wonderfully! It took about 2.5–3 hours to create characters, define relationships, and play a scenario. Great fun to run!

    6. Taki*

      I beat Horizon: Forbidden West on Ultra Hard. Only trophies left are machine strike and the Enduring… which is difficult only because combos are broken.

  12. But Not the Armadillo*

    TRACY. CHAPMAN. at. the. Grammys.

    That’s it. That’s the tweet.

    To follow the rules and ask a question: what’s the best synonym for “luminous”?

    1. Panicked*

      There are no words to describe the absolute magnificence of her voice. I could listen to her sing the phone book. Fast Car came out in 1988 and I can’t think of a single time frame that the song would feel out of place in. It’s a perfect song, sung with a perfect voice. That performance was 11/10 and I sincerely hope that everyone watches it.

    2. Dannie*

      I couldn’t watch live and cannot find the whole performance, and I’m incredibly disgruntled. It keeps getting copyright struck on YT, and the bits I do find are already partway through. So annoying how this particular item is so strangled from being shared in its entirety. I want to see from the start when she was revealed, not just partway through the first verse.

      1. Hatchet*

        If you go to grammy dot com it’s there. I’ll post the direct link in a reply in case it gets stuck in moderation.
        I agree with everyone else… a beautiful performance!

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Now I gotta watch it again. It’s like the Tom Holland Umbrella dance video – whenever it crosses your path on the internet, you are compelled.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I never bought the album before, although when that song was first out, I listened to it ALL THE TIME. Have it now.

      You know what I liked? Everyone singing along in the audience. They all got really into it. <3

    4. Mimmy*

      I never really appreciated the song when it was first released, but I loved the attention this performance got because the song is very relatable even today. It’s really pretty with the country infusion.

  13. OrdinaryJoe*

    Selling my house and I’m preparing a note/list of Things to Know for the new owners … house specific stuff, like … the fact there are black eyed susans planted in a specific bed and that’s what will be coming up in May and not weeds :-)

    If you’re moving into a new house, is there something you wish you knew from the previous owners and didn’t have to figure out on your own? If you left a list, what did you put?


    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Where is the switch for the garage lights??? The first house I bought we could not figure out how to control the lights outside the garage door. Like, there was no visible switch. In 3.5 years we never found one. (Basically, if there are any quirks where the location or function of a thing isn’t obvious, label it or explain it lol)

    2. Glazed Donut*

      Would have loved to know paint colors! I was almost able to color match the walls but the white trim/ceiling are a no go for that.
      It took me a few years to figure out that one light switch (on a panel of 3) was for an outlet across the room.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Previous owner left all the paint cans in the basement, even the ones with only a dab of paint remaining, which was very useful!

    3. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Two houses ago (so about 10 years) I was very organized and had a binder full of page protectors where I’d put the owner’s manual for all the appliances in the house. When we moved, I just left it on the kitchen counter.
      Buyers sent me a CARD in the mail to thank us, which shocked me. (And the way they sent it was so clever, they knew our names from the closing docs, and sent it to the address of the house we sold, correctly guessing the post office would forward it to us!)

    4. Girasol*

      The correct numbers for the burglar alarm code pad. Our first night in our new house was VERY LOUD. Seriously, though, any maintenance tips that you know. This house is supposed to have its crawl space vents closed as soon as temperatures dip below 20 degrees. If I wasn’t told that I might have let the pipes freeze that first winter. Also stuff like where to find the main water shut-off.

    5. Shiara*

      We’ve been in our house six years and still haven’t figured out what two light switches are supposed to do.

      the previous owner did leave a list including last date of service for roof, gutters and how old the large kitchen appliances were as well as the name of the person she used for pests.

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

        It’s awesome to leave a list of tradespeople who have done work in the house before and who’ve done a good job. Especially useful for new owners moving from another town.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        On that note – when moving out don’t forget to cancel your services. I ended up with my pest guys because they were the ones the previous owner used, but when she moved out she forgot to cancel them so they showed up and sprayed half my yard before they got to the locked gate, and then when they knocked they were very surprised to find a new owner. They didn’t charge me for the half they’d done and left me their new client info, and I did end up calling them back and have used them for eight years now.

      3. Laika*

        On mystery switches: I moved into a rental after a friend moved out of the same unit. There’s a light switch at the top of the stairs that she’d put a piece of tape over so it couldn’t be flipped.

        She told me that it took nearly 3 months for her to realize that the *only* thing the switch did was turn on/off ONE electrical outlet in the living room. By coincidence it was the same outlet that the wifi router was plugged into. She’d hit the switch by accident (trying to press the switch next to it), not associate it with her internet cutting out or not working, and was getting into increasingly more annoyed fights with her internet provider over their lack of service. I can’t remember exactly how she finally solved the mystery but I’ve left the tape on ever since because, really, what the heck is the point of a switch that only controls one plug??

        Any chance your switches are similarly controlling a single outlet for completely baffling reasons? :D

        1. Kay*

          If your router was plugged in somewhere else it might make sense. Most of the time they are used for things like lamps – so you don’t have to manually turn off a lamp every time, you just use the switch.

        2. Meg*

          I have never lived in a house or apartment where the switches did anything other than control a single outlet (or overhead light or ceiling fan). Is it the norm in other parts of the country for switches to control multiple outlets?

    6. My Brain is Exploding*

      Accurate, updated labels on the fuse box. If there is a light switch which operates one outlet somewhere, please identify. If you know things like a a good plumber, auto repair place, electrician, etc.

      1. WorkNowPaintLater*

        So this.

        The previous owners replaced the breaker box and didn’t mark ANYTHING. Need to make sure we don’t do that to the next…

        Also knowing where and what bulbs are planted so they don’t get mowed – we have surprise lilies in the middle of our back yard.

    7. Owlette*

      My first house we had to get a telephone company out to find the telephone line. Previous owners had renovated and put in behind a kitchen cabinet. So like the above, anything that’s hard to hunt down

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

      Anything weird that might otherwise alarm them. Like, my parents’ generator would test itself every Friday at a particular time, so it was normal for the lights to flicker then.

    9. RLC*

      Notes and/or drawings describing type and location of anything “hidden”. Septic tank, irrigation lines, drain lines, buried utilities, etc. (DIY projects requiring excavation don’t always require an underground utility locator call, and some projects not at all…such as building a raised planting bed over an irrigation line which must later be dug up).
      Our house has a buried drain line for roof runoff and we have absolutely no idea where it drains to. My parents bought a house with no clue as to location of septic tank and leach field. Previous owner had installed lawn irrigation lines over the septic access. Major search project required when septic needed to be pumped.

      1. CheerfulGinger*

        similar vein – where the connection point is so you can blow out the sprinklers before the first freeze.

    10. Outlet Moll*

      I just upgraded an electrical panel and labeled not only the circuits at the box, but each outlet and switch to identify what matched what and how much was connected to each circuit.

    11. Bulu Babi*

      The previous owners of our new house left us a binder with all the instruction manuals, legal stuff, previous renovations and contractors, and most important: the exact shade of paint of the facade. It’s a lovely blue and we want to preserve it.

    12. OhGee*

      kitchen countertop care. we have an unusual kind of countertop (like a cheap terrazo) and it is absolutely destroyed after 6 years living here. I think we could have resealed it and been fine, but now we’re looking at replacement.

    13. Ashley*

      Any installation manuals and warranty info are a plus. Let them know trash / recycling day.

      Thing the previous owner did to me that annoyed me: left lots of old paint which meant I had to dispose of it, branded cleaning supplies for the cork floor with instructions to only use that brand on the floor, handing over a bag of unlabeled keys some of which don’t got to anything, and when they never bother to fully empty the basement of all the trash.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Not Ashley, but the dozen cans of paint that were left for me to dispose of were not actually related to any of the paint that was actually on the walls in the house at the time that I moved into it. :)

    14. BookMom*

      If the oven runs hot or cold, water and gas shutoff location, instructions for anything “quirky.” Contact info for any existing professional services, especially recurring, like lawn care, gutter cleaning, HVAC maintenance, plumber, arborist, snow removal, electrician, handyperson. If they’re local, they might have their own, but these are folks who already know your house. Warranty info for major repairs. Touch up paint with brand/formula/color info, extra tiles or carpet, strips of siding, etc.

      Enjoy your new home!

    15. DrKMnO4*

      All of the light/fan switches apart from the bathrooms are backwards. In a normal house, the switch closest to the door in a bedroom controls the lights, and the next switch over controls the ceiling fan. In this house (which was built in 2014!) it is the opposite.

    16. Texan In Exile*

      I left a folder with all the relevant warranties, maintenance histories, and service companies. I also left instructions about how to replace the set screw in the attic fan – it had a habit of falling out. And I left my forwarding address and a bottle of wine.

      That was in 2008. A few months ago, I returned to Memphis to visit friends and went by my old house. When I lived there, I had dug up 2/3 of the front yard to plant flowers, but had replaced everything with grass when I put the house up for sale, thinking nobody was going to want to take on a project like that.

      The new owner was in the yard, which he had converted entirely to flowers! I introduced myself and he knew who I was immediately.

      He said that when he moved in, one of the other neighbors – someone I didn’t know – had come over to introduce himself. The neighbor said he was so glad that The Hippie (I guess me?) had moved out and the messy yard was gone.

      The new owner thought himself, “Meet the New Hippie.”

    17. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Telling us not to turn on the spigot on the odd pipe that ran from the basement through the wall into the yard (under grade. Into the dirt). We never bothered with it. The crew that installed the new water softener left it on and we didn’t realize it until we had pumped thousands of gallons of water into our backyard. Our water bills come quarterly and we didn’t look at the meter. Finally hubs was alone in the house, heard the water running, traced the sound to the pipe, and thought to check the tap.

    18. Elastigirl*

      Manuals for all the installed appliances. We moved into a new house a year ago and I am still trying to figure out the odd controls for the oven.

      Otoh, the owner warned us that all the upstairs plumbing runs downstairs through one specific wall, so we knew not to put any nails in that wall. That was helpful.

    19. What the what*

      I like to make people feel welcome, and try to think what I would like if I moved into a house. So, I leave a binder of resources for them about our house, including manuals, etc. If I know they are moving in from out of town, I’ll leave a list of resources for local contractors and people who have serviced the house. Leaving a list of paint colors is a must for me since I’m so picky about color.

      I also make sure to leave some mailing labels with my new address. They will inevitably get mail for me that isn’t forwarded, so I want to make it as easy as possible for them.

    20. Aphrodite*

      Fortunately, this was discovered before I moved in.

      There was a camera in the bedroom, small and unobtrusive, wedged into the top of a corner where the two walls meet the ceiling. Pointed at the most logical place the bed would go.

      It probably would have gone unnoticed if I had renovated and my best friend who was acting for me (since I was working full time) asked the tradesman if the “smoke alarm” could be moved down where it could be reached. That’s when he informed her it was not a smoke alarm. When she called me I was horrified and told her to wrap it in two garbage bags before tossing it. (One of the few things we tossed rather than offer up on BuyNothing or CraigsList for free.0

    21. BikeWalkBarb*

      Our last house had been flipped and we had all the manuals for appliances, which we left for the next owner. I left a drawing of my raised garden beds with what was planted in them that they wouldn’t know about if the plants weren’t up yet–things like the asparagus bed I had started. I also left the tags from the raspberries so they’d know which varieties they had.

      We’re doing a major remodel on the house we’re in now and bringing a lot of things up to code from 1995 standards. We’ll have a log of that information so in future people will know which standards were applied to things like the R value of the insulation. So many things weren’t well maintained; a log of when you had major servicing done would be good too so they’ll know when things come due.

      The question someone asked above about welcoming new neighbors suggests another idea: A map of the surrounding houses with owners’ names if you know them, their kids and pets, dogs to watch out for that aren’t friendly (or are too friendly and untrained, for that matter), what day trash comes, any quirks in services (we didn’t know our local recycling doesn’t take glass and that we have to drop it off ourselves, then we had to find where we could do that), tips about nearby services, secret trail entrances into the park, that kind of local knowledge you’ve picked up over time living there.

    22. Elizabeth West*

      Oh my. I wrote a huge list. I also left a bunch of stuff behind, stuff I thought the new owner, a young guy whose grandparents bought the house for him (I think he had a wife and kid, I’m not sure) could use. He also bought a little bit of furniture, which I also left.

      He got all my appliances too so I listed everything I thought he might need to know about them. Plus:
      –what wildlife hangs out in the back yard
      –where my kitty is buried so he knows not to dig there (I marked it — I took her gravestone with me)
      –which faucet in the garage is hot / cold
      –how to work the old-ass floor furnace
      –the phone number of the lawn guy
      –how to cover the vent holes in the foundation for winter
      –who repaired/replaced what and their phone numbers

      The neighbor across the street said later in a text that they were fixing up the house. Even though I was ready to burn it down by the time I left, I’m glad — I never had the money to make it nice, and I felt bad that it wasn’t in better shape. But it has a big yard and I hope they’re happy in it.

    23. zaracat*

      when I sold my apartment, I left a folder with instruction manuals for all the installed appliances, with additional notes for any special quirks of these (eg that the rangehood charcoal filters were a special order), and a suggested maintenance schedule based on the manufacturer’s recommendations and original date of installation – some of the newer appliances were still in their warranty period, and the warranty could be voided if specific checks were missed.

  14. the london look*

    I’m going to London with a friend end of the month. We’re doing touristy things for most of the trip but we have a day or two to maybe do something not touristy–maybe travel an hour or two outside of the city. Any recommendations?

    Also any tips in general?

    1. Clara Bowe*

      Highly recommend the London Walks website. They do private tours for a list of places not far out of London. They used to do group tours but it looks like those are temporarily suspended.

      That said, check out the National Rail website and get tickets as early as you can. The train system is excellent and the high speed rail lines mean an hour or two out of London gives you a surprising radius. I had a lovely afternoon in Canterbury, and you could even day trip to Dover and take the ferry to France and back.

      1. londonedit*

        British person howling with laughter at the idea that the train system is excellent…within London yes, the Tube network and trains are fantastic, but if you’re travelling by train to other parts of England then you need to keep a close eye on the rail websites for your train operator because we have a lot of strikes and reduced timetables going on at the moment. Train tickets are also incredibly expensive so it’s worth booking in advance and looking out for whatever cheaper tickets you can find – it’s often worth splitting tickets for a journey and I think there’s a website that will find these split fares for you as they can be a lot cheaper (you don’t actually have to get off the train or physically split the journey; you just for example buy a ticket to Didcot Parkway and a ticket from Didcot Parkway ro Bristol instead of buying a ticket from Paddington to Bristol).

          1. BikeWalkBarb*

            I was going to say this too. The fact that you CAN take a train into the countryside for a day trip? Magic.

          2. londonedit*

            If the bar is ‘a train service exists’ then yes we can clear that. But the key phrase is always ‘check before you travel’ because with the industrial action (which is usually only announced with a couple of weeks’ notice) and many train companies not being able to run a full timetable all the time, it’s absolutely worth checking to make sure your train is still running, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you turn up at the station to find delays and cancellations. I wouldn’t want to suggest to visitors that the train service is all running perfectly, because a lot of the time it isn’t.

        1. otter*

          Trainline’s the website that splits fares! I will note that they add on a service fee, so sometimes it’s cheaper to then go directly to the train company’s website and split the fare manually.

    2. ghost_cat*

      Fish and chips after a stroll along and esplanade and jetty in Brighton? Or Bath makes a good day trip. But a walk along the Thames Path (Hammersmith > Chiswick > Kew is good) followed by a pub, is pretty good. Or hit up M&S for a picnic lunch and go to Fulham Palace’s walled garden. My tips for London – I enjoyed Highgate Cemetery and Sir John Soane’s Museum.

    3. vegan velociraptor*

      If you like walking, you could do the Seaford to Eastbourne (or vice versa) Seven Sisters walk in an easy day trip from London – fantastic white cliffs, good views out over the South Downs, and a chance to get down to a wonderful pebbly beach.

      Brighton’s a good day trip if you like lots of independent shops and good food, but it’s not the most seasidey seaside town.

      Staying in London but still needing to trek a bit, Kew Gardens is fantastic. I also really like Greenwich as somewhere to wander around.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        If you go to Greenwich, make sure to get pie and mash and liquor (it’s not a drink; it’s the green parsley gravy) at Goddards. It’s cheapish because they feed the neighborhood as well as the tourists. And it’s fecking delicious.

        Damn, I want to go there really bad now.

    4. Bob Howard*

      If going to London, I reccomend Novelty Automation, an arcade of Tim Hunkin’s gloriously quirky arcade machines. Links in reply to this post.

      It is at 1A Princeton St, London WC1R 4AX. Open every day except Mondays, 11am to 6pm, with late opening on Thursday 12-8pm and 12-6pm on Sundays.

      I have no connection except as a fan of his work, especially The Secret Life of Machines, available on Youtube.

    5. londonedit*

      Citymapper is a great app for London travel. If you have a contactless bank card or your card loaded in your Apple Wallet then you can use that to pay for all your travel – just make sure you use the same card all day and it’ll automatically charge you the (cheaper) day travelcard rate. Otherwise get an Oyster card from any station and keep that topped up.

      If you’re looking for great views of the city then you can book free tickets for the Sky Garden online – but they do go quickly and you can only book a maximum of two weeks in advance. Another option is The Garden at 120 (Fenchurch Street) which isn’t quite as high up and is outdoors, but still gives great views. I also love the cable car across the Thames for something a bit different – I like to get on at the north side (Royal Victoria on the DLR) and go across to North Greenwich, and then get the boat back along the river to central London (getting off at the South Bank or Embankment).

      Tate Modern is always good, and you can wander along the South Bank, the V&A is lovely and the cafe there is gorgeous, or the Wallace Collection is also really nice and has an excellent cafe.

      Would also second the idea of a walk by the river in Richmond – you can walk across Richmond Lock and up into Syon Park, which has a nice garden centre and restaurant and fab views of Syon House. Kew Gardens is also in the same sort of area and is really lovely if the weather’s nice.

    6. A313*

      If you like history and cemeteries, Highgate Cemetery in North London is lovely. It’s not at all like most US cemeteries that are all green grass, little foliage.

    7. Old Hampshire New Hampshire*

      A walking tour around the City of London is always interesting. Some of them are general, some of them are themed. Osterley Park and House (and other National Trust sites) is very good for a day visit. Make sure you go to the cafe for a scone.

      My tip would be to check the Transport for London (TFL) website for info on journeys where it’s quicker to walk than use the Tube if you’re doing a lot of travelling around Central London.

    8. bright as yellow*

      If you live any books or movies that are set in London, you could visit some places that feature in your favourite story.

    9. Anon attorney*

      Cambridge makes a good day trip. Train goes from Kings Cross and takes about an hour if I remember right. Do a walking tour, go round a few colleges (King’s, St John’s, Trinity), get a punt if the weather is nice, afternoon tea etc

      I left many years ago and don’t know what is good for pubs and restaurants now, but there’ll be options!

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I love Eurovision, but haven’t yet heard any of this year’s songs. I generally don’t start paying much attention till a couple of weeks before the contest, though I did hear that Spain’s entry this year have some pretty unpleasant opinions (plus misogynistic lyrics), so I won’t be voting for them.

      1. EurovisionFan!*

        I lived in Spain for years so am following the discourse! It all depends on how one feels about a song reclaiming language (“zorra”—idk if I can give the translation), while offering a feminist critique of how the language is commonly used (eg a woman is considered a “zorra” no matter what she does”). That’s what the song does. I don’t consider it misogynistic at all, nor is it being edgy—many feminists have been reclaiming this word, at least in Spanish and English, for years and years.
        I think it’s a fine song, though certainly not a Eurovision winner—but I’ve been shocked by the discourse.

        1. Skates*

          I’m with you, EurovisionFan! I think the song is… fine but the discourse is so overblown! It seemed very much like a cheeky queer/feminist reappropriation to me!!

          So far I’m very hype for Norway and Ireland though I totally get that Bambie Thug is not going to be to everyone’s taste haha

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            Luxembourg is competing this year for the first time in many years, so Fighter by Tali is getting played a lot on the radio.

  15. new bluey fan*

    I don’t have a lot of friends with kids yet, and especially not with toddlers, and I’m curious about “norming” on two things…or peeking into the secret honest lives of other toddler fams. (I’m defining toddler as like, roughly 2-4 years old.) Two questions:

    1) For people who work full-time, what percentages of the time when you’re home with your toddler are you actively and fully playing with them, versus them playing independently (or watching something, or whatever) while you get something done, versus both of you doing something together (them “helping” you cook dinner, etc)? How much fully-engaged-in-play time (not doing anything else except playing) do you typically have with toddler a day on weekday evenings? Weekends?

    2) How much screen time does your toddler typically get a day or week?

    1. new bluey fan*

      I think my interest in the first question comes from this feeling that I *should* be spending 100% of the time when I’m home and Toddler is awake playing with them / engaging with them / reading to them / etc. But also like, we need to make dinner and fold laundry and clean the house and stuff too, right?? And if we leave most of that until after bedtime…by then I am very sleepy.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Other people have made great points about independent play and boredom but I just wanted to point out that you sound guilty if there isn’t 100% interaction. If 100% interaction were the goal, then the toddler would never build independence. Like, the younger a child is the more they need interaction and may not be ready for much, if any, independent play, but don’t feel guilty about it if they’ve achieved this and they’re doing it! If you’ve got them interested in something, like playing with salt dough while you make dinner, you’re probably going to have to be close by and interact a whole lot at first, but try to retreat and leave them to it for longer and longer (so long as you can still observe them and know that they don’t eat it!)

      2. Observer*

        I think my interest in the first question comes from this feeling that I *should* be spending 100% of the time when I’m home and Toddler is awake playing with them / engaging with them / reading to them / etc.

        That’s a common trope, but it’s incredibly destructive. Obviously, we’re talking about a healthy child. But toddlers do not need 100% interaction with the adults in their lives. They need time to just be, and time to play by themselves. And even when you are interacting, it’s actually very healthy to do things with them, as in your example of helping with setting the table etc. It’s a set of positive interactions that also helps build a different set of skills.

    2. Shiara*

      Developmentally, toddlers don’t really have the same distinction between an adult playing with them for pure play and an adult engaging them in the adult’s activity on a toddler level. My toddler LOVES to help sweep, or dust the baseboards, or wiping down the faucet while I’m cleaning. Toddler also enjoys transferring clothes between washer and dryer and finding and matching the socks when folding.

      We usually get some playtime in between dinner and bedtime, but maybe 15-20 minutes and the rest of the time is either dinner, reading, or engaging with chores. Screentime is typically 15 minutes (2 bluey episodes) and is often cuddle time with one parent while the other finishes dinner.

      1. new bluey fan*

        Thanks! I love these ideas of new chores she can help with. This sounds pretty similar to us right now – she does help with dinner, and otherwise between work and bedtime it’s a mix of playing together (~1 hour) and reading, a walk outside, and reading some books, plus 1-2 Bluey episodes or 10-20 min of Sesame Street. But I like the idea of doing some more chores “together” during that play time.

      2. new bluey fan*

        I’ve read through all of these comments and it’s so interesting and helpful! Thanks so much to everyone for sharing these peeks into your lives!

    3. Beenthere*

      I have past the toddler stage about 5 years ago, but this is what I learned.

      1) The time from getting them from daycare until their bedtime is their’s. That means any form of entertainment is family friendly and includes them. for us, that was about two hours (home at 6 pm bed at 8 pm). This was more of a time issue. We had to cram dinner, bath, shopping, etc. in a very short window. The weekends allowed more time for independent play. I would say, it started 70/30 interactive to independent play then slowly more independent as they toddler inched to be 4 years old. We had a rule that the kids could interrupt us for a book and we would immediately put whatever we were doing down to read to them.

      2) I was very strict about screen time. My rules are not ideal for everyone. I only allowed 30 min a day during the week, when we were home more, and an hour per weekend-day. Exception was family movie night every Friday (then it was the only screen time).

      With all that said… if you or the kids are sick… watch TV like it is going to vanish. It isn’t going to be the end of the world.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I want to second that if you normally offer limited screen time, then the novelty is likely to work as a draw when you are sick, or they are strapped into an airplane seat for hours.

    4. Jackalope*

      I lived with a couple of my nephews when they were little, and one thing we did was rotate adults. So their mom as at home with them during the day, then when I got off work I’d play with them while she did other stuff, then when their dad got home he’d do stuff with them. They didn’t always have an adult but they had an adult for a lot of it and the adults didn’t have to be “on” for the whole time.

    5. Lyra Belacqua*

      My daughter is almost 4, and she still isn’t great at playing independently but will sometimes play semi-independently (especially art/coloring—she’ll draw and then bring it to me to talk about it.) I do a lot of cooking etc then. I do have her help with laundry, because it’s an excursion (to the building basement) and she likes putting clothes into the dryer. If my partner and I are both home, we’ll switch out who’s primarily in charge. Lately we rely heavily on screen time, because it’s cold and we’ve all basically been sick since November. Theoretically, I try to limit screen time on weekdays to 45 minutes, which I use to get dinner ready, etc. On weekends it’s more like a couple of hours, which I don’t feel great about, but until she’s reading independently, it feels pretty necessary.

    6. Double A*

      On weekdays, my toddler (2.5) get probably 30-90 minutes of focused adult “play” time where we’re doing something he wants and we’re not doing anything else. A good chunk of this is bedtime, where we play before bed, and some of it is while one parent is making dinner but that playtime doesn’t always happen. We’re not necessarily fully playing with him the whole time; I really want to foster independent play and my son is much better at it than by daughter was (and still is… she’s 5). Since we also have two kids they play together somewhat though it isn’t very sustained and there’s a good amount of conflict. I’m much more apt to let them sort out their screeching than my husband is, who finds them fighting to be very stressful (normal like squabbling over toys fighting, nothing intense).

      On the weekend it really varies. The toddler gets a lot of attention but also we have the TV on a lot. He’s not that interested in TV so it only holds his attention for half an hour at a time at most usually. My daughter loves TV and wants to watch it endlessly and honestly it’s on more than I want, anywhere from 1-5 hours a day depending on our energy levels. She also does other stuff while watching TV like drawing and playing with toys.

      I don’t really like playing with my kids but I do like having kids along on my errands so I take them with me for that kind of thing a lot. I don’t think it’s my job to entertain my kids and I’m trying to allow for more boredom that they need to figure out how to cope with themselves, though that’s more for the older kid. My husband gets kind of anxious when they’re bored and will turn on the TV to fill that silence which…I am not a fan of. It’s all evolving.

    7. Rara Avis*

      My kid is way past that stage (15 1/2), but here’s what I remember: no screen time before 2. Easier because we weren’t on cell phones ourselves so much in 2010. Limited after that until Covid blew all limitations out of the window. Weekday evenings were pretty crazy — dinner, bath, reading, bed after a long commute. Lots of play/reading/ drawing time together on the weekends.

    8. Pop*

      I feel like screen time hugely varies by family. My kid is in care full time M-F so we don’t watch screens during the week, maybe one evening for 30 minutes if one of us needs to get something unusual done (like last week when we had a plumbing emergency). On the weekends we will do maybe an hour spread across both days. In addition to that we’ve started a family movie night every other week or so where we watch about an hour of a movie with all of us. But my husband and I are not big on tv, and before kids never watched it during the day. So we didn’t have to implement specific rules, just kept up with our lifestyle. I do think we’re on the lower end of screen time usage based on friends/family who have similar aged kids.

    9. 40ish*

      On weekdays, I am focused on our toddler around 2-3 hours per day. One adult usually is with him and the other doing housework. I do sometimes include the toddler in doing laundry etc. But of course the chores take longer then.
      Screentime; one hour per day only on weekends.

    10. Lilo*

      So there’s a huge difference between 2 and 4. 2 needed a lot of intense interaction, but by 4 my son would be obsessed with drawing or lookijg through his Atlas solo.

      My son doesn’t get a lot of screen time if we are not counting video chats with family. Maybe one movie a week or I’ll pull up some educational videos (like he read a book about volcanoes so I showed him some video). But he’s very active so he prefers to run around or.draw.

    11. Janet Pinkerton*

      My kid turns two on Monday. Usually no screen time during the week. We don’t have a lot of awake time at home during the week so it’s usually spent with a little play, dinner, and bedtime. Maybe he’ll get a few minutes of looking at cell phone photos.

      On the weekends, it really depends on our capacity. Sometimes there’s none, and sometimes there will be an hour or two of Thomas the Tank Engine or Teletubbies or Sesame Street. And sometimes we’ll try a movie—we’ve stuck with animal-focused Disney movies plus Encanto. We got through the Wizard of Oz until the poppy scene which was very upsetting for him. We don’t do screen time after dinner.

      If daycare is closed or he is sick, all bets are off, and the tv will be on much of the day. He doesn’t watch it the whole time—he’s just not that into it for that long. But it’s useful to redirect him if we need to work.

      And we’re lucky that he’s very into independent play.

    12. Panda (she/her)*

      Here’s what our weekdays look like with a 3 and 5 year old:
      – Husband wakes up with the kids. Our rule is usually that they have to entertain themselves until about 7am. They have books and colouring stuff in their rooms.
      – No screen time allowed before school. They usually have to entertain themselves while we do breakfast/pack lunches/get dressed.
      – We do read books to them and maybe get them colouring or something if they need something to do in the morning.
      – My mom looks after my 3 year old, and picks up my SKer from school. She often does very interactive playtime with them.
      – I take the kids in the evening. They have to clean up their toys, then they get 1 hour of TV time before dinner while I cook and tidy the kitchen.
      – We eat dinner together and play, read stories, etc until bedtime. Probably 30-60 minutes.
      – bedtime is pretty parenting intensive. It takes about an hour, sometimes longer.

      My husband tends to be more focused on interacting with them when he is with them. I tend to want to get things done and work on them doing independent play. My oldest really struggled with playing independently, and still needs more guidance on activities. My 3 year old will just grab a stack of books and sit in the corner and “read” them for 45 minutes.

    13. EA*

      I have two kids under 5. For #1, it looks very different with kid 1 and kid 2, partially because of personality and partially because my firstborn was alone, but now they have someone to play (and fight haha) with. Some kids are more inclined to independent play than others. That said, I will just tell them, “I’m going to do laundry now” and they have the choice to either “help” or play by themselves. I also work from home and have no commute, so I get to be with them longer.

      We do TV most weekday nights for 30-60 minutes while I cook dinner, clean, etc. After dinner the TV is off and we have a strong bedtime storybook routine. We do not give our kids phones or tablets ever. On weekends they usually watch a show or movie for a little while, but not always.

    14. HannahS*

      One 2 year old. My partner works full-time, I’m a resident physician and work more hours than full-time. We don’t have a ton of focused playing time during the week, because we only have about 3 hours to do dinner, bath, and bed (and going to bed is…an issue right now.) I would say we try to get anywhere from none (on a really rough day, especially if I’m post-call) to 1.5 hours (on a great day.) We have a mix of rough and great days each week lol! Weekends are easier.

      With respect to TV, my ideal situation would be no screens at all on weeknights. However, my husband has different opinions than me about screen time, so our compromise is up some, daily, and we’re figuring it out. No tablets and no phone (except for looking at family pictures and video-chats,) unless we’re traveling–we’re united on that one.

      There are some temporary major stressors/pressures in our life right now and so we’ve basically suspended all family we-will-nevers and chaos has reigned since December. It happens, and order will be restored in March.

    15. BubbleTea*

      I’m a solo parent so my son had to learn to entertain himself pretty early on. On days when he’s been at nursery, we have about two hours between getting home and bedtime, and in that time I have to feed the dog, myself, Toddler if he’s hungry (he eats four meals at nursery but appears to be part hobbit), sort nappies for the next day, get him in and out of the bath… there’s very little time for play, but we make each stage into its own game often. Once he’s in bed we read books and listen to music and talk through his day, which is lovely.

      I try to restrict screen time to non-nursery days, and ideally only one day in the week where he watches more than maybe 20 minutes – sometimes we have a Sunday morning film time and he snuggles in my bed to watch Toy Story or something. He gets a lot more screen time at the grandparents’, because they happily indulge his Fireman Sam obsession!

    16. Wilde*

      My kids are three and four, so hopefully my experience will be helpful for you!

      Our screen time rules are one hour on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Each kid gets to choose approx 30 min of a show. E.g. four Bluey eps or a 35 min Wiggles compilation.

      It used to be random, basically when I felt overwhelmed or annoyed by them and they would watch until I was over it. But there was always big feelings when it was over, and big feelings when they wanted to watch and I said no. The predictability of this routine has significantly reduced the tantrums.

      They don’t have access to entertainment on personal devices. We do a weekly phone call to grandparents on my phone but that’s it.

      Screen time is a difficult thing to get “right” and will look different in every family. Good luck to you.

    17. JustEm*

      I’m apparently an outlier here in that my 2.5 year old gets a ton of screentime. She’s in daycare during the day (no screens) while my husband and I work full time, and we’re all tired at end of day and usually put on Daniel Tiger or a kid friendly movie in the evenings, and also watch some kids shows in morning while getting ready for daycare. We interact and talk about what’s on. We also play with her a ton and read books. She’s WAY ahead on all milestones and does great socially so I don’t think we’ve ruined her yet. She doesn’t get phone/tablet time except on airplanes.

      I grew up without TV and always thought I’d raise my kids screen-free, but working full time while being a parent with multiple new chronic health conditions over the past year has led to my relaxing my standards a LOT.

  16. Melissa*

    Looking for opinions: I’m a single mum with a toddler and I’ve got covid. I don’t want to spread it to anyone but I’m struggling to keep my kid sane. Do you think it would be okay for us to go for a walk? If I took her to the beach to play on the sand? Or do we need to stay at home? (I’m also open to any ideas of low effort activities we can do at home). Thanks

    1. new bluey fan*

      I think anything outdoors is totally okay! For sure a walk, or a large playground during a non-busy time when no one else is really there – you won’t be spending more than a moment within six feet of anyone else. Beach also seems fine, assuming it’s not so crowded that you have to set up within a few feet of someone else.

      Also, when I’m sick and still have to be on toddler duty, I make myself not feel guilty for lots of extra snuggling and movie watching time. <3 Other at-home low effort ideas (besides coloring and reading books, of course): playing with play-doh, bowls and cups in the bathtub or sink, poking holes in a thin cardboard box and having toddler push q-tips through them (my toddler loves this), giving your toddler a tray with some dry cereal on it and something to smash the cereal with (my toddler also loves this but it does require some clean-up…)

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

      If you do go out, wearing a good, well-fitting mask (like an N95 or a KF94 or a KN95) will reduce the chances of your giving covid to others who might wander into your airspace. Alas, the latest variant is super-contagious.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Ran across a line from an epidemiologist reflecting on how she was being quoted, again, about how the newest variant was the most contagious. Because that’s how you expect the variants to progress–if one is less contagious than the others, then it doesn’t show up as much, and so the most popular version will be the one that is more contagious than all the others.

      2. RC*

        Seconding an N95! I prefer the 3M 8110S for my own face size, but the 3M Auras are extremely popular too. Outdoors and masked (especially if it’s breezy like the ocean) and not too close to others will hopefully dilute the virus you’re breathing out enough. Especially since I assume toddler is not really going to effectively mask.

        And I do appreciate people asking/disclosing, instead of just showing up places with covid without warning anyone (this is the reason I still mask everywhere indoors, because if I’m feeling generous I’ll say “it’s not that I don’t trust ANYone, it’s that I don’t trust EVERYone.”

      1. Blue wall*

        Based on the science, you don’t need to wear a mask if you are outdoors in an open space, all the more so on the beach. Have fun!

        1. Zelda*

          When you *know* that you have an active infection, a mask would be a kindness even outdoors. It’s not anything like the risk indoors, but why not make the risk as close to zero as you can?

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Outdoors and not packed with other humans is fine. Bring a mask so if you encounter anyone you can mask.

      My library did a lot with puzzles during covid, and now has a “library of things” like a record player. I am pretty sure at my library they would be willing to bag up a few of the check-out-able puzzles and set that outside the door for you to pick up. (They did this for all check-outs when it semi-opened during covid, and I recently noticed it set up for someone to pick up that way.)

    4. Forensic13*

      My toddler has been really into making “obstacle courses” in our house. You just put a few small items in a line that have specific activities associated (climb over this pillow! Weave between these objects! Pet the dog! Jump onto the couch). She’ll do it for awhile and even makes her own now, which gives her nice indoor exercise.

    5. David*

      Huh, I’m surprised by the other replies in this thread – I thought I had heard that the latest COVID variants are so contagious that, even outdoors, there is a significant chance of infecting people who come near you. (Obviously much less so if you are wearing a good mask, but even so there is some risk.) That being said, I don’t remember where I heard this, and I could have gotten my facts mixed up, so definitely don’t take my word for it… I guess I’m just saying, I’d be a bit wary of the comments saying it’s safe to go out without finding some credible independent confirmation.

      Unfortunately I had a hard time finding a good answer to this with a few web searches, and I totally get that with yourself and your toddler to take care of, you probably don’t have the time to research it. Maybe if you have a doctor you could ask, it’d be worth giving them a call.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I am assuming that the entire outdoors is big enough that there is not going to be anyone near them. They aren’t going for a power walk downtown during lunch hour. They’re going to the beach in February.

      2. RC*

        Well, the whole name of the game is source control, dilution, dose control, right? The difficult part is that there’s a wide range in how much virus a given person sheds through their breath, and it’s POSSIBLE that anyone with an active infection is one of those superspreaders. And there’s really no way to know, so if I were the infected person, I’d err on the side of caution (and thus appreciate her asking!). Outdoors + good mask (+ keeping distance) = should be good enough to be considered responsible. Any dose that escapes the mask would be diluted before you get to other people.

        That said, you’re right that there’s always some risk to any encounter (see above: I do not trust anyone). I think there are far more people running around with covid acting like this is totally fine, thank there are people like OP asking whether they should be running around with covid… :\

        Here’s a link to a National Academies workshop talking about that (it’s an indoor air context, but the translation to outdoor is basically just “probably more ventilation” (depending on people density/winds) https://www.nationalacademies.org/our-work/indoor-air-management-of-airborne-pathogens-a-virtual-workshop-series Linsey Marr just got a MacArthur grant for her work on this!

        I would NOT bother calling an MD about this (unless you happen to know one who wears an N95 to all your appointments). I have found most of them do not understand How Air Works. My friend just got covid from being in the hospital for another procedure; the medical community at large has completely failed us on this.

        Anyway clearly I think about this a lot :)

  17. acmx*

    Tell me about your shed: What kind (metal, wood, plastic, etc) do you have? What size? Where did you get it? What’s in your shed?

    My house lacks good utility storage (and no garage) and I’m going to have to get a shed. I just can’t decide how big. I feel like a smaller one would be enough but maybe I’d regret it. I really don’t want one but it’s needed.

    1. Enough*

      Ours is metal (40 yrs old and rusty) 10×10. Holds 2 lawn mowers, spreader, wheelbarrow, parts to a soccer rebounder and odds and ends of stuff. We do have a garage where all the gardening tools are. Most of my neighbors have wood with shingles. They vary from 6×8 to 8×10 or 12. I recommend getting one a little bigger than you think you need. To determine size and type decide what you plan to put in it and how you want to access everything. Do you want shovels leaning against the wall or hanging? How far are you willing to reach over other items to get what you want? How neat are you? Would you like shelves for small items or baskets? How tall do you want the doors and roof? I would like a shed that is more comfortable to enter.

    2. MissB*

      We are building one. The foundation slab and back retaining wall get poured next month.

      You probably aren’t doing a site built one, but one constraint for us is how big of a shed we can have without getting a permit.

      Ours will be 8×8, built to look like our house (so siding, trim will mimic our house). We’ve pulled a window from the house in years past and will install that on one side. To be clear: other than the concrete work, we will be building this from the sill board on up by ourselves. Simple framing, plywood, house wrap, siding, roof.

      Inside, we plan to put the lawnmower and yard tools. The wheelbarrow will be outside under the eave standing up against the siding.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        We did the same. By “we” I mean my husband. It was his summer 2021 project. It’s the biggest it can be without needing a permit – I think it’s 10×15, not entirely sure. Built to look like a little cottage and painted the same colors as the house. It contains the yard tools like lawnmower and string trimmer along with the camping gear and other long-term storage items that don’t need temperature control. It replaced a Home Depot metal shed that was crushed by a branch from a dying white pine.

    3. Ashley*

      I have had a few over the years. I like the plastic for cost and ease of building though the bigger ones take a few people. For me the size comes down to can I easily get my mower and weed eater in and out. I don’t find having to dig for the pressure washer as that is less used and then rotate winter stuff to the front. Also I would allow space for all your current large items plus two future because you never know when you really do need a lawn vacuum or something like that in a few years.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My shed looks mostly like my house – cheaper siding panels but same colors. It’s about 8×10 I think? It’s mostly storage – outgrown dog crates, lawn equipment, extra coolers. When we had part of the fence repaired, we added a little fenced in patch to the side of it using some of the old fence material, and that’s where we put scrap and junk stuff that’s waiting for a big dump run – the fence keeps my dogs from trying to play with any of the junk and makes it look a lot tidier. (Also adds to the “shed looks like the house” bit.)

    5. Slartibartfast*

      8 x10 plastic kit. Instructions say to assemble on level concrete or build a wood foundation, but concrete is a pain and critters move in to wooden foundations, so it’s on 4 inches of pea stone. You do need a totally level surface and two people, and experience with flat pack furniture helps. I think it’s a Sunquest brand. In the summer it holds the snow blower, push mower, and a 3 foot shelving unit with all my gardening supplies and there’s room to actually move around in there. In winter, the snowblower comes out and the riding mower goes in, and the patio table, 4 chairs, and umbrella get packed in. It’s at maximum capacity then.

    6. Pucci*

      Check with your local building code. Where I live, you can build one 10 x 8 shed without a permit; anything larger needs a building permit. See if you have similar rules.

    7. Llama Llama*

      The house I am currently renting has an awesome shed. Its like a mini unfinished house. Concrete, framed and siding (no insulation). It’s wired for electricity and big enough to fit all the stuff we used to keep in our basement + lawnmower.

    8. Double A*

      We live on 5 acres and our house doesn’t have a garage. There was a small dilapidated wood shed where the well is, so we needed to keep the well covered. We put in a metal shed that’s about the same size as a 1 car garage. One thing I didn’t really think about with a metal shed is that you can’t as easily attached things to the walls like shelving (although you can get screws for metal and I have added some shelving). We bought a lot of shop shelving that added to the cost. But we really needed storage for our outdoor crap and the well needed to be covered and because we live in a fire area metal made the most sense. It was the right choice just has more limitations than I had thought.

    9. Girasol*

      Husband wanted a place to park his motorcycle so we had a Tuffshed built. Bike is gone and it’s way too big for just tools and stray garage stuff but the shed is still there. I was surprised at how much less expensive it was than I expected. Years later it’s still sturdy, looks like new, and has a solid door lock. (I read the other day that one should never leave a shed with tools in it unlocked because the tools could be used to break into the house.)

    10. Happy*

      We have one similar to below link. It’s great! Holds lawnmower and a bunch of tools, waterproof, includes floor.
      Rubbermaid Slide-Lid Resin Weather Resistant Outdoor Storage Shed, 6 x 3.75 feet, 96 cu. ft., Olive/Sandstone, for Garden/Backyard/Home/Pool https://a.co/d/1Z3IFdV

    11. Jay*

      While I have never personally been a shed owner, my current job and many of my past jobs have been shed intensive, and my immediate family are proud shed owners, one and all.
      So I’ve lived a pretty shedfull life.
      -Firstly, how big of a shed do you think you will need?
      Whatever you think, go several sizes larger. Double it if you can.
      This is because the one, single, guiding, dominant truism of shed ownership is this: All sheds are too small. It does not matter how large the shed or how little you have in it. It will still be too small.
      -Secondly, you want some sort of solid, sealed base. Something neither plants nor critters can force their way through. Because they will. Even with the solid base, they will burrow under it to make their dens. Skunks, groundhogs, chipmunks, and snakes all gravitate toward sheds.
      -Building on rule two, you want at least the first foot or two to be made of something very, very difficult to chew through. Otherwise you just built a new house for everything with strong enough teeth to gnaw their way in. Preferably the whole building will have a layer of something rodent proof.
      -It needs to be water tight. Test it. Spray it down with the hose. If water is getting in at all, you’ve got to fix it before anything gets put in there.
      -Building on that one, it needs to be easy to clean. The inside, at least, needs to be covered in something you can pressure wash easily. Just wheel everything out and let fly with the washer once or twice a year when you’ve got some warm and very dry days when you will be home to look after your stuff sitting in the yard.
      -It should be easy to stand up in at all points. Avoid low, cramped spaces. You aren’t going to want to use those for anything and they will just turn into Spider Disneyland.
      -Large double doors are your friends, and so are solid ramps. Something stone or concrete, if you can. Wood ramps rot and get eaten/lived in by every critter in a ten mile radius.
      -Place your shed someplace that you can keep neat and tidy. Short grass or crushed stone, things like that. It cuts down on both critters and wear and tear on the shed. The crushed stone also provides drainage which helps keep the sheds foundation solid and reduces the number of plants trying to send roots up through the slab.
      -Get something either very sturdy or easily replaceable. Things fall on sheds. Things run into sheds. Things try to eat sheds. Nothing can be done about this. This is the nature of sheds.

      A heavy duty plastic one is a great starter shed. Solid, relatively inexpensive, easy to assemble, easy to clean, easy to maintain, not to many moving parts or points of failure, naturally water proof, not much likes to eat them, and you can clean them with a garden hose.
      If you want better, look into custom jobs. Just keep placement, cleaning and maintenance in mind.
      Hope this helps.

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        Boy, do you know your sheds! Is there a hashtag for #ShedLife? If so this is it.

        Seriously helpful. My husband built us one shed (corrugated metal on concrete pad over gravel) and we’re adding another prefab one on a separate concrete pad.

    12. BikeWalkBarb*

      Some great advice below! We have a two-car garage but with one car, quite a few bicycles, shelving and my husband’s workbench area there’s no room for the stuff that can go in a shed. We deliberately downsized to a house that has turned out to be a bit small for the variety of hobbies and equipment.

      I’d build the max size you can add without a permit. You’ll want space to move around to make it usable, not just the square footage of the stuff you’ll put in it.

      Husband built one: pea gravel under a concrete pad he poured, structure out of corrugated metal. He’s super handy, majored in construction management, did a great job. That’s where we keep the lawn mower, yard and garden tools, hoses in winter, bags of things that shouldn’t get wet, and at one point a bunch of flooring from our old house that we thought we’d be able to reuse. It’s not good storage for things like boxes full of paper and it’s dark–no windows. He may add one to have some light since it would be easier to find stuff, not that it’s huge but things end up behind other things and it’s shadowy in the corners even with the door open.

      He’s preparing the surface for a second one we’re calling the bike studio. This one will be prefab and prettier because it’s in a spot I’ll have to look at a lot more and I insisted that it have windows and an attractive facade. He’ll use it for his trainer setup and hobby space. Being pragmatic, I also think about what I’d use it for in the future if those uses ended and it could make a good potting shed, place to start seedlings if I add grow lights, that kind of thing.

      Both are at or below the size we can add without getting a building permit. He’s running power to the bike studio so that required an electrical permit.

    13. Sutemi*

      We got a cedar shed kit from OLT. It might be smaller than you are thinking, but the directions were so clear! Everything came labelled, both with the part number and the step of the instructions you needed it for. I cannot recommend it enough!

      1. acmx*

        Those are lovely! But out of my willing to spend range at the moment. I have more fun plans for my backyard that I’d want done first.

    14. acmx*

      Thanks everyone! Lots of things to consider.

      1. I need a permit for anything prefabricated (which to me is vague. I need a permit for one like Happy linked? Wouldn’t surprise me with this town lol)
      2. I don’t have anything too large to store. I don’t have a lawn mower; I have a service. Half the reason is because I don’t have a place for the mower :) and I eventually plan to get a landroid.
      3. I have odds and ends that I want out of my house: a metal bedframe (keeping for now in case I set up a guest room), spare flooring, beach items, a shovel and weed puller, dog’s agility course. I need to make a solid list. But that’s probably most of it. I don’t have large, occasional use items – nowhere to put them and that’s good lol

  18. Come On Eileen*

    Next Friday I will celebrate ten years of sobriety! I am taking the day off work but need some ideas for what to do. I’m already pretty good about getting massages regularly, so even though that sounds nice and indulgent, it’s not something overly special for me. What are some celebratory things I can on that day? Right now my thoughts are: get a morning workout in, hit an AA meeting, take myself out to a delicious lunch, maybe get a facial. Any other suggestions for ways to tell myself “hey, good job!”

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

      YAY! Congratulations — that’s awesome!

      If you’re someplace that’s warm in the winter, maybe going to the beach? Or if not, taking a hot bath with a good book? Having a great dinner, ending with a dessert that you love but don’t get to have very often? Phoning a friend who always makes you feel good? Putting on some of your grooviest music? Ordering yourself some special indulgence that you covet, like super-soft slippers or a super-cuddly robe?

      Whatever you do, have a great day! So happy for you!

    2. allathian*

      Definitely seconding the AA meeting. You’ll get to celebrate with people who understand the struggle and to encourage others on their journey. Even if it’s one day at a time, the days keep adding up.

      Otherwise I recommend doing anything that makes you feel pampered.


    3. NeonFireworks*

      This is fantastic, congratulations! For big self-celebrations I usually give myself £100 to go spend on something special (it tends to be clothing or jewellery, or sometimes nice kitchen items).

    4. Usually Lurking*

      My brother just celebrated nine years(!) and celebrated by attending more than one meeting! I accused him of just doing it for the multiple nine-year chips, but he explained that seeing people get chips is a huge support for people newer to the journey. Also: He took me to one of the meetings! It.was.amazing, and if you’ve got a person, and a meeting, who this would work for I can tell you it taught me things about my brother and the program I never would have understood. (Also, I cried SO HARD when he walked up to get that chip!)
      As for the rest of your day: I second the idea to give yourself a budget – say, $100 – and use that for the day. I would personally love the *planning* of how to spend that money almost as much as the day itself.
      And CONGRATULATIONS! This is huge.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Special food that usually trips your “$30 for a small box of chocolate? I can’t justify that.”

    6. the Viking Diva*

      huzzah! The meeting is a good idea so you can have solidarity and props from others who understand. I would take myself on a little outing- a museum, art exhibit or botanical garden. Shop for a houseplant or fun ‘sobriety socks’ or ‘9-yearrings’. Purchase or cook a food to enjoy all week so that the glow lasts a bit… for me probably a favorite cheese or a fancy appetizer.

    7. Girasol*

      Congratulations! Lunch sounds lovely. In the afternoon, if you don’t have any other plans, how about being a tourist? All the places in any area that tourists simply must see, a lot of the locals haven’t ever visited. What local attraction haven’t you ever seen?

    8. Emma*

      Congratulations! My friend just hit her 60 day milestone, which felt like a big deal. 20 years is huge!

      If you like perfume, what about going to an Ulta Beauty or department store, smelling a bunch of perfume, and picking one out?

    9. Anono-me*

      Congratulations! That is awesome and an impressive achievement.

      Could you ask a friend or two (people who understand how impressive this is) to join you for the celebration lunch. And it’s pretty hard to go wrong with a fancy cake from good bakery.

      I would say a piece of jewelry (if that is your style) to commemorate the occasion and possibly one that you can add onto in five year increments.

      1. Anono-me*

        Also, this is either a love it or hate it idea, but if the weather works, how about a hot air balloon ride.

    10. Another friend of Bill’s*

      Congratulations ! You did it! Whoo hoo! I would throw you a parade! Here’s what I do on my anniversary-
      Share at a meeting.
      Call my “litter mates”
      Take my sponsor to dinner or have her over for coffee or text a thank you.
      Go to a beginners meeting.
      Shop for a new prayer book.
      Go online and buy a coin.
      Buy some fancy micron pens.
      Make a vision board.
      Watch some super fun tv.
      Read the promise.

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

      One of my best childhood friends sent me surprise chocolates for Valentines Day!

    2. Snell*

      Cute bento boxes made me happy this week. I ordered a few, one of them wooden-of-real-wood (which gives me the romantic feeling of traditional wares), and two bowl-bentos, with a bottom tier bowl to hold rice, a middle tier compartment to hold sides, and a top tier upside-down bowl for making instant soup. Super cute, with painted rabbits hopping around the bowls. Packed lunch is about to get an upgrade in uplifting.

        1. Snell*

          Bento&co. I had my eye on the bowl bento for a while now, and when they had their winter sale, I had to finally go for it. I’ve also been eyeing some of their enormous picnic bento boxes for a gift for one of my family, but still mulling the bigger purchase over.

          Also I know that only people who are into bento boxes for the boxes themselves will be into this, but my heart aches with want for a lot of their artisan-made wooden boxes. I absolutely could never (they’re in the hundreds $$$), but I scroll through the selection and drool. They recently sold out of a 3-drawer box made of black persimmon wood. If I remember correctly, it was something like $400. Even if I had one, even if someone got it for me as a gift, I could never bring myself to actually pack my own lunch in it. But with my head clutched in my hands, I adore the artistry. Even the simple, unembellished boxes, I have the want. Why? The only people who like them are the people who like them. I can’t spend $150 on a rectangular wooden box. That’s crazy. So I’m left with the online version of window shopping.

          1. o_gal*

            Dang it! Now you’ve got me obsessively drooling over everything on their site. Totoro is on the home page! Onigiri boxes!

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I have a Totoro bento box that an ex-bf bought me from J-List before it became a p*rn site. It’s so stinking cute. I love Totoro.

          2. office hobbit*

            Thank you for this dangerous information! I also love wood boxes so I will close my eyes to that section!

      1. fposte*

        Heh. I did a lot of bento when I was officing and never invested in a classy box, but I love the paraphernalia and I am vicariously enjoying your new toys. I’m still looking for the perfect new use for my rabbity furoshiki that I would wrap my box in.

    3. Gaming sparingly*

      Getting a crunchier crust on my sourdough, and just eating it “fresh” with butter, always the best part of baking it.

      1. Snell*

        I’m improving on my sourdough, too! Last two loaves came out with crisp, crunchy crust. Small anti-joy, though, I learned that one of the people in this house who I’ve been sharing my bread with likes soft sourdough crust. I sealed my bread in a plastic bag for a day, and this person declared it my best loaf yet (this is precisely the situation that the upside-down smile emoji was made for).

        1. Gaming sparingly*

          It’s so funny because I’ve been baking since a few months before covid, but just *now* making that improvement? Truly a “learn something new every day” moment.

          Oh no! Such a bummer :( The only solution is to bake two loaves! One with crunchy crust, the other for the soft crust enthusiast (a tragedy) ;)

    4. Tinamedte*

      A colleague organized a table tennis tournament yesterday, and even though I am legitimately terrible at table tennis, I signed up and it was a lot of fun.

    5. YeahNo*

      Honestly, visiting my doctor and being prescribed Valium. Having a rough patch and it has helped no end. Proud of myself for asking for help.

    6. NeonFireworks*

      The employees at my local post office are wonderful, and I don’t just mean efficient and patient and kind. I never mind waiting in the queue because they’re always amiably bantering with each other and it always makes me feel as if I’m watching a sweet little comedy show.

    7. Slartibartfast*

      I let the dogs out this morning and heard lots of birds! My yard is super noisy in the morning during spring, summer, and fall but totally silent in winter. I’ll be able to use the Merlin bird call app I downloaded last weekend soon :)

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I noticed that my husband didn’t do the hand wash dishes last night, and our agreement was that they would be done and put away before he leaves today to hang out with his friends. So I commented out loud (because I talk to myself all the time) “Note to self, remind him to finish the dishes.”

      Two minutes later, my dog brought me the “clean/dirty” magnet off the dishwasher. Cracked me up.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      My watercolor attempt (I am taking a class) went really well! I have stuck it up on a door.

    10. Dark Macadamia*

      Lots of really fun and rewarding moments with students this week. Sometimes teaching can be a slog but when it’s enjoyable it’s SO great.

    11. carcinization*

      Got flowers at Place that Must not be Named… a profession close to mine but not exactly the same had their “week” this week, so when those folks got flowers I ended up with some too. Brought the flowers (roses, carnations, and a pretty thistle) home and put them on the dining table.

    12. WorkNowPaintLater*

      I finally updated a bulletin board that has been driving me crazy – it’s now covered in a lovely fabric that make it look more like a window than an old, worn out board.

    13. BikeWalkBarb*

      Finding the cell phone I had lost, turned at SeaTac airport where I’d left it in the bathroom. (You know that moment where you take it out of your pocket so it won’t fall in the toilet? Don’t set it on top of the convenient little ledge above the TP dispenser. Put it in your bag. You will not be sorry. Sorry is when you realize at the gate that you don’t have the boarding pass because it’s on your phone, you run on your sprained knee back to the bathroom to search every stall, and there is no phone in sight.)

      I had to leave on my trip without the phone, suffered through a day without it while my husband went to the airport and searched (he could see it via the map pin drop on his phone) but it didn’t turn up. Maddening to look at a screenshot knowing it WAS there somewhere, but the battery was draining and I assumed it was in a trash can.

      Bought a new phone, very sad about the money, the carbon footprint, and the need to recustomize all my apps and screens and go through the steps to reestablish a secure connection for work apps/accounts.

      Got back to the airport and the pindrop was still showing the phone’s location. It had been turned in to Lost & Found so thank you honest person(s) who got it there! And thank you to the helpful Kai at the counter who didn’t just look in their bin o’ phones–he also checked with the others in the office and someone had JUST started the process of checking on whether they had a report for a phone like mine.

      Now I have to go through the process of returning the new one but it will be worth it to have the phone that I know back in my hand.

    14. anon24*

      I had an awful week. My cat, who always knows how I’m feeling no matter how much I internalize it and put on a happy face, was waiting for me in bed the other night and snuggled right into me with his head against my forehead and spent 2 hours purring as hard as he could into me until he knew I was ok and then he got up and went to his normal sleeping spot in the other room. Instead of laying awake for hours I drifted right off to sleep. He’s my emotional guardian angel and always knows how to cheer me up and make me happy again.

      1. allathian*

        My husband made some delicious pasta with chicken, cauliflower, peas, and carrots in tomato sauce. Yum!

    15. BellaStella*

      Language lessons going well and more moving into me tiny new place and a friend helping me. Was a good week.

    16. WasThisWeirdOrWhat*

      Hubs and I found a gorgeous antique flatware chest at a local antique store-the vendor cut the price in half! We just brought it home and it looks amazing! Now if I only had enough flatware to fill it!

    17. Might Be Spam*

      My group performed at a folk dance festival yesterday and everything went well. During the open dance sessions there was a very old married man who is well known for latching onto any woman he can at dances. He has always been like this and now that he is old, nobody will confront him. One of the men in my group kept getting between us so he couldn’t bother me. It was so nice to not have to be constantly on the lookout.

      We had a potluck for our dance group and everyone loved what I brought and I was asked to bring it again. Honestly, I thought it was pretty “meh” but I had to make it in a hurry and just threw stuff from my freezer together.

  19. Something Witty*

    We are planning a garage sale for tomorrow ahead of a big move, hoping to lisylt our house for sale in 2 weeks. I last-minute decided to check if we need a permit, turns out we actually aren’t even allowed to have a sale tomorrow!

    I submitted a form for an exemption, but at 8pm on a Friday, so I doubt it would be reviewed before the garage sale tomorrow.

    If you were me… would you go through with the sale anyway?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Probably. The way you phrased that makes it sound like there’s a specific reason it’s not allowed tomorrow, so it might depend on that? Like if no garage sales are allowed on a specific day because there’s some sort of event or something, I would be less likely to just go ahead because someone might be more likely to be looking for violations, but if it’s just “permit required on Saturdays” then I’d maybe be more willing to risk it.

      1. Blue wall*

        I wouldn’t, because you attempted permission through submitting the form. You’ve shown you know you are supposed to do so.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I would look up the ordinance to see what the penalty is. There probably isn’t one, and the worst that would happen is that they’d shut it down if reported.

      Unless it’s a major penalty I’d go ahead.

    3. Kay*

      It sounds like this is through the city? Do you have reasonable neighbors, are you likely to get reported? It would depend on how long you plan to have the sale for, and what the penalty might be. If it was an HOA I might reconsider, depending on whether the fine would outweigh the benefit. In this case, I would start and end early – no dragging it out, no blocking anything, etc. If the fine is likely to be more than any profit you might turn – I would consider donating things or postponing.

  20. Rosengilmom*

    Earlier this week one of the commentariat mentioned a 30-30-30 (or similar) anti-procrastination scheme, I can’t find the original comment. any help, please?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I think it was a comment on the “I work from home and can’t focus” post from February 6. Keyboard Cowboy wrote:

      You might also look into trying out Pomodoro – it’s sort of a micro-fied version of what Alison suggested. 20 minutes on, 5 minutes off, repeat for the entire workday. You can, of course, adjust the timing – I think I usually go for 30 minutes on and 10 minutes off, but tell myself that if I don’t notice the 30 minute timer, I can keep going until I find a good stopping place. (This is an ADHD thing – once you have hyperfocus, woe betide anything that interrupts you.)

      I’ll link to the comment in a reply.

  21. Still*

    Have we had a recommendations thread for Italy lately? I’ve tried searching for one but it’s only coming up with the person who accidentally sent their boss to Italy instead of Florida!

    Anyway, what would you do with ten days in Italy in June? Stay in a city or rent a car and drive along the coast? Pick a few cities and go between them by train? Explore any region in particular?

    If you’ve been to Italy or live there, what are your favourite things?

    1. vegan velociraptor*

      My husband and I went to Italy for about ten days a couple of years ago – we spent a few days in Florence, and a few days in the Cinque Terre region going walking. It was a really lovely mix of city and countryside! We were solely using public transport, and that worked out fine.

    2. 40ish*

      There is so much to see in Italy. Toscana (both coast and cities) is lovely. I also loved the region around Naples, and Sicily. I would pick one region and stay there for the 10 days.

    3. Phryne*

      Depends, is this a once in a lifetime trip where you would like to cram in as many of the countries wonders as possible? Rome – Florence – Venice are within easy train reach from each other, you can do them in 10 days, you could even get Naples crammed in too, but it would be a very full trip.
      If you want more relaxation and in depth, pick a region. You will not need a car for most travel between towns and sights in the north, public transport is fine there, but depending on exactly what you want to see it might be easier and more comfortable.
      Tuscany is a classic, and has many many towns besides Florence yet are worth it. Rome and Venice are absolutely unique experiences. But there is so much more. The south is also beautiful and much less well known (if you go south, visit Matera!)
      In June, Italy will be hot and anything touristy will be very very busy. Plan your days accordingly, get up early and do your highlight must sees and walking before the lines get long and the sun starts to burn. Then in the afternoon, take it easy and relax.

      1. Phryne*

        If you go to Rome, apart from the classic sights, check out the San Clemente on the Piazza di S. Clemente, between the Colosseo and San Giovanni in Laterano. It has excavations underneath of both the earlier Romanesque church and a Roman Mithraeum under that. There is also an interesting archeological site underneath the SS. Giovanni e Paolo. It is a short trip by train from Rome to Ostia Antica, which is a great alternative if you wanted to see Pompeii but won’t make it that far south. It is smaller, but a fascinating insight into a Roman town.
        If you go to Venice, it is a Biennale Arte year, if you like art, it is amazing and you will need a couple of days for that alone (you could spend the full 10 days on the Biennale and still have not seen it all).
        If you want a relaxing vacation with a bit of strolling though old towns and lots of wine on a terrace, you should probably pick a region like Tuscany or the Amalfi coast or a part of Sicily and take day trips from a single home base.

    4. Buni*

      We stayed in Verona – lovely little town to potter about in and less rammed than many of the bigger cities – and then took the train for day-trips to Venice and Lake Garda.

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

      It’s a looooong time since I was there, but I thought Florence was really nice, very walkable and hard to get lost in.

      Haven’t been to Sicily, but I am a fan of the Inspector Montalbano books and tv series set in Sicily, and from the tv series, it looks utterly beautiful near the sea there.

      The Italian Riviera looks lovely too.

      P.S. If you go to Rome, from my long-ago experience, have all of your anti-theft and anti-scam senses peeled when you’re around the Rome train station. I think of myself as a street-smart city girl who knows how to be cautious in a big-city transit hub, but I got ripped off/stolen from 3 separate times there (basically any time I set foot in the train station). The thieves were so smooth, I didn’t even see the bag I was guarding get stolen because one thief spread a map in front of me asking my help while the other strolled off with my bag. Not to mention the ticket taker who gave me a slug instead of correct change or the cab-driver who drove us all around Rome when our hotel turned out to be 2 blocks from the train station. I wasn’t as street smart as I thought!

      1. Retired Accountant*

        I got into an unlicensed cab at the Rome Termini station decades ago and am still mad about it.

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

          LOL, these things stay with us, don’t they?! I have never felt like such a sucker in my life as I did at that train station!

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      As someone who last went to Italy in June, I’ve got to say my biggest recommendation is not to go in June. It is hot and full of tourists. If there’s any way to go in spring (still full of tourists but not as brutally hot) or fall, I’d recommend going then instead.

      That said, regardless of time of year, I don’t know a lot about Italy in general, but if you’re going to Rome, I’d recommend staying around Termini station. It’s got a mall, a grocery, a food court, a great coffee shop. From there, you can catch trains to any other city in Italy. Both major subway lines in Rome go through Termini, and there’s a taxi stand there as well.

      Testaccio is a cute little neighborhood, too, away from most of the tourist traps. Lots of great food there, too—Pasticceria Linari, Tram Depot, Conciabocca, and Casa Manco.

      I also watched a ton of YouTube videos on Rome, and the only two channels that were actually helpful were Learn Italian with Lucrezia (not just for learning Italian but also seeing cool places she walks around in during her vlogs) and RomeWise (which just has general tips about visiting Rome).

    7. heckofabecca*

      I went to Italy for about 10 days with my mother in 2018, and we did Rome-Florence-Venice (train). We didn’t get to as much because she’s very handicapped, but I found Florence and Tuscany in general (we did a day trip to Siena) to be the most beautiful/manageable. Rome felt very overwhelming, and Venice fell a bit flat. Florence/Tuscany/Cinque Terre would be my next trip, if I can go back sometime!

      Is there anything in particular you’re interested in? Nature, food, history, art…?

    8. Taki*

      I live in Sicily, and June is going to be crazy hot and full of tourists, but not as bad as July or August (heat or tourists). The beaches are very popular with Europeans and a cheap flight from many destinations, but I don’t really like the beach so I don’t bother. If you are a beach person, I would suggest Cefalu or a west coast beach. The food is incredible and also pretty cheap. I honestly think it’s better than anywhere else in Italy. Certainly better than Rome lol.

    9. Still*

      Thank you for all the responses so far! I would much prefer to go in April or September but alas, my partner needs to take the bulk of his vacation during the summer. I figure June ought to be better than July or August…

      Mostly I’d like to eat delicious food, drink wine, wander around beautiful places, walk on the beach, maybe dance at night. I’m not too bothered about seeing the landmarks. I think I’d love to do a roadtrip a bit off the beaten path: rent a car, stay in smaller towns. But that feels much trickier to plan than just booking a hotel in a big city.

      1. YesImTheAskewPolice*

        Even though there will be tons of tourists in both, Florence and Bologna could be good bases that fit the bill. Both are beautiful cities with excellent food (Bologna maybe a bit more than Florence) and some nightlife (of the “be outside at night and in bars” variety; I don’t know about clubs, if that’s your thing). Bologna and Florence are less than an hour apart by train.

        From Florence, you could visit the beaches at Forte dei Marmi or Castiglioncello (stopping in Lucca or Siena on the way), or do day trips / a road trip to places in and around the Chianti region, such as San Gimignano, Siena, Montefioralle.

        From Bologna, you could rent a car and spend a few slow days in an around the Collina Reggiana park. Or continue to Ferrara (by train/car), which is a nice and relaxed town, rent a bicycle there and ride around the town on the old city wall. Afterwards you could visit the Delta del Po national park by car.

        For places outside the bigger cities, I’d also make sure to check airbnb, not just hotels, or search for pensions and the like.

      2. Dear liza dear liza*

        Italy is really struggling with over tourism so I would *not* drive along the coast. Given your interests, Florence could be great- it’s a very beautiful city just to sit in a square and people watch, plus it has high speed trains to check out other cities. Cinque Terre is not far. Alternatively, going down to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast cities would be lovely. The crowds are getting very intense though- we went in “ shoulder season” and it was overwhelming.

      3. Phryne*

        In that case, I would seriously look at Southern Italy if I were you. It has less of the world famous landmarks, but still plenty of beautiful places and beaches and delicious foods and not as slammed with tourists everywhere.

      4. Makare*

        I would recommend Castiglione della Pescaia on the Tuscan coast, there’s a beautiful bit of untouched Mediterranean coastline in the nearby nature reserve where you can hike, the town is very pretty with an old fort on a hill, apparently there are also flamingos in the nature reserve at some times of year! And you can drive around Tuscany from there—we absolutely loved Siena (tip: look up a parking garage outside the old town before you go, and get directions straight there—driving inside the old town without a permit will get you a fine and you don’t want to be driving those super steep, narrow streets anyway!) Don’t know how crowded these places would be in June (we were there in November and everything was deserted), but we really loved both places. The views from Siena of the Tuscan countryside are unbelievable.

      5. Emily Elizabeth*

        As a teacher who had to take my vacation in July and desperately wanted to go to Rome, I said “it’ll be fine,” “I’m from the south, I’m used to hot,” etc. It was, in fact, not fine. It was the hottest I’ve ever been in my life and I have worked all-outdoor summer camps in the southern US. The last minute two day respite trip we booked to Sorrento was the highlight of our trip; I can’t speak to all the over tourism and crowding but it was delightful for the night we were there. Rome was objectively beautiful and interesting in a way that I could not properly take in because of how hot/wiped we were. The difference with the US, I realized, was I was used to escaping to air conditioned cars/buildings/bathrooms throughout the day. In at least the tourism places we hoped to visit, there was no AC to be found, so even taxis/subways/museums/restaurants/Vatican/etc were stifling. There was nothing more in my heart I wanted to do than eat pasta for a week, but to be honest I feel like my appetite and taste was affected because I didn’t feel up for a huge bowl of hot pasta at the end of a day of walking. I don’t mean to be such a negative Nancy about it, but it was a large chunk of money and my only vacation for the year and I really wish I had picked a different region of the country or a different trip entirely for that time of year to make the most of it! I hope wherever you end up is delightful. :)

      1. Phryne*

        Ha, each to their own I guess. I live pasta, but my guts do not and a stay in Italy always vibes with the risk of taking altogether too much of it home involuntarily.
        If you suffer from the same affliction, no fear, actual Italian cuisine in Italy contains a lot more variety than just pasta and pizza. Try to avoid the just for tourist restaurants, if there is a guy outside trying to pull you in, say no. Look for a place that has Italian guests.

        1. Phryne*

          yeah, that was meant to say that I *love* pasta but it *comes* with a risk, but my phone seems to think I am an old (true, I’m a Xennial) and my language needs updating (hard disagree)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I would do this too. I don’t gain much weight if I’m walking around a lot — I would always pig out when I went to the UK but twice had to buy jeans because they were falling down.

    10. Chauncy Gardener*

      A very nice, sort of off the beaten path small city is Perugia, where they make all the chocolates. A great museum, wonderful churches, of course, nice hiking nearby and great minerally local red wine (it’s a very rocky area)

  22. ThatOtherClare*

    So I was commenting a fair bit in yesterday’s thread about the guy who kept using the phrase “Just the tip” inappropriately, and there were a few people who liked my comebacks (thanks for the kind words by the way!). There were also a few people who seemed quite alarmed at the thought of this guy retaliating if he was shut down. It got me thinking… if I were to write a short book on how to be kind and polite, but also confident and not a pushover, would anyone be interested in that sort of thing? Does anyone need help with that, or do you mostly have it sorted except in the occasional specific situation?

    I happily and successfully work and do hobbies in competitive male dominated environments. I confidently stick up for myself in an assertive way, but I’m also considered ‘nice’ and ‘friendly’. I’m also very clear on how I do it, but it’s too much to cram into one post – at least it is if I were to provide an actionable level of detail.

    The thought of people being trapped out there, never feeling confident enough to stick up for themselves, or bottling it up until they snap makes me sad. So I’d actually love to hear that you’re all good, no need for advice. But if you would like to read a (properly edited) manual on ‘how to be assertive but still feel like a nice person’, feel free to give me a kick in the shins to get me to put something on paper.

    I don’t know, this whole comment feels kind of weird to post. You’re all good, yeah? Should I be worried for a few of you or not?

    1. I take tea*

      I think it would be a marvellous idea with a kind of manual. Very annoyed that it is needed, though.

    2. Angstrom*

      “Assertive but still feel like a nice person”: Assertive/nice is not either/or. Being assertive IS being nice to you and those around you: it sets clear boundaries, which in the long run make for better communication and relationships. As Frost said, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

      1. Still*

        Yeah, that’s what ThatOtherClare is saying, that it’s possible to do. But there are definitely a lot of people who struggle with it (as we’ve seen in numerous letters on this site).

      2. ThatOtherClare*

        I totally agree with you! I was talking the other day about how sometimes ‘be nice’ means ‘don’t stand up for yourself’ or ‘be quiet and smile and don’t make waves’. I agree that boundary setting is actually the nicest thing to do, but some people are scared that things like saying “no” aren’t nice.

        Some people struggle to trust themselves, so even though many of us have absorbed assertive=nice from our daily lives, those people can still wonder “Am I just using that as an excuse to be mean? Am I going too far?”. I thought they might find value in having an ‘authority’ like a book ‘give them permission’ and spell out some examples of where the line is.

        The answer, like many in life, seems to be a solid “Maybe” haha

    3. Ellis Bell*

      I get really worried about people too! I think that people do need this. I was in and out of a room where my boss was recently and she was really overwhelmed with work because something had been dropped on us from on high. We have a real slacker on our team, and he was just sitting there, next to a student who was also there (we work on a school). Him sitting there wasn’t an issue because other people had been given the last minute tasks to do and he’d been left with the usual tasks, but when I reentered the room for something I heard him tell her she “was a mess and look at how disorganized you are”. I think that was a really unexpected curve ball for her (because who says that!) and also with a student sitting right there. But the need to say something along the lines of “uh no” was very clear to me. So, I intervened and said “I don’t think you could do half her job” and he made a complaint that she had no time to talk to him, so I replied in a kind ish tone “Yes, but to be fair, you do chat a bit too much”. My boss said something later along the lines of that she loved this because it wasn’t angry or confrontational – but it never occurred to me that it would need to be.

      1. ThatOtherClare*

        What a legend! I don’t know, but I suspect your manager will remember that for a long time. That’s a great example the kind of “polite and confident” I was thinking of :)

    4. Girl Allowed*

      I don’t think the people who need help with this are terribly likely to be looking for a how-to book – they probably know the theory if they read sites like this, but have good reasons why putting it into action is difficult for them. They may well need therapy more than a well-meaning book by someone who finds this stuff easy.

      I’m glad for you that you have this skill, but I’m just not convinced it’s something you can teach others through a book.

      1. ThatOtherClare*

        Thank you for your advice, you’ve made a really helpful point!

        My idea was less of a “This is what I do, do this.” book, and more of a “This is what your brain and other people’s brains might be doing, and if that seems right, here are some things you can do with that information”. Not quite therapy, but certainly a lot of scientific evidence-based psychology.

        Based on what you say, I think if I did write anything it would be more helpful to lean towards helping people expand their overall theory of mind than to waste too much space on specific examples.

        That’s really useful feedback, I appreciate it.

    5. the Viking Diva*

      I notice this too and think it’s a great idea. I see a lot of this in a women’s organization I belong to, and often wonder think it’s sad how many people get to be Adult Years Old without gaining this life skill. I think many understand vaguely but need concise rules of thumb (mantras, tag lines) and scripts: “How would I actually say this?” –just like what makes Allison’s posts so fruitful.

      1. Jackalope*

        As someone who was socialized to be female, I would say that it was specifically trained out of me and I was taught that being very polite and self-effacing might get me what I want but being assertive would not, and might get me a negative consequence as well. It’s nice to have the self-control to keep my temper, but this is still frustrating to have been taught.

        1. ThatOtherClare*

          I’m thinking that even just reading “You can be assertive” from an ~authority~ like a book might give some women and people with low social power the permission that they feel they can’t give themselves. Especially if they’re now clear what assertive vs aggressive vs passive vs passive aggressive actually are so they know they’re not crossing the line “too far”.

          Sadly a lot of people have had some really warped modeling on this stuff through no fault of their own and it’s hard work to re-write that initial understanding, especially on one’s own.

          I’d like to add scripts, but if it’s possible I’d also love to “teach a woman to fish” so that she can learn to make her own scripts and practise them in advance. Both would be nice :)

    6. RagingADHD*

      I don’t need help with this myself, but from my experience in publishing I think there is definitely a market for this type of thing in the self-help space.

      Particularly if you have good stories of how you learned it, or a growth / transformation arc in your own life. People like to see the “before picture” so they can identify with it and believe that they could also reach the “after picture.”

    7. Old Hampshire New Hampshire*

      I would be interested in that. I’d like to think I’m confident at standing up for myself, but often I’m not. Hints and tips on how to do it better would be awesome.

    8. Morning Reading*

      Love this idea but I’m not sure that a book is the right format. Could be a workshop or role-playing activity. I’m thinking of those self-defense classes for women that help give the confidence to fight back as well as how to do it. I could use some of that training myself. (I tend to be “f u and the horse you rode in on” in my head, but all, “yes, sir, I’m so sorry you have a problem with that, how may I help you?” in reality. Which is usually closer to what is called for, but something in between would be handy.

      1. ThatOtherClare*

        Good points. I also thought YouTube channel maybe? But I really like my job and there’s only one of me and I just like the way paper feels and smells :)

        Maybe if there was some interest I could do a series of companion videos for people to role-play along with? You’re right that an interpersonal format is best for teaching interpersonal skills – I just wouldn’t know where to start with getting that to a wide audience and the goal here is really just to help as many people as possible.

        You’ve given me something to think about though…

    9. Magdalena*

      I’d love a book like that. I’m reasonably assertive but still enjoy reading a good script/comeback.
      There are a few of these on the market so I’d think about your specific niche/angle.
      For me personally, it would be interesting to read about assertiveness at work, and/or dealing with a-holes. These areas are the trickiest for me.

    10. Zelda*

      When people have asked for such a book, I have seen Suzette Haden Elgin’s _The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense_ recommended. It’s about 40 years old now, so some things have changed, but any new book would need to recognize that it’s not coming into a total vacuum.

      1. Jackalope*

        I’ve heard that book recommended as well, and did in fact read it. I know many people have found it to be useful, but for me it was…. not so much. Instead of giving principles about responding to aggression or difficult situations, the author instead chose a handful of specific phrases (at least one of which I’d never heard used) and talked about responses to those. So if someone else were to come in and give foundational principles on how to respond assertively but without being a jerk that is a separate niche in my mind.

      2. RagingADHD*

        That’s a good one, and there are plenty of others. I can’t think of any self help books that really have *new* ideas, per se. Because they are about human beings, relationships, and social interaction – “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”

        But every author has a different perspective, they reflect the times in which they are written, and they address contemporary manners, mores, and turns of phrase. So different books are going to appeal to different readers.

    11. Chauncy Gardener*

      Yes please!
      That sounds like a wonderful and useful book that I would certainly buy.
      Great idea!

    12. ThatOtherClare*

      Thank you SO much for all of your incredibly helpful responses! Thank you to those who said such kind things, and a special thank you to those who were brave enough to tell me they don’t think it’s something they’d find useful and why. It takes courage to say no and provide constructive feedback, and I really appreciate it. You’re all legends <3

  23. Pyth*

    I don’t live in the US, and I often wonder if certain advice would be different in other countries. I think it would be very interesting to compare the US laws to those of other countries.

    Some things I noticed are very different:
    – working with/without a contract
    – thank you letters (more cultural maybe)
    – length of notice period

    I’m not sure what the best format would be to discuss this, maybe an expert from a different country or just the commentariat. A different country each week could be nice maybe?

    What are your thoughts?

    1. Helvetica*

      As someone also not American, this also fascinates me. Mainly because for us the labour law is clear and solid on things that seem to depend on the culture of an industry/workplace – like it is the law you have to give notice 30 days in advance and that everyone has a contract. Thank you letters are not a thing and while I’ve read all the explanations why this blog thinks they are good, I still find them so weird as a concept. To thank someone for a interview would be seen as trying to curry favour in my country.
      Many of the recommendations do seem to fit for other cultures but I would love some discussion about the cultural differences.

    2. Slartibartfast*

      I do live in the US , and I also wonder how the advice would be different in different countries. I like to find the common threads of humanity, because for all the cultural differences we have, some things are universal. We all have some version of music, marriage, and fried chicken.

      1. Agnes*

        The post-interview “thank you notes” are really follow-up notes – another way to touch base with the interviewer. You are not expected to grovel and debase yourselv.

    3. PX*

      I would love this! I think an interview format like once a month with a different culture would be great.

      Hell sometimes even a post by different industries might be worth it. I remember the post from the person who worked in (probably) consulting/investment banking and was like, long hours and crazy expectations are part of the deal for the crazy money – and how the commentariat here seemed to absolutely not be able to be okay with it

    4. YeahNo*

      Yes this would be a great idea. I’m from Europe but have also lived/worked in the US and am always conscious when I’m posting that the advice isn’t necessarily totally applicable to me because I’m in Europe now.

    5. nnn*

      I think the logistics would be impractical. AAM would have to somehow vet an expert for the other countries, even knowing how often “experts” on job searching advice are bad (and how would she evaluate that for a different country where the whole point is that things are different from AAM’s own expertise?). I can say why it’s appealing to readers outside of the US but it would be an impractical ask and a major mission expansion when the majority of the readership is here.

      1. Pyth*

        It doesn’t have to be an expert though, it could also be the commentariat. I’m not trying to find an exact solution/format that works, I think there’s many possible options.

    6. RMNPgirl*

      I would love this. Maybe something on the Friday open threads and it could be people from a different country each week. It does seem like we have a lot from the UK/Canada and I’d love to hear more from them too on how they differ from the US in work related things. But I’d really love to hear from people that aren’t well represented and/or from non-English speaking countries. Also, is it really similar across the EU with specific EU level labor laws or are there a lot of differences there too?
      Also the idea of different industries. I understand why a lot of the advice is for office based environments but things are different if you’re in blue collar vs white collar work. Also, I spent years working in a hospital lab which is way different than in an office and requires 24/7 staffing which can create issues.

      1. sarah*

        The problem is with the lack of vetting. A couple open threads ago someone advised that in the Netherlands (I think??) resumes are supposed to be so long that they are judged by how much they weigh and other Dutch people chimed in to say that wasn’t true. I think it’s inviting a lot of anonymous bad advice being presented authoritatively unless you’re proposing a lot of additional labor from Alison. I also agree with the person above who said it’s mission creep.

        1. RMNPgirl*

          None of the comment threads are vetted now and people chime in with information and advice that may not be accurate. I don’t see how this would be any different. People should always take the comments with a grain of salt.

  24. NeonFireworks*

    Bit niche since this is probably UK specific, but has anyone got into metal detecting, or watched someone else do so? Detecting looks to be something I’d enjoy, but I’m very much at a distance. I’ve been reading various beginners’ guides online but find myself wanting to hear anecdotes if anyone has any, positive or otherwise.

    1. Gracie*

      I’m involved in community archaeology, so metal detectorists are…sometimes a touchy subject. There’s a disappointingly high proportion of people who are in it for the fun treasure hunting, and cheerfully disrupt valuable untouched archaeological sites to find some interesting Roman or medieval coins. There’s also a long history of archeological digs getting raided by detectorists who come in when the site is empty, sweep the dig, and remove everything they can find from its context (which is the actual interesting part that can teach us things)

      So just, if you do pick it up as a hobby please be mindful of what you’re doing and where, and have an open dialogue with any local archaeological groups

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Interesting fun fact: metal detectors are basically illegal to use in most situations in Ireland.

        1. Gracie*

          I wouldn’t complain if we picked up the same law… Not UK, but look up the Nebra sky disc and what happened to it when it was looted by treasure hunters. Absolutely incredible artifact, nearly lost to us forever because it was sold on the black market, and we’ve lost its context because it was dug up by looters instead of excavated by someone who knew what they were doing

    2. Texan In Exile*

      All I can think of is the line from Detectorists where one of them says that something is the Holy Grail of detecting and the other replies that no, the Holy Grail is the Holy Grail of detecting.

      1. DMDC*

        The Detectorists is such a great series! Such a lovely depiction of the relationship between and lives of two friends who are hobby detectorists (one who is a qualified but out of work archeologist), including a story thread on professional vs. amateur. Quite a charming, heart-warming show with stellar actors (Mackenzie Crook, Toby Jones, Rachel Stirling, Sophie Thompson, Diana Rigg, and others). Plus it has a cute baby and a pesky magpie, and an excellent soundtrack.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I love this show and recommend it to people all the time. Nothing like a comedy that takes time out to show the landscape while playing beautiful music. (Also how I learned about The Unthanks.)

          1. StarryStarryNight*

            Came here to say this! Watched The Detectorists a few years ago and, as someone not from the UK but with experience living there, loved the utter Britishness of it all.

            (Also, yay The Unthanks!)

    3. Friend of the Beach Comber*

      I had a colleague who was in to metal detecting as a hobby! He was a real nice guy and was in it for the fun, not the gain. He’d sweep beaches and find people’s lost property and do his best to get it back. He found so many rings and phones buried at various depths and his stories of using the scant information he had to find the right people was really fun.

      I didn’t get to know him so well that I could give you lots of practical advice, though. From the way he talked about it, it seemed like there was a very dedicated set of folks who did this seriously in the area, not all of them following his mindset. There seemed to be some sort of unwritten politeness rules, like if someone was in X place first, you didn’t encroach? But then it also sounded like some folks had very particular rounds, so that might not always apply. I apologize for being vague, but I’m working on a very imperfect understanding. I guess my point is that maybe you should try to find someone in the area to talk to about how it works where you are? Just so you don’t step on anyone’s toes by accident. They might also know relevant laws about lost property stuff, too, or the best practices for avoiding of raiding someone else’s archeological site, like the commenter mentioned above.

      Regardless, I hope you have fun! And please report back if you find cool stuff or have a good story to tell!

    4. Jay*

      Check your local laws.
      There are places where a metal detector at the beach is met with a more hostile and negative reaction than a shark at the beach.
      Otherwise, I, personally, think they are very cool, as long as you aren’t fouling real archaeological digs.
      Good fun out of doors.

  25. The Move*

    Please help us decide on a place to move! We’ve been in Denver for a few years and it’s not our long term place. We want to be in closer proximity to our parents to help take care of them, but not live in the same state as they live a small town in the Deep South.

    – Cities we are considering: Baltimore, Richmond, Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham. Very much maybe Atlanta but it’s not high on my list.
    – About us: We’re an interracial couple in our early 30s without kids. Not sure if we will have them. We make about $165k combined and work in pharma and healthcare/government. We are job searching. I am queer. My partner loves nature and hiking, we both love city things (museums, art shows, musicals, trying new restaurants, going to big events and being able to blend in the crowd.) We want to make friends with other progressive folks. I want to find queer community as well.
    – We actually used to live in Baltimore and have considered moving back. But good lord, MD is expensive. So is Denver but I think MD is worse. I also have got used to the quietness of Denver, and how much more the city invests in itself. Baltimore government was corrupt (I’m not kidding) and it felt like it didn’t care for the residents. The community and people itself though was amazing. I think I am nervous to go back because I witnessed two deadly assaults in my lovely neighborhood. I am afraid I will be on edge most of the time.
    – We are a heavy maybe on Atlanta because it feels like everyone we know from our hometown lives there now, and we both tried to escape there. It’s also a little *too* close to family if that makes sense. We want to be able to drive in 1-2 days or take a quick flight to see our family, but we don’t want them dropping in randomly.
    – We haven’t visited anywhere in NC, so this makes things complicated, but plan to visit this year. We hear Durham is very queer friendly and progressive, but very sleepy with not as much to do.
    – I have close friends in DC/MD, and my partner has close friends in NC. We considered Richmond just to be able to visit both relatively evenly, and there is an airport, but that’s all we know about there.
    – I know no city will be perfect, but I’m having a hard time narrowing down to one or two.
    Thank you!

    1. Agnes*

      Former Triangle resident here. I always used to say that it’s a great place to live but a bad place to visit – not much in terms of tourist attractions, but lots of everyday activities, groups, good schools, events, and so forth.
      I always found plenty of progressive folks, but I may not be as far to the left as you.

    2. Blue wall*

      I used to live in Durham, there’s plenty of cultural stuff going on and you are only half an hour from the state museums in Raleigh.

      1. Angstrom*

        Just saying that as someone who grew up in a rural town of 700, hearing a city of almost 300,000 people described as “…sleepy without much to do” makes me smile. :-)

        1. The Move*

          lol, I hear ya. I grew up in a small town in Alabama and now living in the city, I’ve definitely got used to the hustle and bustle! But I heard it’s sleepy from online forums, I guess mostly in regards to night life.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I lived in Raleigh for five years. It was more my speed than Durham but I would think the opposite for you– I found Durham a bit too “cool” for my tastes, though we visited quite a bit. Durham has all of the things you’re looking for– nature, museums, restaurants… There are great shows that come through, lots of small live music venues, art spaces, etc. Being close to universities offers a lot of arts & culture. In terms of queer culture, communities pop up in the places you least expect– Hillsborough, NC, a relatively small-ish town near Chapel Hill, was the first in the state to pass an LGBTQ non-discrimination law. Your particular professions are super strong in the Triangle, lots of pharma and healthcare (you’re around two major medical systems plus a bunch of pharma companies in RTP).

      I will say that when we first moved to Raleigh, housing was much less expensive. We moved there from NYC and seriously considering buying a house on a single salary. I have heard from friends that Covid drove housing prices way up. You’re still going to find decent deals in Durham, though, especially if you go outside the city center.

      I can’t speak to what your experiences would be like as an interracial couple, and I won’t tell you that oh, everything will be JUST FINE, but I do think the Triangle tries its best to be an accepting place. There’s still a lot of old school Christian South stuff that goes on– I’m Jewish and had a couple of weird experiences, nothing dangerous but certainly uncomfortable– but it’s a place where most people can find a community that works for them.

      I enjoyed our time there but I didn’t want to stay. That’s mostly because I prefer bigger cities with good public transportation. I also had some difficulty around the fact that my partner and I weren’t married and didn’t have kids. The Triangle was not good for my particular career; I found a good job, but it was the only game in town in my field and I got lucky. We did make some great friends and found a good community, but ultimately I needed to be back in a big city.

      1. The Move*

        This is very helpful, thank you! I am a little afraid of how we will fare not being married and not having kids. I know back in Alabama it was tougher making community and especially not being church goers anymore.

        1. Blue wall*

          I would say this would be more of Raleigh thing than a Durham thing. Durham is a lot more progressive than Raleigh.

    4. Washi*

      My husband and I lived in DC for 7 years making a combined $140k and felt very financially comfortable. With kids and daycare costs it would have been tougher, but as DINKs it was plenty to live on, especially since we only needed one car (my husband worked in a location only really accessible by car, otherwise it could have been zero cars). That being said, it is still more expensive than the other cities on your list, especially if for example you are hoping to buy a single family home with a yard.

      But tons of free stuff to do, great food, lots of concerts, very progressive, close to three airports! We love hiking and real winter, plus were far from my family, otherwise we never would have left.

      1. Rainy*

        This is not at all related to the actual question, but I’ll just say that my spouse and I have really embraced the more specific label of Double Income Little Dog Owners rather than DINKs. Not only is the acronym hilarious, the LDO lifestyle is pretty specific. :)

    5. Llellayena*

      It’s not currently on your list, but what about Philadelphia? Definitely has all the cultural stuff and the drive to DC area is not too far. I don’t know much about Wilmington DE, but the distance to Philly or Baltimore isn’t bad. I would agree that Durham is more “cultural” than Raleigh. But the area is a pocket of liberal tucked into a very conservative surround. I always felt a little out of place once I got outside the Triangle and I’m straight, white, Christian, but very liberal leaning.

    6. Raleigh hype*

      I live about an hour outside of Raleigh and if Raleigh weren’t out of my price range/too far from work, I’d live there –– I really like Raleigh. (I teach, so just b/c Raleigh’s out of my price range doesn’t mean it will be out of yours.) Lots of state parks/hiking trails/biking trails right in the city, good restaurants, good healthcare. You’re <4 hours from the ocean and <4 hours from the mountains. I'm not an events person myself so can't speak to that, but b/c of its proximity to Durham and Chapel Hill & the universities in the area, I think you'll be fine.

      1. Raleigh hype*

        Also FWIW I’m left, white, woman, queer (but straight-passing). I don’t feel unsafe when I go running in Raleigh.

    7. LNLN*

      My sister has lived in Durham, NC, for over 40 years (transplanted from PA) and raised her kids there. She worked at Duke for 25 years before she retired. There are LOTS of things to do in the area. My sister is always going out and attending events with friends, hiking, biking, etc.. Duke has lots of events and activities open to the community (and I would expect UNC too, as well). I think you should check out the area!

    8. Former Govt Employee*

      I left NC about 10 years ago, so my experience may no longer apply. But at the time, Durham was very friendly towards interracial couples and Raleigh definitely was not. Charlotte was somewhere in between those.

    9. Jay*

      Try Ashville, NC out.
      It’s a fantastic place for a vacation, in any case.
      Less expensive than you are likely used to (although it can be a bit pricy for NC).
      I haven’t been there in almost 10 years, but when I was there last, it was a comparatively left-leaning, tolerant, artist/artisan focused community with huge amounts of stuff to do. Great food and craft beer culture, art galleries, the legendary Biltmore House is there! It’s sort of like the North Carolina equivalent of Austin or Portland, only smack dab in the most beautiful stretch of the Blue Ridge Mountains you are ever likely to see and not to far from several other large cities, close enough to make them a nice day trip.

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

      My brother lives in and adores Richmond. (Went for college & stayed.) Apparently there’s plenty to do, a sizable Blue population, and it definitely has plentiful government and healthcare jobs. I have other friendquaintances who are active in the queer scene there. It’s pretty diverse and lively, with a sizable arts scene. When I tease my brother about its, ahem, historical leanings, he always says, “Hey, we’re taking down the statues!”‘

      It’s not my favorite city on earth but I enjoy a visit. It’s a cute town and absolutely sounds like it’s in line with what you’re looking for.

      1. Spearmint*

        One of my closest friends lives there and says similar things. Seems like an underrated city. The only downside is it’s definitely a “small” city, which means less going on, though it does punch above its weight there. And day trips to DC are very feasible.

    11. Imtheone*

      Seconding Durham as a great place. Not sleepy at all. That’s probably an out of date assessment. Lots to do here now. Restaurants, music scene, a few museums with Raleigh close by. Chapel Hill is very close, and also lively. Easy access to hiking and not far from mountains and the ocean.

      Queer friendly. Strong black community. Lots of interracial couples. Strongly Democratic area — the primary elections really count since the Democrat always wins in the city and county.

      Forty years ago, it was a sleepy southern town, according to friends. Now it is bigger and more diverse.

    12. Usually Lurking*

      Richmond Richmond Richmond! We are SO OUTDOORSY, we are wildly tattooed and queer friendly, we really are getting over the Civil War, we have live music EVERYWHERE AND ALL THE TIME, we have so many museums, we have Class IV rapids going through downtown, we are two hours from the mountains, two hours from the beach, two hours from DC. We are craft-beer-crazy, rolling with amazing restaurants, have several local theater groups and are a stop on the “Broadway Under the Stars” circuit. Ohmygosh please consider it!
      Is there a way to share our contact information so I could be more specific? If not, or anyway, ask questions and I will happily answer them here!

      1. The Move*

        Thank you for offering! I have a throwaway email janemoon192 at gmail. I would love to connect more about Richmond!

    13. Virginia Girl*

      What about Charlottesville, VA? There’s a lot to do there and the area is stunning with all of the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s also a progressive town and it’s close to both Richmond and DC.

    14. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I can’t speak to any of your options, but when I moved, one of my stipulations was that I needed to be about 3-5 hours from where my family all still lives – close enough that I could do a weekend trip to visit, but far enough away that an impromptu surprise visit would be unlikely. Best decision I ever made. :-P (My sibling had, and still has, an irritating habit of showing up with kids in tow and demanding last minute emergency babysitting, which my parents are apparently fine with, but I would not be.)

    15. Bluebell*

      I don’t have deep experience with any of the places mentioned, but about two years ago a friend and I went and visited Richmond for a long weekend, and I was really surprised at how much I liked it. There was a lot of great culture, good outdoorsy stuff, it’s close to the beach if you like that sort of thing, and it seems that the university there keeps growing. I’ve been to Raleigh, but not Durham, and there’s a ton of Pharma/biotech happening in that area. I also did a trip to Asheville, and it’s definitely high on the hipster quotient, but seems like it could be a viable option.

    16. Almost Academic*

      One suggestion – do you have the time/ability to take 1-2 weeks off and roadtrip around the area? All of those places are within fairly easy driving of each other for a weeklong roadtrip, and it would give you a little bit more of a sense for the feel of each of the places.

      I lived in Chapel Hill & Carrboro for many years, but worked out of Raleigh and Durham. The triangle area definitely sounds like what you are looking for! Super progressive bastion in a decidedly gerrymandered state – the politics of the area are wild, but I’ve always felt well supported as a queer person. The way I learned about some of the (horrible) state bills passing was mostly through average people at work being outraged and making signs to protest at the capitol – so it’s definitely not just the ultra-liberal / progressive folks who are generally supportive of queer people. Friends in interracial relationships also said that it felt pretty comfortable compared to most other areas of the South they’ve been in, but I’ll also note that the Triangle area itself remains more segregated & White than other areas and other states – so ymmv depending on the area you are in. Travel in NC can be a little sketch as well, there are definitely great areas for easy car trips and vacations but a lot of little towns you may not feel comfortable stopping in along the way.

      Activity-wise, I found the Triangle to be what you are describing generally (Durham especially – and I would likely recommend Durham for being a little more liberal and artsy, if you can stand some of the more gentrified aspects). Plenty of great hiking and nature spots within an easy drive, the NC museum of art is really spectacular, great smaller art enclaves as well throughout the area, amazing farmer’s markets, fun lectures put on by the Universities in the region, and lots of good indie and folk music especially that tours through the region. Idk if you’re into dancing, but the area also has some of the best contra dancing in the USA. Lots of job opportunities within your main areas as well.

      In terms of other areas you’re considering: I love visiting Richmond, and do think that it checks a lot of your boxes, but also find it to be a bit more conservative-leaning (especially for folks on the older side), amazing food and arts scene, but there didn’t seem to be as much comfort for me in terms of nearby areas to visit and wander to in VA. But that may also be because the friends I was visiting were more on the conservative side overall.

      Charlotte is wayyy more conservative than the triangle area, with less to do IMHO. I think if you are moving to NC, you likely would be more comfortable in the triangle. But Charlotte is easier to find some cheaper places overall, I think. Atlanta I’ve never lived in but from what I’ve heard from friends in the area it has gone a bit downhill over the past ~5 years in terms of comfort and ease of life (traffic is still awful but getting worse, lots of favorite places closing down, food scene not the best, state politics even worse than before, etc) – that being said I still dream of the peaches I would get when I was living close to the GA border.

  26. adipucey*

    Looking for advice for a couple of different aspects of a big change in my life. I’ve currently put in my notice at work (physical, long hours job) due to health issues. I’m feeling a sense of a failure that I can’t quite explain and would like advice as to how to deal with that.

    Also, other than doctors appts I’m really only going to be home for the next few weeks and I’m sure I’m going to go insane. Yes, I have hobbies I can do with my health issue, but I’m mentally going to go nuts. Any suggestions?!

    1. Sitting Pretty*

      Good for you for prioritizing your health. Capitalism makes us all crazy so you’re going to feel off for a while, it’s totally normal, just be patient and gentle with yourself.

      I recently took a 3-month FMLA leave from work due to ongoing health issues. Quieting down the constant, doubt, self recrimination and the go-go-go thinking was not easy. The very best thing I did was start an intensive meditation practice (after years of saying I would do it but never sticking to it!) Of course, this is not for everyone, but for me it totally changed how I approached my leave. Morning and night guided meditations, 30-ish minutes at a time. Plus some journaling during the day about what I would be releasing and/or breathing into.

      I can’t give you one source because I cobbled together my practice from several recommendations from friends. But it helped keep me centered and really focused on healing. And now that I’m back at work (and struggling), the daily meditation practice is still with me. It’s a lifeline now and I’m grateful it’s in my life. Good luck to you, and be well!

      1. adipucey*

        Thank you so much for your thoughtful and compassionate comment. I’ve always been sort of defined by my job and my success and having to take such a major step back feels so… off. I will look into breathing and meditation, though! (Also, I hope your struggle lets up and your health has taken a good turn since your time off).

    2. Slartibartfast*

      I changed fields for the same reason, physically could no longer safely do the thing I loved. Give yourself time to grieve, because it is a loss in a way. Feel the feels, ugly cry, and then get some comfort food and binge watch something fluffy that doesn’t take any mental effort. It’s okay to have down time, but giving yourself the mental permission to just stand down, that’s the hardest thing. Change sucks in the moment, we don’t like it, but it’s better on the other side.

      Also, think of the low priority stuff you have wanted to do but haven’t had the time for. Clean out your cupboards, go through the closet and get rid of things you haven’t worn in a year, fix any wonky items in your living space, redecorate. Visit a craft store and get a paint by numbers kit or diamond painting or adult coloring books, something to do with your hands helps with the mental boredom.

      1. adipucey*

        Oh goodness this gives me so many ideas for around the house, ha! I’ve been watching all the comfort movies in my free time; even my husband noticed, lol. Thank you! I’m sorry to hear you went through similar, it truly sucks. I hope your health has improved!

    3. Morning Reading*

      Read! Or listen to books. I like the audiobooks better than tv because I can do something else with my hands while listening. Getting immersed in a story can be a good distraction from negative thoughts or whatever is plaguing you.
      I like the meditation suggestion too. Basically anything that engages different parts of your brain and lets the bothersome part get some rest. Doing music or math works too, if you are so inclined.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Find a YouTube channel that offers brief videos about a thing you would like to learn more about. I will offer up Great Art Explained and PBS Space Time. (Specifically The Silurian Hypothesis, which covers what the remains of an ancient pre-human civilization would look like, in the geologic record.)

      I find the learning aspect helps to make me engage more.

    5. chili oil*

      Go for long walks (or plan on other forms of exercise). If your body is used to a certain amount of exercise or movement, cutting that out abruptly will make your body a bit stir-crazy, even if you need to cut down for health reasons.

      1. adipucey*

        THIS! YES. My job gets me like 20k steps a day at least, so I know this is going to be a big adjustment. I bought myself roller blades just in case!

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

      Sounds like it has been a rough while at work. Do you think using some of your down time to plan a relaxing/renewing vacation for whenever you won’t need to be right by your doctors could feel therapeutic?

      Whatever you do, I hope you treat yourself compassionately and kindly as you move through this transition.

      1. adipucey*

        Thank you, honestly a vacation (short) was my first thought, and I had planned to go see my best friend who lives a few states away, but due to a family emergency he had to cancel just the other day (my last day is later this week). So it’s back to square one on the relaxing getaway. I have gotten in touch with my massage therapist to see if she can get me during my time off (it’s been months since I’ve had the time for an appt thanks to work).

    7. Jay*

      I don’t really know the best way to put this into writing, so I’m sorry if it doesn’t come across well.
      But you have to give yourself permission to enjoy your time again. To recognize that IS your time, that it is not the property of anyone else.
      That you are NOT letting anyone “down” by spending a weekday sitting in a comfy chair with a nice cup of tea, reading a good book.
      It’s a strange mental block, this idea that it’s somehow failing if you use some of your time for nothing more important than doing a small, easy thing that has no value other than making you happy for a little while.

      1. adipucey*

        “It’s a strange mental block, this idea that it’s somehow failing if you use some of your time for nothing more important than doing a small, easy thing that has no value other than making you happy for a little while.”

        — this may have made me tear up (I’ve been pretty emotional since the medical news and giving my notice so maybe that’s why, haha). Thank you. Truly.

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

          One of my 12-step recovery groups has a saying: You’re not lovable because you’re a human doing; you’re lovable because you’re a human being!

  27. Grits McGee*

    Where do y’all go for trustworthy, individualized advice about purely cosmetic skincare? (I’m in the US, but it would be interesting to hear non-US perspectives as well!)

    1. Gaming sparingly*

      Hmm, probably in the sense you’re asking but I first look at EWG’s skin deep site for a quick look at composition/rating of a specific brand, and then depending on the advice/recs I get I check those too. (I do sometimes look at their EWG certified brands (though most of those are expensive).) Otherwise whichever store I step into I ask a staff member and then trial products? A good question though, curious to read more answers.

    2. Lemonwhirl*

      I’m in Ireland, and I booked a consultation for my teenager with theskinnerd dot com

      The booking process was online and we met over Zoom. Their recommendations were completely tailored to my kid, who has really sensitive skin. I was a little skeptical, but the advice was perfect and the recommended products made such a difference. Within 6 weeks, my kid’s skin was so much improved.

      What I like about the Skin Nerd too is that you’re able to indicate your budget and their recommendations stay within your budgeted range. Plus, we didn’t have to go anywhere, which made it way easier to get my kid to buy-in to the consultation.

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      A dermatologist.
      There’s also a YouTube channel called “trying something new. Monthly skincare reviews” by Dr Dray who is a dermatologist with notably perfect skin sho reviews all types of skincare products.

  28. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    I have been able to visit the Guerlain store in Paris and now have a plan for if I get the promotion I’ve been hustling for in the next year: visit again and buy a bottle of it (it’s called Herba Fresca and it’s divine).

  29. Casper Lives*

    The joys of fostering – when all the kittens whine getting their ears cleaned but mama submits to ear drops with grace. (All treated for ear mites. Daily ear cleanings until the suckers die. Poor mama had a secondary infection)

    I’ll miss these rascals! Anyone who’s fostering, what’s your latest update? Success, failure, funny stories welcome.

  30. Once too Often*

    Shout to everyone coping with cancer diagnoses, treatment, recovery, or supporting anyone who is.

    Hope news has been good, medical teams terrific, & you have been surrounded with support & care.

    Thinking of you & sending good vibes.

    1. Hrodvitnir*

      Aw, thanks. I don’t personally find a lot of the rage against the world, cancer sucks stuff very relateable personally. I am unusually equinanimous about cancer just being a thing that happens, shitty as it is. I’m more worried about how awful it will be for my partner if I die than dying.

      But it’s such a weird headspace to be in! I’ve been fairly convinced I have recurrence from my cancer for the last 15 months, and I now have a suspicious CT result I’m getting further imaging for in 2 weeks – on my birthday. Which is darkly funny to me, as I got my diagnosis 1 day before my birthday 3 years ago.

      Anyway. This is appreciated.

    2. Miss Buttons*

      Thanks for thinking of us Cancer Kids! Very kind of you. My news is good. Finished 5 months of chemo in January (big yay!) Now I’m doing a month of twice weekly radiation with no side effects so far, thankfully. I am blessed with great medical care, supportive spouse and family. Sending hugs and support to any other cancer patients. I suggest you plant your feet firmly on the Hope Train, and stay on it. Bless you.

      1. Hrodvitnir*

        Awesome to hear radiation is going well for you. All cancer treatments are so variable in how your body copes, which is very un-fun in itself!

      2. Once too Often*

        Oh, my best tip for radiation is to wear a hat! It’s so cold in there, because the machines require it, & then one disrobes. But the techs thought my (soft, knit) hat was a great idea & I was noticeably warmer with it on.

        1. Once too Often*

          Actually I have another best tip, too:
          Increase your hydration, & if you can add more fat to your diet. I’m told both help support the tissue in the field, increasing the likelihood of pliability & reducing the post-treatment tightening of that tissue. As usual, check with your team for more specific guidance. Eg, techs didn’t suggest it but my physical therapist did.

    3. Camelid coordinator*

      This is very kind, thank you. I seem to be heading to a diagnosis. I am only fretting occasionally, which is pretty good for me!

      1. Miss Buttons*

        Camelid, so great that you’re only fretting occasionally. I’m 8 months in, and I found the first few months of testing and diagnosis the most stressful of all. Others in my support groups have said the same. Once I got going on a solid treatment plan, the emotional lift of knowing the cancer was being kicked hard really helped, even though I was dealing with chemo side effects. I wish you good medical care you can feel confident about, and I wish you big bucketfuls of hope.

      2. Follow-up screening looming*

        I’m not even as far as “heading towards”, but got called in for a follow up after my first ever mammography screening. I try to ignore it as much as possible – they say that 4 out of 5 of the people being called back in have nothing to worry about. But of course I can’t ignore it completely.

        What if? My father and grandfather and great grandfather all died of cancer. My grandmother survived it. I’m always a bit hypochondriac about potentials. And there’s a lot percolating in my brain. Big and small. I like my breasts – do I have to lose them? How do I fend off well-meaning compliments about weight-loss, if I lose weight? Can I do this thing I have planned in the summer and really am looking forward to? What about my family, that I try to take care of, if I need to be taken care of? How do I balance my own well-being with my partner’s, who really isn’t good with sickness and already is freaking out? They should have a therapist to talk to, because there will be big and ugly feelings, if this is serious, but that’s not easy to find.

        Thank you for the thread – apparently I needed to vent a bit, even if people probably aren’t around so much. Good luck everyone.

        1. Once too Often*

          That can be an uncomfortable place. And you don’t need to have to care for your partner’s upset about what might happen with you.
          One place you might look is a local cancer center & ask about resources for therapy &/or palliative care support (palliative care is for improving things, it’s not just focused on end of life care) there for your partner & yourself. Sometimes you have to be a patient there to access services, but they may know about options elsewhere that you two can access now. Hoping you will get clean results on your follow up, but if your partner can manage their upset elsewhere as you take these next steps that will help both of you & your relationship. If you do need further investigation or diagnostics, your partner should be supporting you, not the other way around. And if you’re clear, you will have offered your partner options to better manage their own boundaries & strengthen themselves in constructive ways, in addition to knowledgable support for yourself.

          There are (far too) many of us with experiences with cancer here; please reach out with updates & questions. Those of us here share info & support.

    4. Miss Buttons*

      One other observation about chemo for anyone worrying about it. Chemotherapy has come a long, long way in the past few decades. My chemo infusion nurse told me “this is not your grandmother’s chemo!” We used to hear horror stories about the side effects, particularly the nausea and vomiting. I had absolutely no nausea or vomiting in my 5 months of chemo. They have really effective anti-nausea drugs – at least at my cancer center affiliated with a major urban teaching hospital. I wish you all the best.

    5. Miss Buttons*

      Sending good thoughts and well wishes to Bethlam, who posted recently about a challenging cancer journey. Healing, hope and peace to you, Bethlam.

    6. Bethlam*

      I’m late but I’m here. Thank you to everyone for your good thoughts and well-wishes for everybody going through this, it really makes a difference to hear them.

      My 5-day in-hospital intensive treatment itself was boring and uneventful. Then I got home and the after-effects kicked in. This one has been really rough. But I’m halfway through, my husband has been a rock star, and I keep telling myself it could be worse. And the sun is streaming in on my face through my sunroom windows.

      Forwarding the positive thoughts and healing energy to everyone else on this journey.

      1. Once too Often*

        Thank you for checking in.

        Glad to hear your in-hospital time was boring, sorry the post-infusion stuff has been rough, & hurray for your rock star husband.

        Pulling for you, & everyone else facing challenges.

  31. Morning Reading*

    Flight questions and a follow up.

    I flew to Hawaii yesterday (and boy are my arms tired!) I have Bluetooth hearing aids now and I’d like to find a way to keep the plane noise down, because it’s so uncomfortable. I turned the volume to zero, then finally took them out and put in earplugs, which was marginally better. I think perhaps I need sound cancelling earphones to solve this problem. Question for my fellow hard-of-hearing travelers, is there a hack for making this better? The less I hear noise, the less I hear everything. And even with the aids in and turned up, I frequently couldn’t make any sense of audio announcements. So… is it even necessary to hear on a plane? (Side question for anyone with similar age-related hearing loss, is it useful to learn to sign? Seems like it would be good for the brain to learn a new language but I don’t see it used much outside the deaf community. Would you recommend it?)

    Second question: the seats were so uncomfortable that my back was aching after a couple of hours. What does one do about that? I alternated using my book or my jacket rolled up behind me for lumbar support. Do you bring a pillow? Does one of the neck pillows help?

    The followup to previous question: I successfully transported my mother’s flatware set to my daughter’s home here. Per advice a few weekends ago, I took all the spoons in carry on and kept the knives and forks in a big checked bag. Even so I had to work to keep that bag under 50lbs with some other stuff I was taking. I could barely lift it and I tipped the shuttle driver more than usual to get it for me. But it’s all here now and I count myself lucky to have an adult child who is interested in, and has a house with enough space for, the old family dining table, my mother’s cedar hope chest, the china and silver, etc. (by now I’ve “downsized” most everything I can from my house to hers. My plan is to use up or wear out the rest of my inherited stuff before I die.)

    1. My Brain is Exploding*

      Can’t help with the hearing issue, but for the back, I have some tips. If the flight attendants hand out blankets, those work, or you can bring a small towel. Sometimes I have put on one of those heat therapy patches before a long plane trip. Depending on the cause of the aching, a flexeril (muscle relaxant prescribed by a doctor) may help, and it may make you a bit sleepy, too. Also consider bringing a yoga tune up wall, which you can also use for your feet after a lot of walking and a number of other body areas. I just found a link to a video by Jill Miller that might help and will post in a comment to this as it will have to go thru moderation.

        1. Morning Reading*

          Oh a yoga “ball!” That makes more sense, thank you. (I don’t know what’s up with yoga lately with the heat and the goats, so maybe there’s a yoga wall now? Combining rock walls and positions?)
          Thanks again, will check it out. (Possible that using a ball in the airport would encourage people to keep their social distance, too!)

          1. BubbleTea*

            There ARE yoga walls, but you certainly can’t use them on planes. They’re for doing complicated advance yoga moves like inversions and stuff.

            1. Morning Reading*

              Before I looked at the video, I was picturing one of those large inflatable balls that can replace a chair. Thinking I’d have to bring an air pump to blow it up in the terminal. Hard to do that on a plane, too!

    2. Freya's Cats*

      I am not hard of hearing, so this is second hand, but my dad is and has been since his early 50ies. One thing he had told me/I have noticed is that he can (mechanically) tune out background noise with his aids. It works on frequency, so voices are hard because they are all in the same range, but other frequencies, like building works or in case of an airplane, engine sounds he can filter out. He has a type of aid that is connected with Bluetooth to his smart watch and Iphone, and he can tweak the settings on those. So even though he is very hard of hearing, if there is background noise, he sometimes can hear better than me because i can not tune out the noise… I guess it depends on the type of hearing aid you have, but it might be something to look into?
      He does not sign at all, but he does lipread, in fact we have to be careful always to draw his attention first and talk to his face or he won’t understand.
      As for your question if hearing aids are needed on a plane. I don’t think so. If the noise is bothering you, take them out. At most you will miss a warning about turbulence , you could add a neighbour to alert you if something important is said by the captain. Maybe warn the flight crew so they know to draw your attention in another way if needed, and enjoy the peace.

      1. Morning Reading*

        I think I have a noisy background setting, thanks, I just forgot to try it. It hasn’t been very helpful in other settings like restaurants so I forgot about it.
        Are you sure he can “lip read??” Just curious. It occurs to me that I haven’t been able to make out what someone is saying, if they are not facing me, in years. I assumed the sound was better, more direct, face to face, but maybe I’ve been reading the faces more than I realized.

        1. Freya's Cats*

          If by lip-read you mean could he understand what is being said without any sound at all, no, I think very few people can, even when fully deaf. But if he cannot see someone’s mouth he understands much less, even if the volume is the same (like with a mask on), so it is a combination of better directed sound and lip movement.
          Noise suppression would probably not work in a restaurant, as the ambient noise is voices. He slway requests a table in a corner of possible, so at least there will not be sound from behind and one side.
          He also has a directional microphone he can put on the table and on which he can turn off certain directions of sound, so if there is a noisy table next to him but a person he is talking to across, he can turn off side noise and enhance straight ahead. He can also give it to a speaker to wear around their neck if he goes to a reading or something. Most people are very willing to oblige such requests. My dad loves his tech trinkets, but they really do provide solutions. There is a lot of interesting new hearing tech out there

    3. Doctor is In*

      I have Bose over the ear noise canceling headphones. I can put them right over my hearing aids if I want but find I don’t really need to as they block background noise, and I use closed captions on whatever movie I watch. I can’t understand announcements on a plane no matter what- whether I have hearing aids in or not -too much background noise and poor quality sound for the announcements.

      1. Morning Reading*

        Thanks, I’m going to try that next time.
        I wonder if anyone can really hear those announcements or if we’ve all started tuning them out. I was struggling to hear the gate agent and it turned out she was just going on about construction at the gate. A long explanation why we had to move from one side of the room to another. Not anything I needed to hear. Another example: listening to deplaning instructions at arrival. By the time I managed to pick up that someone was talking, and tuned in, it was a credit card promotion. I’m struggling to hear safety instructions and they are wasting my time and effort with advertising! Argh.
        Well that was my annual complaint about flying. I would never do it, if there was any other way to get here. (Not afraid of it, just annoyed and uncomfortable, doing my best to sleep through as much of it as I can.)

  32. Rainy*

    Nail art folks–who else bought Simply’s new box set this morning? What else have you been buying nail art wise lately? What are your Valentine’s mani plans?

    I did a pre-Valentine mani last week, a Holotaco Rest in Peach (really gorgeous neutral peach crème) base stamped with Maniology Cinnablush (a cool-toned dark pink) using patterns from two Valentine-themed Maniology plates: a tiny heart confetti French gradient, with accent nails with an intricate botanical design in a heart shape. Nails themselves are squoval right now with about 4mm of free edge.

    My Valentine’s mani is going to involve Holotaco Naughty List in some fashion. There’s a stamp on one of my Valentine’s themed plates that’s a jar of hearts, and I think that will be the main image I use.

    Anyone else into nail art and planning something fun?

    1. Satan's Panties*

      I already got my V-day mani! First, middle and pinky fingers are a soft rose. Thumb and ring fingers are cocoa brown, with tiny hearts and dots on them in the same soft rose. I wanted something subtle.

        1. Satan’s Panties*

          I’m in a groove with this one nail tech! Next up, it will be cherry blossoms on a gray background.

    2. Mani Panic*

      I was really really hoping the new Holo Taco box set would be my thing, I love a good space-related theme, but it’s just not. It doesn’t really say space to me at all, just way too much red and pink tones. NGL I was pretty disappointed watching the livestream. Alien Infatuation is the only shade I really liked. I don’t want a black jelly base and I have so many black glitter and holographic polishes already. Guess I can save some money!

      Think I’m going to do something with the Safiya collection polishes when I do my nails tomorrow – still have a couple of shades to explore!

      1. Rainy*

        If you stamp, I think that Spirit Fingers would pair really well with red stamping or painting–both pink and burgundy would look good and I think that it would stand up well to a bold cool-toned red as well. And of course Berry Me in Holo is a perfect Valentine’s mani shade!

        I’ve been experimenting with my magnetic polish box from Holotaco recently and I’ve finally started getting the hang of it. :)

  33. Satan's Panties*

    Darn it! I potentially had a great Valentine’s Day anecdote to share, but now it won’t happen.

    Lucifer’s Draws is involved in a local politician’s campaign. Last week, he offered to get us into a dinner at a country club, where he was going to speak. Did we mind that it was Wednesday — Valentine’s Day? Not at all! Especially not me, after that letter about the work dinner! Sadly, we found out yesterday that the dinner was at capacity; no room for non-members. Well, we’ll find out afterwards if anything Valentiney took place. And Lucifer and I would see to it that anyone without a partner did not have to play musical chairs all night. We’ve done that before.

    So it’s back to pot roast, Tillamook cherry ice cream, and a movie to be determined. Perhaps Marty, or the new West Side Story. Hearts to all!

    (Singletons who get asked to make way for couples, at weddings and so forth: I wonder how it would go if they said “Sure — got twenty bucks?”)

    1. Morning Reading*

      I can’t quite make out what this is about. What is Lucifer’s Draws? Is that your partner and “draws” is a panties equivalent? I thought “draws” was spelt “drawers” but it’s a word I use for the sliding box one pulls out from a cabinet, not for an article of clothing. Maybe because it’s hard to pronounce. Haven’t heard it much except in the context of a toddler referred to as “droopy drawers” when the diaper is hanging low. With close-fitted disposable diapers, you don’t see that much anymore.
      And your last paragraph, are you saying that singles at a couples party are asked to move, so they could offer to sell their seat? I’ve never seen that happen but I recall somebody mentioned in a recent wedding thread. I think if that happened to me, it would be a good time to leave the party. But some of my best friends are couples (or coupled?) and they would never do that, so it’s hard to imagine.
      Just loitering waiting for the sun to come up here. Hope you have a fabulous Wednesday whatever you end up doing.

      1. Satan’s Panties*

        Yes, “draws” means men’s underwear, and Lucifer’s Draws is my husband. We’ve been to quite a few political rallies and fundraisers and so forth in the past year, for/with “Tanner”, who is running for office.

        And two different people in the Valentine’s-Day-work-dinner thread talked about someone going solo to a wedding or other event, being repeatedly asked to move so a couple could sit together, and finally moving themselves out of the party and going somewhere else. Maybe it’s insecurity — the coupled people are afraid they’ll lose the relationship if they’re not with the partner every waking moment. Anyway, I wonder what would happen if someone responded to “I want to sit with my SO” with “Got twenty bucks?” Or even silence and a stare.

        1. anon for this*

          Since we’re on the topic….I enjoy your comments a lot but your user name is so jarring. I suspect I’m not the only one who would be grateful if you changed it to something less ick.

          1. Zona the Great*

            I’d like to second that. We recently had another commenter using the name of a r@pist porn star combined with the name of an abusive cult leader and he refused to change it. Made it so I never wanted to read his posts.

            1. Satan's Panties*

              Well, I was thinking of a change anyway, but for the record, I got the username from the movie Miss Congeniality. Gracie, Sandra Bullock’s character, asks a very naive contestant if she’s ever done a crime. “I stole red underwear once! My mother didn’t want me to have it — she said it was Satan’s panties.” Then some other stuff happens, then her talent is a baton-twirling routine. Gracie convinces her to make it a *flaming* baton routine, it’s a big hit, and Gracie welcomes her backstage with “Yay! Now you can wear Satan’s panties!” And on the commentary track, Bullock says, “That is a band name if I ever heard one.”

              I didn’t know it meant anything else! Sorry for the misunderstanding; I would never *knowingly* use a porn name.

              1. Morning Reading*

                So it’s a movie reference! Cool! (There was another thread on recognized phrases from movies and even though I’ve seen that one, I didn’t recognize it. Thought it might be from the tv series Lucifer.) thanks for the “draws” clarification.
                I don’t follow what’s disturbing about it. Maybe another cultural reference I don’t get? Will quote Church Lady, “could it be SATAN?”

    2. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Me this morning: I assume we’re ignoring Valentine’s Day, as per usual?
      Hubs, after checking his calendar: I’m in class that evening so yes.

      And so we go.

  34. bananapants (genuine)*

    Style question: I’m looking for women’s trousers that don’t emphasize the rump at all. It seems even professional slacks and chinos are designed to be snug or “cup” around the rear. But the slacks that seemed to be common several decades ago made it look like you had no bum at all! Is there a particular term for these? (I’m having some weight fluctuation and don’t want to ass-ess fit every day. Dresses/skirts aren’t an option.) Thanks for any tips!

    1. Ellis Bell*

      We are in the grip of a really long running trend to make pants stretchier than they used to be. I completely understand why, because it’s hard for women to find pants that fit; men only have to worry about waist and length (though there’s an argument for thigh measurements in men’s pants imo). With women, your hips and bum are separate complications. Thigh measurements can also be tricky and if you like a really sleek pantsleg like the tapered or cigarette styles then even your calf can throw the whole thing out of wack. So I guess they think stretch fabric takes out some of the guess work, but honestly I just look vacuum packed in them. My go to is always wide leg, gaucho or culotte styles. If it’s good enough for Katharine Hepburn it’s good enough for me.

      1. Reba*

        Yes, was going to recommend wide leg trousers–which are everywhere at the moment, so you should be able to find some workable ones! Thicker fabrics (corduroy, velvet, linen, canvas, textured or felted wool) and darker colors will also be more disguising.

        1. bananapants (genuine)*

          I feel like even the wide-leg trousers I’ve seen cup the bum before flaring out, but maybe that was just those brands or just how they were styled on the model. I’ll look into them more!

          1. Reba*

            I do know what you mean. I would suggest looking at the pleated styles for tailored/zip fly pants – those tend to be roomy and drape around the hips/bum , rather than being fitted before flaring out in the legs, if that makes sense. I might suggest Eileen Fisher, and I’m really enjoying my Everlane pleated cords! There is also the world of pull-on or flowy yet dressy pants. I guess these are palazzo pants? J.Jill has a style of elastic waist cords. I’ve recently tried on several pairs of generously cut wide leg pants in various businessy fabrics at Nordstrom, so I do think workable styles are out there. Good luck!

          2. Ellis Bell*

            Some pants that are simply a half inch of give are being marketed as “wide leg” because of the aforementioned stretchy craze. For me, a true wide leg flows like a skirt, and might even have trouser creases front and back that hang straight down like an arrow – certainly not cupped around the derriere.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      In a past thread, someone explained that that was behind the dimensions on a lot of the vintage pants–no “cupping” of anything. Maybe a venue (or an “inspired by”) to try?

    3. Snell*

      Does searching with the term “wide-leg” or “barrel” pants help you? I’ve noticed that those have been coming into style recently. Not my style, because it’s too “exaggerated” for me, but it’s what I thought of for your question and it might not be too exaggerated for you.

    4. Generic Name*

      Yeah, I’m not a fan of ass grabbing dress pants/trousers either. I suggest looking at stores/brands that cater to middle-aged and older clientele like Talbots, regular Ann Taylor (not loft), Liz Claiborne, Eileen Fisher (if you can/want to spend hundreds per garment).

    5. Filosofickle*

      What you’re looking for is a trouser, but not all things called trousers today will work.

      On my body, that would mean looking one or more of these things: 1) Cut significantly wider in the hip/thigh, as being snug there is what pulls in under the butt (and tummy) — a fuller / wide trouser leg should hang straight down off your widest part. 2) Consider pleats, they also help with adding that extra roominess around the hip. Not necessary if the hip is wide enough but that can be hard to come by with my hips! 3) Fabric matters a lot here, I look for woven fabrics (no knits) with minimal or no stretch, looking for one that drapes yet doesn’t cling. I’ve started embracing linen more, even though it wrinkles it loosens up fast — none of my linen pants will cup my butt even if I want them to. 4) Go old-school and look for linings with one or more of the above. That lining keeps the fabric from clinging.

    6. Teacher, Here*

      Second time I’ve recommended this in this same post, but try Wildfang. They make some chino style pants that don’t cup at all, at least on me.

  35. Hamster*

    Hi all, thanks for the advice on my COBRA issue I asked about a few weeks ago. It did end up getting resolved and so far its going smoothly (fingers crossed). I’m having another issue but with my 3yo’s insurance and care providers..

    Shes been getting speech therapy 2x a week since last fall. Last month the therapy center reached out and said that we’re out of network and need a new Rx from her pediatrician and while insurance gets sorted out, we’d pay out of pocket; it seemed simple enough and doable. 
    Fast forward several weeks, and about 5 days of daily phone calls and emails back and forth – both the Dr and the therapy center are tossing the ball to each other and leaving us in the middle. 

    The Dr office – there’s no way to communicate with the Dr’s office directly unless I go through their answering service and relay the entire message. The therapy office – they have an office manager who is the only one on staff who handles the billing/admin matters. No one else can check their faxes or emails, so if she’s on vacation or out sick, nothing gets done. 

    The office manager of the therapy office keeps saying that the Dr’s office keeps sending them the order iwth the wrong information; she is calling them incompetent, and it’s “brutal” to talk to them; the Dr office is saying the office manager is rude AF. Both are saying the other has to do the insurance preauthorization. I’ve been on the phone with them both daily this week; my husband spent the entire morning/early afternoon at hte Dr’s office trying to get the right information.  

    Yesterday I was talking to the office manager on the phone, and expressed that I was frustrated that they’re both leaving us in the middle. she began screaming at me on the phone. She said I insulted and offended her, that we are free to go to a different therapist and she did us a favor by not charging us for the therapy sessions from last year. That we demanded she go in to the office when she’s sick. I pointed out that we were never notified of the “free” sessions, that we had/have no issue paying for it had we known, we never “forced” her to come in to the office sick (!). 
    I was stunned and embarrassed after the call. My coworker could hear everything even though I wasn’t on speaker. That’s how loud the office manager was screaming. 

    She got back to me later, and was calmer (though no apology) and she said she will reach out to insurance and let us know. 

    In the meantime I’m planning on finding a therapy provider in network, although it’s something I’m extremely loath to do. My daughter is on the spectrum and I hate changing things up on her like this. 

    I tried my best to keep it brief but aside from writing a review and finding a new therapist, I’m not sure what other course of action there is. From the time we started trying to get a diagnosis 2 years ago, up to now, it has been so stressful getting her the services she needs. Her current center and therapist are wonderful and I really don’t want to change them for any reason but I feel like she was wildly out of line and unprofessional screaming at me. 

    1. BubbleTea*

      If you haven’t already, I’d consider making a written complaint about the office manager to whoever her boss is. That’s unacceptable.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Make sure the therapist (or whoever owns the practice) knows what happened, and that you are looking for a new provider because of this behavior.

      It may not come to that, but the owners need to know.

    3. WS*

      I work in healthcare and while it does get frustrating on the admin side, that was incredibly out of line. Talk – or deliver a written complaint – to the therapist. Don’t send it in a way where the office manager will see it first. The actual business owners need to know this, and it sounds like she’s made herself the most important person and chokepoint deliberately.

  36. Falling Diphthong*

    Anyone watch anything good lately?

    I just watched the thriller Fool Me Once on Netflix based on recs here; it was quite well done. I did not see the twists coming, but they made sense and paid off.

    Fargo Season 5 has really lingered for me, in a “let’s talk about who society is set up to serve” way. There were a number of points that subverted tropes, in a way that made me think about why those are tropes.

    1. CTT*

      I’m making my way through Oscar nominees. I’ve seen almost all the Best Picture nominees (still waiting for Zone of Interest to either play near me or come to streaming), so I’m thinking I may watch either Four Daughters or Society of the Snow tonight – both will be bummers, but I’ll get to check them off my list.

      1. Elle*

        I saw the Holdovers this week and really think it’s the best of the bunch. I was surprised how much I liked it.

    2. allathian*

      The second season of World on Fire is good, even if some parts of it make me angry. I knew the Nazis were horrible, but the Aryan soldier breeding program they recruited teenage girls for was nasty, only the actual holocaust was even worse.

    3. PX*

      Saw American Fiction this week and loved it (I’m Black so could relate to so much of it). Saw it at a local independent cinema who had some local folk come in and do an intro and Q&A after highlighting some themes that may not be so obvious (the class dynamics, aspects of colourism etc) and that was also a fun discussion.

    4. Gaming sparingly*

      Netflix focused response: Watched half of Don’t Look Up and loving it, and about a quarter through Bad Lands (jmovie) which seems promising. I want to binge My Demon and A Killer Paradox (kdramas) but forcing myself to finish one that finally got tagged “leaving soon” :’)

    5. TPS reporter*

      oh Fargo 5 was great, a return to form of earlier seasons.

      I like Mr and Mrs Smith and Ex Pats on prime. both are a little slower and quieter than what I expected. and I felt relieved by the pace. you really get time with the characters.

  37. Cat Adoption*

    I’m adopting a cat from a warm climate to a cooler climate. Recommendations for a self-warming cat bed? She’ll be in a drafty bathroom the first couple of days to quarantine from the current feline residents. My boys have thick winter coats this year and still complain about being cold, so I’m sure she’ll be freezing until she adapts.

    1. office hobbit*

      I have a couple of the self-warming mats from the K&H brand (the style with a fuzzy fabric outer layer that’s in gray/black or cream/brown). I got mine from Chewy where they’re only about $10-15. My older cat absolutely loves them. We’re in a temperate climate tho, so not sure if the effect will be as warming as you’re looking for. The same brand also makes a plug-in heating bed that doesn’t get too hot.

      1. osmoglossom*

        My cats love those. They also love the K&H Thermo-Kitty Mat that plugs in, also found on Chewy and Amazon.

    2. Still*

      I’ve never had cats so I’m curious: how can you tell when they’re cold? I imagine you could see them clinging to warmer areas, radiators etc. But how do you know that they complain specifically about the cold?

      I hope the warm-climate kitty does well and that they all get along well!

      1. Generic Name*

        They curl up into balls on the fluffiest surface in the house, snuggle together, form a catloaf on a heating vent, sit next to the heat vent on the heated tile in the bathroom, sit on a human lap.

      2. anon24*

        My boy cat buries himself completely beneath all the blankets in our bed, with maybe a paw or two out for temperature regulation. We’ve learned that when it’s cold inside we always have to check any blankets for him before we sit on them because we’ve definitely accidentally sat on top of him before. My girl loves the cold but if it gets to be too much she likes to lay on her window perch during the day with her belly to the sun and all 4 paws pushed against the window to keep them toasted; at night she’ll curl up in one of our sweatshirts or blankets.

      3. Ellis Bell*

        Ours tucks his paws in to make a cat loaf, and then tries to tuck his head underneath himself too, like a dove! Oh and this takes place in a chair he can burrow into, too.

    3. Kathenus*

      Mine hates those mats when I tried them, I think it’s because they can be a bit crinkly sounding? I’d suggest also making sure to get a covered cat bed option too in case she prefers to snuggle inside something. And maybe put it on top of a folded blanket or towel to insulate it better if the floor is cold.

    4. Squidhead*

      We have a couple of plug-in mats by Toozey. Not too expensive on Amazon. The cord is reinforced with plastic to reduce the risk of chewing. The controller allows us to set the temp and a duration for it to stay on, but if you don’t touch the timer button it will just stay on all the time. They have a washable cover but we put an extra layer of fleece around them because we have barfy and/or scooty cats (ick). All of our cats love them and prefer to spread out on them (so we have more than one even though each is more than big enough for the three cats). Our cats used to spend a lot of time in a pile on the couch in winter and now they don’t do that as much. In retrospect, we just thought it was cute but they were probably cold.

    5. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Can you get a sheepskin for her? Any piece of sheepskin- a coat collar, a sheepskin hat, a baby sheepskin, an off cut, etc – cats generally love them, and will knead and snuggle (and sometimes suckle) the wool, and they certainly will keep a cat warm inside a cardboard box or whatever private hidey place you make for her. I have found baby sheepskins in opshops/charity shops and they are treated to be easily washable. But ordinary sheepskin is washable with wool wash and the skin dries faster than you might expect. Do you know anyone with toddlers who might have outgrown having a sheepskin in their pusher/stroller, perhaps? Anyone with Ugg boots that aren’t worn anymore? – I made a possum pouch out of the sheepskin from an Ugg boot once, kept that little possum happy!

    6. DreamOfWinter*

      Adding my recommendation for the K&H products. I moved two semi-elderly cats from Southern CA to Maine, and they really appreciated having these in various places around the house. Even the Maine-born kittens seem to really enjoy them.

  38. Forensic13*

    My dog has started to wake me up in the middle of the night, every night. She doesn’t need to go to the bathroom, and at first she would go back to bed after we hung out for a little, but now she won’t let me go back to sleep at all.

    Any suggestions? Obviously I scheduled a vet appointment, and in the meantime we’re having her sleep downstairs with a gate in the way, but I’d love to be able to let her sleep in my room again!

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

      Have there been changes in her activity level during the day? Less OR more can affect their sleep cycle, and if you’re lucky, she just needs to readjust and this is temporary.

    2. Shiny Penny*

      How old, what breed, what history (social, nutrition)?
      One easy thing to try would be a trial of splitting up her food differently, so you can try giving her some food right before bed.
      One of my German Shepherds, at about age 5 or 7 (can’t remember exactly, but before he was really elderly) started vomiting in the middle of the night, EVERY night. I’d had him since he was a puppy, so I knew early social or nutritional trauma wasn’t a factor, and our vet found no issues. But feeding three meals, with the last right at bedtime, made the vomiting stop.
      Guess his stomach just didn’t like being empty all night.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My old buddy (he’s 13) started doing this a few years ago. I have spent way too many nights on the sofa. The vet finally told me to start him on gabapentin, especially since he has arthritis, and it was a huge help. The waking up was likely a combination of anxiety and discomfort or pain. He occasionally wakes me up in the middle of the night now, especially if I’ve been away from home for any period of time, and if he’s obviously uncomfortable he gets some more medicine. Usually he just wants me nearby– he’ll settle as soon as I’m on the sofa. Which isn’t the worst, but I’m a terrible sleeper anyway and it isn’t ideal.

      Other things we’ve tried (and still do): melatonin treats, CBD oil (on the melatonin treats), extra play time before bed (he likes to play tug), a little extra time on his nighttime walks. Also, we keep a dim light on all night so he doesn’t get scared of the dark. But honestly, the gabapentin was a lifesaver. As my vet pointed out, I need to sleep more than my dog does– he gets all day to nap, I don’t.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Check her diet.

      Peanut the cat was routinely waking me up in the middle of the night and refusing to settle down for at least two hours–jumping on me, demanding under the covers, leaping around the room. As it turned out, he not coincidentally had some pretty serious stomach issues at the same time–regularly barfing in the early morning hours.

      We took him in a few times and finally ended up switching up his food and not only has he not barfed again, he sleeps through the night like a baby. I couldn’t believe it at first and thought he was even sicker but no, he was just having a nice rest rather than an upset tummy.

      Definitely look into getting her onto an “easy digest” diet, even if she’s been “fine” with her usual food until now.

    5. Anono-me*

      Could it be an external issue?

      Do you have a working carbon monoxide detector?

      Do any nearby neighbors have pets that are going through the same thing?

      Do you have a new water softener or icemaker that cycles about when Pup wakes up?

      If you have shared walls, maybe it is something in the neighbor’s space (water softener/icemaker/robot vac/ baby) that is worrying Pup?

      Not to be alarmist, but could there be a prowler that is caseing the house or a neighbor’s?

  39. Dannie*

    My husband is staring down a possible hip replacement due to a failed pinning. He’s gone through a brutal recovery/PT over the past five months, and is still in constant pain. Starting over at ground zero is devastating.

    Any experiences to share regarding hip replacement for younger folks (he is 43) would be appreciated, particularly around recovery and mobility.

    1. sadness*

      I had a hip replacement at 55, but I don’t think the advice is different at any age. My advice is: see a sports-focused physiotherapist both before the surgery, to tone muscles (glutes, abs). And, see a sports-focused physio on schedule afterwards, I think I was supposed to start two weeks after. The docs said that 3 months is usual for physio afterwards, but I needed 5 months. Do what you gotta do. Also, it’s not completely pain-free afterwards (I say this from the perspective of years after), but I can do many of the things I want to – go for long walks, for medium bike-rides etc. And, it’s certainly not constant pain.

      I say sports-focused physio, because my experience with a sport-focused physio is that “of course you’re going to want to do all the sports after”, because that’s really the clients they see. As opposed to someone who feels that if you can go up and down a flight of stairs and walk for 20 min you’re done.

    2. Joyce Healy*

      My wife did a hip replacement two years ago at 44. Game changer. She was off the walker at day 10, driving at day 15, and hitting golf balls at 12 weeks. It has literally been one of the best things that we could possibly do for her health and mobility.

      I can add more when I’m back at a real keyboard, but do you have any specific questions?

    3. Pamela Adams*

      My sister-in-law had a replacement in her mid 50’s. She now is back to hiking and skiing with no issues.

    4. Melissa*

      My friend got hers done in her mid 40s and said it’s the best thing she’s ever done. She had been in pain for years. The recovery was pretty quick, her doctor had to keep telling her to slow down because she felt great and was so keen to get back to activities she’d missed. Hopefully it’s similarly life changing for your husband!

    5. Frieda*

      I had both hips done, about six months apart, at 37/38. I had the posterior approach (recommended by my very well-regarded surgeon) but I know several friends who chose the anterior approach because of a shorter recovery time. It’s not so uncommon for young-ish people to get hip replacements but a lot of the literature (including the “returning to intimacy” pamphlets) are made for people in their 60s+.

      I was in pretty solid shape each time at about six weeks post-op. Ten years out I feel great. I don’t run but I do everything else I want to do – yard work and gardening, walking, Nordic skiing. I don’t think I’ll ice skate again but I only did it occasionally so I don’t mind. There are a lot more adaptive options now for things like yoga, too.

      The initial recovery was made easier with the tools the surgeon’s office will likely recommend – a grabber, something to help with socks, etc. He may have all that stuff already from his prior surgery. I found that compression socks for athletes rather than the hospital-issue ones made me personally feel more like a young(er) person who’d had surgery than someone who had been in the hospital, which felt different somehow. I used a wheelchair (from Amazon) when I needed too and it was useful for carrying things on my lap around the house. The walker was pretty essential as well.

      I was a solo adult household and my kids were too young to drive so I had a lot of help getting groceries and stuff, and regular nurse visits to “check my blood” because I was on blood thinners, but it was also just to make sure I was alive and the household was functioning ok.

      Having a spouse will make all this easier for him! I am guessing that the pain medication he’ll get will be pretty tightly controlled; I was concerned about developing a dependence and was very vigilant about that, possibly more than was necessary. You might consider offering to help him keep track of his meds since it’s hard to do for the first week or two.

      I’m so sorry he’s facing more surgery, but IME a hip replacement can be a huge boost to your mobility. I have zero regrets. The initial day or two was challenging but honestly the recovery was pretty straightforward. I hope it goes well for him.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        I second the keeping track of meds. I had a knee replacement last year and my husband wrote down all my meds and the time I had to take them and checked them off. I felt like the first few weeks we were in the Land Where Time Has No Meaning, and it would’ve been super easy to lose track of when to take what.
        Good luck!

  40. Anon for this*

    Been debating posting this- but decided the hive mind always has good advice.
    I- along with a few others- was ousted from a craft group with no communication this week. This group has been having some major divisions for the last few months and quite honestly both myself and the others who were ousted were very close to resigning ourselves- may even have done it almost at the same time. However, what really fries me is Ifeel that when we “the disadants” talked about leaving, we all intended to do so graciously and communicate with the group like adults. It is almost a “you can’t fire me, I quit” situation. In some ways, I want to communicate my dissatisfaction with the way it was handled- but I don’t want back in the group anyhow! I also feel that there would be no apology for the way it was handled. I know discretion is the better part of valor- but wow- I really want to stick it to someone!

    1. Big sigh*

      While the feeling is understandable almost anything you say will just “prove” they were right to kick you all out.

    2. Rainy*

      I’d just consider the problem solved and shake their dust off my feet. If you and the other ousted folks get along, start your own, maybe.

      In situations like that, I think that living well is the best revenge.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Living well is the best revenge is always my go to!
        And start your own group that’s better than theirs.

        Some people are just weird. The town next to mine, same population, has THREE garden clubs to my town’s one because apparently no one in neighboring town knows how to get along!

    3. HannahS*

      Honestly? There’s nothing wrong with communicating your dissatisfaction. I’m not saying to rage, but writing an email talking about how ousting people without communicating anything isn’t in keeping with values of the group, and is, I don’t know, childish, petty, unprofessional behaviour? I think it’s reasonable. It might make you feel better.

        1. Pippa K*

          This is the way. And you might frame it (in writing or just for yourself) as a thank you note: “Thanks for the ousting – I’d been struggling with whether to continue in such a troubled/conflictual/whatever group or abandon it for something more pleasant, and your action has both solved that and confirmed my take on the problems I was seeing. Kind regards etc”. I suspect people who mean you to be dismayed and chastised by the dismissal would be disappointed that you’re actually fine with it :)

    4. Generic Name*

      Yeah, that sucks. I totally get the impulse to tell someone how shitty they are being. I’m in a situation where it would feel really great to just let loose on someone who has been a real pill to me, but other than momentary catharsis, no good would come of it. Generally, people who are immature/unreasonable/whatever are unaffected by someone pointing out to them that they are immature/unreasonable/whatever. And sometimes, you just end up looking like the unreasonable person. Maybe write a letter raging out all your feelings and then don’t send it.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Sometimes you’re basically hoping to get out there in the mud wallow with the pig, and then outdance it using the power of logic. It’s not going to play in meatspace the way it does in your head.

  41. ECHM*

    Not a question so much as a vent that hopefully will help some people, although stories and ideas are welcome … my sweet father-in-law has late-stage Alzheimer’s and a month ago we moved him into a wonderful facility. However, we are now realizing that he doesn’t have as much money as we thought he did (which wasn’t that much to begin with). So now we are having to use some of our own hard-earned money which is pretty tightly budgeted for our own expenses to pay off his credit cards and squirrel away more money in the event that he outlives all of his. All that to say … make sure your parents save for retirement and long-term care, or start setting aside some of your own money now for when that day comes …

    1. Maryn*

      I’m not an attorney, but do you have any legal obligation to pay his credit card debts? A phone call to a financial advisor would tell you, possibly without charge if it’s just a simple question. You may well feel a moral obligation to settle his debts while he is living, but if it’s something you cannot afford, I hope you’ll reconsider.

      1. ECHM*

        Thanks so much for your encouraging words! At this point he’s only making minimum payments but that’s all coming out of his savings which also pays for his care, so we were hoping that if we personally got rid of a couple of the “ankle-biters” we could reduce those minimum payments. Also, apparently a debt collector is allowed to garnish more than two months’ worth of benefits, so we don’t want to get into that kind of situation.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Be sure to start looking into Medicaid now, even if his assets aren’t spent down yet. The paperwork can take forever.

    2. Juneybug*

      Remember that you are never responsible for your parents’ debt (in the US) soo please talk to an attorney first. You might find out that your father in law is “judgement-proof”.
      If your partner is co-signer on the accounts, see if you can negotiate with the credit card companies. You might be able to defer payments, lower interest rates, or reduced balances, or pay a lump sum.
      Good luck!

    3. Anono-me*

      Please find a financial planner /lawyer that specializes in elder family care.

      Is bankruptcy an option? I think credit card debt is typically unsecured.

      Can you use some of your FIL’s resources to prepay a small burial?

      Whatever you do, please be careful not to assume legal responsibility for any of FIL ‘s debt.

      Wishing you all strength and endurance during this hard stretch.

  42. HannahS*

    Any potty-training advice? How did you do it, and how long did it take?

    Due to external stressors in my life, I haven’t done my usual “read 5 books about a topic and thoughtfully synthesize it into a unified message that matches our own family values and priorities” so we’re going off of what I dimly remember reading in “Oh Crap” when I read it a year ago and what the daycare told us to do. Hah! Basically we put toddler on the potty 1-2 times an hour, in addition before leaving our apartment, and on return. Lots of cheering when she gets it, and when she doesn’t, just a calm reminder that we don’t pee in our pants, we pee in the toilet.

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Just remember it is a really complex task with a lot of steps, and kids are not going to master it in a day no matter what the books promise. Kindness and consistency are key, and definitely not high pressure. If you have an older child, see if the older child is comfortable “demonstrating” and showing the younger one how it works. (and if they’re not, don’t push them to do it)
      I just feel in our society we are all pretty private about it, so when we start trying to teach a toddle what they need to do, they may never have seen it done! Combine that with pressure to master it fast and it can really be tough for the kid.

    2. MP*

      Good luck!! We did Oh Crap but honestly unless you’re having issues I don’t think it’s necessary to reread it. There are plenty of articles online that summarize it pretty quick and I believe the Oh Crap website has some resources also. It took us the 3 days and I only loosely followed the steps. I also did mini m&ms as a reward. I know the parenting experts would come after me for that, but it worked and nothing bad happened. After the three days there were minimal accidents that decreased in frequency as time went on. Hope it goes smoothly :) well as smooth as anything with a toddler can go.

    3. Double A*

      I for some reason found potty training super stressful with my first. I don’t remember why but the books didn’t help. Also she peed (and still pees) like twice a day so it was super hard to catch her in the act which is what the advice was all about. She also didn’t understand bribes. I tried and gave up once. I don’t even remember how we eventually got it.

      With my second, I showed him that sitting on the potty = get a skittle. The I took his pants off and watched him. When he peed, I took him to the potty and showed him that peeing on the potty = get a skittle. He figured it out in about 3 hours and potty trained in about 3 days for pee, a week for poop. We still put him in diapers at night, nap, and when we’re out and about. We haven’t trained him to use big potties yet. He was also a little older (2.5) than my daughter when we first tried, though they both were about 2.5 when they got it.

      Basically kids are really different. But from my recent experience, I recommend starting with bribes and no pants. If that works, then it’s easy.

    4. Perpetua*

      I’m not sure how old your kid is, but what worked best for us was sort of backing off and letting her take the lead. I did the whole “research to death” version of what you describe, and often came across the message that around 2,5 years +/- 3 months was supposedly the “best” way to do it, so it was a low-key stressor on my mind as we were approaching first that 2y3m mark. So I put it out there as an idea for my daughter, she seemed somewhat interested, we set a date (and anchored it to our return from a vacation so that she’d be able to tell as well) and off we went.

      Aaaaand it was a crapshoot. I think she maybe went near the potty once, but then refused to even go near it again, kept complaining about being naked, kept peeing all over the place. That went on for 2-3 days, then we all got Covid and I figured it we’d just give it a rest for a while. So back to diapers we went.

      And then, some 6 months later, so when she was around 2y8m, she read a storybook with peeing in the potty a few times, expressed a desire to go to the potty by herself, did it once or twice and the third day she asked to wear panties and not diapers. And that was basically it, she took to it wonderfully, with almost no accidents. I was even a bit taken aback by how smoothly it went then, and I was just so relieved that this big “thing” was solved without many actual issues.

      I remember Oh Crap not really feeling right to me because I felt it lacked nuance and it seemed VERY strict, like you would be ruining a kid if you didn’t stay extremely “sturdy”, and GOD FORBID you went back to diapers if it didn’t seem to be working out. Whereas in reality, for the wast majority of my friends and their kids, the process was much less straightforward than it was described in such books, and usually it involved some going back and forth. And all the kids were actually fine in the end. :D

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Yeah, I liked Oh Crap before I started training because it felt very straightforward and no-nonsense, then when I was struggling during the process and going back to re-read it’s straight up mean. Like “sorry, but if you’re giving up after XYZ happens you’re a shitty parent and need to toughen up” type messaging.

        I don’t really have advice, just empathy. First kid it was so challenging and stressful, second kid it just kind of happened. I hope it goes well for you!

      2. Rainy*

        What storybook? I’m about to become an aunt (twice!) and the SIL I’m close to has expressed some anxiety about potty-training already, so if there are storybooks that introduce the topic I’d like to keep them in mind so I can gift them.

        1. Wormentude*

          We have a fun one called No More Nappies that has flaps and moving bits. There’s a whole series that covers things like nursery, dentist, doctor, new baby, etc. and all the ones we have had were great. They also include some really low key tips for parents.

          1. Rainy*

            Oh, thank you! I’ve put it on my gift idea list with a note to gift it in a year or so :) The series looks really good too!

    5. Rara Avis*

      My kiddo took (and put on) a classmate’s underpants out of the cubby at daycare, and the teacher told us, “They’re telling you they’re ready to potty train.” Being in daycare actually made it pretty easy because they had kids to copy. They were pretty close to 3, I think, because I wasn’t in a hurry to start. I did stress a little about them being in pull-ups at night for a long time, but luckily that got resolved before they got invited to their first sleepover. And I knew from chaperoning 6th graders on trips that some bodies are still not ready at 11.

    6. Dinwar*

      We got a toddler potty and put it in the bathroom, and every time we went there we’d bring the kid in. It seems weird, but everything about parenting an infant/toddler is weird so we rolled with it. Got him some picture books to look at, and praised him when he went potty in the toilet. Lots of accidents at first, but it’s a skill, and you need to practice it like any other. The others had him to copy, and learned fairly quickly.

      One thing we learned: Our son did NOT like the potty that cheered when he peed in it. He freaked out and refused to use it until we demonstrated that we’d disconnected that part. Every kid is different, of course; yours may enjoy it. But it probably set us back a few weeks while we convinced him it was safe to use!

      The other thing to remember is a piece of advice a friend of our gave us: You’re going to ruin your child’s life a dozen times a day. What she meant was, everyone has their own theory on how to raise kids, and insists that theirs is The One True Way. And it’s a load of bovine byproduct. Every child is different, and you need to work with your kid. If one method doesn’t work, try something else! Humans have nearly infinite variability, and I consider it more shameful to refuse to acknowledge this self-evident fact than to fail at some rigid set of instructions.

    7. Lilo*

      So the naked part of “Oh Crap” did not work for my son, he just peed on the floor. I just switched him to cloth training pants (so he could feel when he had an accident), took him potty regularly and within a week he was fully pee trained during the day (poop takes longer, as does night training). It helped my son’s daycare was closed that week because of a COVID spread. We just took him back to daycare next week in training pants with a ton of extra clothes.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      We found that pull-ups were counter productive with oldest, as she dubbed them “mouse diap-ies” and found them a fetchingly licensed character step up from normal diapers. She did not associate them with underwear.

      • Lots of opportunities.
      • Exciting underwear and boring diapers.
      • Peer pressure. I heard of a daycare that accidentally potty trained the whole class via one boy deciding he was now going to wear underwear, and the rest promptly decided that was what they were all doing. In the Stone Soup cartoon, Max is potty trained via a combination of wanting to be cool like his 15 year old cousin, superhero-themed underpants, and Cheerios in the toilet to aim at. (That last doesn’t work for girls.)

    9. Emma*

      I strongly recommend reading Lucie’s List’s online summary of potty training methods. It’s not very long, and I found it soooo helpful in figuring out what to do. I didn’t have capacity for a whole book- that blog post was perfect.

      good luck!

    10. Good and Ready*

      With my kid, NOTHING worked until he was good and ready. He didn’t care a wink if he ran around with soiled or wet underwear, would have peed on everything in the house if we had let him, fought tooth and nail about going anywhere else in the middle of whatever he was doing, refused chocolate and even high profile rewards of any sort. It sounds like we were torturing him, but really we just tried a few things like one does. He was in other ways such a chill kid that it was very clear that it wasn’t going to work. Ok. He was late to it, but when he proved during a vacation that he could hold in the pee for a couple minutes if he wanted to, I knew it was time. I made another push and it worked beautifully. At that point, he was very receptive to rewards and celebration, didn’t like peed pants and was even willing to leave what he was doing. That last one didn’t last though: a month or two later, after being out of diapers for that long, he decided that he could wait and wait and wait and wait in order to avoid having to change what he was doing until he had to go so bad that even running flat out he wouldn’t make it and pee went everywhere. At that point I took a stricter tack-every hour, on the hour, sit for a minute. If something comes, great, if not, also great. He hated that (I did too), but it solved the problem for us after a few days. Good luck!

      1. Good and Ready*

        I should add, there was some significant time between attempts. Like more than six months, maybe even an year, between the first go and the last one that worked…

    11. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      This is not actually a recommendation. More of a useful outer bound.

      My friend growing up was one of nine children. On the first few, her mom did the standard potty training. It was tough and stressful for her and the kids and she hated it. So by the 7th or 8th, she stopped potty training them. Instead, the kids potty trained themself-they were told they could start using the toilet whenever they were ready. And they did! There was a lot of peer pressure from the siblings and a kind of passive aggressive pressure about still using the diapers.

      Like I said, I can’t recommend this method. For starters, I think it works better on a kid with half a dozen big siblings instead of an oldest child. And I think the whole passive aggressive part wasn’t the best. But the lesson is: this method WORKED. And if this worked, whatever you end up doing will work for you too.

    12. allathian*

      Our son learned to pee in the potty when he was about two and a half. He was in daycare, and around that age the kids went on the potty a few times a day as soon as they showed any interest and even if they were wearing diapers.

      He learned to do without diapers at night before he managed a full day without peeing his pants. I have one of those rare kids who never once wet the bed…

      It did take an additional six months before he learned to poop in the potty, he said he hated the smell. When he started going on the toilet, he hated the splash sound for months.

      He’s a fastidious kid, though, and after missing the toilet a few times he started to pee sitting down. It runs in the family, my dad’s always preferred to pee sitting down and now he’s so unsteady on his feet that it’s the safer option by far.

    13. MaryLoo*

      Much of this is developmental. Realizing you are peeing right now, and being aware that you are going to need to pee soon, are two different things. Each kid is different, and reach these abilities at different times. And often a kid develops in one skill area, then a different area. I had a “late” potty trainer who actually told me, sad and whimpering, “I don’t like big kid pants”. It seemed that kiddo (who had just turned 3), could not recognize needing to pee soon, but knew only after it happened. (We had been encouraging the potty, offering rewards, etc with no luck.) We told kiddo it was ok to wear diapers and let us know when big kid pants were ok. After that, any peeing or pooping in the diaper was dealt with matter-of-factly with no discussion. A couple of months later, kiddo woke up one morning and announced “No more diapers -I want big kid pants”.
      After that, kiddo had only ONE accident, and that was during a bout of strep throat.

      We were lucky that kiddo’s preschool had changed their policy of kids needing to be trained by two-and-a-half. Some kids aren’t ready at that age.

  43. trust me I'm a PhD*

    Recommendations for a cheap pair of bluetooth in-ear ear pods for an iPhone? I have some dental work coming up and would like to listen to an audiobook through it but the dental work is expensive enough without spending a tenth of my paycheck on iPods.

    1. Rainy*

      I bought a pair of Panasonic earpods and they work just fine with my iPhone. I got them on Woot actually–I had to watch the site for a little bit but got them at a great price.

    2. Hatchet*

      Mee audio pebbles on Amazon are about $20. I have a pair and feel like they’re a great product for the price. They connect easily via Bluetooth.

    3. ?*

      I use the Heydey (think that’s the spelling) in-house Target brand. I like them both because they’re cheap and because they’re linked by a cord so if I take them out, they can just hang around my neck and I feel like they’re less likely to get lost. Not sure if you want that style but I like, for example, being able to take one out (like to talk to someone) and have it just hang there instead of holding it.

    4. Emma*

      I like my jlab ear buds! I have one pair that was like $50 or $60 that is a bit more polished, and another pair that was like $15 that is ok that I keep at work, and use regularly.

    5. Twitchy Bird*

      I got a pair of Drsaec Bluetooth earbuds a year ago and have been very happy with them. Sound quality is good, battery life is amazing, and they cost me less than £20 on Amazon.

    6. Angstrom*

      I bought my partner an inexpensive bluetooth receiver to convert their favorite wired headphones to wireless for use during craft work. Seems to be working well.

    7. Alex*

      I bought a pair of cheap-ish ear pods on Amazon three years ago and they are still going strong with fairly frequent use. It seems the exact ones I bought are no longer available, but really I just picked out something with a bunch of stars that was about 30 bucks. It looks like there are tons and tons of these for sale that all look the same and I’m betting they ARE the same. I like the ones with the over the ear clip (I have weird shaped inner ears and nothing stays in my ear canal without help). Apple ear pods are a ripoff in my opinion! The 30 dollar ones work just as well.

  44. Cheeruson*

    After quite a few conversations with friends where all of us have family members with mental health issues, the question came up about whether there are any support groups for families like us. Similar to AlAnon?

      1. Bluebell*

        Most NAMI chapters offer a very worthwhile course for family members of people with mental illness. I took it several years ago, and one of the most valuable things was being able to talk over various situations, and hearing from others.

    1. PanamaHat*

      It sounds like what you are looking for is Adult Children of Alcoholics & Dysfunctional Families. It’s a 12 step group like Al Anon but for people who grew up in families with dysfunction for any reason, alcohol, drug abuse, mental illness, etc. My parents weren’t alcoholics but do have mental illness and I found attending the group to be very helpful.

  45. funkytown*

    Any advice for asking a new friend out on a date? We clicked pretty quickly and I totally have a crush but I am not sure if the vibes are only me… I’d like to ask them out on an actual date/make my interest more clear, but I genuinely want to stay friends regardless of the answer and I’m overthinking the whole thing. Would love to hear about times friendships survived a crush confession, and/or meet-cute stories!

    1. David*

      Unfortunately I can’t give you the advice you’re looking for – this has never worked out for me – but good luck :-) If nothing else, a random internet stranger is rooting for you!

      I guess I do have one thing to suggest you consider: can the friendship survive you not asking them out? I mean, if you decide not to go for it, would you be able to bury your crush enough to be okay with doing normal friend things with this person over the course of months or years or however long you might stay friends? As much as people might like to think the answer to that should always be “yes”… sometimes it’s not. And if not, the friendship is probably doomed either way, so you might as well make the most of your chance before things fall apart. (Plus, if your situation is anything like the one I had, you’ll feel less crappy about it in the long run knowing that you took your best shot at making a relationship happen.)

    2. Gaming sparingly*

      Hmmmm. Rock of salt as I haven’t dated in eons, but I’d advise to wait a bit longer if the friendship really is that new? However, that could be my oblivious demiromantic gray ace speaking. But yes to being clear about your interest! Whenever you choose to share. (Also why I suggest waiting, to see how the friendship develops first.) I hope more people chime in with advice for you. Good luck!

    3. Aniima*

      If you both (!) can handle this like adults, use your words. If they also feel the same, great! Have a try and if it works out, perfect! :) And if it doesn’t work out, see the following advice.
      If they do not feel the same, this will only work when handled with no hard feelings. I only ever saw it working once, and both people talked it out, took a short break from each other and reconnected as friends again, still being friends to this day.
      The key really is handling it in an adult, calm fashion. Hurt feelings need time to heal, and an ongoing crush is hard to hide, one really needs to get over it a bit first before the friendship can bloom.

    4. Helvetica*

      The only advice I’d add is to not wait too long. I was on the other side of being asked out but the guy had been in love with me for a year, pining away, so his feelings ran deep and when I was not interested in taking it beyond friendship, I know it hurt him a lot. We are still friends, 15 years later, but it was definitely hard on him, and I’d have understood if he’d cut off contact too.
      So – go for it before you’re too far gone and you can still reasonably well continue being friends, if it doesn’t work out. I hope it will, though!

    5. InkyFingers*

      Why not make it a low-key invite to start: “Hey, there’s this cool coffee shop, wanna meet for a cuppa Saturday afternoon?”

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Except that’s so low-key as to not actually convey “potential interest in more than just friends.” Like, I just had a random stranger on our neighborhood free stuff Facebook community go “You’re neat, we should get coffee sometime,” because that’s just a thing that people do. It sounds like funkytown is already at the friends stage with this individual and is looking to possibly escalate that.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Friendship surviving a crush confession: A friend asked me out ten years ago, and I said thanks but I’m not interested in dating anybody any time soon, and he said “Ok, ball’s in your court,” and it never came up again. We’ve lost contact now, but it didn’t have anything to do with that instance.

      I don’t know if this really counts as a meet-cute, but my husband and I met and were friends for like 12 years before we realized we were both interested in each other. In fact, I was present at his first wedding with my then-fiance-now-ex-husband, and he and his first wife were invited (but didn’t make it due to distance) to my wedding to said ex-husband. When I got divorced, I moved to where I had a bunch of friends, including now-husband and his then-wife, and also the guy who crush-confessed me. Husband and his then-wife separated and divorced over the course of the next year or so (unrelated to me, they’d already been struggling and her insistence that she was never going to live in the US again didn’t help), and he crashed with my roommate and I for a while afterwards while he was sorting his life out, and he actually just never left. I had adopted his dog while they were living overseas for her work, and when he came back and was staying with us, I told him he couldn’t have my dog back, so now we joke that he married me for the dog.