weekend open thread – April 6-7, 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: Annie Bot, by Sierra Greer. A robot designed to be her owner’s perfect girlfriend develops her own consciousness and starts to question what she wants, and deserves, from the world.

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

{ 700 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. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

    Small joys thread! What made you happy this week?

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

      Some students from previous semesters were happy to run into me. That always makes me happy too!

    2. WorkNowPaintLater*

      My current favorite TV show got renewed for another season! (Will Trent for the curious) And this year’s crop of peonies is about a foot tall and appear to not have been affected by our occasional cold snaps.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Likewise my daffs have survived several cold snaps and at least two snows, and still look great!

    3. Annie Edison*

      I visited a tulip farm today and spent a few hours wandering through fields of tulips in every color of the rainbow, and then happened upon a delightful antique shop on my way home where I found the perfect dining chairs

      1. Bookworm in Stitches*

        Were you in NJ? I went to a tulip farm last spring in that state. If so, I’d love to know more about the antique shop.

        1. Anon for this*

          I think I know which tulip farm you must have visited. I went there some years back. They also do sunflowers in autumn I think but I have yet to go see those.

          1. Bookworm in Stitches*

            Yes, the farm does sunflowers, too! I haven’t been there to see them but the co-worker who told me about the farm has gone both in the spring and the fall a number of times.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My heath screening says I’m ten years younger than I really am and all my lab numbers are great :)

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

        Username checks out! You must be doing some grade-A adulting with taking care of your health. : )

    5. L. Ron Jeremy*

      My foot blister is almost healed. Really looking forward to my morning walk again.

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

        Yay! It’s hard healing foot injuries — that’s great that you’re on the mend!

    6. fallingleavesofnovember*

      Made our traditional Easter bread on Monday and for the first time, the gluten free version I make didn’t sink down in the middle!

    7. Lost Gurl*

      I’m glad you asked! I had a really great interview on Tuesday, on Wednesday the organization asked for 3 professional references, and then Thursday one of my references told me she scheduled a call with a reference-checker for Monday. And after a year of job searching, this is very exciting to me.

      1. AlexandrinaVictoria*

        I ordered wildflower bombs! Little bombs of seeds that you just throw in the yard and they grow. My front yard is going to be so pretty!

    8. Snell*

      In the last 2-3 months, I got back into my pre-COVID gym habit, and I am at the point where I’m now enjoying the positive effects—more energy, better appetite, better sleep (well, I’m both having better quality sleep and I’ve found my fitness goals to be pretty good motivation to choose better sleep habits—performance definitely suffers if I’m sleep deprived).

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      Got a weird shot of pride at the dentist because apparently I set a record for Longest Root In A Tooth for the office. Like, no joke, the dentist and hygienist were going “Oh my God!” openly. Made a root canal a bit more amusing than they otherwise are, for sure.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        My dentist looked at my broken tooth this week and said “I like a challenge.”

        Thank you for helping me put that in perspective of “At least it happened on a weekday. And they got you in. And have a gentle, trustworthy, careful bedside manner that makes 90 minutes in the chair as reassuring as was possible. And it’s now bonded with a temporary crown and you can feel your face again.”

      2. allathian*

        My roots curve inwards. When I needed a tooth extracted after a failed root canal, my regular dentist sent me to a specialist because she didn’t want to touch it herself.

        My aunt, who’s a retired dental nurse, told me that the weirdest thing she’s ever seen was a case where the wisdom teeth in the upper jaw had grown the wrong way, into the sinuses. I don’t know how that’s even possible…

    10. anonymous anteater*

      I managed to sign up for the pottery class that is always booked out super fast!

    11. Chaordic One*

      While taking a walk through my neighborhood I noticed the first daffodils, tulips and some other flowers in my neighbors’ gardens.

    12. Dodubln*

      I got a Venmo payment from a client that said “Appreciate you so much!” and my daffodils made it through two snow-showers/cold snaps. Oh! And I won a NCAA pool that will now mean I can do further upgrades on my house that I thought would have to wait a lot longer. Definitely my best week for the year so far.

    13. BellaStella*

      Spent a day at the botanic gardens and got some nice flower photos. And a friend brought me some cold pressed olive oil from her dad’s olive orchard in France!

    14. Andromeda*

      I got a promotion and a big pay rise! That’s two promotions in two years now. Not meteoric but I’m so proud.

      I am also moving soon, and enjoying taking copious amounts of time to plan the silly kitsch bedroom that I’m gonna have when I do.

    15. OxfordBlue*

      I buttered my Nordic ware jubilee bundt tin very carefully with a pastry brush and softened butter and hey presto my chocolate and soured cream cake turned out all in one piece. Now I’ve cracked the buttering the tin process I think I can go ahead and buy a few more designs too.

    16. Daisy*

      The temperature has been just the perfect amount of warm and the breeze has been a gentle caress.

    17. Dancing Otter*

      Two things:
      Discovered my malfunctioning sewing machine responded to home maintenance and did NOT need its 40-pound self dragged to the repair shop an hour away.
      Finished a donation quilt the very last day before I need to turn it in.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        AND I just learned that for an extra $30, the shop will come get my machine and bring it back when it’s fixed.

    18. Paralegal Part Deux*

      I bought some press on nails that are working really well for me and are sticking really well!

    19. the cat's ass*

      Trip to Boston was (mostly ) awesome! Kid got to visit friends going to college there, we ate SO. MUCH. SEAFOOD, visited my childhood home (I know the new owners), and survived the terrible weather and the local terrifying driving.
      Thanks again to everyone who gave us such great recommendations!

    20. DrKMnO4*

      Background: My husband and I are selling our house, but he has already moved out of state for his new job while I finish up the semester (I’m a college prof). That means the vast majority of the prep work has fallen on me, including painting nearly every room in our house (I like bright colors, but potential buyers apparently don’t).

      Joy: The hard work has paid off! The photographer came in and was impressed with the house (he saw it before the changes), and the realtor was also very complimentary and said that the work was very noticeable and looked great!

    21. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I was at a loose end trying to fill an entire Saturday to myself (within an entire week home alone). Ended up going on a very long bike ride to meet a friend for coffee, with a stop at a German bakery I never get to visit on the way back. It made me feel so alive. Now to sit down with the goodies from my bakery visit and a book!

    22. chocolate muffins*

      We introduced our toddler to swings for the first time this past weekend and he LOVED it. Threw his head back, laughed and laughed and laughed, and kept asking for more pushes. His joy is the best.

    23. Voluptuousfire*

      Went to the grocery store and passed by a Bath and Body Works in the same plaza and all the body products were $5.95. I love fragrances and usually don’t buy much from them since they’re expensive. I bought a few for myself as a treat.

    24. Might Be Spam*

      My friend brought her portable sewing machine over so I could help her fix her late husband’s Packer jacket. I fixed the jacket and showed her what to do so she could fix some stuffed dog toys. While she worked on the toys I was available to help, and cleaned my kitchen. It was great having company while I cleaned. Now I want to find some company while I dust. Housework is so much nicer when I have company.

    25. Water Everywhere*

      I’ve been wanting to replace my too-long too-dark living room curtains and this morning actually found some that I like, are the right length, AND were on sale! Not easy to do in a small town. My living room looks so much brighter!

    26. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      This is the first day of the year that was warm enough for me to take my walks in shorts & tee.
      The Rhine was sparkling, the ducks were quacking cheerfully, the swans & geese were no grumpier than usual.
      Warm sunny days are joyous!

    27. wandering storyteller*

      My fandom newsletter hit over 100 subscribers and it is wild that there is a hotel function room number of people who read my stuff. Got emails from subscribers too, which is such an amazing thing to have in your inbox on a weekend.

    28. Sparkly Librarian*

      Baby talk! Our toddler is starting to put words together into phrases. This morning, it was “mine beep-beep!” about a toy car.

    29. Irina*

      We were clearing out some books to give away and I found a music book I mislaid years ago! Arranging some of the things for my choir now.

    30. GoryDetails*

      The “Ripley” mini-series on Netflix! I’ve adored Highsmith’s “Ripley” novels for ages, and while some of the film adaptations have been pretty good, none of them have really nailed the character (at least IMO). But this adaptation – while it did make the main characters a decade or so older than in the novel – does convey a lot of Highsmith’s edgy, vague-unease feelings, along with a marvelous feel for the 1960s setting. It’s done in black and white, with a noir feeling that works well, and has some touches of humor in among the petty-crime-escalating-to-murder.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Can’t wait to catch this! I loved AMC’s production of “Spade,” so this sounds like it’s up my murder alley.

    31. Kyrielle*

      Sent my youngest off to Outdoor School (Oregon tradition, basically a week of camp where you learn about the outdoors as part of your public schooling) this week and got him back happy and excited.

    32. star*

      a friend taught me to say “microwave” in British sign language

      (and the word for “lasagne” is v. similar, in an opposite direction!)

    33. MadisonCat*

      A bouquet from the director on my desk Tuesday morning marking my first six months in a new job.

    34. Fae of Care*

      I got burned by the water boiler while making tea at work, and nobody was taking me seriously. I received little support and wasn’t even asked if I could go back to work. It made me really happy that one of my co-workers offered to help me get what I needed to get done when nobody else would.

      1. Might Be Spam*

        I hope you weren’t too badly hurt. I’m glad you have a supportive co-worker and sorry about the others.

  3. Sockster*

    Happy weekend! Anyone planning on watching the eclipse on Monday? Anyone traveling for the eclipse?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I realized that it is at the far northern corner of Vermont, so a long haul for me at a time I am not physically up for that. I got to be in totality in ’17, and I totally recommend that experience if anyone is wavering over a long drive.

    2. Manders*

      I think we might travel. My guess is 45 minutes there, 4 hours back (but I think it’ll be worth it). My current location is at 98.5% totality, but I hear it’s an experience that is worth it.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        a) It is definitely worth it to bump that extra bit into totality. Truly like nothing else. Like, you viscerally understand that if you were an ancient person you would be immediately concerned that you had annoyed a god.
        b) Download, print out, or otherwise have access to a not-cloud-based map of how to get from your viewing point to a point where you know where you are. Because a zillion people will be trying to ask the web for directions at once.

        1. Manders*

          Oh yeah, and we are bringing plenty of food and water, making sure we are fueled up, all that. It’ll be a mess, but I’ve been holding out on making firm plans until we had a better idea of the weather. I really want to experience it. I think we had around 95% in 2017, and it was cool, but not particularly memorable.

      2. Random Bystander*

        Yes, you wouldn’t think that the 1.5% would make a difference, but it really does make a difference. I was just a bit north of totality during the ’17 eclipse and drove down into the path with my youngest two. Co-workers who were working that day took pictures, and except for the ones who took pictures of the shadows, you wouldn’t have known there was an eclipse at all.

        So, if you are able to make the trip, it’s absolutely worth it. (This time, the path is just enough north that I am in the path of totality.)

    3. Mazey's Mom*

      I’m not travelling for it, but my 2 cats and I will be house-sitting and cat-sitting for my brother’s family (who have 5 cats), who are going to travel to see it. Plus, my nephew is going to take the occasion to propose to his girlfriend, so they’ll be there to celebrate it.

      1. Random Bystander*

        My oldest son proposed to his now-wife during the ’17 totality.

        In my case this time, I am in the path of totality (was just a hair north in ’17–drove down to get into the path). I have my glasses and my camera filter ready. Now just hoping that cloud cover won’t be in the way.

    4. OtterB*

      Driving from the DC area to Ohio to be in the path of totality. I waffled over the time and money (hotels were expensive) but decided to treat it as a bucket list item as I am unlikely to get another shot at it. Current weather forecast shows partly cloudy where we will be, so fingers crossed.

      1. WorkNowPaintLater*

        It may clear off as it gets closer to totality where you are. We had that happen here in ’17.

      2. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

        Re: Monday’s eclipse. I am a worker in a public library. Our city and all the news media in it has told everyone to go to the public library for free eclipse glasses. We weren’t given anywhere near enough to meet demand. We are already out of them, the situation has been bungled in every way possible, and I’m on duty both Saturday and Monday. Over the last two days, we’ve faced a seemingly never ending stream of people that we have to disappoint. This is going to continue.

        I am one of the few people not looking forward to this eclipse. Just the word “eclipse” is starting to evoke a visceral reaction in me. At this point, if it weren’t for the fact that the world would end if we lost our sun, I’d kind of be rooting for the sun to explode sometime before Monday.

        1. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

          And speaking of “bungling the situation in every way possible,” I managed to mis-thread this comment. My apologies.

          1. Tea*

            It wouldn’t surprise me if the library already had multiple signs saying they were out of glasses, that people then ignored to ask staff for 5 pairs glasses of anyway.
            Or the people read the signs and asked anyway (do not underestimate the public’s piss-poor reading comprehension and conviction that rules don’t apply to them).

        2. Jordan*

          In the past we – my children’s center- used the pinhole projection technique. Some thick paper, index cards work fine. Put a small hole in center with a pin . With your back to the sun, hold it between yourself and ground, or projection space (large paper works great).
          Good luck

          1. Sharpie*

            We viewed the 1999 eclipse (we had a partial eclipse in clear weather, the pathetic of totality had a lot of cloud cover, go figure!) by setting up Dad’s telescope and projecting it onto a piece of paper.

            Watched the transition of Mercury more recently the same way, which was fun.

            1. Sharpie*

              pathof totality, thank you very much, autocorrect. Although I guess it was a bit pathetic…

          2. Random Bystander*

            I remember in some less than total eclipses, the paper (yeah, that long ago) had an article with instructions on how to make the indirect viewer using a shoebox, too.

        3. Bookgarden*

          This reminds me of working in a public library along the path of the eclipse in 2016 and something similar happened. I totally sympathize with what you’re going through!

          I moved away from there and am once again living on the path of totality. This time around it looks like we’re having thunderstorms during that time. My dad asked me to call him afterwards with a full report on how my cat handles the sky going completely dark at the wrong time of day in the midst of a storm. I don’t have the heart to tell him it will likely just be her hiding under a bed like normal during a storm, with me putting on a sounds machine for her, and her not even noticing the light changing underneath.

    5. WorkNowPaintLater*

      Not traveling for the totality – weather conditions in that area aren’t looking good.

      We are supposed to be around 94% and the weather here is supposed to be fantastic, so I will take a late lunch outdoors Monday and enjoy the partial eclipse.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m in totality, and a friend of mine put themself on my calendar for my guest room for it like five years ago :) so they’re coming down Sunday evening and staying til Tuesday (to avoid post eclipse traffic) and I’m looking forward to both eclipse and visit.

      1. Pucci*

        I invited myself to my brother’s house. When I told him a couple of years ago, he thought I was crazy, but now even he is excited to be in totality

    7. WoodswomanWrites*

      Yep, I made plans for this a long time in advance to avoid high prices and minimize travel hassles. I’m flying from the Bay Area on Saturday to Austin, Texas and renting a car for my stay at an Airbnb in Ingram where totality will be four and a half minutes. I’m picking up groceries in Austin in the evening, and plan to mostly stay put until I leave on Tuesday.

      It was an incredible experience in 2017 and it’s worth shlepping for me. Even if it ends up being cloudy, I’m seeing friends in the Austin area and maybe another from San Antonio.

    8. How’s It Going?*

      I am! We’re driving to Arkansas and hoping it goes well (traffic wise and weather wise). I’ve got screencapped maps on my tablet because I’m just assuming there will be no cell service. It will be the first time I’ve been anywhere near totality.

      1. Jordan*

        We flew from the Bay Area to Oklahoma on Friday. On Saturday we will drive to Arkansas. My father is a retired astronomer, his sister lives on a farm in rural Arkansas.
        We – ages 48 to 79- will be staying in the barn, as there are no rooms in the Inn…

    9. Mostly Managing*

      Oh yes!!
      I was in the UK in 1999, and it was well worth the six hour drive then.
      This time, we have family about an hour away in the “right place”.
      We’ll drive down for the day and hope the traffic home isn’t too crazy

    10. yike*

      getting up at 4 tomorrow to board plane #1, before plane #2 to watch the eclipse. at least it’s meant to be sunny!

    11. RMNPgirl*

      Driving from Iowa to Carbondale IL. We got tickets for the event at Southern Illinois University. We got to experience totality in 2017 but because of clouds didn’t get to see totality or the sun’s corona. Really hoping it will work out this time!

    12. ThatGirl*

      Hilariously, by coincidence I’m in Indianapolis this weekend but have to go back to Chicagoland Sunday and will be back in 95% territory. I couldn’t really stay if I wanted to though, I have a work trip early Tuesday.

    13. GoryDetails*

      Planning to drive to Vermont with a friend – normally a 3-hour drive, but we’ll be allowing for longer. I got to experience a roughly 97% solar eclipse from the comfort of my own back yard last time around, and it was pretty awesome – and I found that a simple pinhole camera produces a really impressive image. But I am looking forward to totality!

    14. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      We are in the path of totality so not traveling. It’s been nonstop warnings about traffic here so I’ll most likely just hang out in my front yard for it or go to a very close park. It’s supposed to be overcast but hopefully the weather clears up.

    15. WellRed*

      Now that it looms, I’m paying more attention and need to hunt down glasses! I am near the path.

    16. Might Be Spam*

      My annual road trip to visit my son passes through the totality path. I’m preparing to car camp if I have to, because of traffic. I enjoy driving at night, so I’ll nap during the heavy daytime traffic. I already have my glasses and a few extra to share, in case there are other people where I decide to stop.

    17. Chanel No. π*

      We could drive to totality in about 90 minutes. But we’re not going to. DH’s work has him driving all over the state, and no matter how cool totality is, it still wouldn’t offset the aggravation of yet another road trip. If the people we know who have a minibus invited me to join a group going to totality, I might go, or I might still choose to stay with DH. But they’re flying to Texas and leaving the minibus here. I believe everyone when they say totality >>>>>>>>> anything less than totality. But we’ve seen some things in our time.

    18. Falling Diphthong*

      If you are in a partial eclipse area and have leaves on trees (not yet where I live), the leaves form nature’s pinhole camera. So if you’re outside in the afternoon and the shadows look weird, that’s what’s happening. It’s also a neat simple way to check on the progress without special glasses or a pinhole camera.

      Light travels as follows; you look at the image on the surface in the last step. You can put a sheet of paper on the grass to make a smooth surface.

      Sun –> Tree –> Sidewalk, wall, or other smooth surface

    19. Retirement Pending*

      Driving 2 hours to totality, staying off the interstates. We still have our good glasses and binoculars from 2017. Good weather predicted here!

      1. RMNPgirl*

        You might want to double check if the glasses are still considered good. I’ve heard they do expire over time, I think because the coating starts to degrade.

    20. o_gal*

      I am not traveling, because my house is in the path of totality (1 min, 48 seconds). But my sister in law invited herself to come stay at my house this weekend and view the eclipse with my husband, so the 2 of them, my son, and my 2 nephews are going to try to get on the center line. Good luck to them. After the nightmare of traveling back after the 2017 eclipse, I’ve been telling everyone that I am going to walk out of my house, look up, say ooh! aah! and then walk back into my house.

    21. DrKMnO4*

      My work is only about an hour away from the zone of totality, and I work half-days on Mondays anyways, so I’m driving up to watch it. I’m really excited for it!

    22. fposte*

      Yes, I’ve had a hotel booked for months. And it turns out my destination has laid a lot on, so it should be quite the festival even if it’s cloudy.

    23. RedinSC*

      YES! I am currently in Chicago and will be driving to Indianapolis tomorrow to see the eclipse on Monday.

      This will be my 3rd, so I hope the weather cooperates

    24. Clisby*

      No, I watched the 2017 total eclipse from my front yard in SC, so I’m probably set for life.

    25. Cleo*

      I’m also driving from Chicago to Indianapolis- we’re driving down Sunday and driving back on Tues, to hopefully miss the worst of the traffic.

      I also drove to the totality in 2017 and it was pretty magical.

    26. carcinization*

      Where I live is at approximately 99.7% totality according to what I can see online… but it’s almost certainly going to be cloudy for the eclipse. I do have the day off so I will go and hang out outside for an hour and a half or so with my glasses handy and hope that it won’t be cloudy the whole time….

      1. carcinization*

        (By outside, I mean in my backyard. No driving for me on Monday, don’t want to deal with all of that traffic!)

    27. Glazed Donut*

      Yes! I was waffling on going and then a friend had a spot open in her Airbnb so it was a pretty easy call! I’ll be driving about 70 miles – leaving Sunday, coming back late Monday. Hoping traffic there is okay and traffic back doesn’t get me in TOO late to go to a special event Tuesday morning!

    28. fhqwhgads*

      I very much do not intend to yuck anyone’s yum, but I totally don’t understand the whole traveling to see eclipse thing. I wondered about it at the last one, and I guess I still don’t get it. Like, I understand that lots of people do travel to see it from the peak locations for viewing. I just don’t understand why. Anyone who’s into it, can you explain? I’m asking sincerely.

      1. Mina*

        I guess because I think seeing the sun go black would be cool. I’ll drive a few hours but I wouldn’t fly thousands of miles to see it.

      2. RMNPgirl*

        From what I’ve read on people who have experience and seen totality, it’s an awe-inspiring event. Many people have said they unexpectedly started crying and were overwhelmed with emotion. I got to experience totality in 2017 but clouds covered the sun so we couldn’t see the corona, I’m really hoping this time that we’ll have clear skies. I’m guessing I’ll have a pretty good reaction since I am always blown away whenever I get out to a rural area and get to see the night sky full of stars and the Milky Way.

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          I saw it in August of 2017. I told people, ‘this is the only experience I will ever have of standing on an alien planet’, and the corona wasn’t totally gray, it was ashes of lavender (heavy on the ash).

      3. GoryDetails*

        Since I haven’t experienced a total eclipse yet, I can’t say for sure whether *I’ll* consider it worth the drive, but I’m definitely curious. I got to see a 97-ish percent eclipse from my back yard last time around, and it was quite interesting, but not nearly as dramatic as totality is supposed to be. There’s a recent xkcd strip summing this up; link here ( https://xkcd.com/2914/ ), with the alt-text saying “A partial eclipse is like a cool sunset. A total eclipse is like someone broke the sky.”

        If I make it to the totality-viewing, I’ll be able to state whether I consider it worth all the effort to get there!

      4. Cleo*

        It’s just a really cool thing to do. I experienced the totality and saw the corona in 2017. It was really magical. Especially the way everything got quiet and dark.

        I’ve heard that some people become obsessed after their first eclipse, wanting to see more. That didn’t exactly happen to me, in that I didn’t start researching eclipses around the world and I’m not interested in flying somewhere for one. But I have been excited about seeing this eclipse pretty much since I saw the last one.

        But this is My Kind of Thing. I love spectacles of nature. I get up early for sunrises. I go out to watch moonrises. I’ve gone on trips specifically to see bald eagles and the sandhill crane migration. Seeing the redwoods makes me cry.

    29. run mad; don't faint*

      Various family members are packing the car right now at a very early hour of the morning. Then they’ll do a little more driving tomorrow to put themselves securely into the totality zone. I’m not going because of some health related things, but plan to see what I can of it from home.

    30. Cat*

      Fun fact: living on a planet where total eclipses are a thing is basically an incredible coincidence; the sun happens to be approx 400x further away than the moon and approx 400x bigger

    31. Seeking clear skies*

      We are in the path of totality tomorrow afternoon – and the weather reports now say that heavy cloud cover will come in tomorrow morning. Please, please Midwest-and-not-in-the-path, keep the clouds til tomorrow evening!

  4. Falling Diphthong*

    Reading thread:

    Reread Killers of a Certain Age, in which a team of assassins are sent on a retirement cruise where their employer tries to kill them. Much plotting and scheming and assassinating. A lot of fun.

    For flipping through, Improbable Libraries is a photo book about unusual libraries. If a picture of a library makes you immediately happy, this is a really good book.

    Tried Wherever the Wind Takes Us by Kelly Harms, in which a woman divorcing her wealthy husband and getting nothing but the sailboat (thanks to an iron clad prenup) decides to sell the boat, and sail it from Maine to the buyer in Miami with her college age daughter who has taken sailing lessons. Winds up sailing with a hot dude instead. I gave up on this and flipped to the end. (Ironically skipping all the actual sailing parts, which is what I thought I would enjoy.) The main character tried to balance being too good a person to take her ex’s money herself with still wanting the money for her daughter, and I felt like the narrative was not at all successful with this. (I do praise the bit where the daughter, who has been totally mature and reasonable and “I can tell you guys are unhappy” about the divorce, reveals that OF COURSE her moms is going to buy the giant house and maintain it as a museum of the daughter’s happy childhood.)

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I also enjoyed Killers of a Certain Age!
      I read DreadfulWater Shows Up by Thomas King (enjoyed it, will continue the series), Picture of Death by E. C. R. Lorac (I have no idea why I picked this up, maybe someone recommended the author here? Did not enjoy enough to continue.), and the last book of The Summit of the Gods by Yumemakura Baku (still do not understand the urge to climb the Everest).

    2. fallingleavesofnovember*

      Read Song of Achilles for my book club, and now reading Circe! I’ve really enjoyed them both, especially as I had seen them around but never really felt drawn to adding them to my list…

      Other than, churchy books since it’s still Lent for me for another 3 weeks!

    3. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I could use some suggestions for good/can’t put down reads preferably mystery, historical fiction or fantasy. I’ve read most of the usually suggestions from this group so hopefully can get something different.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I liked Tarquin Hall’s Vish Puri series, Colin Cotterill’s Dr. Siri series and Sally Andrew’s Tannie Maria series.

      2. germank106*

        Edward Rutherford is great for historical fiction. You don’t have to read them in order. Ken Follet’s Kingsbridge series is also great. Start with “The evening and the morning”. For mystery I usually reach for Jonathan Kellerman or Faye Kellerman and any of the “Prey” novels by John Sandford. I don’t read much Fantasy so no recommendations there.

      3. WellRed*

        That’s such a broad range I don’t know how to recommend anything! I agree with the poster who suggested Sanford and the Kellermans for mystery.

      4. Forensic13*

        Really enjoying Margaret Owens’ books right right. One duology is more grim and starts with The Merciful Crow. The other, unfinished, trilogy starts with Little Thieves. Both might be considered YA, but I love the worldbuilding.

      5. oof*

        I was utterly grabbed by “the wych elm” by Tana French. I wanted everyone I knew to read it (mystery/detective/crime genre). I also really liked “the old woman with a knife” by Gu Byeong-mo. I paced myself on that one so it wouldn’t end too quickly.

      6. Annie Edison*

        The Tia Rosie’s Kitchen mystery series by Mia P Manansala is fun and addictive. It’s a cozy mystery series so nothing too intense. There’s four or five books in the series now, and all of them are super binge-able

      7. No name yet*

        I haven’t read them (they’re a little too dark/violent for me), but my wife and best friend both loved Hild and Menewood (sequel), by Nicola Griffith. They’re historical fiction set in 800s England, and the level of detail and world-building feel a lot like fantasy. They have both queer and romance/sex subplots.

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          Yes, we’ve seen Hild as Maiden and Hild as Mother. I would contribute to a GoFundMe to see Hild as Crone.

      8. Falling Diphthong*

        Historical fiction/mystery: Carole Nelson Douglas’s Irene Adler series, starts with Good Night Mr Holmes. Told from the diaries of her dear friend Penelope, in the Watson role. I am so glad this exists, because the adaptations in which male writers are like “What if Irene was naked? And Sherlock outwitted her? And, like, she was on her knees?” are really super missing the point of the character, which Doyle got. (Doyle’s books are quite progressive for their time–for example, The Doctors of Hoyland is about a woman doctor.)

      9. Falling Diphthong*

        Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts was recommended here for anyone who had enjoyed The Westing Game; I really liked it.

      10. Fellow Traveller*

        I recently read The Monsters We Defy, a historical fantasy heist novel set Washington DC’s 1920s Black Broadway. I thought it was fabulous. Highly recommend.

      11. SarahKay*

        Historical mystery: Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael books. BUT: start with the second book, “One Corpse Too Many”.

        The first book in the series is kind of slow and not an ideal entry point. You don’t miss anything by not having read the first (in fact most them will stand alone) and One Corpse Too Many is far more engaging.

        It’s one of my top ten favourite books and re-reads with some lovely characters in it and some incredibly satisfying moments. Plus it ends with an absolutely gripping climax; the first time I read it I was nearing the end while on the bus home, and the bus reached my stop at absolutely the worst “Don’t stop there!” moment. I couldn’t bear to wait the five minutes it’d have taken me to walk home before I found out what happened, so promptly sat down at the stop to finish it there and then.

        1. Turts*

          Seconding Cadfael, although I will add that even if you don’t read A Morbid Taste for Bones first I’d read it near the beginning as there’s a major plot point from it that gets referenced a lot later on.

        2. run mad; don't faint*

          When I first read the series, I started with “One Corpse Too Many”. I think I thought it was the first one. It works better as a first book than “A Morbid Taste for Bones.”

          If you enjoy medieval mysteries, you might also enjoy the Sister Frevisse series and its spin off, the player Joliffe series by Margaret Frazer. They’re set in the time of Henry V and VI, so a bit later than the Cadfael mysteries.

          1. run mad; don't faint*

            Oh! Not sure why I didn’t remember this a moment ago, but I’m beginning to reread Ellis Peter’s George Felse mysteries. They’re written and set in the 1950s and 60s and are well grounded in that time period. I’m going to enjoy rereading them.

            1. SarahKay*

              I think I’ve only read one of the George Felse mysteries, but I remember really enjoying it. I might have to go and search my shelves to see if I still have it.

      12. Freya's Cats*

        The Falco books and the follow up Flavia Albia books by Lindsey Davis combine mystery and historical fiction, set in Rome during the Flavian Dynasty (late 1st century). I also like the books by Susanna Gregory, especially the Matthew Bartholomew books set in medieval Cambridge.
        My top fantasy reads this year or so are the Green Bone books by Jane Fonda, absolute superb world building, also Witherward and Wayward by Hannah Mathewson. Pretty much anything by Naomi Novik. A much older one but something to bite in to in more serious historical fiction: Q by Luther Blissett. (nothing to do with the Q nutters, predates that). Set in reformation Europe and the anabaptist republic in Munster. Also serious and very good (but of a length not for the faint hearted) is the Masters of Rome series by Colleen McCullough, about the fall of republican Rome and the rise of the Julian Emperors.
        Honestly, I could go on forever…

          1. Freya's Cats*

            Oops! You are right of course. In my defense, it was really quite late here when I typed that. :D

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          I have all the Falco books and most of the Flavia Albia books. Some of the Falco books are less happy than others, but end on a very good not.

      13. just here for the scripts*

        There’s a mystery series written by a historian called the Oxford Medieval Mysteries Series by Ann Swinfen. Takes place after the great pestilence and each book expands on a particular trade—the first is called the booksellers tale—and solves a murder thanks to the Oxford-educated gent and his professor buddy (think accurate use of then-available CSI/Holmes mathematics and logic). It’s a great series that really makes you appreciate a lifetime before antibiotics and engines, while exploring a day-in-the-life of a variety of trades folks. And she builds such wonderful characters too!!

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

        They are oldies, but if you haven’t read them yet, Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries get addictive. Start with *Some Buried Caesar*, *Black Orchids*, or *The Second Confession*, but once you’re hooked, almost every one of them is enjoyable. If you like comic crime capers, Donald E. Westlake’s Dortmunder books are fun (burglar gang is brilliant in crime planning and execution but gets taken down a lot by bad luck). Start with *Don’t Ask*. If you like not-comic-at-all but super-hardboiled crime capers, try Donald E. Westlake’s Parker books (written under the pseudonym Richard Stark). Maybe start with *The Rare Coin Score*.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I love Ross MacDonald’s Lew Archer novels if one is into hard boiled crime fiction. He’s of his time but the writing shows compassion and intelligence, as well as awareness of social issues beyond the immediate plot.

          In one book, a Black character who is passing as white is staying in a hotel. A Black man who is a friend of hers desperately needs to contact her, but he cannot enter the hotel or ask for her without blowing her cover, and both of them would most probably have been lynched. Archer is enlisted to reach the woman and he reflects on the level of planning and terror inherent in these people’s lives without making it all about how great he is for noticing.

      15. carcinization*

        Maybe too obvious but have you read Crowley’s Little, Big or his Aegypt Cycle? Engine Summer also recommended but it’s not really a whole book.

      16. Un, Deux, Trois, Cat*

        Historical Fiction:
        The Women by Kristin Hanna
        The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel
        The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel

      17. fallingleavesofnovember*

        I’m a fan of Tracy Chevalier – best known for the Girl with a Pearl Earring, but actually quite prolific. She picks a historical period and writes from the perspective of women in those times, often also picking a characteristic craft/industry to focus on. Of her recent work I enjoyed A Single Thread. An older one that definitely has a mystery element is The Virgin Blue.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      I got Everyone On This Train is a Suspect and blitzed in a day–a really fun read. I’ll definitely check out the author’s other stuff.

      Next I’m starting on “been meaning to read for years” book: Reading Lolita in Tehran. The story is fascinating, and I have a personal interest in reading critiques and such of the novel Lolita itself, so I’m looking forward to it!

      1. Still*

        Oh, you got me curious so I’ve just started reading the first few pages of Everyone On This Train and I’m so torn!

        I resent of all of this fourth-wall breaking in the first chapter, and the meta-email in the prologue, and I feel like he’s trying to get unearned commitment from me by making all those declarations upfront.

        But also, if he actually delivers on them… I’m still tempted to find out.

        1. acmx*

          The whole book is 4th wall breaking. It’s also the second one by him where the first does the same (Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone). They’re pretty stand alone however. They’re fun reads.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          He does, in my opinion. I think he knows what he’s doing as opposed to it just being a stunt.

      2. Cookies for Breakfast*

        I loved Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone and can’t wait to get my hands on Everyone On This Train is a Suspect!

    5. Nessness*

      I just finished The Storm We Made by Vanessa Chan. I really enjoyed it – it’s historical fiction set in Malaysia in the 1930s (under British colonial rule) and 40s (under the Japanese occupation). I didn’t really know anything about that part of history, so I feel like I learned something, in addition to an intriguing story about a mom who became a spy and the repercussions of that.

    6. allathian*

      Rosa & Björk, the second book in the Hildur Runarsdottir trilogy by Satu Rämö. She’s a Finnish author who’s lived in Iceland for more than 20 years. She writes in Finnish but her books are set in Iceland. The main character Hildur is a cop, her Finnish sidekick Jakob Johanson originally came to Iceland as an international trainee is there to give an outsider’s view on Icelandic culture. In this book, they investigate the murder of a local crooked politician. The story’s complicated by the disappearance of Hildur’s younger sisters some 25 years earlier. I like the fact that the violence’s mosly described in the third person and after the fact. It’s not quite cozy but it’s less gruesome than most Nordic noir. Hildur is also a reasonably ordinary person with no addictions, unless you count exercise. She’s hypersensitive with some sensory issues and haunted by the disappearance of her sisters. I definitely recommend this.

      1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

        Ooh this sounds great! Wish I could read Finnish!
        You also finally gave me an explanation for why I enjoyed Henning Mankell’s Wallander series – it is (mostly? if I remember correctly) written truly from the detective’s perspective, so the reader experiences the crime only through that character’s own experience and thus after the fact of it happening.

        1. allathian*

          The rights of the book have been sold to the UK, so it should be available in English at some point.

    7. Andromeda*

      Just started White Oleander. So far the prose is purple but in the exact way I like (main character is the young daughter of a poet who is also extremely romantic, so it makes sense on a literal level and a stylised-evocation-of-an-intense-mind level). I can tell it’s going to go some heavy places already.

      Before that I read The Bad Ones, which I read the summary for and instantly impulse bought. Very very good (but flawed) YA* urban fantasy mystery thriller tinged with horror. The fantasy elements don’t come in full force for a long time, so it kinda reminds me of some of the New Weird stuff I’ve read.

      *YA in the “protagonist happens to be a young adult” sense only, really

      After that I’m moving onto Vurt, which is a psychedelic SF adventure filtered through the Manchester baggy scene.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I really like White Oleander; it’s a terrific take on what it’s like to have to deal with a bizarre parent and that parent’s choices defining your entire life.

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

          I really liked it a lot as well, although its focus turned out to be something very different from what I expected from the beginning.

      2. carcinization*

        Vurt was one of the books that my now-husband and I bonded over back at the turn of the millennium! Noon’s books were hard to find on this side of the pond last time I looked, I’d love to re-acquire them these days!

        1. Andromeda*

          Read the first bit of the first chapter and it looks GREAT. Excited to get stuck in.

    8. Sharpie*

      Improbable Libraries sounds either like a bibliophile’s dream… Or torture, knowing they’ll never be able to have any of those amazing libraries in their house.

      I’ll have to look for it, I love pictures of beautiful rooms full of books.

    9. GoryDetails*


      To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers – a stand-alone novel about deep-space exploration, with a crew of four people undergoing genetic body-morphing to enable them to function on widely differing types of ecosystems. Those different settings are fascinating (and sometimes unnerving), but overall the challenge is that they’ve lost contact with Earth, suggesting that something awful has happened back home – leaving them with a huge decision to make. While not as involving as the “Wayfarers” novels, I did enjoy this one.

      Carrying-around book: Never Whistle at Night: an Indigenous Dark Fiction Anthology, which takes inspiration from a number of different myths of indigenous peoples around the world, including those featuring the unfortunate effects of whistling at the wrong time and/or place. Some very good entries so far.

      1. fallingleavesofnovember*

        Loved To Be Taught if Fortunate. Really enjoyed that it showed science taking time and effort and a space story without guns/a big battle (even though there is plenty of suspense and drama).

    10. Come On Eileen*

      Someone in here shared that they were reading Miracle Creek last week, so I looked it up and bought it and I’m loving it! I realized yesterday it’s the same author of another book I read last year and loved, Happiness Falls. So I’m glad the rec came up here because I might not have read it otherwise!

    11. chocolate muffins*

      Just finished A Spell of Good Things. Appearantly 2024 is the year when I read all of the unrelenting novels. I thought this was a very good book, I was just unprepared for how bleak it was.

    12. Lemonwhirl*

      I had a week off work so I got through a few books:
      – “Miracle Creek” by Angie Kim – A heart-breaking story about a hyperbaric oxygen treatment facility that explodes with patients in it. The story is set during the murder trial of the mother of a child who died in the explosion.
      – “Day One” by Abigail Dean – Grim but compelling story about the aftermath of a school shooting tragedy in a picturesque town in the Lake District in England. One of Alison’s recommendations.
      – “Ghost Orchid” by Jonathan Kellerman – Standard Alex Delaware detective outing that was decent and enjoyable.
      I just started another Alison recommendation – “The Golem of Brooklyn”. I’m only about 8 chapters in, and I’m really enjoying it.

      I also listened to “The Bee Sting” by Paul Murray. The performances were great, the characters were incredible, and I enjoyed everything except the ending, which felt like a massive cop-out to me.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        I just got Miracle Creek from the library and I’m looking forward to starting it. Right now I’m reading Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle and I’m enjoying the atmosphere and how she slowly reveals hints as to what led to the current state of things.

    13. Filosofickle*

      Finished The 7-1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle and I’m not sure what I think! It was an interesting book — an amnesiac lives the same day 8 times, each in a different body of a party guest, to solve a murder and escape the loop — but it was VERY long and tense. Took a lot of patience!

      Adored Death Valley by Melissa Broder. Surreal story of a woman who goes to the Mojave Desert to take a break from the stress of having a disabled husband and ICU-bound dad, and finds a hallucinatory, mystical adventure while lost in the desert.

    14. Cookies for Breakfast*

      I’m reading Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld. Finally, I shall add, given a colleague lent it to me a shameful number of months ago (her house is packed with books and she doesn’t mind, but I feel guilty nonetheless). Holy crap, this book is SO GOOD! What took me this long? The dialogue, in particular, is absolutely brilliant.

      Also reading What Lies Beneath by Peter Faulding, which I picked up at an office book sale. It’s about the author’s experience as a search and rescue professional in extreme conditions. I was hoping for more true crime cases (as promised by the book jacket) and fewer accounts of dealing with environmental activists at underground protest sites, which start out interesting but get quite repetitive by the halfway point.

      All this because I still can’t make much progress with Olga Tokarczuk’s Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead. A few pages at a time on rare public transport journeys is all I can manage.

    15. Jackalope*

      I continue working my way through the Incryptid series by Seanan McGuire. Last night I finished book 12 out of the 13 books currently in print. I think I should take a bit of a break and read something else before going on to the next book but I’m enjoying them a lot. And I’m in a place right now where reading something engaging but without horrid things happening to the book characters is what I need, so this has been perfect.

    16. carcinization*

      Currently reading Bull’s War for the Oaks, interesting as a time capsule in various ways, and interesting because the author didn’t keep on writing similar books.

    17. Brrr*

      I read House Lessons – Renovating a Life by Erica Bauermeister yesterday and really enjoyed it. I love being able to read a book all in one day, doesn’t happen that often anymore!

  5. Miss Buttons*

    Question for any cancer survivors or loved ones of survivors. First – please, no medical advice. So I have a very unexpected phenomenon. I finished chemo 3 months ago, finished radiation about 5 weeks ago. I’m completely finished with treatment. But I don’t feel uplifted or relieved. I feel really down, anxious, scared. I thought there would be this wonderful upswing and life would get great again soon. Anybody else experience this at the start of your cancer survivorship? Did you get over it?
    Again, please no medical advice. I have plenty of excellent medical and therapeutic help. Just wondering if others went through this.

    1. zyx*

      I haven’t had cancer, but I’ve been through other really tough circumstances where afterward I expected to feel, I dunno, triumphant? But I didn’t. I felt exactly like you describe. In retrospect, I think I was feeling some of the sadness, anger, and anxiety that I pushed aside while I got through the really hard stuff. Once I was through, I had space to feel all of those feelings.

      It took some time, but I eventually felt better (with therapy). I never had the rush of relief or happiness that I’d hoped for, though.

      I hope you find some relief soon.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I think it’s exactly what you described here–delayed reaction. Those emotions that you didn’t have the energy or safety to feel? They are coming to the fore because you’ve finally got the bandwidth to admit them.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        The part about shoving down all the tough emotions because you need to just trudge forward resonates a lot for me.

      3. Irielle*

        I just got a clear pet scan after my third round of treatment (following a recurrence/progression last year). Cancer and treatment are deeply exhausting, and that fatigue can be ongoing for years post treatment, so even though you should be excited or uplifted, it is going to take awhile before you are really able to “get back to” your previous life. And now that you’ve gotten through the first battle, it’s possibly starting to sink in that some things are just not going to be the same. For me, after my first round of treatment, I went into menopause at 35, and that was upsetting, and had its own symptoms etc. Good luck, and if you can, try going for walks or sitting in nature. Also keep up your nutrition and water consumption.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I am four years out from my diagnosis, and still pretty beaten down. I actually did gradually improve in the six months between radiation and when I should have had the last surgery (postponed due to covid numbers), but plateau’d at that point, in limbo to things out of my control. Then I pushed far too hard to be Back To Normal Now after that surgery and had to step way back and let myself recover a lot more. (My mother was dying at this time.)

      It was frustrating. Things that helped:
      • A counselor I saw through my local cancer support center. (Initially for presurgical counseling several people recommended, then more general as “well now I will be better” wasn’t manifesting. She is more woo than I am, but that works to my benefit as she is doing stuff I wouldn’t come to on my own.)
      • The acupressurist she recommended, who did a whole body approach that addressed the cancer-based anxiety (which had by then attached to other things) and pain and generally coaxing in a positive direction the many battered and defensively crouched parts of my body.
      • For my spouse’s birthday we went to The Moth storytelling hour. One of the stories was from a woman whose father had died when he was 32, a fact that loomed large for her as she approached her 32nd birthday. She planned a ritual: she would walk around Manhattan, which was 32 miles, joined by friends and family. She did it. It was a great and supportive way to face this turning point. And the next morning she woke up… and nothing had changed for her. It made me really think about how important repetition is for rituals–that telling ourselves “Okay, this date and action will be an inflection point, and after that point I will feel different” isn’t how humans tend to work.

      1. Miss Buttons*

        Falling Diphthong, I started to weep when I read your words saying you pushed far too hard to be Back to Normal Now. That is me. Not back to normal, not by any means. Who knows if there will ever be a normal again. I am grateful to be done with treatment but ready now to just be real, just be with what is. That feels like relief. Thank you for your wise words. I wish you well.

        1. Ochre*

          There probably will be a new normal, though it may not be identical to the old normal. (If it helps, tell yourself this is what happens with the passage of time anyway! None of us are the same person we were 12 months ago or 5 years ago.)

          Your body is just barely recovered/still recovering from the physical effects of your treatment! Plus there’s probably an element of “what next?” ie: testing, monitoring in the future. I’m not saying you haven’t passed a huge milestone–you have–but your body is still remembering the past and your brain is thinking about the future, and it’s actually really hard to just enjoy being in the present. I think you’ll get there (give it time!), but it also may take intentionality (therapy, peer supporter, religious practice, meditation, whatever aligns with your thought process) versus just automatically sliding back into place.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      My mom I think experienced something similar after her cancer treatment. It did not get better, it did get worse, until we hit a breaking point and I told her flat out that she needed help before her daughters stopped speaking to her. She started seeing a therapist a few months later and while not a magical fix it has definitely helped. Her problem was adjacent to anxiety/depression/stress, coupled with too much exposure to nastiness in the news and not enough exposure to other people.

      All that is to say, emotions are not neat and clean. It’s perfectly ok to not feel relieved or uplifted. But if you’re not in therapy of some sort, give it a try. Cancer is traumatic, and there’s no shame in getting help to work through all the emotions.

    4. Dodubln*

      Your post hits very close to home for me, my younger sister is going through this exact same phenomenon right now, and she and I discuss it a lot. In March of 2023 she was diagnosed with an extremely rare type of bladder cancer (literally 350 people have had it in the US, so basically 1 in a 1,000,000), and it was Stage IV before it was discovered. She was given 6 months to live. She said “Screw that”, and aggressively pursued treatments (surgery and chemo in her case), even though it meant uprooting her/her two kids from where they lived in MI, to move to MN where she knew she would have better care, and where our older sisters are there to help her out. It is now one year later, she is completely cancer-free, and the Mayo Clinic is going to do a case study on her, because she is the 1 in a 1,000,000 person who has actually beat this type of cancer at Stage IV. It just doesn’t happen, but it did for her.
      She knows she “should” be feeling happy, relieved, full of “life”, however you want to phrase it. But she isn’t, she is depressed, anxious, and scared for the future. And it isn’t that she thinks the cancer will reappear, she has made that clear.
      The only way she can explain it to me is that it was like she was “riding a high” for all those months, because she was on a mission to beat the cancer, and then once she did, she “crashed”. She has nothing to fight for anymore, she won. She was making all sorts of plans for how she wanted to die with dignity, her funeral, how her kids would be taken care of, just in case she didn’t win, and now that she has, she has no idea how to actually “live” anymore.
      She is also getting excellent medical and therapeutic advice, which helps, but we both know this is going to be a process, and one that doesn’t have a set time frame.
      All I can say is I am glad the both of you made it through to the other side of this awful disease, and may peace be found at some point.

      1. Once too often*

        Congratulations to your sister, and may the transition period lead to peace and comfort in the years ahead.

    5. NeedsMoreCookies*

      In my case, my chemo neuropathy actually got progressively worse for quite a few weeks after I was done treatment. It was months before I was actually feeling better. Cancer treatment often has delayed side effects, brain- and mood- related side effects, and really slow recovery times.

      Cancer treatment sometimes gets depicted like it’s some sort of spiritual journey of courage and self-discovery but it’s really not. Nobody’s obligated to recover on anyone else’s timeline.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        The greeting card company “Em and Friends” has cards with sentiments like “Please let me be the first to punch the next person who tells you everything happens for a reason.” Was put onto it at my cancer support group, which had a lot of pushback to the “Cancer will be a wondrous spiritual growth opportunity for you” stuff.

      2. MCL*

        Yep. My spouse (41, stage 3 colon cancer) finished radiation after 8 rounds of chemotherapy. He is having colon surgery in early summer. We have both been a bit surprised by how much fatigue he is experiencing still (2.5 weeks after radiation concluded). I think a lot of it might be feeling a in limbo.

        1. Once too often*

          Radiation looks simple after chemo, but it wiped me right out. It was easily six months before my strength *started* returning.

    6. BellaStella*

      Absolutely. Here is my cancer tale short version and how I got around this:
      1. During chemo was let go from job and ended up in debt but eventually found a job four months later and am out of debt. This was hard for anxiety too but I was able to just be careful and deal by talking to bill collectors and pacing myself to cover things as I could on no income
      2. Had my surgery and then radiation as we went into lockdown. Also lots of anxiety due to no immune system and covid risk. I masked up was careful and was able to deal with pacing myself and getting some help of a counsellor.
      3. Post all treatment I masked for three years to stave off my anxiety and do what I could do to build my health again. Eventually all became normal again in the world and with my body and mental ability to be less anxious. With time and pacing myself at each hurdle it got better. I still have care to manage but it has been four years tmrw since my operation. I think the unknown will get less bothersome and less anxiety inducing over time.
      I am wishing you loads of luck and good health now for years to come with none of these things you have now to worry you.

    7. Anonosaurus*

      yes, I’ve seen this in relative with cancer (and in myself to an extent as caregiver) I think it’s a combination of delayed reaction (because during active treatment you’re too busy surviving to feel everything) and also, I think, detaching from your treatment team – there’s something reassuring in a weird way about having regular appointments and being able to go to the oncology emergency service (if there is one) and then suddenly it’s “see you for your next scan!”.

      I think it’s super normal. if you have access to a service like a Maggie’s Centre (, don’t know where you are) now would be a good time to engage, sometimes they run post treatment support groups. I think Macmillan online has some stuff about this, and an online forum for people at your stage, it might help to communicate with other people who are going through this experience right now.

      wishing you clear scans and a return to strength

    8. Weegie*

      Yes, this is very familiar. it took me quite a while after treatment had finished to realise I was suffering from PTSD. Just like BellaStella I had lost my job and had no money for therapy, so I read some books and actioned their advice. During treatment I had also seen a clinical psychologist attached to the treatment centre and I’d told her I’d left two things undone in my life that I wanted to achieve. I set out to do these after treatment, and they were the cornerstone of my recovery. It was almost two years post-treatment before I started one, and a further four years to completion; it was almost 10 years before achieving the other! So it takes time.

      I also worked slowly on my physical health, which helped too. Chemo had left me very short of breath, and one of my oncologists suggested I try cycling. So I bought a bike – I could barely pedal the 2-minute journey to my house, but gradually, slowly built up to hour-long cycle rides. When I felt well enough I resumed the martial art I’d been doing before, and took up gardening. The health recovery process, like the two life achievements, took literal years, but there was incremental progress and, for me, the setting of big goals which involved lots of smaller goals along the way was instrumental in giving me something to focus on and keep my mind occupied.

      I hope this isn’t too dark, but at some point during my treatment I fully reconciled myself to the possibility of death, and then when it didn’t happen I was almost – disappointed? I had mentally let everything go, and now I had to find it again! That, I think, is close to the feeling of anti-climax you describe. It doesn’t help that there are all these popular concepts around cancer: the idea of ‘fighting’ a ‘battle’ and ‘overcoming’ an enemy. Naturally we expect to feel elated when we ‘win’. Nobody uses this same language about heart disease or diabetes. I spent the last months of my treatment telling the oncology nurses ‘there’s no such thing as cancer, and we don’t “fight” it or “beat” it – it’s just another illness, and we accept treatment for it’. Removing the idea of ‘winning a battle’ from my vocabulary also helped recovery.

      You’ll get there: it takes time, a lot of time, but you will get there.

      1. BellaStella*

        Thanks Weegie, I was just thinking to also write a bit about PTSD. I am glad you have recovered, too and for your story here. For Miss Buttons, look into this and see what you think, too. Again, best of luck.

    9. Once too Often*

      I think your experience is pretty normal.

      My first thought is of how wiped out I was post-radiation. Had expected exhaustion from chemo, but radiation seemed so simple. Yet I was remarkably weak, & my brain was off on an extended vacation.

      So while I was very relieved, & my friends & family were thrilled, I was mostly wiped. It takes months for bodies to clear chemo & radiation. (Who knew surgery would be the easy part?) And months to begin rebuilding. Your body has been attacked, by disease & by treatment; give yourself time to tend to your recovery.

      It’s so odd to go from everyone focused on protecting you from exposure to illness & overexertion to “no worries” when the cumulative effects of treatment leave you weak – & unsure of what your new normal will look like or how it will evolve.

      My treatment center has palliative care (which is for comfort, not just end of life) & therapy options in house. My team could describe common patterns of what happens as we move into survivorship, & common strategies for figuring out what would be supportive/manageable/etc. That was helpful (& covered by insurance.)

      The Livestrong program was very helpful to me, the comraderie was great. Because I was off work on disability my time was flexible enough for daytime programs. This was at the Y, & included a year’s membership all at no cost to me.

      Best wishes as you find your way forward.

    10. Two cents*

      My mother had cancer, a really bad one, and they brought out the sledge hammer of chemo drugs. She was half dead for about six months. After that, she also had this expectation of herself to be better because the physical stuff was over. She was medically healed, at least as far as anyone could tell at the time (turned out to be true, thankfully). But during that time she had no time to process what was going on, what choices were taken from her, any of her feelings about anything: it was all about day by day, survival, keep going despite feeling awful.

      At the end of the medical treatment, she still felt awful. The physical stuff improved with every passing day and week and month, but all the emotions were still there. When she stopped having to think day by day physically, she started having trouble with her expectation of herself to be healed. After talking about it with her over a few weeks, we finally got to the point where I said: of course you’re not feeling all the way better yet, you haven’t had any time to heal emotionally! And that surprised her. But also got her to act, and to forgive herself for her feelings. She got help in a lot of places, took on the project of her psyche and, with time, also healed. But it was long after the cancer was officially gone.

      It is a long road, but you can do it. There’s a whole bunch of internet strangers out here rooting for you.

    11. melissa*

      Oh boy is this common. I work at a psychiatric facility, and we have a psychologist who specializes in cancer psychology. Essentially all of his patients are post-cancer. Typically, during treatment, people are so focused on the next thing (next surgery, next chemo, next MRI) that they don’t have energy left over to process, and they don’t seek therapy. It’s after it’s over, and they’re left with plenty of time and their own thoughts, they begin to struggle.

    12. nonprofit director*

      Cancer survivor for over 25 years. Others have touched on very good points and I want to add what I felt in addition to what you and others have described. A cousin had the exact same cancer as me, though it was less invasive. She did not survive. I felt horrible guilt for a long time that I survived and she did not.

      All of this took me a while to work through. Like some have described, I probably pushed too hard to get back to normal and I think that delayed my ability to work through all of these complicated feelings. But focusing on my physical health helped increase my sense of well-being and also control. I could not control the cancer, but I could control other aspects of my health- I felt like a ticking time bomb for a few years.

      Because this was so long ago, I do not remember much of anything else about how I got through it. But with time, my mood and outlook on life did improve. I was able to find joy again and I stopped feeling the guilt and the fear that the cancer would return and consume me. I was very fortunate to have a loving and supportive spouse at the time (he passed away in February), and I know I would not have gotten through it without him.

    13. Anonymous cat*

      I haven’t had cancer but went through a difficult surgery and recovery that changed me.

      One day I saw a tv show where a character put into words exactly how I was feeling. Roughly she said: you look at me and think that I’m me. But I’m not me. I’m different inside and will never be her again.

      It helped a little to have that spelled out. It was also sad to realize that but I was glad to have the words.

      (I did eventually feel better after a long time but I don’t think I was ever “her” again. But I did feel better, and life went on, which is both scary and relieving in its own ways.)

      1. Cancer Hater*

        I had this thought when a good friend of mine got a cancer diagnosis. We were hanging out together soon after she got the news (but enough afterwards that the absolute shock had worn off a bit), pre-treatment. I remember looking at her and thinking that fundamentally she was still the person she had been before she got the news, but in a year or two she would have changed in ways that she couldn’t imagine, and not just physically. A few years later I can say that was definitely true, although there’s a through line of the pre-cancer her and the post-cancer her.

    14. Random Bystander*

      As it happens my maternal aunt (mother’s younger sister) had uterine cancer and had to do chemo and radiation after her surgery. When I was diagnosed with a different (mine was less aggressive than hers) uterine cancer, she was about 3 months short of her five year mark. I didn’t have to do treatment past the complete hysterectomy (a lot more gyn exams–every three months for the first two years, now I’m in the six months phase as I’m approaching my three year mark in mid-June).

      My aunt took a bit longer to get back to her norm, but then she also had issues with her husband being quite ill, too, so I don’t know if I can completely attribute that to the post-cancer. (My uncle passed away in November 2020, and by now my aunt is doing quite well.)

      For myself–I had the same oncologist as my aunt–I found that giving myself a treat (a facial or a massage) after my follow-up appointments helped me feel less anxious.

    15. tree frog*

      I haven’t been through cancer treatment myself but I have known a lot of people who have, and I’ve been through my share of medical stuff recently as well.

      I feel like there can be a real expectation to feel a certain way when you have achieved certain milestones, but a lot of that comes from social pressure to be positive or make others feel more comfortable. It is totally understandable to have complicated feelings about going through physical, mental, and emotional trials. It is also normal to get hit by a lot of the effects of extended periods of stress and exhaustion once you’ve made it through and there isn’t a “next thing” to focus on. It can take a while to wind down from survival mode.

      I feel like most of us aren’t fully prepared for this because there aren’t a lot of cultural narratives acknowledging how complicated all of this stuff can be. Recovery is its own process, and takes time.

    16. Cancer Hater*

      So I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, because…. COVID was a huge emotional hit and just when that was starting to get better (vaccines widespread and things getting a bit less awful, although still lots of awful to go around), someone in my household got a cancer diagnosis. Our COVID pod, which had worked together very well, came around her and took care of everything we could. I was her primary caretaker, inasmuch as she needed one. Someone else took her to appts. Someone else provided us food. Etc. It was an intense and painful time, but we pulled through it as a group! She survived! Everything is good!….

      Only I’m still feeling drained and emotionally burned out more than a year after her treatment ended. There are still rough spots in our group as we figure out our new normal. My mental health is better, but as other people in this thread have said, I’m still finding my way through the complicated emotions that were raised but that couldn’t be dealt with when all energy was needed for pulling through each day and keeping everyone alive (mostly the friend with cancer, of course, but also the rest of our household who still needed groceries and cooking and clean dishes and all the things). All of the things that you mentioned in your original post are still haunting us…..

      And then a couple of weeks ago another pod member discovered that she has cancer now. And we are all doing our best to rally around her and figure out how to support her. We are figuring out all the things like we did the first time. We will make it through this, and do our best to make sure she makes it through as well. But it’s been painful discovering how traumatized we all still are from our last round dealing with cancer. And it’s been painful getting back into this saddle for a ride no one wanted again. Plus everyone is wrestling with having a new role to play (for example, I’m minor support instead of primary since this friend isn’t in my household). And I’m wrestling with going from someone who had coping mechanisms that made sense to me to someone who doesn’t; first friend used black humor a lot, for example, so we would crack terrible jokes, make up satirical songs about chemo, etc. Second friend is NOT finding that helpful. Which is fine, but I’m feeling a bit at a loss, and a bit of uncertainty because I thought I knew how to make it through this and I need to develop all new skills.

      That’s kind of a long response (obviously this is a timely post for me!), but just to say that the diagnosis of Friend 2 has really brought it home with all of us that we have trauma, PTSD, and all sorts of negative emotions from round 1 that are affecting our response now and that we didn’t necessarily realize we still had, or know that we had stuffed down. We just knew that things were slow getting back to a good place emotionally. (And as mentioned at the beginning, COVID has complicated this because while it’s very different, it’s also caused a lot of grief and negative emotions that we are still working through.)

    17. Rae*

      Survivor here. This is totally normal! There’s a ton of recovery, physical AND emotional, to do after treatment has ended. You have to figure out what “normal” life is even like when you don’t have treatment as the center of your universe. I highly recommend checking out “The Worst Things About Not Having Cancer” video by Hank Green. Also, see if there are survivor groups in your area. There are ones that do activities or ones that just talk and it can be so reassuring to chat with people going through the same thing. Wishing you all the best. :)

    18. Irish Teacher.*

      Not quite the same and my cancer was thyroid cancer, which is…not the same as having chemo and radiation. I had surgery about 6 or 8 weeks after my diagnosis and woke up to the surgeon saying, “we got it all.”

      I wouldn’t say I felt down, but there was this sort of…waiting for the other shoe to fall. Like I’d had cancer; could it really be pretty much the same as say having one’s tonsils or appendix removed?

      I’ve also found it’s sort of had an impact on my perception of risk. I was told at the time that “nodules are common. Most are benign, but we obviously have to check it out just in case” and generally got the impression the whole thing was just a matter of ruling cancer out and then…yeah. So now, routine medical tests feel a bit “but what if they do find something. Sure, the odds are against it, but the odds were massively against their finding cancer that time.”

    19. Scarlet ribbons in her hair*

      I don’t blame you at all for not feeling uplifted or relieved. I had a mastectomy last May. I am finished with radiation, and I will finish chemo at the end of May. My oncologist told me that no matter what I do, I have a 15% chance of dying from cancer within five years of my mastectomy. I certainly don’t walk around feeling uplifted and relieved. Maybe I’ll feel that way in May of 2028.

    20. Camelid coordinator*

      I appreciate you starting this conversation. I have found it very helpful as I am just starting the cancer journey. The comments are making me think that we are so defined by what we do and now that the treatments are over there is a hole where that definition used to be, and yet, your body is tired and still healing. I agree with the folks above about the need to do some mental and spiritual processing on what life is like now. I’ll try to take this to heart myself!

    21. Miss Buttons*

      Thank you so much to all of you for your comments and suggestions. You lifted me up!

  6. Falling Diphthong*

    Recommendations: Something you read, watched, or otherwise experienced that in theory should not have been your thing. And yet it really worked.

    I rewatched The Wolf of Wall Street this week, part of a Margot Robbie retrospective. The story of Jordan Balfour, a guy who got very rich doing very shady things on Wall Street. Great movie. I usually dislike (and abandon) stories in which I have no one to root for, but for some reason it doesn’t bother me here. (Helps that it’s a real story, where a lot of the heft is that, like in Chernobyl, this unlikely stuff happened. If it was about the same actions on a future Mars colony, or in the fairy court, the nonstop excess wouldn’t land the same.) I usually dislike unbalanced nudity, but here it’s pushed so far that it becomes not just wallpaper, but wallpaper that bores the guys who feel they need it as a status symbol.

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

      I got given *The Watchmaker of Filigree Street*, which is a steampunk-ish novel, and thus not really my genre, but it was quite good and had some nifty surprises! : )

    2. EA*

      I should love Neil Gaiman based on everything else I read and love, but I just couldn’t finish American Gods. I tried both print and audio. We just didn’t click!

      1. Clisby*

        I never made it through American Gods, either, although my daughter really liked it.

        On the other hand, it’s not because I don’t like Neil Gaiman. I loved Coraline, The Graveyard Book, the Ocean at the End of the Lane, Norse Mythology.

      2. Turts*

        Honestly I think Neil Gaiman is overhyped as an author but I will say he’s definitely much better as a short story writer than a novelist if you ever decide to try anything by him again

        1. SarahKay*

          Yes, I feel like Neil Gaiman is excellent at coming up with cool ideas but his longer adult fiction just doesn’t do much for me. His short stories, on the other hand, I love. I also have a large soft spot for The Graveyard book.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Hmmmm…off the top of my head I’d say the Amazon Prime series Invincible. I usually am not down for “dark superhero” stories and piles of gore, but it is very well done and the voice talent is top rate.

    4. Double A*

      It’s been a long time since I watched it, but since neither sports movies nor horses are of any interest to me, I was shocked by how much I liked “Seabiscuit.”

    5. Forensic13*

      Always Sunny in Philadelphia! Normally I don’t like shows where all the characters are unlikable and do crummy things to people around them, but they are such dingbats and so often experience karma that I can’t get mad. Unlike Seinfeld, where they get away with a LOT and are also way creepier than the show admits.

    6. Chaordic One*

      I’ve written about this before, but I was distinctly unimpressed by “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series of books by Alexander McCall Smith and found them predictable and a bit “twee,” so I was shocked by how much I enjoyed the single-year TV series that was co-produced by BBC and HBO. Much better than the material on which it was based and I was struck by its portrayal of Botswana and Africa as a hopeful place. I’d like to believe that the portrayal is realistic. So sad that it was not renewed after its single year of production.

      1. Part time lab tech*

        Alexander McCall Smith is one of my favourite authors and I agree about them being twee. I find them to a be comfort food like tea and baked goods with a fond relative. It was a shame about the show being cancelled, I think it had potential to be a slow burn winner.
        What I love in the books is that they value kindness and I find them an interesting insight into a different place. In fact a quote from one his books (maybe the Second Worst Restaurant in France?) sort of gave me permission to dislike some world cultures that are successful in the sense of continuing for generations. Sometimes I feel that I am not allowed to express personal judgement on a different culture. It put into words that I am allowed to value peace and kindness and power equality and that I am allowed to find a culture cruel or selfish overall. (Even cultures I don’t like often have redeeming features just as valuing independence has it’s downsides. Sometimes a culture I don’t like has strong workarounds to be admired.)

      2. Clisby*

        I liked the single-year series as well; it was very well cast. On the other hand, I love the books, too. (My brother, who also loves the books, thought the series was really subpar, so go figure.)

    7. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I don’t usually go for stories with sci-fi or supernatural elements, and can count on one hand the films or books that have made me cry in my lifetime. With all that said, the film Arrival had me in tears at the cinema, and I thought the storytelling was brilliant.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Haha, most of my “I should not have liked this” are still not things I would recommend. I have about the dryest most stodgy sense of humor of anyone I know, barring a love of dad jokes. I absolutely hate potty/bawdy humor and comedy that boils down to “see how stupid they are? It’s hilarious, right?” And yet, god knows why, I love the movie Zoolander. (Also Mel Brooks; my husband is still floored every time I watch Blazing Saddles especially, but I love almost every movie of his that I’ve seen, and I would recommend those.)

      1. Jackie Daytona, Regular Human Bartender*

        The gasoline fight scene is Zoolander is moronic and yet I am in stitches every time I see it.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        Ha! Same, I mostly do not love comedies. Can’t stand Will Farrell, Adam Sandler, most comedians of the sorry.
        Yet I love Zoolander, the first Anchorman, and will hear no decision to Mel Brooks.
        I quote Men In Tights, Young Frankenstein, and Zoolander pretty often.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          “Will Farrell, Adam Sandler”

          So much of that kind of Bro Comedy depends on jokes that appeal to a 12 year old boy. Which I am not.

        2. Cookies For Breakfast*

          Big yes to Zoolander and the first Anchorman, and totally get you on Adam Sandler too. Not the same style, but my other beloved comedy that friends and family knock down is Legally Blonde. I won’t hear a word against it.

    9. Jackie Daytona, Regular Human Bartender*

      I recently watched “The Green Knight” despite a couple people telling me they didn’t like it. I really liked it! It’s definitely bizarre at times, a surreal hero’s quest, but I thought it was fascinating and kept dissecting the meaning of various scenes after I watched it.

      1. Pieforbreakfast*

        I really enjoyed this movie, too, then I read the reviews and questioned myself. But in the end I like what I like.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I loved The Green Knight. It captured that blend of high fantasy and “this might be what it would be like to have to live through this kind of magic and world building” really well.

    10. The Other Dawn*

      The Wayward Pines trilogy by Blake Crouch. I was never into reading sci-fi until I read these books. That started me reading his other books and I found he’s quite good. There were a couple where I disliked the ending (Abandon stands out), but overall I enjoy his books. I loved Dark Matter and especially Recursion. To read his books, though, you have to be okay with reading all the science terminology, physics, etc.

      1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

        Ooooh that sounds like the kind of sci-fi that I like – science terminology and all that. I thouroughly dislike sci-fi that undervalues the sci and basically equates it to magic happening. So thank you for the rec!

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I would go with Dark Matter and/or Recursion, then. Both great books. Wayward Pines trilogy is more of a post apocolyptic story.

    11. Pieforbreakfast*

      Monster movies, like Godzilla. Superhero movies tend to annoy me (why would you fistfight an immortal being?) but give me a giant creature to fight and I’m all in. Pacific Rim was the gateway movie, it looked so terrible from the trailer but a friend told me to see it and I LOVED it. I will be seeing the new Godzilla-King Kong movie despite the tepid reviews and probably without my spouse and enjoy the inane-ness of it all.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          I second this recommendation, I found it more entertaining than any Hollywood blockbuster I’ve seen in about the last 15 years!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I thought Pacific Rim really evoked the feeling of adapting to a landscape where you built cities into the fallen skeletons of monsters.

      2. SarahKay*

        Pacific Rim itself. It’s all about fight scenes which normally bore me to tears, but somehow having the fight scenes between a HUGE monster and a HUGE mind-controlled-by human-crew-robot, along with a seat-shaking bassline to the music, meant I really enjoyed it.

    12. Chaordic One*

      There’s the high school honors a cappella singing group, “Forte,” also known as “Forte A Cappella” on YouTube. Logically, I would think that I would find them to be kind of “meh.” The individual singers are fairly ordinary high kids from a(n), apparently well-to-do, suburban high school in an American suburb, and they look like exactly that. But they’re so earnest. Many of them are still going through their awkward adolescent phases and you can see it and I guess that is what makes them so charming to me. They remind me of my own teenage years and high school experiences.

      Over the years their videos have become ever more ambitious with more elaborate and exotic locations, costumes, choreography, and the occasional guest lead singer (and a guest dancer in one). You can tell there are still some budgetary constraints, but the singers look like they’re having a good time and the charm remains. A couple of years ago I posted the link to their then just released video for “Dancing on My Own” under the “small joys” thread and, as I recall, no one commented on it. It was a beautiful “train-wreck” of a video that didn’t quite work (maybe too many ideas to put in a single video) but it still had its own charm. (So bad it was good. The look on the faces of some of the singers as they were concentrating on their dance moves while trying to lip-sync at the same time was priceless.) Google “Forte A Cappella” on YouTube, or just google them.

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

      The movie *Contact*, about a scientist seeking contact with extraterrestrial life, isn’t my genre, but Jodie Foster was great, and it was a satisfying film.

    14. Seashell*

      I watched The Babysitters’ Club series on Netflix with my kid. I was a little too old to have read the original book series (I think I might have read one when I had nothing to read, but it wasn’t my thing), so I went in with low expectations. I really liked it and was disappointed that they didn’t continue it.

  7. Clever Nickname*

    Newcomer question:

    I’ve been reading this amazing blog for a few months now. I had a question for the commentariat. Is there a post that spawned the “(full of) bees” meme that I’ve seen? It’s always in reference a terribly managed, usually toxic work environment. I was just wondering where it came from.

    I guess I’m also wondering if it’s just an elliptical reference to Nick Cage in “The Wicker Man”

    1. FanciestCat*

      Captain Awkward’s blog, I don’t have time to search for the post right now (I think it might have come from a comment on a post actually), but I think the original context was discussing a person who was focusing on the wrong issue in a romantic relationship, with the sentiment being “you need to notice the house is full of evil bees and get out!”

    2. Jessi*

      There was also a commenter on here a few years back who worked for this crazy crazy CRAZY housing association/rental office. And I think she mentioned something like “at least the apartment wasn’t full of bees” – as at least one of the apartments had been. Her boss was a massive dick and made it impossible to do her job but also expected her to.

          1. Anonymous cat*

            I loved those posts! In a I’m-sorry-you’re-going-through-this-but-I’m-weirdly-fascinat—WHAT HAPPENED NOW???? kind of way.

            Hellmouth, if you’re still reading, please give us an update on things now that you’ve escaped!
            And is that place still in business?

    3. RagingADHD*

      It is a metaphor created by a commenter on Captain Awkward about 10 years ago, for all the red flags you see in retrospect when you have left an abusive relationship, that you can’t believe you minimized / overlooked at the time. The image is of a horror movie with a haunted house, and the characters keep living in it despite all these bizarre terrible things happening (like being full of bees).

      It has morphed into a shorthand for red flags / bad behavior in social groups or at work, that should serve as a warning sign.

      For example, IMO the story on the work thread about the job where everyone introduces themselves with an extensive sexual history and a detailed star map of their sexual orientation, is probably a company full of bees.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        For example, IMO the story on the work thread about the job where everyone introduces themselves with an extensive sexual history and a detailed star map of their sexual orientation

        There was such a workplace?! Egads, that’s worse than the Duck Club. (Readers who missed the Duck Club: This was a place where, IIRC, people who managed to have sex at the office, with a coworker, greeted each other in the hallways with by saying “Quack.” In other words, the place was, in my opinion, The Home Office of Horrible Taste and Worse Judgment. Sorry I can’t track down a link but I need to jump onto a call in a few minutes.)

        1. Hlao-roo*

          If you search for “Sansa” on yesterday’s open thread, you’ll find the “everyone introduces themselves with a detailed star map of their sexual orientation” workplace.

          The Duck Club post is titled “I walked in on employees having sex — and I think there’s a sex club in my office” from April 22, 2015.

          I’ll link to both in a follow-up comment.

          1. UKDancer*

            I missed the Sansa one yesterday. That is very weird and extremely intrusive and in the offices I’ve worked in it would be considered oversharing and very odd. I really don’t want that much information about my colleagues.

  8. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    Somebody I love will be honeymooning in northern VA, I think out near Bull Run. I want to get them a gift card to a special restaurant. Does anyone have any recommendations? Also, how much would you get the gift card for? I want to splurge on them, but not too much.

    1. WellRed*

      I think$100 is decent (and the minimum). Tom Sietsema is the reviewer at Washington Post and has lots of good recommendations in the Virginia etc area.

      1. CTT*

        Seconding the Tom Sietsema recommendation! And if you can’t find anything in his reviews, he does a live chat Wednesdays at 11; if you get your question in a few days in advance, he’s more likely to answer.

  9. FanciestCat*

    Looking for some opinions: I’m planning on asking some relatives to check on my cat while I’m gone for a week. He’s very skittish and will hide while they are here, so there’s no point in asking them to try and play with him unfortunately or stay over. I’m planning to have someone come over twice a day to feed him soft food, top off his dry food, change his water, and clean the litterbox. Since they live in town, it’s probably a 15-20min time commitment per visit, less if they’re already out running errands. I’m trying to decide how much to pay per visit. I was thinking $10 per visit which would be $140 for a week, although I think one relative would do mornings and one evenings so it’d be $70 each. Does that sound too low? If it’s too low, how much would you pay?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      My local teen charges $15/visit (this includes petting and playing with my cats, one of whom will tump over on your feet the moment you walk in).

      I will note that for local kids (my preferred catsitters) I pay per visit, while if I ask my adult neighbor to do it (she’s allergic to cats but filled in when I was sprinting off on an emergency on a weekend the teens were gone) that falls into reciprocal helping between neighbors. I would try to repay her in kind, or with a gift I thought she would like (which could be a gift card for roughly $10/visit), and sand off any rate-per-visit edges from the amount.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Just as a side-issue heads up: make sure whoever it is can contact you and your vet, and has permission on file with them to take kitty in for treatment should an emergency occur. Our vet has a setup where you can put a credit card on file to run charges to X amount automatically if needed in an emergency.

    3. Dodubln*

      The times we have had to do this in the past, we utilized the neighbor kid/her mom who used to live next door at the time, so there was no driving. It was two cats, and we told them they only needed to stop by once a day, to feed/water/check litter box. Playing with the cats was up to them, but they always did so, they didn’t have any pets, and loved our cats. We paid $20.00 a day.
      We made sure to leave info on regular vet/emergency vet, left the cat carrier out, left extra wet food bowls out, and a credit card should they need it for a vet trip. (YMMV, but we are really close to them, and trust them completely).

    4. Come On Eileen*

      I pay my cat sitter $30 a day when she takes care of my cats. She only visits once a day, and she feeds them, scoops litter, and plays with them.

    5. ElastiGirl*

      I live in a HCOL city, but I pay $20/day for a high school/college kid to come handle cat duties. (I also ask them to send a photo, should the cat make an appearance)

  10. Sparkly Librarian*

    Perks of an only-child life?

    I’m coming to terms with the possibility that our nearly-5-year-old may be an only child. We’re currently fostering a toddler, but that may not be a permanent younger sibling. However, my wife and I have decided not to renew our homestudy when it expires this summer, and therefore not pursue another adoption. That’s not what I’d hoped or planned for, and it’s a tough adjustment for all of us.

    Tell me what benefits to raising (or being) a singleton I may be overlooking! So far I’ve realized that we’ll be able to redirect our savings from future adoption to something else for the family, maybe travel a bit more easily, and kiddo wouldn’t have to share her room. We’re a hopeful homeschooling family — yet another reason why more kid-company around the house would be welcome — and I’d only have to teach one grade at a time (but we couldn’t reuse curriculum).

    1. Mostly Managing*

      With one child, you can absolutely tailor their education to their age/stage/interests/abilities.
      You can do interesting volunteer work without having to worry about “too young” siblings.
      You can travel and do “big kid” things in a few years without having to worry about nap times or feeding schedules.

      The challenge, as you are clearly already aware, is to make sure they still have social skills and know how to share, play nice, take turns, etc. Those skills can be learned from friends, from homeschool co-ops, from other community programs like scouts/guides, sports, art classes, etc.
      The key is to get involved, and then work with your child to make sure they are learning the skills and not becoming a problem. Every kid struggles with something!

      (I am a former homeschooling parent – kids are all big now. While I raised a pack, I had a couple of close friends raising “onlies”. We had them over regularly, did art and made mud puddles together, and there were certainly days when they wished they had more kids and days when I would have been quite happy to only wrestle one child into the bath and then bed!)

    2. RMNPgirl*

      Since you’re homeschooling, definitely make sure kiddo has plenty of time interacting with others to gain social skills.
      I’m an only child and I think it’s great. I had a lot more opportunities because it was only me, things like summer camp, graduating college debt-free, getting to go on more trips because it was only three of us.
      Every only child I’ve met in my life has also been very close with their parents. Every one of us talks to them every day and considers them friends now that we’re all very much adults.

      1. fallingleavesofnovember*

        I’d echo a lot of this. Travel, educational opportunities, and was and am quite close with my parents. I was always a big reader and so was never really lonely, even though I’m quite extroverted. I did have the benefit of my Mum having a daycare when I was young – not the same as siblings, but basic things like having to share my toys and play in groups were definitely part of that.

      2. funkytown*

        Ha, only child here not at all close to my parents! But other than that I agree with you. While at times I’ve thought it would be nice to have a sibling, I have heard too many horror stories of siblings being awful to each other that I am much more often grateful to be an only. I don’t know if being a parent is in my future but I would probably only have one child myself. Your child will be just fine, Sparkly Librarian!

      3. yike*

        My partner and I are both onlies, raised an only. Benefits to the child: they are the center of your world, they know that. Despite the stereotype, I’ve never met a self-centered only child. I am relatively close to my parents (talk once a week), my partner almost never talks/emails their parents.

        Other benefits to only children: much easier for the parents to wrestle one person. If parent A takes kid on Saturday afternoon, parent B can take kid Sunday, and each parent gets time to recharge.
        The kid often gets a lot more agency. No “do soccer because your brother is”. No, we’re going to the waterpark for our summer vacation because sis & bro like that, and you dislike water. Only children, like eldest children, often mature more quickly.

        1. sparkle emoji*

          To support your point about not meeting self-centered only children, there has been research on this and onlies are pretty equivalent to children with siblings in most traits including self-centeredness. The stereotypes aren’t a reflection of any measured reality.

        2. Scarlet ribbons in her hair*

          “I’ve never met a self-centered only child.”

          But that’s because you never met my cousin! She constantly brags about the benefits of being an only child. Anything she wanted, she got. If she wanted to see a Broadway show, she would tell her father, and tickets would appear the following day. She got loads of presents for her birthday and in December, and she brags that she never had to worry about a sibling getting more presents than she got. Her parents paid for her college education and bought her a car and paid for her big fancy expensive wedding and gave her lots of money after she got married so that she could continue to live in the lifestyle to which she was accustomed. And when her parents died, she inherited everything and didn’t have to fight with any siblings over family heirlooms. She always says that she feels sorry for people who aren’t only children.

          1. Ali + Nino*

            omg haha! She sounds like a character…in Arrested Development or a similar show. I have a feeling she would be like this with or without siblings!

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

      Being an only child (especially before smart phones and the internet) meant that I learned how to entertain myself and was seldom bored or lonely, traits that are quite useful to this day. Plunk me down with a good book and I’m all set! I am able to live on my own without feeling like I need a roommate, and I’m not tempted into bad romantic relationships just because I’m lonely either.

      I also learned to get along with adults, and again, that ability to get along with people who are older than I am is useful to this day.

      Because I didn’t have siblings who would always be there, I took better care of my friendships than I might otherwise have done and am still friends with some childhood friends many decades later.

      My parents were also able to focus on me without being exhausted by multiple kids, which helped them raise me in a loving supportive way so that they could break the generational cycle of criticism that their parents inflicted on them. It worked — my self-confidence is pretty good, and although I was a bit of a handful as a kid, as an adult, I really appreciate the time they took to raise me lovingly.

      I’d say the only down side of being an only child when I was a kid is that I was a bit late to the concept of waiting for my turn. If you’re going to homeschool, I’d suggest that you put your kid in a lot of activities with other kids, just so she gets some of that basic socialization about turn taking, sharing, etc. As an adult, when my parents were sick and dying, it was a tad lonely dealing with it on my own, but on the other hand, I didn’t have to fight any siblings over how best to care for them or fight over any inheritance.

      Overall, I say enjoy your singleton, if that’s what happens, and don’t worry — I think she will be just fine!

      1. RLC*

        Another only child here-you just described my entire life from birth to middle age!
        Also, as a small child I had no idea that adults were not “typical” playmates for someone my age-many of my parents’ friends were child free and treated me as a tiny peer. One of their friends entertained me with “you may help me design a ball gown”, and we went through the process together. I was maybe 8 at the time! No wonder I love sewing and fashion, and I inherited all her design manuals from the 1940s-1960s. Her neighbors had six children and I played with them too. Never missed having a sibling.

        1. fallingleavesofnovember*

          It’s funny I thought my ‘being comfortable with adults from a young age’ thing was a product of having older parents, not being an only! (Another older parent thing they did was teach me things ‘just in case they weren’t around’ – I remember being 11 or 12 and my Mum trying to show me how to do laundry (I was less than impressed with the idea!) Thankfully, she’s still around 20+ years later!)

          Also agree about really valuing friendships and putting a lot of energy into keeping them.

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

            My mom had me take a whack at laundry at a young age too! I screwed up some things (like dying some stuff pink and shrinking a sweater), but I hit college with much better laundry skills than my peers.

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

          Aw, “you may help me design a ball gown” is so awesome!

    4. Alex*

      I’m an only!

      I think it is worth remembering that families are unpredictable and there is no real “this is always better than that” scenario. I can’t say that I never wished for siblings–I definitely did! But the reality is that you don’t know if your kids (if you have more than one) will be close or will torment each other. I have friends who have siblings that they can’t stand, even as adults. If I’d gotten that baby sister I’d always wished for, she could have been a total jerk and made my life miserable!

      I think the biggest plus is the monopoly of your parents’ resources. I was able to go to private school and have my college paid for by mom and dad…but they wouldn’t have been able to afford that if they had more than one. In your case, you’ll be able to focus more on one kid when homeschooling vs. having to split your attention. You can shape the curriculum to appeal to one kids’ interests and not have to balance two competing opinions.

      I think it is important to remember that there are pros and cons to any family configuration, and that the most important thing is that the child you do have feels loved, and as long as they have that everything will be fine.

      Also your house will likely be a bit quieter :)

    5. Samwise*

      If your child is very sick, you can focus your attention on them without neglecting a sibling.

    6. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Good news this week from Germany that I want to share:

      Recreational use of cannabis here became legal on 1 April, Easter Monday;
      a good way to celebrate the public holiday.

      Adults 18+ can now possess 25g (dozens of joints) and grow 3 plants of marijuana plants at home.
      No cannabis cafes or shops allowed, but from 1 July cannabis clubs of up to 500 members can sell 50g per month per member.
      Cannabis remains banned for under-18s and within 100 metres of schools, kindergartens and playgrounds.

      National govt SPD(Soc Dem)-Green-Liberal coalition brought in this legislation. The minority CDU (conservatives) vigorously opposed it, but hopefully it’s now permanent: Govts here are always coalitions, so even if the CDU become the largest party in the October 2025 federal election, I expect they’d struggle to reverse the decision after 18 months of open use by millions.

      (legalisation not relevant for me personally – I’ve never even used tobacco and I only drink a small glass of wine 3-4 times per year – but I’m always happy when others enjoying victimless pleasures don’t get criminal records)

      Legalisation is a growing trend in the EU.
      I’ve not lived in any country that had drug tests for jobs (except police, military, pilots etc). I hope US commenters will soon no longer have to undergo these too.

    7. allathian*

      I love my sister dearly but most of my childhood memories are of us fighting… My husband and I are introverts, and so is our son, who’s an only child. I was 37 when he was born and by the time I was willing to try for another, that train had passed.

      He seems pretty well-balanced to me.

    8. Bette Davis*

      I’m an only! Echoing other commenters to say I am super independent, resourceful, never bored, and very much enjoy my own company. I learned to like a lot of “adult” things at an early age- my parents did (age appropriate) things with me that they also enjoyed and didn’t lean heavily into kid stuff. Think Monopoly instead of Candyland, or Star Trek instead of cartoons.
      I was also homeschooled off and on. There was a big secular homeschool community where we lived with lots of classes, events, activities, sports, etc., and I did stuff with them constantly! YMMV but I personally never experienced the issues you sometimes hear about re: socializing or making friends.

      1. UKDancer*

        Also an only child and I agree about the enjoying your own company. I grew up with a strong ability to amuse myself and a level of independence and willingness to find my own path. I’ve never really felt the lack of a sibling because you don’t miss what you don’t have and most of the other children I hung out with didn’t like their siblings much.

        I don’t think I was spoilt because my parents weren’t into indulgence and didn’t have much spare income anyway but I was always listened to and had a say in discussions about important things like holiday plans and moving house. I’d have had less say with more children in the house.

        Other benefits I suppose definitely more attention as it wasn’t divided. Someone further up said only children mature quickly and I think intellectually that may be true. You spend more time with adults so you learn how to fit in and participate in what they’re doing or listen to them rather than playing with other children.

        I never had a problem making friends apart from not always wanting to (as I usually preferred curling up in a corner with a book).

        The main disadvantage is that I’m terrible at having arguments or fighting because I didn’t grow up having to and my parents never fought. We discussed things rationally and agreed on the best way forward. I found school quite difficult because people lied and fought and took things and said one thing to someone’s face and another behind their back and it all seemed to me very pointless. So I found some of the things people find out through siblings more challenging.

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

          Oh, goodness yes! It was hard dealing with irrational bullying from peers at school because my parents were very reasonable. I didn’t know how to deal with kids who were jerks. OTOH, I wouldn’t have wanted a sibling who was a jerk who was at home all the time with me just to give me practice dealing with jerks.

    9. Lemonwhirl*

      Raising an only child – it’s not what we’d first planned, but it’s how things turned out. When trying for #2, I had a miscarriage and then we decided to stick with one child. He’s a great kid – so funny and good company. (We often told him that if we’d gotten to pick from a catalog of kids, we’d’ve picked him.)
      I had to grieve the miscarriage and the loss of having a family that was different than what I’d hoped for. But eventually, I was able to appreciate the unexpected gift. I am a much better mother than I would be to multiple children – I am less stressed, have more energy and patience.
      We’ve been able to take trips that would have been difficult with a younger child. The pandemic would have been much more challenging. We can afford sleepaway camp and whatever extracurriculars he’s interested in.
      And like emotionally – the feelings and relationships are much easier to handle. (And I say this as the mother of a new teenager.)

    10. Generic Name*

      My 17 year old is an only child. I didn’t necessarily plan it that way. When I was married to his dad, I never got the “I want to have another baby” feeling, so we didn’t. After I divorced and remarried, I tried unsuccessfully to conceive for several years with my husband. My son says he loves being an only child. He doesn’t have to share anything (his stuff, attention from parents) and his needs are largely centered in our household. We can do stuff as a family that interests him, and we don’t have to split between multiple competing interests. (I was an outdoors kid and my sister would rather do city things, and some vacations were tough) Between me and his grandparents, we will pay for his college education. Travel is great because the three of us fit in one airplane row. He has tons of friends, and there are several families we have been friends with for years and he’s grown up alongside the kids.

    11. chocolate muffins*

      Little kids can be exhausting so having only one can mean more rest for you and your wife. There can also be benefits for the person who carries the pregnancies, if that’s how you all had your first kid (i.e., a second pregnancy/pregnancy at an older age can be more difficult on a person’s body).

      I know your question was not about this and totally fine if you don’t want to have a conversation about this part of your comment, but if you feel like sharing anything about your experiences with fostering, I would love to hear. This is something I’ve considered for a long time, though I’m not sure if it would ever be right for my family (and if so, when – probably many years from now if ever). I’ve read some of Alison’s thoughts on fostering in other comment threads but would love to learn more about the range of experiences that people can have, if you are up for sharing.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        More rest in a home with chronic fatigue was certainly a consideration. We’ve had two little ones for six months now, and it’s a difficult stage even though they get along and are both relatively “easy” personalities with minimal extra needs.

        I found a number of foster family blogs helpful when I was first thinking about adoption, but most of them have closed now or their kids are grown. And our own experience is unusual enough that it’s not particularly helpful to others (we’re caring for a family friend and seeking guardianship through probate, not through the foster care system). There’s that same element of uncertainty, though, and that constant concurrent planning is a major point for most foster families I know. You may find a helpful support group on Facebook where you can read previous questions, or attend an orientation with a local agency.

        A tough thing that I’m currently going through is destashing all of the baby and kid clothes in various sizes that I no longer think we will use. They’re finding good homes, but I was so proud of being ready for any age — and, indeed, when this baby came to stay with us as a newborn and then a year later, we had everything she needed. It’s certainly not required — there will be a clothing allowance, and often access to community closets, and hand-me-downs from friends and neighbors — but stocking up beforehand helped me feel prepared.

    12. Sparkly Librarian*

      Thanks to everyone for your replies! I posted this right before leaving work and only got to check in now, but I did read everything and appreciate the advice. Change/grief/loss of hopes and expectations is hard!

    13. Dancing Otter*

      I am an only child. My daughter is an only child. My MIL was an only child.
      Beyond genetics, the biggest commonality is *self-sufficiency*. We can all be sociable, but we can all be content spending time alone. My BIL, second of three, kept worrying that “Mom must be lonely”, while she was griping she could never get away from him to have any time to herself. (He moved home after getting divorced, and never left.)

      I know I benefited educationally and materially from not having to compete for attention or resources. When I think of the hours of flash cards… my parents were undoubtedly even more bored than I was.

      One caution, though – an only child is both the youngest and the eldest. Be careful neither to be overprotective nor to burden her with too much pressure to achieve.

    14. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      That they’ll be as fine as a kid with siblings; I’m an only child from a culture where it was VERY rare, so there was some stigma, but I’m no more or less messed up than any of my peers.

    15. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Adoptive parent of an only child and it was not what we had planned, either. Sending gentle Internet hugs if you want them.

      My kid is 24 and can clearly articulate the benefits of being an “only.” More money and flexibility to give her the things she needed and wanted. In her case that was dance classes and the attendant supplies (pointe shoes are NOT CHEAP) as well as lots of dance performances in various places and a lot of travel. It also meant we didn’t have to find something that a younger child would enjoy – we could plan with only her in mind.

      We are a pretty tight threesome even now – she went to college on the opposite US coast and hasn’t yet moved back to our side of the country. I doubt we would be as close as we are if she had a sib.

      Some of her closest friends are kids she went to preschool with. They are her chosen siblings/cousins and I have no doubt she has stronger relationships with them than I do with my sib or hubs with his. She had no difficulty developing social skills. She was in daycare starting when she was 8 months old and had plenty of practice sharing. (Heretical comment: I think the emphasis on teaching kids to share is a bit overdone. We don’t ask adults to share in the same way at all).

      There’s real grief to deal with when your family doesn’t turn out to look like you hoped/wished/planned for. I don’t in any way want to diminish that. At the same time, your kid will be *fine.*

    16. ElastiGirl*

      I think a lot depends on whether you have an extended family. I am an only child whose parents were woefully estranged from their families. I think I have cousins still living, but I don’t know where they are. I was a neurodivergent kid in a red-lined, blue collar neighborhood, and I fit in exactly nowhere.

      The good parts of being an only? I think you have to create those deliberately. I am incredibly self-sufficient, I can cope well with loneliness and isolation (the pandemic was a piece of cake), and I have a rampant imagination from reading 10 books a week as a kid, which I get to use in my work— though the neurodivergence may play a role there.

      If you have extended family, I’d encourage you to amplify their role in your family’s life, if you can. I married an only child. I never felt a driving need to have children, but once I had one, I knew I had to have two. My kids have no extended family. None. Our tiny family is incredibly close, but once we are gone, they have each other, and that’s it. (I have no expectations that either of them will get married, but if they do, I hope they marry into large families.)

      I apologize for going slightly astray here— but being an only child is about far more than whether a kid has someone to play with. If you have extended family, cherish them.

    17. Voluptuousfire*

      I’m an only child, and the experience has mentioned below, have been pretty similar to mine.

      One thing I would keep in mind is when you’re getting older and you have to think about things like nurisng homes and such, I definitely would recommend having that chat with your child and doing estate planning ahead of time. . I took care of my dad the last few years of his life and it was a very stressful and scary period of my life. The only time I ever truly wished to have a sibling was during that time so I at least have somebody to share that caretaking with.

      This way you know most likely what’s gonna happen, and the entire responsibility of caretaking is not placed directly on your only child.

    18. Seashell*

      I’m an only child. My friends always seemed to fight with their siblings, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. One pro is that we got to do things that I (and my parents) liked for vacation, since there wasn’t a sibling with other interests.

      My kids are somewhat far apart in age, and one plus to that is that they haven’t had to compete with each other as far as having overlapping friend groups, doing the same extracurricular activity at the same time, applying for the same job, etc. An only child also wouldn’t have a competitor.

  11. L. Ron Jeremy*

    Looking for recommendations for extra wide (4E) mens walking shoes that I can order online. My last experience with Newbalance was disappointing as they sent me two boxes labeled extra wide with wide shoes inside.

    1. Someday We Won't Remember This*

      I don’t have recs, just a word of caution about an often-recommended shoe, the Hoka Bondi. I got a pair recently, and even in ordinary use without a huge amount of walking, they hurt my feet. A lot. More than I’d have thought sneakers could. And they were the right size and width, but the shoe is very structured in ways that turned out not to play well with my particular foot issues. It may be different for you, of course.

      I should note that Hoka does have a generous return policy!

    2. OtterB*

      Maybe Brooks Beast or Brooks Adrenaline? I have been wearing those in a men’s 9 EE for years at the recommendation of my podiatrist. Looking at zappos they seem to come in 4E.

    3. UNCLE BUCK*

      I do well at Skechers I have a 5x dress shoe. Try the Skechers outlets for last year models for discount prices.

    4. RussianInTexas*

      My partner wears size 84E (I joke his feet are square), and recently had success with Nike. But he still has to go into the store to try them on, precisely due to the experience like yours.

  12. storing Systane eyedrops*

    I don’t think this is a medical question, more a logistical one. I have dry eyes and go back and forth between the Systane tiny single-use no-preservative eyedrops and the Systane Ultra standard size eyedrops. I think the tiny ones are better for my eyes but they are much worse for the environment and I feel guilty about using them. Would the regular-size Systane Ultra last longer or be of better quality if I kept it refrigerated, especially the spare one that I don’t use as often?

    1. Dodubln*

      I can’t speak to your particular eye-drop, but my mom had to use a few eye-drops for her glaucoma, and they both came in sizes that were multi-use vials, and had to be refrigerated between uses. It was definitely easier for us/friendly on the environment/cost-effective to get the multi-use vials, store them in the fridge, and pull them out/warm them up for each daily dose.

    2. Blue Cactus*

      I used to work as an ophthalmic technician, but this is obviously not medical advice. My 2 cents: the reason the single use vials are better is because they don’t have a preservative that prevents bacterial growth, which if you use the drops frequently enough can irritate the eye (the docs I worked with said >4 times per day, use single use). The larger bottle will still have the preservative if it’s been refrigerated, so it will still have that irritating effect if used too frequently. On the other hand, cold drops can sometimes feel more soothing. It’s worth trying out to see if it helps!

      1. Me*

        Yes – this is what I was told by my opthalmologist when I was going through very bad dry eyes. I remember him specifically saying that using the larger multi-use bottle of drops multiple times a day would make my dry eyes worse because of the preservative issue.

      2. Warm sweater*

        my systane large bottle is without preservatives. I thought they then were as mild as single use

    3. Courageous cat*

      My two cents: nothing one individual can personally do is “much worse for the environment”. Only corporations/large-scale operations can do that. The amount of guilting we do to ourselves instead of turning the blame where it truly belongs needs to stop. This is something that legitimately improves the health of a crucial organ – use the single-use ones.

      1. Kay*

        While I agree that the damage is done at a greater scale at the corporate level – we mere humans can make a pretty significant impact. Just take a look at the people who fill one garbage can of trash per year, versus the typical family filling a trash bin each week. It all adds up, and it is never not worth doing our part.

        That being said – we can weigh our options and decide what is best for us in each instance.

      2. SuprisinglyADHD*

        Seconding this! One person in their entire lifetime isn’t going to match the environmental impact of one manufacturing plant for a month. The deliberate shift in guilt from “changes at-scale” to individualism, is a good way to drown people in anxiety and self-guilt. Stuff you need to live comfortably and healthily is not “useless waste.”
        Also, from experience, the single-use vials are great! I find them much easier to apply, and easy to carry in my pocket if I need to.

    4. MissCoco*

      There are some new bottles that are preservative free in a multi-use bottle! They use a specialized valve to prevent contamination during drop dispensing. I rarely find them in pharmacies, but they sometimes do pop up, and you can find them easily online by googling “eye drop brand PF bottle”
      Systane currently has this packaging in “Ultra,” “complete,” and “hydration”
      Refresh and Optase also have products with this packaging option.

      Read the packaging though because the bottles have to be “primed” before the first use.

  13. 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 the Thieves’ Guild quests of Skyrim. I feel like a bit of a jerk stealing stuff from people but it’s nice to have new content. Anyone else have that feeling of playing the “bad” side of a game and feeling guilty about it?

    1. anon24*

      The thieves guild is my absolute favorite part of Skyrim :) I love the NPCs, I love the Ragged Flagon, and I really love Riften. I have a shadowmark on my car and of the 2 necklaces I wear 24-7 one is a nightingale pendant (the “mythical” elite trio of thieves who worship the goddess Nocturnal, patron of Thieves)

      And seeing as I have to be a good person in life, I rather enjoy the outlet of being evil in video games sometimes. It’s not multi-player, so it’s not like I’m even stealing from some other poor player out there. My first playthrough in Skyrim I did the Thieves Guild quest but was so nice otherwise, buying potions and supplies I needed. The second playthrough I was like haha yeah nope, and if I need health potions or building supplies I just break into the shop and steal it all :) I haven’t bought a potion in about 10 playthroughs lol.
      And don’t even get me started on my behavior in Baldurs Gate (although I have to play nice enough to stay on certain followers good sides).

    2. PaliaPrincess*

      I started playing Palia a couple of weeks ago and have basically played nothing else since starting. It’s a cosy MMO with farming/fishing/hunting etc and also robots. You can romance a robot. You can romance lots of villagers. You can’t pet the dog but you can talk to him. You can have a pet cat that follows you everywhere (this does require spending actual money on in game purchases though). It’s completely free to play – the only things that cost real money are premium outfits, which are purely aesthetic. It’s currently available for PC and Switch, and launched on Steam recently.

      It’s still in beta so can be buggy and glitchy at times, but I’m having a blast with it.

    3. DrKMnO4*

      Stardew Valley just got the 1.6 update so I’ve been playing that as much as I can (I’ve been busy with work and house stuff). I didn’t know what to expect (I tried to stay away from spoilers as much as possible) and I am over the moon about everything that has been added. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that it is much larger than I could have imagined, and I love all the changes. It’s amazing to think that all of this is developed by one person, and that such a huge update is released for free (as all of the others have been). Any other game developer would have charged for 1.5 and 1.6. It’s astounding.

    4. Dinwar*

      I typically avoid the Thieves Guild quests. I think it’s a mechanics thing for me–Skyrim and Oblivion were very much built around combat, and the Thieves Guild is very much built around avoiding conflict (excluding stealth archers in Skyrim….). So a build that works for most of the game doesn’t work as a thief, and vice-versa.

      For my part, Morrowind seemed better adapted to thievery. First, no one likes you–you’re absolutely an outsider, no one lets you forget it. Second, combat sucks–you’re going to miss like 80% of the time when you start, so you NEED to find different ways to get through the opening parts of the game. And outside the characters you actually steal from, no one seems to care. As long as you don’t steal from the faction you’re interacting with and get caught (the Mage’s Guild has some REALLY nice stuff….) it’s treated as someone else’s problem, or even a cheeky bit of fun.

      My worst experience with the type of feeling you’re talking about was my “Play as myself” playthrough in Skyrim. I tried to stick as close to what I’d do as possible–sword and shield combat (I’m trained in this), prospecting and crafting (I have made multiple suits of armor), exploring ancient ruins (I know too many archaeologists), that sort of thing. Ended up, through a series of perfectly logical interactions, becoming a demon-worshiping cannibal werewolf. Mechanically it made perfect sense; emotionally it became really, really uncomfortable and I had to stop playing.

      1. Jackalope*

        Every time I’ve played I’ve always ended up to a certain extent going the stealth archer route, so it works a bit better for me. I’m also good at other forms of combat at this point – blocking and using shields has never worked for me well but the two-handed combat is great – but at the beginning of the game when I start off super squishy I find that having a way to kill enemies from a distance without them being able to figure out that I’m there makes it so much easier. I needed a super high persuasion ability for one of my quests that I did early on so I worked on my speech a LOT (finding someone who would teach speech and getting trained in it every level for awhile, making a ton of low-level potions to sell at every chance I got, etc) and now I can persuade anyone of anything. It’s been much handier than I had anticipated back when I was leveling up for this specific quest.

    5. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I saw a post somewhere online where people were making fun of someone for feeling bad if they made mean/harmful choices in a game. The response was: Games are all about wish fulfillment and power fantasies, and my greatest fantasy is to Help People.
      Many games are designed to make the player identify with the playable character. We often talk about them like that, usually I say “I did such-and-such,” not “Geralt did it” or “Shepard chose to…”
      It can absolutely be fun to act out scenarios that we would never want to happen in real life, there are some games where I love playing as the ruthless murdering theiving nasty! But most of the time I want to play as the hero, the fantasy where everyone can be saved and we get a happy ending. Real life sucks enough, I want to play/watch/read stuff that is about triumphing over all that!

      1. Jackalope*

        Yeah, that’s a lot of it. My power fantasy is having the power to make the world better, not be a jerk and get away with it. Skyrim is a brutal world in many ways and you can’t make it through without killing at least some other humanoids, but I try to do that as little as possible. Any of the really awful quests I try to avoid.

    6. Free Meerkats*

      Still messing about in WoW Classic Hardcore. Got tired of Warlock and Hunter, decided to try a Dwarf Rogue. Though I typically play ranged DPS, I’m having a lot of fun with this toon!

  14. HannahS*

    People who know things about computers: what do you wish your clueless relatives and friends understood about buying a computer?

    My 2017 laptop is on its last days. My needs are fairly basic: I need storage for a bajillion pictures of my daughter but otherwise I pretty much just use the computer for the word processor, email, and remote access of clunky hospital medical record systems. I am clumsy, hate shiny screens, and don’t do Apple products. If you have specific advice, it is welcome!

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m not much of a computer person but for photo backup you might consider an external hard drive (if not immediately, whenever you start running out of space on the main computer). Allows you to have a simpler, less powerful device overall without sacrificing storage capacity.

    2. ASUS, ASUS, ASUS!*

      For me, it is that price does not equal quality. And I can’t use Apple products, because due to the nature of my job, many of the softwares I must use don’t interface with them. I get slightly tired of explaining that to all the Mac people I know.

      In 2012, I took a side job doing remote medical billing, so I bought my first laptop, it was an ASUS, and it was like $349.00. My only requirement was that it had a good amount of RAM for the various billing software’s/EMR’s I would be accessing, and a numeric keypad on the keyboard, since so much of medical billing is typing in numbers.

      Cut to 2022, and my 10 year old ASUS is still going strong, but my boss at my primary job decides to buy me a new laptop for my birthday, since I will now be working mostly remotely for that job too. (Also medical billing). I did not want or need a new laptop, but she insisted. So we trundle off to Best Buy, and I am looking at ASUS laptops, but no…they were too “inexpensive” for her. She talks me into a $1000.00 HP Envy, which lasted just over a year before I opened it one day, and the right side of the screen completely disconnected from the keyboard of the laptop. Something HP laptops are apparently known for doing, as I discovered.

      I considered firing up my still serviceable old ASUS, but decided to buy a new ASUS instead, for just over $450.00, and I couldn’t be happier.

      So I now have two ASUS laptops that cost less than one HP laptop, and both have lasted longer than the HP with no issues. And both the ASUS laptops have been through airport security at least 100 times over the years, and held up just fine with getting banged around, so if you are clumsy, they are pretty tough.

    3. Part time lab tech*

      We bought a display Lenovo on sale. Aside from the pictures (and I’m sure the archivists here will chime in and suggest printing your favourites for better back up) our needs sound very similiar (right down to remoting medical databases) and it’s working fine for the last couple of months.

      1. Part time lab tech*

        Oh and we used the high school laptop requirements to determine what to buy.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I work remotely for a hospital and all our computers are either Dell or Lenovo. My only Windows laptop is a 2017 Thinkpad which is pretty bare bones but still perfectly functional, was the same model as my work computer for years, and previous generation Thinkpads (not the newest) can be had on Amazon for under $300.

    4. Green Mug*

      I agree that HP Envy is overpriced and won’t last. After a year, my Envy stopped connecting to wifi. I got a cord to pull into a wall but that defeats the point of a laptop. Now I have a Lenovo for the last few years. Works great. No issues. I use an online storage site for my millions of photos.

    5. Cicely*

      There’s nothing “clueless” about not knowing something. I recommend going to your store of choice, telling them what you wrote here, and let them guide you. Most of the sales clerks I’ve ever asked for help on this topic are only too happy to talk about features (and bugs), and to help you find what you have in mind.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      Regardless of what laptop you get, if those photos are important to you, I’d recommend getting an external drive (maybe even a RAID array if you really have that many photos), and then using something like Backblaze to back up that drive to the Cloud. Backblaze basically has one price for unlimited backup, unlike something like Google Photos or iCloud. But you definitely want to back up your local storage to the Cloud somewhere.

      I will also say if you genuinely don’t like Apple laptops, that’s fine, but if your “not Apple products” comes from the idea (very popular, especially from Apple itself) that buying an Apple laptop means you have to buy into the whole Apple ecosystem (iPhone, Apple Watch, AirTags, iCloud, etc.), you don’t. I have all Apple computers at home and use an Android phone, don’t use iCloud, don’t have AppleTV, don’t use AirTags.

    7. Daisy*

      Find models fromgl good brands that are being discontinued and are on clearance. My most recent laptop purchase (backup laptop, mostly just needs to have storage and do word processing and be a beater) was acquired that way, and I got it maybe 30-50% cheaper than a current model with equivalent specs.

    8. Awkwardness*

      So really think about your needs.

      Do you want to print? How it the printer connected? Through or WiFi or cables, and if so what type of connection do you use?
      How do you want to transfer photos? Plugging the camera through USB or through inserting the SD-card? Then you need a slot for SD-cards.
      Do you want to use an external mouse or a headset? Bluetooth or USB? So how many USB ports will you need?
      (Continue as needed)

      1. SarahKay*

        Seconding the ‘think about your needs’ bit.
        I was contemplating replacing my laptop and read a review by Which (UK consumer’s assocation) for a Great Value laptop at £249. Three cons given:poor webcam, poor speakers, and poor trackpad. Well, I never use the trackpad, and have a sticking plaster permanently covering the camera so actually, they’re totally irelevant downsides.
        On the other hand, because I use a mouse and an external webcam that means I want at least two USB ports as a bare minimum, and ideally more. Or I need to spend more and get a docking station or USB hub.

      2. Ann on a Moose*

        On the topic of “really think about your needs”:

        Do you even need the portability of a laptop? Don’t discount getting a desktop PC just because you’re replacing a laptop.

      3. SuprisinglyADHD*

        Definitely figure out what you need to connect, like mouse/keyboard, phone charger, external storage (like a USB stick, external drive, or SD cards), printer, ethernet (if you want an option besides WIFI), headphones/speakers. Do you want the option to use a monitor or TV on occasion (maybe to show off/view photos), and if so is it HDMI or VGA.
        It’s possible to buy dongles with extra USB ports, and other specialty connections, if you want to have a larger desk setup and also have a smaller laptop to carry.

    9. WorkNowPaintLater*

      Always get more memory and storage than you think you will need. Significant other recommends at least 1T of storage if doing photo work.

      If working with lots of photos/graphics, get either good external storage or some sort of cloud storage. Also get a dock – it seems the newer laptops (or at least the one I just got at the place we don’t discuss) don’t come with nearly enough USB ports for all the things I need to attach.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        If working with lots of photos/graphics, get either good external storage or some sort of cloud storage.

        I would recommend both. If it lives in only an external drive or only in the cloud, it isn’t really backed up properly. The cloud is more likely to have some kind of server-side backup, depending on your provider, but it’s good to have both local and cloud copies of critical photos.

    10. Girasol*

      Look up reviews from several sources and look for PCs that are recommended and that fit your user preferences. I’ve never been disappointed with either price or performance with one chosen that way.

    11. strawberry lemonade*

      I’d recommend a lenovo thinkpad. You will find better laptops out there, but the thinkpad is targeted toward business users and is 100% fine.

      Most processors will work fine for you. You’ll want a laptop that has a solid state drive (SSD) and a hard drive. The SSD will probably be smaller—this is where windows would live, and make the computer boot up at a modern speed. You can get absurd amounts of storage on the hard drive, and store all your stuff there (it would probably be the SSD is the C: drive and you would put photos on the D: drive).

      You can get a refurbished one or a generation back pretty reasonably. I’d recommend 8-16GB of RAM (memory). My dad and sibling both got thinkpad or ideapad lenovos and are pretty satisfied.

      In general, asus and acer will make solid laptops. Stay away from HP. If you spend $250 or $400 on a new laptop it has a high chance of simply not working out of the box. Don’t be tempted by chromebooks.

    12. Clisby*

      I really don’t care what my relatives and friends understand about buying a computer – unless they’ve asked for my opinion.

      Assuming you’re now asking for our opinion, I’m on my 3rd HP laptop and have been happy with all of them. (No opinion about remote access of hospital system).

      I’m not sure what you mean by a shiny screen – as far as I can tell, mine is just what I’d call a normal screen. If you frequently take it places where you’re not constantly charging it, I’d definitely check battery life.

    13. Observer*

      <i.My needs are fairly basic: I need storage for a bajillion pictures of my daughter but otherwise I pretty much just use the computer for the word processor, email, and remote access of clunky hospital medical record systems. I am clumsy, hate shiny screens, and don’t do Apple products

      * Get a desktop with a nice big monitor if you have the space and don’t have to worry about portability / locking the thing up when not in use. If you do need it to be a laptop, try to a 15″ or larger laptop.

      * Get the biggest hard drive you can find, but do yourself a favor and make sure that you are getting a relatively new SSD (yes, it’s still possible to find computers with regular Hard Drives.)

      * Get at least one external backup drive and make copies of everything to that drive or do that to an on-line service. Belt and suspenders, do both.

      * You don’t need the highest end processor, but I’d avoid the lowest end as well, because things like heavy web use (eg a bajillion tabs open) can actually take some power. So, eg, an Intel i5 is fine, but I’d skip an i3

      * If you wind up with a Chromebook, you still need at least 8GB of ram, and 16 is better. For Windows machines, 16 is really a sweet spot, although if you can get 32GB as a small increase that doesn’t go over budget, you might see some advantage.

      * In my experience a 3 year warranty is a good idea, especially if the warranty is included. Because for that to be profitable to the maker, they need to make the stuff reliable enough that they won’t need to honor it too often. By the same token, I find that the business class computers tend to have fewer bells and whistles, but also tend to be more reliable.

      * You don’t need a separate video card. Today, the basic integrated video will give you perfectly good video and images. The main factor that’s going to affect what you see is the monitor.

      * If you get a laptop, make sure that it has an external video port that it not just VGA / SVGA.

  15. folding phones*

    If you have a Samsung Flip5 or Razr folding phone, how do you like using it? Pros and cons? Which one is it? The pro for me is that they are small; the con is concern about how robust they are and worry about how long it would take to get used to that design with the small front screen and the big inner screen.

    Standard rectangular smartphones are inconveniently large and they keep getting bigger. It makes me nostalgic for my ancient Motorola Tracfone that was not at all smart but was so portable, not that I would actually go back to such a primitive device, but it was a great size (and so affordable).

    1. RussianInTexas*

      I don’t have one, but the fact that Razr is back gives me joy. My first cell phone was a Razr in silvery pink, it was so pretty! Although I also lusted after LG Chocolate.

      1. WhatIsSleepEven*

        I got a flip almost a year ago (replacing a five-year-old phone). So far it’s held up. No screen problems. And it’s very nice to have a phone that fits in my pocket again.

    2. -*

      I love mine! I was an early adopter, so I’m on my second Flip model. Bought primarily for size (I must carry my phone at work, and it fits into pockets on womens dress pants). The hinges are getting better and better, this generation feels pretty robust. as for the screen size, I pretty much ignore the outer screen. The inner screen feels like a normal smartphone screen sized.

    3. ww*

      I have the Razr and I love it in that it’s very shiny and fun and I like fun shiny things. The front screen is way more useful than I thought it would be – not all apps will work on it but the big basics like texting,Whatsapp, internet, clock, Slack, etc., do. It’s nice to be able to type out a quick text without having to actually open the phone, and when it’s folded it fits in pockets! Even women’s pockets! You have to be OK with typing on the tiny screen, but ime it works fine for those quick needs and for longer, more involved use you can just flip open to the big screen.

      Also I can once again hang up on people by slamming the phone shut like it’s 2006. So satisfying.

      Cons: Absolutely more fragile than an average phone – the tech is almost there but not quite there, y’know? I got my Razr in July and am actually already on my second; about five months in I ended up with a cluster of dead pixels right where the folding hinge is on the main screen, and a few months after that developed a green line running down the main screen, at which point I gave up and got a replacement (free via 1-year warranty). I just know that I’m not going to have as long with this phone as with a standard smartphone and have made my peace with that for novelty’s sake. That said, the front screen I’ve had no issue with and the nice thing about two screens is if one is messed up the other still works…as opposed to all the times I dropped my old smartphone and shattered the screen and then essentially had no phone for three days.

      The other Razr-specific con is that it doesn’t have its own photo storage/notes app but uses Google photo/docs. I wasn’t thrilled about Google having access to now every single aspect of my life, but here we are.

      1. acmx*

        Your last is good to know! I have a similar issue with my Asus in that it’s missing basic (IMO) apps that means I have to use google’s apps. I don’t like that I have to use the google messages but photos is worse to me. So I’d go with Samsung’s flip for myself.

      2. Observer*

        The other Razr-specific con is that it doesn’t have its own photo storage/notes app but uses Google photo/docs. I wasn’t thrilled about Google having access to now every single aspect of my life, but here we are.

        There are about umpteen other apps you can use, especially for notes. And if you are willing to pay multiply that out.

    4. just here for the scripts*

      Hubby has the flip 4 and as soon as he could upgrade, he grabbed the flip 5. He looooooooives it. And seriously he never wanted a smart phone (think Gibbs in ncis), and he a.dores. The. Flip. 5

    5. joyryde028*

      I finally replaced my Fold with an S24 Ultra and I’m so much happier! apps (insta, YouTube, etc.) don’t fit the bigger screen and it felt like a literal brick when folded. I looked at the flip but was so tired of folding and unfolding my phone at that point. And the screen failed 3 times. they just kept giving me the newer version. I’m sure they’ll get better as the versions go on, I was an idiot and went all in too soon!

    6. Healthcare Worker*

      My husband and a work colleague both have the Samsung Flip 4 and both love it! They both open the phone completely to text or access apps, but both love how it fits in their pocket. No troubles so far, and it’s been about a year and a half for both of them.

  16. Silly Old Movie Question*

    I was watching the old movie “The Bodyguard” recently and I was mystified by some aspects of the plot.

    Spoiler alert for a 30 year old movie?

    Anyway, the two main characters end up breaking up (I think) mainly so that she could sing the Big Hit Record, but that can’t be the plot reason. So why was it? At the end she is back to her career and he is back guarding politicians. But unless I missed something, there was no obstacle keeping them apart. Couldn’t he have retired and become her house husband or boy toy? Was it that they didn’t have a romance, just a one night stand? (Maybe two nights?)

    Also (plot twist) the singer’s sister admits she hired the hit man and then is killed by him by mistake. But after that, the singer is still in danger. Why? Do assassins have some code of honor to complete the mission even though the client is dead? Why wouldn’t the assassin have said “whoopsie” and gone away? I get that the movie wouldn’t be as interesting without these dangers but the ending seemed like some nonsensical coda.

    Any theories?

    1. Msd*

      If I remember correctly he wasn’t good at being a peripheral person in her life and he couldn’t be her bodyguard if they were in love. Or maybe he had to be free so he could star in Dances with Wolves.

    2. matcha123*

      I don’t think I watched the movie, but I remember when it came out people were buzzing about the interracial relationship.
      I’m pretty sure they couldn’t be together because the filmmakers didn’t want to deal with the accusations of promoting interracial relationships, despite it being the ’90s with many irl interracial relationships going on.
      They had to create some flimsy reason for them to be apart so they could claim to be progressive in showcasing an interracial couple, but not so progressive that they would show them together.

      1. Silly Old Movie Question*

        That’s interesting although I don’t recall it ever being mentioned in the film. I wonder if the story even needed a white guy in the lead role. I guess it could be a “reason” they couldn’t be together but would make more sense in a much older movie. In 1950s that could be an obvious plot point (like the romances in South Pacific) but in 1990s…. I guess safer not to mention it at all?

    3. Part time lab tech*

      I think they just weren’t well suited for long term. He needs to be working and I don’t think he could do his job while being the partner of a famous singer (no anonymity). Not that that’s a movie reason although the song might be! It doesn’t work so well if he stays.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yeah this is my view. They had chemistry for one night but weren’t compatible in the long term and didn’t want the same things from life. I didn’t ever feel they were madly in love or had vast amounts in common, but more that they were attracted magnetically together by the situation and the danger and when that was over there wasn’t enough keeping them together.

        He did not strike me as someone who would want to retire and be a house husband. He liked what he was doing.

        I actually liked the fact they knew it wouldn’t work, left each other with good memories and went on to be good at what they each did.

        1. Silly Old Movie Question*

          Maybe it struck as “not the type” in the 90s but watching it now, it comes off as too immersed in toxic masculinity to even consider being the “lesser” partner. This “obviously it wouldn’t work” was never actually discussed, the viewer is left to assume it.
          It just runs so counter to most romance movies (with happily ever after endings) that it was hard to figure out what was going on, for me.

          1. UKDancer*

            I mean I rather liked that they didn’t have a long emotive discussion about why it wouldn’t work and just kind of both knew it wasn’t a long term thing. But then I’ve always liked endings where the woman goes off to be independently awesome. So I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with how it finished.

          2. Roland*

            Is it really toxic masculinity to not want to “become her house husband or boy toy”? I would say absolutely not. It’s ok not to want to retire to do that.

            1. UKDancer*

              Yeah I don’t think it’s toxic masculinity to want to do the career thing you’re good at and which gives you pleasure. I’ve met a couple of people who’ve done close protection and they tend to be very goal driven individuals who enjoy what they do a lot. So not the sort of person who wants to be someone’s house spouse.

              Frank seems fairly self aware to be honest and knows what he is and isn’t. I’d probably say the same about Rachel.

    4. Still*

      1) I need to sit down after hearing “The Bodyguard” referred to as “the old movie”.

      2) I don’t think he wanted to retire and be a boy toy, he didn’t really seem the type. He wouldn’t be able to protect her or anyone else if he stayed to be with her. And he didn’t exactly give me house husband vibes.

      3) The hitman didn’t know who hired him. She hired him through some contact and he was paid enough to keep going until the job was done. That was the whole reason she couldn’t call him off – she didn’t know who he was and he didn’t know who hired him.

      1. Silly Old Movie Question*

        The “old movie” thing gave me pause too. But, I calculated, and more than 30 years means it’s ok to post spoilers, at least in my book. Plus it felt very much like an old movie, no cell phones, no internet in evidence, old school surveillance style. Usually “old movie” means Hitchcock, Demille, even Chaplin, but now that we’re well into the 21st century, anything from the 20th century could qualify as “old.” Including me.

        I didn’t catch the anonymous hitman hiring so that’s why that part of the plot didn’t make sense to me. It was very unclear if the guy knew he got the wrong person when he killed the sister, and unclear whether the singer knew her sister was the culprit.

        I’m not very good at figuring out what is going on in movies. I’ve taken to reading synopses before watching to help (as one does before taking in an opera in a language you don’t know) but I couldn’t find one that addressed these (to me) glaring problems in this movie. Thanks, all!

        Conclusion: yes the movie was basically one long music video. But such a good song, it was kinda worth it.

        1. Still*

          Looper dot com seems to have pretty thorough explanations of films and their endings (e.g their article about The Bodyguard addresses your questions) so maybe that might be helpful for you?

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Ooof, that did hurt.

        But yeah, the hitman would have to fulfill the contract if he wanted to keep getting jobs. I do think too many “oopsies” wouldn’t look too good on his CV either, though… the cops are going to twig sooner or later that “well, first the sister, then the maid, then the rich singer” is a pattern!

    5. Pam Adams*

      Ha! The SONG has been playing lately on a local station and thinking about the backstory annoyed me.

      In the Dolly Paarton version, she runs a whorehouse, and he’s in law enforcement, so the idea of dumping someone for their own good makes sense.

      Being the rich, powerful person dumping someone “for their own good” sits poorly with me.

      1. Silly Old Movie Question*

        Wait, there’s a Dolly Parton version of this movie?

        I didn’t think she dumped him, maybe he dumped her or it was mutual? Again, never directly mentioned unless I slept through that part.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

            During which Dolly’s character sings to Burt Reynolds. That’s the only connection between that movie and The Bodyguard.

        1. Freya's Cats*

          Ha, no, it was not a Dolly Parton version of The Bodyguard! Dolly sang the song in the absolutely bonkers ‘The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas’ with Burt Reynolds co-starring.

          1. ronda*

            from wikipedia:

            I Will Always Love You” is a song written and originally recorded in 1973 by American singer-songwriter Dolly Parton. Written as a farewell to her business partner and mentor Porter Wagoner, expressing Parton’s decision to pursue a solo career,[1] the country single was released in 1974. The song was a commercial success for Parton, twice reaching the top spot of the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart: first in June 1974, then again in October 1982, with a re-recording for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas soundtrack.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas! And yes, Parton wrote and recorded that song originally.

      2. Clisby*

        Actually, Dolly Parton didn’t write the song about a romantic breakup – it was about her breakup with professional partner Porter Wagoner. She had two hits with it – the original, and the version she recorded for Best Little Whorehouse. However, the song itself had nothing to do with running a whorehouse.

        And of course, the song can be interpreted romantically.

        1. Clisby*

          Also, props to Dolly Parton to retaining all her rights to the song. Apparently she made millions from the Whitney Houston version.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Parton is one of the smartest businesswomen in music; like an OG Taylor Swift.

  17. Bookworm in Stitches*

    I was approached to be a craft vendor for an event several months out. Up to this point I’ve only sold things as custom orders. I know I’m being vague, but for anyone who has done vendor events, any helpful suggestions? I’m leaning towards doing it as a one-off just to see what it’s like.

    1. Annie Edison*

      I run a service-based business and have done a booth at a few vendor events in the last year to advertise. My experience would be a little different since I’m selling a service instead of a physical product but here’s my tips-

      – budget more than you think for supplies to get your booth set up nicely. Little things like display shelves add up fast
      – do a trial run of your set up at least a week out from the event so you can make sure everything looks good and troubleshoot any issues
      – bring lots of snacks to keep your energy up. Sitting in a booth and chatting with passers-by is surprisingly exhausting
      – depending on how long the event lasts, try to recruit a friend or family member to stop by and cover for you at some point. Having a couple of 15 min breaks to stretch your legs and not be in customer service mode helps the day go by
      – have some kind of small, inexpensive thing near the front to serve as an eye-catcher and draw people in

    2. Msd*

      Try googling “how to set up a booth at a craft fair”. Returns a lot of helpful suggestions. I wrote a reply earlier recommending a “haven’t spoken to her in years” friend’s blog (she’s an artist and a writer) but it looks like it was deleted.

    3. Girasol*

      I found tables second hand and a 10×10 straight legged outdoor awning on Craigslist, which cut my costs. The top structure of the awning was a good place to hang products using binder clips. Rectangles of pegboard that I could hang on the fronts of my tables were handy for display of small items. I’ve seen people use two ladders with boards laid across the steps for display, and that looked handy. The one thing I wished I’d had was a wagon or a hand truck, since the vendor car park tended to be a ways from the assigned booth space. Depending on your product, you might want handouts explaining how they’re made and/or how to contact you for custom work. If you have wearables, a mirror might be useful.

      1. Flowers*

        I’m not a vendor, but often a customer at craft fairs. Seconding the advice on having a mirror — preferably more than one because there’s always one customer who hogs it. Also it gets hot in those venues — bring a hand fan for yourself and some water. Also pleeeeze post prices. Loads of sellers probably lost sales to me because they didn’t post prices. It’s incredibly awkward to have to ask the actual artist the price of things, and then walk away if you can’t afford it. I feel like I’m slapping them in the face when I do that, so I just don’t ask. Good luck! Let us know how it went!

          1. Girasol*

            Posting prices is fiddly work. With a craft that stickers don’t stick to, especially hard! I used color coded binder clips with prices written on them in permanent marker. I suppose you could let customers ask – Hey, this is nice, how much? But then you’re only selling to the extroverts.

            1. Lime green Pacer*

              I did my first (and perhaps last) craft sale last year. I printed up a couple of full-page price charts with a color photo of each type of craft (there were just 6) and its price.

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

      take lots and lots of change. Don’t get wiped out in the first 15 minutes of the event.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Similarly – if you’re willing to take plastic money (Square is very popular for that sort of thing), make sure you have your equipment sorted out, apps properly logged in and set up, etc etc, so that it is as convenient as you need it to be :)

        And if you haven’t already gone that route, I would consider it, especially if your wares are over $5-10. Personally, when I go to vendors, I’m fine to pay a small couple of percent surcharge for folks who take plastic because I know that Square and the like charge it, but if someone wants to sell me something for $35 and requires cash, I probably just plain won’t have it on hand.

    5. RLC*

      Have done a couple of events and didn’t realise until too late that my crafts were far, far out of the budget of the customers and wildly unlike any other crafter’s offerings.
      I’d recommend a one-off to test the waters.

    6. Dancing Otter*

      Be sure to find out whether the space rental includes a table or not. Chair, likewise.
      Plan something to cover the table (whether they provide or you bring one). Most things look better that way.
      Some craft fairs expect vendors to contribute an item for their door prizes. Don’t be blindsided, and do figure that “donation” into your expense calculations.
      At some point, you will need to attend to nature. Do you know one of the other vendors already, that you could watch reach other’s tables briefly? Otherwise, recruit a friend or family member to come spell you.
      Have either flyers or promo cards made up. You may get potential customers for your custom work; but there may also be people who want to contact you later, because they wish they had bought something after all.
      If you have a tray of similar things – earrings, say – that are all the same price, it’s ok to tag the tray rather than each item. (Easier to mark down later in the day, too.) As Flowers said, some people will hesitate to ask prices.
      If you will have a wall behind you, that’s a good place to display larger items or higher priced things that could wander off. Ask in advance if it’s allowed.
      Seconding the recommendation above for a wagon to transport your stuff from/to vendor parking.

    7. Girasol*

      Another thing that really worked for me: bringing craft supplies and making items at the craft fair. People came closer to see what I was doing and ask about it. Once someone said, “I saw your photo in the news,” and I found out that a news photographer and come by and taken pictures while I was working! I didn’t want to sit and watch people going by and have them feel awkward that I was looking at them, so having something to do really worked for me.

    8. Emily Elizabeth*

      Also not a vendor, but my family member sells jewelry full time at markets and so I often am there helping or shopping other booths. We are in the south so this is often particularly relevant, but I highly recommend to get a shade/canopy tent even if it’s not required! It helps you feel more comfortable and also helps define the space and make your booth look official. Small, low cost items up front is helpful, as well as having some sort of business card or flyer to hand out, particularly since you do custom work. I often won’t want to commit to something in a booth, especially if I’m shopping around the whole market, but having a card to grab still gives me something to take. If the market is outdoor, weights of some variety are extremely helpful for your tent and to keep any stands or displays propped up. Adding height to your display really helps it look legit and gives people more to see as they walk by. And for you to bring: sunscreen, lots of water (I feel like the food trucks always run out of bottles), snacks, portable charger. If your craft lends itself to this, some busy work to work on as you’re waiting is sometimes nice and is a cool demo/creates less pressure for people peeking. Good luck!!

  18. Chaordic One*

    A couple of months ago I asked if any U.K. readers had seen the ITV miniseries, “Mr. Bates vs. The Post Office.” Reviews were mixed, but everyone seemed to agree that it did a good job of depicting a terrible act of injustice of the U.K. Postal Scandal which, in turn, sparked outrage and brought the scandal back to the attention of U.K.citizens, while investigations dragged on and on without much progress. The series is now going to be shown on PBS this Sunday, and if I can arrange it, I’m hoping to watch.

  19. matcha123*

    I am thinking about getting a Kindle. I’m sure a number of commenters here have one or a similar device, and I’m wondering if you all think it would be better to go for a Paperwhite or the basic model? The newest ones with USB-C chargers or would a used model with the old charger type be sufficient?
    I have an old Galaxy Tab tablet that I was also thinking about using as an e-reader. I have Google Play Books, but the selection seems much smaller than Amazon. Although that may be because I’m outside of the US. I’ve been watching a ton of YouTube videos and trying to decide mainly between buying a used, older model, or going for a brand new one (base model for both).
    I love reading and haven’t been reading as much since college due to lack of physical space and the fact that paperbacks can be double or triple the price they go for in the US.

    1. Clara Bowe*

      I can’t speak to the newer kindles, but I had decent luck buying an older model off of eBay. As long as it is up to date enough to connect to your WiFi so you can sync it, it’s fine. Mine is a 2017, I think? And it holds a charge for a couple weeks. It is an older plug model, but I have a billion mini-usb cords around so have never had any issues there.

      Personally though, I genuinely dislike the kindle interface compared to Kobo. I’ve had a Kobo for years and love it immensely as it integrates with my library programs better (natively) and doesn’t charge me extra to get rid of ads. Plus, it works with all file types and I don’t have to email a file to the darn thing to load it on.

      That said, if you already have kindle content, I get not wanting to consider a Kobo. I originally had a Sony ereader but they left the ebook sales situation, so everything migrated to Kobo and I followed because of that history.

      1. matcha123*

        I also have a Sony e-reader! I had a terrible time trying to find books (back in 2014) for it and content in general. I’d prefer to use that but I don’t think it works with Amazon books or Google, ugh.

        1. Clara Bowe*

          If you migrate your account to Kobo (or just create one) and still have the og Reader software somewhere, they are compatible! Also, you should be able to borrow books from your library if you have your device registered w Adobe Digital Editions as ePub is the native file type. You can check out w/your library, dl through the Overdrive Client for Desktop (not an app) and just drag/drop to your reader. It does require a laptop or desktop for the process, but it is pretty straightforward!

          1. Clara Bowe*

            + If you are not in the US, Kobo is actually cooler. Even just an account w them is worth it as they are a Rauketen company and have a ton of different content licenses that are inaccessible in the US.

            Plus, just an FYI, libraries don’t really track region, so if you have someone in the US who will share their card, you can direct borrow/a device. (Kindle, Kobo, or other that allows!)

      2. Armchair analyst*

        Don’t just judge the appropriate age of a used device by if it connects to your wifi

        My 2012 kindle stopped being supported by Amazon – so, no downloads to it – after 10 years.

        I suggest a paper white to focus on the reading experience but another model for more of a tablet experience

      3. amoeba*

        Very late but mine is actually a Kindle 4 (so, like… 2010? Earlier?) and I’ve never had any compatibility issues, WiFi works fine!

    2. Hypatia*

      I have both a kindle paperweight and an old tablet that I use to read books. The paperwhite was a used model my husband picked up- it was about 5 years old? He was concerned about battery life but its great- lasts for ages.
      I can use the kindle app and library app on the tablet to get books- many of the library e-books will open as kindle versions, which I can then read on either.
      The paperwhite interface is easy, and reading on it is very pleasant, very much like a paper book. My family prefers it to read ebooks. And the basic model does all I need.

    3. slashgirl*

      Have you tried installing the Kindle app on your Galaxy Tab (unless it’s too old to add the app)? I have it on mine and it works well.

      1. matcha123*

        I do have the app on my Tab, which is why I’ve been thinking about using it. It’s just that I haven’t used the Tab in years (and forgot my Google password and just changed the password a few months ago, ugh). And the tab is a little heavy, and the lightweight Kindle does tempt me.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have a basic kindle and also use the kindle app on my phone and tablet, and the thing I notice every time I fire up the kindle is how daggone SLOW it is compared to the apps. One I get into the book that’s fine, but it takes a noticeably longer time to actually wake the thing up and access it. Also the user interface is terrible, it took me 35 minutes and a post on an AAM open thread to figure out how to get from the library back to the Home Screen because it is just not user friendly at all.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        The actual e-reader is not meant for any internet browsing, which is why you are having issues with AAM and user interface.
        I am having zero issues with the book loading speed on my Paperwhite, or the user interface, but I would never use it for literally anything else but book reading. It’s not a tablet.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I think they meant they posted a question about how to navigate within the device, not that they were posting from the device.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Er, what? I’m not using the web browser on the kindle. I didn’t even know it had one. I’m talking the time it takes to wake up from sleep and become usable. My example issue with user interface was getting from the library to the home screen. When I said “a post on the AAM open thread” I meant, after 20 minutes of trying to figure it out, I went to an actual web browsing device and posted “how do I get to the home screen on a basic Kindle,” then went back to fiddling with the kindle for another fifteen minutes when I finally figured it out. I am well aware that it’s not a tablet or useful for anything but book reading.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            Sorry! But yes, old Kindles do get sluggish. And the OG interface wasn’t great. Paperwhite is good though, although, of you never ever delete any books from it (side-eye boyfriend), it’ll also get slow.

          2. RussianInTexas*

            Sorry! I misread. But yes, old Kindles will get slow. The interface is MUCH better with the Paperwhite.

    5. Jules the First*

      I switched to a paperwhite in 2012 when I broke my hand and spent six months in a cast. I went for paperwhite over regular because it was a much more paper-like experience. I’m still using my original paperwhite (albeit pretty slow now, but I think that’s more because it’s memory is full than anything else) and much prefer it to any of the other tablets and apps I have for reading on. I particularly like that the screen glow is soft, which means it works equally well for reading in the dark or bright sunshine. It also never gets hot and the battery lasts literally weeks. That said, do *not* bother trying to do anything other than reading on it.

    6. RussianInTexas*

      The laters standard Paperwhite with the USB-C charger, no questions. It’s amazing. And the new charger is literally HOURS faster than the old micro USB, plus no issues trying to find an “old” cable.
      I don’t like reading on the regular tablets because they strain my eyes. Paperwhite does not.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I keep mine in airplane mode pretty much always except when I am downloading books, and it lasts weeks on same charge.
        I’ll warn you against Kindle Fire. They are crap.

        1. Saturday*

          Yes, this is a good tip. I keep the internet connection off when I don’t need it, and the charge lasts a really long time.

    7. Me*

      I received a new (at the time) Kindle Paperwhite in 2009. It was great, never strained my eyes, had long battery life. The only reason I got a new Paperwhite (kids version as it was cheaper and still had everything I wanted) was because there was a good deal on it last year, but I was still sort of reluctant about it since my old Paperwhite had nothing wrong with it as far as I could tell.

      Turns out the new Paperwhite was just slightly larger than my old one that it’s even MORE comfortable for me to read – I read very quickly, but at the font size I prefer, I was having to flip pages too quickly on the old Kindle. Now it’s great and I have zero regrets about getting this latest model even though I am super cheap!

      I still can get lots of ebooks from the public libraries on my Kindle and rarely purchase ebooks myself.

      I don’t have experience with other Kindles other than the Kindle Fire which is impossible and confusing for me to use (and I work in tech) and I do not recommend it.

    8. Emma*

      I have a Kobo e-reader and really enjoy that I can check out library books through Libby/Overdrive. I haven’t bought any books yet. The library doesn’t have all the books I would want, and I often have to put holds on them, but it’s been great.

      Whatever device you get, make sure it’s compatible with your library system.

      1. Emma*

        and just saw that you’re not in the US, so this may not apply. I’ve heard of people in Canada checking out books using a Kobo, but not sure of other countries.

        1. matcha123*

          I do know about that for the US and I’d love to utilize that when I’m back home. I’d probably need to buy a new e-reader to use in the US, however. But definitely something good to hear and keep in mind!

    9. Saturday*

      I love my Kindle Paperwhite. It’s easier on the eyes, and it feels more book-like. I have the old charger which takes a long time, but I don’t really mind. I just charge it when I know I’m not going to be able to read for a while.

    10. SarahKay*

      I’m in the UK and I have a Kobo Glo rather than a Kindle Paperwhite, but for reading books they’re basically similar in function and I’d recommend either over a tablet. The eReader will be lighter to hold and you can comfortably read it in any light, even direct sunlight. The Paperwhite, like the Glo, has a built-in light and the light level can be adjusted down to very dim so you’re not disturbing others while you read.

      Mine is from 2012 and is getting a bit slow but the poor old thing has about 3,000 books on it which I suspect is more than Kobo envisaged when they set up the catalgouing system so it’s probably not surprising.

      It charges through a USB micro, so it’s pretty easy to find a suitable cable / charger, and even at its advanced age will run for at least two weeks between charges, maybe longer – and I’m a heavy reader, using it for a minimum of an hour a day, usually more.

      I seem to recall that the cheaper Kindles come with ads – if that’s going to annoy you and you want to keep costs down then probably look for an ad-free second-hand one.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I have the one with ads, and they don’t matter. The ads literally only show up as a banner on the welcome screen, and never ever in the books.

        1. SarahKay*

          See, even that would drive me up the wall. I’ve bought an ereader and I’ve bought the book to read on it, and now I have to watch an advert too?!? Which I guess is silly since I’ll happily sit through adverts at the cinema or on TV. But still, adverts with books – for me, just NO.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            There is nothing to watch, they aren’t videos. It’s just a static banner on the lock or home screen, all of some other books or authors. They are absolutely not intrusive, you won’t see them in your library screen or in the book screen.

    11. Loreli*

      I’ve had a kindle for about 5 years and use it only for reading books I’ve downloaded from the library. I use my phone to search the library site and select the books (with the Libby app on my phone). Except when I’m downloading I keep the kindle on airplane mode.
      I like the fact that the kindle times out after several minutes without “turning pages”, because I read before going to sleep. So if I nod off, I don’t burn battery.
      There is a kindle app for the iPhone but it seems to use up lots of battery.
      With downloaded library books, the loan is always for a specific time (often 3 weeks). The book is electronically returned to the library so it can be borrowed by someone else. But if you keep the kindle on airplane mode you can finish the book (after you turn off airplane the book will vanish after the due date).

    12. Observer*

      The newest ones with USB-C chargers or would a used model with the old charger type be sufficient?

      Do yourself a favor, and get the one with USB-C. Specialty chargers are a major pain. And if you run into a problem with the charger, you may not be able to replace it, and there goes the whole unit. Also, it means that you need fewer cables and chargers.

      Unless you are getting a REALLY good buy on the older unit, I would not even consider it.

      I have Google Play Books, but the selection seems much smaller than Amazon

      I’m pretty sure that the Kindle app is available for the Tab, so it’s probably worth trying that first. If you decide that you still want a dedicated reader, you can more easily wait for a really good sale.

      1. amoeba*

        The old ones don’t have specialty chargers though, they use micro USB (which I, at least, still have around anyway for other devices such as my bluetooth speakers…)

  20. The Prettiest Curse*

    Let’s discuss common plot devices that are older than you think!

    A couple of examples:
    My husband recently read a P.G. Wodehouse book called “Laughing Gas” for his adult education class. This book was written in 1936 and it’s about a body swap between a boxer and a child film star. I wouldn’t have thought that the body swap plot existed until much later in the 20th century, especially since it’s more common in films or TV than other media.

    And the play “Dangerous Corner” by J.B. Priestley (1932) features the action playing out in two different ways – again something you wouldn’t expect to see that early in entertainment history.

    I’m not saying that these are the earliest uses of either plot device (just the earliest ones I’ve encountered), so would be fascinating to hear about the oldest use of these and other common plots.

    1. Jackalope*

      This doesn’t count as a plot device exactly, but recently I was reading a response to one of those nonsense articles about how there’s this “new” trend of romance in fantasy and so women are finally reading and writing it, which was incredibly insulting to generations of women reading and writing fantasy (both with and without romance) ages before the term “romantasy” became a thing. (Note that the insulting part isn’t that women might be into romance, but that they’re ONLY interested in romance, and the casual disregard of all of the female authors and readers that existed before this year.)

      While looking things up online to see when women started writing fantasy, I discovered that one of the earliest (perhaps the earliest) female authors of speculative fiction (the ancestor of today’s fantasy) lived in Ancient Greece (the site I found said that she may have been born as early as 518 BCE). There are many gaps in our knowledge of stories and writing because it’s only what was recorded and survived that we still have, but there are also a number of fantasy (or at least speculative fiction) female authors in the Middle Ages of Europe as well.

    2. Daisy*

      The pool boy/pizza delivery guy trope goes back to ancient Mesopotamia. There’s one myth (blanking on the details) where the goddess of the Netherworld sends a messenger upstairs to complain about the noise (heaven is having a party) and the messenger heaven sends back down to apologize…is hot.

      They do the thing.

      And then they get married! Good job, pizza delivery guy.

    3. EllenD*

      There’s a Victorian novel called Vice Versa, which has a father and son swapping bodies. According to Wikipedia it was published in 1882 and first adapted into a film in 1916, then later films in 1930s and 1940s. I guess when some creates an interesting plot device others will re-use it.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Wow, that plot has been around for even longer than I thought! It just goes to show that: 1. There are very few truly original plots and 2. People have apparently been thinking about what it would be like to switch places with someone for a really long time.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I think it was Mark Twain who said that only Adam could be sure that, when he said something, that no one had ever said it before.

    4. UKDancer*

      Priestley did that a lot. He was very interested in time and how it worked. He wrote some things that feel a lot more modern than they are (like some of the themes of An Inspector Calls”) and it’s why I like a lot of his pieces.

      I’m always surprised by George Bernard Shaw as his pieces feel a lot more modern than they are. Some of the themes from “Mrs Warren’s Profession” feel surprisingly up to date as they deal with the choices women face (including Vivie’s choice of career over husband), double standards for women and some of the hypocrisy around prostitution.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Priestley definitely played around with time in a very modern way. I think one of his other 1930s plays “Time and the Conways” may have been one of the first to depict a time jump.

        George Bernard Shaw’s opinions were a fascinating mix of somewhat Victorian (he was very into spiritualism and seances for a while) and quite modern (vegetarianism – I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to be vegetarian in his era – plus campaigning for better housing and belief in gender equality.)

        Shaw was also responsible for one of my favourite theatre experiences. 20+ years ago, I saw a fairly radical modern production of his play “Widower’s Houses”, which is about (modern theme alert) exploitative landlords and poor quality housing. The production was great, but it didn’t go over that well with the audience in the fairly conservative town where I saw it. (I think they were expecting a play from the late 19th century to be a bland and pretty costume drama.) There was some grumbling to this effect in the post-show discussion, until an elderly lady chimed in, identified herself as a descendant of Shaw (I think she said he was her great-uncle), reminded everyone that he was a radical non-conformist and said that he would have loved the production. Ha!

        1. UKDancer*

          Brilliant! Anyone who expects Shaw to be conventional and bland, doesn’t know Shaw and may have assumed that “My Fair Lady” reflected authorial intent. He was weirdly modern and on the money on some issues. .

          I love “Major Barbara” for it’s discussion of whether it’s acceptable to accept “tainted” money which is still relevant today.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Oh, also for Man and Superman: Violet is so practical; when her secret fiance’ wants to throw up his stuffy family and elope she shuts it down hard: “You can be as romantic as you like about love, Hector, but you mustn’t be romantic about money.”

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      When touring an old castle in Italy I discovered that the Romeo and Juliet plot–two young people have terrible communication skills and so commit sequential suicide because they think the other is dead, at the end of which they are both dead–is way older than Shakespeare.

      I like to think that it resonates because of the exasperation of dealing with drama prone relatives who are like “Her scarf with blood on it–she has been slain by a lion!!!!!” and their family are like “Or she dropped the scarf and the lion ate a sheep; could you calm down long enough to get more information?”

      1. Clisby*

        Oh, heavens yes, I think you mean the Pyramus and Thisbe story in Greek mythology. I always sort of assumed that was the inspiration for Romeo and Juliet, but of course there could be others.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Totally; Shakespeare made his protagonists much younger than Italian versions of the story; mostly to reflect that impetuous, puberty-ridden LOVE FOREVER AND EVER jolt of passion that older people have lived through already.

      2. Rara Avis*

        Shakespeare used Pyramus and Thisbe twice — the play-within-the-play in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the plot of Romeo andJuliet. Pulling from really old Greek and other myths is pretty common — after a while you begin to think that there are no new stories!

        1. Clisby*

          Yes, it’s the plot of West Side Story.

          And the long-running off-Broadway hit The Fantasticks, which had the added twist that the scheming fathers in the two rival families are just pretending to be enemies because they know that will be an extra attraction to draw their children together.

      3. RagingADHD*

        Aside from The Tempest and Love’s Labors Lost, Shakespeare didn’t invent any of his other plots. He just told them fabulously well, and developed memorable characters.

    6. Texan In Exile*

      I was happy/sad to see that in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland, written in 1915, that pockets on the women’s clothing were abundant in the utopian world of only women.

      But these pockets were so astonishing that the male narrator mentions them two separate times in the story.

      “I see that I have not remarked that these women had pockets in surprising number and variety. They were in all their garments….”

      “As to pockets, they left nothing to be desired. The second garment was fairly quilted with pockets.”

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      Mistaken Identity: Shakespeare was using it in Comedy of Errors and it was old hat then. Comedia dell’arte found it an evergreen trope as well.

      Ditto men dressing as women–since for much of history troupes of performers were all male anyway, cross dressing has been used as a plot point since the earliest Grecian plays.

    8. Nervous Nellie*

      Sure! Everything old is new again. There’s a neat book called The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker wherein he claims that every story you’ve read or seen in film is driven by, well, one of seven basic plots, like ‘the reluctant hero’, and ‘rags to riches’. It’s a trip- I’ve yet to find a story that doesn’t fit one of the seven parameters.

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

      *Tristram Shandy* is basically a post-modern novel (rejecting plot in favor of numerous digressions) written in the 1700s. It’s super cool.

    10. Ms. Murchison*

      Too many to list but the first time I read Evelina (1778) I couldn’t stop laughing because it was packed with tropes I recognized from contemporary romance novels.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        When I read Richardson’s Clarissa I was blown away at the obsession with CLOTHES. Every single character’s choice of garment is exhaustively catalogued and analyzed. Gold vs. Silver buttons becomes a major plot point!

  21. Daisy*

    Cross-cultural advice wanted! Next week I am traveling to visit a friend in Germany. And by ‘in Germany’ I mean, he is German, lives in Germany, and while his English is good on a technical level, he’s never lived in the US or any other English-speaking area, to know the nuances of what the culture and discourse conventions are.

    On my end, my German is generally good enough to make myself understood but I haven’t spent much time living there, either, to really understand the culture.

    Anyway, help, y’all! I’m going to meet his parents, I’m going to his high school reunion (!!!) and I think he’s maybe been doing whatever the German version of flirting is because he remembers everything I say, he pulls dumb and friendly pranks on me, we’ve come up with pet names for each other (‘Kartofelchen’)…and we’ve been texting back and forth for like two hours a day. For, like, weeks.

    Anyway, I would be open to any Germany-specific advice, but also, please give me your favorite cross-cultural-travel face-palm moments. Because I think we can agree on one thing: whatever is happening here, however this goes down, it’s going to be *memorable.*

    1. UKDancer*

      Interesting one. I’m assuming you’re American but say if not. I’m English and have grown up with a lot of German friends and family so have been a lot. I can’t think of many major cultural issues or problems. Germans don’t smile as much as Americans do and tend to be a bit more reserved until they get to know you properly. They can be pretty direct for example if you ask how someone is they may well give you the details of their digestive complaint.

      Health isn’t as much of a sensitive subject. Politics kind of is but it’s less polarised than in the US because there are a lot more coalitions and smaller parties play more a role. I mean we’ve had family friends for years in Germany and I’ve no idea which way they vote because it’s never come up. So I wouldn’t ask who people voted for but it’s fine to ask how politics works and complaints about local government being slow to mend holes in the road are fairly ubiquitous.

      Religion is a thing some people do but is a personal thing and the country is increasingly secular. Nearly half of Germany is Christian (mostly Protestant or Catholic but smaller minorities exist) and nearly half has no religion now. Atheism is more popular in the cities and Christianity in the rural areas in general. Smaller Muslim, Jewish and other minorities exist especially in bigger cities. The general approach is “you do you but don’t go on about it.” So you’re unlikely to be dragged to church (if you’re with people who go) but if you want to practice your religion they’ll probably help you find somewhere.

      This may be less of a thing now but when I was going there growing up in the 1980s and 1990s it wasn’t great to ask about what people / their families did in the second world war. My German godfather was pretty open that he’d been a soldier and prisoner of war in England but it could be a bit more sensitive if people or their families had done things they weren’t proud of. I don’t know, it might not be a thing now that there are a lot fewer of that generation left and it’s less relevant. If you’re in East Germany probably best not to ask people if their family were in the Stasi.

      Language is an interesting one. I tend to use “Sie” for everyone especially older people until I get to know them and am invited to use “Du” because I don’t want to get it wrong. If they want to be less formal they’ll tell you. Some of the dialects have words you won’t find elsewhere so don’t expect everyone to speak German as you learnt it because they probably won’t so you may not understand them (especially in rural areas – I wander through rural Bavaria with a blank look on my face sometimes). Some of the jokes may not work unless you have a very good understanding of German because they’re often linguistic. Also some areas make fun of people from other areas but a lot of this gets lost if you’ve not grown up with it.

      Can’t help with the flirting. I’m no good at flirting with Germans and remember when I was at university in Germany I thought one chap was interested in me and one wanted to be friends and was seeing someone else. Turned out the one I thought was interested in me was gay and the one I thought wanted to be friends was interested in me. It’s the only thing I struggled with over there because cues and body language are different.

      1. Awkwardness*

        I don’t know, it might not be a thing now that there are a lot fewer of that generation left and it’s less relevant. If you’re in East Germany probably best not to ask people if their family were in the Stasi.

        I’d shy away from all questions regarding politics, war or military for a first meeting. The perception of military service is different in Germany.

        Just take all the work safe topics as food, your travel, public transport, the difficult language, the different dimensions (distance, age of architecture etc.), the weather. If somebody has been to the US before they will happily tell you.

    2. Moog Moog Space Barber*

      I’ve lived in Germany for the last few years; here are some random thoughts that may be helpful:

      – Be sure to greet everyone individually when you walk into a room full of people. Handshakes are common.
      – Germans are much more candid about discussing money and financial matters, so don’t be surprised.
      – If you run out of conversation topics, a lot of Germans will fall back on ‘route talk’ i.e. logistics, pricing, and various advantages and disadvantages of how to get places.
      – I’ve found that people also like to talk about regional dialects and will probably be happy to teach you some words/phrases if you’re speaking to them in German.
      – German customer service has a reputation for surliness, but I’ve usually been able to head it off by starting conversations with “Entschuldigung, mein Deutsch ist sehr schlecht, aber…“
      – Bring comfortable waterproof walking shoes and dress in layers.

      Enjoy your time in Germany!

    3. happybat*

      I was talking with a Dutch friend (I’m Scottish) and we agreed that Germans are often quite sensitive and emotional, even though they may seem blunt initially. I know that a German acquaintance of mine was really hurt because he took common British social lies like ‘Let’s get coffee sometime!’ as genuine offers of friendship. I felt TERRIBLE.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Visited child who was working in Germany. We got on the wrong train (an express rather than a local?) and the conductor lit into us when he saw we had the wrong tickets. (We are a family of tall blond people and look very German/Nordic.) When he paused for breath we did our “Um, American, confused, English?” thing and everything flipped, we were just confused tourists and he would guide us to where we needed to be.

      So like other places, people expect you to understand the norms–but once they realize you are a visitor that changes the context of why you don’t know the norms and they will be much more patient.

      Kind of like here, the importance of signaling that you recognize business norms, either by fitting into them or by providing a quick explanation early in the interaction for why you are seemingly outside of them. People who are not here for your aggressive quirkiness can become very patient when they realize the context is different.

        1. office hobbit*

          Cosigned, eat as many pretzels as you can because you will miss them for years.

    5. Anima/Aniimat*

      German here!
      “German version of flirting” had me crack up, so funny, and yeah: That might actually be the German version of flirting, but Germans can be so understatet about that, you’ll never know until the first kiss. (Great device that is, but I myself am regularly puzzled if someone is flirting with me right now.)
      For tips: the highschool reunion might just have fallen in the same weekend and he decided to take you there so he doesn’t miss it, you are basically tagging along to a pre-existing commitment. I myself don’t go to any reunions, but my dad does and it should be fun.
      When you are at his parents, and they give you any type of food (coffee, Abendbrot (dinner), help a bit in the kitchen. Even if you just carry the dishes to the counter top, parents *love* that.
      Otherwise, as others have written, good conversation topics are transportation, either by train or car, you can talk about your flight and you’ll be good. Also pets, everyone loves pets, and if they never had any you can talk about which pet they would always liked to keep.
      Politics is a bit of a heated topic in some regions, if it’s Eastern Germany or Bavaria you might want to nod along but not contribute (grey rock), if its not interesting for you the topic might naturally change.
      Language wise: I suspect your friend will translate if you encounter people who don’t speak English well. My sister and I give abbreviated translations for her English boyfriend if my family talks in German between us for a longer time so he’s not left out, maybe you can find a solution like that.
      Have fun and yes, please update! :)

    6. fposte*

      I really love Uyen Ninh’s YouTube channel (she may also have an TikTok, etc.) about being Vietnamese and moving to Germany to live with her boyfriend, now fiancé. She’s incredibly sweet and very funny about things that surprised her about Germany, and they’ve been very enlightening to me as an American as well. So you might enjoy looking at those.

      1. Isobel*

        Yes, she’s great – I first encountered her on Instagram. Similarly Liam Carpenter (I think he’s @liamcarps on Instagram) who’s from the UK but has been living in Germany for some time. His posts are mostly making fun of German stereotype (and the clueless British guy) but like most stereotypes there’s some underlying truths demonstrated.

    7. Abroad again*

      Oh gosh, I wish we could go out for warm drinks because I’m sure I would have some great stories and advice, but I suspect I won’t be able to type everything up well in the time I have.
      Some random thoughts in no particular order:
      -Greetings are very important in German culture! Greetings can be really short, though (“Hallo” for example, instead of “Hi how are you fine how are you etc.”) Generally, as a non native speaker, it works well to follow other people’s leads on this, so I always just responded warmly back with a version of what they said.
      -Meeting people for the first time often includes a handshake. Also, sometimes greetings between people just includes a handshake. Follow other people’s leads here.
      -Germans are blunt, which makes Americans and Brits sometimes think they are callous, but they’re usually really nice people under all the gruffness. Most folks are more than willing to help out and will cut you slack for being non-native. Also for really terrible language blunders. (Oh gosh, done that.) You probably have an accent, so they’ll know.
      -Red parts of sidewalks (painted or red brick) are bicycle lanes. If you are on foot, get out of the way.
      -If you need a topic of conversation, the weather, the local stuff and soccer are good picks. Also, language and anything harmless or positive that you have noticed as a foreigner.
      -Some Germans think their country/region/town is terrible. I’ve never understood this, but be prepared for “Why did you come here?!” questions. Some other Germans swing entirely the other way and think their region/town is the best and will give you a lecture on why. Occasionally, the lecture gets personal (my country/ region/town is better than yours because ____”). I’ve always tried to squint and reframe this as they care and they want to share. Some don’t realize how it is landing. The folks who mean it personally aren’t going to be your close friends anyway. Glassbowls exist everywhere.
      -With flirting… Well, we both mutually missed each other’s signals entirely for a long while, ascribing flirting behavior to the other’s different cultural norms. I finally just asked if he was in to me. He said yes. We smooched. Worked out for us: we’ve been together for 16 years and married for 10.
      -Bridging the cultural gap was absolutely a challenge early in the relationship, but we got through it with lots of communication. I’m a bubbly slightly touchy-feely sort of person, even more so back when I met my husband. He was weirded out that I hugged people all the time. I am also from a huggy part of the world. We just talked a lot about what it meant and why and all that. The first time he came to visit and my mother dived in for that first greeting hug was really awkward but also really funny. He got it even better after that.
      -Meeting parents is as varied and fraught (or not) a transaction in Germany as it is elsewhere. You’re going to have to wing it and there’s no great way to prepare. I did fine, but was also entirely petrified.
      -German humor tends to be very negative. It has taken a long while, but I’ve really come to love and appreciate it. As with all humor, it is so hard to explain. David Foster Wallace had a lovely essay about trying to teach undergrad Americans Kafka and how none of them got the humor in it. If all the Germans are laughing about something that sounds terrible, don’t automatically think that they are all glassbowls.

      Ive got to go now, good luck! It’ll be a fantastic adventure, no matter how it goes.

  22. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    We watched the movie Jungle Cruise this week (I love it, it’s got big The Mummy vibes and also is full of Dwayne Johnson making goofy dad jokes) and I realized- naturally after we finished watching – that one of the special features on Disney+ for that particular movie is a visual trivia track, a la pop-up video. This is one of my favorite styles of special feature, and it’s not terribly common.

    Question: What, if any, other movies have you seen that feature on, either streaming or on disc?

    1. PollyQ*

      Buckaroo Bonzai. They take it an extra level by pretending that the movie is not fiction, but a docu-drama, leading to things like stories of how Perfect Tommy and the actor who played him would go out clubbing together. Much fun!

  23. The Dude Abides*

    UK peeps, how popular is the game show Pointless?

    I forget how it ended up in my YouTube recs, but now I listen to and play along with classic episodes on long drives, and am obsessed. I’d also love to see a US version at some point.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      It’s on BBC1 before the news around 5.15pm so in our house it’s the kind of thing we watch while settling in for the evening. We have early dinners on Friday, so Friday pizza + Pointless have become a bit of a routine. It’s a pretty good twist that the answers must be obscure but whenever they have celebrity episodes, the “Pointless Celebrities” title always strikes me as really funny.

      1. Phryne*

        I’m in the Netherlands, so one hour ahead of the UK, which means pointless is more or less around dinner time for me. As I live alone and eating in silence while I stare at the wall is not my thing, it is pretty much my steady dinner companion.
        I’m sure there has been mention on the show that it is very popular in the NL. BBC one and two being standard channels to have and many Dutch people knowing enough English to not need subtitles, so I’m obviously not the only one who does this. :)

    2. Cordelia*

      very popular, in a kind of “its always there” way rather than something people talk about. It’s on in the late afternoon, I don’t usually get home in time but might catch it occasionally. Whereas my retired mother will settle down to watch it every evening before dinner, part of her routine. Richard Osman’s not on it any more though and I haven’t really enjoyed it since he left.

    3. londonedit*

      I’d say less popular than it was when it started (it’s been going several years now) simply because it’s a familiar thing now, whereas to start with it was really new and unique and clever. But it’s still pretty popular – I usually have it on in the background when I finish work and am pottering around tidying up before I start on dinner, because it’s on at 5:15 so it’s one of those light early evening programmes that’s fun but not too demanding.

  24. Unemployed in Greenland.*

    That is such a lovely photo of Wallace! He found a superlative beam of sunlight – clever kitty!

    1. Awkwardness*

      The photo is absolutely amazing. The greyish color palette, focus on the eyes, the depth of field. So well done!

  25. YHGTBK*

    I watched it last weekend in New Zealand. Hmmm. It was worthy, by telling their story it honored those ordinary good people who were treated so badly. While there was resolution in the end watching case after case of arrogant dishonest mistreatment was hard work. There have been many David vs. Goliath movies and series that are ‘good television’ or ‘good movies’. I suspect the people who made this did not want to dishonor actual experiences and let it reflect what happened rather than work it into ‘entertainment’. It may have been better as a documentary. We have an investigative report on what happened tonight and I am looking forward to that.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        When Mr Bates versus The Post Office was broadcast, it went out on 4 consecutive nights, with the 5th night being a companion documentary.

        1. YHGTBK*

          It was broadcast a little differently here in New Zealand. The series over two consecutive nights and ‘the real story’ a week later (last night). The real story helped round out the series, hearing the real people talk was poignant.

  26. RussianInTexas*

    Not really a question, more a rant. I am scheduled for the routine colonoscopy and optional (let’s see if you still need it) endoscopy for the upcoming Tuesday.
    Got an estimate from the gastroenterologist for both, $2800.
    Me: WTF? huh this is what’s left of my annual deductible.
    Call Aetna. Aetna: well they are not in network.
    Me: I was there a month ago they were in network. It’s the same building, side door.
    Aetna: nope, not in network. The doctor in network, hospital in network, room 100 is not, even though the room 100 is the party of the same Gastroenterology Associates suite, just their surgery room. Also, we only cover anesthesiologist after your deductible is met.
    Me: screw that. The endo was optional anyway, the doctor said call a week prior if you want to cancel, my antacids and diet seem to work.
    Call the hospital to cancel the endo part. Ask if the colonoscopy is in network. The scheduler says “we would not schedule you otherwise, but here, call billing”.
    Call billing, they say: WTH you are in network for everything.
    3 more phone calls and I at least don’t owe anything for the routine colonoscopy. The their Aetna person agreed that the room inside the hospital that is in network inside the suite that is in network with the doctor that is in network is actually in network. Even though I went to two doctors in the same campus (huge campus) with two different street numbers, and was in network, they only had the main street number as “in network”, and the first two Aetna persons could not understand how there could be different street numbers.

    1. PhyllisB*

      I feel your pain. When I had my hip replacement in a clinic about two hours away I was scheduled to go to their local hospital ahead of time for a catscan ( I don’t if it’s written that way.) When I was halfway there I got a call telling me not to come because my insurance wouldn’t pay for it, calling it an “unnecessary procedure andthatit wasoutofnetwork.
      Theweird.” So I turned around and went home. About a week later I get a call from the surgeon’s office wanting to know why this wasn’t done. I explained what happened and they were like ??? The nurse got on the phone and called our local imaging center and they checked and said said of course it’s a necessary/approved procedure. So off I went to them for test. A win for me because it was only across town instead of a two hour drive, but my thoughts were, “First of all, if this could be scheduled locally, why send me to the out of town location?” And the second thought was, “I wish you people (insurance) would get your act together!!”
      The weirdest thing was, I had to go to said hospital a week before surgery for blood tests and routine workup. It was approved with no problems (I called to be certain this time.)

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Arooo! (That’s me howling in sympathy because your saga has me *speechless*.) Yes, I recently had the same WTF moment when I realized that it’s not the practice office but the individual care provider who has to be in networ,.
      What a bunch of low-lifes in your insurance company!! And mine! And those for everybody else! A plague on all of them.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I’m Texas, where I am, physicians cannot be hired by a hospital, they can only have privileges in one. Friend used to work for a hospital in a non medical capacity, a doctor she was seeing had a practice in her hospital and was in network. But his outpatient was in another hospital, and while that hospital was still in network, the outpatient facility was not, even though the doctor was. She had to switch her doctor.

    3. Blomma*

      Been there and it’s infuriating!
      After I broke my ankle I had about 35 PT appointments. UnitedHealthcare processed every single one of those appointments as out of network. I thought that was weird because I’d been going to the same PT office and same provider earlier in the year for something else and it was in network but was in too much pain to fight it. Turns out the PT *was* still in network so they reprocessed all the claims. Of course that was after I’d already overpaid the PT office by several thousand dollars.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Uggghhhhhh. My dad was a doctor and trying to get payment from insurance companies was like Franz Kafka: The Home Game. You get people whose entire job is to swear blind that the building you are standing in and the person you are scheduled to meet do not exist.

    5. Nervous Nellie*

      “Their Aetna person agreed that the room inside the hospital that is in network inside the suite that is in network with the doctor that is in network is actually in network.” Wow. If my head hurts from reading that, I am sure yours does too. An emphatic thumbs-down for American health care.

      That sentence sounds like the song, The Hole in the Bottom of the Sea. I suggest you put your sentence to music and sing it in the waiting room over and over on colonoscopy day. Wishing you good health!

  27. Harriet J*

    A letter to Miss Manners today about a new neighbor calling someone by the wrong name reminded me of the nicest thing the previous owner’s of the house left for us – a diagram of the neighborhood with everyone’s names neatly printed.
    What is something that helped you settle into a new neighborhood?

    1. the cat's ass*

      The lovely folks who sold us our home had a cocktail party for us! So we got a chance to meet all the nabes.

    2. Texan In Exile*

      I left a list of repair people, copies of warranties, instructions how to replace the set screw in the attic fan, and a bottle of wine for the guy who bought my Memphis house in 2008.

      When I went back to Memphis to see friends last fall, we stopped by my old house. Before listing my house, I had ripped out the cottage garden that took 60% of the front yard and replaced it with grass, only to discover that the new owner had seen the house before I did that work and not only wanted the garden, but ripped out the new sod and made an even bigger garden.

      I told him how much I loved what he had done with the yard and he told me that when he moved in, before he planted the new garden, a man across the street – a Republican prosecutor, who I don’t think I knew – came over to meet him and express happiness that “That Hippie and Her Yard were gone.”

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

    3. just here for the scripts*

      I used to give new residents in my apartment floor takeout menus of our favorite neighborhood places

    4. The Dude Abides*

      We moved into our house in the summer, so just being outside meant that we got to meet a lot of the neighborhood.

      That being said, it would have been nice to get more than a week’s notice that one next door neighbor was about to become a US Rep. Nothing against her as a person, but whenever they host a fundraiser, I have to pull into the drive gingerly to avoid damaging cars that cost more than my annual salary.

  28. PhyllisB*

    Y’all I have a bit of a moral dilemma and would like some advice.
    There is a young man in our church who went to prison for obstructing justice while serving in the military. (Don’t know anymore details. Not that I need to.) He served his term, got early parole for good behavior (his sentence was I think 18 months and he was released after 11 or 12.) We all gave him emotional support, writing to him and encouraging him along the way and reminding him we loved him, were praying for him, and looked forward to him returning to us.
    He’s back home, working and last week proposed to his girlfriend at the beginning of our church service. (She said yes thankfully!!) We couldn’t be happier for them.
    Here is where the dilemma is. I was talking about this with one of my friends at church about how well things turned out, and she said that she heard he went to prison for being involved with an underage girl (the one who he’s now engaged to.) My friend said her father pressed charges against him.
    Now I don’t believe this for several reasons, one being the prison term for that is a lot longer than 18 months and the second, why would her family allow them to still see each other and get engaged if this were true? I know when this happens, you are not allowed any contact with the underage person or you get sent back to jail. I had this happen to a family member years ago, and if he is even in a restaurant she’s in he has to leave.
    I’m ashamed to say I didn’t really dispute what she was saying because I was so shocked. I just listened.
    What I’m wondering is, if I should go to our pastor and tell him what she said and ask him to talk to her? Try to see if I can find out what really happened and tell her myself? Or just leave it alone?
    Now I realize this is absolutely none of my business even if it is true, but if it’s NOT true, I would hate to see this young man being slandered and have his reputation ruined because of a vicious rumor. Suggestions?

      1. anon_sighing*

        Exactly. I feel comment OP is verging on being as over-involved as the gossip.

        Whether it’s true or not, who cares? He’s engaged to this person and I’m reading between the lines but it sounds like the family has come to terms with it, no matter the circumstances. Also, not to contribute to gossip, but he was charged with obstructing justice. Likely course of events, assuming the truth is between the gossip and comment OP, the was father lodged a complaint that this man was seeing his underage child, they tried to investigate the claim, man did something dumb by not being honest or hiding evidence (he panicked, I supposed), got caught for lying even if their investigation found insuffienct evidence of misconduct on the original charge, got sentenced for obstuction, fin. Not sure where comment OP’s personal anecdote even comes in — there were no charges filed against the man for lewd conduct with a minor.

        Either way, dead it. This situation is messy enough without drawing attention to his relationship with a minor (I assume he’s around early 20s and minor was 17 or something. Or I hope.)

        1. PhyllisB*

          I will leave it alone, but my understanding of his charge was this was in relation to something that happened on duty onboard a submarine.
          I get your point that this not my battle to fight, but I don’t appreciate being labeled as “overinvolved.” THIS is why I was reaching out for advice before trying to intervene.
          I’ll leave it here; I don’t want to be a busybody I just don’t want to see a young man’s future ruined because of gossip.

          1. anon_sighing*

            Respectfully, I said “verging” because your first instinct wasn’t to let it be.

            Personally, I’d just tell the guy what’s going around if there was real harm from any of this so he can decided what he wants to do. But I am failing to see how church gossip will ruin his future. The man just served a sentence for obstructing justice while serving in the military. He made a huge mistake and I think he realizes there will be ripple effects to that beyond time served. I think his future has been effected by that the most. Otherwise, he’s got his girl, the family’s buy in, and a supportive community. Just because she’s gossiping doesn’t mean anyone believes her, by the way. Just like you were there and quietly knew the truth, there is a chance people are going “wow, that’s very inappropriate to share and none of our business” unless gossiping has caused real harm at your church before — in which case, get the pastor involved.

          2. Ellis Bell*

            I would be really concerned about this too; I think the topic makes it serious. What I usually do when I’m confronted by misinformation that seems really incorrect and groundless is I ask the person what their source is. If people try to handwave it off as they “heard” or that they can’t tell you who told them, I say “That’s too serious an accusation to be repeated without a solid source”. I know you didn’t say any of this in the moment, and I wouldn’t necessarily pick at it again or give it airtime, if it was a one off comment. I would just be ready to query it if it happened again. I’d also be alert to how this friend generally treats news and reputations now you’ve seen a warning flag. In short, silent monitoring.

    1. Emma*

      You can often look up charges against someone if you really want to know. If it’s a state charge, then you can check to see if your city/county circuit court has a website, and often they’ll have a database. You typically have to know the city or county they were charged in.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      Tell your pastor, but don’t suggest actions or ask for more info, outcomes or updates.

      Your pastor is the ‘boss’ of your church and somewhat responsible for church culture. He deserves to know what’s going on and has the standing (and hopefully training) to address the issue. But like you said, it’s not your business directly, so you don’t have standing to know the outcome. Just let it go and interact with this young man and his fiancee based on your history with them.

      I would be *very* cautious about the woman who told you this, and take anything you hear about from her or people close to her with a mountain of salt. And prep a nice little “hmm, that doesn’t match what I’ve seen” when around them.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Agree. This is meanspirited gossip, and it is poison in a church. The pastor should know so he can address it.

        IIRC, you’re in Alabama, right? So in order for the relationship to be illegal she would have had to be under 16 and he would have to be more than 2 years older. She probably would have had to testify against him (since there wasn’t a baby to do a paternity test). And you are correct about the sentence – it’s a minimum of 2 years. Unless, of course the gossip is suggesting that the girl was under 12? That’s even more outlandish that he’d be allowed anywhere near her, plus an even longer sentence.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Edit: just to clarify, even if it were true, it is meanspirited gossip and this woman shouldn’t be running around trying to undermine people. And the pastor should make it clear that gossip is Not Okay.

          1. Gemstones*

            If it’s true, is it really gossip? I guess I don’t see why people can’t talk about a guy being arrested/convicted for statutory rape if that’s what happened…

            1. RagingADHD*

              At the time I made that comment, I was under the impression that (if true) it was likely two young people very close in age, in which case since he already served his time and the family had reconciled, there was nothing but prurient interest or spite to rehashing it.

              Having seen the update and done the math, I agree there’s a lot more space for concern if it were true.

            2. fhqwhgads*

              I think in this scenario it’s definitely gossip because it seems like no one knows what actually happened? Until the women in question started saying “she heard it was for statutory rape” the congregation was under the impression it was for obstruction of justice. At least that’s how I read the OP. Like, if it were “I looked it up in public records and…” or “I saw in the newspaper and…” or whatever, not gossip. But “hey I heard…” sure as hell sounds like gossip.

    3. Cicely*

      I think you should trust and accept that these people are adults and leave it at that.

      I mean, how is his reputation yours to manage?

    4. Harriet J*

      Love the suggested response “That doesn’t fit with the behavior I’ve seen” or something like that.

      If this rumor was true, it may have been a case of an 18 or 19 year old dating a 17 year old (or whatever the legal age is in your state). Sometimes the parents don’t approve and press charges even though it is a consensual relationship. They might even have been students in the same high school.
      Your presumption that the sentence would have been longer and he would not allowed to contact the victim is not always correct. Each case is different and the sentencing judge may have taken the circumstances and the victim’s wishes into account.

      More importantly, I hope everyone minds their own business and wishes the couple a long and happy marriage. Wouldn’t it be nice if people would focus on who we are now and not past mistakes?

    5. office hobbit*

      Depending on laws where you are, if this were true, he may be required to register as a sex offender and you may be able to access the sex offender registry to see if he’s in there.

      1. PhyllisB*

        To respond to others’ speculation: No, I’m not in Alabama but close. I don’t really know the ages of the two, according to Ms. Gossip, he’s 29 and she’s 17. Or was 17 when he was charged, not sure which.
        I did say a version of that’s not what I heard but didn’t really want to encourage her to share more.
        As I said earlier, I have a family member who was charged with this; he was 26 and the girl was 15. (He thought she was 18.) He was sentenced to 15 years, but he was able to get probation instead, and he is on the sex offender list (in our state, you stay on it for life.) I don’t know any of the details of what happened because this was a distant relative, but I do know he has been evicted from several apartments because of being on the sex offender list.
        I don’t really want to get involved in someone’s life, and I’m not wanting to manage his reputation, I just keep thinking if I or one of my children were going through this and someone was spreading false information, I would hope someone would stand up for us.
        I’ll let this go, but it makes me sad to think that a woman that I consider a good friend would take such pleasure in spreading something like this.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          The thing is, you don’t know somebody is spreading false information. If you did, then yes, you should probably give them the facts, though even then it probably wouldn’t do any good. But as it is, it is 50/50 whether she is lying or telling the truth or more likely 40% she is mistaken and speaking in good faith about something she truly believes but which is untrue, 40% she is giving you accurate information and 20% she is lying.

          You don’t know and it sounds like you don’t know for sure about your distant relative too. You cannot really know whether or not he believed she was 18. He may have, but if he did deliberately abuse her, he would say that too, so again, it’s probably 50/50 and the court probably has more information than you do.

          I know it’s hard when you are faced with what feels like a false allegation and you want to say, “but I’m sure they’re innocent,” but the reality is, you are as unlikely to be wrong as the other person and like I said, it should be easy enough for anybody close to them to figure out whether she is enough younger than him and close enough to childhood for it to be unlikely she could give informed consent to their relationship. If the story is untrue, then clearly his wife is far too old to have been a child when he went to prison.

          1. Me*

            Yes, this, exactly! Just because OP doesn’t believe something to be true, doesn’t make it so. Because this is a past event that OP was not involved in, and not one currently going on where a minor may need help, OP has zero standing to correct or fix anyone’s reputation based on her beliefs.

        2. RagingADHD*

          Oh, wow. 29 and 17/18?

          That does put a different complexion on your friend’s concerns.

          It’s still not good for the culture of the church if she is making up stuff about him being convicted of statutory rape and presenting it as truth. But it is less farfetched.

        3. Gemstones*

          Not sure how your family member’s story is relevant…or are you saying you’re sympathetic to someone who’s convicted of a sex offense because you know someone who is? It seems like your sympathies may be misplaced…

          1. Anonymouse jr*

            She said that to try to distinguish between what a prison sentence would be for a sex offense (statutory rape) and the crime she thinks he went to prison for. There’s nothing in the comment to suggest she is sympathetic to sex offenders.

    6. Irish Teacher.*

      I’d leave it alone. It should be easy enough for people to find out if it is true or not based on their current ages. If say he is 30 and she 18 or 19, then the odds are they were dating when she was at an age where any adult has a lot of power over you, whereas if he is 23 and she 21, then even if they did have sex when she was underage, it is far less likely there was coercion involved.

      If people are passing around this information without even checking, then they are likely to pass it on regardless of what you do or say. Those are people who just want gossip. And the sort of people who would listen to you if you found out it was untrue could easily find out for themselves, perhaps not whether or not he was charged, but whether the person he is dating is enough younger than him and close enough to childhood that it is questionable whether she is an equal partner.

      I think your intention is good. You don’t want people passing around lies about him. But msot decent people won’t just believe lies if they contradict the facts they can see. If he is marrying an adult woman who would have been well over the age of consent when he went to jail, then nobody reasonable is going to believe it. If he is marrying somebody much the same age as him, even if they are both only slightly above the age of consent, then people probably won’t judge too harshly. If she is barely over the age of consent and he ten years older, then I think most people would have concerns even without the rumours.

      You don’t know the truth and have no influence over those spreading the rumours, if that is what they are. And I wouldn’t necessarily assume that your reasons for doubting make it impossible the story is true. It may well be untrue but it is not uncommon for a “nice young man with a good career in front of him” to get a very short sentence or even no sentence at all abusing an underage girl because “we don’t want to ruin his life and hey, maybe she wanted it.” And the rules after being released can differ from one situation to the next, especially if we assume the girl is now of age. And assuming she is now of age, her family would not have any say in allowing her to see him or get engaged. Adults can do as they wish.

      But it sounds like others have access to the same or more information than you do, so it’s not your job to refute or confirm this. Trust that the truth will come out. It usually does, at least among those who know him personally.

    7. Observer*

      Or just leave it alone?

      Leave it alone. There is simply no way y0u are going to get good results.

      1. She’s right. I think the problem here is obvious. On the other hand, if she’s old enough to get married, and they both actually want to get married, I think that this is more of a statutory issue than actual crime.

      2. She’s wrong and she knows she’s wrong. I can’t see any way you can stop her from spreading gossip. But digging for more information risks supporting her gossip and spreading the issue.

      3. She’s wrong but is just being careless. The issue of making noted above (spreading it even more) still applies. And you’re not likely to convince her to back off at this point, because she’s likely to be defensive.

  29. Parentially*

    To parents of multiples, if you knew then what you knew now about raising more than one child, would you have stuck with one kid? Do you regret having multiple kids due to the sheer logistics? I’m on the fence, either thinking of having another when I’m 40 (had a kid later) with a sizable age gap…or just my one who is very much a high energy child. A family member had 2 kids and one had high health needs which contributed to their divorce. But my cousin’s a working mom of 3 and thriving.

    1. Emma*

      I have kids with a 5 year age gap. The youngest is not quite a year, so I’m not that far into this. But I love it, even though it’s hard right now (babies are just so work intensive!). I think the larger age gap is actually helpful – they still play together, but the oldest is more independent.

      But my husband and I were really on the same page about trying for a second kid. We had issues after our first, and went to therapy, so we really were committed to working together with #2, so partner has been supportive. I think for us, being on the same page was really important for making it a good experience.

    2. Not A Manager*

      I don’t think you can game this out. I had two kids with a 5 year age gap, and I never regretted it. But I had a good support network, an involved spouse, and sufficient resources. I also experienced a life-changing, terrible crisis just before my second child’s birth. If I hadn’t had all the other support structures in place, I could imagine a very very different outcome, both in terms of my own experience as a parent, and also in terms of my children’s wellbeing.

      I guess my questions to you are first, do you *want* to have a second child? Not like, you think you should, or the window is closing, but internally do you just want another child? And second, if things in your life don’t go swimmingly for whatever reason (job change, health issue, relationship issue), do you have *some* amount of cushion? If you’re maxed out right now financially, emotionally, relationally, socially, then it might not be wise to undertake another significant responsibility (and, to be honest, possible source of stress). But if you feel that you have some flex in your situation, AND you would just love to have another child, then again, all I can say is my children are truly the light of my life, and I’ve never regretted them for a moment.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      My kids have a 5.5 year gap. This worked out well because they are each quite competitive in their own way, and with that big a gap it was clear the older could read better, run faster, etc.

      Spouse has siblings 12 and 13 years older, and he’s closer to each than they are to each other. There is no magic gap where they are likely to be close or distant. I will note that the whole family openly acknowledges that his dad did a much better job with the youngest–he had mellowed a lot.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Nope, ours came closer together than we planned, but they are both awesome and we wouldn’t change a thing. We went back and forth for a few years about maybe trying for #3, but it just never was feasible. I’m a bit sorry about that, and if we had had another “surprise” we would have just made it work somehow. But given our circumstances at the time, it’s for the best.

    5. Clisby*

      No. I was 42 when our daughter was born. My husband and I always wanted another child, but of course once you get into your 40s it’s a crapshoot. We were just about to give up, when at age 47 I got pregnant, and had our son at age 48. We were thrilled. Our daughter … was not. However, she didn’t get a vote, and now she and her brother are quite close. We could have embraced having 3 (we’re both from much larger families), but since nobody showed up in that 6-year gap, that was out.

      But everybody’s situation is different. Ours was easier than for many since by that time, I had been working 100% remotely for several years. And by the luck of the draw, neither of our children had any unusual medical problems, etc.

    6. Rara Avis*

      My kiddo had a friend whose mother had #2 10 years later. The kids adore each other (most of the time.) The mom found parenting much much harder in an older body — the sleep deprivation, the toting a toddler on a hike, etc.

      1. Clisby*

        I’m sure I’d have had a lot more energy in my 20s (or even 30s). However, I had no desire for children in those decades, and would have been a single parent, which for me at least would have sucked.

        In my 40s, I had (1) WAY more patience; (2) WAY more financial security; and, of course, the all-important factor that in my 40s I wanted them.

    7. Mom of 3*

      I definitely don’t regret having more than one, but it can be really overwhelming. It ebbs and flows and depends on the stage of life/kids’ ages and personalities. In theory I would love to have more but 1) our finances suck right now and 2) I don’t know if I could handle it (definitely not right now and I feel really wary about the future). But I’m not getting any younger
      …it feels like it’s only going to get harder.
      Our oldest is kind of “a lot” (behavioral issues) but I don’t think having him as an only would have been helpful, at least for us.

  30. Come On Eileen*

    Have any of you taken a “fall colors cruise” through New England/Canada – and if so, can you recommend whichever trip you took? Looking to do it this fall with my mom, who is turing 80 as I turn 50. So far Norwegian Cruise Lines is looking the best, but I honestly don’t kow how to pick which week of Sept or Oct to see the best colors (or if you can’t reall predict exactly when tree colors will start turning). We are hoping to do a 7 day cruise.

    1. Maryn*

      There are maps showing fall foliage peaks for the US. It’s probably too early for 2024 maps, but a 2023 map will give you a pretty good idea. I’m thinking September is probably too early but early to mid-October might be gorgeous.

    2. Squidhead*

      Upstate NYer with family in VT: 1st to 2nd week in October is usually the best for fall colors in VT. I’m not sure how the weather along the Maine/Nova Scotia/PEI coast differs, though. My guess would be: Google peak foliage from previous years OR look at the price for each set of dates they offer; if there’s one that’s more expensive, that’s probably the one they think will have the best colors!

      Fall colors are very dependent on the summer rain/drought. Some years are brilliant and other years just fade to muted golds and browns. And then also a big windstorm can come through and blow them all down early, so do your best and cross your fingers!

    3. Lazy Turtle*

      We did a Holland America cruise from Boston to Quebec City last year Sept 22-30. Weather was nice and there was some color but probably a bit later would have been more colorful.

    4. DreamOfWinter*

      Chiming in from Way Downeast Maine – here on the far eastern Maine coast it’s hard to go wrong with the Oct 1- 16 timeframe, unless we get a nasty wind storm that knocks all the leaves off. Enjoy your cruise! If it stops at Eastport, I have recommendations :)

  31. Emma*

    I have someone I’m friendly with who may be getting a divorce sometime soon (not her choice). She has 2 kids around age 7 and 10, and her husband is planning to move out of state. She’s the breadwinner, and I doubt her husband will send her much money, if any, in the future.

    Any recommendations for how to be supportive to her? She has family that live a few hours away, but no one local.

    1. LizB*

      My first thought is, if you can, be a backup childcare resource. That obviously depends on how close you are with the family, how comfortable you are with kids, and whether your own schedule is amenable. But if all the stars align on those things, be a person who can jump in and babysit when she’s got a big presentation and suddenly kiddo has thrown up at school and needs to be picked up. Be a person who can drive kid 1 to soccer practice once a week when the timing conflicts with kid 2’s band practice. Come hang out for two hours on a Saturday so she can go to a coffee shop or run an errand by herself. That kind of help is truly priceless.

      If that’s not a good option for any reason, maybe look into getting her a subscription to instacart+ or shipt (Target’s same-day delivery service) to give her an easy way to get groceries and other last minute supplies without leaving the house? Much more hands off but still hugely helpful.

      1. chocolate muffins*

        Yes, help with childcare is the first thing I thought of for a newly single parent. Also anything else you can do to help with the logistics of running a household. Can you drop off meals for them, arrange a meal train, or send some gift cards that they can use to order delivery? Would they find it helpful for you to do their laundry sometimes? That kind of stuff.

        For emotional support, when my friends are going through it, I offer to talk and then mostly don’t ask specific questions in case they don’t want to think about it. I check in on a regular basis though, sometimes with open question (“how are you”) and sometimes texting them funny videos or a message that says “thinking of you” that they can respond to if they want but there’s no question there so a response isn’t necessary if they are not feeling up for it. Perhaps the person you know might appreciate something similar?

    2. Generic Name*

      If you truly want to support her, take sides. Don’t be a “Switzerland friend” and try to be friends with both. When I went through my divorce, my friends circled around me and held me up. They were all “screw that asshole” and protected and supported me. I still get teary thinking about it.

      Also, I’d refrain from giving your friend any legal advice and suggest she consult with a lawyer. If child support is owed to her, and she isn’t getting it, the courts don’t take kindly to that, but that’s a legal matter. But if she is the breadwinner, she may actually owe her ex maintenance/alimony payments. So it’s best to get qualified legal advice.

    3. Medical Librarian*

      Either in addition to offering childcare or in place of that, you could be the friend who goes to coffee or talks on the phone or whatever to give her a space to vent and/or not think about her current life situation.

    4. Chaordic One*

      I disagree with the advice about taking sides and not being a “Switzerland friend.” Be supportive of your friend and spend time with her. She might just need someone to talk to. Let her vent, cry and rage if that’s what she wants to do. Agree with her if she says what a jerk her husband is, how cruel, how mean, how petty, how whatever. But avoid making direct comments about her husband and don’t talk trash about him in front of your friend. (And yes, that may be very hard to do because he probably is a big jerk.) I’ve been in situations where I’ve supported friends through divorce, and then they get back together with their exes and dropped me as a friend. In the unlikely event that something like that happens, you don’t want to be the dropped friend.

      The advice about babysitting is very good. I was once able to work out an arrangement with another friend where we would take turns with one of us babysitting our divorcing friend’s children and the other one of us taking her out for coffee and quick trip to a shop or something like that.

  32. Jules the 3rd*

    I showed my teen-aged son Friday’s column, and now he’s hooked. He may even have forwarded the link to some of his friends…. AAM, The Next Generation…

    1. Anonymous cat*

      Cool! Is he teenager or adult?

      I ask bc I was thinking of myself—in high school I would have thought of it as a peek into the mysterious World of Adults.

      In college I would have been frantically absorbing knowledge how to behave in the full time work world I was about to enter. (And felt unprepared for.)

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Teenager / minor. He’s in high school, but not applying for colleges yet. He was definitely in the ‘peek at MWoA’ mode.

        The work world he’s going to enter has changed so much in the last four years that we’re not talking about norms much. I’ve been wfh off and on for almost 20 years, so he has that model at least.

  33. Invisible fish*

    Best all inclusive vacation you’ve taken? Location, cost, and activities don’t matter- I want to both research current viable options and determine how to make the others possible in the future.

    1. Dr. Doll*

      Alaska cruise with American Cruise Lines last summer. The small ship was far, far more enjoyable than one of the behemoths. It was looooovely not to worry about meals or anything else for 11 days. Perfect for being totally unplugged. Also, we really enjoyed the small towns we stopped at.

    2. Not A Manager*

      All-inclusive dude ranch in the U.S. A wide range of free activities (trail rides, nature hikes, dirt bikes, art classes, yoga, etc.), very good food with both buffet options and table service, included children’s program/babysitting, and fun-for-the-whole-family kitch experiences like cookouts, bonfires, outdoor games. The only additional costs were alcohol, spa services and private lessons/experiences.

    3. All-inclusive hiker*

      Not 100% all inclusive (drinks were extra), but the guided Coast to Coast walk across England operated by Badger Adventures. My daily to-do list was
      -Eat (anything on the menu)
      We stayed in wonderful inns and even a farmhouse B&B. Badger transferred luggage and met the trail at various points during the day for people who didn’t want to walk 5e entire day’s route. 197 miles in 16 days, the only trip I could find with no 20+ mile days. I had been wanting to do it for more than 30 years, and was not disappointed – it was fabulous.

    4. just here for the scripts*

      Three weeks in Australia (Sydney, Queensland, Uluru and back to Sydney. Would totally go back to take more time in Queensland (Cairns, to be specific ) and then go to Perth and Victoria. Did the Sydney bridge climb, zoo, manly beach, opera house (both tour and performance)—had some of the best Indian food I’ve ever had there. Cairns was a-maz-ing! Need more time to explore the waterfalls—we did barrier reef snorkeling/diving, rainforest and arial tram to it, and then had the opportunity to learn more about their history and culture from the local indigenous people. Uluru was equally amazing—but be careful if you’re like me and not great in the heat (all the guides had salts to add to our water, so it all turned out okay—but trust me, heat stroke ain’t no joke!)—took a helicopter tour at sunrise over Uluru and Lake Amadeus. I’d totally go back, but maybe in their fall (see notes above re heat stroke). Then back to Sydney for New Years Eve celebrations before we headed home the next day.

    5. fallingleavesofnovember*

      I did a safari in Zambia – not all inclusive in the sense I was already there for other reasons and so had paid my own flight and transport to the town it started, but once picked up, everything was provided. All I had to do was wake up, mosy over for breakfast, and then show up at the right time for whatever tour we were doing that day, then there was time to relax by the pool in the afternoon with a ‘sundowner’ (drink) before dinner. They did walking and night safari outings too. It was incredible.

  34. Dr. Doll*

    What are folks’ favorite habit-tracking apps, motivation apps, habit-building strategies, habit books, etc.?

    To my extreme annoyance, I must now pay attention to things like cholesterol and A1C levels. I’d much rather do this through diet and exercise than pills, so looking for ways to build better diet and exercise habits – especially when on vacation or in other situations where I don’t have full control over my environment.

    1. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

      I think the one I use is just called “Habit” (the icon is a pink box with a check). Pretty much every habit app I’ve looked into has a limited free version and a premium subscription. I’ve just stuck with the free version on this one and I’ve liked what I can still do with it. It’s pretty customizable. You can track five habits for free, as well as archive and reactivate habits as needed.

    2. Zephy*

      If you’re looking to track food and exercise in terms of specific numbers (like calorie and nutrient breakdowns), I like Cronometer; the database is pretty robust and, AFAIK, the only paywalled features are things like intermittent-fasting window tracking and the ability to split your entries into different subheadings rather than just having one big list. That said, if this is important to you, the paid version is worth getting.

      If you’re looking for something less data-driven and more “squishy,” more of a to-do list that will give you a pep talk, I like Finch. It’s very cutesy – you have a little cartoon bird friend that grows and develops as you accomplish tasks. The app will suggest tasks or you can create custom ones, you can set them to repeat on whatever schedule you like and group related tasks in “journeys.” There are no penalties for missing a day and you can customize the level of pestering the app will do to you (set/disable reminders for tasks, enable/disable random messages of encouragement), you have many opportunities to reflect and journal about how things are going with you. You get rewarded for accomplishing your tasks with in-game currency and items (mini-pets, clothing, and home decor), and you can add friends and send each other messages of support. Finch is free to use, but they do have a paid tier.

    3. office hobbit*

      “Loop Habit Tracker.” A rec I got from a commenter on here. It’s free, you can add as many habits as you want afaik, the interface is simple and aesthetic. Depending on what you’re tracking it may not have enough detail, but I’m not sure; I mostly use it for yes/no habits.

      1. Still*

        +1 for Loop, simple and works great. And you can export and import your data if you change phones.

      1. Squidhead*

        I like mine too and I think you can use the app without the device. (The basic level devices are around $100 and when I bought mine 2 years ago it cam with a year’s trial of the Premium app, but I let it lapse and am happy with the free app.)

        I don’t use it for calorie counting or water intake (two inputs it has), but I set weekly exercise goals and it gives little status updates/encouragement. With the device it will automatically track your time in certain heart rate zones (based on AHA guidelines but you can change them) and it will kinda try to identify certain exercises (except every time I’m folding laundry it thinks I’m swimming).

    4. Cherry*

      I actually just yesterday purchased the premium version of habit rabbit after 2 years of using it for free. it’s really cute, when you complete habits you will get coins and you can use those to clean the habit rabbits house -very satisfying. the free version “restricts” you to six habits, which is more than enough and you occasionally get 5 second ads when completing a habit. you also need an internet connection.

  35. Richard*

    I’m volunteering to teach board games again! I love tabletop gaming, and I have a passion for teaching games and especially with making them accessible to those who are curious and new to the hobby.

    Tonight, I am teaching Great Western Trail. Other games I want to teach in the future include Terraforming Mars, Dwellings of Eldervale, Scythe, and Dune Imperium Uprising.

    Any other tabletop gamers on AAM?

    1. Nicki Name*

      Absolutely! I can’t make it to the regular boardgame night at my local gaming store, but I do go to my local gaming con every year and I spend a lot of time on Board Game Arena.

      1. Richard*

        Neat! What have you been playing recently?

        My girlfriend and I have been playing a lot of Dwellings of Eldervale, and I just picked up Dune War for Arrakis.

        1. Nicki Name*

          Currently the ones I’m playing the most are Forest Shuffle and Captain Flip, and I’m currently trying out 3000 Scoundrels and Isle of Trains in turn-based mode. I have a bunch more games queued up to try out too.

    2. Squidhead*

      We play when work and attention spans allow! New game today: The Ghosts of Carcassonne in 2-player co-op mode. You can also use the tiles as an expansion to regular (competitive) Carcassonne, but it’s a stand-alone game. We’ve played a lot of Carcassonne and I think this one would be a weird entry into that game, but as an inversion of the competitive game it’s pretty fun!

      We’re Terraforming Mars (and Terraforming Mars Expedition) fans too!

    3. Lemonwhirl*

      I would pay big money for someone to teach me how to play Scythe. :D My son got it as a Christmas present a few years ago, and we’ve never been able to crack it.

      I’m always looking for boardgames recs. My favourite games are Race for the Galaxy, Wingspan, and Iki.

      1. Richard*

        I LOVE Race for the Galaxy! My girlfriend prefers Roll for the Galaxy, but I think that’s because she is better at it than I am, where it’s vice versa for the former.

        In terms of Scythe, check out Rodney’s from Watch it Played video on how to play it https://youtu.be/ffMLIL5qGQg?si=ckvdR_JpUr0gqMt5 . He is the best at teaching games. The great thing about this game is that the iconography on the board and player and faction mats are very clear and intuitive once you know how to play the game (in other words, you usually don’t have to keep referencing the rulebook.)

        If you still need further help in understanding the rules, there is digital adaptation on Steam that has a great tutorial. Happy playing!

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          Thanks a million. My son and I played Scythe twice yesterday. the video was perfect. and you’re right that the player and faction mats make so much sense once you know what you’re doing. it’s kind of like learning a new language.

  36. Bluebell Brenham*

    I’m visiting with my niece this weekend and we somehow stumbled into a conversation about going to the ob/gyn and BC options. She’s not thrilled about her mom’s, so I encouraged her to find one of her own. Any suggestions about resources for finding a good female gyn in a southern state, other than asking friends and acquaintances? I just want to give her resources, not planning to do any selection. She’s almost 21.

    1. YNWA*

      Is she in school? Her university might have services she can use. Almost every school I attended/worked at offered OB/GYN services with women practitioners.

      1. Bluebell Brenham*

        She’s in school but probably won’t stay in that town. Plus it’s much more conservative than she is.

        1. carcinization*

          Yeah, the conservative university I went to for graduate school specifically did not do “well woman” type of appointments at all!

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Perhaps a practice or clinic affiliated with a teaching hospital? Perhaps a Planned Parenthood?
      If your niece has strong feelings about being pro-choice or pro-life (I’m just using the terms that each side prefers–not taking sides, myself, here), she might want to seek references from other people who share her outlook. Either way, it’s good that she is proactive in this area.

      1. Bluebell Brenham*

        She leans to the former but her school leans to the latter. PP is a great idea, thanks.

        1. Grits McGee*

          Just a caution- I had friends who used PP in college, and had not great experiences. (Mostly poor bedside manner, rushing patients through exams, that kind of thing.)

          I do think word of mouth referrals are the best bet if you can get them. If not, what I’ve done is look through my insurance company’s list of in-network providers, and then googled them. A lot of practices will have bios of their medical providers, and I’ve found them helpful for making a decision. Also, if the provider or practice has major issues, there will often be reviews (Google, Zocdoc, etc) that come up.

          1. anon_sighing*

            In PP’s defense, they likely have a higher patient load than capacity. It’s emphasized among dentists more, but getting people in the chair and out as quickly as possible is usually the goal so you can see as many patients as possible/reduce backlog or wait time for the next patient.

    3. anon24*

      There is (or was) a post on the childfree subreddit with a list of doctors by state that users submitted who are reproductive rights friendly. Even if your niece isn’t looking to be child free, I’ve found that having a doctor who believes in your own bodily autonomy is never a bad choice. I found my Gyn in a conservative southern state there and she was great and actually took the time to listen to me when I had problems and wanted to help.

      1. Bluebell Brenham*

        What a great suggestion- thank you! I think she eventually wants kids, but not for a while. And she has a low pain threshold, so if she goes the IUD route, I am hoping she gets a gyn who doesn’t insist on insertion without meds.

      2. Felicity Porter*

        That’s amazing! I live in a blue state now, but lived in Alabama for years and would have loved to know my provider shared my views.

    4. fueled by coffee*

      You can also suggest that she bring a list of important questions to ask the doctor on a first visit. You can always decide not to go back to a provider that you don’t like, and you can definitely ask something like, “What kinds of pain relief do you provide when you insert an IUD?” and then decide not to move forward with that doctor if you don’t like the answer!

      Also, if she likes her PCP, they may be able to refer her to someone, too (and be able to do some routine gyn care, like pap smears and prescribing BC, while she’s searching for an obgyn specialist).

  37. Grits McGee*

    Has anyone ever volunteered for the White House Easter Egg Roll, or has volunteered in the past? I signed up this year and was surprised by how…slapdash the volunteer organization seemed to be, and I was wondering if that’s how it’s always been or if there were issues this year?

    To give a major example- the email telling volunteers when to show up was sent at almost 10pm the night before the event. The earliest shift started at 5am, and many people would have to start traveling at 4am to get to the White House on time.

    1. Grits McGee*

      Oops, that should read “Did anyone volunteer for the White House Easter Egg Roll this year, or has volunteered in the past?”

  38. Madre del becchino*

    I clicked on a random post link and ended up at a short-answer post from February 26, 2020. There was a question about a company asking employees if they were traveling to Asia (at the beginning of the pandemic). So many comments about “how can they restrict my travel” and ” oh, this will all blow over soon” — if only they had known what was coming…

    1. anon_sighing*

      The mix of optimism and denial at the beginning of the pandemic is interesting to look back on.

  39. HSA reimbursement*

    Those of you who have an HSA and save/invest rather than immediately spend, do you keep receipts for reimbursement later on? If so, what is your threshold for saving? Minimum dollar amount, time frame, something else?

    I’m trying to get organized and make realistic decisions about what’s worth scanning and archiving, versus what I should just shred and wash my hands of.

    1. Retirement Pending*

      I put all the receipts in a folder and at the end of the year add everything up and write a check to myself to reimburse. I keep anything over about $5’ little purchases add up!

    2. Old and Don’t Care*

      My HSA is for future medical expenses, hopefully far in the future. So no saving/scanning receipts for me.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I am no longer able to contribute to my HSA (as I understand it; I no longer have the high deductible plan) but I have enough in it from before to cover the out of pocket annual max for a year on my current plan. I don’t reimburse myself out of it unless an expense is both unexpected and more than I am able to cover out of my regular spendable cash for the budget period. Otherwise I pay for it “out of pocket” and save the HSA for more urgent needs, knock wood.

    4. Epsilon Delta*

      I figure between inflation and the fact that most people have more medical needs/issues as they age, it’s not worth saving receipts. I do have one for $4k that we didn’t reimburse yet, but I’m considering whether it’s worth the cognitive load of continuing to hold onto one receipt.

    5. ronda*

      I asked my dentist to print a billing/payments schedule for me for the prior year. you may be able to do this for your regular doctors and get the bulk of your expenses documented. (when I was doing the final payment for my knee surgery I got a similar thing from my surgeons office to verify I had my out of pocket max done.)

      I have also downloaded my credit card activity for the year and marked it up for the items that are medical expenses. I save those in a google sheet

    6. nonprofit director*

      I have an HSA and I spend some of it as needed and save/invest the rest. I do keep receipts. Right now, I keep them all in a single folder and details on an Excel spreadsheet. I’ve been holding receipts for almost 10 years and because I take care of this annually, it’s not a lot of work. So far I have not felt the need to scan anything.

      I am glad I have been keeping these receipts. My husband also has an HSA and he recently passed away at a fairly young age. The funds in his HSA greatly exceed his final medical expenses and I don’t want to deal with two HSAs, so I am going to reimburse myself for some of those old expenses and then close the account. An example of life not always going as planned, so you might want to keep some receipts just in case.

  40. anon_sighing*

    I’m determined to buy a pair of nice walking shoes that will turn into running shoes hopefully tomorrow. I have no clue where to start. Last time I struck out in finding a pair, but I think Mizuno was the brand I was thinking of purchasing from. I do plan to go into a running store to get them, but I find that salespeople range from “heck yeah, I’ve been waiting for someone to ask me about my encyclopedic knowledge of our products!” to “umm, people like these ones, I think” to “look, person, I am just here for a paycheck, please just pick something and go.” Think it’s nice to go in with an idea, at least.

    I got some 15 dollar Nike shoes from Costco but I am unsure if they’re actually any good or just some cheap shoes Nike makes for Costco sometimes — I like ‘em, but mainly just use them at work and running errands, so I don’t wanna rely on them. Anyone know if I already have the answer to my own question?

    1. A313*

      If you have a running store near you, they can definitely help. They will watch you jog away from them to see how your feet align as you jog and recommend shoes based on that — whether you pronate and shoes to address that. The right shoes can make the difference between soreness or an injury and feeling good walking/jogging.

      1. giraffe*

        I’ve had good running stores that watch you, and ones where they try to sell you the most expensive ones with no consideration. If you’re a regular runner you’ll chew through the shoes in a few months and could try other running stores. I’d bet hard cash that Nike isn’t making the top product for Costco

      2. anon_sighing*

        I can make a day of it – there are some scattered throughout the city and I can kind of get a feel of each, just re: giraffe’s comment (which is also a concern of mine). A quick look says they all have glowing reviews (in the hundreds). I have looked into what to look for based on the wear on my own shoes, but the feet aligning thing and other nuances are lost on me.

        It’s awkward to do this in the shop and thus I’m worried they aren’t gonna get a good read on me because I’m going to be awkward while doing it, but that’s inevitable, I suppose.

      3. Knighthope*

        Walking shoes are designed very differently from running shoes. Generally, running in walking shoes is not recommended. Walking in running shoes is possible. How much you walk and/or run, and the terrain are factors to consider. I like Rykä, a brand that only makes shoes for women’s feet, if that’s appropriate for you.

        1. anon_sighing*

          Oh, glad I asked because I hadn’t known this – I suppose the impact aspect of it all does make it a no brainer once I put my brain to it though.

    2. The OG Sleepless*

      I don’t know if you want specifics, but Brooks and Asics are really popular shoes among runners (supported by a survey of casual runners in Atlanta, meaning I looked around at everybody’s feet during the Peachtree Road Race). Brooks’ website has some specifics about which type supports pronators/supinators/neutral feet. You may be able to judge that by looking at the wear pattern on your existing shoes.

      1. anon_sighing*

        Asics may be the direction I go in. They seem to be reliable and affordable enough to experiment with.

        1. Sitting Pretty*

          I have worns Asics for years. Used to be a runner and they were the brand I ultimately settled on after spending a few years in Saconys and Nikes. Asics worked well for my slightly wide feet and I always felt well supported running in them (I’m kind of a lunch hour maintenance runner, not racing or marathons or anything).

          Now that I don’t run anymore for health reasons, I’ve stuck with Asics for walking. I still really like the support. And they hold up fine.

      2. acmx*

        I prefer Brooks. I feel like they’re wider than Asics, actually! Brooks online has a 90 day satisfaction guarantee and you can return for free. Asics I think just had a regular return policy (unworn) and cost to return by mail.

        I think if you’re a neutral runner essentially any shoe that feels comfortable will work as you get into running.

    3. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      Also look into Saucony. I have terrible feet and found Saucony’s to be decent and affordable, depending on your foot and running needs. I have since switched to Hokas, but I just threw out Sauconys that were 20 months old and finally worn out.

    4. Part time lab tech*

      I have broad feet and I like New Balance. Generally reasonably priced and have a wide variety of styles.

    5. Me*

      I had some kind of foot pain and when I saw my doctor, she told me what it was and said I needed new sneakers. (She also said Crocs were pretty good.) I didn’t know where to start since I had been a diehard Nike wearer for so long and on the service of a friend I went to one of those sports stores where they look at your foot on a computer and then bring it appropriate shoes to try.

      Up until then, I’d assumed these computer things were just for show, but she brought out a pair of Brooks and a pair of Hokas to try, I picked the Brooks. I had never spent so much on sneakers before but after a week of wearing them, I had no more pain and now a year+later, have just bought my second pair of Brooks. They were worth the money for me to be without pain.

    6. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I went to a Fleet Feet and they are all so well informed! There’s also Comfort One shoes but I’m not sure where they are. From what I recall they don’t work on commission and are super well trained, and will scan your foot with their little machine and look at the wear on your existing shoes and tell you what you need. Then they’ll let you take your shoes for a walk/jog around the block. Super recommend them.

  41. needing an up-date*

    Any tips for current online dating for shy awkward people? I’m about to start dating again after a long gap and I fear I have no idea what I’m doing. One of the problems is that it feels as though everything was very different both for me and for technology the last time I was thinking about dating (about a decade ago). UK, if that matters.

    1. Zona the Great*

      Yes. I’m both of those things and also very introverted. I recommend not getting pressured to meet before you’re ready and, in fact, stop talking to anyone who pushes you. I met my current partner 5 years ago on the apps and we talked digitally for about 2 months before we met. It helped that he was traveling a lot for work at that time. We got to know each other pretty well in those 2 months so meeting in person was much easier. Even if you’re being set up by friends or something, insist on talking for as long as you feel comfortable before meeting.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        I would reinforce this by saying don’t do anything before you’re ready, even if you’ll never be ready. If you have any dealbreakers–smoking/nonsmoking, religious affiliation, political beliefs, etc.–you are entitled to find out if the other person agrees with you, and you are entitled to say “no, thank you” if they don’t. (I happen to have very firm political beliefs and simply refuse to even approach an intimate relationship with someone who believes differently.)

        There’s an interesting Facebook group called Burned Haystack Dating Method. It’s all about clearly analyzing the words people use to represent themselves. The basic idea is that the best way to find your needle in a haystack is to burn down the haystack. No need to be mean–just be clear about what you seek in a partner, and move on when a potential partner shows themselves not to meet your criteria. Jennie Young, the creator, describes this much better than I can. She’s also been written about, or has written pieces, elsewhere online. She’s got an essay on Huffington Post.

        Best wishes. Be safe. Have a couple of savvy friends who can keep you grounded and share the inevitable tragicomic encounters (people who want to cheat on their spouses, people who want to leap into bed at the drop of a hat…and other articles of clothing, etc.). And there’s no shame in taking a break from the apps if it all gets too much.

  42. Once too Often*

    Shout out to any & everyone dealing with cancer in any way – pre treatment through survivorship, family & other support folks. I’m always grateful for those who jump on posts with support, info, & comraderie; it was such a help to me & surely remains so to others.

    Seeing how many of us are here is a reminder of how common this is becoming. The news from the UK around both Charles & Kate being in treatment came with stats that 1 in 2 Brits have or will have cancer. Astonishing.

    Best wishes to all & many thanks for the supporters here & here to ask questions to improve the support they offer.

  43. Fickle Pickle*

    Hope I’m not too late. Recommendations for podcasts? I lean toward paranormal. My favorites are Paranormal Mysteries, Monsters Among Us, and Creeptime.

    1. Jay*

      -Monster Talk, The Science Show About Monsters: Actual scientists and serious authors come on for a deeply entertaining conversation where monsters are used to understand history, cultures, and ways of thinking. It’s pretty great.
      -Hysteria 51: A crazy podcast run by a lunatic from Michigan. It ranges from interesting, in a funny sort of way to stupid, in a funny sort of way, to just plain hilarious. Tell Conspiracy Bot I said hi!
      -Bigfeets: It’s beyond description. It’s wonderful in ways it is so hard to describe. Three of the best professional funny people on the internet do a watch along podcast to the show “Mountain Monsters”, the best, worst anything ever.

    2. Bluebell Brenham*

      I don’t listen to many paranormal podcasts but Rachel Dratch’s Woo Woo is delightful. Her guests tell about their experiences with ghosts, dreams, horoscopes, etc.

    3. Forensic13*

      Do you like fictional paranormal? If so:

      The Magnus Archives
      The Black Tapes (which goes off the rails a lot in season three, but still fun)
      and a silly semi-paranormal one, Mockery Manor.

      1. Jay*

        I second both Magnus and Tapes!
        Rabbits (at least the first season, anyway) is also pretty great. Same with Tanis.

    4. Goldfeesh*

      I’m not big on the paranormal, but check out The Saucer Life. Here’s the description from the host/creator Aaron Gulyas:

      The Saucer Life is a podcast which explores the history and lore of flying saucers (or UFOs, if you like) through the lens of individual stories of encounters, sightings, concepts or events. “Stories” is the key word: we’re not interested in either proving or debunking anything. Rather, we’re treating flying saucers as folklore.

      Recently, due to losing his son, he’s eased up on podcasting but is still producing shows, however there are plenty of past seasons to listen to.

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Lore is great, and I’ve heard good things about Bridgewater (which is fiction). I also like Strand and Unexplained, but it is not solely paranormal (there’s some true crime thrown in).

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        I forgot to mention Spooked! It’s people telling their stories of supernatural and unexplained encounters. It’s very well done.

    6. Ali + Nino*

      You can try Mr. Ballen – some of his stories are more true crime, but a lot are paranormal.

  44. Liminality*

    Tax thing:
    If anyone actually knows, please point me in the right direction.
    My brother paid me $400 for some time spent caring for my nephew in 2023. He said it wouldn’t be an issue, but then he reported it as child care costs on his taxes. (With my SSN and everything.)
    I did have some minor expenses, (gas, food, etc, but I didn’t keep receipts) and I’m at a genuine loss for whether I’m supposed to create some sort of Self Employment form to report my “earnings” with my taxes this year.
    All the websites I’ve found are either addressing the parent side of the equation, or they are disagreeing on whether $400 is under or over the cutoff for reportable income. All the official tax people are super busy, and I can’t figure out where else to look.

    1. anon_sighing*

      It would be a 1040 SE form according to this and I think you’re right AT the threshold for reporting:

      “If you have net income of $400 or more from self-employment, you will have to pay self-
      employment tax. This pays for your Social Security and Medicare benefits, which are normally paid for by withholding from wages. The self-employment tax is figured on Form 1040, Schedule SE. Net income is the money you earned after any deductions are subtracted, such as business expenses.” (from: https://www.irs (dot) gov/pub/irs-utl/OC-Whateverystudentshouldknowaboutsummerjobsandtaxes.pdf – editing so it’s hopefully not caught in the link filter).

      Granted, they’re addressing teens here. I thought the minimum for reporting extra income was $600 because that used to be the threshold where we needed to collect SSN at my public university for research study payments.

      1. mreasy*

        They have recently lowered the threshold.
        Caused a whole series of tizzies in the d2c music platform space.

    2. Rara Avis*

      I’ve had tutoring income of about that amount, and just wrote it in under other income. (This is via a CPA, so I think it’s official.) Don’t think it really affected my tax burden one way or the other.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Yes, it’s just “other income”, under self employment. I’ll post a link under this with more info! And it’s totally not worth chasing down the small expenses, it’s not worth as much as your time finding it.

    3. RMNPgirl*

      Per my dad who is a CPA (and famous in the tax world) you can report the entire $400 on line 21. You will not be able to deduct expenses either, just report the whole $400.

    4. ronda*

      I am working for tax aide, preparing peoples returns.

      all income should be reported, no matter how small. payers are not required to send you a tax form if it is below a certain amount, but you are still required to include it in your income.

      The self employment income is for if you do this work for profit. otherwise it is just put in as other income with no expenses deducted. If it is work you do for profit, you would be able to deducted expense, but then you also have to pay self employment taxes on it, as well as income tax on the net income. ( shouldn’t be much on a 400 income tho)

      if this was a gift from your brother, it is not income for you. but since he is claiming it is child care payments, it does not sound like he considered it a gift, but payment for you doing work for him. or if he was giving you $ to cover things you had to pay for the children, it would not be income, but as he is claiming it as child care payments, that would not seem to be the case either.

  45. Fellow Traveller*

    Looking for advice on travelling to Asia!
    We are visitng family in Taiwan this winter and have an opportunity to spend 5-6 days in another country/city. Right now we are debating between Singapore and Malaysia. Malaysia we were interested in either Kuala Lampur or Penang.
    Has anyone been to any of these places and have thoughts? Or thoughts of other places we could consider? We have been to Japan several times so prefer another country.
    Things we enjoy while travelling- good food, easy to get around, easy to get to/from, we want something that feels different from being home in the US. Outdoor activities/ bring in nature. Sense of history. I like museums, but my kids don’t have a lot of patience for them, unless there are lots of screens and buttons.
    Thanks for any thoughts!

    1. Weegie*

      Singapore, for sure! It’s very easy to get around, lots of different foods and shopping opportunities. Not so much by way of nature, though, and I’m not sure it’s got 5-6 days’ worth of sightseeing in it. but it’s extremely easy to cross the border into Malaysia and visit Melaka, for example. I think you even have enough time for a very quick tour from Singapore to Melaka, then up to Kuala Lumpur and environs, and back to Singapore for onward flights – the distances are much less great than you might be used to in the US.
      I didn’t like either KL or Penang much, but Penang does have a lot of interesting buildings/history. For nature, you can reach the Cameron Highlands from KL quite easily.

    2. Toured Asia*

      I was on a group trip to Asia and spent 1 day in Kuala Lampur and honestly I feel like it is the one place i have ever visited that I don’t especially want to return to (no offense meant to any natives or those with hometown pride, but my trip there was not enchanting). Culturally it is conservative Muslim but non-Arab so if that is interesting to you, then you might learn a lot there

      Singapore has nightlife and a good balance of western progressive capitalism and conservative government. Interesting restaurants, night safari at the zoo, enough differences in culture from the US to feel different but with the strong British influence that a westerner will feel comfortable

    3. Roseberriesmaybe*

      The YouTuber Jessica Kellgren Fozard has just done a series about visiting Malaysia for Lunar New Year with her family! It looks like a beautiful place

  46. How We Laughed*

    I’m fairly sure I didn’t dream this, but if I did, perhaps I need a vacation…

    At some point, didn’t Alison post a chile recipe? I made it and liked it but didn’t save the recipe. I’d like to make it again but haven’t been able to find the recipe on the website… help?

  47. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    For any crocheters…. I bought 3 x 50g alpaca mix yarn (not quite fingering weight but pretty fine!) on impulse today- i know, i know – and am looking for a project suitable for a long plane trip. Was thinking a cowl or wrist lets,any pattern ideas or projects I could consider?

    1. Lifelong student*

      I recently made a collar from this type of yarn. Easy pattern- look for Ginsberg collar crochet. I had made one previusly in a white thread to be true to the inspiration- I’ve made two in fine yarns as well. They look nice on a turtleneck- like a necklace almost.

  48. Hmmm*

    I know this is a silly question-no judgment please. I ecently opened an eBay starter store… in part to help with purging at home and in part to test out a business idea on a small scale. Typically in a store you can list an item in two store categories. I don’t know why this is freaking me out. In theory I could list an item in five categories. No matter how I try to rearrange and organize the categories I keep thinking I’m doing it wrong. Anyone else do eBay have any advice?

    1. SuprisinglyADHD*

      As long as you’re listing it in a logical category, you don’t have to fret too much about other categories, or which precise sub-category to use. In my experience, people are pretty good at finding the things they’re interested in, via the main search bar.
      Be specific in the item name if you can, the search function sometimes ignores the description. For example, instead of “blue vase” list it as [Company Name], [Pattern] Blue Porcelain Vase. If you can’t find the brand or pattern, that’s fine, just describe what’s there, eg: Blue Porcelain Vase, White Flower Pattern.
      If it’s something older, like it used to be your mom’s, you can often add “vintage”. Some types of household goods changed in quality or manufacturing process (like pyrex), and some people are looking for replacements for something they damaged but love.
      Mostly, you don’t need to sweat finding the “optimal” category and title, just write what you would if YOU were looking to find it.

    2. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I meant to add, being stressed about all the options is perfectly understandable, there’s soooo many possibilities it’s overwhelming. You don’t need the “perfect” listing, chances are that the people who are interested will find it.

    3. WellRed*

      I agree with Surprisingly. I don’t sell on eBay but Poshmark and FB marketplace. Vintage, black leather Coach bucket bag. Not, black handbag. Think of it like a job description. People want details. That’s what will help them more than the perfect category.

  49. non-cropped top*

    I am in search of some fitted tanks for yoga and the gym that aren’t cropped. Does this exist anymore? If so, what brands should I look for?

    I went shopping yesterday and everything I found was either very loose and flowy (fine for running but tends to fall over my ears and expose my belly during yoga) or cropped (which also exposes my belly since leggings tend to roll down and cropped shirts tend to roll up on my body). Ugh, I just want a top that I don’t have to fidget with every five minutes in order to feel comfortable.

    Recommendations? commiseration?

    1. WellRed*

      Not specific to yoga but I lived Duluth Trading tanks. They seem well made and don’t ride up.

    2. Squidhead*

      I don’t know what kind of fabric you’re hoping for but Old Navy is my source for stuff like this. I bought some ribbed mostly-cotton tanks last year and they are comfortable and come down past my hips. I do wear a sports bra at the gym so I am not relying on the tank top for any kind of support/stability, just coverage. Their website is annoying (full of flashy graphics) but they have more online than in stores.

      1. anon_sighing*

        Hate their website with a passion, but I second Old Navy or their sister company, Gap if you can afford to spend a little more.

        I also thrift workout clothes because I don’t really care about looking fashionable (although you can find some great things thrifting).

    3. Fellow Traveller*

      + 1 to Duluth Trading company. I LOVE their no yank tanks.
      But also- I’ve had pretty good luck finding exercise tops at the thrift store.

    4. Gyne*

      I love the Athleta Momentum Seamless Tanks. There are usually a few colors on sale so I buy a few every time they get marked down. They are fitted and stay put in Down Dog, Shoulder Stand, and Wheel.

  50. Not A Manager*

    I have some unscented hair products that actually have a faintly unpleasant odor. I’m sensitive to smells so I don’t generally buy commercially scented products, but there are scents that I like/can tolerate. I’m thinking of adding a drop or two of essential oil to the leave-in products (curl creme, styling gel).

    I certainly wouldn’t add enough to irritate my scalp, but is there any concern that the essential oil would react with some ingredient in the product in a harmful way? Has anyone else added essential oils to personal grooming products? Is it fine?

    1. anon24*

      I’ve added a drop or two to unscented products as well without issue. Be aware that oils like citrus oils will heighten your sun sensitivity and some aren’t safe to use if you have certain medical conditions (I know there’s at least one or two you arent supposed to use if you’ve had certain cancers, for example). I don’t know much about essential oils at all, but if you have any ideas of the scents you’d like, I’d search that specific oil to see if it’s safe to use on skin/hair in a carrier oil and it should bring up any warnings specific to that oil that will tell you if it’s safe for you.

    2. Ellen Ripley*

      Maybe add the oil (or diluted oil) to your handful of product rather than to the whole bottle? Then you can try it out without tainting the bulk product in case you don’t like it. Plus there is a chemical balance to commercial products that keeps bacteria from growing, etc and you may risk throwing that off if you add essential oil to it and don’t use it immediately.

  51. anon_sighing*

    Sometimes I follow the links at the end of posts and go down a rabbit hole. And wow, we (as a whole) talked differently in 2013-2014 (where I have been falling the most). A lot differently – not like grammar and stuff, but I think people were just more…tactless? Please don’t think I am excusing myself, part of my “woah” moment was me going “yeah, guess I was thoughtless with my language back then as well.” I really do feel like 2015-2016 was a turning point in this, but for personal reasons, 2016 was a huge year of upheaval in my life so I may see it as an anchor in a way others don’t. No matter how much people complain about “PC” or “woke”…I do think there is value is speaking gently and thoughtfully. (While being firm and understanding but not preachy).

    Related thought: Sometimes I re-watch or discover films from the early 00s. It’s by far the most beloved media eras to me due to my age, but again, to me it is the most ‘cringe’ eras of media in terms of inappropriate ‘shock’ humor. No moral judgements but I suppose we grow out of most things or reevaluate things all the time. A little bittersweet but I don’t hate it. In a small way, it adds a layer of richness to the memory…I also love rewatching things and learning to like them more for their messiness.

      1. anon_sighing*

        Now I’m laughing because “how did this get OK’d by who knows how many people, lol”??? One of the joys of the internet is being able to go back and see people’s in-real-time reviews that are still up or available via the archive.

    1. Well run*

      I enjoy Friends reruns quite a bit but yeah, definitely lots of jokes etc that wouldn’t happen today.

      1. anon_sighing*

        Peak “I know they mean well/aren’t bad people but woah.” (Will refrain from giving even my most benign Friends opinions, lest it cause disharmony [’cause I am sure there are Ross lovers among us…and I am not one of them, lol…]).

        1. Well run*

          I’m thinking Fat Monica but also, just watched an episode where Joey kept giggling over Homo sapiens.

          1. anon_sighing*

            I feel like the Fat Monica jokes were tired even then. I remember being very “give it a rest” at times, but fatphobia was out of control then…it still is, but it was grossly blatant to the point I can appreciate progress.

  52. acmx*

    I’m looking for a 3 buckle dog harness. I’ve tried a couple and neither worked out. My dog would prefer a harness that buckles (opens) at the neck.

Comments are closed.