weekend open thread – April 13-14, 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: The Husbands, by Holly Gramazio. A woman discovers that the ladder to her attic produces a seemingly endless supply of husbands. I didn’t know where this was going at first, but it ended up being surprisingly engrossing.

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

{ 1,088 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    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 what happened to me today” personal-blog-style posts are not. We also can’t do medical advice here.

    Please give the full rules a re-read if it’s been a while!

  2. Cookie Monster*

    I JUST saw The Husbands for the first time at a bookstore. I read the jacket copy and was intrigued. Good to know it’s recommended!

      1. PhyllisB*

        Amen!! We’ll be married 48 years in November, and I love him, but one is definitely enough!!

      2. Fried Rice*

        Agree to this. I love the one I’ve had for 34 years, never doing this again. I’d move out of that house SO FAST.

    1. Still*

      “Produces a seemingly endless supply of husbands”? What a way to say a lot and explain absolutely nothing at all. When do they pop up? And what on Earth happens to the previous ones? (Don’t answer.)

    2. Not A Manager*

      I’m about half way through and really enjoying it. I will say that I’m more intrigued by the lifestyle implications of how she obtains/disposes of the husbands than I am by the limitless husbands themselves.

      It’s still a fun book though, and to me at least, is an obvious metaphor for our endlessly-online-dating society.

  3. Jackalope*

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

    I’ve been reading what I think is HM Long’s first book, Hall of Smoke. Has anyone else read her books? It started off too grim for me but I’ve kept going and I’m starting to enjoy it. A little over halfway through and I’m pushing to finish it since it’s due back at the library.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Rereading A Jane Austen Education and Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession at work (quite the combo.) I’m still working on Fourteen Days and enjoying it at night, my breakfast read is Dirty Old London, and still got a pile by the bedside to work through.

    2. Teapot Translator*

      I read the Ancillary trilogy by Ann Leckie. Loved the first one, disappointed by the other two. Not sure what I’ll read next. I have a dozen of books from the library and I’m leaving on my trip in three weeks!

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Reading The Monsters We Defy, a magical heist set in the Black neighborhoods of 1920s DC. Really good story (I’m not quite done) and a wonderful sense of place. The magic is rooted in the folklore about how if you approach a crossroads at midnight, and someone whose face you can’t quite make out calls you by name and asks your heart’s desire–that’s not going to end well for you.

      Main character is Clara Johnson, who is in fact based on a real person. She has second sight, and four years back made a deal with a spirit to broker deals between the spirits and desperate people.

      When poor folks start to go missing, she teams up with a musician who can charm people with music, an actor who can embody any character, a soldier who can manipulate memories to recover from PTSD, and Zelda, who has no magical powers. Zelda was sold to the circus at age six and seems to have taken that as a baseline for the level of excitement her life will maintain. (I love Zelda.)

      1. Annie Edison*

        Can I ask- is it magical like adventure magical, or magical like spooky/creepy? My brain doesn’t do well with anything even remotely scary but this sounds delightful

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Magical like on top of the mundane world there are spirits of various forms (ghosts, entities with powers, entities where we’re not sure what they are) who can have some effect on the human world. Scary in the sense of there being a powerful entity whose motivations in dealing with you you don’t really understand, but there are plenty of human examples of those in the book.

          Clara having second sight can see them, but using that power tends to draw attention from them that she doesn’t want. She often talks with her grandmother’s ghost, who checks on things Over There. (Farther than Clara can See.)

          I’d say it would fit your criteria, being more an element of this world that Clara is equipped to deal with. I don’t think it skirts the line toward horror at all.

      2. Fellow Traveller*

        I loved this book! I first borrowed it on audio, finished it and loved it so much that I borrowed the ebook to read. I’m not a re-reader, but I just wanted to soak up this book again right away. The audio book narrator is fantastic.

      3. GoryDetails*

        Adding “Monsters We Defy” to my wishlist, thanks! (The bit about the crossroads reminded me of Seanan McGuire’s “Ghost Roads” books, starting with “Sparrow Hill Road” – lots of linked stories about road-related afterlife, from hitchhiking ghosts to the perilous crossroads…)

    4. Bluebell Brenham*

      I just finished How Can I help You by Laura Sims. Creepy but fun tale of a murderous nurse who starts a new life as a small town librarian, and the struggling author who has suspicions about her. About to start Dulce Sloan’s nonfiction Hello Friend. I also read Butcher and Blackbird which was a very weird serial killer love story. Definitely wasn’t my cup of tea.

      1. Atheist Nun*

        I really enjoyed How Can I Help You. I am a librarian who works with nurses. I thought the book would be a standard thriller, but instead the author co-opted that genre to offer something much more interesting: a character analysis of two bonkers people that explores the nature of power in “feminine” professions (nursing and librarianship) and the darker side of writing.

      2. GoryDetails*

        OK, adding “How Can I Help You” to my wishlist as well – perhaps to pass along to my friend the librarian {grin}.

    5. Annie Edison*

      I’m reading River Spirit by Leila Aboulela, which uses multiple perspectives to depict Sudan during the Mahdist wars in the 1880s (which, to be totally honest, I knew absolutely nothing about before picking up this book).

      The prose is gorgeous and I mostly like the multiple perspective story telling. It’s roughly chronological but each chapter switches to the viewpoint of a different character. It made it a little hard to get into at first but it’s really fascinating to see the political situation described by both men and women on different sides of the conflict.

      I’ve been struggling a little the last few chapters with some unexpectedly violent moments, which I guess I should have seen coming given that’s it’s during a revolution, but in the first half, we mostly hear about the conflict at a distance, or from the viewpoint of a child who is affected but removed from the worst of the violence, and then all of a sudden it’s very up close and personal with unflinching descriptions of deaths and hostages suffering. I think the effect was intentional, I just wasn’t quite emotionally prepared for it.

      All that to say- very much recommend for learning new perspectives and a part of history I’ve never been taught

    6. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I’m too fried for new books right now, but I’m listening to the Chronicles of Prydain books in the car and that’s been an enjoyable re-visit of a childhood favorite so far. I read those books at least once a year for quite a few years growing up, but haven’t given them a re-read since the last time my print copies got boxed up for a move, whichever move that was.

      (I’m really, really bad at audio processing, so I only listen to audiobooks that I’ve read before as text, usually multiple times, so it’s ok if I miss parts of them.)

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      My library audiobook of “The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi” expired and the hold list to get it back is so long (like, months) I just bought a copy on Kindle so I could finish it that way. About 30% into it and it’s so good.

      I just started “Last Night at the Telegraph Club” on audiobook today and it’s also great so far!

    8. Lemonwhirl*

      Finished “The Golem of Brooklyn”, which was great.

      Now reading “The Princess of Las Vegas” by Chris Bohjalian. It’s about a woman who has a residency as a Princess Diana tribute act in a down-at-the-heels off-the-Strip Vegas casino. There’s also murder, cryptocurrency, an unhinged right-wing US House Rep, and a semi-estranged sister and her newly adopted teenage daughter. Interesting read so far, and I’m curious about how all the disparate threads are going to come together.

      Audiobook-wise, I am listening to “The Great Alone” by Kristin Hannah, which is about a family in the 1970s who inherit a remote homestead in Alaska. Good so far.

    9. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      On my commute, I’m listening to the M.Y.T.H. Adventures by Robert Asprin. I had read them many years ago and they are currently free on Audible if you have an active subscription. Light reading and just engaging enough to be not a risk in traffic (I use a bicycle helmet with built-in mini bluetooth speakers that do not cover the ears so I can still hear ambulance sirens etc.)

    10. Makare*

      I just got the new graphic novel of Watership Down yesterday, so I spent the evening devouring that—the illustrations are so beautiful! And the story is just as good as I remembered. Also reading A City On Mars by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith, about how settling space is actually maybe probably not something we will actually be able to do in the near or medium term. It’s written to be quite entertaining and engaging but also very informative, from two space nerds who did a lot of research. Also illustrations (Zach is the artist behind the SMBC webcomic). And I’m listening to Longbourn by Jo Baker (a reread) for some Jane Austen vibes :)

      (I was worrying to myself the other day that I don’t read outside of my preferred genre of fantasy/sci-fi very much, but this made me realize that I think I’m doing just fine on that front haha)

      1. Andromeda*

        I haven’t read or seen Watership Down but as an emotional animal girlie as a kid (and slightly less emotional animal girlie now) I think now might be the right time for me to try! Have you read the original, and which would you say was the better experience for a new reader?

        1. word nerd*

          I haven’t read the graphic novel myself, but as someone who recently reread the original Watership Down and discovered that it was still amazing, I am so excited (and a little envious) for you to read it for the first time! I have to admit it’s hard for me to imagine anything better than the original book.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        A couple of weeks ago SMBC had a cartoon that was like “So the men got in touch with their inner cavemen, and formed a society based on reciprocal help.” Which, yes, is what the actual cavemen were doing!

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Who published that Watership Down graphic? That’s Husband’s favorite book and he’s a webcomic artist, so this would be great for his birthday!

    11. BlueMeeple*

      I started reading The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi, after it being requested from the library for months, and I’m loving it so far. The details, the letters and documents, the tone of writing – it’s excellent! ( The recommendation was from one of these threads, so thank you! :) )

    12. Atheist Nun*

      As part of my goal of reading books set in Scotland before a vacation there in late May/early June, I finished and adored Douglas Stuart’s second book, Young Mungo. It filled me with wonder that he can write so beautifully about brutality and violence.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I’m reading the Antique Hunter’s Guide to Murder by C. L. Miller. I’m enjoying it, but I looked at a few of the reviews on Goodreads before I started (I do that sometimes to see if my opinion will agree with the majority. It doesn’t sway me, just curious.) The reviews were all over the place from DNF to five stars. I will probably give it three stars. I’m liking it but it’s not the best thing I ever read.
        Sounds like it might be the start of a series. We shall see.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        Love this book so so so so much! Reminds me of all that is good and kind and beautiful in the world

    13. word nerd*

      I forget who recommended Improbable Libraries here last week, but I really like it so far.

      Since a couple people have mentioned Amina al-Sirafi, I read it a couple weeks ago and enjoyed the adventure too.

      I loved The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo recently, which affirmed that I really do like her writing sometimes, even if others have been a miss for me. Like there are certain ones with a Wes Anderson vibe that feel too contrived to me and then it’s hard for me to become emotionally invested in characters that feel too stiff or artificial.

      I’m in the middle of Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek right now, and it’s fantastic so far. Well-written musings on nature and life, yes please.

    14. GoryDetails*

      Audiobook: “Rolling in the Deep” by Mira Grant, narrated by Teri Schnaubelt. It’s a prequel to Mira Grant’s “Into the Drowning Deep,” and covers the events on the ship whose entire crew disappeared while on an expedition in search of mermaids. I’m finding it intriguing so far, despite knowing how things are going to turn out.

      Several non-fiction books in progress:

      “Spine Poems” by Annette Dauphin Simon, “An Eclectic Collection of Found Verse for Book Lovers” – with handsome photos of the book-spine poems, plus marginal notes featuring details about each poem.

      “Gods and Mortals: Modern Poems on Classical Myths”; so far I’ve found a few poems that I’d already read, including Yeats’ “Leda and the Swan,” and quite a few that are new to me.

      “Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind the Rhyme” by Chris Roberts, speculations on the origins of various nursery rhymes – sometimes with sound historical basis, sometimes purely for fun.

    15. RussianInTexas*

      The latest book in the Adam Lapid series by Jonathan Dunsky, set in the post-WW2 Israel (early 1950s), mainly Tel-Aviv.
      The main character is a private detective, a former police officer in Hungary, who ended up in Israel after the war, in which his family was exterminated in Auschwitz, but he survived. He solves various crimes.
      It’s an interesting slice of history, but it’s also a heavy read in places, given the time and place and history.

            1. RussianInTexas*

              No, but this is book #8 and there aren’t any noticeable anti/Palestinian/Arab tones in them. It’s mostly limited to Tel Aviv anyway (one of the books had a missing Palestinian girl), and a lot of dealing with black market, non existent economy, influx of refugees without a place for them to live, bad feelings about reparations from Germany, the main character’s struggles with his past, etc.

            2. Pippa K*

              Yeah, I’m puzzled by the idea that the early 50s were “decades before conflict” – even 1948 was hardly the starting point of conflict.

              I’ve read some good Israeli murder mysteries too, mind you, and I don’t think every Israeli novel has to be about this conflict, but that’s a pretty…ahistorical take at best.

        1. fish*

          I see you are only asking that about Israeli books…interesting.

          No other book on this thread has people interrogating them on if it’s “balanced”.

          Literature is…literature.

    16. Nervous Nellie*

      Two for me this week. Book 4 of Canadian author Margaret Laurence’s Manawaka series, A Bird in the House. A college prof sulkily called this series, “Lives of Miserable Women,” but each one is more dazzling than the last, and they, and she, are considered Canadian treasures. These intertwined stories about women who are all from the same town are must-reads.

      And I am rereading Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women, by Elizabeth Wurtzel. She was a journalist & music critic and then started writing a series of articles about women’s issues (with a lot about her own messy life mixed in). She passed away far too young, and I miss her toughness and rabble rousing. She was her title. I can’t think of a comparable living author. I would have loved to hear her thoughts on the last few years.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I always enjoyed Wurtzel’s work, in particular More, Now, Again, about her addiction problems with Adderall.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Agreed! Critics loathed that one as trite and self-absorbed, but I really heard her pain and loneliness, and defensive defiance in it. So many reviewers called it self-congratulatory, and I sure hope they never have family or friends with this struggle.

      2. word nerd*

        Hey Nellie, have you read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by any chance? I feel like it could be a book you’d like based on some of the other books you’ve mentioned before, but if I’m completely off, feel free to tell me so. :P

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Hi, wn! Thanks, I have indeed read it and several other Dillard books. You are spot on – I do love quiet, rural tales. I’m touched that you thought of me!

    17. RagingADHD*

      Rejoined the local Jane Austen Bookclub and am reading Mansfield Park. I kind of thought I had read it before, but no. It’s wonderful!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        That’s my favorite Austen! Have you read A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz? It’s great and I love his Mansfield Park chapter in particular (although I am much fonder and more sympathetic to Fanny.) I admire Austen’s tackling of how difficult it can be to sympathize with a shy and introverted person because of their discomfort with just about any interaction, but that they are just as likely to be fascinating and complex as more “charming” types.

        1. word nerd*

          Not the OP, but I think you’re the first person I’ve run across who’s also read A Jane Austen Education! I liked his book Excellent Sheep better, but I had to read A Jane Austen Education since I had taken one of his English classes back when he was teaching at Yale and I’m a giant Austen fan. Although admittedly Mansfield Park is one of my least favorite Austens because I had trouble relating to Fanny.

      2. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        I’m reading a spinoff of Mansfield Park right now, Edmund Bertram’s Diary by Amanda Grange. Basically gives Edmund’s perspective for the events in Mansfield Park. Pretty good, but Edmund is annoying as he writes about his infatuation with Mary Crawford.

    18. Elizabeth West*

      I just read this crazy horror novel called Infection by Scott Sigler, about weird sentient triangles that take people over. I like to read on the bus and train since I can’t do anything else, so I’m sure people thought I was nuts because I couldn’t help laughing out loud at the bonkers parts. It was fun — now I have to see what happens in the next book.

      Also finished How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi and am working my way through Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.

      1. Saturday*

        If I saw you on the bus or train, I would totally get it because that happens to me while reading all the time! :)

    19. Workerbee*

      I snapped up “Plain Bad Heroines” by Emily M Danforth. As in actually bought vs solely reading through Libby or the physical library.

      I did start with Libby once it came off hold, but the beginning just didn’t suit me, so I let it linger before returning to it. Once past that intro, it clicked for me with a vengeance! But, alas, I then had just a day to get through over 1,000 pages, and the hold times were months out again. I made it to something like 818 pages but had already ordered it from Amazon, so finished it the next day. Now rereading the beginning and I like it much better.

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        I looooved “Plain Bad Heroines”. I listened to the audiobook a couple of years ago, and also struggled to get into it, but when it clicked for me, then it really clicked.

    20. What the what*

      I appreciate hearing about authors new to me. I’ll have to check out HM Long. I’m currently reading the latest by Tana French, The Hunter. It’s a follow up to The Searcher. LOVE her books and her character development.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Witches Abroad is one of my favorite Discworld books! The scene with Greebo and the vampire had me howling – but it also has some very poignant bits in among the humor.

    21. goddessoftransitory*

      Does anyone else end up with a list of at least five titles per week at the end of this thread? Still more to add to the pile!

      1. SarahKay*

        Me, definitely. I specifically open an Amazon and a Kobo tab as soon as I get to this thread, knowing I’ll want to add books to my wishlists.

      2. Reluctant Mezzo*

        At least. That’s how I ended up reading The Wife App. There were 23 people in line for the e-book and no one in line for the deadtree. I can do that math!

    22. DaBookLady*

      Audiobook: Going Postal by Terry Pratchett
      We’d watched the movie (miniseries?) a few weeks ago and thought the book would be fun to listen to while on a road trip. Highly recommend, was a lot of fun. Had a more than a few laugh/giggle/snort out loud moments. But now I’ve got the urge to read/listen to more Discworld books.

      1. Freya's Cats*

        Oh, they are wonderful, and if you read them chronologically they get better and better. (and also there is a lot of running gags that keep evolving). I’ll repeat the often given advice but to start with the very first ones, they were written as parodies in the age of Conan the Barbarian and might not resonate with everyone and not his best work. Mort, however, is an absolute classic and a good place to start.

      2. GoryDetails*

        I do love Pratchett! I started the Discworld books with “Guards! Guards!” – the first of the “City Watch” books – and it’s one of several good entry points; “Mort” is another, and “Witches Abroad”. The “Moist von Lipwig” books are later in the series but I’ve enjoyed them as well. My favorite Rincewind book is “The Last Continent,” in which he winds up in “Fourecks”, a fantasy mashup Australia, while the other wizards also end up there but in the very distant past. Hilarity, as ever, ensues!

        “Small Gods” is a more-or-less standalone novel, but still set on the Discworld, and very enjoyable.

      3. CrabbyPatty*

        The Tiffany Aching series are my favorite of the Discworld books. His take on the nature of witches is the best ever.

    23. Broken scones*

      Currently reading THE ATLAS OF US by Kristin Dwyer. If you’re looking for a contemporary YA with romance, angst and beautiful writing, this is worth checking out :) I’m not done with it yet (my class keeps me away from finishing the book, urgh) but I’m loving it so much.

    24. Fellow Traveller*

      Currently reading How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue, a novel about an African village that is decimated by the impact of an American oil company. It is sad and beautiful and horrifying all at once.
      On audio – Murder Your Employer, McMasters Guide to Homicide by Rupert Holmes, read by Simon Vance and Neil Patrick Harris. It’s a satirical novel about a school for would be murderers that skewers all sort of mystery novel tropes. Highly amusing.

    25. carcinization*

      Started reading Brust’s Lyorn since it came out in the past few days. The chapters start with gimmicky songs that are supposed to be in a within-book musical, and often have what are supposed to be excerpts from a history book the main character is reading, so the actual “book” is not as large of a percentage of the text as I’d like. But it’s still interesting.

    26. OxfordBlue*

      I’m reading The Hands of the Emperor by Victoria Goddard which is the first of her books I’ve tried. It’s a lovely book about trying to do one’s best in a position of power and covers friendship, love of family and responsibility for those you’ve never met and never will. The depiction of loving care towards all aspects of life and culture makes a great antidote to current events.
      Then there’s an author’s blog I read where she posts a short chapter a day of whatever she’s currently working on so you get to read the first version and see a bit of the process https://mywipwriting.blogspot.com/. She writes strong female characters, good relationships between men and women and has several series set at various times and places in history plus all her 80+ books are available on Kindle Unlimited.

    27. Ali + Nino*

      Just finished We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson and Munich 1972 by David Clay Large (admittedly just the two chapters focusing on the Black September terrorist attack). I really did not appreciate his use of quotation marks around the term terrorists in this context. Also Miracle Creek by Angie Kim which I really enjoyed. Now reading The Kids Are Alright by Liz and Diana Welch, a memoir about their unusual childhood.

  4. Jackalope*

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

    I’m still working my way through Skyrim, and still enjoying it, although I think I’m going to need a break soon. I’m most of the way through the Thieves’ Guild main quest line, but am stuck on a bit that goes through the dwarvish ruins. I hate Skyrim’s dwarvish ruins; they go on forever and are such a pain. But I’ll make it through this one eventually and then we’ll see what happens.

    1. NeedToKeepTheCatFed*

      I’ve been playing a lot of Palia, a new-ish free to play cozy sim, like Stardew Valley in 3d. I also have a run of Pillars of Eternity as a druid that I need to return to. It’s my first playthrough with the DLC and as a druid, and I have to say calling down lightning on the heads of my enemies is a lot of fun. Also in progress is yet another run of XCOM 2:War of the Chosen that is coming up on the hardest part that I always put off: assaulting the chosen’s strongholds.

      Unplayed but waiting for me are Sanabi, Jusant, and a lot of others.

    2. SBQQ_Custom_Object__c*

      I’ve been playing Banished. It’s a fun little game where you build up a town as efficiently as possible.

    3. Sam P.*

      Still working my way through the Stardew Valley 1.6 update, although it’s slow going with both school and work taking up most of my time.

      Looking forwards to playing Oxygen Not Included at some point in time- bought it when it was on a great sale a few weeks ago, but still haven’t got the time to play any of it :/

    4. Shakti*

      June’s journey I started playing it as a joke because all of the podcasts I listen to were advertising it, but it’s been over a year now and I’m still super engaged in it!! It’s fun with a wide variety of things to do in it so I don’t get bored as I often do with games

    5. Lemonwhirl*

      Thanks to a commenter’s help, we are playing Scythe these days. My son and I cracked the code and really enjoy it now.

      Considering getting Terraforming Mars because my son has developed a real grá for complicated strategy games. He’s 13 now and we’ve been playing all sorts of board games with him since he was 4. (Exploding Kittens was the first game he learned to play.)

      1. Makare*

        We love Scythe! So glad you were able to figure it out, it’s definitely intimidating when you don’t know how to play yet, but once you do it’s just so good.

    6. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      Right now, my “games” are the lab sessions to a (supposedly advanced) cyber security course my company’s offering. You get a virtual computer and a task like “there’s a user on the database on this computer that has the right to delete everything. Find the misconfiguration and change it so they can only read data.”
      It’s more fun than solitaire; they give you a ridiculous amount of time though (like 60 minutes for something you can do in 3) so no time pressure even when I cook lunch in between.

    7. Still*

      If anyone is interested in a cooperative card game that fits in a small box, is quick and easy to learn, works well with different groups of people, and can be played for ten minutes or the whole night, I can’t recommend The Crew: Quest For Planet Nine enough.

      1. Andromeda*

        YES THE CREW. Boyfriend, girlfriend and I have been playing that nonstop whenever we’re all together. The only minus point to it IMO is the fact that you only really need a pack of regular cards and a copy of the book of missions to play it, and I’m not in love with the designs on the cards so I’d kinda rather just play it with regular cards and have it cost less!

        But yeah, it’s one of those games that makes you FEEL like you’re getting smarter while you play it, and your strategies go from “one person hoards all the cards” to “who has the highest/lowest” to “tactically giving the right person control to make sure the right number ends up with the right person” but it still all feels so easy

    8. Makare*

      My husband and I played Splendor last night, and I annihilated him handily—which pretty much never happens, his primary hobby is board games and he is very good at them. We’ve been playing Splendor together for years, and I think that was the best I’ve ever played. So we redealt the cards and played again, and I won a second time, so it wasn’t a fluke!

    9. Andromeda*

      I have been *obsessed* with The Coin Game, which is a game where you go round a deserted beach town trying to make enough money to survive. The twist is that you earn it all through arcade machines and fun attractions (with some odd jobs on the side). I’ve been playing on the unlimited-money free mode because I love the atmosphere.

      I also really want to start playing either The Sims or a different game that will let me build detailed custom houses. (I have also got a free account on an interior design planning site, such is my hunger to create ridiculously silly fake homes that nobody lives in.)

      1. BlueMeeple*

        I started an I.S.S. Vanguard campaign with a group of friends from my board games group, which is great fun so far. :)

    10. onebitcpu*

      I’m currently playing Mass Effect for the 15th(?) time, it’s been my goto game for years.
      Online I am playing Borderlands 3 with a group of 3 that we’ve been gaming with bi-weekly for years.
      Once I’m done Mass Effect, it will be time to dive into my PS Plus back catalog for the next game.

    11. Forensic13*

      Played a new tabletop game last night called Blades in the Dark. It was really fun! You play shady characters setting up heists and other criminal activities, and the gimmick is that it’s mostly very narrator-based rather than memorizing fighting mechanics.

    12. Ellen Ripley*

      My husband and I just finished Children of Morta (it’s a rogue like). Very fun, the graphics are beautiful, and the story is told in short cutscenes but is still pretty deep. 10/10 would recommend!

    13. Notamimic*

      In computer games, my quest for perfection in Stardew Valley is being thwarted by my inability to find prehistoric floors. I’ve a solid week and a half of in game time getting down to floors 75-125 and yet no prehistoric floors and only like three solo pepper rexes.

      We just had a DND session. I’m running Ghosts of Saltmarsh in Exandria with a home brewed villain behind everything. The players just finished a reskinned Salvage Operation and got their first real glimpse of the main antagonist faction, and it was very satisfying. I really appreciate how enthusiastic about lore my players are, and how excited they get trying to puzzle out what’s going on.

    14. Random Bystander*

      Remake of Geneforge 2 (Infestation) just came out (Steam or GOG, depending on your preference). It is such a great game, really makes you think about what the right choice is (you can win with pretty much any choice, but you really have to think about the morality of the in-game choices).

    15. Raia*

      Final Fantasy 14 is on sale, and I finally decided that I’m doing well enough that I can afford a subscription service game. It’s SO. GOOD.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        We bid you….welcome. I really love the ‘follow’ feature when someone is guiding you to someplace else (got so tired of getting lost in Stormwind…).

  5. Watching Airplanes Fly*

    My mother and I both love to travel. We’re in the USA but have traveled out of the country a fair amount. Last year we did a trip to London, Paris, and a whole week driving through Ireland. We thought it would be a one time trip but left eager to go back; we speculated on the flight home when we could go back to Ireland. But wherever we decide to go, we know we want to travel together. My mom is in her mid 60s and recently started having some issues with her feet that have made walking difficult. I think it is something that could be managed with treatment, and she will more less go back to normal, but this health concern had me thinking about our desire to travel. For the trip last year, we saved for several years to be able to go together. We more or less split the trip 50-50. So when our trip ended last year, we had already talked about starting to save money again to travel. But I know that will at least be another three years off if we wait to save money.

    I have money in savings left to me by my father’s family. It is money that I mostly do not touch, I have only taken some out to help me purchase a car. It is a decent of money that I’ve always imagine going towards a house one day. But it is money that I can do with what I like. With my mother‘s health concerns, I started thinking if I should just take the money out of that savings account now, and we can start planning a trip to go on in the next year, rather than waiting for our savings over the next few years. The problem is convincing my mother to go through with it. She is retired but still makes more money off of her pension I than do working full-time. Even though I am in my mid 30s, she still frequently pays the bill for dinner when we eat out, no matter how much I protest. She just always defaults to her paying since she is my mom. I think she will resist letting me pay for the whole trip. She knows about the savings account from my father and is aware of how much money is in there, so she knows it would not be a huge drain on the account to take out several thousand dollars to pay for a trip. but even with smaller road trips we’ve done, she seems to always swoop in and want to pay for hotels, food, or activities herself. We’re traveling together for a family wedding in a few months and she insisted she bought our hotels even when I offered to split it. I can’t surprise her with a trip and just tell her to pack a passport and trust me. She loves to plan trips, and is not really one for surprises. I’ve seen videos of people surprising their family members with trips, but I know this would not be welcome by her.

    I want to do this because I am aware of the fact that she is getting older and is starting to have health issues, and if I can make it work, I want to spend the money to travel with her. I’ve definitely been hit recently with stories of people passing away before they’ve been able to enjoy their retirement and spend their hard earned savings. I’m not gonna quit my job and blow through all the money in the savings account, but it did make me look at the account differently, and not just as a big house purchase one day or even money towards retirement. I really do want to pay for this trip and would be happy to do so. The problem is just convincing my mother. Any thoughts?

    1. WellRed*

      If you can afford it, do it. My mom is closer to 80 and we probably have one trip “left in her” mobility etc wise. We were supposed to go to Key West for Christmas but I can’t afford to pay for the whole thing and it turned out, she couldn’t pay for any of it, so I called it off. But if I can’t figure it out this year, it’s probably off the table. A friends mom wanted to do a Europe river cruise and her daughter didn’t feel like she could take the time from school for the trip. The trip was canceled and mom was diagnosed with incurable cancer not long after. Nit to be a downer but pretty sure my friend would change her decision if she could.

      1. WellRed*

        Sorry for practical advice, can you ask your mom to pay for a specific part of it (if she can afford it) just so she feels like she’s done her mom duty?

        1. Watching Airplanes Fly*

          You’re not being a downer at all. This is exactly what’s going through my mind right now and why I want to convince her to let pay for the trip. She’s still in relatively good health and no issue on our trip last year, but this sudden pain when walking alarmed me. She’s getting treatment that I think is help but it made me what to throw her in a plane ASAP. Asking her to just cover one specific thing is a good idea.

          1. JSPA*

            There are any number of intense pain sources that can slowly but fairly reliably be handled by learning and doing the right stretches (pseudo-sciatica, e.g.) wearing the right shoes (plantar fasciitis e.g.) or learning a modified stance / gait and strengthening some core muscles (lumbar facet arthritis e.g.)– and those are just a subset of stuff from my own experience.

            Other problems will permanently limit how much up & down you can do, but with streetview (and the bike map option to supplement the walking directions by highlighting vertical information) it’s increasingly possible to come up with an itinerary that works within those limitations.

            I would not necessarily assume that this year will be better than next year, as PT and muscle strengthening and behavioral changes (“standing and walking more like the Fonz going aaaaay” is not what most of us picture ourselves doing?) or allowing shin splints to heal or testing a series of plantar fasciitis shoes to find the magic one that works, and then figure out how many months / miles you can get out of a pair? That can take many months or a year.

            Even if you feel like she is now well on the path of her specific healing process, she and her PT should weigh in on how long to allow, before pushing boundaries.

            Additionally having multiple fallback options in itineraries it comes more and more important with age or disability.

            People on trips who don’t want to disappoint others, break the schedule, or fail to see their dream location notoriously push past their reasonable pain threshold and do themselves damage.

            Sometimes the first time one’s parents are incapable of doing something we overreact because we’re coming face to face with the concept of their mortality. (Same for ourselves, or our spouses or siblings.) But everybody’s on a downward trajectory to incapacity…eventually. Awareness doesn’t track closely with actual risk of incapacity. Make sure not to rush her healing, just because you have become more aware of aging and mortality.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I had a lot of plans for the trips I would take my mom on, once the latest crisis was dealt with. She had a stroke just as everyone got vaccinated.

      I would lean hard into the pandemic. No longer do we believe we have infinite time to get around to things.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Also, a year ago I went to Tuscany with my spouse and 20s children. (The oldest was working in Europe; youngest had what we thought was his last long academic break before starting work.) It would have been great if I were stronger and able to do more: I did a lot of quiet days at the hotel while the other three skied; I wandered the bottom of beautiful tall structures while they climbed to the top. We went to the Uffizi and I had to call it quits after a few hours when I wish I could have done more.

        And I am so, so, so glad we did it anyhow. A few months later my kids gave me a photo book of the trip, and my husband observed that my instinct was to hug it.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Just under two weeks, starting at Christmas. (When both students could take a long break.)
            Week 1: Skiing in the Dolomites. (Fantastic for the three who can ski, especially compared to the heavier, wetter snow of New England where we live.) We stayed in Vigo de Fassa, a central location, and each day the skiers would head out somewhere. We stayed at the Hotel Carpe Diem, which had a really excellent breakfast buffet that included multiple types of cake, different every day.
            One day I wandered around Bolzano and stumbled over the Museum of Archaeology Bolzano, which is all about Otzi the Ice Man, the glacier mummy from the Copper Age. I loved this unexpected deep dive into something I’d read about.

            Week 2: Florence. Daughter (who had been and thought I would like it) strongly recommended staying in the old town, which we did. We had an AirBnB. Parked the car in a garage a few blocks away, with a reservation, and did not touch it until we left. (Genuine medieval cobblestone streets.) Marvelous architecture and museums, great food, Pisa is an easy day trip by train. The Boboli Gardens are incredible even in January.

    3. Old Plant Woman*

      What if you tell her you just really want to do it. Don’t say a word about her health. It’s just about you. And can she please just say yes and then help decide on logistics?

    4. Maggie*

      I would keep it simple. Mom- I love you and appreciate everything you’ve done for me and paid for me. I want to treat you to this trip. Please let me do this for you – it’s something I really want to do.

    5. anon24*

      I think these are all great ideas and maybe if none of them work and she still balks explain that you want to enjoy traveling with her while you can, are worried about potential health issues, and if she is still so insistent on you not paying and none of the other commenters suggestions work, perhaps offer to pay now and let her pay you back over time instead of both of you putting money away over time? In your head it wouldn’t be a loan, and if she never pays it back she never pays it back, but maybe that would make her feel better.

        1. Sue*

          I agree with this. Plan the trip. Let her pay for a few incidentals and if she balks, say she can pay you back later.

    6. Andromeda*

      My mum is a bit like this too! You could plan it around a milestone like Christmas or her birthday so she feels less guilt around not paying?

    7. EA*

      Maybe if you frame it as this is MY dream not this is my dream for YOU, she’ll accept it more.

      Also agree with letting her pay for a small part of it (e.g I buy the flights, you buy one train ticket within the country?)

    8. nonprofit director*

      Tell you mom how important it is to you. Tell her she can pay you back over time if it’s that important to her. Or she can pitch in what she’s able to now. Mid 60s isn’t that old, but you never know what will happen. I just lost my husband, who was 67 and hadn’t yet retired. So glad we did as much as we did, but wanted so much more.

    9. Gray Lady*

      I think if you really want to pay for it all yourself, then you should simply tell her that this is something you very much want to do, and it would make you happy if she let you do that.

      However, I think something to be sensitive to is that her insistence on paying may not just be the “mom” thing; it’s also possible that she sees a greater level of dependency looming and wants to remain independent in as many ways as possible, until she can’t anymore. Paying her own way, and even being the one to pay, might play into that. Becoming a parent dependent on a child is a big role reversal, that’s inevitable unless catastrophic things happen quickly. It may be that she is resisting that role reversal as long as possible because of feelings that are important to her.

    10. Tea and Sympathy*

      Lean into the pandemic and the idea that you want to do this while you are both able to and the world allows it. I know a couple of people who discovered Long Covid damage months to years after they had Covid. Neither is able to travel now. You just never know.
      I like the idea of making it a loan if your mother balks about accepting money from you.

    11. Christmas cookie*

      You should do it. I wish my mom and I had this kind of relationship.

      In terms of talking to her, I’d say you really want to do the trip while the two of you are able, and you can even focus on yourself not your mom.
      You might soon be bogged down by work/family/who knows what.

      Financially, first offer to pay for the whole thing as you describe. If your mom protests, let her know she can pay you back, or carve out portions for her to pay for within her means and that are closer to the trip giving her time to save up for the year.

    12. Christmas cookie*

      You should do it. I wish my mom and I had this kind of relationship.

      In terms of talking to her, I’d say you really want to do the trip while the two of you are able, and you can even focus on yourself not your mom.
      You might soon be bogged down by work/family/who knows what. If she’s 60, you’re 20-40 and if you are in a life place that allows you to travel like this, seize it! I regret not doing more before I had young kids, and I plan to fund and/or take my kids traveling more in their youth!

      Financially, first offer to pay for the whole thing as you describe. If your mom protests, let her know she can pay you back, or carve out portions for her to pay for within her means and that are closer to the trip giving her time to save up for the year.

    13. JR 17*

      If she objects to you paying, maybe suggest you’ll pay for this one and she can pay for the next one? Then she can start saving now, so she has a little more time, but you don’t have to wait. And the next trip could be something less expensive – there are a lot of very cool and unique places in the US, or in relatively less expensive countries not so far away.

  6. Damn it, Hardison!*

    I’m looking for my holy grail grocery list app and hope someone can help. I’d like to find an app that lets me build list for multiple stores and lets me save “favorites” or “usuals” so I can easily add them to my list. I’m not interested in apps for specific stores because I would prefer to use just one app for all of the stores I go to. Thanks in advance!

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I use paperless, which allows you to make a ton of different lists, not just shopping lists. I have one for groceries, one for stuff from Costco, one for the garden center, etc. But I also have to-do lists, birthday shopping lists, restaurants I want to try, etc.
      While you can’t save “favorites” things you check off remain at the bottom as inactive things, so you can scroll down and uncheck them. Or you can search for things.

    2. Jay (no, the other one)*

      ToDoist. It’s not perfect. The free version doesn’t have enough capacity. We paid for the upgrade and have it set up for a grocery list organized by aisle, a liquor store list, and a Target list. It syncs well and is reliable. You might have to set up a separate “favorites” list to get what you want.

    3. Emily Dickinson*

      I use Paprika and I love it so much. They usually have it on sale around American Thanksgiving. You can make lists for different stores and assign foods to aisles. It also has a recipe saving and meal planning feature, so you can add a recipe’s or weeks worth of meals’ ingredients to your list. You can also save “menus” for anything for one meal or several days worth and add those to your meal plan.

      1. Wilde*

        We use and love Paprika, too! I have created a “recipe” with all our weekly groceries that aren’t food or part of a recipe (TP, cereal, milk etc) and keep it in with our weekly menu to ensure we don’t miss anything off the list.

      2. Rage*

        I haven’t used Paprika for grocery lists, but I ADORE the app for recipe management! I might have to try the grocery list feature.

    4. Fellow Traveller*

      I use Out of Milk. It is pretty specifically for grocery shopping, so when you add items you can also sort them by aisle, and add quantities by weight or number.

    5. Professor Plum*

      Related to groceries: I use the app Flipp to look at grocery ads in one location vs needing to check each store’s app. It does have a list feature—but I’ve never used it.

      1. Kardamumma*

        I’m a huge fan of the Flipp app. I save so much. We have a number of grocery chains here who offer to match prices so I go to my favourite store and show them the competitor’s price and they match it.

      1. onebitcpu*

        Our family uses “our groceries” app on android.
        One paid subscription lets you share lists with other family members, so we all have the same grocery lists.
        We have a main list, trip list etc, and you can record common items and preferred brands.
        You can also group items by store area

        1. No name yet*

          We use “our groceries” too (computer and Apple), and love it! We haven’t paid for the upgrade/no ads (though we should), but it does seem to check all the boxes you’re looking for.

        2. Kay*

          I also use “our groceries”. I use the recipe part for weekly, snow storm coming lists & it sends the items to the store list I’ve designated – kroger, walmart, aldi.

          I think you can share the free version.

        3. SEM*

          Thirding OurGroceries. It does all the things you want, can be shared with multiple users, and seems to work smoothly.

      2. Mademoiselle Sugar Lump*

        I use it and love it. I have shopping, packing, and several other lists.

    1. Hermitized*

      I’m learning to crochet and I’m finally starting to get the hang of it! Tension is still a problem, but it seems like a problem everyone has starting out so I’m trying not to let it get me down. I’m working on a headband right now.

    2. Past Lurker*

      I’m knitting a scarf. It’s a 4 row repeat, so it’s not boring but also not too complicated. I can work on it while half- watching something in the background. I’m a fairly new knitter and it’s baby/ sport in US yarn terms (though I think they’ve gone to numbers for yarn thickness lately) so it’s taking a while! Maybe I’ll be finished in time for Fall weather.

    3. Shakti*

      I bought a needlepoint kit in late October for the pattern for 30 mini Christmas ornaments for like 10.00! I’m working my way through the patterns and am on my 6th ornament. It’s fun although a little funny to be needlepointing a mini stocking ornament that says merry Christmas in April lol

    4. Aneurin*

      Sewing plans for today are to finish a Ready To Sew Pekka Jacket (I’m currently working on the lining). First time making a lined garment and I’m really enjoying the process!

    5. HannahS*

      A fancy dress! Mr. S and I are hosting a long-delayed wedding reception and I’m making myself a very pretty dress. I’m just finishing up a test version of the bodice (and I had to make some changes so I’m glad I did!)

    6. My Brain is Exploding*

      I put the binding on my quilt and am working on the border of another one.

      1. A Significant Tree*

        I just finished a quilt this past weekend! It’s a free form window pane quilt in tropical colors, with batik print and a micro-cordoroy back/binding. The binding ended up bunching a little and the batting was a pain in the tail to get situated, but the finished product makes me happy. I’m planning to do a denim-top quilt next.

        My current knit blanket is just over halfway done – it’s my project for when I need to listen to online meetings.

    7. Mobie's Mom Now*

      Made pressed flower lanterns with my niece last night. I cheated a bit – we used fun stickers, not pressed flowers, but the effect is the same, and we had a good time! My mom also made one – it was fun!

      1. RedinSC*

        this sounds fun. is it for a specific occasion?

        last year I made a new dress for the Dickens Faire.

        1. Madame Arcati*

          I’m singing a concert at a church Jane Austen attended (in a village she lived in) so I’m making myself a regency concert dress!

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Aside from finishing the ten year blanket, I’ve been practicing my yarn spinning – I’m really happy with my Nano 2 e-spinner, and today have put an ounce or so of combed top through it into singles that I’m hoping are even enough to cooperate with chain-plying.

    9. Girasol*

      I needed a nice blouse to go with my travel skirt. I found a plain white shirt and embroidered flowers on it with leaves the same color as the skirt. It actually looks like a matched set now.

  7. How to keep a clean house?*

    I’m curious about how people who are good at things like keeping a really clean home, organizing, etc. do it? This is inspired by me having to degrease the ceiling above my stove for like 30 minutes and realizing I hadn’t done it since we moved in (quite a while ago). We have house cleaners who come every two weeks, but they don’t really do those kinds of deep cleaning things and our house is probably a little (or very) dingy in certain places.

    Like, how do you know how often to do these things and how do you build them into your routines? At the place we do not name on the weekends I have lots of to lists, calendar reminders, etc., but it’s a pretty comprehensive system to keep me on track (yes, I may have ADHD), and I don’t feel like I have the energy to put something in place like that for home. But, also, I want a reasonably clean home and want to keep on top of those chores that you should do semi-regularly but not daily or weekly.

    Any suggestions/ideas for things that work well for you?

    1. Not that Jane*

      I have a Google spreadsheet that I can look at on my phone, with columns for each day and rows for tasks. Daily/weekly tasks come first and are as much as possible in the same order each day, then I made a border & added tasks below the line that are one-offs. Examples: daily tasks include dishes, laundry (family of 4!), taking my meds, etc. Weekly recurring tasks include sweeping, vacuuming, putting out trash bins for collection, etc. And then less frequent tasks / one-offs include, like, this week I had a dentist appointment, next week is a friend’s birthday, I have to pay my credit card, etc.

      On Sundays I go to my calendar and look up any items that are upcoming that week. So this means that for anything that recurs less frequently, I have built it into my calendar to repeat at the frequency I want. Wipe down the microwave, monthly (don’t judge ); fertilize the fruit trees, quarterly, etc.

      This has worked pretty well for me since our oldest was born 8.5 years ago and I suddenly became way more busy and had to get way more organized :)

      I also color-code items on the day of: such as, orange means I have to nag my hubby to do it, blue means I have to do it early in the day, purple means it’s a computer-based task, yellow means I’ve already completed it, etc.

      Hope that sounds helpful! :)

      1. FrozenSky*

        Wow, I love the sound of this, for home but also for work! I’d love to see a screenshot but not sure if that’d work in a comment. The colour coding is particularly appealing. Do you add the calendar reminders manually, or is there a clever way to add and automate it from Google sheets?

      2. Girasol*

        I keep all my home maintenance chores, like vacuuming fridge coils, cleaning the ceiling, and changing furnace filters as recurring events in Google Calendar.

    2. little frog*

      For the specific issue how to know when to clean a greasy kitchen: there is no standard time. Some people who fry a lot will have to degrease walls and ceilings every few months; other people, who never fry at all, will never have to do it. If you do spring/fall deep cleans, you can add to the list to check if it needs cleaning.

      1. Happily Retired*

        I’ve never tried this on a kitchen ceiling *refuses to look up at kitchen ceiling*, but I found an amazing degreaser: spray-can Pure Citrus Orange Air Freshener. I don’t care about the air freshener part, but it is amazing in its ability to cut through grime on cookware, kitchen surfaces, etc. Available at Home Depot (air freshener department) and apparently Walmart (no idea where.) It was recommended to me by an employee at HD, who said that they use it for their in-store cleaning, when I was trying to find something that could clean the ancient gunk off my mom’s Corningware and Pyrex (she was a big fan of rinse and drain. Ughhhh.)

        1. MaryLoo*

          By the way, baking soda sprinkled on like cleanser, and a damp sponge, will clean ancient gunk off Pyrex, Corning ware, other glass-type things. (and get grease residue off Tupperware/glad box type containers. Non toxic and cheap.

      2. Sloanicota*

        I agree that tying things to the seasons seems to be the way to do it for me. That is often a time I’m swapping things out (coats or from storage, different decorations etc) and I do try to connect that to a “deep clean” weekend where I do odd tasks like the ones you’re describing.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      There’s a reason fall and spring cleaning are a thing for so much of history–they’re for the “move all the furniture, scrub the walls, shampoo the carpets” type jobs that don’t need doing all the time, but do need it on a regular basis at long intervals.

      In our apartment, I vacuum and dust every week, make the bed/change the sheets, and keep the cat litter and dishes clean, Husband tends to the houseplants and cleans the bathroom/kitchen (by this I mean washing the floors and counters, not just doing the dishes, which we trade off.) I deep clean the litterboxes about once a month, he scoops them in the mornings, and we trade off giving Peanut his meals.

      About once a year we do a big purge of excess books, clothes, and so on, to go to the Goodwill, and call the junk haulers for furniture and such that needs lugging off.

    4. strawberry lemonade*

      Try the app Tody. I’m not the cleanest person in the world but I do care about it, and I really like how this sets up priority and timing of chores.

      1. SBQQ_Custom_Object__c*

        I just checked it out, and I love how comprehensive it is! Thanks for the recommendation. :D

      2. Pharmgirl*

        Yes, seconding this app! It has tons of suggestions for the types of irregular, deep cleaning you wouldn’t think of, plus standard daily/weekly cleaning and the option to add whatever extras you want.

    5. Chauncy Gardener*

      I like the FlyLady system. I don’t subscribe anymore, but I still follow the process and my house is always pretty clean and tidy. I aim to be 15 minutes from ready for company, and I usually am unless I get sick or The Place We Do Not Name on Weekends is really crazy.

      1. JoAnne*

        Yes to FlyLady! I still use the card system from the original Sidetracked Home Executives. The best part is that you can only procrastinate on a job twice before you have to get it done!

    6. But what to call me?*

      Since you said that you have house cleaners come in every two weeks, I’ve heard that it’s also possible to hire house cleaners to do that occasional deep cleaning type stuff. I haven’t yet been in a position to be able to do that, but once I am I will definitely be looking into it. I’m sure it’s more expensive than the regular surface cleaning they do but I know that for me, personally, no longer having to devote all of my limited executive functioning skills to fighting that particular battle against entropy would be worth quite a bit of money.

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

        Yeah, I did that once when I had moved out temporarily due to a mold issue and the landlord had to re-do a couple of rooms that had lead paint in them. Even though the landlord supposedly had lead-paint-mitigation-trained contractors do the work, I wanted one more thorough clean of those rooms before I moved back in, and I also had them clean out my fridge thoroughly. I don’t like having people in my house, but for that particular situation, it was totally worth it so that I felt safe moving back in.

    7. ccsquared*

      It’s tough, especially if you both work full time jobs. Somehow I managed to learn all of the techniques of cleaning growing up, but not how to weave them into a system. I’ve read about a dozen books that lay out housekeeping routines, but nothing sticks, and I’ve kind of come to the conclusion that I have to figure out my routines from actually doing rather than trying someone else’s framework.

      So the experiment I’m trying is to tidy/spot clean for 15 min each day, and then on Saturday, spend an hour on dusting, bathroom/kitchen, sweep/mop, etc. I’m setting sleep timers on Spotify, and when time’s up, time’s up, and I stop (mid-task even if it’ll take more than 30 sec to finish), put away the cleaning stuff, and light a candle. Rather than worry about what should be cleaned each week and in what order, I’m just going by what’s bugging me most. My hope is over time I’ll get more efficient and can fit more into this hour, as well as having a sense of what to clean and to what degree each week.

      For deep clean, I’m thinking maybe layering in one day a quarter or a half day every two months, but trying to get the basic habit down first – I’m only 3 weeks into the daily tidying and on my second week of the hour clean.

    8. Writerling*

      Someone recommended the Sweepy app and I use that, not fully as intended, but it breaks your place down by room and you can set frequency for recurring tasks or have basically an ‘on-demand’ button for other tasks, and of course you can create/edit tasks and rooms. It has weather challenges too (like spring cleaning) which can be fun.

      The only thing I haven’t figured out yet is if notifications only pop up when things aren’t clean or if they’re daily, I had to turn them off because of notification fatigue, but otherwise enjoy having a list of things to do.

    9. Zweisatz*

      Unfuck your Habitat has a quick little book that includes approaches, how tos and – maybe most relevant for you – lists of what to clean when (there’s a list for regular cleaning and one for spring cleaning and probably some I forgot).

    10. How to keep a clean house?*

      Thank you to everyone who responded! This is really helpful info that will definitely help me build a system (and the apps seem really helpful for me just figuring out what actually needs to be done as I know sometimes my problem is I just don’t see things until they *really* need a clean, like my ceiling did).

      Thanks again!

    11. Girasol*

      I add regular home maintenance chores, like scrubbing the kitchen ceiling, vacuuming the fridge coils, replacing the furnace filters, and such, as regularly repeating events on Google calendar.

    12. MeepMeep123*

      My family and I struggle with this too, and we just started using an app called Sweepy. You enter the required cleaning things for each room in the house and their frequency, and it creates a daily schedule for each person living in the house.

    13. Abundant Shrimp*

      I also have ADHD and I have a whiteboard in my home office with three todo lists: for the month, for the week, and for today. Sometimes an extra list on the side (I currently have one for spring cleaning). I go through the lists at the pace that I can and don’t stress out when I miss an item or two.

      I also made a habit of putting things back where I found them as soon as I stopped using them, cleaning as I cook, cleaning the spills as soon as they happen etc. Otherwise I’ll forget.

      With all that said, I didn’t really have a clean house, or know what one looked like, until after I left my husband and both kids moved out. My mom came over to visit a few days after the youngest left for college, and was shocked. All her life, she’d thought I was just naturally messy. (I moved out of their apartment at 17 and we didn’t live in the same town again until I was 29 with two kids under 5, so I can see where she got that notion from.)

  8. ThatGirl*

    After a few false starts and disappointments, as of today we have a new dog! I’m currently cuddled up to this 10 lb lovebug we’ve named Yoshi. He’s a poodle mix who loves to give kisses. We need to get him interested in some food but he’s making himself at home pretty well :)

    1. Maybesocks*

      It can take a while for a dog to start eating in a new place. I wouldn’t worry about it.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, I did get him to eat last night, but hand fed him which I’m definitely not doing forever!

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      congratulations! It can take a while for a dog to settle in and realize that he’s “home”. Our new guy was off his feed for about a week. We’re now about 4 months in, and he’s gotten pretty well adjusted. He learned pretty quickly which cabinet the treats live in, who lets him on the furniture, and who gives the best belly rubs.

    3. ThatGirl*

      Thanks everyone :) he’s been eating though not all at once or all of his food. He sleeps through the night and is so quiet in his crate. He has bursts of energy and is so funny, but we gotta work on his mouthiness, he wants to nibble on hands. Chew toys incoming soon.

      1. SBT*

        I remember those puppy teeth well. Everything got chewed up, and I was so thrilled when she finally lost her baby teeth. Hang in there!

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

    I sell food at festivals and this is my favorite time of year. Tomorrow we are working at a Car show – Food Truck – Music Festival with some really good local bands performing.

    I will be too busy to see them, but hearing them (and a couple always buy food from us) makes the day so much fun.

    If you can get out, partake of local festivals and support your local small businesses.

  10. The Other Dawn*

    Have you ever bought a product you saw while scrolling social media? Did it live up to its claim or was it a waste of money?

    Lately I’ve been inundated with ads for all sorts of things, such as hair products, wool clothing (that seems to be a big one), makeup and foundation (another big one), shaping undergarments, no-show socks, and lots of other products. I’ve never bought any of these items; however, I was looking for no-show socks a couple months ago that don’t slip into my shoe. I’ve tried lots of different no-show socks over the years with no luck at all. I almost tried Bombas but saw reviews saying they, too, slip. I finally gave up figuring I’ll never be able to wear these types of sock and will need to just deal with going barefoot in certain shoes. Well, I saw an ad on Instagram and decided to try Ondo socks. I figured these would be the same as all the others; however, I’m thrilled to say they actually stay put! They’re comfortable, too.

    This week I bought Treluxe hair styling products for curly hair. The ads looked impressive. I’ll try those this weekend and hope they live up to the ads. I also bought Merinos wool shoes last month and they’re okay. They seem to run slightly small. Unfortunately I’m a women’s 12 and it’s incredibly hard to find a 12.5 anywhere. I figure I’ll wear them with the Ondos to see if they stretch a bit.

    A couple years ago I bought a pair of Tieks. They looked so pretty in the ads and the reviews online (not the ones posted on social media) raved about how comfortable they were. These shoes are expensive, but I figured if they’re comfortable and I like them, then it’s worth the money. Oh my god, they were SO uncomfortable! They were terrible. Thankfully I didn’t need to wear them outside the house to figure that out. I returned them within the week.

    1. RLC*

      I bought the “Drain Weasel” tool for cleaning clogged drains, was very impressed with its effectiveness on hair clogs. Have ancient pipes and a septic tank so try to avoid metal drain snakes and toxic chemicals if possible. Yes, it’s a piece of plastic that goes in landfill after use but the non-toxic nature of it outweighs that for me. (Last time I used a metal drain snake it perforated the drain trap, don’t want to deal with that again.)

    2. Annie Edison*

      I was influenced by social media to buy a set of sheets from cozy earth. They were highly recommended from multiple sources but I’m honestly not too impressed? They felt really good initially but have aged poorly and are now feeling a little threadbare much faster than my cheaper sheets from Target.

      1. dot*

        Company Store and LL Bean percale sheets have been my favorite sheets purchases over the past few years. Both have held up really well. LL Bean wins out slightly for me between the two.

    3. Double A*

      I have actually bought quite a few things I’ve been pleased with from Instagram ads specifically. I just last week impulse bought a tinted sunscreen/moisturizer and it’s… incredible? I rarely use “love” to describe a cosmetic product but… I love it. SPF 46, moisturizes but isn’t greasy, has the slightest tint that does seem to even out my skin without looking like I’m wearing concealer. And it was $30 including shipping. Some of the other similar products I’ve been eyeing are like $50/ounce.

      Other things I’ve bought that have been good include a child carrier, a beach blanket that packs into a backpack, and a quite expensive purse.

      Oh! And I bought a pair of SUAVs (tennis shoes) because I saw them on Instagram ads and they are my go-to shoes. Slip on high tops! Love them.

      I actually feel like Instagram ads are pretty good and I also don’t buy products when anything seems remotely odd about the website.

        1. Double A*

          It’s DRMTLGY universal tinted sunscreen. There’s a 20% off coupon for your first order. I’ll post a link in the next comment :)

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I bought one of those Pilates bar workout things, and I think it would work fine for its purpose but I haven’t gotten around to taking it out of the box yet and trying it out so I don’t know.

    5. Gyne*

      Tieks must be very feet-specific because I had a pair that I loved and wore daily for years until they fell apart.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’m guessing they are. With no support and such a thin sole, it felt as though I was walking on concrete. I was so disappointed because they’re really pretty shoes.

    6. Professor Plum*

      I saw some shelves that were the perfect size to fit into two closets for an amazingly low price. Did some quick measurements and decided to buy them. Realized they were shipping from China—it was going to take a while and I had no idea who the seller was. But the price was low enough that it wouldn’t be too upsetting if I didn’t get them. Watched the tracking from China—over the course of almost a month they arrived in the US, then in my region, it finally looked like they left the distribution center, and then finally tracking told me they were delivered. Only they weren’t. After a week of back and forth with customer service, they have said they will resend my order with “extra secure delivery”. Still awaiting the email that says the order has shipped with a new tracking order. Fingers crossed that they’re here in a month or so.

    7. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’ve seen ads for Bombas socks and slippers and I’m considering buying some. They look comfortable and the company donates their products to people who are homeless.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Bombas are very soft and comfy, and stay up well – but they do leave marks on my calves from the elastic being pretty snug.

        1. allathian*

          I can’t remember ever wearing a pair of socks that stayed up without leaving marks on my calves, not even when I was a teen and before I got fat.

          1. eh mamacita, ¿dónde está Santa Claus?*

            Why, someone meeting the description has been spotted in Finland!

            1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

              I can’t wear the bombas calf socks (and I don’t have fat calves) either. I do like their ankle socks a lot

          2. ThatGirl*

            Oh, I misread your comment, sorry – I do have some that don’t, but they tend to be lower cut or looser in general.

      2. BookMom*

        Bombas are great! My sons wear them almost exclusively. Comfortable and they hold up well.

      3. WorkNowPaintLater*

        Received a pair for Christmas from a brother that swears by them and they are, by far, the most comfortable socks I’ve ever had. And they stay up without cutting into my legs.

        And now I want to go buy some more.

      4. Abundant Shrimp*

        I bought several sets of Bombas three years ago and they are still like new. I work out almost every day, but these socks are indestructible. I recently found out that I have narrow heels, but these socks, unlike some of the other brands, stay up and don’t slip halfway off where I have to fish them out of my shoes. Highly recommend. Mine are ankle socks, I haven’t tried any others.

    8. Lamon the Salmon*

      Over the past month or so, I’ve ordered 4 items off TikTok shop. It’s been a mixed bag of mostly good.

      1. One of the viral candles that smells like a soda pop. Not sure the smell is accurate, but was a gift so I didn’t light it. Mostly got for the novelty. Arrived pretty quickly.

      2. A cat paw shaped Tab Buddy – basically a doodad to help you open pop cans. Thought it would be cute to include in the same gift as the candle. Arrived super quickly and is adorable looking.

      3. a T-shirt screen printed with a commemorative image. Should have ordered a size up (my fault, wasn’t thinking about shrinkage and that old tees have stretched). Started the return process, got approved, sent shirt back. Next day got a message from the shop asking me to cancel my return because they lost money on the sale, but offered 10% off my next order if I cancel the return. Sent a message back explaining why I couldn’t (and pointing out they supposedly offered free returns). Never heard back but got a refund. I was going to reorder the next size up from them but the message put me off of it.

      4. Another commemorative tee. Didn’t love the material of the printed content. Requested a return. Refund granted and do not have to return the shirt.

      100% would order through TikTok again

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Oh, this reminds me. I bought a couple t-shirts at different times. They both ran small but the material was okay. I kept them for wearing around the house and was careful not to put them in the dryer in case they shrink.

        My husband got me a couple hoodies for Christmas and both were way too small even though the tag size was correct.

    9. Lemonwhirl*

      I bought an Ooodie wearable blanket in 2020. It was fantastic and I still wear it. I bought a Woolie at the same time, but it was too thin and not as great sensory-wise for me, so I gave it to my son.

      I also bought a shark blanket off instagram and it turned out to be a scam. I requested a chargeback from my bank, but I am not sure it was ever processed.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I work at a bank. Banks have regulations to follow when it comes to card and electronic transfer transactions. They have to provide provisional credit within a certain number of days and then resolve the case within a certain timeframe, whether it’s to let you keep the credit or deny the dispute and take the money back. You should check to make sure they followed through.

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          Thank you. I sent all the information through my banking app, and it doesn’t look like it was ever processed. (I am in Europe – not sure how different the rules are here.) And now it’s more than 120 days, and I’ll have to call and talk to a person. Ugh. Thanks for reminding me to followup on this one!

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Ah, okay. I’m in the US so these are definitely the US regs I’m talking about. I don’t know if you get a paper bank statement still, but in the US, the paper statements will generally have something on the back describing the process for submitting a dispute, as well as the timeframe for submitting it. If you don’t get a paper statement, you may be able to access your account agreement online and it should be in there. Again, though, that’s in the US. May be different in the UK.

    10. The Prettiest Curse*

      Over the years, I’ve bought a few mugs as gifts from ads that I saw on Instagram. I got my husband a Kate Bush mug from Law and Moore, my brother-in-law a mug from The Handmade Cyclist and my sister a mug from Architectural Icons (they are a print on demand shop, so don’t do refunds, but I knew that upfront.) All were good quality and went over well with the recipients.

      I also bought a belt for myself from Five Belts. They didn’t send it to me till I threatened to ask for a refund via my card issuer. The actual belt looks fine, but isn’t great quality and started to fall apart after around 18 months of regular use.

      I think the key to buying stuff you’ve seen advertised is: 1. Don’t buy anything too expensive or vital and 2. Don’t expect a brilliant quality product.

    11. RussianInTexas*

      Yes! Once! The Uproot pet hair cleaning bundle, although I did not but it directly through an ad, I went to Amazon for it.
      That s**t is magical.

    12. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I bought Bombas socks on a recommendation from a friend and I love them – I’ve been buying them for years. Never tried the no-shows, though.

      We bought a set of Away luggage a while ago after Wirecutter rated them highly. We travel a lot. They held up OK for about four years and now some of the internal things are starting to break down. When I replaced them I didn’t buy them again because I decided I don’t actually like hard-sided suitcases and I always need to cram another random item in before I leave the house.

      My husband has bought a variety of T-shirts and once bought a pair of tiger-striped sneakers that he was never able to wear. His feet are big and wide and a lot of sneakers/shoes don’t fit him well.

    13. londonedit*

      I bought DCYPHER foundation and I really like it. I’m not normally a foundation person because I don’t like feeling like I’m wearing caked-on make-up, and I’ve always struggled to find one that doesn’t slide off or go weird. My sister bought one first – she’s even less of a foundation person than I am and she loved it, so I went for it. You take photos of your face on the website and they create a custom colour for you, and you can choose the level of coverage and the finish. I was a bit sceptical but it really is great and it’s exactly the barely-there finish I wanted.

    14. BookMom*

      I bought Color The World lipstick for older women and liked the colors and creamy formula. Have reordered my favorite shade. They give a portion of proceeds to various causes.

    15. Rainy*

      I have bought quite a few things, but I never do the in-app thing. I may get an idea from social media, but then I go online and look at reviews and figure out if it works, then I find the best version I can to try it.

    16. Elle Woods*

      I kept seeing ads for Kizik shoes and wound up buying a pair. Their key marketing point is that they’re step-in shoes. I like them enough and will probably get another pair when this pair wears out. The step-in aspect of them is wonderful and they’re comfortable enough for running errands. IMO, they’re definitely not designed for being on your feet all day or doing a lot of walking but for casual use, they’re just fine.

      1. OtterB*

        Seconding Kiziks. I bought them for my daughter with disabilities who can’t really tie her shoes, and the step in aspect works great for her. She seems to find them comfortable enough for all-purpose use. I expect I’ll buy more for her.

    17. Anna Crusis*

      I bought a wallet from Portland Leather to commemorate my name change and to replace one that was at least 15 years old from another company that no longer makes wallets I like. My new wallet is gorgeous and well-made, and I love it! It was kind of stiff at first, but a year later has softened up some and still looks new.

      Tom Bihn bags have been all over my social media lately. I have a couple of cross-body bags from them that get daily use, and one is 20 years old and still looks good. I’m tired of the color of the oldest bag and maybe it’s time for a new one.

      Merino clothes are also all over my ads. I found a tee on clearance locally and haven’t tested the “wear multiple times without washing” promise yet, but if that’s true, I’ll probably buy a couple more from places in the ads that have more colors, mostly for a trip where packing light and temperature-versatile clothing will be needed.

      1. Hatchet*

        Seconding the appreciation for Portland Leather! I learned of them either through a recommendation here or on social media, but they have beautiful products. I love my purse from there and keep trying to convince myself that I don’t need anything else. (Also, they run regular sales.)

    18. OtterB*

      I’ve been buying Viasox socks that I think I originally saw on a Facebook ad. They are intended to be not too tight, for people with diabetes who need nonbinding socks. They’ve also recently started selling compression socks and I find them more comfortable than other brands I’d tried and given up on.

      I used to find things from Facebook ads more likely to be a good match for my interests (for better or worse) and more likely to be a reliable company, but both seem to be less true in the past couple of years. I do still look sometimes, but I’m much more cautious.

    19. Not A Manager*

      Prose. It kept showing up in my social media and finally I tried it. 10/10 I love the products. 2/10 I hate the website and ordering process.

      Cariuma shoes. If they’re good enough for Helen Mirren, they’re good enough for me, right? Wrong. Most uncomfortable sneakers I’ve ever worn. I barely got them on before I took them off.

      Sole Bliss shoes. According to social media, all the fashionable older celebrities wear these to accommodate bunions and whatnot. If they’re good enough for Queen Camilla, they’re good enough for me, right? Nope. They accommodate bunions and whatnot by having very deep uppers that your feet just bounce around in.

    20. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Pact underwear. They were having a sale otherwise they are fairly expensive for underwear but a great buy IMO. True to size, very soft and comfy and stay where they’re supposed to. I will buy again…in a few years…on sale.

      I keep getting a ton of bandana/hankerchief ads for several different companies…Handker is the most often. They’re adorable. I want them all. In my daydreams I’m the kind of nature-loving, hiking, outdoorsy woman who wears her hair tucked back in an artistic, botanic print, organic cotton bandana while picking wild berries. But I am not. I’m such a sucker for “lifestyle” marketing. They’re nice bandanas.

    21. I take tea*

      I haven’t bought on social media, but I wouldn’t have bought a silicone scrubber thingy for my hair when I saw it in a shop, if I hadn’t seen videos on YouTube recommending it. I always just used my fingers, but I must admit that it is more comfortable and my hair is less tangled.

    22. Freya's Cats*

      I found Snag tights and chub rubs through social media ads, be and they are perfect and I am so happy I found them.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes! I forgot I discovered Snags through social media. I don’t wear opaque tights; however, they now have the sheer tights, which are similar to pantyhose. I bought them to wear with the fancy dress I bought for formal night on two recent cruises. They were very comfortable, looked nice, and held up great. I had to size down, though. I didn’t realize how accurate their sizing is. Being that I’m tall and plus-sized, I’m used to the sizing being not quite right. Either things are long enough, but a little tight. Or too short, but fitting well otherwise.

        1. Freya's Cats*

          I’m also tall and plus sized, so I get the problem! Other tights always seem to stretch either lengthwise or across but never both at the same time except some of the more expensive brands, but I’d need the biggest size they carried and they would still pull themselves downward. I did order two sizes the first time but their sizing matrix is completely accurate so I needn’t have. I have just given the wrong sized one too someone else, and now they are hooked too.

    23. ElastiGirl*

      I have bought a lot of things I saw advertised on social media. I constantly take screenshots of gift ideas. But I always research the item and the company before I buy. (I won’t buy from Temu, for instance.)

      Best purchase was LUS Love Your Curls hair products, which I’ve been using for over a year after trying lots of mediocre products. I buy them from Amazon, not from the website.

    24. MCL*

      I bought a “bird on a wire” toy for my cat – basically a wire suction cupped to the floor with a bird toy on it. I didn’t realize the cup was sticky and I didn’t want to put it on my hardwood floor. I figured out a way to install it and my cat roundly ignored it. It was $30 but I at least could return it. Her favorite toy in the world is a 30¢ length of paracord. Oh cats.

  11. Anonymous cat*

    Happy weekend!

    Any recs for where to buy shrugs/sweaters? With warmer weather coming, I need to add a couple. I’m looking for something light and short, not like a full cardigan, basically to cover my shoulders and upper arms.

    I did try googling but there were so many! And I’m hoping for something really comfortable.

    1. Professor Plum*

      I have really good thrift stores near me. When I want something like this, it’s fun to look at thrifted options. Can easily afford several styles if you’re unsure if what you’ll like.

    2. Workerbee*

      I ended up resorting to Amazon for exactly this! I used search terms like “short sleeve crop bolero shrug” to cast a wide net. I only wanted cotton – there are far more synthetic shrugs out there – but found two, which will be at my house tomorrow to try out.

      1. Anonymous cat*

        Too many synthetics is definitely a problem. I’m also looking for the cotton ones.

    3. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Nic + Zoe has a four-way cardigan in a light cotton that I absolutely love and own in about five colors. It comes in different fabrics and weights so you need to check and be sure you have the lighter one. I’ve found them on ThredUp for a lot less money. I’ll post a link as a reply to this comment.

    4. ccsquared*

      I’ve gotten some good lightweight, warm-weather cardigans from Stitch Fix! They sell clothing by the piece now – you have to create an account and do their style profile, but you don’t have to do the monthly subscription anymore to buy from them.

    5. Rainy*

      Amazon is good for things like this, ime. If you search for “short sleeve bolero” you’ll find a bunch of listings and one of them will probably work.

  12. Silent E*

    This is a thank you to Dr. Doll, who posted about the critical blood shortage in the US in the Jan 20-21, 2024 Weekend Open Thread. Because of where and when I’ve lived abroad, I was unable to donate for years, but had recently heard that those restrictions had been lifted. Dr. Doll’s post motivated me to confirm this, so I then scheduled a donation for the end of January. It went well, and I have committed to being a regular blood donor going forward thanks to that post. Thank you for that nudge! (And a blood donation is indeed a great excuse for a big burger or spinach and kale salad afterwards!)

    1. Snell*

      Oh, hey, I did a walk-in donation this week! Last time I donated was in college and I don’t even remember who with, but it turns out the donation center I went to was the same people behind the mobile drive from years ago, and they still had that record of me. I also want to start donating regularly, and that, combined with my reinstated-as-of-this-year gym habit made me feel like 2024 is the year I start good habits. Except I was only just over the minimum requisite hemoglobin, and when I was looking up information about it later, I learned it’s very common for female athletes to be anemic, ugghhh. So my two good habits are in conflict and now my next project is a concerted effort to up my iron. I never fussed to much about my diet since it’s been pretty good my entire life, mostly wholesome food cooked at home, occasional dining out as a treat, but now I’m paying scrupulous attention to things like the bottom of the nutrition label for minerals that I’ve never cared about in the past, and doing stuff like dumping a spoon of cocoa powder in everything it won’t clash tastes with.

        1. Snell*

          Thank you! Looks like a solid resource. I think my worst problem is giving up my caffeinated drinks. As I understand it, it’s not the caffeine that’s the problem, but coffee and tea (my preferred form) apparently both have other components that inhibit iron absorption.

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      Silent E, thinks for bringing this up since I missed the earlier thread. I only found out from your post here that I am once again eligible after longstanding restrictions were lifted (residing in the UK in the 1980s). I will definitely be donating again now. Thanks!

      1. Silent E*

        Ah, cool, I paid it forward in a way! So glad to hear my post was helpful to you, too. Thank you for donating blood. I think of it as a renewable resource that I’m happy to share.

    3. mreasy*

      The blood donation center I go to has an amazing burger place a block away. I told them they should leave coupons at the donation center! Truly the most well-earned burger & fries.

      1. Once too Often*

        Yes, & they include reminders that the FDA regulates blood donation & collection. Thank you to everyone who supported & participated in the processes that led to the FDA changes in testing & donor eligibility.

        Blood donations really are the gift of life.

    4. Dr. Doll*

      Yay, you!! And thank you for the reminder back that I am now off my restriction as of whatever day it was this past week and I can schedule for this week.

    5. intothesarchasm*

      I didn’t see Dr. Dolls post but thank you bringing it up. As a regular blood donor for years, I feel like it doesn’t get enough attention and there are a lot of people who could easily give but it just isn’t on their radar. I work in healthcare, so it is has always been on mine and blood drives at hospitals (before I was remote) were an easy option. I am knocking on the door of being a ten-gallon donor and giving blood next week!

      1. Roland*

        I got my one gallon pin last time and was so impressed by all the double digit pins available! Very impressive and I’m sure you’ve helped save many lives.

      2. not my usual self*

        I’m universal donor, so I was really disappointed when I tried to give blood, they couldn’t get enough out so said they had to throw away what they’d already gotten, and then I had a huge painful bruise for weeks that wouldn’t respond to hot compresses or anything. Now my husband won’t let me go back because of how that went. I really wish I was able to give blood, but if it results in the blood getting thrown away and me being injured, it doesn’t seem like it’s really benefiting anyone.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          FWIW I had a similar problem and they told me to hydrate like hell the 24 hours before. It you have tiny veins/flow too slowly they will have to stop before you’ve filled the bag. If I drink about twice as much water as I usually do the day before I donate, I fill the bag in 15 minutes. (If it’s at least 80% full they can still use it. I’ve had my share of those too.)
          Doesn’t stop the bruising, but I get that from regular blood draws too, so no real avoiding it. HTH.

    6. Time*

      I also donated blood after seeing that post! I think it might have been 20 years since I last gave blood (due to living overseas). So that’s at least 2 people who gave blood who might not have otherwise. Good job!

    7. Roland*

      I also donated after that post! I am going to look into the blood component donation once I am settled into my new home.

    8. RedinSC*

      I’ll have to check out whether I can donate now. I lived in a Chagas zone for a couple of years so was also not able.

      thanks for the suggestion

    9. Jackie*

      I have donated for years but then was told by a phlebotomist that as you get older you might not want to donate as it takes your body a lot longer to replenish. Has anyone else heard this?

      1. Phryne*

        Don’t know how old is older, but the blood bank agency in my country has recently raised the maximum age to 79. My mother is 74 and still gives three times a year, that is the max for women here, men can give 5 times a year. I think in the US they have a higher allowed frequency though? My dad had to quit because of meds he has to take. I think it depends on your personal health much more than age.

      2. Lime green Pacer*

        I’m a regular blood donor aged 60+ and just donated a week ago. In Canada, they stress pre-hydration, salty snacks, and snacks and rehydration afterwards. When I follow that protocol faithfully, I don’t have many problems. When I skip it, I can be pretty fatigued for a couple days after giving blood.

    10. Spacewoman Spiff*

      Thank you for sharing this! I’ve never been able to donate blood for the same reason, and since the rules changed I’ve been kind of overwhelmed and confused about how to become a donor–it’s just honestly something I never expected to be able to do. I’m going to put a little more effort into researching where I can donate in my area.

    11. Almost Academic*

      Woah thank you for posting this! I was unaware of the rule change and also fell under this restriction – making an appointment to donate with my partner next week!!! Woohoo!

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

      I had a good hair day today — nice misty morning gave me curls. : )

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      We had our phone center annual meeting yesterday and I won one of the awards; “Service Beyond Expectations.” It was funny because another CSR had won theirs first, then turned it over and said hey, this is for GOT! I did my best to look surprised when my name came up, but I don’t think I fooled anybody :)

    3. Annie Edison*

      I discovered that the songs from Girls5Eva (fun little comedy show on netflix) are available in full versions on spotify! I will 100% be jamming out to BPE and other gems this weekend while cleaning. I wanted to share here since a few other commenters mentioned enjoying the show a few weeks ago

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I finally finished knitting a blanket I started over ten years ago. I wasn’t working on it the whole time, it languished in a WIP pile for a while, and the original yarn got discontinued so I got discouraged and put it away again, and and and. But I got it out back in January and it is done and I love it.

      1. office hobbit*

        Congrats!! As a fellow haver of decade+ wips, that is impressive and must feel fantastic to have done (and to like the finished object!).

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            my mom-quilt isn’t that languished, but it was to be my 16th-18th-21st-25th-30th birthday gift. (I was 32 when mom finished it.)

          2. star*

            i also have a quilt that my mother started before I was born, maybe before I was thought of! she finished it when I was in my mid-late 20s.

          3. allathian*

            I have a nearly finished knitted scarf that I started when I was 15. I’m 52 now. Oops!

    5. A Girl Named Fred*

      We got to do a really great above-and-beyond thing for an incredibly sweet old lady at the place-that-shall-not-be-named today, and she and her daughter were SO thankful and touched by it that it was a great way to cap off an otherwise blergh week. I don’t want to say too much for anonymity’s sake, but, we helped her check off a bucket list item and she even got to do a little more than we thought we’d be able to make happen!

      I’m also getting my first facial ever tomorrow, so I’m hoping that will be some nice self-care to help de-stress after the blergh week.

    6. Filosofickle*

      The deciduous trees are all coming back to life, so many new leaves and blossoms. My emperor japanese maple has the most beautiful red glow!

    7. Lemonwhirl*

      Finishing work on Friday was sublime joy for me. It was a very busy week of too many hours, first one back after a restful week of holiday.

      My absolute favourite time of the week is after dinner on Friday night, when the whole weekend is stretched out in front of me. It was extra amazing this week, given the week that was in it.

    8. germank106*

      First fishing trip with my husband in almost three years. He has overcome so many health challenges and wants to give it a try. I haven’t seen him this excited in a long time.

    9. PhyllisB*

      This is going to sound like an odd “joy,” but my mother’s memorial service is today, and I am so touched at the number of people who have reached out, brought a meal, or done other kind things.
      I know at least six people planning to attend that either only met her once or not at all but are coming to give emotional support to me and the rest the family. It’s overwhelming.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      A vicarious small joy: Oldest bought a house, and my spouse got to talk her through replacing her first light fixture. He was thrilled.

    11. fallingleavesofnovember*

      Spring is finally starting here and all my early bulbs (crocus, Siberian squill) have come up! Daffodils should be soon now! And yesterday we had a Northern Flicker hanging out in our yard/tree all day – they are just such a cool looking bird.

    12. londonedit*

      It’s FINALLY about 20 degrees C and vaguely sunny here in London. The weather has been exactly the same – grey and miserable and very very wet – since Christmas, so it feels like there’s no way it can be mid-April already, and everyone has been so miserable. But it’s finally sunny! And it’s not raining! It makes such a huge difference.

      1. NeonFireworks*

        I walked all over the city today enjoying the warmth and lack of rain and the partial sunshine!

        I wandered along a very busy Charing Cross Road and heard something playing the Macarena. It was a pedal-cab. The cyclist-driver had two passengers…and they were enthusiastically doing the arm movements along with the song whilst they went by in full view of the street. It was delightful.

    13. fposte*

      I saw eclipse totality! I enjoyed it greatly, saw it with a good crowd for a nice communal experience, had good clear skies, and don’t feel the need to travel to see it again. So a win in all fronts!

    14. Hotdog not dog*

      My garden club did a really fun workshop where we printed designs on cards using flowers, leaves, and other natural materials. The cut ends of romaine lettuce look like roses. The best part was just relaxing with friends to do a fun little craft.

    15. Elizabeth West*

      Watching the solar eclipse with my coworkers. :) I usually WFH Monday and Friday but I went in on Monday and took extra glasses with me. Although we could see it from the window, we went down to the street for the peak visual. Boston only had 92% coverage, but it did get noticeably dim — outside lights on some of the nearby buildings came on, and some car headlights did too. Pretty cool.

      I’d love to see another total eclipse. Perhaps I’ll be able to travel outside the U.S. for one sometime.

      1. WorkNowPlayLater*

        We had a partial here (93%) with absolutely glorious weather – so a group of us went outside to enjoy it. I was (finally!) able to get some cool pics of the eclipse showing up in the shadows under a tree.

    16. Elle Woods*

      The weather. It has been pretty darn glorious around here this week and will be all weekend!

    17. Chaordic One*

      Forte A Cappella (the high school student singing group) dropped a new video (their third one this year) on YouTube this week. It’s a cover of Faouzia’s “Bad Dreams.” Probably their last video for the 2023-2024 school year iteration of the group.

    18. OtterB*

      Eclipse. Drove to stay a couple of nights in the path of totality, and incidentally also visited a national park I hadn’t been to before. It was somewhat cloudy, but high thin clouds and we could see it quite well. I was a space-crazy kid for many years, so this was enjoyable. And something of a bucket list item – I don’t expect to get another shot at this point.

    19. Dancing Otter*

      I have a cold, which is not joy-inducing itself, but it’s made me realize: all the masks and hand-washing actually worked. This is the first cold I’ve had since winter 2019-20.
      Also, I’m glad it’s only a cold. I got to use two of the free COVID tests before they expire, and they both came back negative.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I do too, and yeah, I can’t remember the last time I caught one! (Also did test; not COVID.)

    20. BikeWalkBarb*

      I get eggs from a “farmette” stand (their name for it) down the street. They’re a fun mix of colors and Thursday morning I had a green egg and a blue egg. Who needs Easter egg dye when there are so many kinds of chickens?

      Second small joy: Riding my e-bike through our downtown and coming up beside an older man with long white hair on a folding e-bike. I greeted him as we came to a red light and pointed to his e-bike, saying “Another E!”. He smiled and said, “Yep! More fun than labor!” A couple of blocks up he went left, I went straight, and another rider crossed ahead of me. Such a joy to be negotiating traffic made up of other small, friendly devices.

    21. chili oil*

      Very small joy: after much staring, I finally understand how to make the chevrons in Hildy’s striped jacket in the movie “His Girl Friday”. I don’t know that I’ll ever make it, but now I know how.

    22. allathian*

      We bought a new-to-us car, a 7-year-old BMW plug-in hybrid. It’s the first of our cars that’s “younger” than our son, and he’ll be 15 next month…

    23. Voluptuousfire*

      I saw Monkey Man on Monday (which was fantastic ) and I had the entire theater to myself. I saw at the Alamo Drafthouse and had my appetizers and soda and just absolutely loved the fact that I got to see this movie on my own. One of the wonders of being able to see a matinee on a Monday afternoon.

  13. Ring of Doon*

    Do you think jewelry made from the rings of a divorce couple is bad luck? To try and keep a long story short, my parents divorced when I was very young; it was a mutual divorce with them, realizing they should’ve just stayed friends rather than got married, but they both agree It was a good thing that they got married because it resulted in me. They’re still very friendly, with my mother, father, and stepmother, sharing Christmas dinner together of their own free will even though I’m now 28. At my college graduation, my mother and father presented me with a necklace that is made of my father‘s wedding band, and my mother‘s engagement ring, set into a heart symbol. It is very special to me, and probably my most expensive piece of jewelry, considering it is their wedding/engagement rings. So I only ever bring it out for very special occasions.

    I’ve realized recently, That not even meaning too it, I think of a special occasion as a wedding and it’s so far only been worn to weddings. I’ve brought it out to the last three weddings I’ve attended, one of which was as a bridesmaid. I will also be in a bridesmaid in an upcoming wedding that calls for gold jewelry. And I was thinking of wearing it. But now that I’m thinking about it, I wonder if anyone would ask me about my jewelry, and if I told him it was from my divorced parents, they would think that was a bad thing to wear to a wedding. In the past weddings, I’ve attended or been a bridesmaid in, everyone knew my history, and even knowing that my necklace was from my divorced parents, they knew the history to know that they are much happier divorced and it’s not really a bad omen. But I’ll also be attending a wedding in which I don’t know as many people except a few very close friends. I do wonder, if anyone asked about my necklace, and I told them the truth, they would see it as a bad to wear to a wedding. So should I not wear the necklace? Or am I just way overthinking this?

    1. Ring of Doon*

      Well I meant my screenname to be Ring Of Doom like Lord of the Rings but Ring Of Doon works too I guess

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I think you’re overthinking. If someone did ask, you could just summarize it as a family memento without elaborating.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        But I can count on one hand the number of times people have asked me about my jewelry… ever, let alone at someone else’s wedding.

    3. office hobbit*

      To me it sounds like a symbol of a relationship that is still strong, just not romantic, despite trying something that didn’t work out and having to make good but tough decisions. I wouldn’t worry about this. Alternatively if anyone asks you can simply say it’s the ring of doon.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      I wouldn’t worry about it unless you’re planning to wave it towards the happy couple like Maleficent and cackle with evil glee. If anyone does ask you about it just say it’s a family heirloom, or a gift from your parents (which it is!)

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        This is where I am.

        Like, if you got up at the reception and made a speech about how all marriages are doomed, that would be inappropriate with and without the prop.

    5. Professor Plum*

      It’s a celebration of your parents’ love for you. And that makes it beautiful. Wear it with joy for all occasions.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        They took something that neither would wear again and turned it into a symbol of the most joyous part of the marriage. That’s great!

        1. Patty Mayonnaise*

          Yeah this is truly the most beautiful use of repurposed jewelry I have ever heard. I’m honestly getting choked up thinking about it! I hope OP wears it as much as possible.

    6. Maggie*

      It’s not bad luck, it’s a symbol of the movement and changes of life and how you can make something beautiful out of something that didn’t previously work. That’s the beauty of jewelry too – you can melt it down and remake it or reset a stone and change the energies. If you want to cleanse its energy you can just run it under natural moving water. However I think its energy is probably good, realizing a marriage doesn’t work and then getting along and spending time with your happy kid is not even a top 20 possible bad result from a marriage. It’s kind of a good one all things considered tbh

      1. londonedit*

        Exactly – the most anyone is likely to say is ‘Oh! I love your necklace, where did you get it?’ and then all you need to say is ‘Thank you! My parents gave it to me’.

    7. Workerbee*

      In response to your first question: No.

      (And if the jewelry is diamonds, I paraphrase from “The Moonstone” by saying, “It’s only carbon!”)

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Wanted to make a Moonstone joke here but can’t figure out how to without spoiling it.

    8. Awkwardness*

      It is a necklace from your parents (no matter if married, living together or divorced).

      Also, if you think like that, it would be your parents in first place that brought bad luck onto you in gifting you this necklace. And you know that this is not true, right? :)
      For them it was a deeply personal gift to symbolize your connection.

    9. The Prettiest Curse*

      I think the backstory of the necklace is really lovely. It’s a great reflection on your parents and the strength of their relationship that they are still friends. The necklace is a symbol of their love for you and love is always appropriate at weddings! The necklace is good luck, not bad. Wear it proudly, with love and with zero guilt.

    10. Irish Teacher.*

      I wouldn’t tell people it was made from the wedding rings of your divorced parents, at least not in those exact words, at a wedding, but I think it very unlikely anybody would ask in detail about your necklace. At most, they might say, “oh, that’s gorgeous. Where did you get it?” and all you need to say is “my parents gave it to me” or “it was a graduation gift” or “my parents had it made for for me.” I cannot imagine anybody asking about what they had it made from.And even if they did, you could just say, “some old jewellery of theirs.”

      I see absolutely nothing wrong with wearing it. The only way I could see a problem would be if you went around saying, “oh, you know, this necklace is made from the wedding rings of my divorced parents!! So I thought it the perfect thing to wear to this wedding,” but presumably you wouldn’t do that.

    11. Pocket Mouse*

      Honestly, it sounds like a symbol of celebrating wonderful things coming from a marriage and a testament to the possibility of enduring love and forms of family even through personal growth, unexpected outcomes, and major life changes.

    12. HannahS*

      I love this story and I think it’s so wonderful that your parents gave you a symbol that represents their union resulting in you and recognizing it as good, even though their marriage didn’t last–you are the part that lasted, and I find that so touching!

      Personally, I would suggest wearing it to a wedding and to whatever other context you like, but given that some people are superstitious about divorce, I’d suggest that if someone asks, simply saying, “Thanks, my parents gave it to me.”

    13. Texan In Exile*

      Not bad luck at all! Something new and wonderful was created from something that was tried and didn’t work.

      We had the diamonds from my husband’s wedding ring from his first marriage made into earrings for me. There were seven diamonds and the jeweler made drop earrings with diamonds along the length. One earring is longer than the other. I wore those earrings to my own wedding and I am still happily married 15 years later so I think it’s OK. :)

    14. Courageous cat*

      Yes, you are intensely overthinking it! If someone asks, which they almost certainly won’t, you tell them the truth – your parents gave it to you as a graduation gift. Not sure why you’d even want to tell them a longer and more involved story than that.

    15. anon_sighing*

      Your mother, father, and stepmother share a harmonious family meal with you every year. This thing is good luck and a symbol of a beautiful friendship built on trust and good-will, not bitterness and resentment. I’d find it reassuring to know that even if my marriage didn’t work out, we’d still be friends and able to share time with our children without awkwardness.

      People don’t get divorced because they’re happy together is the saying, but this is literally a sign that just because you’re not happy together doesn’t mean you can’t be happy apart and together.

    16. nonprofit director*

      No, I don’t think it’s bad luck. For our first anniversary as a couple, not yet married, my husband had a beautiful pendant made for me from the ring and diamond of his very short first marriage that resulted in divorce. We were married for 34 years and together over 36 years until he recently passed away.

      And I think it’s lovely what your parents made for you. It’s a beautiful story for appropriate times. For times when you can’t tell the entire story, as others have suggested, you can just tell admirers that it was a gift from your parents.

    17. Samwise*

      It’s just metal and stones. It has a nice sentimental value to you. Unless it’s radioactive, there is nothing “in” the piece of jewelry that can cause anything good, bad, or at all to happen

    18. Part time lab tech*

      See in my beliefs, the process of cleaning and heating that’s needed to remake metal and stones into new jewelry would wash the previous energy imprint away. At this stage, any energy imprint would be from you. Also, your parents got it together to have a good friends and co-parenting relationship, that’s good juju to me!

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

      As many others have said, this actually seems beautiful, like it’s your parents honoring their very favorite thing that came from their relationship–YOU!

      I think your jewelry is filled with the excellent vibes of your parents’ deep love for you and their love for each other as friends. Wear it proudly, as a talisman of love and protection from them, and may everyone in its orbit feel the waves of love and protection emanating from it.

  14. Double A*

    What are literal broken stairs in your house? That is, funky stuff that’s kinda broken but you have a workaround that’s good enough that you never have actually bothered to fix the thing? And what would it take for you to fix the thing?

    Mine is our dishwasher. I installed it 6+ years ago when we moved it, but it’s not braced in the space so if you have both racks out it tips forward. The “good enough” solution is to only ever have one wrack out at a time. It’s a small job and I’m not even sure who to call, so I have never looked into fixing it. Honestly it seems like such a pain to go without a dishwasher for even a day that I doubt it’ll get fixed until the machine fully breaks and we get a new one that I pay someone else to fix.

    What are yours?

    1. A Girl Named Fred*

      I’m in an apartment, not a house, but – the first one that comes to mind are the two light switches in the kitchen that are wired upside-down (so they’re off when the top is pressed in and turn on when you press them down.) All of our switches were like that when we first moved in, and maintenance missed those two when they fixed the others. But I was so done with living in what felt like a construction zone (because there was a lot of stuff like that) that I thought screw it, upside-down it is.

      We also have an outlet in the guest room that doesn’t work, but I just ran a drop cord over from the outlet that’s covered by the bed. It drives my mom nuts that I haven’t asked maintenance to fix it but nobody else seems to care! xD

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        Another renter here, and my kitchen light switch is like that too: switch down for light on; switch up for light off. I kinda like it—it’s a small weirdness that gives the place character!

      2. Professor Plum*

        I have a bathroom with two switches in one outlet—the light is correct, the fan is not. And, yes, I live with it…sigh.

      3. Lemonwhirl*

        The house I grew up in had a funky wiring. If my brother was using something that was plugged into an electric socket, like his stereo, the basement light had to be on. My mom figured out that we could put a fridge magnet on the flight switch to let people know that the basement light needed to stay on.
        The one we used was a crocheted or woven hot air balloon. Because of the placement of the screw on the plate for the lightswitch, the balloon was big enough to cover the switch for the basement light. This workaround was kind of brilliant.

      4. The Prettiest Curse*

        We didn’t know about this until we got electrical work done before selling it, but our house in California had incredibly dodgy (and old) wiring done by a company that was notoriously cheap and incompetent. (This house was inherited, so we didn’t have a survey done before we moved in.) We lived in an area that was at very high risk for wildfires, so we were extremely fortunate that the terrible wiring never started a fire.

        1. But what to call me?*

          For years, it was just an accepted fact at my grandma’s house that you couldn’t use more than two kitchen appliances at once or have someone drying their hair in the upstairs and downstairs bathroom at the same time. It isn’t a particularly old house (1980s), just built by someone who got away with making some interesting construction choices by building the house for himself and then living in it for a few years. Fortunately the breakers were good, so there was no risk of electrical fire like yours had, but those breakers got flipped multiple times per visit anytime there were guests until they finally decided to pay to have it rewired.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            If one of us is drying our hair in the bathroom, the other cannot be running the desktop fan in the bedroom or *CLICK*

          2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            At my dad’s house, which was built in the 1980s or 1990s, you cannot run the microwave and the toaster at the same time. Breakfast involves a lot of negotiation. This house was built by an actual construction company, there just apparently aren’t rules about being able to run lots of small appliances at once in the kitchen.

            We solved this problem by storing the toaster in such a way that you’d pull it out and put it in front of the microwave when using it. At least that way it’s harder to accidentally trip the breaker.

          3. Anne Kaffeekanne*

            In my childhood home, turning on the vacuum upstairs would invariably blow out the fuse for the entire upstairs the first time you did it on any given day. It would work just fine for the rest of the day after turning it back on.

            That house had a lot of other issues too, at least some of which can probably be attributed to the 50+ empty vodka flasks we found dropped behind the outer facade while renovating.

      5. Bibliovore*

        lived in this house for ten years. the floor to ceiling curtains in the living room were deteriorated. the open and close mechanism was broken so they were always open. vacuuming them caused fraying so I couldn’t do that. I priced replacement drapes, levelor blinds, wooden slat blinds but never did anything. Finally last year when I broke my foot , my brother asked if there was anything around the house that needed doing.
        I said PLEASE take down those disgusting curtains and all of the bent and broken hardware.
        And he did.
        whew.

        In our apartment in NYC- the stove oven was broken and only one burner worked. You couldn’t use more than one appliance without tripping the breaker. Lived like that for 6 years.

      6. Angstrom*

        You can probably flip the switches with no rewiring. Turn off the breaker. Remove the cover plate, remove the two screws that hold the switch in the box, pull it out, rotate 180 degrees, reattach to the box, replace the cover plate.

      7. Elizabeth West*

        There’s a light switch in my apartment that doesn’t do anything. The kitchen runs across the back of the apartment and has two ceiling lights. The switches are across from each other — one is on the wall between the kitchen and the living room, and the other is behind the fridge next to the non-working one. When I turn on that light, I’m perpetually clicking the wrong switch. Sigh.

        1. The OG Sleepless*

          I’ve lived in the same house for 20 years. There is a light switch in the living room that doesn’t do anything. I have no idea what it was even put in for.

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            My house has at least two mystery switches. One is in the garage, and does not seem to turn on any of the non-working overhead lights, but might control one or the other set of them if we fixed whatever else was going on with any of the several eras of non-functional garage lighting still installed in the rafters. (When I have an electrician in for some of the other projects, I plan on ripping out all of the existing mystery garage lighting and replacing it with one set of new lights that actually work.)

            The other mystery switch is in the back of the hall closet and I have absolutely no idea what it might control (but it’s not the garage lights, because we tried that).

            We also have a light socket in the (unfinished) attic that seems to want to have the bulb turned on and off by unscrewing it rather than with a switch. (None of the mystery switches seem to make a difference there either.)

            Living room mystery switches usually control an outlet so you can plug in a lamp, but I assume you’ve tried that by now.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I had one in my living room in my old house. I finally figured out it was for the outlet under the window. The way I discovered it was by accidentally flicking it off and then the lamp plugged into said outlet didn’t work. I was so frustrated and ready to toss the lamp in the bin before I realized. D’oh!

      8. goddessoftransitory*

        Heh, we have that Steven Wright “switch that does nothing,” plus a thermostat in the bathroom that doesn’t turn anything on. Our building was originally a motel built during the World’s Fair and later turned into apartments so there’s lots of quirky little “leftover” stuff that would be a much bigger job to remove than just ignore.

    2. Enough*

      Years ago a friend of my daughter pulled the toilet roll holder off the roll. We just put the roll on the corner of the the towel rack. it’s easy to reach when sitting.
      I have a tv cable running from the outlet in the living room into what is now the den. It snakes over my front door. This was supposed to be temporary as the den is actually the dining room. I believe it’s now been over 15 years.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My parents redid the bathroom in our house when I was 10 and forgot to put in a TP holder, so we just always left it on the counter. (As a result I am chronically incapable of remembering to put TP on a holder even today.)

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I got a freestanding toilet roll holder for one of my bathrooms because the one on the wall kept falling off.

        The previous one was mounted on the wall at a single point and you hung the roll on a hook rather than inset in the wall or with two ends, and the entire thing was probably mounted wrong by the previous owner (who definitely did not understand that screws come in kinds), so it kept falling on the floor. The freestanding one solves the problem nicely.

        1. Clisby*

          I had one of those freestanding holders too – I like them. One of my friends didn’t bother with any special toilet roll holder – she had a really pretty basket big enough to hold 3-4 rolls and set it beside the toilet.

    3. office hobbit*

      What a list…the cords on almost all my blinds are fraying. Solution: only raise them halfway. An overhead light is burned out, and it’s one of those heavy glass dome covers I worry I’ll drop. Solution: a lamp. For years the toilet would continue to inflow water into the tank and my solution was to simply turn off the valve (finally fixed that). The kitchen tap only turns fully off if you do a special wiggle of the handle first. I also have one of those upside-down switches. The paint is literally peeling off in places (sellers applied latex paint over oil, we think–of course, I’ve been here long enough now I can’t really continue to blame them) and my solution is to ignore it!

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      The floor drain in my utility room will overflow if too much water goes into the utility sink at once. The washing machine drains into the utility sink and is too much water for these purposes. (The previous owner solved this by wrapping the drain in saran wrap – that was a fun day!)

      So now there are two dollar store buckets in the utility sink. When I run the washer, I grab the full bucket, place the other bucket under the washer hose, and dump the water down the nearby shower drain, repeat until washer is drained-ish.

      I did this for every load for the earlier part of the pandemic until vaccines were available and I could resume going to my nearby relative’s house to do laundry. (I also did not have a dryer hooked up and dried all loads on drying racks during that time, but that’s what I mostly do anyway aside from sheets and towels.)

      The right solution is probably to repipe the house (the house is over 70 years old and the utility room portion looks to have been put in by enthusiastic amateurs in the 1960s, so this is probably the right answer rather than something more piecemeal), which is on the “someday” list. I could probably afford it, but I completely lack the mental bandwidth to collect quotes from plumbers, get it scheduled, and live in a construction zone with no plumbing.

      1. office hobbit*

        This sounds so annoying. I had two ideas while reading that I wanted to share just in case they could help, apologies if you’ve already tried these or didn’t want advice! I can absolutely sympathize with not having the mental bandwidth for these things.

        Is it the total volume from the washer that’s a problem, or the volume coming in a short time frame? If that makes sense. If the drain could handle the volume at a trickle, I’m wondering if you could put a tiny hole in one of the buckets (bucket in sink with hose in bucket) so the water trickles out of the bucket and into the drain. Alternatively (if that won’t work) could you get a big rubbermaid for the drain hose instead of a bucket, so you don’t have to run and swap buckets out mid-load? You’d then have to empty that a bucket at a time, but could at least do that at your own pace. Or stopper the sink I suppose. That’s assuming the total water drained wouldn’t overflow the sink, so if you have a traditional top loader that wouldn’t work. Ooh or, if you or someone you know is a little handy, could you disconnect the drain pipe from the base of the utility sink and connect the drain, via adaptors, to a garden hose or long pipe that runs to the shower drain? That last one might be too bonkers.

        1. office hobbit*

          Wait lol for my final bonkers idea it would make more sense to just extend the washer drain hose somehow. But this would only work if the shower is nearby.

        2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Yep, it’s an ancient top loader so the overall water volume that needs clearing is more than the capacity of the sink. I suppose I could rig up something with a large outdoor trash can with small holes in the bottom to let the water flow into the sink more slowly, but I worry that the weight of all that water might cause issues for the sink, plus there’d be a trial and error process of how much water flow the sink can handle and the bad drain is under the washing machine so it’s hard to monitor at the “just starting to overflow” stage rather than the “water all over the floor” stage. The bucket brigade to the shower works, it’s just annoying because it means I have to be nearby and listening while doing laundry rather than just deal with it whenever.

          Eventually I’ll get the house re-piped (it needs it for other reasons) and have a regular washing machine drain installed while they have everything torn up. Alternately, eventually I’ll get a newer washing machine that uses less water, which would probably also work. This old machine seems to be working just fine though, since it’s from the era when appliances were built to last a long time. (And if I’m going to replace fully functional appliances, I hate my refrigerator a lot more than my washer. I am not going to get a side-by-side when it’s my turn to pick. Things pushed all the way to the back of a side-by-side are too hard to get to and don’t get eaten before they’re forgotten about and become cold temperature mold experiments.)

      2. Angstrom*

        How about a restrictor(drain plug with a small hole?) for the utility sink? Size it so the water drains out of the sink at a rate the plumbing can handle.

    5. Flames on the Side of My Face*

      The water line to our ice maker froze up about 10 years ago and there it has stayed. At this point I should offer the frozen water sample to science.

    6. Goldfeesh*

      Our living room has been partially painted for four (?) years and there’s no one but me to blame. To paint more would require moving out my and my husband’s desks which would require cleaning and decluttering the desks and moving them to the square center of the very small living room. Plus we have pet rats and I’m thinking I’ll wait another year until they’ve passed as I don’t want to expose them to paint fumes.

      Plus ever since we moved in in 2016-ish I’ve wanted to replace the ’70s carpet, but that is such a huge undertaking because everything would have to be moved out. Where do you put it all when it’s moved out? I suppose a storage place, but ugh. It’s one of those things we should have done before moving in but we were broke at the time.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        I have a few cracks in the plater that I meant to caulk over and repaint the room since a dozen or so years – hallway, utility room, and I think there’s one in the kitchen as well…

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        We redid all the floors in the house a few years ago – refinished what we could, replaced the rest. We rented a storage container that sat in our driveway and hired local movers. They moved all the downstairs furniture out for the first round, then moved that back in and moved the upstairs furniture into the container. We stayed in a hotel for a couple of nights when they were doing the upstairs. All the fun of moving and you stay in the same place!

        We knew we’d have to do the floors when we bought the house. At that time we had a toddler, two large dogs, and not very much extra money, so we decided to wait. It took 20 years but we finally got there.

      3. But what to call me?*

        My parents have had all their carpets replaced and I think the carpet people moved the big furniture around to different sides of the rooms as they worked. My parents did have to get all of the small stuff out the way first, though.

    7. Cordelia*

      one of the doors of the lower kitchen cabinets comes off if fully opened. I don’t have the right kind of fixings to repair it. I have developed a technique of opening it partway and holding it up with my foot so it doesn’t drop down and come off, while sliding plates in and out. I train visitors in this technique too. This has been going on for months, I could easily buy a new hinge, but I’ve just got used to it. Maybe today is the day!!

    8. Still*

      I have the exact same dishwasher problem and it’s probably not getting fixed unless we renovate the whole kitchen.

    9. tab*

      My husband and I just recently fixed this on our dishwasher. You can search “dishwasher tilting forward” and find a youtube videos on how to brace it.

      1. Double A*

        I’m gonna be embarrassed if this is a super easy fix. I’m about to enter a busy season at work but maybe a summer project.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      When we bought the house there was a closet in our bedroom accessing the space over the stairs that was badly designed in that the doorway was against the corner, rather than 3 ft in, so you couldn’t put any furniture in that corner.

      We still haven’t moved that doorway. It likely happens with remodeling this year, 20 years on.

    11. fallingleavesofnovember*

      None of the doors for our rooms upstairs actually close, they had been painted over and over so many times before we moved in. We mostly don’t care if they are fully closed since it’s just the two of us, but whenever we have guests neither the bathroom nor the door to the guestroom close unless you press them in just the right way – it’s actually more about doing it gently, but most people will just try slamming them closed!

    12. Mary Lynne*

      Our stove has an electronic control pad instead of knobs. The “up” button is worn out. So if you want to set the temperature higher than 350, you push the up button repeatedly in different spots, hoping to hit a spot that works. I do not have the touch – I have to call another household member, “Can you come set the oven to 400 for me?” I’ve checked into it, it would cost $300 just to have the service call and replace the panel, so I’m waiting for something else to break so I can get a new stove.

    13. The Week Ends*

      Fun question! Our refrigerator door ice maker works but not the water. It’s been like that for 10+ years. My son’s is the opposite. I’m thrilled to have handy ice so that’s good enough.

    14. Turtle Dove*

      The motor for the garage door broke at least ten years ago. Since then we open and close the big door by hand. I think of it as strength training. We secure it inside with a dowel shoved sideways into a hole in the frame. It’s no big deal because we store stuff other than cars in there, although occasionally I clear a spot for my car so I can park inside in the winter. We’d only get it fixed if we sold the house (no plans) or became too frail in old age to lift the door. Other issues in our 32-year-old home include a rectangular hole in the wall where a register cover won’t stay put and a bench on the deck that’s supported by crates since the base rotted.

      My mother’s home was her pride and joy. She’d scold me if she were here, and I’d feel embarrassed. But mostly I don’t mind and find it all quirky and amusing.

    15. GoryDetails*

      Oh, gosh! Let’s see: my clothes dryer stopped working a couple of months ago, possibly a simple fix (broken fan belt) and possibly a replace-the-dryer one. I don’t have to do laundry more than every 3 weeks or so, so I’ve been drying the clothing by draping it on curtain rods or furniture. Works pretty well, but I really should contact a repair person at some point.

      My oven broke several more months ago; definitely need to replace the stove. But the stovetop burners work fine, and I have a Breville toaster-oven that does a decent job of baking/roasting/broiling for small amounts of food, so I don’t feel the pressure to deal with buying a new stove.

      And, amusingly, an actual missing-stair: my back porch was clearly failing, the stair-riser broken and the stair boards falling off the nails. Despite the obvious dangers I put off dealing with that for WAY too long, cobbling together temporary repairs, walking on the edge of the steps, and “forgetting” to contact a repairperson… Eventually I reached critical-decision-point, realizing that I could not allow guests or delivery-folk to risk themselves on the ramshackle steps, and finally got the porch replaced a few months back. The nice new steps are solid and reassuring and I can’t think why it took me so long – other than a built-in reluctance to pick up the phone! [See above for still-pending issues.]

      I won’t even get into the Yard That Needs To Be Razed. Procrastination R Me, I guess!

    16. ccsquared*

      I’m in an apartment with one of those single unit stacking washer/dryers. The top door of the dryer will not stay open on its own, so at least once per laundry day, I’m banging my head or back while transferring a load. I’ve worked out a system to minimize this, but it seems like this is a design flaw that could have been anticipated?

    17. nopetopus*

      I rent, but my apartment toilet is really slow to refill the tank after flushing. It’s been like that for a year now. Since I live alone it’s not a big deal, but when guests come I have to warn them. A few weeks ago I finally bothered to Google to figure out what’s wrong (fill valve is leaking). Maybe in the next few months I’ll bother to go to the store the buy the replacement part needed ;)

      I know one of the only perks of renting is not having to fix stuff, but I hate having strangers in my home and try to interact as little as possible with the property management company. If the fix is cheaper than $50, I do it myself.

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        My people! I am also like this, and several friends/family/coworkers have commented that they don’t understand why I don’t just get maintenance to do XYZ. Same combo of “don’t want strangers in my apartment, especially now that we’d have to corral our dog” and “I’d like to learn how to do it myself for my (hopefully eventual) house.” The latter reinforces that I’m definitely related to my dad, who’s usually happy to answer my DIY questions and only crosses into “Yeah, let maintenance handle that” if it’s legitimately something huge/difficult/dangerous.

    18. Elle Woods*

      Not my house, but a friend’s. The door to the kitchen pantry is an old wood door hung like a barn door. The pantry door has to be slid open when they want to access the wall ovens because they can’t open them when the pantry door is slid shut. After a couple months of this, our friends got tired of sliding the door open and shut all the time to the point that now they just leave it open.

    19. goddessoftransitory*

      Our wretched, disgusting carpet. We live in an apartment so it’s way past the end of its life but can’t be replaced unless we literally move out. We keep hoping another unit will open in our building but no luck so far.

      I vacuum every week and dustbust every day and generally pretend it’s worth it.

    20. goddessoftransitory*

      Sounds like the bolts holding it in place have rusted out; that happened in our last place. It’s about a fifteen minute job to fix, so if you book someone it shouldn’t interfere with dish-doing too much.

    21. Sc@rlettNZ*

      For some reason, our hallway has a door in it – it’s located just to the left of the master bedroom and that part of the hallway leads to our two spare bedrooms (we jokingly refer to it as the North Wing).

      If the door is closed, you can only open it from the main house side. If you are in the North Wing bad luck and better hope someone hears you knocking. We just wedge it open and tell guests not to close it.

    22. fhqwhgads*

      The air conditioning ducts, although I didn’t know it was actually broken until like two days ago. One room has vaulted ceilings and it always seemed to be too hot, even when the rest of the house was really cold with the AC. For five years I blamed the vaulted ceilings/less insulation than the rest of the house. Turns out, the flex duct going to that space has a huge tear. Had someone up in the attic for an unrelated thing and they mentioned it.
      I coulda/shoulda/woulda had someone check the ducts this whole time to see if anything could be done, but just…didn’t.
      Gonna get it rerun though, now that I know it’s such an obvious easy thing.

    23. Onomatopoetic*

      We have a gas stove and the lighter had been broken for years, it’s stuck in the on-position. I did get it fixed once, and it broke pretty quickly again. We just pulled the plug and use matches.

    24. Pocket Mouse*

      Part of one faucet handle on the kitchen sink broke and has a sharp edge. For the last year-plus it has been covered over with painter’s tape to avoid causing injury. I’m sure it would be a 2-minute fix for the super to do once we request it.

    25. MissB*

      Not quite the same as broken, but our exterior door to our enclosed back porch has never been locked. When we moved in 21 years ago, we realized we didn’t get a key.

      And it is fine. We will replace the exterior back door and have the new lock keyed to our existing key.

      But we’ve managed for years. There is another door that separates the house from the porch (kind of an interior exterior door?) and it has a lock.

    26. dot*

      Our waterline going to the outside spigot leaks. Workaround is closing the shutoff valve directly in front of the leak when not in use, and when we need to use the hose there’s an old empty potato salad container hanging from the pipe below the leak via a repurposed clothes hanger. No one has been very motivated to fix it otherwise.

  15. fallingleavesofnovember*

    Recommendations for wireless headphones to go with a Google Pixel phone? I like ear buds that fit directly in my ear, don’t need/want total noise-canceling, and ideally under $100. I like the idea of wireless charging but given most of them seem to have cases that allow additional charge, I think I’d be fine?

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I’ve been using Jabra Elite 3 earbuds with my Pixel for almost a year and I really like them. They charge in the case (and I think the case holds a charge for awhile so you don’t have to keep it plugged in all the time, although I do just so I don’t misplace it)

      1. Melissa*

        I bought some tozo earbuds on Amazon, they were about $30 and they’re great! Long battery, charge in case, and you don’t have to download an app and set up an account to sync them which was important to me.

    2. Lemonwhirl*

      Highly recommend Raycons. They cost about $80 and are pretty perfect. they are charging in the case all the time, and about once or twice a week, I plug in the case to charge.

      They’re occasionally fiddly about connecting, but I can usually solve that by holding my phone close to an earbud.

    3. Gracie*

      I use the Google Pixel A-Series earbuds that came with my phone as a package deal – the ones I got a year ago are going for £85 now. Not total noise-cancelling but definite noise reduction, charge in-case. The A-Series is a different shape to a lot of buds and has a soft, flexible sticky-out bit that braces against part of your ear (idk, just look at pictures) so do poke your ears a bit and see if that shape would work for you

    4. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I have had a number of affordable earbuds, including many raycons. I liked them ok, but ultimately I wanted an earbud with a tactile “click” function on the earbud itself, vs a touch/sensor only interface where you have to single/double/triple tap rapidly to do functions. I found click ones I like a lot (SoundPeats from Amazon) and I retired all others. Just another factor to consider!

    5. Roland*

      I recently got a pair of Anker Soundcore Space A40 earbuds and I like them a lot. I believe they were the budget pick in a Wirecutter article I found. They fit well (4 tip sizes available) and the case keeps them going for a long time, though I never listen for more than 1-2 hours at a time so idk how long they last without time in the case. I think the active noise cancelling is pretty good for earbuds, but fwiw I’ve never used any other earbuds with noise cancelling.

  16. fallingleavesofnovember*

    Second question – we are planning a trip to Greece and looking at the second half of October! Any suggestions/advice? We’re hoping to relax and not move around too much, at the moment thinking 3-4 days in Athens, 2 days in Meteora, and a week or so on an island (leaning toward Naxos in the Cyclades). We like hiking and biking and want to avoid renting a car.

    1. saf*

      We spent 10 days in Athens, and could have spent more. The archaeological sites, the city itself, and the museums…. there is a LOT there.

    2. Bluebell Brenham*

      Many years ago I did a Greek island trip and we covered Athens, Samos, Crete and Rhodes. I loved how Hania in Crete was very Venetian, and we did a fantastic gorge hike there.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I loved Meteora, which really embodies the meaning “rocks in the air.” A really unique spot.

    4. BikeWalkBarb*

      I know someone who absolutely adored the island of Thermopylae and plans to go back. Low-key place is all I remember about it.

    5. Cat Wrangler*

      We went to Hydra for a week during our Greece trip, about fifteen years ago. No cars allowed! It was marvelous. Monemvasia was the other high point of that vacation (Not sure you can get there without a car, and driving the scariest mountain roads I have ever been on in my life, but we made it and it was amazing.)

  17. Blomma*

    I got some great advice not too long ago about travel to DC. Unfortunately the trip is off because I broke my ankle yesterday and know from past experience (I broke the other ankle 5ish years ago and am still recovering from it, ugh) that I’ll be nowhere near recovered enough 2 months from now for a solo trip.

    I’d love recommendations for funny tv shows, movies, and even books. I started re-watching Arrested Development last night and would like some other suggestions. I generally watch British murder mysteries and feel like I need something lighter/happier. I don’t like gross/crude humor or anything too secondhand cringe inducing (I have no desire to watch either the UK or US The Office).

    1. Past Lurker*

      I remember laughing a lot watching The Money Pit, with Tom Hanks and Shelley Long. I haven’t seen it in decades though, so I’m not sure how well it’s aged.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        “Yes, there is a term for ‘almost late.’ It’s called ‘on time.’ “

      2. OtterB*

        I haven’t watched it in some years, but my husband and I still laugh and quote “Two weeks! Two weeks!” (an estimate on how long it will take to repair something that will, of course, take much more than that)

    2. Bluebell Brenham*

      During the pandemic, some of the comedies we watched were Brooklyn 99, and Parks and Rec (season 1 isn’t that great so start at 2). The Good Place is also great, and Northern Exposure is from the 90s but is streaming now and very sweet. Fisk is Australian and has a bit of cringe, but I love how the main character perseveres. Ghosts and Abbott Elementary are both on network tv now, and pretty light.

    3. Fellow Traveller*

      If you like audiobooks, I recently listened to 10 Things that Never Happened by Alexis Hall and I laughed out loud so much! It’s like an audio book version of your favorite Richard Curtis rom com.
      I also recently read Textbook by Amy Rosenthal and so much of that book made me laugh too.
      I’m so sorry about your trip! I wish you a smooth and uneventful recovery!

      1. Blomma*

        Thank you for the suggestions! I’m disappointed about the trip for sure but at least (due to procrastination) I hadn’t booked flights or a hotel yet so I’m not out any money.

    4. Goldfeesh*

      Northern Exposure has recently come to Amazon Prime, watch it if you get a chance. It’s light-hearted, no crude humor, magical realism type of show. The first few seasons made me so happy, it reminded me of living in the ’90s and being a kid. The nostalgia hit me hard.

      Psych sounds like it’d be right up your alley. It’s a detective show/comedy, but it doesn’t get gory or crude. The main character claims to be psychic, but he’s more like a Sherlock Holmes when it comes to noticing things.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Northern Exposure was awesome! (The fake-vintage-wine episode is among my favorites, but I really loved the whole series.)

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          My favorite is the one where a townsperson’s ancestor is found to have resorted to cannibalism back in the day, and instead of horror everybody starts pondering who in the bar would be best to eat if worst came to worst. They settle on Shelly because she’s young, healthy and in very good nutritional shape due to being pregnant, and she’s thrilled and flattered.

      2. Blomma*

        Thank you! I do really like Psych but never finished watching the entire series. That would be a good one!

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      Schitt’s Creek has similar humor to Arrested Development but skews more wholesome/inoffensive. The Good Place is also excellent, and Pushing Daisies is really sweet and quirky (there is some gross humor about cartoonish deaths, think along the lines of seeing someone who got killed by a giant waffle maker having grid marks on their face).

    6. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Ugh, I’m so sorry! I broke my shoulder in February and spent several weeks lying about and streaming content. Things I watched: Brooklyn 99, Girls 5Eva (I was surprised how much I enjoyed this), Community, Kim’s Convenience, Leverage, the Cormoran Strike series, and both Mummy movies with Brendan Fraser (very random but fun) and the 2 good Indiana Jones movies (2 & 3).

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        The Mummy is one of the best adventure movies out there and filled with eye candy, whatever your preference!

      2. Blomma*

        Thank you so much for the suggestions! I’ve been meaning to watch Girls5Eva because I love Sara Bareilles so that might be my next show. I hope your shoulder is doing much better!

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      White Collar and Leverage stand out for not being about murder. There is very little murdering. People can commit other sorts of crimes, like elaborate heists.

      Both have good chemistry between the main characters.

    8. Andromeda*

      Community!! My favourite show ever. About a group of unlikely chosen family and their adventures, and its sense of humour leans towards the wacky.

      1. Bluebell Brenham*

        I didn’t recommend Community because it can be snarky at times. But if you loved Community, give Animal Control a try. You get Joel McHale plus dogs, a cow, a horse, and a fun supporting cast!

        1. Andromeda*

          Community is dry and a tiny bit dark sometimes — the characters pretty much to a one start out in rough places — but IMO the love they have for each other really does shine through, and you’ll want to go on adventures with Troy and Abed. I DEFINITELY want to try Animal Control, as an animal obsessive and

          OH also speaking of family, Bob’s Burgers occasionally does some mild grossout stuff (fart jokes, the occasional toilet reference, a main character is a teenager going through puberty and has TMI moments) but is generally very wholesome.

          AND FINALLY I highly recommend One Punch Man, which is a silly anime (no, wait, don’t click away!) about a superhero who accidentally got so powerful that superheroing has become boring. It’s really accessible even if you don’t watch anime at all, I’ve heard good things about the English dub, and its visuals are often A++ tier.

          1. Bluebell Brenham*

            Still haven’t watched Bob’s Burgers but The Great North has adorable quirky dynamics and the songs at the ends of the episodes are so funny.

            1. Andromeda*

              oooooh while I’m thinking about it, BB quickly settles into its groove but is a *much* less wholesome show in its pilot — there is a scene in ep 1 that is Very jarring given its rep now (including jokes about child abuse which merit a warning). you don’t need to start there and they kinda breeze through the objectionable stuff still but just in case!!

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m not 100% sure about lighter/happier, but Resident Alien with Alan Tudyk is hilarious – he’s an alien who has crash-landed in a rural Colorado town and has to pretend to be the town’s doctor while he looks for the parts to fix his ship, and shenanigans ensue. He learned English from watching Law and Order reruns.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I started watching this show this weekend and it is a very satisfying combination of Independence Day (aliens come to destroy Earth), Northern Exposure (alien gets a job in a snowy town as the town doctor), Twin Peaks (there’s a murder! or possibly a serial killer!), The Wonder Years (alien learns about himself by learning about humanity), and even a bit of The Fosters (because adoption/parenting issues).

        Needless to say, it ticks a lot of boxes for me.

        Insert Law and Order “dun dunnnnn…”

    10. nerdgal*

      “Catastrophe” was very funny. Another light show that is diverting is “Emily in Paris.”

    11. Maestra*

      I’m in the last few weeks of recovery from ankle surgery so I know how you’re feeling! In my recovery I watched The Irrational (NBC/Peacock) and Girls5Eva (Netflix). I also did a lot of crossword puzzles. Recently, some books I’ve enjoyed were North Woods by Daniel Mason, The Appeal by Janice Hallett, The Berry Pickers by Amanda Peters, and the Monk and Robot books by Becky Chambers. I hope your recovery goes well and that you’re back on your feet soon!

      1. Blomma*

        Thank you for all the suggestions! I love The Appeal and am rereading now. Did you know there’s a sort of Christmas sequel to it?

        I hope that you continue to recover well! I’ll find out for sure next week if I need surgery, but it’s unlikely.

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      I love Death in Paradise and Murdoch Mysteries, on BritBox. They’re both crime-solving but fun rather than grim. Same with Father Brown.

      We just finished Forever Knight, a cult favorite out of Canada that has a repentant vampire working as night-shift homicide cop. That one is a lot of fun, if dated in some respects.

      Of course, Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax remain my go-to gold standard for fun and laughs.

      1. Blomma*

        Thank you! I’ve seen some of Death in Paradise and Father Brown and those would both be good ones to pick up again. Thanks for all the suggestions!

        1. Freya's Cats*

          There is also a spin off from Death in Paradise called ‘beyond paradise’ with DI Humphrey Goodman back in the UK. Also fun!

    13. Freya's Cats*

      I’m currently watching The Gentleman the series and I really like it so far. It is a Guy Ritchie creation, but not too over the top and it does have the same atmosphere of his better movies without feeling like more of the same. Not outright comedy, but not too dark or dramatic either.

    14. SBT*

      Seconding the recommendation above on The Good Place. Also highly recommend Loot (Maya Rudolph – absolutely hilarious) and Shrinking (both on Apple). The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is lovely as well.

      Reaching way back to when I had my own 3 weeks of recovery/couch time (8 years ago), and I binged Friday Night Lights and Parenthood while doing adult coloring books.

    15. I take tea*

      I’m so sorry about your trip, and hope your ancle will heal up well.

      I nth recommend The Good Place, my partner and I really liked it, as did my mother. The main person is a bit annoying in the beginning, but as the concept is that she’s trying to improve, it gets better.

      We have also liked BBCs Ghosts. (I can’t speak for the American version). It’s a little messy in the beginning, but the characters grew on us.

      1. Blomma*

        Thank you! I hope it at least heals faster/better than the other ankle :P

        It sounds like The Good Place should definitely be high on my list!

  18. Birthday Girl Sasha*

    I have a milestone birthday coming up (35) but I’m stumped for what I wanna do for it. A lot of the typical birthday advice I seem to find online are things that my friends and I already do or things we don’t want to do. We already do karaoke and paint nights on our own, and my friends are not big drinkers so we don’t really do brewery tours, or pub crawl. I just want to think of something fun and different to do for my birthday, but I’m feeling kind of stumped. There don’t seem to be many interesting events in the area, at least that means we would already plan to do on our own and not for a birthday gathering. For my 30th birthday, pre-Covid, we went to a dueling piano bar, but more of my friends drank at the time; most don’t anyone. So any thoughts for birthday fun?

    1. Rick Tq*

      If you like active things try indoor skydiving if there is a facility near you. Very safe, they give lots of training and supervision, and it is a lot of fun. I have done it a few times and really enjoyed the experience.

      The biggest thing is when you are out and in the air you aren’t moving, so I had no sense of falling, just floating on a cushion of air.

    2. Bluebell Brenham*

      These are stereotypically more girly but is there candle making near you? Or maybe a spa type thing? In my 30s I did a sauna steam room single gender party that was fun.

    3. acmx*

      Resort day? Lounge poolside.
      Check explore hidden. Com for events near you. Or try searching hidden gems + your city/near you
      Scavenger hunt? There used to be a service that was web based I think (kind of like how Jack Box is. It’s been years and my memory is poor.) and you walked around your city to find things.
      Night in? Board games, food, movies.
      Day trip (I’m doing this. I used guess where trips dot com cities are limited.)
      Sporting event? I like minor league hockey and sitting in loge. I watch sports more as a social event.
      Group cooking class? Saw a team event in where a group cooked dinner and then ate.
      Even tho you’re not big drinkers, maybe a special venue, dress up and have a fancy drink (speakeasy, tiki bar, rooftop).

    4. anon_sighing*

      Something silly and frivolous that you normally wouldn’t do. For me that was massages, spa day, mani-pedis, comfort food.

      Could also do a pajama or other concept party type of thing (sheet cake, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, junk food and all the works) — sometimes just back to the basics works.

    5. Helvetica*

      Depends on your interests and how big the friend group is but my dream small-ish (like 10-15 people) event would be a murder myster dinner. Now, you probably need buy-in from the guests to enjoy it and for it to be crafted well in general but I think if the circumstances are right, it could be a great alternative party.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        This sounds super fun! I would hire a company that puts these on if feasible, otherwise there’s sure to be “Do Your Own Murder” type websites or kits out there.

    6. HannahS*

      Hm, any interest in outdoors-y stuff? Or maybe a “tasting” of some kind (cheese, charcuterie, baked goods)? Group tour of a local attraction followed by brunch?

    7. Kiki Is The Most*

      * Even though you’re not big drinkers, ‘pub games’ night such as pool, darts, ping pong, foozball, airhockey and have it be a little competition?
      *Adult arcade of video games and bowling?
      *AAA baseball game? (I find them more fun than attending the expensive MLB ones).
      *Trampoline park? Go-karting?
      *Mini road trip to a festival? or lake? or fancy night in a hotel?
      *Picnic with boardgames, lots of snacks or have one at night and watch a movie projected onto the side of your home/apartment?
      *Volunteer together for an event? or at an animal haven?
      *Share the cost of a professional make up artist in your home to give tips/tricks?
      *If you are into athletic events, run a 5k together in honor of your bday? Or enter a shared triathlon together?
      *Have your cards read? (tarot)
      *Karaoke night?
      *Depending on size of group, attend a cooking class–learn to bake croissants or french bread?
      *Go listen to live local music? (or orchestra?) or see a play/musical?

      Happy Birthday!

    8. Blooming Marvelously*

      Theatre trip? Cooking class? Spa day? Pottery workshop or life drawing class? Picnic in the park? Zoo or aquarium? Alpaca walk? Dance class?

    9. Flower*

      This may be too specific to me, but on my 35th I went to a bookstore and bought all the books I loved as a child/teen that had somehow disappeared or been given away. I even bought them in hardback. It made me so happy, and 30 years later I still reread them.

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      What attraction or touristy type thing in your area have you never bothered with because it’s labeled “for out of towners” in your brain? It can be anything from the local haunted house tour to tulip field walks to going to the top of [fill in local famous thing.]

      I’ve been on our local Underground Tour twice, for example, and learned a lot about the seamy corruption that went into building this town!

      1. JR 17*

        Ha, this line of thinking is why I didn’t visit Alcatraz til I was 25. And then it was amazing!

    11. Jules*

      Are you committed to a group celebration (vs. solo)? For my 35th birthday last year, I did a weekend at a hotel on the private floor and enjoyed the bougie turndown service, exclusive lounge, a bunch of reading, and a spa day. For my husband’s 35th I threw him a surprise party on our friend’s rooftop.

    12. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      You could do a fancy afternoon tea if there’s any place that does it in your area – scones and little sandwiches and dressing up.

    13. Onomatopoetic*

      I got a fantastic gift for my half century birthday from a group of friends: we did a visit to a glass blowing studio. I got to blow a vase (could have been something else too) and it was a marvellous experience. Combined with a nice picknick and sightseeing in the small town it took a whole day and it was a super day and a fond memory.

    14. carcinization*

      My husband and I did a beekeeping class awhile back and that was really interesting. Also, I know escape-rooms are much maligned here, but I participated in one as a work thing before and it was actually fun. Finally, are there any places around you that do trivia nights? That might be fun with a diverse group of friends since maybe different people know about different subjects? I know some people associate those with drinking heavily as well, but the one I go to is at a restaurant and some folks are definitely having soda or tea while playing.

  19. German speakers!*

    Does google translate work well English to German? Is there a better resource? It would just be for casual convo type translation.

    1. anon_sighing*

      It works fine – it’s one of the languages in the app that I find has a lot of “Reviewed by contributors” translations for common tourist questions and phrases.

      Could also consider DeepL and PapaGo (a Korean translation app, you can do English to German) but Google Translate is fine for basic things.

    2. Abroad again*

      No. But Google translate never works well. Automated translation is just not good enough to do anything well, regardless of the product. I’m not familiar enough with what is out there to recommend anything that might be better. What automated translation does is good enough to get yourself understood in concrete situations. Better than nothing, but don’t expect well.

    3. Still*

      Depends on what you mean by a casual convo. If you mean trying to communicate with a person who does not speak your language, it works really well. It sounds a bit funny and it can mistranslate something here and there, but overall, it gets the message across. Don’t use it to create the German dialogue for your book, you’ll just end up sounding silly.

      1. German speakers!*

        Just writing a card. But yeah, was wondering if translators translate the sentence or just the words (is the grammar or sentence structure correct)? Nothing important.

        Sorry, I wrote this at the end of the day. Also, I talk in my own head more than with other people nowadays lol

        1. Still*

          The translated sentence will usually be grammatically correct. Often it will even translate idioms correctly, though it can be a hit and miss, and it depends on how widely used the language is. E.g. if you type “it’s raining cats and dogs”, the German, Spanish, and Polish translation will be correct and idiomatic, but the Swedish will be a literal word-by-word translation.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, but that’s because there’s no equivalent expression in Swedish, or at least I can’t think of one, and my family of origin’s bilingual Finnish-Swedish.

            As a professional translator, I always prefer to translate the idiomatic meaning (it’s raining unusually hard) rather than a word by word translation that makes no sense to the reader. Until translation algorithms learn to do the same, I figure they’re only marginally better than nothing.

            1. The Big Goodbye*

              It was raining in the city by the bay. A hard rain. Hard enough to rinse the slime…

            2. Still*

              That was my point: google couldn’t find an equivalent idiom so it did a word-by-word translation, which makes no sense in Swedish. “Det spöregnar”, “det regnar jättemycket”, “regnet står som spön i backen” would all have been okay. “Det regnar katter och hundar” is… not.

              1. allathian*

                Absolutely. Likewise “the rain is standing like fishing rods on a hill” makes absolutely no sense in English!

                But if Google Translate could be trained to translate “it’s raining cats and dogs” to “regnet står som spön i backen” it’d be quite something. Both are idioms, after all.

                1. Still*

                  Oh, but it does for Polish, German and Spanish! I think it just comes down to how familiar Google is with the language. It does absolutely translate idioms to corresponding idioms in a lot of cases.

        2. David*

          Don’t worry, translation programs know about grammar :-) People have known forever that just translating individual words without regard for context produces gibberish, and no self-respecting company would put out a translation program that works that way. These days a lot of the programs use machine learning models which can be fairly sophisticated – not perfect, but they get the point across most of the time.

          Try finding a German website and running it through your translator of choice to translate it into English. That will give you a rough idea of how sensible the output of the program is.

      2. The OG Sleepless*

        I used Google Translate for English to Chinese (written) to talk to a guy who was buying something from me on Facebook Marketplace. It worked fine, a few incorrect verb tenses.

    4. Helvetica*

      I find that it definitely works better for some languages than others. I use it a lot for Russian-English translation for Reasons but I definitely need to go through and correct things, which I can do since I do speak Russian. German is probably a big enough language that it could have similar effect but it may also be awkward and too formal for casual conversations (not great at picking up nuances).

      1. Madame Arcati*

        I use it for short things to cut down on the awful hunt and peck using a Cyrillic keyboard map, but yeah you have to go through it carefully.

      2. anon_sighing*

        I didn’t want to get into it in my reply (since I assumed this was a simple tourist situation), but +1 for this. It defaults to being formal and a little stiff in German – which is good if you’re speaking to strangers, but maybe not great for the post card (presumably to a friend…although they may be amused and touched anyway.)

        OP, look into Reverseo and their Context feature. I really like it and it’s helpful to understand how the word is employed.

    5. sagewhiz*

      I correspond regularly with a married-to-a-shirttail-relative-relative in the Czech Republic using Google Translate. It works okay but is soooo time consuming.

      I write in English, then translate that to Czech, then open another translate window, copy the Czech there and translate back into English and re-read to make sure it *says* what I want it to mean. Which always means having to tweak something and re-translate some more! Then when the Czech is finally correct, I copy and paste that into a new e-mssg to send. Writing Petr can take hours!

      Thanks anon_sighing and Awkwardness for alerting me to DeepL—will give that a try in hopes it’s better.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Interesting! I’m … not sure that accurately translating back to English via algorithm, when generated by an algorithm, would relate to whether the sentence is more or less correct in Czech. Has your relative looked at the two sentences and agreed the second one is more accurate?

        1. sagewhiz*

          Ah! I hadn’t thought of that. As he speaks no English, I’m not sure how I would ask. But it’s obviously mistranslating when an English “she” come back as Czech “he.” And some colloquial English just doesn’t shift well into another language. He’s mentioned that too re Czech phrases not working the other way.

      2. German speakers!*

        I did this once with a Mexican customer because what he emailed me didn’t make sense. it actually did help (for this email).

        But I also learned from a German coworker* that ‘constellation’ has more than one meaning and he did not mis-translate (he was fluent in English. Apparently, I am not ;-) ).

        *Former coworker isn’t involved with my request.

      3. carcinization*

        Wow, I had to look up what a shirttail relative was, never heard of that, google says it’s a common US term but my husband and I haven’t ever heard of it and we even listen to “A Way with Words” most weeks!

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      When my daughter was taking crash German lessons in Germany, she and her landlady communicated through Google Translate.

    7. TX_TRUCKER*

      I’m amazed how much Google Translate has improved in the past few years. It works best if you write short sentences and not long rambling sentences that you might use in a casual note.

    8. WestsideStory*

      It works well, probably one of the better efforts from Google. I used it a lot when I was commutting to DACH and it’s better now. However, ify you have the opportunity to run it by a native speaker first, I’d recommend that

    9. Phryne*

      I think Google tends to work pretty well for translations to and from English in the ‘bigger’ languages, certainly three European ones. Don’t recommend it from one smaller language to another.
      Tried Dutch to Danish and vice versa, not good.

    10. I take tea*

      The only machine translator I’ve used that was actually any good is DeepL. Can’t say about those languages, though.

  20. tree frog*

    I’m looking for makeup recommendations! Specifically for drag/costume/performance, but any suggestions are welcome. I’m new to makeup and hoping for some advice on what I can try as a beginner that isn’t too expensive but won’t be impossible to work with.

    1. Generic Name*

      Mac is good for high coverage and bold colors. I suggest going to a counter and asking to try on stuff.

      1. Fun with color*

        Agree on MAC, have used their products for years! For more options, Sugarpill, Colourpop, and NYX have great color selection and quality at a reasonable price point. NYX and Colourpop are sold at many Target stores.

      1. Anonymous 1*

        It’s a program Amazon runs. We are reviewers. If you see this message at the top of a review–“Vine Customer Review of Free Product” that’s one. It’s by invitation only. I was curious if anyone here also is. (I didn’t use my regular AAM handle for this question even though it’s quite different from my Amazon Vine name. I keep myself very anonymous.)

    1. Anon Vine*

      I am! I’ve been doing it for about 8 months. I’d say about 50% of the things I’ve gotten have been great, 25% are okay, and 25% were duds. How has your experience been?

      The “recommended for you” section is very hit or miss. I was hoping it was influenced by my search terms, but if it is, those items are only a small number of the options that show up. There’s also so many duplicate listings and junk listings where the image is so badly photoshopped I’d never consider whatever the item is. Women’s clothes in particular are awful for photoshop. These issues are not unique to Vine, but it’s odd that the sellers would bother paying for the Vine program if they’re almost certainly going to get bad reviews. Very few name brands, since they don’t usually need the help, so I try to keep a look out for small businesses.

      Something to note – the product and shipping are free but we do pay tax on 1099 forms on the value of the items (if you order more than $600 of stuff), so it’s more like a discount of 70% off the item. I believe it’s still by invitation only, but the main (only?) criteria is to have written a lot of product reviews and had some percentage of them marked as helpful.

      1. Anonymous 1*

        Hi Anon Vine,

        Glad to “meet” you. I do okay but I am really fussy about what I take. I think like everyone I went a little bananas at first but have long since settled down. I tend to practical items. I’m not sure what percentages I’d say but maybe along the lines of yours. There was a discussion about star ratings among Viners recently. I went back through my reviews and realized that I have used one, two, three, four and five stars regularly, though in the last, say, six or so months, I have gone more to the higher numbers, not because the items are changing but because I have returned to being particular.

        Yes, to the amount of junk. Grabbing worthwhile items is a hit-or-miss proposition. Sometimes I get lucky, sometimes I go days with nothing of interest. As long as it stays interesting to me, and I don’t mind spending the time it takes to do a well-written review, good or bad, I will stay. If it ever stops being interesting, I’ll leave. It’s a fun gig but it doesn’t make my life.

        Anyway, glad to meet you!

        1. Anon Vine*

          Happy to meet you too! Sounds like we have very similar approaches. Happy bargain hunting!

  21. Frankie Bergstein*

    Does anyone feel “on top of” their retirement? I mean not only saving (a big ask in and of itself) but having a sense of your portfolio and how it’s doing, how do you draw your savings down, how will you deal with emergencies in retirement, what do you do when you’re on a “fixed income” but inflation doesn’t stop?

    I think I understand the saving and investment part, but what after that? How do I think about things like budgeting for long term care, home health aides, and housing modification?

    Do you all have thoughts or good resources?

    1. anon_sighing*

      I’ve started with just mapping out my major expenses now and then projecting forward. Getting the house paid off (or looking into the cost of senior living and from there, what age you will retire and how much yearly rent is to see how much of your fixed income will go to that), occupational mods to the home (i.e., getting a rail in the shower, a stair lift, a ramp — essentially, if I were disabled tomorrow, could I live in this home? — because you should be thinking about this now, not as something far off in the future, tomorrow is just as unpredictable as 20 years from now), medical expenses (I recently was eligible for an HSA and started there), food budget (start good habits now – bulk cooking, reducing food waste, low effort cooking), taxes.

      It’s incredibly hard to predict how much medical care you will need – my parents need very little at their age that Medicare doesn’t cover. I know many people who aren’t as lucky. The best thing to do, if worried about your health, is to stay on top of it so that what you are planning for in the future is truly nature at work and not something that you will say “Ah, wish I’d been more diligent about that…!”

      All that said, you can only do so much to prepare for a future you can’t predict. You might win the lotto. The economy might fail completely. You may end up moving somewhere else and the equations all change at the last minute. Just take it piece by piece. You will live similar to the way you do now in 40 years, give or take a few things.

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        This is so helpful! Are there ways you’re making your map of future expenses systematic? I guess I could watch my parents and in laws and base it on that? Eg if they’re healthy and traveling in these five years, they need X.

        My place has lots and lots of stars right now ‍ but I could handle a disability with some inconvenience and reaction, I think. Really good advice. I like how you are thinking about this.

    2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      My biggest concern is what to do with my time.
      I’m nearly 60, house is paid for, and as I calculate, my pension alone (from 64 years at the earliest) will keep me afloat with a reasonably frugal lifestyle. Savings are sufficient that I can pay myself a lower-end salary on top for 30 years, so I can retire any time when I feel work’s no fun anymore.
      I did some house modification (walk-in shower) already when I had the bathroom remodeled, just in case. Healthcare and long term care is (in a worst case scenario) covered by social security here (not in the US) so that’s less of a concern, at least financially.

    3. Atheist Nun*

      If you live in the U.S.: The National Council on Aging has several resources, including a Medicare Cost Estimator to help you think about what your health care costs will be.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I feel very underneath it, if on top of it is good haha. I haven’t managed to roll over all my 401Ks into one account because I keep thinking I might leave my current job soon – I should have just done it when I first started thinking this a year ago and it would be sorted. Also I thought I was doing okay just to find recently that they now say you need basically double what they used to say by age. So the goal was to save a million – already incredibly daunting, and yes I understand compounding interest – and now they’ve actually updated it to say, sorry, you need $2 million now. It’s really hard for me because I own an old home with a lot of needs, so it’s basically like I need to have a nearly-unlimited amount of cash on hand to deal with emergencies while also putting away a nearly unlimited amount to hit my retirement goals. Too bad I also have to pay my mortgage, food, and credit card bills!

      1. Professor Plum*

        What I finally did was pick a brokerage with low cost expenses, for example Vanguard, and rolled all of my IRAs into an account that was not job dependent. Each time I changed jobs—or the company I worked for was bought—I could do a rollover. I had better offerings, more control and less statements coming in.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I’m looking at this! But don’t you need to be part of the company’s 401 plan to get their match? Perhaps there’s an option to make that an IRA too and I just haven’t checked before. Will check!

          1. acmx*

            I believe they’re talking about IRA funds that are not part of their 401k. You would rollover your previous 401k monies into Vanguard. It’s been awhile so double check but I think you can’t move your old 401k into you’re current 401k? I thought there was a time limit but could be wrong.

            I’d just move all of your old 401a into Vanguard or other fund.

          2. Professor Plum*

            Current 401K stays with your current company. Any 401ks that are still in prior company accounts can be consolidated into a single brokerage account. Then when you get a new job, you can rollover into the brokerage account rather than bringing it to the new company.

          3. ronda*

            when you leave a job and have a traditional 401k, you can 1. leave it there 2. roll it over to a traditional ira (no taxes due) 3. roll it over to a Roth IRA (must pay taxes on it as income), or 4. move it to your new employer 401 k if they allow that.

            the investopedia web site has lots of good articles about what each of these are the considerations / pros / cons of each.

      2. nerdgal*

        Neither of those numbers is helpful. A better (still rough) rule of thumb is to estimate your yearly expenses in retirement, subtract expected sources of regular income like Social Security, pensions, or annuities, and multiply the result by 25.
        People’s spending and income sources vary so widely that general rules like “you need x dollars” don’t really mean anything.

    5. Emma*

      Something I think people underestimate is the cost of care, if you can’t stay alone safely anymore. so either having people come to your house, or moving into something like assisted to living or a nursing home. This is typically not covered by insurance, from what I’ve seen.
      If you’re really poor, going to a nursing home may be covered, but the options are typically bad (like one star on Google kind of bad).
      You might call around to get an idea of current pricing – when we did this for family, it was something like $8k a month in our area. I don’t know if that’s accurate everywhere, but definitely thousands per month.
      I recently had a friend looking for care for her mother, who quickly realized that her mother’s finances would not cover any kind of decent nursing home or assisted living, so they’re going to have her live with them for as long as they can.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I never quite understand that part of it. From what I understand, paying for long-term care or ongoing in-home care is so expensive that basically no “regular” person will ever be able to afford it. You could save several million and not be able to afford it. So what everyone does, is off-load their funds and go on medicare to pay for such things. I understand that not every person will need that level of care – but the emphasis on personal savings seems odd to me. (And from what I have read, long term care insurance is rarely a good investment).

        1. Frankie Bergstein*

          All of this is spot on. More of these facilities are becoming owned by for-profit entities so the situation is moving in the wrong direction.

          Yes – I am fun :)

          1. Sloanicota*

            My poor generation really doesn’t understand how screwed we are that retirement became a “personal responsibility” thing where it’s all about how disciplined you were about putting aside money in your earning years (especially in the beginning – the exact point where you are most desperately poor and underpaid!), vs a pension model. Like so many other things – reducing your carbon footprint! supporting your kids through college! – this has been off loaded onto individuals and made a moral failing rather than looking for structural, social solutions.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              Two minutes of back of the envelope math reveals that the idea of saving for “everything” required of American middleclass life is so outrageous as to be absurd, not to mention insulting. The only way to “afford” being older in this country is obscene amounts of inherited wealth.

        2. fposte*

          Right, your choices are generally self pay, long term care insurance, or Medicaid. Private pay is betting that your stay will be short enough that your assets will cover it; a lot of people aren’t in skilled nursing that long and may even stay within the Medicare coverage timeframe of 100 days. But a lot of people are, and long term care insurance is an uneven product prone to massive rate hikes—some people also report difficulty in getting the insurer to cover what’s needed, while others have better luck. Medicare, for when the money runs out, limits your facility options, since some facilities don’t accept it, some that do aren’t great, and some facilities accept it but only after you’ve paid directly for a period of time, often two years.

          I’m on the waiting list for a continuing care retirement community in my town; once admitted to the independent living, I am entitled to a place to the assisted living, skilled nursing, or memory care aspects. Since I’m in a low cost of living area and I’ve got a university pension (which facilities love because it guarantees they’ll get money), the cost is comparatively affordable, and as a single person with no kids I want to preplan my own care as much as possible. There’s still a dice roll on when I actually join the community, in that I can’t just decide to move in when I already need skilled nursing, but hopefully 70 or so will be good timing.

          1. Sloanicota*

            I wonder how many people, as a percentage, do end up needing it long term. I assume more women than men and, unfortunately, probably more privileged groups live long enough to have a slow decline compared to the under-priviledged who may die sooner of other causes or poor health care throughout their lives.

            1. fposte*

              Most of the stats are pretty easy to find. What I’m seeing us 70% of people over 65 require long term care (defined as including home health care, assisted living, skilled nursing, etc.). Average length of use for women is 3.7 years and men 2.2 years.

              I’m not sure income affects this that much, at least not when you’ve made it to retirement age. It could definitely affect age at needing care, but COPD, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, etc. make their slow trudge with everybody.

              1. OaDC*

                Speaking strictly of nursing homes the average stay is much shorter. But 21% of people who enter a nursing home will be there 5 years or more. (Source, Northwestern Mutual.)

            2. goddessoftransitory*

              I remember an episode of Roseanne where this was discussed; her mom had bought into one of these communities and R worked out they made a fortune because they were betting most of the residents would die before needing the more expensive options they paid for (and no refunds, natch.)

              1. fposte*

                Depending on the contract and your stay there, you might actually get a partial refund if you leave alive, and your spouse might get one if they leave after you die.

                The for profit CCRCs are absolutely betting they’ll make money off you, same as any insurance. The not for profit ones, like the one I’m planning to enter, are still wanting the actuarials to be in their side and won’t, say, admit you straight to skilled nursing at the independent living rate, but they’re more concerned with developing the place generally than getting a profit off of each individual.

        3. Miss Buttons*

          Long-term care insurance was a lifesaver for my Dad, enabled us to keep him out of a nursing home, paid for in-home care for almost 5 years. It’s affordable if you know how to shop for it and don’t wait too long to get it. Hubby and I got it in our early 60s and the premiums are reasonable. Premiums get much higher if you get it in your 70s, and some companies won’t insure you if you wait until 80. Don’t expect it to pay the total cost of nursing homes, no policy we shopped for would pay that much. But the coverage for in-home care is good, at least for our policy. So if you’ve already placed your home in trust, it’s a good option.

          1. Sloanicota*

            I keep hearing they may spike the premiums so much that you won’t be able to afford it as you get older. And of course, if you drop out, everything you’ve already put in could be gone.

          1. Miss Buttons*

            Medicare will pay up to 100 days of nursing home care, but only immediately after an in-patient hospital stay, meaning the patient is discharged directly to the nursing home or rehab. Long-term slots in nursing homes are Medicaid or self-pay, and will be increasingly hard to find as the boomer generation ages. You might get a Medicaid slot if your home is in trust and you meet the look-back period, or you have very little in assets. If placing a home in trust, do your homework and choose a lawyer who is very savvy about the changes to Medicaid laws. You need to make sure you have the right kind of trust to hold up legally.

          2. fposte*

            I was talking about both, but I see that in the 6th line I said Medicare when I meant Medicaid—good catch, thanks.

          3. goddessoftransitory*

            Yes, 20,000 dollars or under, I think it is. My mom is OBSESSED with keeping her assets above that line and it’s driving me and my sister nuts.

        4. Emma*

          Yeah, our country needs some systemic reforms in this area.
          The places that our relative qualified for were abysmal, and she really really didn’t want to go into care. We ended up cobbling together a few hours a day of in home care (paid for by family), a few hours of care paid for by the government, set up things like grocery delivery, and then she was just alone for the rest of the time. It was truly unsafe towards the end, and she likely would have had to go into one of the not great nursing homes, if she had lived for another month.
          Most people cannot afford good care. I wish there were better state-run/paid for options.

        5. Clisby*

          I think you mean Medicaid, not Medicare. Medicare doesn’t really pay for long-term care.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        My state recently instated long term care insurance to be taken out of paychecks, like health care is. The express purpose is to help people jump start saving for nursing home and in home care and try to relieve crushing debt and state resources being overrun.

        The backlash has been HUGE and it most likely will be dropped. Sigh. I don’t like having my paycheck nibbled at any more than the next person, and I understand that plenty of people are stretched for day to day expenses as it is, but many of the comments about it seem to imply the governor/state legislators are doing this for sheer evil fun, not trying to finagle a tremendous expenditure.

        1. Sloanicota*

          There needs to be a social solution, but I’m not sure that’s it. Especially because insurance is always a gamble; you may well be better off just saving up your own money.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Be sure recommend looking into Medicaid for your friend’s mom! (I’m sure she knows about it but just in case; this is exactly what it’s for.)

    6. nerdgal*

      I have many thoughts!
      First of all, if you are worried about inflation in retirement (like everyone should be), your retirement accounts are not invested correctly. People in their working years should have a healthy allocation to equities. That’s your inflation protection.
      Which leads me to your “sense of portfolio and how it’s doing” question. People need an Investment Policy Statement and a plan for periodically re-allocating so they meet the policy statement. I am a BIG fan of index funds, but even if you aren’t, your IP statement should include a bemchmark that is made up of indices of the same general composition. For example, if your portfolio is 50% stocks, 40% bonds, and 10% cash, then your benchmark could be 50% US Total Stock Market, 40% US Total Bond Market, and 10% US short term Treasury Bills. That’s just an example.
      There are many good books that explain these concepts. One of my favorites is “Live it Up Without Outliving Your Money” by Paul Merriman

    7. Texan In Exile*

      Yes. We work with a financial advisor (fiduciary? the kind where he is obligated by law to act in our interests and not in his own) at Raymond James. Our original advisor – he came with the IRA my husband inherited from his parents despite the parents’ wish to disinherit him (keep your beneficiary designations up to date, people!) – retired last year and this guy is his replacement.

      I like him. He’s been in the business for years and he understands our goals. RJ has these worksheets you do with what you expect to spend money on and helps you plan, which is what our advisor uses as a guide when we talk about strategies. He insists on meeting twice a year at least to review the portfolio which is a pain in the neck but it’s such a good idea.

    8. fposte*

      I would recommend looking at the bogleheads wiki, which has a big section devoted to retirement, including a start-up kit.

      1. Cicely*

        Many thanks, fposte. I just went to the site and it looks fantastically informative and comprehensive.

    9. Emma*

      Google draw down percentages — how much of your retirement you should expect to use per year, when planning for a 30 year retirement. I believe the most popular rule is 4%. If you can figure out how much you would need to live off of annually, that can help you figure out how much you’ll need to save.
      Fidelity also has some estimated savings goals that they recommend, that you can search for. Like saving 5x your salary by a certain age– they list various ages, and the milestones they recommend.

    10. Kr*

      I feel like my husband and I are perhaps more prepared than some but less prepared than others. I think that we could do better and be more intentional with our saving and investing but at least 15% gets taken out every paycheck and it is in a target retirement fund for our age so I know in theory I am doing things right. It never feels like enough to be honest, but we don’t have the budget to dedicate to more savings at the moment.

    11. Busy Middle Manager*

      I think about this all of the time, and still can’t directly answer your question. I am basically on target for my age, but most of it is from the last 7 years, so if I continue, I will be way ahead. Saving overall is my biggest expense now, so I sort of hope retirement falls into place because my biggest expense after taxes will no longer exist. Though I know that’s not normally how it works. But I’ve been maxing 401K roth IRA and started maxing my HSA last year and that little extra account makes my current budget tight as heck but I hope it means I can relax in my 60s and now I’d sort of addicted to the idea of having an HSA to draw from in the future for those medical things

      My biggest concerns is expected returns. All of those charts with 10-12% a year go from years when stocks were undervalued and dividends were high, to now, when stocks are bubblicious again. So I have way more of a bond-to-stock ratio than I “should” have for my age but I follow stocks for a hobby and so many of these earnings calls are, eh, very far from what I’d expect when you read all of the “record earnings” headlines. I see earnings growth on icy ground to say the least. I am positioned for a rocky economic time and am thinking about wealth preservation this year. I figure if I save alot and plan while, then the future stuff falls into place.

    12. Girasol*

      I keep my expenses in a spreadsheet – how all the money is spent – so that I know how much money I need. I plug that into an investment calculator (mine is with Fidelity, but Vanguard and T Rowe Price and some other companies offer similar ones.) Then I put in what money and investments I have, when I expect to retire, and how old I expect to live. The calculator maps out my financial situation at different ages, using a “monte carlo” algorithm to offset how the changing economy might affect my situation. The tricky bit is that there are expenses in age that you don’t have when you’re younger, like medical care beyond what Medicare covers, and end of life care, which you have to research and estimate. There are also emergency funds and rare purchases, like a new car or a new roof, that you have to plan for. But once you’ve done all that, you get a picture that you can be fairly confident with.

  22. Indigo64*

    Can anyone recommend a nanny payroll service (USA)? We are hiring a family friend to nanny for 12 weeks during the summer. Our needs are basic- we just need help figuring out the taxes and we’d like to pay monthly, since we only need it for the summer. Thanks in advance!

    1. Emily Elizabeth*

      I don’t know how the parent experience is, but as a nanny, my nanny family and I currently use Care’s HomePay and it has been straightforward and easy from my end. Poppins Payroll is also one I see recommended a lot on nanny forums.

    2. WestsideStory*

      We observed the 90% coverage on the lawn at the Museum of Natural History in NYC, as we had done for the lesser event in 2017. What impressed me both times was how mellow and sweet the large crowd was. NYC gets s bad rap sometimes but the community is therefore

    3. fhqwhgads*

      Poppins Payroll was great and easy and is monthly. They handle all the quarterly tax stuff. You can cancel after the summer but still pay them a one time fee to do the end of year tax stuff too.

  23. WoodswomanWrites, let's share eclipse stories*

    For those who observed the solar eclipse, or attempted to, how was it?

    My trip to rural Ingram, Texas was great. It was overcast but the breaks in the clouds provided snapshots in different stages which I enjoyed seeing. A lot of what made it special was observing things in nature. The temperature dropped substantially. A cool breeze started up where the air had been still. The wild birds stopped singing and the domestic chickens all sat down quietly. The crickets and insects began chirping. And gradually all of that switched back to before. It was truly awe-inspiring over about half an hour.

    Experiences in nature are a big part of my life. This was my second eclipse that I deliberately sought out, both in the US, and I can understand why there are people who travel all over the world to be part of these wondrous events.

    1. Tax Widow*

      We drove 2 hours to a small town with a nice park. It was beautiful. Glad you had a good experience.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I decided not to travel. (I went to totality for the 2017 eclipse and it was great; highly recommend.)

      Where I live it was about 93%. The temperature dropped noticeably and the light and sky got really weird–it was dim like morning or evening, but with the sharper tones of midday rather than the warm yellow/red of sunrise/sunset. You wouldn’t notice it sitting inside, but if you were out walking it would definitely feel weird, like something was about to happen, maybe a storm.

      I made a pinhole camera by using a literal pin to poke a bunch of holes in a greeting card, and watched the image go from circle to crescent on the deck railing. (My spouse’s lab rigged together a fancier pinhole camera.) Only after the peak did I learn of the colander hack, which I tried–it works, if you have a colander with small circular holes–and would definitely employ next time.

      Close to the peak the birds started singing like early morning. This seems to vary based on location, where the birds change whatever they are doing, and sometimes that’s to break out in song and sometimes to go quiet.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I’m reflecting on my experience. I saw it in 2017 and it was absolutely mind-blowing. My mind could barely comprehend what I was seeing. The clouds had been gathering that morning but right as the eclipse started they burned off and my view was perfect. This time the reverse happened; it was a perfect sky when it started (I was also in Texas) but the clouds kept gathering and by the time the short window of totality started, we were looking through them and didn’t, in my opinion, get the full effect. Although my pictures were better. The people I was with were still very impressed but I think I found it a bit of a letdown, and didn’t want to admit it. I came away bummed although I realize I’m lucky to have seen it at all, and to be able to travel with family, and that viewing natural phenomena is just like this sometimes! No guarentees.

    4. HannahS*

      I was in an area with 99.8% totality…but it was cloudy. It was still cool; I went to my local beach and it was like seeing a sunset on a cloudy night. But I do think I would want to see a full eclipse without clouds, and might seek out an opportunity to see one in the future.

    5. Just another auditor*

      I live right in the path of totality, so didn’t have to travel anywhere. I work for a CPA firm, so couldn’t take off work, but the partners were great. We locked the office right before it started, and spent two hours sitting behind the building, sharing snacks and watching as the sun became smaller and smaller, then disappeared. Streetlights came on, crickets started to chirp, everything went dark and still. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen, and I am so glad we got to enjoy it! We got very lucky, as we live where April 8th is normally cloudy. The morning started off with light rain and low clouds, but by noon the sun was out, and while clouds were around for the eclipse, they were high and thin and spaced out, so it didn’t effect our viewing at all. Truly a wonderful experience!

      1. Mobie's Mom Now*

        Are you in NE Ohio?! Your weather on the day sounds like mine! I was sure it would be a bust and we wouldn’t get to see the eclipse because of cloud cover, but it cleared up nicely!

        1. Ginger Cat Lady*

          I was in NE Ohio for the eclipse (just west of Columbus) and my experience was very similar. Well worth the trip!

        2. Just another auditor*

          Yes, NE Ohio. Knowing our usual early April weather, I was not expecting much, so it was a great surprise that the weather cooperated so well!

    6. aubrey*

      I saw totality and it was amazing! Truly a unique experience, partial and pictures do not do it justice at all. I thought it might be too cloudy, but I’m glad we made the 2 hour ish trip because it cleared up perfectly, right as partial started. We got a really epic 360 degree sunset, and I saw solar prominences with the naked eye that are apparently several times the size of Earth!

      I was thinking of going to Iceland in early 2026 for a milestone birthday, now I’m thinking of going for the eclipse there rather than on my actual birthday. Having this experience has also reignited my interest in seeing other amazing natural events, like northern lights, and I’m planning a few trips now.

    7. GoryDetails*

      I live in southern NH, and drove up to Vermont with a friend to experience a solid three minutes of totality. [Had seen the 2017 eclipse from the comfort of my backyard hammock, but not-quite-totality is a completely different experience from totality.] We did allow for heavy traffic, but it was even worse than anticipated; a normally-three-hour drive took 5 1/2 hours. We found a nice small town with plenty of parking and an open, flat park area for viewing – other folks were there too, but it wasn’t mobbed. There were light clouds, which prevented our seeing the actual shadow race across the grass, but the moment when the moon obscured the sun was as dramatic as I could have hoped for. Got to see the “Baily’s Beads” phenomenon, looking like a couple of brilliant gems set along the corona. (During the lead-in to totality, while viewing the notch taken out of the sun, I could almost hear some kind of SF-movie soundtrack – celestial grinding of gears, that kind of thing…)

      One of the things that impressed me most: the *moment* when totality ended, with the merest sliver of the sun reappearing, it was as if a global light-switch went on; the area went from dark to daylight in an instant, or so it seemed. Marvelous experience, and worth the excruciatingly long day in the car. [The trip home took as long as the trip up, despite our having a lovely dinner in Burlington VT in hopes of letting the worst of the traffic ease up. Apparently everybody else had the same idea {wry grin}.]

      I don’t know that I’d want to drive for that long again, but I’m glad to have done it this time!

    8. Eclipse traveler*

      We flew to Dallas. The morning started ominously, with heavy fog and clouds, but the strong winds gave us partial sun by the time the eclipse began, and we had clear views of totality. It was very cool! I definitely teared up a bit. It wasn’t life altering- I’m not planning future eclipse trips- but no regrets for this one.

      1. not jr*

        I went to Dallas for eclipse and it was amazing

        I will plan to go to Spain or Egypt in 2027 for the next one

    9. Meh*

      We went to upstate New York for totality. Drove 6hrs for it and spent day at local science museum where they had all sorts of activities, demos, etc.
      Totally overcast. Couldn’t even see the sun.
      But worth the few minutes of totality. Wish it was clear but glad we did it.

    10. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Hubs is a geologist and thus a huge earth science nerd. He drove to Kentucky for totality in 2017 and when he came home announced that we were going to Mazatlan in 2024 and so we did. We made reservations at an AirBnB three years ahead of time but didn’t think to make airline reservations in time and so ended up flying into Guadaljara and renting a car.

      The eclipse was AMAZING. I don’t really have words for the experience. We watched from the pool deck of the condo building and had a great view of the 360 degree sunset. One of the other renters was a science teacher from London who set up a pinhole viewer to project onto a piece of cardboard and had a white sheet to show the shadow bands. It was not quite 100% clear – there were some high clouds – and hubs said it wasn’t quite as spectacular as 2017. It was my first and I was in awe.

      I do have words for the drive back to Guadalajara and most of them are unprintable. It wasn’t traffic – we had an issue with the rental car and were seriously worried about getting stuck in the mountains without cell service. It all worked out in the end and I would do it again. In fact, we’re talking about Majorca in 2026…we’ve been to Iceland or we’d probably go there.

    11. Texan In Exile*

      My husband went to the 2017 totality and insisted I come with him to this one. We drove from Milwaukee to southern Indiana (about 7 hours) the day before, then went to a small town on the Illinois/Indiana border for the event. We had planned to sit on the benches by the river, but the river was flooding and the benches were covered with water, so we sat on a tree trunk instead. There were only a couple dozen other non-residents there, so it was very calm, very peaceful, not crowded at all.

      I was listening to the birds with Merlin well before the eclipse started and then again as we approached totality. New birds came into the picture and their songs changed! The temperature dropped and I had to put my jacket on. Then we heard crickets and it turned into dusk and the birds stopped singing and people cheered and it was AMAZING.

      We paid for two nights in a hotel and it took me 8 hours to get home the next day (Mr T left from Indiana to go hiking in PA) – train from the Indiana Dunes to Chicago, walk a mile to Union Station, train to Milwaukee, bus to my house, walk a mile home – and it was worth it. It was worth it.

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        Love the use of the Merlin app here. It’s probably my favourite app, but I’m not sure I would’ve thought to use it.

    12. Bluebell Brenham*

      I flew to TX and sibling and I drove to another town the night before. We visited a nearby friend and sat in her driveway to view. Yes, it was cloudy most of the time, but we got glimpses. And the darkness at totality was amazing. I didn’t get any decent photos but it was a really thrilling experience. So glad I was able to do it, despite the serious traffic afterwards.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      We were really lucky that the 2017 eclipse path of totality went right over my mom’s house. I saw a lot of this. We took lots of pictures of the crescent shadows.

      The black hole in the sky was so bizarre. I expected the moon to slide slowly over the sun right at the last moment, but instead, a manhole cover slammed down on top of it and the corona exploded around it. Like scoot…scoot…scoot…WHAM! Blew me away.

      For the recent one, I wasn’t in totality, but I’d really like to see that again.

    14. Josephine Beth*

      My husband has been planning for years, and I grudgingly tagged along (not a big science person). We stayed in a spot we love in Northern Maine and drove to the Katahdin area for the eclipse itself.
      It was spectacular, awe-inspiring, and truly an unforgettable experience. I am so grateful he convinced me to join him, and it has weirdly brought us even closer together. I have yet to find a photo or video that captures just how incredible the experience is, and I am so glad I spent the 3ish minutes just absorbing it without trying to get pictures (although I do wish I had a photo of his face when he saw it – pure joy!)

    15. Forrest Rhodes*

      My West Coast area is in the 50% zone, so I figured I’d just make sure my errands would keep me outdoors during the eclipse.

      First stop: local library. Unexpectedly scored a pair of eclipse glasses, and stood around with a few other people outside the library, gazing up. We looked like those 1950s photos of people in a movie theatre wearing 3-D glasses.

      Second stop: local grocery store parking lot. I pulled into a parking slot, then stood next to my truck with the glasses on, gazing up. The group of street-worker guys standing nearby grinned at my repeated “Wow!”-ing.

      I grinned back, held out the glasses to them, and said, “You guys want to take a look? You really ought to see this!” The six of us stood around for probably 30 minutes, passing the glasses around as if they were a bottle in a brown bag and discussing the concept of the sun, moon, and us just floating around in the universe. My fractured Spanish worked pretty well, considering.

      Third stop: driving home from the grocery store, I saw a man on the corner of the boulevard, sitting in his beach chair next to two telescopes on tripods, both aimed at the eclipse and with protective shields in place.

      I screeched to a halt at the curb and joined another dozen or so people, taking turns at the scopes. Again, much wow-ing and bilingual conversation about space. The astronomer in the beach chair pointed out the tiny sunspot we could see through the scopes and told us that the spot was something like twice the size of earth.

      It couldn’t have been a better eclipse. Okay, it wasn’t total for me, but I got to share it with three separate and widely diverse groups of other humans. What a great way to enjoy an eclipse, and to spend a Monday morning!

    16. Glazed Donut*

      Excellent! I traveled about 70 miles into Arkansas for it. The trip there was a little over an hour – to go home, it took 4.5 hours (2 of which were spent in the same 2 or 4 miles).

      The eclipse itself was awesome, and there’s no substitute for totality. There were no clouds. The streetlights came on. It was so cool to see the corona, but even cooler to feel the atmosphere change – the twilight-style light outside, drop in temperature, decreasing humidity. I was at a neighborhood park with a few dozen other people where it wasn’t crowded by any means but I was able to experience it with others (including eclipse chasers who were definitely having a blast). It was incredible how bright it was outside with just a teensy sliver of sun.

      In 21 years, it will pass over to Arkansas again, and I’ll definitely travel for totality again if I’m still around.

    17. OtterB*

      We drove to Ohio from the DC area and stayed in Cuyahoga Falls. The town was having an Eclipse Fest, plus the Cuyahoga Valley national park had a lot of people gathering, but we had to drive back Monday after the eclipse (had originally planned to come back Tuesday but my husband had to be back at work) so we positioned ourselves for an easy on to the interstate and set up in a large, empty back parking lot of a restaurant where we ate lunch. There were several other groups there, but not at all crowded. Clouds were high and thin. It was very, very cool to see totality. I am very glad to have gone.

    18. Chauncy Gardener*

      I stayed home, where we got down to 7% left of the sun uncovered. It got very cold. It wasn’t incredibly dark, but the spring peepers starting peeping madly! It was a really neat experience.

    19. Meg*

      I stayed in my 83% – coverage area, and my best experience happened on April 7. I’d ordered eclipse glasses with hard plastic frames from a website that specializes in scientific supplies, and figured it was about time I read the instruction book.

      There were intensely dire warnings about eyesight damage, and a suggested safety check to make absolutely sure the glasses were safe. The first test was to look at a lamp, followed by looking straight at an LED light, followed by going outside and looking around as usual. If you could see a single speck of light, it meant the glasses failed the test.

      If they passed, you could try looking directly at the sun. The final test was that the sun had to appear pale yellow, pale orange, or bluish white.

      I’ll tell you, seeing that surprisingly small pale orange, featureless disc plastered against a pitch – black sky was much more impressive than seeing the 83% partial eclipse the next day.

      My son and some friends went to Angel Mounds in Indiana to see totality, and he got a great video of the 360 – degree sunset effect with frogs croaking loudly in the background.

      I asked him about glasses and he said, “Ah, we’re just using the same cardboard glasses we used in 2017.” Too late for me to tell him my instruction booklet admonished that eclipse glasses “expire” in three years!

    20. Black Hole Sun*

      Traveled to Burlington VT and watched totality from the hotel patio. It was incredible and overwhelming – partially it was the sight of totality and the purple solar prominences (that I learned about later, I thought “I guess that’s Bailey’s Beads? I didn’t think they lasted long”), the wave of cheering from the crowd just down the hill, and the fact that the clouds stayed enough away in northern Vermont in April to see it at all after years of planning. What an amazing shared experience. Would love to see it again.

    21. Random Bystander*

      I live in the path of the totality, and my middle son (who had the day off) and I walked over to the city park. Youngest son had to work, but was still in the path of totality, so I gave him the pair of glasses (I’d bought a set of three) when he took off for the day.

      City park has a big man-made pond in the middle of it, and we were able to score one of the benches alongside the pond (a lot of people brought folding chairs). Was able to see the amazing ripple effect of shadows before totality on the water, the totality itself was amazing even if it was rather cloudy.

      Noticed the drop in temperature/change in the wind. Also the geese that live around the pond were fun to observe.

    22. Janet Pinkerton*

      It was amazing. We went to Cleveland and watched it at the science center, where NASA had an event. Somehow we had high clouds and full visibility.

    23. Stray Mom*

      We live in the path of totality, and spent the day at a state park near our home. I bought tickets in February because I thought it would have less light pollution.
      Unfortunately April 8 was overcast. The clouds broke open occasionally, teasing us that it might clear, but it became more and more cloudy as the day went on. We went to the Park anyway-there were food trucks, live music, and really interesting programs available. But when totality began, the skies became dark in seconds. We couldn’t see the eclipse, but we knew it was happening. The darkness was awe-inspiring. Suddenly, a break in the clouds, and a wave a cheers started on a hill, and spread through the crowd-the clouds broke just enough to see the crescent of the sun as the moon moved past. I’ll never forget it.
      I probably won’t live long enough to see the next solar eclipse over the US, but maybe a trip to Iceland or Spain is in the cards?

    24. Teacher Lady*

      I had 92.5% totality where I am. I’m an elementary school teacher, we got glasses for every kid in the school. It was fun to go out and experience it with the kids. My parents traveled to a location with 100% totality, and honestly, the wildest part of the eclipse was comparing my 92.5% photos to their 100% photos. The sun is BRIGHT, folks. Comparatively speaking, my pictures look like a run-of-the-mill overcast day; theirs looks like night at 2 PM.

  24. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

    I have reached a point where I need to do something to archive the photos from my phone because I’m running out of space. Thus far, I’ve just been copying them to the computer every month or two to have them in two places and use my computer (and my computer’s backups) as my photo backup, but now I need to get a chunk of them off the phone entirely and I’d like an additional backup beyond computer + computer general backup.

    Any particularly good ideas beyond just “as many external hard drives as I feel like sticking photos on?” This is a problem I used to solve with CDRs, and before that with getting photos printed, but both of those feel like inefficient and hassle-intensive ways to backup photos this decade. I don’t want to pay for cloud whatever, I want backups under my control.

    I’m in the Apple ecosystem for most purposes relevant to this question (iPhone and Mac). I also have some Linux systems floating around and if that were somehow the answer I’d get to connecting things, but only have Windows computers or Google accounts through work. (Unless you count the retrocomputing stash, in which case I have a variety of 20th century Windows and DOS-based options, but that is not going to help me with my modern photo storage problem.)

    1. Lifelong student*

      There is a gadget- a flash drive that you can plug into various things like a camera, computer, tablet, phone which downloads all your pictures into the flash drive. It searches the pictures and does not download duplicates if a picture is on more than one device. Not expensive at all. Takes some time but a way to get it done without any input from you. Sorry- I forget what it is called.

    2. Vio*

      Do you have an Amazon Prime account? If so then you can just use Amazon Photos for infinite photo storage space. I still try to keep a personal backup of my best photos as well, just in case.
      The cost of Prime is probably not worth it just for photos but I use it for TV, some kindle freebies and the occasional delivery, so for me it’s fine.

    3. RMNPgirl*

      Do you have Amazon Prime? They offer a lot of free storage for members and you just download the amazon photos app and it finds the photos on your phone that aren’t backed up and loads them to the amazon cloud. The nice thing is you can then order prints of your photos from amazon if you want.

    4. Rick Tq*

      I have a 2TB flash drive plugged into my computer plus I have a local NAS from Buffalo with 4TB more storage for a 2nd backup target and photo archive.

    5. Blythe*

      I use Shutterfly— I print a book about once a year, but I upload all of my photos to that website (organized by year and month). It is free as long as you place at least one order per year.

  25. Daisy*

    Y’all asked for an update about my trip to visit a German friend! I can deliver the first.

    Yesterday, German Friend met me at the airport, and he took me to stay with his parents in his home village somewhere in the Rhine valley of Baden-Württemberg. Since that time, we have gone on two multi-hour walks around the countryside where he introduced me to all sorts of edible plants (paradise) and I have met his parents, who are lovely. We also stayed up talking until 2 AM, and could have kept going but I didn’t want my jet lag to be worse from staying up too late. Some initial thoughts:

    — The amount of glorious nature to be had even this close to the village is amazing. If literally all he does is take me on walks like this, I will be one happy camper indeed.

    — He gets really worried if I stumble a bit! I am not used to this in people.

    — His parents are low-key and absolutely lovely. He and they interact as peers more than adult parent-child relationships I am used to back in the States.

    — His parents’ English is very limited but apparently my German is shockingly good! I am easily understood and can follow conversations well unless the three of them are talking fast to each other.

    — Being around him and talking to him is glorious, like, we’d only met once before but now he is one of my absolute favorite people. How do I find a job and move to Germany? I would keep doing this with him forever.

    — Still no idea what the German (or American, for that matter) version of flirting is, but see above. He did ask me about American dating culture and the best I could manage was (shruggy dude emoji).

    Anyway! Will give an update next week but clearly given the interest I thought you’d all want one in the interim. And thanks for all the advice last time! That was a huge help, and I love the Vietnamese-German YouTube channel. That was amazing.

    1. Awkwardness*

      Awwwwww (heart-eyed emoji).

      This sounds very sweet. Good luck and have a wonderful remaining time there.

    2. Don't remember my name*

      He is absolutely flirting with you. Do what I did and ask him already, so you can smooch!

      If your German is that good, you should be able to get some sort of job in Germany, just in a small village with lots of nature might be harder since most international jobs will be in big cities.

      Job searching isn’t that different in Germany vs the US, no idea about the UK. You look up jobs online and apply. Look for jobs that need fluency in English, both because that plays to your strength but also because they will have to get you a work visa which means making the argument that no one else available in Germany can do the job. If you have any IT skills, look there, since they are more likely to be international and need English, and also because there aren’t enough folks available so your chances of getting the job are higher.

      If you can swing it financially, another option would be to start a university program. Student visas are much easier to get and it would give you time to take language classes and get acclimated to the country. Applying to university in Germany is absurdly easy, like it takes half an hour. FYI: US bachelor degrees are often not recognized, so you may have to “start over”, so to speak. You will have to prove you have enough money in your bank account (in Germany) to prove, basically, that you won’t cost the country lots of money, even in an emergency. It was 10,000 euros when I had to do that.

      Good luck! Updates please! :)

            1. Don't remember my name*

              Options:
              Möchtest du mich küssen?
              Ich möchte dich küssen!
              Ich mag dich gerne, möchtest du mein Freund sein/möchtest du mit mir zusammen sein?

              I’m guessing here since I’ve been off the dating market for the last 16 years.

              I was the biggest doofus, too, but I think that is pretty much universal in dating. Just lean in to that, he feels like a doofus, too. He might try to play it off otherwise, but I won’t buy it for a second. ;)

              You can do it!! Woo!

          1. InkyFingers*

            Here’s one I used once: “May I do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time?”
            Him: “What’s that?”
            Me: “Kiss you!”
            Him (grinning): “Yes!”

            [Sadly, he was the WORST kisser ever! ;-)]

            1. Texan In Exile*

              I tried this with my college boyfriend after we had been out a few times with no action:

              Me: Are you going to kiss me or what?
              Him: Um. OK.

              (And it was fabulous. He was THE BEST KISSER.)

    3. RagingADHD*

      I don’t think he’s flirting with you. I think he is fully smitten with you and just trying not to scare you off with any sudden movements.

      I think if you told him “I can’t believe how quickly you’ve become one of my favorite people,” smile and just hold the moment, then the smooching will likely take care of itself.

      1. Daisy*

        Thank you, anonymous stranger! I did this and it WORKED! We were leaving a party and I said this, and he said he felt the same, and then I got him to hold hands going back to the car, and then we went up to an old castle on a hill and talked until well after midnight and eventually I asked him if he wanted to kiss me and he DID.

        A+ scripts from the AAM community, and I love him so much.

        1. RagingADHD*

          YAAASSSS!!!!!

          It was your own words! I just told you to say it to him insead of to us ; )

          xoxoxo

        2. Hatchet*

          Yay! This is so sweet and amazing! Thank you for sharing with us! Totally rooting for you so long as you’re happy!
          Also highly recommended: a quick kiss on the back of his hand while you’re holding hands. (Totally smitten when my husband does this.)

    4. office hobbit*

      Thank you for this update and good luck!! I agree he’s definitely into you. I don’t think you need to worry about flirting perfectly or playing it super smooth. Just be sincere and be yourself (that’s clearly worked on him so far!). I like RagingADHD’s idea above. If you’re a little awkward about it, it’ll just be cute.

    5. Anima/Aniimat*

      Awwww, I’m super late (was away myself), but this is so sweet! Good luck for you both! <3

  26. Awkwardness*

    The knowledge-swapping post was so interesting! There were far too many interesting topics to digest in one evening, so I will probably revisit the post again and again for the remaining weekend.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      So many interesting topics in that thread, and it just goes to show that everyone is an expert on something! I also really enjoyed getting to discuss events stuff with other events people.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I couldn’t quite figure out how to get the best use out of that one. I felt I should have searched for topics, but that the info I needed was probably something I didn’t know I needed, and I didn’t have time to read so many comments that day. I will try to go back but of course it’s too late to ask questions now. I almost wish it had been a Friday post instead.

    3. Mimmy*

      It was fascinating but agree with Sloanicota. It’s a lot to sort through, so searching for topics is the best bet if you’re looking for something specific. I was interested in seeing the range of things that people are knowledgeable about, so I just skimmed the entire thing lol.

  27. Cookies For Breakfast*

    Don’t want to hijack the thread about earphones, but I have a similar question. What wireless headphones would you recommend for a Google Pixel phone?

    I use a big name pair my partner got for free at work years ago and never took to. They are starting to fall apart and I’m wondering about replacements.

    Things I love about my current pair: they are almost noise-cancelling but not totally (I still feel aware enough on the street; I can drown out most noises and voices on public transport). Very good, clear sound quality. They fold so I can fit them easily in my bags.

    Things I dislike: they didn’t come with a bag or case to store them in, so after years of stuffing them in bags, they look quite distressed. The pairing mechanism isn’t easy to remember without the instruction manual. And I wish there was some sort of visual low battery indicator, but don’t know whether it’s a thing with other models.

    1. Hatchet*

      Regarding the pairing mechanism issue, I’d look for a pair that just connect via Bluetooth. I have a few pairs like that and I love not having to have a separate app. I don’t know what you’re looking for as far as an in the ear canal or out of the ear canal, but for the later, I have a pair of Mee audio pebbles from Amazon and they work great.

      Finished typing this and realized you were looking for headphones, not ear buds, but I’m going to leave this in case it might be helpful to you :-)

    2. Emma*

      I have a Pixel and have used Jlab earbuds for years!
      They’re not noise canceling (though they may sell a version with that feature). And I’m realizing that you specified headphones and not earbuds, so they may not be what you want. But in case they are, I’ve bought two versions – one was $50 or $60 a few years ago, the other like $15.
      I prefer the more expensive version – I keep the cheap one at work. The more expensive one’s case has an attached lid, and the headphones aren’t as sensitive (there are controls on the earbuds themselves, which I don’t use, for fast forward, etc, and I’m all the time accidentally hitting them on the cheaper pair- actually, come to think of it, it makes me wonder if the more expensive pair has that feature, since I’ve never hit them). They’re just good, solid earbuds. My husband has a pair too and likes them.

      1. Emma*

        And the case charges them, which is nice. The cheaper case doesn’t have a lid, so they can fall out, which is annoying. And the more expensive pair has a 3 or 4 light low battery indicator on the case that drops down as they deplete. Occasionally they have an issue with Bluetooth, but when I first get them out of the case and put them in my ear, they will say “Bluetooth connected, battery full”, which is really helpful. I recommend their mid range pair!

  28. BellaStella*

    Ottawa recommendations? I am going to Ottawa next week for 10 days and while I doubt I will have any real time to spare, any recs for good places to eat near Shaw Centre area? And, any recs in Montreal near the main train station/airport areas for a few hours there on the way back home?

    1. Cat*

      Such a good location.
      -National Gallery of Canada. Food is fine but the dining room overlooks the river and the Gallery is wonderful.
      – Ahora Mexican Cuisine
      – Side Door
      – El Camino Tacos

      It’s a few weeks before Tulip Festival but they might be starting to bloom if you are lucky!

      You’ll be close to the ByWard Market so they will have lots of restaurants to wander into.

        1. Cat*

          I forgot! If you venture further afield in the city: Scone Witch, Green Door, and Red Door are also all excellent restaurants.

    2. Ontariariario*

      Art gallery and museums are free Thursday evenings. The gallery has incredible views of the city, and the museum of Nature is relatively close. There are also free tours of the parliament buildings, and I would specifically recommend the Senate (old train station) and west block (east block is least interesting and centre is closed for renos). Oh, and the Supreme Court building too. They are all relatively short tours, nearby, and give a good mix of history and architecture. All of them need tickets but most can be last-minute. If you get tickets and end up not being able to go then nothing lost.

      Sorry, I’m not good with restaurants downtown and I know that’s the one thing you asked about. There is a Farm Boy in the centre that is a good grocery store, so not a restaurant but they do have a lot of pre-made meals if you are in a rush. Shoppers is a drug store with all sorts of extras if you want snacks.

      1. Sandi*

        If you want food outside of the downtown area, then Eat The Strip website has many recommendations on places to eat. Unfortunately none of them are near downtown.

        If you want to eat as a group then Baton Rouge is 20 minutes’ walk, has good food, and has always been able to accommodate a large group. Heart and Crown in the market is similarly big and has more personality. The Laff is a place to go if you want to have a drink with some quirky locals, but be forewarned that the decor and patrons haven’t changed in decades.

    3. OaDC*

      If you have several million dollars you will most likely be able to afford all the long term care you need. You could spend $100,000 a year for 30 years, which would be more than sufficient for 99% of people.

    4. Lord of the Files*

      Ottawa, near Shaw Centre: Scone Witch for delicious breakfast scones (sweet & savoury), or for lunch, sandwiches made using scones in place of bread (also good, but definitely not for Scone Purists With Strong Jam-Then-Clotted-Cream or NO!-Clotted-Cream-Then-Jam Opinions About The One True Way to Consume Scones).

      Montreal airport: Archibald has solid food & really good craft beer – best food option in the domestic terminal, if you have extended layover or pre-flight time to spare.

    5. Almost Academic*

      I love Ottawa! Lived there for 6 months over the pandemic, so my recommendations may be a bit skewed by the times – but here are some of my favorite places:

      – Wander around Byward Market (good for tourist souvenirs)
      – Check out Parliament
      – If you have a car and some time, Gatineau Parc has some amazing hiking trails
      – The Glebe is also a cute hipster neighborhood to wander around
      – If you can make it all the way over to bank street, there is a fair amount of decent food in that area

      Food I miss:
      – Kettleman’s Bagel (montreal-style bagels; also really good nanaimo bars)
      – So Good (chinese food, delivers)
      – La Fiesta Latina (weirdly, some of the best chicken mole I’ve ever had)
      – The Great Canadian Poutinerie (all sorts of poutine, including unique flavors)
      – Beavertail in the middle of winter while skating slaps, but isn’t quite the right timing for you

    6. fallingleavesofnovember*

      Welcome in advance to my hometown! :)
      Chez Lucien on Murray St is one of my favourite places to eat in the Byward market – great French-bistro food in a pretty relaxed atmosphere. It gets super busy though so I’d try to go early evening/not on a Saturday.
      Rideau St has gotten pretty rough, but if you head down Elgin St, there are lots of other good restaurants and shops (Perfect Books is a great and pretty sizeable bookstore). Cut across to Bank St and Moo Shu ice cream is delicious and has unique, Asian-inspited flavours (and is a living wage employer). It’s not far from there to the Glebe, which someone else mentioned.
      You can also grab the LRT from the Rideau Centre west to Bayview which is the stop for Hintonburg (another hipster neighbourhood, which has a few cool local breweries – Beyond the Pale, Tooth and Nail), Little Italy (I love La Dolce Vita on Preston, which has amazing g-f options and a hazelnut pesto pizza which is to die for), and Chinatown (which has a strong representation of Vietnamese pho restaurants, I like Pho 99 on Lebreton St N but also just got a recc from a Vietnamese colleague for Pho Tuan on Booth. Sadly the Chinatown location of So Good is closed and I haven’t yet found a good alternative.)
      My husband also recommended crossing the river to Gatineau, Quebec to be suddenly surrounded by French (everyone will also speak English)!

  29. Medicare supplemental*

    Does anyone have any advice on how to go through the process of choosing and buying a supplemental insurance plan for Medicare? I enrolled in original Medicare but for some reason I’m paralyzed with anxiety about the supplemental to cover the 20% that Medicare doesn’t cover. I’m almost to the end of my 6 month period for signing up, but I haven’t even gotten started in figuring out how to get a plan, though I do know which company I want to go with.
    Also, once I choose a plan, does it take long to sign up? Are there any requirements for how long I need to have lived in my state?

    1. Tax Widow*

      Talk to an independent broker. And beware of Medicare Advantage plans, they might save you on premiums but they limit who you can see and what they cover.

      1. L. Ron Jeremy*

        second this. my broker (recommended by the local hospital) reviewed the supplement plans and recommended one that best fit with our local doctors. she also covered Medicare Part D. she said supplement plans suck as they work to limit your health coverage when you need it the most.

        don’t wait, get a supplement plan within 6 months of your 65th birthday/Medicare enrollment or you maybe excluded for pre-existing health reasons and locked out of a supplement plans.

        1. Clisby*

          That’s what’s concerned me. I’m 70, I’ve signed up only for Medicare Part A, since there’s no premium. My husband has excellent insurance (premium 100% paid by employer) so I’m not at all inclined to switch to poorer insurance that will actually cost me a monthly premium. However, I do need to look into drug plans and Medigap.

        2. About-to-be Medicare payer*

          I think LRonJeremy Mis”spoke”. Supplement plans (AKA Medigap) do not limit coverage. It’s Advantage plans that people have said can limit coverage or delay treatment, especially for cancer.
          I just went through this agonizing decision – I start Medicare May 1st, so my experience is very fresh.
          As for an independent broker, first, call your state’s SHIP (state health insurance assistance program). They are very knowledgeable about plan types, though they could not advise me on how to find a trustworthy broker.
          For a broker, go to the National Council on Aging site and find the list of National Partners that meet NCOA’s Standards of Excellence. I liked Chapter.org after talking to two brokers found on YouTube, but you should talk to more than one, just because different people will explain things differently.
          Make sure your broker/agent is registered to sell insurance in your state. I found my state’s licensing site easily by Googling.
          I spent a lot of time comparing the different types of supplemental plans, and wanted to consider a D plan, but it turns out that almost no one sells that plan in my state, so, premium rates are the same as G plans, which have much higher coverage. The Medicare site will let you quickly see which plans are competitive in your state and automatically narrow down your realistic options.
          YouTube can be very useful because they talk about factors you didn’t even know to consider.
          Good luck! We all need it when we are thrown to the profit-mongering wolves in a system that definitely does not put actual health CARE at the top of the priority list.

    2. Undine Spragg*

      Second a broker. There is no charge to you. I just chose a plan this month. I have my financial accounts with Fidelity so I just went with their brokers. It was a company I already knew and have been okay with otherwise. One thing a broker does is check that all your meds are covered, check your doctors are in network, etc.

      I went with supplemental for now because it is easy to switch to Advantage later but not the other way around. Just get something!!! I believe you can switch between Advantage plans during an open enrollment period. Supplemental plans are subject to underwriting after this initial period (that is, can reject you for health conditions later but not now — supplemental only). A broker will tell you all this. There is some kind of period where you can change your mind from advantage and go to supplemental, but a year or less. I’m not sure. But nothing you do now is written in stone.

      It’s natural to find this daunting— it’s a very big transition. And there are so many plans! Best of luck.

      1. About-to-be Medicare payer*

        But if you’re going with traditional Medicare and a supplement (Medigap) plan, you don’t need to worry whether your doctor is in network. we are told that 98% of all doctors accept traditional Medicare (i.e., non- Advantage), thoug apparently there are some rare plans labeled “select” that do have networks. I didn’t ask about those, but didn’t notice any in the lists of plans in my state.
        BTW, as for how long it takes, you can enroll pretty much on the spot, once you decide on a plan – though it’s possible some brokers might ask you to make an appointment to do it.
        Mine walked me through the process as she shared links, and it took about 45 minutes to enter all the info for a supplement plan and Part D plan.

      2. Sbtyah*

        DO NOT GO WITH AN ADVANTAGE PLAN. They are not actually part of Medicare (I don’t know how they get away with advertising or even naming themselves as such) and you will be stuck without being able to go back to regular/real Medicare. The Advantage plans very often do not pay docs and hospitals. DO YOUR RESEARCH.

    3. Chaordic One*

      Everywhere I’ve lived in the U.S. there are local government offices that provide independent advice about Medicare and supplemental insurance. In my state it is called the “State Health Insurance Assistance Plan” (SHIP) and information about it is listed under my state’s “Department of Health and Human Services”. There seems to be a SHIP office in every county in my comparatively rural state. They will review any current medical conditions you have, what medical prescriptions you have, and determine what insurance plan (or plans) best meet your needs and have the lowest premiums. (I think they run it through a computer.)

      Google terms like “SHIP,” “Seniors Services,” and “Aging and Adult Services” along with the name of your state and see what comes up.

    4. Sophe*

      Medicare for Dummies by Patricia Barry (part of the “for Dummies” series) has been really helpful for me. There is an entire section on Med Supp plus everything you ever wanted to know about the rest of Medicare. I borrowed the Libby version from my local library.

      1. Girasol*

        I’ll second this. It’s a bit of a slog and you have to read around all the quirks that don’t apply to you (like how it’s different if you’re disabled or divorced or work for the railroad.) But it’s very helpful in explaining all the options and their pros and cons.

    5. WhatDoYouWant*

      Be clear about what is/is not important to you and use that to guide the plan and plan type. I know there’s been a lot of Medicare Advantage hate in this thread, but some Medicare Advantage plans offer additional benefits you can’t get using traditional Medicare even with a supplemental. If one or more of those are important to you then it can be a good option.

    6. OldEnough4Medicare*

      There’s a really good broker site “BoomerBenefits” that has helped me a lot. They are a broker, but the founder has an excellent book, the videos are free, and (I’m a research buff) they themselves are very factual. I did the emails to intro, then had a 1 hour, no pressure tutorial that walked me through my zip code options. They also have a Facebook group, but that’s more free flowing. I learned a lot – for me, BCBS is $100 a month more than Mutual of Omaha for example, with a comparable “Bests” rating; and they all have to cover the same thing. (at least in the medigap world). This particular group is not licensed in every state to sell you a policy, but for those that they have – folks love them. They have an after the sale service team to help you with issues.
      I do not work for them or have an affiliation. But I am peripheral health care and was spinning with too many choices until I had my chat with them. HTH…

  30. The Prettiest Curse*

    What are some of the best strategies to stop yourself from catastrophising? I recently read an interview with a therapist who said that they’d seen a real increase in patients catastrophising over the last 10 years, but clearly this isn’t a new thing.

    My mum has the interesting combination of being a world-class catastrophiser who is pretty good in an actual crisis, so I’ve been living with this for my entire life.
    Before we start: I do not have anxiety, but have had bouts of depression. Obviously, not every strategy will work for everyone, so do what works for you. (Also – Alison, please feel free to delete this thread if you think it veers too close to medical advice.)

    I’ve developed a few helpful strategies over the years:
    1. Allowing myself 5-10 minutes a day to completely freak out about something that’s really worrying me, then trying not to think about it the rest of the time. It can be useful to do this during a defined activity like taking a shower or going for a walk so that there’s a start and end point.

    2. Thinking through how I would actually handle the worst case scenario – this makes me feel more prepared mentally and makes me worry less. For example, I hate flying, so I will always think through how I’d get to and get out of the emergency exits in the event of an evacuation.

    3. (Being older/having more life experience helps with this one.)
    Thinking in a general way of all the bad (or just extremely stressful) things I’ve been through in my life and how I managed to get through them. My standby thought for this is “well, this probably won’t be as bad as when my dad died suddenly, and I got through that, so I could get through [worst case scenario]”

    4. Not worrying about things which are entirely outside my control. This was a total revelation for me when I learned how to do it.

    Share your strategies for managing your internal catastrophiser below!

    1. Armchair analyst*

      I do have diagnosed anxiety
      I do catastrophize – but am also optimistic. Like I stayed away from an international historical event in my hometown because I believed it would be a target for terrorists- but I was so glad I was wrong!
      I do have my CPR and first aid certification
      And I keep extra supplies in my car or I just accept it – hey, I’m bringing this big bag, it makes me feel better!

      I do look around and plan for exits but after that, try to relax.
      I do focus on the show- not on my phone.
      I do accept it about myself and remind others – “so, you know how I’m always worried, and that one time I was totally wrong about terrorists attacking, which was good, but please know the traffic after the eclipse will be terrible, so let’s fill up the tank and go to the bathroom ahead of time.”

    2. Double A*

      One thing I take note of is my physiological state. I don’t have much anxiety but do tend towards depression. I have a rule, “No feelings before breakfast.” What that means is that I can have any thoughts and feelings I want at that time but I’m not allowed to take them seriously because I have low blood sugar that lends itself to depressive thoughts.

      I try to pay attention to if I’ve been sleeping or eating badly or if I haven’t gotten exercise recently. If any of those things are true, I discount my depressive or intrusive thoughts accordingly.

      1. Zweisatz*

        Seconded. Same goes for me in the evening/at night. At some point of sleepiness I won’t handle bad news constructively. I don’t read news sources in the evening for the same reason.

      2. ElastiGirl*

        I like this a lot.

        I have taught myself never to trust anything my brain tells me in the middle of the night. That’s the time when it’s supposed to be offloading the toxins of the day (MRI studies have found tiny vessels that only open during sleep for this purpose) — so I figure if I’m obsessing over something in the middle of the night, I’m deliberately trying to cling onto toxins my body is trying to get rid of.

        I tell my students, “Never believe anything your brain tells you between 2 and 4 am.” They often gasp at this. But it’s very helpful.

    3. Manders*

      Adding to numbers 2 and 3, I think to myself “what is the worst thing that could happen right now, literally?” And then I think about the actual statistical chance that it would happen, and then go down the list. So when I bleached my hair once, I thought “ok, the absolute worst thing that could happen is that all my hair falls out. That’s extremely unlikely. So maybe the worst is that it looks bad. And that’s fixable.” Etc.

    4. Awkwardness*

      I have no strategies to offer but came across in the knowledge-swap about a similar post that was about dedicated worry time. I find this absolutely interesting. The brain does actually follow this?

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        You kind of have to train your brain to do dedicated worry time. It may take s bit of practice and your brain will still insist on throwing random fears your way, but if you can learn to say to yourself “let’s not think about this till the next worry session”, it will slowly start working.

        Training yourself not to worry about things beyond your control wasn’t that difficult for me, but it might be for some people. The easiest way to do it is take one of the scenarios that your brain throws at you and zoom out. To use an example from my work: say that you are worried about nobody turning up to an event you have organised. Think about what you can control. For my events, I can control: the event venue, the timing, the speaker(s), how much (and how/where) I promote the event and communication with people who have registered to attend. That’s it.

        I can’t control: how many people register, how many of the people who registered actually show up, the weather, transit delays, the traffic, whether or not a fire hydrant breaks (something that actually did happen during one of my events!), a last-minute speaker withdrawal, the buildng lift/elevator suddenly going out of service, Taylor Swift scheduling a surprise concert nearby, etc. These are all factors that could affect how many people show up. It’s not a bad thing to consider how they might affect the event attendance in a general sense. But other than communicating a speaker change or elevator outage to attendees as quickly as possible, I cannot actually do anything about these things, so I’ll only worry about their potential to affect event attendance if they actually happen.

    5. I heart Paul Buchman*

      I find HALT helpful for lots of things, including catastrophising and rumination. I ask myself if I am:
      Hungry/thirsty
      Anxious/angry
      Lonely
      Tired

      Fixing the above often helps me triage then I move onto other strategies.
      * breath exercises
      * walk outside
      * use water (drink, wash my hands, take a shower)
      * connect with someone else

      Talking to myself in the third person is a useful strategy I learnt about. The technique is to tell yourself what is happening and what the fix is and use your name (speak out loud) “Well, I heart Paul, you made a mistake at work and now you are blowing it completely out of proportion. You have done everything you can to fix it and now it’s time to put it aside until Monday. You are going to go for a walk now and when you get back you will feel better.” This sounds ridiculous but I find it works brilliantly.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        It is SO useful to be able to recognise when your brain is being an arsehole to you. Talking to yourself in the way that you do is one of the most useful strategies to pull out of a weird, catastrophising thought spiral.

        My strategy is slightly different – I’ve found that mocking myself out of it works for me. So I basically make fun of my thoughts (“Yes, it’s SO likely that space debris will fall on my head and kill me if I go outside. Just like all the other times this hasn’t happened!”) until they go away. I’m good enough at this now that my brain comes up with those thoughts less often.

        Talking yourself out of it is one of those things that seems incredibly weird and stupid at first, but gets much easier and more natural the more you do it. And it doesn’t mean that you don’t think about the worst-case scenario at all, just that you don’t think about it to a ridiculous degree.

    6. Try This*

      A friend taught me the phrase “No thank you, brain” and sometimes that helps me cut off an anxiety spiral before it fully gets going. No thank you, and move on to something else. It’s not foolproof, but it’s a useful tool to have in the toolbox.

  31. Love a wild baking project*

    I love baking, and especially baking knock-off recipes for stuff that is typically mass produced. So far, I’ve made
    – Krispy Kreme donuts
    – Pop-tarts
    – Cinnamon toast crunch cereal

    What else would be fun to make? I grew up on Little Debbie Fudge Rounds, so I am going to start googling for that. Also think that Ho-Hos would be fun.

    Anyone have any go-to recipes for homemade versions of popular snacks?

    1. Snell*

      Growing up, Caramel deLites were the only girl scout cookies I outright hated and refused to touch. All others I’d happily accept even if they were inferior to my one and only, Thin Mints. One day, the fancy took me, and I made a homemade version of Caramel deLites, more for the challenge than the desire to actually eat them, but I ended up totally loving the ones I made.

      But I only made them once. Not because I didn’t like how they turned out, but because good gravy it was quite the undertaking. If you like the complex processes of recreating brand-name snacks at home, I think you might like to try your hand at copycat Caramel deLites (or girl scout cookies on the whole). I had so much fun the whole way through, and finishing the cookies with chocolate scratched that baker’s decorating itch. Don’t know if I’d ever do it again, but no regrets for having done so once.

    2. EmilyBMarks*

      Stella Parks has a knock-off Oreos recipe in Bravetart. and you might enjoy Claire Saffitz’s Gourmet Makes videos on the Bon Appétit YouTube channel from a few years back.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Ho-Hos or Hostess snack cakes. The cupcakes I have at the moment are similar to the latter.

      On this general topic, someone observed that Oreos are the one thing that doesn’t improve with being homemade. It’s a generic mild biscuit with some bland sweet white frosting, yet somehow the union is greater than the sum of the parts. (Even if some of us have Oreo eating traditions where we consume only one part at a time.)

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Me too. I don’t like Oreos. I also miss the Sunshine Bakery saltines that were two crackers stuck together in a large rectangle. Now they’re all singles.

          1. Trixie*

            Yes! KCUR public radio just did a great story on their history, and they mentioned the cookies were hard to keep in stock at Crack Barrel stores.

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

        A gazillion years ago I had a summer job at a Nabisco baking plant doing office work. One of my duties was to tasted test Chips Ahoy and Oreo wafers 4 to 5 times a day as they came out of the ovens.

        It sounds and was great for the first week, then it became cookies, UGH!. The Chips Ahoy came out of the ovens crunchy, just like in the bag. The Oreo’s were nasty tasting without the crème.

        The gig lasted 2 summers and like so many good things, it had to end.

        It took over ten years until I could eat these cookies again.

        1. SaraK*

          My dad was a construction worker and once worked a small job at the Arnotts biscuit factory (the company that makes Timtams amongst other delicious chocolate covered biscuits). He and the team he was working with were allowed to use the Arnotts staff tea (break) room. He noticed there were giant barrels of broken biscuits there and asked if he and his workmates could take some. Everyone said “sure! help yourself”. He brought a giant plastic bag of them home but when I asked about it he said that not a single Arnotts staff member was eating them because they were all sick to death of them. So I’m afraid to say folks but there is such a thing as too many Timtams

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        I made vegan cupcakes that were a duplicate for Hostess Cupcakes right down to the little white squiggle on top. I haven’t had a Hostess Cupcake in decades so perhaps my memory is off – I thought they were a dead ringer in taste and texture. It’s a New York Times recipe – search for vegan devils food cupcakes.

        1. Snell*

          Not homemade, and also not a vegan conversion (the original red vines are already vegan) but the “natural” brand name red vines with vegetable coloring that is sold at places like Whole Foods surprised me with how exactly the same they smelled and tasted compared to the original with red 40 (which I am unfortunately allergic to). I generally don’t expect much of junk food with “junk” removed, but the first time I opened a box and got a whiff, I recognized that smell instantly.

    4. Seashell*

      I’ve never tried them, but I read that a bakery near me makes imitation Ring Dings. Sounds good to me!

    5. SoloKid*

      I’ve found many online copycats for Starbuck’s Iced Lemon cake! It seems easy to do, and also delicious.

      Also Caramel Delites/Samoas

    6. NB*

      You might enjoy browsing CopyKat.com for recipes. Also, Todd Wilbur’s Top Secret Recipe books.

      I often make The Recipe Critic’s copycat Panera broccoli cheddar soup, mainly so that I can make it with vegetable broth instead of chicken so that my vegetarian daughter can enjoy it.

  32. Jane B.*

    Can anyone recommend some good Choose-your-own-adventure games? I’ve been through a lot of the catalog of the games in the app Choice of Games, a few in Hosted Games and noped right out of Heart’s Choice (I prefer my romance fading to black).

    1. Jane B.*

      Oh, my interests are historical, sci-fi, superheroes, romance if nothing more than *fading to black*. Not interested in war and nothing occult whatsoever.

      When I search the App Store, most games seem focused on romance and it is a bit overwhelming trying to discern which are only romance as side plot.

    2. GoryDetails*

      I haven’t played choose-your-own-adventure online games, but I am very fond of the book-format ones, which come in everything from little-kid stories to fully-adult ones. If you’re at all interested in trying the book version, James Schannep has a line of “Click Your Poison” books, with impressive characters and plots; “Marooned” is my favorite, with two main arcs (in one you’re a pirate, in the other you’re a marine) and lots of sub-threads, but there are superhero ones and zombie-apocalypse ones and a spy-themed one.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      These aren’t exactly choose-your-own-adventure, but the Lifeline games on the App Store (from Three Minute Games) are sort of akin? You are, for some reason, the only person a remarkably unfortunate person named Taylor can communicate with, and you have to help Taylor through their remarkably unfortunate sets of circumstances by aiding them in making choices as they progress.

      I would suggest starting with the base “Lifeline” one, at least one of the others makes reference back to it.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        The ones I’ve done are all sci-fi-ish and no romance whatsoever, fade to black or otherwise.

  33. Helvetica*

    Looking for book recommendations in the genre of magical realism – not full fantasy, or a proper magical world but the kind where magical elements are interwoven into daily life and treated as normal or at the most, slightly peculiar.
    I have read all of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, most of Isabel Allende, Salman Rushdie and Milan Kundera, to give an example of what I am looking for, with some others sprinkled in.
    Tell me of books (or authors) who resemble these and that you have enjoyed.

    1. mreasy*

      I loved Murakami’a The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I don’t love everything he writes but he’s just in that magical realism sweet spot in my opinion.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        That book is fabulous! I also recommend his short stories, especially The Elephant Vanishes collection.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Connie Willis’s time travel novels, especially To Say Nothing of the Dog for a lighthearted take, and Doomsday Book and the Blackout/All Clear duology for a more in depth take. She’s very good at constructing a version of British academia where time travel is used by historians (and no one else, since you can’t rob the past or go shoot anyone :) )

    2. AOR*

      Alice Hoffman? If you’ve seen Practical Magic she wrote the book it is based on and a whole bunch of prequels about people in their lineage. I did enjoy The Book of Magic which I think is set earliest in the timeline.

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      Some of Toni Morrison’s books sort of fall into this category. In most, it’s pretty subtle, like right at the end of one, a character mentions that the narrator of part of the book has been dead for years. The narrator never actually appears. She is watching them from outside and relaying gossip about them, that sort of thing and you assume she is estranged from them. But at the end you find she is dead and it’s her ghost that is watching them. You could even miss it. There’s just a “you were abroad for narrator’s funeral, weren’t you?” typed line. Or you work out the dates and realise a character must be well over a 100. That sort of thing.

      But Beloved, Love and Song of Solomon at least all have supernatural typed elements. They are a major point of Beloved. In the others, they are subtle.

    4. Cat*

      Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s Shadow of the Wind series of 4 books. Some reviewers call it definitely magical realism and others say it isn’t at all.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Before the Coffee Gets Cold, in which there’s a cafe where people can briefly travel to the past but not change their present.

    6. Nervous Nellie*

      Italo Calvino, especially Invisible Cities, The Baron in the Trees, and The Non-Existent Knight. Brilliant, happy stories.

    7. Cordelia*

      You might like Ruth Ozeki – I’ve read and loved “A Tale for the Time Being” and “The Book of Form and Emptiness”. Strange things happen, particular in “The Book…”, but at the heart the books are about human connections.

    8. Jay*

      -Baudolino by Umberto Eco comes to mind.
      -If you don’t mind strange and funny (and definitely not safe for work), Christopher Moore’s books are really good bets.
      -Murder With Monsters by K.T. Katzmann.
      -For a more slap-stick kind of thing, you could try the Bubba The Monster Hunter books by John G. Hartness. Think “Larry The Cable Guy The Vampire Slayer”. In my experience the short story collections (which make up the bulk of the writing) are VASTLY superior to the novels and novellas.

      Or, just look up “Low Urban Fantasy”. That’s the name of the genera you are looking for. It’s kind of nitch, but it’s also one of my favorites!

    9. Felicity Porter*

      Alice Hoffman has so many that fit this description! I’d start with The Practical Magic trilogy.

    10. Ginger Baker*

      I LOVE and cannot recommend highly enough the Attolia series by Megan Whalen Turner.

    11. Buni*

      A Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark – female detective working for the Ministry of Alchemy investigating magical / djinn-related crime in 1912 Cairo. I think it’s going to be the first in a series.

      1. Freya's Cats*

        There are two previous novellas to that book. A Dead Jinn in Cairo and The Haunting of Tram Car 015 which I can recommend reading first.

        These are more alternative reality fantasy than it is magical realism though.

    12. KeinName*

      JAN CARSON – all her books are good, and there is a BBC audio drama series as well, about selling off an Irish mountain. I did a writing workshop with her and that is her genre, magical realism

    13. Yoli*

      Magical Realism is my favorite genre. I recommend Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward and The Revisioners by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton.

    14. Clara Bowe*

      Highly recommend Raquel Vasquez-Gilliland. Her stuff skews younger, but is GORGEOUS to read and very much on the borders of magical realism. Sia Martinez and the Moonlight Beginning of Everything is her first and quite good.

    15. Lore*

      Kelly Link! Mostly short stories but her first novel came out last month as well. Also Carmen Maria Machado, though her stories are a little darker.

    16. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      I recently read The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone by Audrey Burges. An agoraphobic woman creates a successful blog based on the unusual doll house (the Mansion) in her attic that she is constantly furnishing. A man across the country realizes the Mansion is a mirror image of his family home and gets in touch with her to find out what is going on.

    17. Etsy Betsy*

      The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka. It’s set in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 1990 and is a brutally realistic depiction of the civil war with some magical elements.

    18. Freya's Cats*

      The Sparrow House by Alix E Harrow.
      The left-handed booksellers of London and the Sinister booksellers of Bath by Garth Nix
      Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
      Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut
      Ira Levin, The boys from Brazil.
      The English Monster by Lloyd Shepherd
      Solstice Wood by Patricia A McKillip
      The Night Circus and The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

  34. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    French language question prompted by Duolingo. The phrase “I (verbed) her” – example, je lui lit un livre, I read her a book. But specifically, Duolingo is telling me that “I missed her (when she left)” would be “Elle me manque quand elle est partie,” which I would expect to be “SHE missed ME when she left.” The pronouns seem reversed.

    Is this correct? Is there something funky to the translation, like it’s oversimplified or something? Is this particular phrase just weird? I can’t wrap my head around it.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      The sentence is correct. It’s just one of those things we say differently.
      Someone once told me her boyfriend told her “you miss me” at the beginning of their relationship and she didn’t get it until she started learning French herself.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        ah! That would make sense, yep. Duolingo doesn’t really include any explanations of linguistic quirks, so I wasn’t sure if this was a quirk or an error in the application. Thank you :)

        1. Sloanicota*

          I think Duolingo does that very intentionally, trying to get you to absorb through osmosis as language is learned by children, but there is a quite good “help” feature (I think it’s called) when they give answers, and you can view comments from other users who have questions. On the more common points of confusion, I always found my question had been asked and answered there.

          1. Qwerty*

            Duolingo does that because they don’t want to be bothered with writing out the grammar lessons and crowdsourcing is cheaper. I was an original user of the site when it only had Spanish – there were explanations on the first couple lessons (colors and numbers) but when asked why it stopped once actual grammar was introduced Duolingo got really aggressive with the beta users – basically because not enough people clicked the notes on non-grammar lessons they felt jaded and unappreciated and were withholding features until the users made them feel better.

            The rollout of French Beta also had more of this behavior – all of the lessons were wrong and they started attacking the volunteers trying to help fix the system. Most of their languages courses were created by unpaid volunteers for Duolingo to profit off of so whether you get grammar explanations depends on who made the course.

          2. Freya's Cats*

            The comment feature no longer exists, so now you have to just guess or Google it yourself.

    2. AnonyOne*

      This is to do with the verb manquer – it conveys basically the same idea as “I missed her”, but the word does not translate directly and the construction is not the same, so it is “Elle me manque”
      It is one of those things with languages and how languages may reflect different nuances in differing cultures, not every concept or sentence will have an exact translation and some things can’t really be translated or not simply/directly.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Right on. It looks like a normal -er verb and there’s no sort of explanation given in the lesson where it’s introduced that it’s constructed differently, so I wasn’t sure if it was an actual language difference or an error in the application :) Thank you!

      2. Sloanicota*

        Mentally, perhaps you can substitute this with “she MADE me miss her” and get the meaning without feeling so confused about the order. You might imagine the word “manque” as “caused to miss” ?

        1. Jamie Starr*

          I always think of it as “she is missed by me.” My French is rusty, but manquer is a reflexive verb, je pense. It’s like llamar or gustar in Spanish.

      3. Once too Often*

        It’s closest to the English “She I (will) miss.” A less common usage now, but it helped me with reflexive verbs.

    3. Magdalena*

      Think about the phrase “there’s a page missing from this document” – the page is doing the missing, so to speak.
      Elle me manquait quand elle est partie – she was the missing part in my life when she left ;-)

    4. Madame Arcati*

      Yes, I remember this from school and university. It’s just the way that concept is rendered in french. I think of it as, she is missing to me.
      Speaking of transitive verbs don’t forget that in English we can get away with shortening the phrase and not using the “to” for phrases with indirect objects. So we can say “she gave me a book” whereas strictly speaking it is “she gave the a book to me” (the book being the direct object of the verb, the thing that is given, and me being the indirect object). And you can’t do this in french. Or in other languages I have spoken. English grammar is very stretchy!

      1. UKDancer*

        I’ve always thought of it that way “she is missing from me” and simply the way French works.

      2. Ontariariario*

        Yep, that’s how I was taught it. She is missing to me, but ‘to me’ is left off, resulting in Elle me manque.

    5. Texan In Exile*

      Spanish has some interesting constructions as well. I love that in Spanish, you don’t drop something – it falls from you (se me cayo’). Spanish acknowledges, in a way that English does not, that sometimes bad things happen and they’re nobody’s fault. Blame does not have to be assigned in every case.

    6. Don't remember my name*

      There is a construction in German that is the similar. Du fehlst mir. When used with objects, it would translate to having an implied “from”: e.g. “the page is missing [FROM the book].” So I always assumed that was implied with people, too: you are missing from me. As in, I am not whole when you are not here. Perhaps a bit creepy if taken literally, but that’s how I remembered to do it that way around, anyway.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Good to know! I’m about a year “behind” in my Duolingo German lessons as compared to French, so I’ll keep that in mind when I get there :)

        1. Don't remember my name*

          There’s also a construction that is more like English: Ich vermisse dich. So you can always take the path of least internal confusion and use that. Du fehlst mir is a bit…. Stronger. And more intense, fitting to the implications. Probably only used for a longer time and much closer relationship. I might use it for my best friend who moved away, or if I am going through a rough patch and my husband won’t be with me for a month or two. Ich vermisse dich is good enough for 99% of situations.

    7. MissCoco*

      Manquer was my nemesis in junior year French. It is absolutely a weird one. As others have said, conceptualizing it as “she is missing from me” makes it (sort of) make sense.
      To be honest, it never really clicked for me. I’m sure I did some lovely work arounds during oral exams to the effect of “she is gone, I am sad” to avoid using it.

    8. Ratpenat*

      Duolingo fired a lot of their staff recently and is now created by AI rather than humans, so you’re right to be cautious.

  35. Falling Diphthong*

    What are you watching, and would you recommend it?

    Watched The Chevalier on Hulu, about the Chevalier de St George, the brilliant black violinist and composer in pre-Revolutionary France who was up to run the Paris Opera. During the Revolution he led an all-black company of soldiers. Seems like history we should know, and yet I first heard of him on You’re Dead to Me. The movie is good–there’s a romance element that is fictional but works to lay out the different power structures. And while this doesn’t matter for the story, I afterward looked him up and the actor bears a striking resemblance to the contemporaneous portrait.

    Rewatched The Brothers Sun on Netflix. It nails/skewers the tropes of the Taiwanese kung-fu action flick while incorporating a strong baking component, and really nails the family relationships.

    Tried Fallout on Amazon but I think Love and Monsters spoiled me for post-apocalypse shows, with its embodiment of the idea that people inclined to help others would be the likely survivors.

    1. GoryDetails*

      I’ve nearly finished the “Ripley” miniseries (Netflix) – told myself I can’t watch the 8th episode until I file my taxes, by way of incentive. I have loved Highsmith’s “Ripley” novels since I first read them decades ago, and while some of the film adaptations have been pretty good, none of them have nailed it for me. But the mini-series comes closer than any of the films so far, and I adore the black-and-white photography, the ’60s vintage settings, the quiet, vague-unease aspects of the characters – and the moments of startling violence that punctuate the whole. [Also, that cat! Steals every scene it’s in, bless its furry little heart.] Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley is a study in suppressed emotions, and overall I find it riveting.

      By way of contrast, I started watching “Los Espookys,” a Spanish-language-with-English-subtitles series about a group of friends who like to fabricate creepy scenes complete with elaborate special effects, and who seem to be making something of a business out of it. Very funny and weird.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Did you think it was a stuffed cat the first time you saw it? Man, that thing could hold still.

    2. Turtle Dove*

      I’m usually late to the party and watch shows many years after they’re made. I just finished Happy Valley and loved it. Great characters, engaging plot, and lots of compassion. Before that I enjoyed The Night Manager. Both series were a bit dark and anxiety-provoking for me, but I’m glad I saw them. Now I’m watching a Finnish series on Acorn TV called The Man Who Died. It’s good but not gripping like the other two.

      1. Pharmgirl*

        I enjoyed the night manager when I watched it a few years ago – the opening credits were beautiful!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          There is going to be more! I saw today that two more seasons are happening. Yay more Tom Hiddleston!

    3. Pharmgirl*

      Currently watching “The Gentleman” on Netflix which I’m enjoying, as well as “Shogun” on FX/Hulu and “Palm Royale” on Apple. Recommend all three!

    4. The Prettiest Curse*

      I’m currently watching The Long Shadow, a mini-series telling the story of all the police errors that let Peter Sutcliffe get away with so many murders. It’s enraging to see how police misogyny (echoing the misogyny in wider society) led them down so many investigative dead ends and put so many women at risk for so long. And I recently watched a BBC documentary on the Sarah Everard case (it’s called Sarah Everard: The Search for Justice and is on iPlayer) which shows that, the presence of a few more senior women in the police aside, not a whole lot has actually changed since the 1970s.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I watched the first season of 3 Body Problem on Netflix. Intriguing and suspenseful hard sci-fi. I liked it, and if they cancel it without resolving anything, I’m gonna be pissed.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      +1 on Brothers Sun. Would also recommend the Quantum Leap reboot (which just got canceled) and Julia (which also just got canceled). Just started watching Dinosaur, and I would highly recommend it.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      We’re watching Fallout and I’m loving it. I don’t play video games so rely on Husband to spot stuff and point it out, but good to see Dogmeat going strong so far!

      I watched the first episode of Ripley on Netflix, but I don’t know. I really like the moody black and white look, but the actor playing Ripley is just too old for the role. He would be more believable as Ripley in one of the later stories. The whole main trio is about ten years past the point where the “try to get Dickie to quit lounging in the sun in Italy and come home to build boats because his dad is PO’d” is a feasible plot point.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re the age-up in “Ripley” – yeah, I noticed that too, but I love the series so much I don’t mind it. And I’m hoping they might use Scott in sequels; I’d LOVE to see the follow-on novels done this way.

    8. Jay*

      I haven’t started Fallout yet, although I am a HUGE fan of the video game series and have just over 2500 hours into ’76 (it kept me sane during a prolonged back injury and then Lockdown).
      The reason I bring this up, is that I was one of the first people to play the game. Ever. There was a bug that let people in early and I’m one of the first who found it.
      Well, the whole conceit of the game was that it was everyone for themselves. They assumed that players would spend all of their time hunting each other for limited resources. There was no story, no NPC’s. Nothing.
      Then they discovered, completely to their shock, that what everybody really wanted was a game where they worked together to rebuild society.
      People wanted to build camps and open shops chain those camps together to make settlements and chain those settlements together to make whole new towns.
      So the Dev. team had to rewrite the whole game. It’s now all about trade and cooperation. It’s full of people and interesting places. It’s a world in the process of being rebuilt.
      Because, and ONLY BECAUSE, the people in it wouldn’t let it be any other way.
      It may be the single most hopeful thing I’ve ever ever personally encountered.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        This is genuinely hopeful! The main character in the series comes across initially as naive’, but she truly works for the greater good and cares about other people.

    9. TPS reporter*

      Manhunt on Apple is about the search for John Wilkes Booth after assassinated Lincoln. I’m learning a lot about history and particularly fascinated with secretary of war Edwin Stanton. it’s hard not to get desperate thinking about how reconstruction could have been so different if Lincoln lived out his term.

    10. Makare*

      We just finished Blue Eye Samurai on Netflix, it is so beautifully animated and scored, the story is compelling and so are the characters, and the action sequences are jaw-dropping. I would highly recommend it, with the caveat that it’s quite violent and contains full frontal nudity—not a cartoon for kids!

      Last night we watched the first episode of Lockwood & Co, and we liked it way more than we expected to! I’m a big fan of the books, and I think they did well with the adaptation to screen. Just the right amount of spooky and snarky. Makes me mad that they cancelled the second season already.

  36. Oregon coast recommendations?*

    Last year I asked here for recommendations for my first trip to the west coast. Thanks for all the great suggestions! My husband and I had a wonderful time.

    My favorite part was the coast of Oregon. I fell in love with the wild beauty and sea stacks and am going back with a close friend for a week in mid-June. We’ll rent a car in Portland and stay in Hood River the first night, Yachats for three nights, Rockaway Beach for two nights, and Portland the last night.

    We’ll head to Yachats on our second day. Big picture, we’ll follow the coast from south to north. But we can double back for day trips and drive south from Yachats or north from Rockaway Beach. For example, I loved Bandon last year, so we may start there on day two and then visit Florence on the way to Yachats. We can go back to Florence the next day if there’s more to explore. Is this a reasonable plan? Would we miss great places south of Bandon or north of roughly Astoria? If so, I’d love to hear your recommendations! I’d happily plan another trip.

    I most look forward to soaking up the breathtaking coastal views. My friend’s never been there. We’d like to explore small towns, eat delicious food, shop a little (I love resale), and maybe see whales. One accommodation has bikes, and we both like long walks.

    What do you recommend? Anything we should be extra sure not to miss? Thanks in advance.

    1. The Week Ends*

      If you didn’t do it last time (not coastal) a tour from Portland east along the Columbia river to view the waterfalls and views is amazing. You could easily drive on your own, a couple of hours. I took a van tour, they met us downtown Portland and hit about 5 stops.

      1. Nicki Name*

        Drive along the Historic Columbia River Highway as you’re heading out toward Hood River, and you can see multiple waterfalls (including the most famous one in Oregon, Multnomah Falls) and take in a great view at Crown Point/Vista House.

    2. nopetopus*

      Depoe Bay for whale watching! Not sure if the whales will be there when your trip is, but I’ve gone multiple times and enjoyed it immensely.

    3. Ginger Cat Lady*

      What you describe sounds lovely. Don’t worry about missing something, do a deeper dive into the areas where you are. Enjoy what’s close so you don’t want to spend all the time in the car.

    4. coast answers*

      Frankly this sounds like an exhausting amount of driving to me! Don’t expect all the drives to be beautiful–from Hood River to Yachats will be mostly freeway of course (and traffic may be bad depending on when you leave), and even along the coast a lot of the roads are inland enough that you don’t have the sweeping ocean vista so much. I’d cut the driving way way down so you have more time for wandering and eating. I’d consider skipping Hood River on this trip–the Gorge can be a trip in its own right. And since you’re starting in the south, you could look into flying into Eugene–not sure how the cost or availability would compare for where you’re coming from.

      A few little attractions:
      Cape Kiwanda (the natural area may still be closed due to sinkholes, though)
      Neskowin (Proposal Rock), also a pleasant shoreline walk
      Devil’s Punchbowl
      Assorted lighthouses
      South Beach Jetty (you can walk to the end)
      Historic Newport
      Cape Foulweather–there’s a gift shop with a great view
      Nye Beach is a cutesy little shopping area
      Mo’s, get the clam chowder

      You can also look at Travel Oregon for suggestions. And look up Oregon Coast hiking books or sites, there will be some routes that are just nice walks. Of course you can also just walk along the shore wherever you end up!

      Also…if you haven’t already, look up facts and preparation advice for the big earthquake that may hit at some point! Know your tsunami evacuation routes for wherever you’re staying (by foot or by car). I tell everyone who visits the coast this.

      1. Overbooked*

        Agree with everything here. If the weather is good, the Neahkahnie Mountain hike is lovely, steep but short, great views; and the town of Manzanita at its foot is worth a stroll in any weather. Do you like to paddle? You can DIY with a kayak rental at the Wheeler marina, or take a guided tour with Tillamook Bay Kayak. Tillamook has a wonderful little historical museum – William Stafford, still probably Oregon’s favorite poet, wrote a poem about it. There’s also a nice maritime museum in Garibaldi, and oysters on the dock at Pacific Seafood in Bay City are always a good idea.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      I don’t know if you’ll get that far, but Ashland in southern Oregon is terrific (I went to college there.) The Shakespeare Festival is the big draw but the whole town is beautiful and there’s tons of live theater and other stuff, especially now that the tourist season is gearing up.

    6. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I always plug Prehistoric Gardens to people going to the southern Oregon coast, if you might be the kind of person who likes old-school roadside attractions. It’s all the way down past Port Orford, so probably too far south for this trip. (Just gives you a reason to come back yet again…)

    7. Oregon Coast*

      Yachats (pronounced Yah-hots): Cape Perpetua scenic area, especially the view point/shelter and visitor center. There’s a variety of trails and some cool oceanic features (Devil’s Churn and Cook’s Chasm.) The Drift Inn restaurant. The Amanda trail, which illustrates local indigenous history.

      South of Florence: I like the Siltcoos trail, which is an inland trail that leads to a lake. If swimming weather, Tahkenitch Lake for a quick dip and a picnic on the pier. Oregon Dune Overlook.

      Newport: Newport aquarium is really cool, and afterward you can go to Rogue Brewery and try a variety of beers with a beer flight, plus food.

    8. MissB*

      Can I recommend a series of state parks not far from Bandon? There are three within 2 miles just outside of Coos Bay/North Bend.

      Even if you aren’t staying overnight, Sunset Bay State Park (yurts, campsites) has a beautiful sandy beach across the street. Shore Acres State Park (botanical garden, whale watching) and Cape Argo State (hiking to rocky beaches where you may see sea lions) are just down the road!

      There is a hidden gem of a secluded beach accessible at the back gate of the botanical garden between the pond and the public parking lot.

      You can walk from Sunset Bay to Shore Acres on a nice trail but you would want to drive to Cape Argo. Again, it’s only 2 miles.

  37. French Reccomendations*

    Inspired by the song recommendation above for Maitre Gims, what are popular French songs and novels around right now? (Quebec especially appreciated). I used to immerse myself more in French culture, and clearly I’m missing it. I’m fluent, just out of the habit.

    1. fposte*

      I like Ingrid St. Pierre and Coeur de Pirate for Quebecois music. If you like Maitre Gims (now just GIMS, I think) you might like Belgian artist Stromae. I also like Indila and Frero Delavega. If you want to go back to more classic French chanson era stuff, Georges Brassens has especially great lyrics.

      1. Writerling*

        Seconding Stromae and Indila. Also a fan of Soprano (at least the few songs I’ve heard), for an energetic pick me up: Cosmo, for “oh snap” lyrics: le diable ne s’habille plus en prada

      2. Florence Reese*

        I’m not even a francophone but I love Coeur de Pirate, Stromae, and Indila, so I guess I should check out your other recs! Thanks :)

    2. Writerling*

      Aw man, same.
      I’d look on spotify for new song recs, I made a French playlist with all my childhood hits and just kept adding recommendations to “discover” new music which was nice.

    3. Weekend Warrior*

      For novels I have a few “French from France”, as we say in these parts. :) Auto fiction is a popular current mode.

      ‘La carte postale’ by Anne Berest. Anne and her mother’s quest to retrace family members’ trajectory from what they hoped was a safe French village to Auschwitz and to answer the mystery of who sent the postcard naming the four family members years later. Enthralling. Harrowing.

      ‘En finir avec Eddie Bellegueule’ by Edouard Louis. EL’s account of growing up in an impoverished family in northern France. It’s a brutal environment a long way from the chic arrondissements of Paris. EL has continued to publish works which create a sensation and is a bit of an enfant terrible, even as he ages.

      ‘Fugitive parce que reine’ by Violaine Huisman. I haven’t read this one yet but it’s on my Kobo! An autobiographical novel about growing up with a charming but manic depressive mother.

      I’m less in touch with Québec novels these days so hope others chime in. I’m always on the look out for well written women or family focussed novels in the mode of Anne Tyler or Tessa Hadley, although that may be more of an Anglosphere theme.

      Re music, I’ve fallen into the Lara Fabian rabbit hole on Youtube. Lovely, lovely singer but I particularly recommend songs from the 2000 concert From Lara with Love. Her cover of ‘Je suis malade’ from this concert is out of this world! “Je ne rêve plus, je ne fume plus,..”

    4. Once too Often*

      You could also stream Quebecois radio stations, looking for ones that suit & getting more ideas about artists to explore.

  38. The Week Ends*

    Any book recommendations that are happy, feel good books throughout? Preferably not sci fi or fantasy. My DIL commented that even the happy ending books these days often have traumas or triggering negative things and I realized she’s right. I just want to have fun and feel positive at end. I do understand that’s a writing tool, to have the characters overcome difficult situations, but would be nice to avoid the negativity sometimes.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Tepper Isn’t Going Out Today by Calvin Trillin, which is about alternate side of the street parking in NYC.
      Jeeves and the King of Clubs by Ben Schott is a continuation of the Bertie and Jeeves stories, in which they get to be spies.
      To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis is about time-traveling history grad students trying to find an extremely ugly Victorian vase.

      1. Blue wall*

        Omg I read Tepper Isn’t Going Out Today maybe a year ago- maybe based off a rec here?- and I think about it often. When talking to my friend who is trying to park in New York, and when I think about mailing lists.

    2. Not A Manager*

      At Home In Mitford (warning for religious content and sub-text)
      The Jeeves Books (warning for prettied up classism)
      The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon
      Pride and Prejudice (different kind of prettied up classism)

      Curious to see what others suggest, or what springs to my own mind later.

    3. GoryDetails*

      Since you’re ruling out SF this may not apply, but Becky Chambers is one of my feel-good authors of recent years. Her “Monk and Robot” duology, “A Psalm for the Wild-built” and “A Prayer for the Crown-shy”, are SF only in the sense of taking place on a colonized world in a distant future and featuring AI-turned-sentient robots; for the most part they’re a mellow, explore-the-world-casually kind of thing – philosophical but gentle, and utterly charming.

      For a non-SF version of this, Susan Trott’s “The Holy Man” books might be of interest: it’s mainly a series of vignettes about people who’ve undertaken an arduous pilgrimage to a small monastery in what sounds like Tibet, to see the famous holy man Joe (a Westerner who’s become a noted monk). Lots of little life-lessons and perspective shifts. Not always as light-hearted as the “Monk and Robot” books, but I did enjoy them.

    4. Annie Edison*

      Are you open to romance? I’ve been in a very similar place with my reading for the last two years and have kind of settled on romance as my go-to when I need something safe and feel-good. You can always see where the story is going, which feels really safe to me, and you get to see how characters work through various family or emotional issues. There’s a lot of really bad romance out there, but also some gems if you look around.

      My favorites:
      – anything by Jasmine Guillory (start with Wedding Date)
      – anything by Emily Henry (book lovers is my favorite; beach read is also fantastic. I didn’t love Happy Place so maybe don’t start there)
      – Sonali Dev’s Raje series
      – If the Shoe Fits (plus size woman goes on a bachelor-esque dating show)
      – Romantic Comedy (writer on a sketch comedy show falls for one of the guests)
      – The Charm Offensive (queer love story on the set of a bachelor-esque dating show)
      – Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail (and others in the same series)
      – Alexis Hall (author)- I’ve enjoyed Boyfriend Material, Husband Material, Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake, and Paris Daillencourt is about to Crumble. All his books feature queer characters and usually someone dealing with anxiety or depression, which I guess can be triggering but for me, I like seeing someone work through those types of issues and come out okay on the other side
      – Red White and Royal Blue (son of the president of the US falls in love with a British prince)

      For non-romance:
      – The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared
      – the Tiffany Aching books by Terry Pratchet (these are sort of fantasy I guess, but I still enjoy them as a non-fantasy reader)
      – Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver (disclaimer: it’s been years since I read this one so I may be forgetting some heavier moments, but my memory is that it was mostly uplifting and warm)
      – Isabelle Allende (here are definitely traumatic and heavy events in her books, but I feel like the writing is so beautiful and the endings always feel uplifting to me, so even when things are hard it doesn’t hit me the same way other authors do. YMMV though)

      1. Makare*

        Adding to the romance recommendations, if you enjoy queer historical romance I would highly recommend KJ Charles—some of the books have somewhat darker elements, and of course characters struggle with living in a world that doesn’t accept their sexuality, but they almost always end up finding acceptance and allies as well as love. The world never feels desolate or hopeless, if that makes sense. Also, any lover’s quarrels/misunderstandings are usually cleared up quickly and sensibly, which I really appreciate. Cat Sebastian is also good for this.

    5. Jay*

      -Look for collections of old Calvin and Hobs strips.
      -If you don’t mind collaborative books, then you might want to try Naked Came The Manatee by a bunch of Florida comedy writers. This will also give you a couple of good launching points for specific authors who’s work you may come to like.
      -Compilations of short works by Dave Barry or Patrick F. McManus.
      -I mentioned these in another thread, actually, but Christopher Moore has some books that are funny and feel good. Although they often have a low sci-fi and/or fantasy element to them. As I said there, however, these can be NSFW.

    6. The Week Ends*

      Thanks everyone! None I’ve read except Romantic Comedy, which I enjoyed. Re the sci fi, I do like that kind of thing but often the “new world” is due to chaos or destruction on our world which can hit too close to home and depresses me.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        John Scalzi’s lighter work might suit. “Redshirts,” “Fuzzy Nation,” and “Starter Villain” – although the last definitely has some dark spots.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      I love A Big Storm Knocked It Over, by Laurie Colwin. All her novels and short stories are great, but that one and Happy All the Time are the most fun.

    8. Blythe*

      Honestly, I find the Anne of Green Gables series fills this void for me. There are challenges and traumas, but somehow they all feel sort of… softened… by the relaxed prose and Anne’s thoughtful take on them

  39. Saturday*

    I’m so happy to see this picture of Sophie and Fig because she was bonded to Hank, so I was concerned about her! Reading her profile, I see that she is also Wallace’s mother which I didn’t realize. Wallace is a favorite of mine since I saw the picture of him stretching out his paw to welcome then-foster-cat Stella.

    Okay, you’re right, I’m probably too invested in Alison’s cats’ lives, but I don’t have cats of my own anymore, so here we are.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Aw, thank you! Fig is definitely moving in to take over the (close to full-time) job of cuddling with Sophie after Hank left us.

      Also, there will be cat news coming next weekend, I think.

  40. Tilly W*

    Low fat, dairy free desserts?

    I had a pal get diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this week. I showed up like a dummy with monster cookies (his favorite), which he can’t have now. So looking for some dessert ideas that are low fat (no peanut butter/alt butters) and dairy free. Thank you in advance!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Meringues with sliced fruit. (And whipped cream for general consumption, but you can skip the whipped cream.)

      Sorbet–if you have a local ice cream shop that makes their own, you can potentially get an interesting small batch fruit flavor.

      My go-to dairy-free dessert is Smitten Kitchen’s Chocolate Olive Oil Cake, which I imagine is too much fat from the oil.

    2. Snell*

      https://www.theppk.com/2011/11/marbled-banana-bread/

      Marbling banana bread makes it feel dressier/more of a treat than unadorned banana bread, although tbh as a quick bread, it’s already pretty damn close to cake. I have made and enjoyed this recipe firsthand. It’s solid. If you want to dress it up even further, topping it with crushed nuts is probably out, but maybe you could try a dry-ish spiced streusel (I have never tried this, so cannot attest to its merit, but it’s a thought).

    3. AnonyOne*

      I don’t know if this is sufficiently low fat, but tofu chocolate pudding (made with silken tofu) is surprisingly good and also very quick to make. Recipes typically call for some milk, but plant milk absolutely works. I just googled some recipes and found one that suggested it comes in at 5g of fat per serving, hopefully that is low fat enough.

      1. Snell*

        I think most pudding/jelled -type desserts would work as long as you don’t base it on/add anything too fatty. You could set it with tofu/various starches (they all perform differently)/gelatin/agar and base it on fruit juice or something. I recently successfully made a tart filling from soft tofu, assisted by corn starch, that set totally solid, not droopy or runny at all. I think next time I’ll ease up on the starch.

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      If egg whites are okay, angel food cake makes a nice dessert, and you can flavor it with lots of things (cocoa, matcha, lemon zest, etc) or serve it with fruit compote for variety.
      For something more handheld maybe marshmallows in fun flavors? You can mix in dairy free chocolate chips or chopped dried fruit for a textural element. Or something like homemade rocky road with dairy free chocolate?

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Along the meringue lines, I love to make pavlova. With a fruit topping (even just some fresh fruit, no need to overcomplicate it) it’s delicious. Takes a while but most of it is not active time.

    6. <