weekend open thread – May 18-19, 2024

a mess was made

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: The Ministry of Time, by Kaliane Bradley. As part of a study of time travel, a government employee is assigned to be the minder of a military commander from 1847. A culture clash ensues, as does a romance and a thrilling mystery.

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

{ 800 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. Walking Sandler*

    Finally found cute walking sandals that work with bunions. Taos brand has several sandals this season with straps that hit above & below wide places on your foot. The footbed is supportive and nice for walking. The footbed does feel like it may not last forever but I can’t have everything. I’m not affiliated with Taos in any way.

    1. Clara Bowe*

      I LOVE Taos as walking sandals. I have killed three separate pairs over the last 15 years and that was with wearing them daily and walking 2-6 miles a day over summer. They are cute and a delight.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I would check out yoga toes, which I got a few years ago when a big toe started trying to turn inward.

      2. Anon-ish-ing*

        I used jelly toe spacers for years, then found that part of the problem was (otherwise sub clinical) gout. Dropped my gout-trigger foods intake dramatically ( The classic offender is plus high oxalate veg)…then bumbled around until I got my resulting new vitamin and mineral needs properly handled…but the bunions only re-form and ache, now, if I splurge on (eg) spinach salad with balsamic and stilton, liver paté, big plate of mussels in white wine, and a nice belgian sour beer or two. It’s been a decade without, after a decade with. And never a formal gout diagnosis on the blood work, just family history, confitmed genetic risk, and classic diet triggers.

        Obviously this is only my experience and not medical advice. But (barring food issues that would make it difficult to test out the theory) it’s not an onerous test. Took about 3 weeks to see changes.

        Improvement was probably also hastened by some teeth-clenchingly painful forced mobilization of the left big toe joint (which felt “crunchy,” so I posited there were oxalate crystals to break up). I can’t in good faith recommend forcing mobility in the joint unless you have a high pain tolerance and a great deal of scientific curiosity.

      1. ChacosWithToeLoops*

        I’ve tried tons of things, and the most effective has been wearing Chacos (the style WITH the toe loop)

  3. RLC*

    This scene replicates on a regular basis at our house-with a round toy bin, one calico, one cream-and-white, and two black-and-white cat children. I suspect much of the fun of the toy bin lies in tipping it and scattering the toys (and in watching the human staff gather the toys for another round of tip-the-toy-bin.) Absolutely love Fig’s look of satisfaction at her work and her claim to the overturned bin.

    1. 653-CXK*

      “Well, you see, there was a rumor of a mouse inside, and the only way we could do it is with a thorough search. We found it – but it turned out to be a toy mouse.”

    2. Heat & humidity*

      My cats’ favorite toys are socks and underwear from the drying rack. They delight in pulling them down & scattering them about the house, the little scamps.

      1. RC*

        One of ours EATS my SOCKS…. And has grabbed them from 2 bars up from the drying rack because I was trying to save them from holes, sighhhhh (she’s real cute though)

  4. Filosofickle*

    I’m looking at a trip to Montreal and Quebec City this year for 2+ weeks. General recommendations on how to split my time, areas to stay in, and day trips? What is something to do / see / eat there that I won’t find anywhere else?

    My ideal trip is somewhere between a tourist and local experience — central location and easy transit access to major sites (I won’t have a car), yet ideally also leisurely and low-key. This will not be a go-go-go trip, the goal is to live the slow life and change my scenery for awhile! My favorite things in travel are architecture, museums, art, history, excellent food (of all kinds), cafe culture, and neighborhood wandering. Nature and light hikes are good too. As a middle aged woman traveling alone, nightlife is of little interest.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      In Montreal – get some Montreal smoked meat sandwiches, and enjoy the bagels! And if you’re going for poutine, skip the fancy gourmet version and go for the basic one. The old historic quarter is fun for wandering around in.

    2. HannahS*

      The historic district near the water is lovely in Montreal. Climbing Mont Royale is also surprisingly pleasant and not that intensive (there’s a snake path up.)

    3. twinkletoes*

      There’s a fantastic bicycle path around Lac St Jean, near Quebec. See if you can rent a bike for a few hours/day. Some very pretty places, especially at the north end of the lake

    4. Don't You Call Me Lady*

      What time of year are you going? There are many amazing options in both cities but the weather can be a factor if you’re thinking of outdoor activities.

    5. vulturestalker*

      You sound like my kind of travel buddy! I second the bagels in Montreal. When I was there I spent a while just exploring neighborhoods and really liked that.

    6. Bluebell Brenham*

      I’m heading to Montreal at the end of the month for a long weekend. A friend and I will be doing a food tour to check off poutine and bagels, we plan to walk around the old city/ Old Port and maybe take a ride on one of the electric boats, we will explore the McGill campus, and enjoy the residential streets in the Plateau. One museum I’m looking forward to is the Ecomusee de Fier Monde, which is in an Art Deco bathhouse.

    7. fposte*

      Hey, I literally just came back from there this week!

      I have some similar tastes to you and I personally prefer Quebec City, because it’s got more contrast to my usual experiences; this was my second time and I love it so much I’m thinking about making it a regular trip. Food in both places is excellent, with extra points if you like maple (which I love); you can spend a ton or get bakery or supermarket nibbles. The Canadian dollar is, sadly for Canada, weak compared to USD right now so it’s a pretty good place to splurge. Montreal has lots of cool stuff but it also is a North American big city and operates akin to all the rest in many ways. The river cruise in Quebec City was very enjoyable, and next time I’ll take the land tour over to Montmorency Falls and maybe Uber over to the island to the maple farm. I was 4 days in Quebec City and 3 in Montreal and I think your two week plan is even better. In Quebec City I would definitely try to stay in the old town within the walls, because it’s just beautiful to see every day. I loved my hotel (Hotel du Vieux-Quebec), which was quiet inside but still on a street with lots of great cafes.

      In Montreal the botanical gardens are worth seeing, even though some of the best bits are sadly closed for repair at the moment. I liked staying in the old port area but there are other cool neighborhoods. I would recommend the free walking tour (you pay the guide what you want at the end) for some history and sociopolitical context beyond the more bland bus tour spiel. I didn’t do to the art museum in Montreal this time but I loved it last time.

      Both of them are cruise ship ports nowadays so the port surroundings will have a certain amount of cruise-aimed merchandizing. The lower town in Quebec City is still worth meandering through, but something like the Marché Bonsecours in Montreal is, IMHO, no longer worth it as a destination, and even if you do want souvenir type stuff you can probably get it cheaper elsewhere.

      I will also mention that one of our party led us to an afternoon at the Strøm Spa in Quebec City. I had thought I wasn’t a spa person, but apparently I just needed to find the right spa. It’s mostly outdoor and on the bluff at the edge of the river, so you can hang in a heated salt infinity pool and watch the river traffic go by. There ar two different indoor steam rooms and saunas with cold outdoor plunges next to them, a heated posh lazy river, etc. we also had massages and then ate dinner there. It’s a quiet/silent policy, depending on the area, so it really is very nice and restful.

      1. Bluebell Brenham*

        Fposte- did you buy any maple treats in Montreal? Maple is one of my favorite flavors, so I’d love recommendations!

        1. fposte*

          The classic maple sugar candy will never flag for me. Maple fudge is a little too sweet even for me. The best new discovery was the maple caramels from the Quebec City shop that has a farm on Ile d’Orleans; they were amazing, and apparently maple caramel isn’t that hard to make so I may be headed down a dangerous mapley road (but I also suspect that they make the best). I also had some fabulous maple touches in restaurants, like maple foam on desserts and such, but they all blend together in my mind at this point.

          1. Bluebell Brenham*

            McCrea’s caramels assortment has a maple version, but it’s not very mapley. I like the Scotch one best of the 6-7 different variations, and the ginger is good too.

    8. biscuit*

      I did a similar trip some years back and LOVED it! Stayed 5 nights in Montreal (in an AirBnB in what was called I think Avenue du Mont-Royal neighborhood – it felt very local, but also easy to get to everything in the city); then rented a car and drove through the Eastern Townships (stayed over 1 night there in a cute town); then stayed 3 nights in Quebec City. It was a great combination of big-city and small-city energy – and both very walkable. I liked renting a car for the second half (we even did a day trip to a big island just north of Quebec City – forget the name!), but you could surely do it without a car too and take transit from Montreal to Quebec City. Enjoy!

    9. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      Montreal is great! My wife and I went there about five years ago and from the DC area it’s like a two-hour flight to Europe. Her entire carry on on the return flight was filled with bagels!

    10. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      My husband and I honeymooned in Montreal and stayed in a place called L’Appartement Hotel, and it was great. Each room has a full kitchen with fridge, oven, and cooking/eating utensils. We loved it because we could make a late dinner for ourselves after a day of sightseeing. I remember it being convenient to a lot of places like what you describe — we went to the Musee des Beaux Arts, the Musee d’art Contemporaine, and the Biodome, among other things. It was awesome.

    11. AHN*

      We were in Montreal last August and stayed in an AirBnB in Little Italy, which was a really nice neighborhood for a home base. We were walking distance to the Jean Talon Market and metro stop. The Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History (Pointe-à-Callière) is excellent, and we also enjoyed the McCord Stewart Museum (particularly the exhibition of Indigenous culture). There are all kinds of festivals across the city in the summer – https://www.mtl.org/en/experience/montreal-summer-festival-guide has a list that might help in your planning.

    12. Louise*

      Montrealer here. We have some truly fantastic restaurants, some great hole-in-the-wall places and some high-end places that need to be booked way in advance. The Middle Eastern food here is great, as is the French bistro food and the Portuguese chicken (Ma Poule Mouillée has a Portuguese chicken poutine that is amazing). And of course, classic Quebec casse-croute (snack) shacks with poutine and hot dogs.

      August/early September is still hot and humid, so I’d take that into account when planning activities. A walk up Mont Royal is worth the views and the switchback path is manageable, but bring water! Walking the Lachine canal is always nice too.

      Spade and Palacio does a great market food tour that is local but fun. Jean Talon Market and Atwater Market are worth checking out and grabbing a snack as well.

      Depending on when you are in town, First Fridays is a monthly food truck event that lets you try a lot of local places.

      The plateau is a great area to hang out in but isn’t the most public transit accessible via the Metro. I’d stay in old port, or further up in little Italy or Villeray. They are easily connected by Metro.

      If you enjoy craft beer or cocktails you will find lots of sunny patios to enjoy some local stuff.
      Quebec city is very small, I’d recommend spending more time in Montreal, and just a few days in Quebec, but it’s a beautiful place too. Definitely ride the funicular!


      1. Filosofickle*

        Appreciate the local perspective! If there is a funicular, I will ALWAYS take it lol

    13. BeeCees*

      I was in Montreal and Quebec City last summer. Here are my suggestions for a low-key trip without a car:
      * Buy Via Rail tickets well in advance (>1 month) for the best price. The train is generally very comfortable but the honking could be loud from the first carriage. The train station in Quebec City is like a castle no kidding.
      * For Montreal, buy a pack of prepaid tickets for the attractions from “Passeport MTL”: https://www.mtl.org/en/passeport-mtl. There you can find a list of attractions that may pique your interests. It’s a better deal than paying for individual ticket if you use all the prepaid tickets in the pack.
      * For getting around in Montreal, hop in to any metro station to buy an OPUS card and load a weekly pass. The station attendants speak English very well so language isn’t a worry.
      * For Quebec City, consider taking “Train de Charlevoix” for a taste of small town Quebec. Note that many folks may not be able to hold a conversation in English in rural Quebec. Menus from restaurants may not have translations.
      * Just outside of Quebec City, Chute de Montmorency seems like a great hike.

  5. Just A Bite*

    I’m in my mid-30s. My parents (both retired) live an hour and a half drive away from me so I try to visit once a month; sometimes we meet halfway for dinner but mostly I go to their house. I’ve recently been butting heads with my dad on food (my mom doesn’t really care since my dad is usually the one who grocery shops and cooks). We have different meal schedules: they seem to be fine subsisting mostly on coffee, fruit smoothies, and a couple light snacks through the day until they have a very large dinner in the evening, while I prefer to have three smaller meals spaced throughout the day (breakfast, lunch, dinner). I also have a tendency to get hangry when I don’t eat, very grumpy and cranky. I don’t ask them to change their food schedules or anything when I visit, and because they don’t keep a lot of food in their house that I enjoy, I started bringing my own food to eat. Not a lot, but maybe a can of soup, snacks that I enjoy, small stuff like that. I have also left their house to get food at the shopping center that’s about 15 minute drive away. I have also stopped there on my way home from their house.

    My dad recently called me out on bringing food to their house or leaving the house to go get food when we’re supposed to be spending time together. When I mentioned that I was hungry, he seemed offended and said that I shouldn’t be hungry at their house. He said if I tell him What to get before I came to visit, he would be happy to get it. I have told him in the past that I am very happy with just simple stuff like lunchmeat and slices of cheese so I can make a small sandwich for myself. But he forgets to get it even when we have talked about me coming to visit a week ahead of time so he has a grocery shopping trip before I arrive. And the last time I was there when he said that they had stuff to make sandwiches, I walked over to the fridge to find all the slices of cheese were moldy and all the lunch meat was discolored. I’ve no idea how long ago they got this stuff, but it was clearly not fresh from the store.

    Other than me hiding all of my food in my bedroom and only eating in there, I don’t know what to do to avoid this disagreement. I think he feels frustrated by not being able to provide for me, his child even though I am in my 30s, but I really don’t mind bringing my own stuff. The point is just that I need to eat or I will get super grumpy and then it won’t be a pleasant visit at all. Any thoughts on what I should do? I feel like we’ve had this conversation multiple times over the last year Without coming to a resolution.

    1. ThatGirl*

      That’s just silly. You don’t have to spend every waking minute together. But I would try talking to him big picture to understand why it offends him. Maybe he wants to go to the store with you? So it’s time together but you can pick things out? Otherwise, just keep bringing food with you and ignore him or offer him some.

    2. Past Lurker*

      Is this behaviour usual for him? Otherwise, I second trying to find the real reason. Or go “grey rock” on him, which is easier said than done. (I hope I’m using that expression right)

    3. Sloanicota*

      As a people pleaser, I have to admit I’d probably think of something shelf-stable that I’d be happy to eat that I could ask them to get for me *once,* or go shopping with them while I’m there. Maybe a pack of ramen that can stay in their pantry forever, a jar of peanut butter and some crackers – I don’t like cereal or protein bars but that would be ideal – string cheese stays good for a long time I find. Instant oatmeal? If I can get it into their house once and be done, that would probably be easiest since you’re there pretty often.

    4. Not A Manager*

      Nah. Just bring your food and put up with the remarks. (But do stop asking him to get stuff for you, because that way leads madness.) When he complains, just keep it light. “Dad, you know I’m silly about having a hot lunch.” “I know, but you never have the right kind of cheese. Want me to make you a sandwich, too?” “Thanks for worrying, Dad. I know you love me.” And that’s the big one to remember. He loves you, he wants to provide for his child, and it’s upsetting to him that you’re not feeling provided for. Try to move past the food and find a way to send that love back to him.

    5. Jackalope*

      I had a somewhat similar issue at one point, so here are a few things that I found helpful. First of all, buy the food you want before going for your visit. Don’t ask, don’t go out on a separate trip, make it as small a deal as possible. Second, be cheerfully matter of fact about it. You can try either saying, “I’m going to have lunch; want something?” or “I’m going to have lunch; see you in a few minutes!” Either way, use your tone and your actions to indicate that it’s of course perfectly normal that you’re going to eat a full meal right now and then go ahead. Since you think it’s misplaced wanting to care for you, I probably wouldn’t go with grey rocking, but definitely this is a statement and not asking them. You mentioned that they prefer lighter snack foods throughout the day, so you can possibly try bringing a snack food they like or mixing up a smoothie or something if you think it would help (in some cases it would, in others very much not, so go with what you know about them). The important thing is that you are GOING to have your meal and you don’t mind feeding yourself or whether they eat or not; it’s just a thing you’re going to do. It can take awhile for this to work, but I was successful with my parents and now it’s just a normal thing.

    6. RagingADHD*

      You just have to sweetly steamroller him.

      I’m afraid you are hearing the distant rumbles of the approaching time when you start parenting your parents. He’s being petulant and irrational. So you do what you do when a beloved toddler is petulant and irrational – smile, steadfastly refuse to engage with the argument at all, and do what needs to get done.

      “Dad, enough. I’m here to enjoy your company, not to have you feed me. I’ve got this taken care of. Let’s talk about X.”

      If he sulks or pitches a fit, literally ignore him and talk to your mom. But it doesn’t sound like he’s that far gone – most likely, just being more assertive and not getting baited into a debate will do the trick.

    7. KeinName*

      I think all the comments above are very helpful and kindhearted. I personally can’t get over the fact that he wouldn’t ‚let‘ you go to the store. I sometimes go to the store at my mother‘s place when I need some respite. Active visiting is hard work – and ideally it would be enough to just organically be by each other’s side and everyone does their own thing. It’s not like it’s your last days on earth before you go into space.
      I also think all the things you do to get a meal a very normal and show you are sensible.

    8. Indolent Libertine*

      If you aren’t relying on the store trip for some alone time, would it be possible to schedule an Instacart delivery for shortly after you arrive? Then you can have the stuff you need without “abandoning” Dad or needing him to get it for you.

    9. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      On a different note- if you can, have a look at the expiry dates etc on the food that they are eating themselves- maybe the mouldy cheese and discoloured meat saved for you just went unnoticed in the fridge, or maybe their eyesight and sense of smell is declining. Standards can slip!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Do this; ESPECIALLY things like condiments and salad dressing. Those can remain “safe” looking and smelling way, way past the time they are either. Also check for any tupperware or other containers shoved near the back.

        1. SuprisinglyADHD*

          Definitely worth doing, for safety issues. But from experience, it can be a source of an arguement “it’s still good, don’t waste food! We can’t afford to throw that away/replace it/etc!”

      2. Lime green Pacer*

        Don’t go by the marked dates. Use the Still Tasty website to see when you *really* need to throw things out.

    10. Jay*

      Can you try eating on the way there?
      Like, swing by the drive through just before their place and get a burger or what have you, and eat it in your car?
      Failing that, I find a generic “errand” will do the job.
      Like, “hey, mom and dad, I’ve got to run out to the store to pick up XYZ” that won’t offend them. Say, toothpaste, or paper towels, or something. Then I grab something while I’m out and just never mention it.
      Or you could go with something like the old stand-by:
      “Doctors Orders”
      Retired seniors will put up with a LOT when it comes to “Doctors Orders”. Keeping to a “Doctor Recommended” eating schedule with “Special Doctor Recommended Food” that you, unfortunately, just HAVE to prepare yourself at home should be an easy out. Keep it to something vague, easy and understandable, like high blood pressure or generic “Stomach Issues”. This “medical condition” explains why you always seemed to get so “strangely uncomfortable” when you eat normal normal meals at normal times. The “medical condition”, of course, being that you are not a retired person and do not live a retired lifestyle.

    11. Ellis Bell*

      I don’t think this solution is quite baked yet, that’s all. Your dad asked if he could provide food for you and you gave reasonable suggestions, but in practice you’ve discovered they don’t go shopping often enough for the particular suggestions you made. Follow up suggestions need to be more shelf stable, or you need expect less food at the house. Obviously you can’t go hungry so I would treat myself to lunch before going over and/or bring food. If you bring food again (after seeing that there’s no food), and he gets upset again, just acknowledge the effort “I don’t think the cheese and meat suggestions were a good idea actually, because they go off before I get a chance to eat them.” Then follow up with an alternative suggestion like: “I’ll just do x/Maybe tinned tuna is a good idea”. I don’t think it’s particularly weird that he wants to provide food you can eat, and I don’t think he actually wants you to go hungry; just keep talking it out.

    12. Awkwardness*

      Why not go shopping together?
      My mother knows that I cannot eat every food, so we will have a quick stop first thing after I arrive and I can choose what is missing. This is no big deal and you can even spend time together.

    13. ReallyBadPerson*

      It sounds as if your visits involve an overnight stay. Why not prepare a meal for all of you, then bring it with you for dinner, along with some other provisions? You can eat the leftovers for lunch the next day and use the other stuff you bring to supplement. I realize this doesn’t address your father’s controlling attitude, but nothing you do will fix that, so you just need to meet your need for food.

      And I do not understand the food policing at all! Have your parents always been this way, or is this new?

    14. Chauncy Gardener*

      Maybe bring food with you in a cooler and not leave their house to get food?

    15. Venus*

      In that situation I would bring something with me and describe it as leftovers or something I got on my usual shop that needs to be used up. They can’t be trusted to pick up specific items, and I wouldn’t try to change that. It requires a bit more planning to bring something from home (or stop at the grocery store on the way there if you’re okay with a white lie) but would hopefully make it easier if your father is irrational about this.

    16. JSPA*

      Is he ok (eyesight, cognitive)? it’s a bit unusual to shop so far in advance that the food goes moldy, and then not notice? But also, if it’s a big deal to say, “the cheese and meat have gone off, I’ll go get more, did you want to come”– why is that fraught?

      1. Just A Bite*

        The food going bad is actually not abnormal for them. They have a tendency to let things get shoved to the back of the fridge and forgotten about. This has happened for years with them.

        1. Lime green Pacer*

          That is why I put dates – on tiny stickers – on every leftover and opened package in my fridge. It sounds like a lot of hassle, I know, but it gives me a lot of peace of mind. It also saves food from being tossed needlessly.

    17. Wells only*

      Just bring your own food and refuse to get drawn into the disagreement (easier said than done). This is probably the start of more frustrating behavior so good time to learn how to be patient and how to deflect.

      1. Ranon*

        Food culture is a whole thing, add family dynamics and aging parents and it gets tricky!

    18. Zona the Great*

      Honestly, it sounds like it might be time for a hard restart on your relationship with your dad. There’s a funny thing that happens at this stage where they simultaneously infantilize us and require parenting from us. It’s very frustrating to be part of. In my life, I get asked if I know not to microwave metal at the same time as getting frantic phone calls because they lost their keys. I’d put a hand up each time and repeat, “please stop worrying about what I eat. If I’m going to visit, I’m going to be comfortable and fed, end of story”.

      1. Pine Tree*

        The wording “if I’m going to visit…” would be a no-go for my mom. She would quickly go into a huge scene involving her saying “I’m sorry it’s such a major inconvienience for you to visit, I’m such a horrible mother” where the reaction she wants is “no, you are a wonderful mother, the best mother ever, you’ve never made a parenting mistake in your life.”

        I personally would have to word this more like “I love visiting you but I need to eat while I’m here”.

        And yes, visiting my mother is exhausting.

    19. ronda*

      I was listening to the aug 18th 2023 dear prudence podcast and she had therapist as the guest answering questions with her. They had a good discussion about boundaries and how to speak about them to someone (and what they are and what they are not). maybe you would find it helpful.

      one thing was to ask with curiosity what they were thinking / feeling at the time to try to understand it. you sound like you are guessing now and you might have a different idea about it if you know what is going on with them. Your father may not think he has big feelings about this, but it really seems like he does and if he can talk about it, it might help you become closer.

    20. Ranon*

      My family is similarly tricky. My trick is calling ahead since they live a solid 20-30 minutes from the grocery store and going “hey, I’m stopping at (grocery) on the way in, do you need me to grab anything?” and then get the basil or single lemon or whatever my stepmom needs plus the food I require to be a person

  6. How's it going?*

    I’m looking for very thin insoles, anyone have any ideas? (I’m in the U.S.) Basically, I have a couple of pairs of ballet style flats that the bottom lining disintegrated on. I pulled it out, so the inside bottom of the shoe is just raw foam now. I’d like to still wear them, but all of the traditional insoles I’ve tried make the shoes too tight. I’ve tried searching, but I just can’t find anything. Does the AAM hivemind know of a super thin insole or shoe lining that might work?

    1. Snooks*


      I have ordered some from Temu, but they haven’t come yet. In the past I have also separated the foam part from the top of ordinary ones. It’s tedious, but it works.

    2. Hazel*

      Google leather insoles – cheap on Amazon and some state they are thin. In Canada they have them at dollarama sometimes. Or google leather patch or vinyl patch (also on Amazon). It will be thin sticky-backed leather-like material, just cut to size and stick it down. Cheap, thin, flexible, available in many colours. I rescued several pairs of decent hockey skates for a skate library that had lost their insoles or the back of the heel using this.

      1. I just really can’t think of a name*

        Seconding this! If you want a specific brand, I have several of the Shoeslulu “magic absorbent ultra thin lambskin leather insoles” sold on Amazon. (I’m sure they’re all similar, but in case you’d like a recommendation.) I needed new insoles for a couple of pairs of shoes and didn’t want to add any bulk. They’re perfect.

    3. ReallyBadPerson*

      Superfeet. They make insoles of varying thicknesses. They are expensive, but very durable and supportive.

    4. Ranon*

      Dr Scholl’s makes some called something like “sockless” insoles that are very thin

    5. Fiction Reader*

      Summer Soles are very thin. They are meant to be worn with bare feet then tossed when they get stinky, but I found them to last quite a while.

  7. Moira Rose*

    Surprised by the rec for “The Ministry of Time.” Thought it was mid at best. It’s very obvious self-insert slash RPF (in non-internet-poisoned terms, I mean it’s a fanfic the author wrote about herself sleeping with a real [dead] person from history). The fingerprints of mediocre fanfic are all over the book. You can find better stuff on AO3 for free!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Wow. People have different tastes in books and your aggressive condescension toward someone displaying different taste than yours is somewhat off-putting. Also kind of mean, both toward Alison and the author.

      1. DL*

        It’s also gotten lots of good reviews in prestigious publications! Taste is subjective blah blah but Moira Rose’s words are…. yeah.

      2. misspiggy*

        I didn’t read any of that as mean, myself. I think it’s interesting to get people’s real reviews of things recommended here.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      I was surprised because it seems to be very science-fictioney and that genre doesn’t seem to be one of Alison’s favorites. But it sounds exciting and just the kind of mash-up of genres that I like, so I’m looking forward to it! (As long there isn’t too much of a romance angle, that is.)

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I haven’t read the book, but I just read the Amazon blurb. It scans to me as romance set up by a science fiction trope. The SF field has a long history, going back to its pulp fiction days, of taking a story from some other genre and slathering a thin science fiction veneer over it: Cowboys In Space! type stuff. Or, in this case, using an SF trope to set up the story. Time travel is particularly well adapted to this. Usually the modern person goes back in time (A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Outlander), so this is a bit of a twist. But either way, it doesn’t appear to be a story about time travel so much as a story set up by time travel.

      2. Victoria*

        It’s not really science fictiony. The basic premise — time travel — depends on SF, but otherwise it’s a straightforward story. It’s a lot of fun!

      3. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        Honestly, this might be the disconnect — Moira saw the framing and expected SF, whereas Alison enjoyed the romance.

        I don’t know; I haven’t read or heard of the book. But it’s been my experience that genre recs from people who don’t read genre will sometimes fall flat for me, because all the things that they experience as new and exciting, because they’re reading out of their genre, whereas those are flat and trite tropes to me. (Sometimes. Sometimes those books are really standouts with cross-genre appeal. It depends.)

    3. Double A*

      If you’re reading several books a week and recommending 50+ a year it stands to reason some are going to be kinda “mid.” I mean, sometimes “mid” books are pretty fun and exactly what one is in the mood for.

    4. office hobbit*

      ? From the synopsis it’s het, not slash. I haven’t read it so I can’t speak to the rest, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with writing a print book using fanfic tropes or styles, or even with filing the serial numbers off your own fic and publishing it. Not all print books will be better than all fic in everyone’s opinion.

    5. JustForThis*

      I’ve recently read “Ministry of Time” and enjoyed its quirkiness. It did not feel predictable at all to me, and I liked being taken on a ride.

    6. carcinization*

      Well, now I feel bad about myself… I was at a really crowded bookstore this afternoon and almost bought this book, because I read about it online and thought it sounded nice. And I’m not a “fanfic” person, slash or otherwise (I’ve read maybe… 2? online fanfics ever and that was back in the livejournal days). I didn’t get it because the store was so crowded that I couldn’t actually get my hands on the book at the time, and I second-guessed myself after that since I was really there to buy a gift for a co-worker who has a baby due in a few weeks. But apparently only people with bad taste are interested in such a book (yes, I know this is subjective). Good to know! Still working on finishing a James Tiptree book right now, is she also considered “mid” these days?

      1. carcinization*

        (I had originally heard about the book on the Reactor website, not here, I didn’t know at the time that it had been recommended here.)

  8. Neondreams*

    Anybody have any online dating success stories? I just downloaded three apps after several years off them. I’m not optimistic about my chances. I’m the opposite of most people in my area politically and religiously (liberal agnostic vs. conservative Christian) and I don’t want kids. Ive also been single for over a decade and I’m afraid that’s a huge turn off to guys. (Trauma, then just not wanting to put the time in after awhile).

    I’ve expanded my search to include bigger cities in the next state over. But there’s a small part of me that hopes I can meet someone this way as debt keeps me from moving for a couple years. I don’t know. ‍♀️ here goes nothing.

    1. Double A*

      It kind of depends what you mean by success. I never had a bad date from dating apps, just plenty of ones that didn’t go anywhere which is fine and expected! And some good dates. And I met a guy who I dated for about three years and now he’s one of my best friends. I don’t remember tons of gross messages, but last time I was on the apps tinder was pretty new. I mostly used OKCupid. However, this wasn’t like some golden age of online dating though it was maybe less saturated.

      I found a lot of success in intimating messages myself. This was before Bumble, so this is just something I did. I think almost all my good dates were ones I initiated, and I messaged the guy I long term dated first. If you sit around waiting for great guys to message you, you’ll be disappointed.

      I think going in with no expectations and just looking for people who seem interesting to you is the way to go about it. I think it’s interesting to meet people even if you don’t find a love match. I do think if you go into it prepared to be unsuccessful and miserable, then your expectations will be met. If you consider simply meeting new people to be a success, then it’s hard not to succeed.

      1. Keener*

        I met my current partner of three years on Tinder, so it is possible to meet someone you’re compatible with. Don’t be shy to start the conversation first. I also had the most success with moving pretty quickly to a simple first date, such as a walk or coffee or afterwork beer.

        I found it helpful to think of the purpose of texting in the apps is to determine if there is enough interest for a first date, not to assess if this person is going to be your life-long partner. (The purpose of a first date is to figure out if you want a second date, etc.)

        1. Lady Danbury*

          Completely agree with this. My partner and I met on tinder. I also have many friends who have met their partners online, primarily tinder (going to another wedding this month). Most of the longwinded penpal type exchanges never amounted to anything, while my most successful interactions moved to first date pretty quickly. We figured it out irl from there.

    2. Shelby*

      I know two friends, one of whom met her now wife and another met her now long-term boyfriend on an app (they’re going on 2+ years and moving in together). So it totally can happen!

      I also put off dating after trauma for many years. I eventually ended up meeting an incredibly wonderful woman online (not on an app, but through a shared blogging community of all things). Although it eventually ended after a couple of years, it was an incredibly meaningful and healing relationship, and I’m left ultimately hopeful for my future. It can be hard to put yourself back out there after trauma but the results really can be wonderful <3 I've also had plenty of dates on apps not lead anywhere, but I try to go in without expectations and just see it as, at worst I've met someone new and learned a bit more about myself & the world. I truly believe putting energy back into dating will eventually lead to good things. I'm rooting for you.l! And sending love <3

    3. Sloanicota*

      I’ve been thinking of trying again and using that “burned haystack” method this time. I did it the usual way the previous times – with a nice, hopefully broadly appealing profile – and it was too much to sort through. This time I might let myself be more picayune and only go on dates I’m excited about. I really burned through my goodwill too quickly my previous go around. Luckily, my target demographic is more likely to actually read the profile, and I will stay away from Tinder which emphasizes the photos more.

    4. Aspiring Francophone*

      My husband and I met on Tinder! After a breakup (long relationship) I had a short stint of dating around casually and wasn’t looking for anything serious. After a few months we matched and within a few weeks we were exclusive and serious.
      I was living in another country at the time and then COVID hit. Long story short we got married about a year later. The whole thing was pretty unconventional (and honestly if I had been on the outside looking in I would have called us crazy) but we’re going on five years together so it’s all worked out.
      All to say, online apps are just another way to cross paths. Stay true to yourself and you never know.

    5. Jackalope*

      A family member told me something very helpful; dating is something of a numbers game, since you may have to go out with several people to find someone you’re compatible with. Go on first dates with anyone you think you might be interested in, then weed severely from there.

      Two other tips: first of all, make your profile specific to you. Maybe you’ll get fewer people who are down with dating a liberal agnostic, but they’re more likely to be the ones you want to date long-term. Second, I found it helpful to go places in my area that I hadn’t gone before. That way I got to try out new stuff (a state park I hadn’t seen before, a museum I didn’t know, a new coffee shop), it wasn’t a place I was likely to run into my usual gang of people (which would have been awkward on a first date), and if I wanted to avoid the person in the future I hadn’t taken them to one of my favorite places. Plus that made it more fun for me to get out and do new stuff.

      (You probably know this already but always make sure you meet in a public place for the first date, make sure someone knows where you are, etc.)

      So my success story: I went on several first dates and a few second and third dates. I got to have fun, get practice meeting people, and had a few long term relationships. And I eventually met the person that I’m now happily married to, and whom I probably wouldn’t have run into if it hadn’t been for internet dating. So I’ve had good experiences with it!

      1. Jackalope*

        Putting this in a separate comment since it has a link:


        If you go down to the last question, the good Captain Awkward shares several possible dating profiles for completely different people. Her point is that being more precise and clear about who you are might get you fewer responses on dating apps, but they’re more likely to be compatible. I recommend trying something like this; people still might ignore what you write but you’re giving yourself better odds.

    6. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I found my boyfriend on Bumble in November. He’s pretty great, so I think that’s a success. I also have some unusual turn offs/dealbreakers but everything worked out fine anyway.

      A few advice-y thoughts:
      *I found the complaint posts on Reddit oddly reassuring. There are a lot of them, but they are almost all about normal things like weird profiles, bad selfies, or horrible conversationalists. If that’s the worst thing most people have to complain about, that’s not so bad.
      *I picked Bumble because it had the largest user base in my area, but I liked it because you have a 24 hour deadline to message the dude. Since I am prone to nervous procrastination, a deadline was good for me.
      *The Hinge Reddit has lots of useful guides for photos, profiles, etc. Some of it is app specific, but I was able to take the ideas anyways.

    7. Owlette*

      I met my husband on OKcupid 10 years ago! And I know another married couple who met there too. A couple of things helped me:
      1. I worked out what kind of app I wanted – I suck at texting so wanted an email type format that I could confine to one part of my day (after dinner with a wine). Oh and the junk mail function made it my site. But other people like the swiping.
      2. I viewed it as a numbers game – I wasn’t there to meet my soulmate, I was there so that if I finally met someone I was interested in at a party then I would have been on dates recently and not freak out.
      3. I had rules for myself about replying to contact – they had to have mentioned something from my profile (not just “hey you” that they sent to 200 people), had to have a few photos, had to have put effort into their profile. I stuck to them and found the experience better.

      Good luck!

    8. Ellis Bell*

      I just had the loveliest morning with the guy I met online in 2013. I was running late so he made me coffee and dropped me off. He’s just texted me that he’s found a suit for our wedding. I’m really excited and I’m going to go check it out when we buy some stuff for the house. I’m not going to lie though, literally everyone else I met on line was hysterically bad. Dating is stressful because everyone who isn’t the right person is the wrong person. I was going to write a funny blog about the online dating experiences, but before I got around to that, before I knew it I was having the loveliest dates with the aforementioned guy and realising I wanted to be exclusive. Good luck and happy hunting! Meet people quickly and cross people off your list and just don’t lose your sense of humour:)

    9. Generic Name*

      My husband and I will celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary next month. We met on Bumble. We were both in our late 30s, me recently divorced, him never married. We are very happy together.

    10. PleaseNo*

      I met my xhusband on Eharmony. I call him ex a****** now. I thought he was the man of my dreams and then on our honeymoon I found out he was cheating on me. Long story short, I was conned into many years of false hopes. He never stopped cheating or lying or manipulating. He met his current partner (AFAIK) on Tinder while we were supposedly in a monogamous relationship. She knew about me but I didn’t know about her and I ended things in disgust for the both of them.

      I think most apps have devolved into hookup apps sadly. If you return to them hoping for a relationship, really implement what you’ve learned about yourself and your boundaries and have high standards and don’t pay full price!

    11. Wells only*

      I can’t speak to online dating but as you get older, it’s often easier to find a guy who doesn’t need to have kids with you, either because he already has some or never wanted them either. Of course, if you are only 30 or so, this won’t apply. Good luck!

    12. BikeWalkBarb*

      My best friend and I both met our husbands online (I referred to it as “shopping online”). We’ve been married 18 and 17 years respectively so we were shopping pre-app. Her coaching that helped me (she was very efficient in her methods), and a few additional thoughts:

      – Move quickly from first contact to a phone call. Yes that’s old-fashioned now but the voice will tell you some things and if you can’t carry on some level of conversation why would you want to spend time going to a place to talk with them? This was also pre-Zoom so maybe now you’d do that. Point is to get some sense of being together in time without necessarily being together in space. (Especially a factor for you given the geography)

      – If the phone call doesn’t give you a reason to meet, don’t. You don’t owe them calendar time. You’re not shopping for new friends (unless you are).

      – I love the advice not to burn your current favorite places. I went to my favorite coffee shop on one first date and realized I ran the risk of it becoming his new favorite too with ensuing awkwardness.

      – If the first date doesn’t tell you “Yes, I could imagine kissing this person” then you don’t need to have a second. Chemistry is chemistry.

      – Don’t make your profile visible if that’s an option. In my day I had to spend time rejecting the “gee I love your blue eyes” messages from guys who clearly hadn’t read what I said I was seeking. Once I hid my profile and could message ones I was interested in and share my profile only with them it cut down on the spam and ick.

      – Consider whether your criteria are all really have-to. If you drop some of them because you’d be open to at least conversing you might find some interesting options. I joked that the list of “dancing liberals who live within 25 miles of Hometown” was pretty short; dropping the political requirement meant I had more choices. I decided I’d at least have a first date with someone who didn’t match on that if everything else felt like a potential fit. Turned out that particular checkbox was one my future husband hadn’t really given much thought to, it didn’t matter to him because he wasn’t really into politics at all, and all these years later I’ve been a very beneficial influence :D.

      – YMMV but I liked longer profiles that gave me a sense of who they were. The “beer and boats” profiles were easy to skip. If you love beer and boats that’s not my point–it’s that if they *only* told me they loved beer and boats I knew nothing about the rest of their hobbies, priorities, what they wanted in or brought to a relationship. My sweetie had clearly really thought about what hadn’t worked in his marriage and what he hoped to find in a new partner.

      I wasn’t in your situation of not having dated for a while but that doesn’t feel like a showstopper at all. You’re not carrying trauma for a recent awful ex, you’re not on the rebound, you’re not likely to keep talking about the last guy you clearly haven’t quite gotten over. You’ve been living your life, maybe too busy to get out there much (and if they really share your interests your geography can be the explanation–lack of compatible choices). Don’t worry about it.

      Good luck!

      1. Treena*

        As someone who has been online dating relatively consistently for the past 15 years (successfully/polyamory), some of this is delightfully outdated and yet the bones of it is so, so true.

        OP, really echoing that you need to put who you are in your profile. It’s not as necessary to put a lot of detail in what you’re looking for, because the compatible people will be attracted to a detailed profile.

    13. Otterific*

      Online dating success (now husband) and living an hour+ away from each other for the first several years… (switching username for this post, as I’ve recommended AAM to far too many people)
      This was 10 years ago, while in my early-mid 30s, but I used eharmony and match; met him on match. I put a lot out in my profile – not everything, but enough that there were several connection points for prospective matches to start a conversation about (art, favorite music, an interesting fact or two). I also included deal breakers for my side (I wasn’t up for dating a smoker), and that I was looking for something with room to grow into something serious (not a hook up). I was looking for someone who had actually taken the time to read my profile and respond to what was in there, not to just message me a pick up line. (Among other things, my now-husband was honest about being a smoker, but said he was looking for a reason to quit.) Also, as Owlette mentioned, I looked for someone who had a decent profile with pictures as well.

      He lived a 1.5-2 hour drive away from me, but was willing (and did) move closer after a year, but was still an hour away. We did the weekends only thing for 7 years (I owned a house and he had to be in a specific location for work), with him driving most weekends. Honestly it was nice to have time to myself during the week and time with him on the weekends. But very wonderful to finally live together after all these years as well.
      (Much more to our story, but trying to get to the points relevant to you. But we’ve been together for 10 years and happily married for 2; still crazy to think that I would have never crossed paths with this guy on my own.)

      My last two cents: I would think that over the last ten years, you’ve gotten to know yourself and what you do/don’t want and will/won’t tolerate in a relationship, and I see that as a great thing! I maybe wouldn’t say the single for 10 years in the profile, but I would definitely point out the liberal agnostic who doesn’t want kids – hopefully you’ll come across someone who is the same way! Good luck!

    14. Suncentered*

      I met my fiancé on Hinge! 2 years next month, and we are getting married in September!! I liked Hinge- many men seemed to be looking for relationships rather than hookups and I like that no pictures can be sent in-app messaging. I did have one spectacularly bad date, but there were many red flags I could have seen.
      Lots of good advice I agree with in the other comments!

      1. Suncentered*

        Forgot to mention I also hadn’t dated for about a decade due to past relationship trauma. Neither had my fiancé, so we did talk briefly over that! Otherwise I didn’t bring it up in first dates!

    15. RC*

      Had lots of good interactions back in the day (c. 2012-2015) on OKC, leading to a couple medium-long-term relationships and I know at least two kids who exist because their parents met online. Like others have said, it’s all about the numbers. I also found it to be somewhat market-dependent, so I can’t say which of the apps is best for your particular location, but IMO the idea is to put you in contact with others who are looking for the same things you are, and then see what happens when you meet IRL. Not every first date will be amazeballs, in which case you don’t need to plan a second.

      Fun story: back in the day I remember one guy who’d marked “wants kids someday” trying to backtrack on that when I was like “sorry, you understand that’s a dealbreaker for me” saying that he’d only put that because everyone expected him to. So the apps are very useful in heading off those fundamental mismatches in life goals (obviously both are valid choices, but I knew what I wanted so why waste our time), and I did find many who aligned with my childfree requirement (again, might be market-dependent). Good luck!

    16. Percy Weasley*

      Like you, I had been single for over a decade, so in my online dating profile I made it a point to talk about my loyalty (with specific examples) and long-term friendships. Relationship skills are transferable just like job skills!

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

      I think expanding your search area is a great idea. I know two very nice guys who were having NO good luck on dating apps after having been in long relationships that had ended. One expanded his range to the next state over, which had a major city arguably within commuting distance, and found his sweetie in that city. The other one set up very specific criteria and expanded his search to be worldwide — he found his sweetie in China. Both guys found great matches and are happily married now.

    18. Rose*

      I have several friends who met their husbands on apps. And others, self included, who had a mediocre time. Some good dates, some truly awkward ones.

      I think the most important thing is to not take things too personally. You know you’re not going to get tons of matches, and that’s a good thing because your probably don’t want to date a conservative Christian. If the city you’re putting out feelers in is bigger/has a better dating pool for non-religious childfree people, a lot of people are not going to want to make the effort to date someone from a different state. Just try not to let things get you down because it’s not about you.

    19. Zona the Great*

      Yeah, I’ve been with my sweetie for about 5 years. We met on Tinder. We emailed for several months before meeting in person. It’s the best relationship I’ve ever been in.

    20. A Little Bit Alexis*

      I met my fiancé on Hinge, we’ve been together a little over two years now. I’m in my early 30s, but spent the majority of my 20s single and don’t want kids. I was honest that I was single because I just didn’t make dating a priority for a long time. I wasn’t “against” being in a relationship, but I had a fulfilling life so it was easy to put dating to the side. It never seemed to be an issue.

      One thing I learned for myself was to limit the amount of people I talked to, otherwise I got overwhelmed and apathetic quickly. If I matched with 4-5 people, I wouldn’t keep swiping unless/until those 4-5 conversations fizzled or we met and didn’t work out. I didn’t meet a lot of guys in person, but I also never had a bad experience. I just went on plenty of mediocre dates! My advice is to use pictures and prompts that can lead to conversation, even if it’s just a picture of a pet or something silly. My fiancé and I connected over my dog and our shared love of subtitles. Good luck!

  9. Valancy Stirling*

    I’m moving back to my hometown soon, after fifteen years living away. Does anyone have any tips to make the transition smoother?

    1. Rick Tq*

      If you haven’t visited in that time be prepared for a lot of changes, both in how far things are apart and landmarks that no longer exist. The older you were when you last visited the less the cognitive dissonance between what you remember and how things are now.

      1. the cat's ass*

        This is SO well put, thank you! Just visited my hometown for the first time in 25 years and…got lost.Felt befuddled for about 24 hours and then cognitively shifted to “hey, what a great new place I’m visiting!” That seemed to help and by the end of the trip i felt re-familiarized and actually could better recognize things. Good luck on your relocation and go easy on yourself!

    2. Maybe Not Entirely a Lurker*

      I haven’t read it, but The Atlantic has done some pieces lately about this! Some should be available outside the paywall, at least enough to let you know if you want to buy a brief membership!

    3. Juneybug*

      My husband did the same thing – left his hometown at age 19 to join the military and then returned 16 years later.
      Here’s what we learned –
      1. People change. The kid who went to every possible church event is now a daily pot smoker and atheist. The ex-girlfriend who was ok with their break-up is now upset with you. The jock is now over-weight and hates sports.
      – Keep an open mind that folks from your past are probably not the same person.
      – Accept their new personalities. Ask them questions about their family, jobs, hobbies, etc.
      2. Do not bring up their embarrassing stories. They might have not told their spouse or kids. Some folks don’t want their kids to know about weekend they spent in jail for shoplifting at the local grocery store. Or they threw up so bad from drinking that they had to go to the ER for fluids.
      – If you must tell a story about their past, make sure it reflects highly on them. Like the time they mowed the neighbor’s yard for free or was kind to the new student.
      – If they tell their embarrassing stories, let them. But don’t add any details to the story. They may omit details for a reason.
      3. Friendships change. Your best friend in high school no longer wants to hang out with you. Maybe they don’t have time. Maybe they changed. Maybe you changed. Maybe they got married to your ex-girlfriend and feels it would be too awkward.
      – Don’t assume you will be able to pick right up any friendships right away.
      o You might not ever want to pick up the friendship. For example, the church kid who now smokes pot is not a person you can hang with as you are law enforcement and pot is not legal in your state.
      – Don’t take it personal. Everyone has different lives now.
      4. You won’t fit in right away. The town has probably change. My hubby’s hometown went from one flashing stop light to being a major throughway for other big towns. The one diner is now mixed in with big-chain restaurants. And did I mention that folks have changed? You might not fit in their lives immediately as well.
      – Take your time to learn your “new” hometown.
      – Take your time to learn your “new” old friends.
      Our kids loved moving to their father’s hometown with family being established here. They loved discovering the new town as well as hearing the stories from the past. It was one of the best decisions we ever made.
      I hope your move has great success too!

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

        Oof, what great advice! I went back to my college town for professional school after almost a decade away, and yeah, it was hard to realize that my bestie from that part of my life was now a different person. We’d been in touch during the years apart, but it was before cell phones were common, and when long-distance calls were still really expensive, so I didn’t really realize how much she and our friendship had changed. It required some acceptance, all right.

    4. Mostly Managing*

      I have “moved back” twice now – once to where I grew up (stayed in my parents house for a few months) and again to UniversityTown after being away for 15 or so years.

      The key is to think of it as “Moving To A Place” not moving “back”.
      “Back” is never there to go to – other people’s lives have moved on, stores have closed/opened, parks have new playgrounds, new houses have been built, etc.

      Some people will be excited to have you in town again. Meet for coffee if you want to (don’t commit to lunch/dinner on a first reunion after many years – trust me!!).
      There will be people you are glad to reconnect with, and people you remember why you lost touch with, and it might not be the ones you think.
      There will also be new-to-you people, same as any time you move house.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Viewing this through my dirty lens… If you lost touch with any high school friends when you went to college, drop them a line to say you are moving back to town.

      I thought I would do that when I first got back.But life gets crazy when you’re moving. And after I had been there a while I felt like I needed an excuse to call. And after I had been there a very long time.I felt guilty for not calling so I never did.

      Don’t be me.

  10. Jackalope*

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

    I stumbled across this series at the library that’s a YA “remix” series. They have a number of well-known books and stories that are retold by a current author. The first one I read was a retelling of Wuthering Heights; it was by Tasha Suri and I believe was called What Souls Are Made of. This week I read the retelling of Robin Hood and just started the retelling of Treasure Island. They’ve been a lot of fun so far and I would recommend them.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Rereading Rebecca for the fun of it: I am of the school that totally buys Max’s version of events because to me it makes Rebecca a far more compelling character (not a morally better one, of course, but story-wise I think it’s the wiser choice.)

      1. word nerd*

        I love Rebecca! I usually avoid that genre so I came to it late, but I finally tried it because I heard so many good reviews about it and I’m so glad I did! A masterpiece.

        I’m not sure I understand your comment about Max’s version of events–would you mind explaining a bit more what events you’re referring to and how that makes Rebecca more compelling?

        *SPOILER WARNING just in case for anyone reading replies to my post*

        1. Not A Manager*

          I’m curious about the “Max’s version,” too. Enough other characters drop enough hints about Rebecca in the book that his revelations seem completely consistent.

        2. goddessoftransitory*


          I was reading some reviews/essays about the book online, and there’s a line of thought that basically says Max is lying.

          He killed Rebecca but not in the circumstances he claims; that she mocked and provoked him into it, finally saying she was pregnant with another man’s child and he couldn’t do a thing. He just shot her and hid her body because he was tired of the whole thing.

          That Max (who had not behaved very openly or attractively with his new wife/the narrator) basically just expects her to believe whatever he says, and she does, because he deliberately picked out a very young, ignorant of the world woman and valued her for exactly those qualities and was an unrepentant murderer of a victimized woman.

          For me, that read–that Rebecca was the first victim of Max rather than the other way around–could be backed up, I guess, since we only ever get impressions of Rebecca from him and Mrs. Danvers (and a few comments by other characters.) But to me it seriously undermines the novel and Rebecca as a character. The Rebecca that was basically a walking NPD and used her final moments to make sure Max hanged for murder is much more intriguing and fascinating than one who “just” was killed.

          Just because a female character is a murder victim doesn’t mean the entire cast was lying or deluded–she can genuinely be a horrible villain and deserving of what she gets within the context of the book. To me that’s more of a feminist read than automatically deciding Max was nothing but a bully.

          1. word nerd*

            Thanks for explaining! I was not aware of that other interpretation. I agree with you that Max’s version makes Rebecca much more interesting. Regardless, my favorite part is that the narrator believes Max and then thinks, “oh, great!” after so many pages where we think she’s just some naive, innocent woman. I was totally taken in and flabbergasted by her reaction, ha.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              “He never loved her!”

              “Uh, he did shoot her dead…”

              “He loves me!”

              “As long as you’re happy, I guess…”

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

                I love *Rebecca* too, and yeah, the narrator’s going all-in for Max is simultaneously hilarious and deeply problematic — like WTF are you thinking?

                To explore how the narrator can be so bleeping complicit, there’s a lesbian re-working of the story, Mary Wings’s *Divine Victim*, that SPOILER ALERT makes us the readers even more complicit with the murderer than we are in *Rebecca*.

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

                  Fun fact — Daphne DuMaurier was bi (one of her sisters was bi; the other was a lesbian), and at least for a couple of years in her teens, she identified as a boy. There is a LOT of LGBTQ+ imagery in *Rebecca* the book, not just the film, when you look for it!

          2. Not A Manager*

            I love that book and have read it more times than I should, so… (heavy spoilers):
            The mentally challenged man is clearly scared of Rebecca throughout the book, and his behavior when asked to corroborate Rebecca’s cousin’s claim (that she was his lover) is consistent with her having threatened him with institutionalization if he would ever reveal that he saw them; other minor characters drop hints or behave in ways that are consistent with Rebecca having preyed on them or their partners; the doctor’s testimony at the end that Rebecca (a) had incurable cancer and (b) was infertile is consistent with her purposely goading Max into a killing rage. At that time people had a horror of cancer that might be hard to completely understand today. I think her death is portrayed as similar to suicide-by-cop.

          3. Catherine*

            My take on it was always that they were two terrible people being terrible to each other, that it was both true that Rebecca was villainous and that Max was a domineering bully who deliberately chose a second wife who would never stand up to him as a reaction to feeling emasculated by his first wife.

    2. Valancy Stirling*

      I started The Fellowship of the Ring. I’m excited to finally get to it.

    3. Annie Edison*

      I binged Funny Story, last week’s book recommendation, in about 2 days and loved it. Aside from that I’ve been in kind of a reading slump the last few weeks- I keep getting a third of the way into things and then giving up

    4. Excel-sior*

      I’m a big fan of Jeff VanderMeer, but he’s definitely not for everyone. The Southern Reach trilogy (with a 4th on the way) is brilliant (if you’ve seen Annihilation – one of my all time favourite films – the book is even weirder and all the better for it) and enjoyed Borne. Dead Astronauts is difficult, but rewarding. City of Saints & Madmen is a collection of short stories centred around the fictional city of Ambergris. Mileage may vary, but the first few stories i really enjoyed (Dradin in Love, An Early History of Ambergris).

      And of course I’ll alway recommend Terry Pratchett, because he’s brilliant. If you’re starting off and find Discworld too intimidating a prospect to begin with then Carpet People and the gnomes trilogy (i think the publisher is calling it the Bromeliad now) are a good place to start.

      1. Excel-sior*

        Also, I’ve just started reading Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift – a conscious effort to try and get away from the middle aged white men who dominate the genre*. Early days but very good signs so far.

        *in that spirit, heading away from sci-fi towards fantasy, Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea books are wonderful and far superior to other, wizard based book series by a certain author.

      2. Pam Adams*

        I recommend that new readers skip the first two Discworld books to start with.

    5. Mrs. Frisby*

      Just read James by Percival Everett for my book club. Super harrowing and violent. Very, very different than Huck Finn. I thought it was well done and deserves all the accolades, and I’m definitely reading something lighter next.

    6. Rara Avis*

      Reading Kim (Rudyard Kipling) as a sidequest to Laurie R. King’s The Game. Finding it kind of slow going.

    7. Lemonwhirl*

      Just finished “Baby X” by Kira Peikoff. It was kind of mid – a cool premise that was kind of flat with the writing and characters. The premise is a near-future world where the IVF process can use any cell from a person to create an egg or sperm cell. A shady Dark Web outfit called The Vault is known for obtaining cells from celebrities and then auctioning off egg/sperm cells to the highest bidder. The story is about a pop star who hires a “bioguard” to protect his genetic material, only to be confronted by a woman who claims to be carrying his baby.

      I’m trying to decide now between reading “Daughter of Mine” by Megan Miranda and “Split” by Kit Frick. I’ll likely read them both, the question is which one will grab my attention more.

    8. Pam Adams*

      Rereading Jo Walton’s What Makes This Book So Great and An Informal History of the Hugos. This of course has led me to dig lots of other books off the shelf to read/reread.

    9. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I just finished Bleeding Heart Yard by Elly Griffiths, which ticked a lot of boxes for me (set in modern-day London; likeable lead detective; well crafted tension without implausible cliffhangers or graphic violence; a welcome break from the darkness of the Nordic Noir I usually read).

      I’ll say the ending requires a bit of a suspension of disbelief, but I called it earlier on in the book, which felt satisfying. And also! The story happens to be set in a neighbourhood I know very well, and there are a couple small(ish) imprecisions about location names and distances that irked me. I wouldn’t expect many other people to spot them, but they were distracting to me.

      All in all though, I liked DI Harbinder Kaur enough as a character that I’d happily read more books featuring her.

      1. IT Manager*

        I enjoy Harbinder too, a really fun and relatable character. Also it turns out I am a sucker for later-in-life friendships, so I’ve been enjoying this series even though I agree on the writing/plot.

        This week I got Tana French’s The Searcher off my holds list …. SUCH good writing. Really loved it, despite being a bit conflicted and stressed by the ending. Waiting now for the sequel.

      2. Spacewoman Spiff*

        LOVE Elly Griffiths! Have you read her Ruth Galloway series? I blew through those so quickly, I loved Ruth as a character. (Single lady who loves cats and is very serious about her career and mysteriously also gets pulled into every local police investigation!)

        So interesting to know the location had some off details, which I of course didn’t pick up on. Sometimes I avoid watching movies set in Philly because I’ll get so hung up on the wrong details that I can’t just settle into the story. (Like the recent-ish Adam Sandler basketball movie, which was fun except that they were traveling between VERY distant neighborhoods in ways that made no sense/would have had them spending half the day in a car.)

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        I do love it when I “solve” the mystery but the author doesn’t make it too easy.

    10. word nerd*

      Currently in the middle of Home by Marilynne Robinson. It’s been a while since I’ve read her other books and I’m blown away yet again by her amazing writing.

      Dipped my toes into the second Rook & Rose trilogy, which I’ve been on the fence about continuing, and I think it’s going to be a pass.

      Also read Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise and Other Bribes by Alfie Kohn. I don’t agree wholeheartedly with some of the things he says, but I do find it useful to think about how incentives can backfire by reducing intrinsic motivation (a classic example being how reading programs can reduce the interest kids have in reading by making it a chore you get a reward for). I found it easy to read and the counterintuitive results of the research studies fascinating. My family plans to homeschool while going abroad for a year or two, so it has me thinking about how to structure that time for my son.

    11. Dwight Schrute*

      I’m reading Lore but just finished up How to be Eaten and enjoyed it! ending was a bit abrupt imo but still a fun read

      1. GoryDetails*

        I liked “How to Be Eaten”, though it did get very dark – the real-world tribulations and abuses were scarier than the fairytale tie-ins. (For a different spin on the concept, there’s Grady Hendrix’s “Final Girl Support Group” – that one featuring women who survived serial-killer-type scenarios.)

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Final Girl is a terrific book–Hendrix in general is a great take on a lot of horror tropes.

          1. Stretchy McGillicuddy*

            How to Sell a Haunted House by Hendrix is the only book I had to stop and take a mental break from, and I read a LOT of horror. Stephen Graham Jones is a favorite of mine, for context.

    12. Bluebell Brenham*

      After watching Palm Royale on Apple, and enjoying it immensely (despite not being a Kristen Wiig fan), I decided to read Mr and Mrs American Pie by Juliet McDaniel. It has very little in common w the series- set in Scottsdale, and the main character Maxine is very messy. It’s fun, but pretty chaotic.

    13. GoryDetails*


      “The Queens of Animation” by Nathalia Holt, an account of some of the women who worked as illustrators for Disney in its early years – at a time when the story and art designs were all done by men. At first, the only women allowed were those working in the ink and paint department, tracing and filling in each of the thousands of cels of artwork – and even then, some were responsible for considerable innovation: I learned that one of those women developed (and, wisely, patented) the grease pencil. But the book describes several women who were hired into the mostly-male art department, where they had to battle the built-in sexism and racism only to find, too often, that they didn’t receive credit for their contributions to some of the greatest Disney films.

      “Memoirs of the Court of Charles II” by the Count de Gramont: This one contains the memoirs of 17th-century French courtier Philibert de Gramont, though apparently the book was written by his English brother-in-law Anthony Hamilton – ostensibly from Gramont’s dictation. Since Gramont spent some time at the court of Charles II in England, and was a noted and popular fellow (well, popular with most people – the would-be lovers and spouses of the women he seduced might not agree), the memoirs promise to be pretty entertaining.

      The first line offers some idea of the style:

      “As those who read only for amusement are, in my opinion, more worthy of attention than those who open a book merely to find fault, to the former I address myself, and for their entertainment commit the following pages to press, without being in the least concerned about the severe criticisms of the latter.”

      1. Atheist Nun*

        Related to the first book you mentioned, there is a forthcoming book from Rutgers University Press called Background Artist: The Life and Work of Tyrus Wong, by Karen Fang, that might interest you. The book discusses Wong’s career as a Chinese American animator. It will be published in October.

        1. GoryDetails*

          That sounds good – thanks! Tyrus Wong was mentioned in “Queens of Animation” as well.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          And the terrific “Lady From the Black Lagoon” by Mallory O’Meara. It’s about Millicent Patrick, who was one of those animators and designed the iconic Black Lagoon creature from the Universal movies.

          1. GoryDetails*

            Oh, yes, I loved “Lady From the Black Lagoon”! The creature design in that one was so awesome, and I was thrilled to learn about Millicent’s involvement.

        3. NeonFireworks*

          I’ve been wanting to read more about him but hadn’t heard of this book! Thanks!

    14. Nervous Nellie*

      To honor and appreciate Canadian author Alice Munro, who passed away this week, I am rereading two of her books of short stories: Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You and Family Furnishings. ‘Short’ is a relative term – most of her stories are 20-30 pages. They’re really novellas. I was never a fan of the short story because they can’t go into much depth before they’re over, but wow, Alice Munro sure could. They are spare, thoughtful and really satisfying.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I’m putting those on the list!

        If you want to try more short stories, look up Shirley Jackson. Her collections Let Me Tell You and Just an Ordinary Day are fantastic. Many of the stories were originally in magazines and only a few pages long, but boy, can she pack a punch into them.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Agreed! I know them well. I also love O.Henry’s short stories, as his twist endings were a big inspiration for Rod Serling when developing The Twilight Zone.

          Shirley Jackson was a very quiet force of nature, raising kids (Wow – read Life Among the Savages!) and deferring to her professor husband. I often wonder what she would have written if she had lived in our current era.

      2. word nerd*

        Alice Munro is so moving, but I must read her stories in small doses because of it.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Agreed. Her stories are somehow both heavy & delicate. Her stories are so quiet and graceful, but then they knock the wind out of you. She was a national treasure.

    15. Stretchy McGillicuddy*

      I am not usually a sci fi reader but I read one Mike Chen book and am now reading all his books. I just finished A Quantum Love Story and while I don’t think he stuck the landing it was still a fun read. Light Years from Home is my favorite so far by him.

      1. word nerd*

        I just read A Quantum Love Story too and found it entertaining. When that character has to isolate for a while, I did daydream about how I would spend so much time reading if I were in that position and how many books I could get through.

    16. Jill Swinburne*

      I’ve been reading chick-lit trash, just to lower the tone. I’ve found that Julie Caplin’s Romantic Escapes series is surprisingly good – everything predictable you want from the genre (a needed change in life, a handsome but surly stranger, an awakening, a connection, sex, a misunderstanding, a reconciliation thanks to a wise old lady, then happy-ever-after – you don’t read them for the plot twists) but with a side of travel writing. She does places very well. Right now it’s all I have the mental agility for but it’s better than scrolling Reddit.

  11. Jackalope*

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

    I haven’t had a lot of game time this weekend but I did play a bit of Dr. Mario. An oldie but a goodie, and really nice for days when I don’t want to have to think because work was A Lot.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I was very happy to find an emulator app that would allow me to play Infocom-style interactive fiction games on my phone now that the older apps are no longer compatible with newer versions of Android.

      It’s called Audio IF, and you can play in either text or audio mode where it will read the narration to you and take voice commands. I just want the text version, but it’s nice to know there are accessibility options.

  12. JitzGirl614*

    I posted this late last week so I’m re-posting in hopes people see it this week.

    My almost 13 year old son wants to go to Pokémon GO Fest in NYC this summer. Anyone who has gone before or lives in NYC have any recommendations on what borough/area to stay in for him to get max enjoyment but not break the bank? It’s not his only trip of the summer so I’m trying to give him a good experience but do it in an economic way. We are driving from New Jersey so are flexible on getting to wherever we ultimately stay, as well as what days we go and what else we do.

    Any other tips from anyone who has done GO Fest in prior years is welcome!

    1. mreasy*

      I would look in Brooklyn or Queens off the subway lines near the event. You won’t want to drive into the city or out given traffic and the time it will take, so try to be within whatever is a comfortable walk for you of a connecting train. Bushwick and Ridgewood have somewhat reasonable hotels and that will be close-ish the L train. Crown Heights might also be a good option. I’d use hotels.com or one of the other sites to search, and just check for the transit proximity for whichever you look at. Since Google Maps has subway info now, it should be pretty simple to do. Good luck!

      1. New Yorker*

        I would not stay in any of those neighborhoods. They can still be a little rough in parts, and are far from Manhattan. In addition, if the GO Fest is on the weekend, who knows if the trains are going to be running on their normal tracks/schedules.

        Does the festival website have a “Getting Here” section? Look at that and work outwards from there.

      2. JitzGirl614*

        Thank you! My partner’s cousin lives in Brooklyn so maybe he has some recommendations as well.

    2. I just really can’t think of a name*

      I think the easiest access to Randall’s Island is off the 4/5 (connects to a bus onto the island). Staying in Manhattan near the 4/5/6 or Long Island City (Queens) near the 7 is probably your best bet for an easier trip.

      You could also stay in Astoria (Queens) and just take a taxi/Uber to Randall’s Island. It’s about a 10-15 minute drive, although I don’t know if there will be a lot of traffic around the events. If you get a ride in for the morning event, you could then take the bus to the subway into Manhattan for the afternoon, so you wont have to spend too much money on transportation. Astoria is also a pretty quick ride on the N into midtown Manhattan, if there will be days you aren’t going to Randall’s Island.

      If you don’t mind a slightly longer commute at the start of the day, Jersey City has great hotels on the waterfront (with parking) that give you a fantastic view of Manhattan. Many of them do a lot of corporate business and are actually cheaper on weekends than during the week. And depending on where in NJ you’re coming from, the drive could be significantly shorter and you’ll save some money on tolls and parking. PATH runs 24/7 (just like the subway), but less frequently on weekends, so it’s worth checking the schedule. It’s one stop from Exchange Place to World Trade Center, where you can pick up the 4/5 express. (If you don’t pick a waterfront hotel but do stay in Jersey City, you’ll have the best commute if you are walking distance to PATH at Exchange Place (best) or Grove. Just know that Grove is undergoing repairs and service will be rerouted at times on weekends throughout the summer.)

    3. Manders*

      I don’t have any help on that front, but I’m very jealous – my friends went to the one in Chicago and had a blast. Please pass along my friend code to him: 1099 1977 1935.

  13. Anon Poster*

    I recently found out my work will be closed for a week at the end of October. This just so happens to coincide with my birthday, which is a milestone birthday this year. I want to take advantage of this opportunity and take a trip. I was thinking maybe Portugal? Southern Italy? Anyone well-traveled have suggestions? I would be traveling alone. I’ve traveled alone within the U.S. and to London, but never to a country where English isn’t the official language. It’s early stages, all I know right now is that I want to go to Europe, and I want to stay in one place for about 5 days. I’m open to day trips to other places, but not changing cities/changing hotels. I don’t want to rent a car or drive myself anywhere. I want the chance of decent weather. I really just want to wake up someplace gorgeous on this Big Birthday and be all “OMG it’s my birthday and I’m in ______________.” I would definitely be traveling on a budget. Any suggestions? I’m excited about this potential opportunity and looking for inspiration!

    1. Bluebell Brenham*

      I’ve been to Italy but not Portugal. My choice for you would be to base yourself in Florence-excellent food and museums, and if you wanted, you could do day trips to Siena, San Gimignano, and even Pisa, all by train. The weather will still be temperate in fall. I still remember an October afternoon in San Gimignano looking at a gorgeous landscape while having the best crisp white wine and black olives. Madrid could also work for you, though it’s a bit cooler.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        We did Rome to Florence as a day trip, so you could do the other way around. Be willing to be flexible regarding train strikes.

        My advice is to book hotels well in advance – I booked earlier than I usually do for a Europe trip last summer, and got some amazing, not too expensive places to say that fill up quickly. I generally sort by price (low to high) and look for places with high ratings where the reviews praise the owners. I prefer hotels with a reception when I’m travelling alone for extra safety, rather than trying to sort out entry procedures for AirBnBs in random residential neighbourhoods.

        Language-wise, pretty much any major tourist destination is going to be able to handle English at some level, and Google translate makes things so much easier. Pre-download the language packs for better performance.

        My travel schedule in Italy was to get up fairly early, have breakfast, hit up a museum (or do a train trip to get somewhere) in the morning, have a leisurely large main meal with wine at about 1 pm, and use the afternoon for cafes, parks, wandering interesting neighbourhoods, with a light dinner (sometimes just bread, cheese, cold meat, olives and fruit in the hotel room), and an early night. I found some amazing restaurants by wandering down side streets away from the major tourist spots, and looking for a place that didn’t have a tourist menu. In Florence, I had the best panini I’ve ever had.

        Booking a half-day or one day short tour can be a way to access sites that aren’t easy without a car – in Chile, I did a one day vineyard excursion, and in Greece a tour out of Athens to various archeological sites (admitted, that last was how I finally caught COVID).

      2. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

        San Gimignano is beautiful! I did a day trip there from Florence by bus.
        Florence itself is such a great place to stay because it’s a very walkable city.

    2. Excel-sior*

      I’d suggest Poland as a less obvious alternative, if you’re not looking for a beach. Warsaw is amazing (check out the Warsaw Uprising museum) and Kraków is even better, culture coming out of your ears, with the salt mines at Wieliczka (beautiful) and Auschwitz (not the most easygoing day, mentally or emotionally, but well worth doing if you’re up to it) easy day trips.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        Oh I have been intrigued by Poland recently. Every picture I see of Gdańsk is beautiful. I desperately want to go to the folk museum/heritage sites in Zalipie. I realize these places aren’t near each other, just mention a few that caught my attention.

    3. Avon*

      Rome! I loved the history, I loved the food and I loved the people. As an Australian I felt much more at home in Rome than in any Swiss city (though I loved the scenery there) and the fact that the people were happy to use their minimal English, my very minimal Italian and a universal language of pointing and smiling made it very comfortable.

      Venice! We stayed in a self-catering place down near the original ghetto. (I can’t recommend hotels because I’ve never really stayed in them.) Waking up a few metres from a canal and walking to the Jewish baker in the ghetto to buy bread for breakfast…was amazing. Travelling on a water bus to and from the laundromat and the market just felt so local. It can be crowded but we just walked and you’d turn down little local streets and you could be by yourself in minutes.

    4. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I’d rule out Southern Italy if you’re not looking to hire a car. There are lots of stunning places. A big city like Rome or Florence would work better: plenty to see in the city itself and you can decide on the spot if you’d like to take a train for a day trip elsewhere. Rome is one of my favourite places in the world for a tourist visit, and October should be a good time, not too hot but still likely very nice weather to spend time outside. I have plenty of recommendations for another thread if you go there :)

      Re. Portugal, Lisbon is lovely. 5 days sound about right, and if you feel like it you can go on a day trip to Sintra by train with not much effort. I’m going to Porto in a few months’ time and have heard great things about it too!

      Someone mentioned Madrid, which I second (I went in December, fairly mild weather still, and it’s the kind of city I’d actually see myself living in). I’ll add a recommendation for Barcelona, which is absolutely gorgeous.

    5. DistantAudacity*

      I just came back from Andalucia, Spain, travelling on my own! I was in Sevilla, Cordoba and Granada. I took the train between the cities (I flew in and out of Malaga) – travelling by train is very excellent in Spain (Renfe – use the app). For 5 days I would recommend Sevilla, with day excursions to maybe Cadiz, Cordoba and Granada/Alhambra.

      October is a good month to visit – not too hot, and outside of high season. Early booking can get you some advance booking discounts. I used a lot of those «36 hrs in xx” type articles from The Guardian and NY times to look for recommendations.

      Please remember to book any Alhambra visit well in advance, as tickets are limited and will be sold out!

      1. Lane*

        Definitely second this. We did much the same trip in February. Loved every minute. We also flew to Tenerife. Highly recommend.

    6. strawberry lemonade*

      I’ll throw out Vienna as a suggestion. I spent 6 days there as a solo traveller there pre-pandemic and I found there was so much to see and easy to navigate on my own. I got the Vienna pass which included most of the attractions I was interested in as well as the Hop on Hop off bus that got me to most of them. I found Vienna more budget friendly than some other European cities as well and was able to get a decent hotel in a fairly central area. I don’t know how chilly it would be by late October, but I was there late September and it was lovely.

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

        If you do Vienna, make sure you hit Schoenbrunn (spelling may be a little off) palace — it’s gorgeous, as are its grounds.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      I loved Florence, and you wouldn’t want a car to get around the narrow cobbled streets. The Uffizi is incredible, and it’s packed with museums and great architecture and great food. Pisa is a daytrip by train.

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

        Thirding Florence — it’s super walkable, hard to get lost in (you can aim towards the Duomo), and has friendly residents.

    8. IT Manager*

      I went to southern Portugal in January and it was WONDERFUL. History and beaches and off-season pricing.

    9. Lady Danbury*

      I’ve traveled to both Spain (Barcelona, Seville, Madrid) and Portugal (Lisbon) solo and loved both. Lisbon would be perfect for you, as there’s plenty to explore there but also lots of day trips by train (Sintra, Setubal, Cascais, etc). Lots of history (I recommend a “free” walking tour), the food and sangria are absolutely amazing and it’s more budget friendly than Spain, especially since October is shoulder season.

    10. Maybe Not Entirely a Lurker*

      TAP (Air Portugal) has a special going on until 5/21 with $379 flights to Lisbon and other European destinations – a very good price.
      I can tell you Lisbon is excellent, and absolutely navigable as an English speaker, and a person travelling alone – it’s also VERY affordable, shockingly so. The weather is gorgeous there in October! You can jump on a train for day trips; Ubers are so cheap you won’t hesitate to run around the city or into the suburbs.
      What an EXCELLENT IDEA for a way to celebrate your big day!!

      1. Maybe Not Entirely a Lurker*

        Replying to my own suggestion because I’ve been to Sintra twice and LOVED IT but didn’t realize until reading these other replies that there’s a way to get there by train. It’s INDESCRIBABLY COOL and you should absolutely spend a day (or two!) there if you go to Lisbon!

        1. Usually Lurking*

          I just tried to make a reservation using TAP’s “sale” and … never mind. Bait-n-Switch. You should still go to Lisbon, though! Just don’t expect a great fare from TAP.

    11. Laura Petrie*

      We had a short break in Lisbon just before Covid and absolutely loved it. Beautiful architecture and food, interesting sights and excellent public transport.

      We’ve also been to a few places in northern Italy- Venice, Verona, Turin, Milan, Florence and Pisa and it is really easy to travel around on trains between cities and within the cities themselves.

      We’ve just come back from a week in Bavaria (Munich, Nuremberg and Bamberg). It’s absolutely beautiful, good public transport and fab food.

    12. Pharmgirl*

      I really enjoyed Copenhagen when traveling alone. I did go in October as well but I’m not sure if you are looking for warmer weather. The Copenhagen Card gets you tickets to attractions AND public transport including commuter rails to outside the city (I took a day trip to the Viking museum after a recommendation from here).

    13. KeinName*

      Ljubljana! Explore the city for three days, then take some day trips. There’s Slovenian salt plains, and Roman ruins nearby. You can get on the train for 9€ and go to the Croatian coast in three hours (just ask at the desks in the train station). There‘s Flixbus and Arriva busses and local busses to go to all the places. Food also very nice and hearty.

    14. Six Feldspar*

      Croatia is lovely in autumn! Plitvice Lakes are stunning and Split is a great coastal town with ruins and attractions, but a lot quieter than Dubrovnik.

      Generally I found I enjoyed the non-capital cities more if you’re travelling in the peak tourism seasons and October is still fairly busy. Rome in November and Lisbon in February were lovely but I wouldn’t go in busier times.

      Personal favourites for October/shoulder season travelling: Split, Seville, Barcelona, Gdansk, Krakow, Munich and Ljubljana – especially with Slovenia being so small, you can do day trips pretty easily out of Ljubljana.

      1. Bluebell Brenham*

        I was in Croatia this March and thought Split was lovely, and Dubrovnik was also enchanting.

    15. Anon Poster*

      Thank you all so much for your replies, I have so much research to do! I’m even more excited now than I was before I posted

    16. Treena*

      Portugal fits all your criteria and is the best birthday WOW bang for your buck, imo.

      Some of my suggestions:
      Cluj in Romania is a very cool city, with an amazing art scene, great restaurants, very walkable, and very budget-friendly. A friend of mine absolutely adores Belgrade. Budapest is a great city and you can fill a week easily, plus they’re famous for spas and other birthday treats.

      Spain is good too, but not as cheap as Portugal.
      Rome/Italy is good, but will not be budget-friendly. I personally loved Venice solo but even in December, the depths of off-season, it was quite expensive.

      Ljubljana is a good idea but may not be super warm. Same with Poland. Really depends on what you mean by good weather.

      Same with Croatia, it’s not easy to just stay put, it’s more of a roadtrip destination.

      Copenhagen is lovely, but outrageously expensive and will be colder.

  14. Annie Edison*

    Does anyone have tips on feeling confident traveling solo while female? I’m planning the first big vacation I’ve been able to take in several years and somewhere between Covid, two big and difficult moves, and grieving several big personal losses over the last 4 years, I seem to have lost my confidence and sense of adventure.

    Intended trips are Olympic National Park over the summer and Iceland in the winter if that’s relevant; I will probably be back in later threads for tips for those locations. For now I’m mostly looking for safety recommendations, confidence building, and/or commiseration. General advice or specific tips, tricks, and tools would all be welcome

    1. Shelby*

      Not a tip per say, but I just want to say, I went on a cross country road trip a few years ago by myself. I’m a gay woman in my 20s, and I didn’t have any bad experiences at all. Just sharing in case an anecdote about it going well for others can help ease your worries a bit!

    2. Scientist*

      I’m so excited for you! I LOVE traveling solo. (I’m a 36 year old female, but have done most of my longer solo trips in my late twenties.) I’ve had a lot of successful camping trips and road trips solo and have been lucky to not be in any overly sketchy or any actually unsafe situations.

      Prepare and plan more than you maybe otherwise would: when you set out for the day, know your destination and how to get there and some options for gas or food or breaks or whatever. It means you can be confident and looking at your phone/maps less during the day. For road or camping trips, prep supplies to be more self-sufficient – extra gallons of water in the trunk, extra quart of oil and wiper fluid, tire pressure gauge, extra phone charger, flashlight with batteries, blanket, etc. Extra food and supplies when car camping.

      Be friendly but avoid telling people you’re traveling solo and/or your exact plans. Don’t post your exact future plans on social media if posts are public. Who knows if this is really necessary but it makes me feel better.

      Traveling solo is so freeing and fun and flexible. I love getting to make all my own decisions, linger where I want, pick up and go when I want, people watch and read and sit in creeks and explore down weird side trails. I hope you have some great trips!

      1. Double A*

        This is all great advice! If you’re mostly planning to camp, set aside some of your budget for a few spontaneous nights at a hotel. Sometimes it’s nice to just get indoors with amenities on a whim, even if you’re mostly planning to rough it. Also KOA type places can be nice for amenities like laundry and a decent shower but still cheap.

        I’d also recommended getting some paper maps ot atlases. Just knowing you’ve got something that can’t die on you is comforting.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          Seconding the paper map suggestion. We took an epic road trip last spring and didn’t realize we were going to be near Arches when we went to Canyonland because we just looked up Canyonland online. We now own a large-format national atlas.

    3. Double A*

      I can’t remember if I’ve actually done the Olympic National Park alone, but they have a great marathon that I ran (well, the half usually) several times. I’m almost positive that at least once and maybe more than once I did it alone. I’d always camp at the Dungeness Recreation Area and I love that spot. Always felt very safe. The whole peninsula feels safe, or did 10 years ago.

      I mean the National Park is incredible, I did a couple of one night backpacking trips there that were lovely. I would feel totally comfortable doing it on my own but I’m a fairly experienced backpacker.

      What kind of activities are you hoping to do?

    4. Filosofickle*

      It’s been a spectacularly hard few years for me and my sense of adventure and energy are perilously low! I had a solo trip last summer, and my guiding principle was focusing on what felt good and giving myself permission to bail on anything at any time — if I started feeling grumpy or something wasn’t what I hoped for, I simply moved on or took a break. And that may sound obvious, but when I’ve spent a lot of money and effort to get somewhere I can feel pressured to keep following the plan even when I am not enjoying it. Protecting a positive mood was really important to not sliding emotionally. To help that, I also brought a kindle everywhere, which I’ve never done before. It gave me something to do at meals and while taking breaks.

      Personally I don’t have safety concerns about traveling alone — I’ve always felt comfortable doing that and have felt safe in cities and nature alike. But along with charged devices I carry a little kit with a charging cable and small charging brick so I have juice to navigate and get help. For long or international trips, I create a Google Drive folder with key docs and info so if my purse/luggage/phone are lost I can still access info from any phone or computer. (Since I literally don’t know anybody’s phone number by memory.) If I have any questions about cell reception, I download offline versions of the area on Google Maps.

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        Love this advice about protecting a positive mood and giving yourself permission.

        I struggle with changing plans, so I’ve learned to make smaller plans and then be more open to opportunities that I might spot during the trip.

      2. Sloanicota*

        I feel your attitude so much! I used to be bolder and I think the pandemic shrank my world and my mental space. So when I travel alone (which I LOVE – in fact, when I travel with other people I find myself getting grumpier now – my new rule is don’t go back with a group to a place you loved solo, because you will be grumpy) I make sure to luxuriate in things like a) deciding to go back to the hotel early for the night, watch cable and take a bath b) eating at weird times because that’s when I’m hungry and things aren’t crowded or c) doing really boring things like “strolling around in an inefficient way just looking at the streets” that I know would drive companions crazy.

    5. Jackalope*

      In addition to other tips here, I like to have a safe person who knows more or less what I’m going to be doing. I’ll have a friend or family member who knows what campground I’m going to and what general area I’m planning to hike, for example, someone who knows to call for help if I don’t check in by X time or day. That way if something does happen I’ll have someone waiting to hear from me who can follow up if I don’t call.

      Both of the places you mentioned have a lot of rugged and isolated regions. I’m guessing you’re planning to do at least some camping or wilderness time but even if you’re not, there’s a fair bit of driving from one town to the next with no cell coverage or GPS. Because of that I highly recommend getting actual paper maps. I’m not as familiar with Iceland, but the ONP has a lot of trail maps and trail books, plus general maps of the region. That way you’re never stuck with no way to figure out where you are. I’d also recommend having a water filter, extra food, and a sleeping bag and pillow in the car so if you get stuck somewhere you have the necessities.

      Next I’d recommend asking yourself what you find anxiety-inducing and try to address it in a practical way. Are you afraid you’ll be attacked? Get lost? Get injured? Etc? I’ve you have specific fears you can list them here and ask for brainstorming. But also, try to find practical ways to deal with each of those things (carry mace or bear spray, buy the maps, bring a first aid kit, and so on). I find that very helpful in relieving my fears.

      Lastly, I’ve personally travelled a lot at myself and have even travelled (and camped) regularly in the ONP solo. I’ve had a lot of fun, and have found that generally people and animals both just want to go about their business and will leave you alone (or in the case of people will be friendly but not overly interested in you). The worst experiences I’ve had were with noisy neighbors in the next campsite over, which is not terrible. (My actual worst experience was reading a scary book right before I went to bed, but that was 100% my own fault and you can easily avoid it.) And I’ve had a lot of fun.

      (You said you’re going to ask for more specifics on your destinations later, but I did want to say one thing about the ONP now. Because it’s a rain forest, try to avoid planning any outdoors stuff until mid-July at the earliest unless you enjoy being outside in the rain. Mid-July through mid-Sept is your best bet for drier weather. Just in case you’re working on picking dates.)

      1. Sloanicota*

        Ha! I definitely agree about maybe avoiding scary/stressful content if you’re trying to maintain a zen attitude while traveling alone. I always seem to end up reading suspense novels on vacation and wondering why I made this choice – and if I’m in the hotel room, definitely no crime TV. Made that mistake before!

        1. Jackalope*

          The book I read was The Girl With the Crooked Nose by Ted Botha. It’s a biography of a forensic artist who managed to help solve many murder cases, and info about how he created his forensic art, etc. It was a fascinating book and one that I highly recommend, but reading a nonfiction book that spent a lot of time talking about murder was… not helpful when I was off by myself! Normally I like wild and unpopulated campgrounds; I prefer them for the quiet, and in terms of safety they reassure me more because from what I know most human predators don’t want to drive that far out into the middle of nowhere for a victim when there are other potential victims who are easier to find. But the night I read this particular book I was in a place that had a lot of people in it and was just outside a small town (like 5 min away from said town) so there were lots of people who just wanted to get out of town enough so they could be a bit wild, and just enough space that someone could have come into my campsite without being seen by other campers…. Yeah, not reading another book like that right before bed, at least not while camping!

          (Spoiler alert: nothing happened and I was fine, if a bit annoyed at the people who brought their loud music to a campground and wanted to play it late at night. Lesson learned: don’t camp someplace that close to town!)

    6. DistantAudacity*

      Generic solo travel, not hiking or camping –
      For me, I always make sure I book really nice accomodations, with good locations.
      It doesn’t have to be grand, but it does have to be nice! I find that I spend a lot more time in the room when on my own – a day may typically be “out and about 4-5 hrs – back to rest for a couple of hours – out again – and then an early evening”.

      For my recent trip in southern Spain I made sure to book rooms with a private terrace to hang out on – made possible by early bookings at cute B&Bs. It was very nice to have in the hot weather :)

      Lunch is a key meal for me, rather than a big evening dinner. I have no shame in checking out the local simple fast-ish food scene, either ;)

      I’ve never had any particular safety worries, outside of regular common sense. Making sure the location of my accommodation is good is key to that, though!

      1. ToEachHerOwn*

        That’s so interesting – I consistently spend less time in the room, mostly just a little sleep, so I go for nice/convenient location over quality of accommodations. This is particularly true in major cities – I’ve stayed in hostels in NYC, for example, in order to afford being right in midtown.

        I’d say decide what your priorities are and lean into them – that’s one of the advantages of traveling alone.

      2. ToEachHerOwn*

        And I usually skip lunch in favor of breakfast (buffet at the hotel if they have one) and dinner to maximize the hours that things are open. I am clearly more about doing stuff while on vacation – always interesting to hear alternate perspectives.

    7. UKDancer*

      I mean I really like travelling on my own. I can do what I want and if I want a mid-afternoon nap I can have one, if I want to spend an afternoon pottering around shops and looking in a supermarket to see what flavours of jam they have in Italy I can. I love the ability to just please myself and wander or not. I also quite enjoy eating on my own and sitting at a table, watching people and reading a good book over a leisurely dinner is also fun.

      I tend to take a week to myself every January to escape the English winter to somewhere with sunshine and I absolutely love being able to do nothing much and just be without having to please anyone.

      Things I do for safety are making sure I let someone know where I am and checking in with her as agreed, making sure I know where I am and have oriented myself properly on a map and having a phrasebook and learning the most common phrases. I also check the fire evacuation plan for the hotel and make sure I know where the exits are. I would also recommend taking the rudiments of a first aid kit (Elastoplast, after bite cream, sickness remedies). Most of the places I go have everything but it’s best not to be trying to work out the local word for paracetamol when I’m feeling unwell.

      I like luxury so I can’t comment on camping etc plans because the joy for me is being pampered and looked after.

    8. Hlao-roo*

      For confidence building, you could do some “practice” day trips. Maybe something along the lines of picking a state/local park with hiking trails 1-2 hours away, driving there, going for a short hike, and eating alone at a restaurant on your way home (adapt as needed based on what you plan to do in Olympic and Iceland). It can be a good self-reminder that you are capable of: driving new places, hiking new places, and spending time by yourself.

      You can also practice Filosofickle’s permission-to-bail advice. Drive to the park and the trails are all muddy? Bail on the hike, find a nearby coffee shop and relax there for a bit before driving home. That would still be a successful “practice” day trip. Or maybe the drive and hike all go to plan, but after you realize you aren’t feeling a solo meal in a restaurant. Bail on that, buy yourself some snacks at the gas station, and eat when you get home. Also still a successful practice day trip.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m a fan of paper: A sheet on which I have typed out all the travel info (name, address, phone, confirmation numbers) and a printed out map of, say, the hotel and environs. A tiny map folded up in a travel guide from the library is great. Then if I’m in a cell phone hole I can still navigate.

    10. RMNPgirl*

      I’m a 40 year old female and have traveled solo many times. Lots of trips in the US and abroad. I will say that I felt safer in the UK and Europe as a single female than I do in many US cities. I think what helped me was really looking at maps before I set off so I could keep my awareness up and not have to be looking down a lot or possibly looking lost. General safety tips are always good to follow such as being aware of your surroundings. I also made sure my mom knew my plans for each day and I’d always let her and my dad know when I got back to my hotel room for the night.

    11. Spacewoman Spiff*

      Oh, I hope you have amazing trips! There’s already a lot of great advice in here, I especially second the recommendation to plan your days fully. My biggest problem when solo traveling is that, if I don’t have a list of stuff I want to do that day, I’ll start to get lonely…sometimes I’ll have a running list of places I want to walk, museums to go to, etc., so I can stay flexible about what I do each day. I also like to book some group tours when I’m traveling alone. There’s usually a lot of options for day tours, and if you’re unsure about SO much solo time those might be good to sprinkle into your trip. What I wound up landing on was about half my time solo, followed by a group tour (think a 5-day tour or so) so I’m able to do all my independent things, then am with people just when I’m starting to get a little tired of so much time with myself. Please report back to us on all your travels!!

      1. Usually Lurking*

        When I sign up for a day bus trip – which are always fun! – I always check in with the leader before the bus loads and tell them I’m traveling alone and “please sit me next to someone fun!” And so far … they always have!

    12. Lady Danbury*

      Some of my favorite trips have been solo. I tend to follow the same approach whether it’s a joint or solo trip, which is to research tons beforehand so that I’m confident about options. I normally create a google doc of my research (potential places to eat, things to do, relevant blog posts, etc.) that can be accessed offline as needed. I also use google maps to save places of interest/place to eat, which can also be downloaded for offline access. I usually save tons of places (hundreds for a city vacation), which means that no matter where I find myself, there are always pre-vetted options to choose from. That helps relieve some of the “where should I go next/what should I eat now” anxiety without having to preplan an entire itinerary. If I want an extended peruse on my phone, I like to duck into a bakery or coffee shop (snack breaks are always welcome) so that I can sit and scroll instead of standing in the streets looking lost. A park bench also works.

      Definitely do your research on where to stay and err on a location that’s safer and more central/walkable if traveling solo. I also like to share my location on my phone with a trusted friend or family member.

      Free walking tours are a great way to orient yourself to a new city. They tend to be fun and informative and the guides are a great source of advice if you have specific questions. I try to do one at the beginning of my trip and of course tip well. Food tours are also a great option.

    13. Sutemi*

      I like to seek out third places when traveling alone. Sitting in a plaza, a park bench, museum cafe or a quiet bar with a book so I’m around people but not interacting. It gets me out of my (usually tiny) hotel room, doesn’t take as much energy as the daytime hike/museum and adds to the sense to being in a different space.

    14. Maybe Not Entirely a Lurker*

      I travel alone all the time, internationally and in the US, camping/hiking and otherwise. I suspect that once you get started you’re going to realize that it’s not hard or scary, and is actually so freeing to be able to do what you want when you want. (Someone sent me a meme recently that was a woman eating alone in a nice restaurant, reading a book and having a glass of wine with dinner. She is surrounded by tables of couples, and the waiter is saying to her “I’m sorry, and this is awkward, but my manager wants me to move you to the bar because your contentment is bothering all the couples.” To me THIS is what it feels like to travel alone!)
      I go places that are not dangerous (Iceland is one of the safest places I’ve been!), and just tend to be either home (and asleep, exhausted!) by dark, or out where there are plenty of people. (Props to the woman above who scared herself reading a scary book while camping! :-D) I’m not a person who would come out of a nightclub at 3:00 am to a dark street, but I have come out of a crowded theater at 10:00 pm and walked to a bus stop with the crowd.
      Go for it! It’s gonna open up a whole new world for you.

    15. fposte*

      I’m in my 60s and I usually solo travel, and I’m not super adventurous. Your destinations should be eminently doable on your own.

      For me, it helps a lot to know what my more fragile spots are: I can push myself too much but also not enough, so I have to steer a course there. I can find it hard to head out into a dark evening from the hotel if I’ve overtired myself, for instance, and while I’m fine with staying in some nights there are usually things I want to get out to see, so I need to make sure ai have enough energy left for that. I like having some nice moments of human contact periodically and they don’t have to be with locals, though it’s enjoyable if they are. Repeated moving from place to place can wear me out a lot faster; I like to develop a routine and grow some teeny little roots. I’m generally okay with eating in a restaurant on my own but I also will happily just get takeout or prepared foods and eat in the hotel.

      Obviously safety practices depend to some extent on where you are, but mostly I keep my phone handy (carry backup battery if necessary) but don’t bury my face in it. I make sure I have at least two different credit cards with me, as well as some cash. I’m past the target creep age these days but even when I wasn’t I didn’t encounter anything I wouldn’t at home.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I like to do lunch/early dinner in a restaurant alone. I have learned I’ll find it less pleasant to do dinner alone during the rush hour, especially if it was a recommended place that’s on the nicer end (fine to do some place with a counter or good bar seating, of course). I vaguely feel I am an inconvenience to the server and that perhaps people around me are giving me the side-eye – although I recognize that’s really in my own head. My presence during a slow lunch period seems much more welcome, even though I am still breezily announcing “just me!” to the hostess.

    16. Ice Land*

      Just got back from Iceland. I was not traveling solo, but I would never have been uncomfortable if I had been. The crime rate there is very low and almost everyone (certainly everyone working at the tourist destinations) spoke English, so it was very easy to get around. You’ve chosen a great destination you can feel confident in.

    17. Pharmgirl*

      My first solo trip was to Iceland (I was 30 at the time). I never felt unsafe or uncomfortable. Definitely do your research – it helped me to have a basic itinerary and know where I was going each day, and to know the routes. Download maps so you know where you are / can get where you’re going. I sprung for the international data plan which made me feel safe.

      As far as confidence I love traveling alone. Being able to do what you want, when you want it. Not having to skip something because the majority of the group isn’t interested. Eat what/when you want. Just being on your own time table, or the ability to spend as much or as little as you want without worrying about others.

      One app a friend recommended was “Visit a City” which really helps you plan your itinerary, with recommendations for when to leave, how long to stay at each attraction, and even how to get there! Another option for a first solo trip is a guided tour. I did this for Iceland since it was my first time traveling alone, and it helped ease the stress of planning.

    18. Kiki Is The Most*

      Another lifelong female solo traveler here. (And I have lived abroad for the last two decades, too). When I travel to a ‘new’ country/city, I tend to have definite plans sprinkled throughout the vacation: a walking tour in the a.m. one day, a cooking class or a museum or a specialized tour/hike on other days but leaving half of each day free to do what I want. It gives purpose in each day but leeway to explore.

      As a solo traveler, I look forward to meeting new people in each destination, too. Met one of my now closest friends a decade ago from an eco tour in the Amazon. Met some hilarious follks at a concert in Scotland who invited me to join them for drinking and merriment into the evening…
      The idea of this also helps me NOT be anxious about being on my own as a traveler.

      I hope your travels will be amazing. Iceland is GORGEOUS.

    19. SoloTraveler*

      I traveled by myself all the time in my 20s and 30s before medical issues curtailed it. From my perspective, it’s mainly being aware of your surroundings, being willing to take a cab if you feel it appropriate (I can’t drive and typically use public transit to get around – if you are driving this obviously doesn’t apply), and letting yourself make choices in the moment.

      I should note that I’ve lived by myself since I was 16 (that’s when I left for college) and I lived in some bad neighborhoods to be near school so I’m pretty comfortable being by myself generally. If you’re not, I’d start by doing more stuff on your own at home – particularly things out of your normal routine – and assessing how you feel about it. It may help you get more comfortable with the idea.

      Good luck! Solo travel is awesome because no one else is telling you what to do.

      PS I’m cis female, sometimes taken for white and sometimes not depending on the environment if that makes a difference to you.

  15. Scientist*

    What might we be forgetting or overlooking as we prep to imminently transition from one kid to two?

    My husband and I have an almost exactly three-year-old daughter and I am currently 35 weeks pregnant with a baby boy. I feel like we planned so so much for our first one and got so much stuff and for this one…we haven’t done much! We have a ton of stuff saved from when our daughter was a baby so I don’t think we need a lot more things, but maybe we’re forgetting about things. I’d also love more tips for how to make the transition to being a big sister easier for our toddler!

    We have a new infant carseat with multiple bases (the one we used with first kid was in terrible shape), a bedside bassinet, a changing table, baby clothes, other leftovers from baby #1 (blankets, burp cloths, etc.) I’ve also procured about ~ten small presents (mini coloring books, new playdoh molds, etc) for our daughter, to hand out during times in the first couple weeks when baby is taking up a lot of time.

    1. Double A*

      Unfortunately, just like with the first, so much depends on the kids’ temperaments. Or maybe that’s fortunate, because you really can’t prepare that much so you just can kinda relax and know you’ll cross bridges as they come.

      My daughter (who was just a tad younger than yours) was intrigued with the new baby but lost interest when it turned out he didn’t do much. She was bothered by his crying, so if your kid seems sensitive to noise some over the ear headphones can be helpful (we did not get them at the time but they’re something I’ve since realized are helpful for my daughter in some situations).

      I will say that sleeping separately really worked for my husband and I. Especially with two kids, having one parent who gets decent sleep is so helpful. My son slept in the bassinet next to me and my husband slept somewhere, I really don’t remember where. Maybe in my daughter’s room? So if you have the space for that and seems like something that might work for you, maybe get that set up.

    2. Excel-sior*

      I’m not a parent (with no plans to be one) so i can only offer second hand advice. however, from witnessing friends and family, I’d say that whilst very difficult, try to carve out some time to spend with the oldest kid. they’re going to go from being your priority to not (which is perfectly understandable, just not necessarily to a 3 year old). if you can make them feel they’ve not been forgotten about, they’re more likely to stay onside.

      Vague advice, i know, and feel free to disregard given my lack of qualifications, but that’s what I’ve noticed in my own experience.

      1. Wilde*

        I’ve got experience transitioning from one to two, and this is exactly my advice. That one on one time (with each parent) is so valuable for both parent and child.

        Expect that it will take a long time for your child to fully adjust. Don’t be surprised by toileting or sleep regressions, change in appetite and food preference etc.

        Maintain a schedule as much as possible with your child. Screen time at consistent points of the day, a regular weekend outing, bedtime routine etc. The baby changes everything, but only let it change the bare minimum.

        Also buy some diapers now in case baby comes early and you don’t have any in the right size on hand (ask me how I know).

        Good luck to you! It’s incredible and wonderful and hard and messy, like all parenting things. We are cheering you on!

    3. Kaleidoscope*

      don’t forget about your 3yo – I know a newborn needs you but so does your first kid. it is a huge adjustment.
      get 3yo to help you – giving you nappies etc.
      TV is ok to use.
      friends, family – use them if you have them!
      wear the newborn, take the 3yo out to burn off energy.

    4. Kaleidoscope*

      oh and your 3yo can give the baby a present and one of the presents can be from the baby to your 3yo.

    5. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I’m not a parent, but when my first baby brother was born, my parents got me a baby doll so I could have a baby too. I still have it in a closet somewhere.

    6. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      just had our second. toddler is two. seconding making time for one on one each day. even just ten minutes of focused time.

      also he loves choosing books to read while I nurse. sometimes I let him pick YouTube while I nurse – he gets to sit close and watch a video and we talk about it and describe it to his brother. I emphasize that as the big brother he gets to make the book/video choices

      so far hardest has been keeping him from hugging his brother too hard / squishing him and when they were both sick and home with me (illness has stunk but keeping him in daycare was the right call).

      good luck! be patient with yourselves!

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

        There is a great book called *I’m a Big Brother* (or its companion book *I’m a Big Sister*) by Joanna Cole that I usually give to older children when they get a new sibling. I notice that there are several books that have similar names to this one, but the Joanna Cole ones are awesome — very reassuring to the older child that they are special and important and that their parents love them.

    7. Hypatia*

      As long as you have a plan to feed the baby, diapers of your preferred type, and some food for yourself on hand, you should be good to go! It’s hard going from 1 to 2 as all of a sudden you need to keep track of 2 little ones, but the learning curve is much faster than it was with one. You already know the basic baby care.
      I never found that the older kid was jealous of the new baby. The older one will look immense once you bring new baby home- such a mental shift- but mostly older kid will just need some attention and love. Do make sure you have someone who can stay with older kid when you have new baby- sometimes births take longer than expected or you might need an extra day or two at hospital to recover. Have a back up plan for care.
      And be gentle to yourself and take it easy! I hope everything goes smoothly for you!

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      For daughter, I highly recommend the book Julius, the Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes. Lily is a very over the top young mouse who is thrilled about the prospect of a baby brother, right up until the baby has physically manifested and she wants none of it. She goes so far as to sing the alphabet song to him in the wrong order, and ultimately calls him a raisin. Up until her cousin insults him, and she lays out just how wrong the cousin is and after that she and baby Julius wear disguises together.

      When I was very pregnant my daughter (then five) found this story distressing, as she would obviously never have any negative feelings about the baby. Then the baby arrived, and after a few weeks she decided this was comforting to read. It captures big emotions without any threat of harm to the baby. (I vibe with “raisin” as a deadly insult.)

      1. JustEm*

        oh gosh, I hated that book! someone gave it to me and after reading it to my daughter (I had to modify on the fly to remove some negative messaging) I threw it away.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Also my daughter loved making up birth announcements to distribute to everyone at preschool. Acknowledging her glorious transition into big sisterhood. We did them like goody bags for a party, with a picture of her holding the baby, some stickers, a little toy horse, etc.

    10. Ella*

      Places to put down the baby! We didn’t really have much for our first in that way besides a couple pack and plays in the house. With our second I found I needed places to safely put him for a minute if my older son needed me urgently. We had a couple baby seats that I could move around easily. One of my favorite memories is sitting on the floor with my older son in the bathtub on one side of me and my younger son in his seat on the other so I could watch/care for both.

      1. EA*

        Agreed! Our baby bjorn bouncer got a ton of use, as well as a floor playmat and several baby carriers. I felt the need to be hands free a lot more with the second baby.

    11. Dark Macadamia*

      Since you mention reusing things – is there anything your daughter might be attached to and not want to lose/share? is there anything she’s currently using? Make sure you have a plan for communicating these changes to her, make space for her feelings whether they make sense to you or not, and if there’s something like moving into a different room or bed do it now as a “yay look how big you are” thing so she doesn’t feel displaced.

      My 3yo daughter’s “big sister” gift was a little digital camera (real one, just cheap and simple), which she had a lot of fun with taking pictures of the baby as well as all her toys, family who visited, etc.

    12. Mephyle*

      So much good advice has already been given here, I can only add: if the older one finds it disappointing once they realize that the baby can’t really do anything, I found that this started changing when the baby could grasp a toy that the older child gave her, but the point when the relationship really started building from both sides when the baby could sit up on her own, so 6–7-ish months.

      You’ve been reminded to pay attention to the older one, but something to keep in mind is to take photos of the baby, and to keep up the baby book if you had one for the first child. Maybe it’s not so hard these days when we all carry a phone much of the time, but my kids were born in the film camera era, and #3, who was the last one, definitely got the short end of the stick when it came to documenting her early years.

    13. MP*

      I had our second in Dec with a 2.5 year age gap. You already have so much great advice here I just wanted to add that I would make sure you have plenty of calorie dense or easy to grab snacks available for you!! I made a ton of “lactation” cookies (really just oatmeal cookies with not a lot of sugar) and mini banana muffins to freeze and that was super helpful but I wish I stocked up on more stuff. Especially the first couple weeks are so busy with both kids and recovering from birth it is nice to have food for you that you don’t have to prepare or think about and isn’t a meal.

    14. Scientist*

      You all are so supportive and wise!! Thank you for all of these great ideas and reminders!

  16. Dannie*

    Inspired by a lively conversation with a friend over why I won’t buy Tony’s chocolate bars, what is the weirdest reason you boycott a product?

    1. Elle Woods*

      There’s a local honey producer whose products I won’t buy. Why? Because the owner nearly sideswiped me at 70 mph on the freeway.

    2. Excel-sior*

      I’ll steer clear of products whose adverts are actively bad. not offensive, just… bad. if you’re in advertising, you need to know a bad advert is just as effective as a good one, in the opposite direction.

      1. Jay*

        This is my big one.
        This is the reason that I will never again purchase a certain paper product advertised by a certain family of creepy, poop obsessed bears.

          1. Flames on the Side of My Face*


        1. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

          I always assumed that advertising campaign was a play on the response to an obvious question with the phrase “does a bear s*** in the woods?” It doesn’t make me want to buy the product, though.

        2. Nervous Nellie*

          Thirded (fourthed?). Their slogan makes me cringe. When I see that item in the supermarket it immediately comes to mind, like an earworm. Yeccch.

        3. SofiaDeo*

          Mr. Whipple was less offensive, although I never understood why he thought the TP would get damaged by squeezing the outer package.

      2. anon24*

        I have boycotted far more companies for stupid/annoying/bad ads than I ever will buy products/use services based off of great ads.

      3. UKDancer*

        Same, it doesn’t have to be offensive but if the advert annoys me I don’t buy the product.

      4. RussianInTexas*

        There is no way I’ll use the website that was aggressively advertised last year with the “seagulls, the eagles of the sea”. I like Melissa McCarthy. I HATED those never ending commercials on YouTube.

      5. goddessoftransitory*

        And also those who don’t speak to their marketing departments and say “could you not run that damn T Mobile spot with Jason Momoa EVERY SINGLE DAMN TIME during the ad breaks on Hulu/streaming service? Because it’s really making the public hate us.”

        The spot itself was fine and funny the first thirty six times I saw it. But every single ad break during Shogun is too much. If you’re going to shell out for that much advertising vary your spots!

    3. NeonFireworks*

      I buy a lot of clothes from charity shops but am picky for various reasons. Labels I avoid include a few for good reasons (questionable standards for how they treat employees; history of bigotry; linked to celebrities I dislike). But I also pass on anything that has a label whose name I find offputting. There are a few that sound like schoolyard taunts, and even if I removed the tag I know I wouldn’t forget and it would bug me every time I picked the item up.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        I can relate! One such brand used to have posters everywhere on public transport a few years ago, and just seeing the name in huge print made me wonder how on earth someone decided it was a good idea for a fashion brand. Also poor, quality, questionable standards, and all that.

        And I just thought of another brand which definitely sounds like a schoolyard taunt – the clothes seem nice, but I’ll never buy them because I actually used to get called those words as a kid and have no desire to wear them.

        1. NeonFireworks*

          I suspect we’re thinking of at least one of the same ones! I was never called such a thing myself but every time I see one of their shops I feel newly bad for all the children and former children who were called that. The most charitable interpretation I can think of is that someone’s trying to reclaim an insult that was repeatedly levelled at them, but even so!

          1. Dark Macadamia*

            I wish y’all would just use the name, because all I can think of is the SNL ad for CHONK, which literally made me laugh to tears the first time I saw it.

                1. Cookies For Breakfast*

                  Yes, me too, and the other (name that makes no sense and sounds terrible said out loud) is boohoo.

              1. The Prettiest Curse*

                Yeah, this is the one that came to mind. It’s an awful brand name, but I still buy their clothes sometimes because it’s one of the few UK brands with trouser sizing that works for me.

    4. AGD*

      There’s a hotel chain I don’t stay at, and the reason is simply that I had an anxiety attack in one in the late nineties. It definitely wasn’t the hotel’s fault – it was because I was traveling with a relative who should have thought before loudly watching a horror film on the TV in a small room – but it was so unpleasant that I’ve been linking the chain to the idea of being intensely unsafe ever since.

    5. Squidhead*

      There’s a particular gas station on a route I drive to get to my in-laws. I won’t stop there because they were really rude the one time I stopped about 20 years ago.

      I don’t expect to ever need one but there’s a DUI attorney whose ads are all about how he takes calls when you need him most just like a firefighter or emergency room staff. That’s a nope from me. Sure, someone’s gotta be the attorney, but he’s not a knight in shining armor.

    6. Double A*

      There is a particular estate sale company that I won’t frequent because they were really rude to me once. I’m not usually one to hold a grudge but I was very newly pregnant and hormonal and there were other circumstances around the timing that made it one of those incidents that’ll just stick with you forever and I’ll never frequent them again.

    7. Anonymous cat*

      I avoid a certain grocery product because I knew someone who delivered it to stores and REALLY didn’t like him! Even after he changed jobs entirely, I still don’t buy it because it reminds me of him.

      1. Juneybug*

        I boycotted (and still am) a major grocery store because of a horrible event.
        There was a new grocery store that recently opened and had bulk items, good prices, and large selection of gluten free items. Employee run store that rhymes with “bin-co”. Had a nice time looking around and seeing what they had in stock.
        Two hours later, I figured I would use the bathroom before checking out and driving home. Left my very full cart at the bakery (I had asked if it was ok and they said, “sure, everyone does since we are closest department to the restrooms!”).
        Came out after a few minutes and my whole cart was gone! The bakery didn’t see anyone take it but felt terrible about it. They called the store manager who was a jerk about the whole thing. I asked him if he could call the store employees to see if someone thought my cart was abandoned and had started putting things away.
        After arguing with me on how long I was gone (until the bakery folks pointed out that I had only been gone for 3 minutes), he finally called his staff on the radio. With a dramatic sigh and rolling of his eyes.
        Then I asked if he could ask the store employees to keep an eye open for some teenagers who were pushing a cart around for fun. He said no, it’s not his job to keep an eye on my groceries and walked away.
        The bakery staff and I stood there with our mouths opened in shock. So I left (in tears) and never went back. And I have told this story often enough that new to town folks probably don’t take the 30-minute drive to that store. Not when there are two grocery stores in our town.

        1. office hobbit*

          As a lifelong binco shopper this makes me so upset on your behalf! What a terrible store manager!!!

    8. Sue Smith*

      Dreadful brand names! I don’t buy brands with names that are supposed to sound sophisticated and fail at it, or seem to be trying to be from a certain country while doing a bad job representing the language. Häagen-Dazs is the one that comes to mind right now.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        There is an upmarket sportswear brand called Spiritual Gangster whose name makes me cringe so badly that I will never buy their (frankly over-priced) clothing.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          I’m now really grateful I’ve never seen that brand in the wild. That’s an appalling name.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            According to their website they started off as a yoga brand, and the name seems like something an clueless West Coast yoga enthusiast would have chosen. But they should definitely have changed it by now!

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Or are pulling a Trader Joe’s and deliberately ripping off small POC businesses (link below)

    9. The other sage*

      I avoid products from brands where I know the company they come from are esoteric. I don’t want to pay more for vegetables just because they have been watered with homeopathic astral-fertilizer (I’m looking at you, Demeter).

    10. Might Be Spam*

      My performance group won’t stay at a particular hotel anymore, because the Sunday night desk clerk tried to convince me that they never ever had coffee or tea in the lobby. I had been drinking tea in the lobby every evening and it was ridiculous that he tried to convince me that I hadn’t been. I would be fine with trying the hotel again, but my group is still greatly offended on my behalf. It was otherwise a nice place.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        While you slept, we slipped into an alternate timeline, and the tea is the only hint so far.

    11. The Prettiest Curse*

      Back when pandemic-related shipping delays meant that you had to wait 26 weeks for a new sofa, I looked at the website of the British furniture company Loaf to see if they could deliver one any faster. (Their products are made in the UK.) The text on their website was written in this extremely grating, upper-class, faux-jolly style. Even though their sofas looked very nice, I immediately swore off them because I found the writing style so annoying. (We ended up waiting 26 weeks for the sofa we bought from Next.)

      I’ve just looked at their website again and either they’ve toned it down or it’s just less annoying to me now we’re not in lockdown anymore. But since they’re charging £150+ for their smallest dog bed (“pet furniture” is such an over-priced concept), I may not be shopping there in the future anyway!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I think it was the Lands End catalogue that started that style of description: I remember MST doing a sketch at the beginning of Terror From the Year 5000 where Servo was “comfort rating” everything on the ship as a parody of those things.


    12. UKDancer*

      There’s a particular dance shop in London I won’t go to because they’re always really snooty ignore me and then act like they’re doing me a favour serving me and that I have no business bringing my middle aged, plus sized body into their shop which is for serious dance people.

      The funny thing is I spend quite a bit on dance stuff so they’re only hurting their bottom line. I go to the other shop around the corner who always act like they’re really pleased to see me.

      1. NeonFireworks*

        I am now angry on your behalf and glad you have a back-up option. The snooty people should know better than to let -isms overwhelm their judgement! My friend who trained as a dancer is also plus size, and knows about 10,000 times as much about dance as I and my average-but-somewhat-klutzy body do.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        Snooty dancewear people are the reason I buy all my dance stuff online. (In addition to the fact that my city doesn’t have a dancewear shop.)

        1. UKDancer*

          I should say all the other dance shops I’ve been to have been lovely and welcoming. its just this particular shop that is staffed by pompous twits.

      3. RumbaWaltz*

        I am mostly a lurker, but I’ll break my silence for this. I am a plus size ballroom dancer who also knows how to sew and got so fed up with the sizism in dance earlier this year that I decided “if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself” and so I’m starting my own practicewear line with a focus on plus sizes!

        I’m still in the early stages of testing patterns and sizes and don’t have anything for sale yet (and I’m US-based but wouldn’t mind shipping overseas), but I hope to start later this year. No standalone website yet, but I have FB and IG profiles under Fit For A Queen Dancewear. Please feel free to share to other dancers!

    13. Monkey's Paw Manicure*

      I want to hate, but grudgingly admire, any food that proudly announces it’s GLUTEN FREE when there’s not a chance it would ever contain gluten, like mineral water.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        *snort* That always irrationally really pisses me off. lol. Like of COURSE fruit is gluten free. Sheesh.

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Like the CHOLESTEROL FREE ONIONS that once had us laughing uncontrollably in the produce section on one sleep-deprived grocery run.

        1. Sue Smith*

          A few decades ago the Washington State Apple Commission advertised that their apples were cholesterol free, too.

      3. The Other Sage*

        I once found gluten-free jam. You shouldn’t put anything containing gluten in there in the first place but ok…

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        I love when trashy junk food like Doritos does that (I mean, I get they may want to signal to gluten intolerant people that their favorite treat is still safe, but the whole “so it’s healthy” angle is hilarious.

      5. noncomitally anonymous*

        I’m still recovering from the jar of sea salt labeled “non-GMO”.

      6. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

        I love these kind of products because they give me a giggle. I still remember being offered some lollies and when I refused was told “but they’re fat free!” They just so happened to be almost pure sugar …

    14. Atheist Nun*

      May I ask why you refuse to buy Tony’s Chocolonely products? I had heard that the company makes them with chocolate produced by non exploited workers, which sounded appealing to me. What am I missing?

      1. Dannie*

        I did say it was a weird reason. It’s the chaotic asymmetrical scoring on the bar. I need even servings to track calories.

        (Note that this isn’t up for debate. My health issues are varied, and require diligence. Thanks.)

        1. Atheist Nun*

          That is an interesting explanation, and I am not trying to debate your reasoning. My concern was that there was a business ethics problem of which I was not aware.

          I have noticed that Divine, which uses fair trade chocolate for their products, also scores their bars asymmetrically–so you might want to skip that brand too! I overlook Divine’s horrible font to enjoy their chocolate. I quite like Tony’s oddball labels–I think the font is kind of jazzy.

          1. Dannie*

            Thank you for the tip! I will indeed steer clear of that brand for the same reason.

        2. Nervous Nellie*

          Oh, sure – that’s annoying. I only came across them in a shop last week. Never heard of them before. I was annoyed by the name because to me it sounds like it’s smugly implying that lonely people ‘eat their feelings’, as they say. Now if I had opened one and seen the asymmetrical scoring, I likely would have extrapolated that the maker was a smug conductor of us all, manipulating our portions. Maybe that’s an overreaction, and maybe I just need more caffeine this morning, but I am firmly icked out by this product and like you, will give it a pass.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            If it makes you feel any better, the brand name is designed to incorporate the word “lonely”, but the founder put it in the name of the company because he felt lonely being (he thought) the only person in the chocolate industry who cared about eradicating exploitative labour practices.

              1. The Prettiest Curse*

                Their chocolate tastes pretty good, but yeah, it is a brabd name origin story that doesn’t really come across out of context. And I don’t usually buy that brand myself because the packaging is just bright enough to be annoying to me!

        3. Hrodvitnir*

          Heh, when you said it was weird I thought you were going to say you avoid it because the asymmetric chunks just fundamentally disturb you.

          Which, honestly? I could understand.

      2. Not A Manager*

        Thanks for asking! I googled “what is bad about Tony’s” and got nothing.

        1. coco*

          I boycotted Tony for a while because of their false marketing of being the only slave free chocolate. I had bought fair trade chocolate for years when Tony started and was appalled that apparently that didn’t mean slave free and wondered if these fair trade brands were the ones with false advertising. I looked into it and it turned out that Tony meant “the first slave free brand intended to be sold in all supermarkets”. Because these smaller brands that had been selling this stuff for years just don’t count at all. I thought that was terrible, you can get credit for trying to mainstream this, but don’t take away from the great work that others had been doing, and don’t act like you just discovered this whole issue of slavery in chocolate all by yourself. See comment above, about this poor owner who thought he was the only person in the chocolate industry to care about this at all. it is definitely possible that he thought this, but even a bare minimum of research would have let him find others in the field. But it seems he didn’t want to, because he wanted the credit of being the first.

    15. Falling Diphthong*

      Back when spouse was in graduate school and I freelanced and looked after our toddler (so money was tight) I would occasionally get a small Lake Champlain chocolate bar as a treat. One day I did this and bit into a hunk of metal. I called the company to explain what had happened (worried about sabotage; they figured it was the clip from a bag), and they asked me to send in the chocolate bar, which I did. And then: Nothing. I really expected a box of chocolates as an apology, but instead it just cost me one candy bar + postage + time trying to alert them to this.

      I’m just bitter enough to always skip that option when selecting chocolate.

      1. allathian*

        I’m angry on your behalf!

        When my friend found a piece of metal in chocolate once, she took it back to the store. She got a refund and thought nothing more of it, but then the manufacturer recalled that lot and sent her a box of their products to try as a thank you for alerting them to the issue and as an apology.

        When I worked retail, something similar happened. A customer returned a spoiled product, the store manager told me to remove the rest of that lot from the shelf, and the lot was indeed recalled a couple days later.

    16. Morning Reading*

      There is a liquor/convenience store at the turnoff to my little town that has a large flashing electric sign. The largest font they like to use allows for only 5 letters on the sign, so instead of using a smaller font, they misspell “liquor” either as liqor or liqur. They seem to alternate which misspelling. The sign also flashes Beer, Booze, Vodka, etc. I mentioned it once when I went in, saying that it makes our area seem populated by ignorant hillbillies. But it hasn’t changed. I considered recruiting friends to go in and make the same complaint regularly but it’s not worth the energy.
      (The building has the word Liquor painted in large letters on 3 sides, on another sign out front, and on the door. It doesn’t need the flashing sign repeating it.) This store is conveniently located on my way out of or into town but I can’t bring myself to patronize it.
      (This store is on US 12 which runs east-west along southern michigan. If you see it, do feel free to stop in and complain about or mock the sign. We could create a movement.)

    17. 248_Ballerinas*

      It’s not a boycott, but I don’t voluntarily shop a a particular chain that sells lotion, shower gel, etc simply because it seems so expected of me. If you’re a middle-aged, middle-class woman, of course you love CCX!
      I’m of course gracious about any gifts from this chain, and will shop there for friends who like it. It’s not that I feel like I’m too good for CCX,
      I’d just rather find such toiletries on my own.

    18. Morning Reading*

      The comments about bad ads remind me: I will never buy anything from a company that inundates with annoying ads repeating incessantly. The ads on Best Fiends (which I play in spite of the terrible ads) come to mind. I will never ever use Temu (who buys that crap anyway?) or load TikTok or use any product that shows me its commercial more than once an hour. Just no. Advertisers, do better. (Why there isn’t research that shows the negative outcomes of such practices, I don’t understand.)

    19. bassclefchick*

      There’s a protein powder that decided Soylent was a great name for their company. Uh, no. Absolutely not. Nope. Not happening. I saw that movie.

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        Right?! I can’t even imagine the meeting(s) in which they made this decision. “Nobody reads any more, it was an old movie, never mind the Google results when people search for our product, it’ll be fine.”

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Well this reader immediately picked one up in a shop to see if the ingredients matched the movie. Thank heavens no, but you’re right. Was it chosen ironically? Do they not hear that business names like Titanic Shipbuilders Inc. are a bad idea?

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Yes! I saw that. And I know Bimbo is an international brand. Here in the US it…feels weird.

    20. Wells only*

      I don’t know that I boycott the products, but calling everything plant-based weirds me out. It’s like trying to give the halo of health to items regardless of what they are. And I’m not sure I want food “based” on something when I can just eat…a salad?

      1. NeonFireworks*

        It weirds me out as well. I’m guessing this is because ‘vegan’ got a bit stale and/or stigmatised?

        1. Gyne*

          Vegan is “no animal products,” so can include a lot of highly processed things. Oreos are vegan. There are lots of vegan cheese-like products and “meats.” [whole food] plant based is (ideally) all food from plants, but minimal to no processing – so things like olive oil, vegan “cheese,” etc. are out. Depending on who you read, the “- based” part of WFPB also implies plants and whole foods should form the core of your diet but it’s okay to occasionally have meat/dairy/etc for family/cultural/nostalgic reasons. It’s preferring plants as food as optimal for health, not necessarily the ethical issues surrounding the meat and dairy industry.

      2. WorkingRachel*

        I am currently using some “plant-based” baby wipes. I didn’t buy them for that reason and I have no idea what that means. Are they cotton? Fine print says they are “70%” plant based, which means…nothing, right? That they’re just plastic like every other baby wipe and can’t be recycled and this has absolutely no environmental (since it certainly can’t be dietary) impact?

        1. ThatGirl*

          It probably means the liquid ingredients are plant based which is about as meaningful as “natural” – pure marketing.

    21. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I don’t shop at places that intentionally misspell things to be cutsie. Or use a Z instead of an S at the end. And I definitely never took my kids to Kiddie Kutz that does both.

      1. Jackalope*

        When I was in college there was this local brand new church trying to reach out to 20 somethings that called itself Nu Song instead of New Song. The word “nu” in French means n@ked. I could never look at them with anything other than great entertainment (although it does bring a new meaning to the idea of enthusiastic worship!).

    22. Peanut Hamper*

      In the before times, I used to go a certain gas station all the time because I could earn Speedy Reward Points. I’d buy gas, and then go in for coffee, snacks, etc. The points piled up pretty fast and you could trade them in for pre-paid debit cards.

      Then we went into lockdown and I stopped going there because I wasn’t going anywhere and didn’t need as much gas. I started getting gas at Sam’s Club because I would fill up when I picked up my order.

      And then this gas station decided that because I had been inactive for X amount of months, they simply deleted all my accumulated points. FWIW, the points had never expired before. They didn’t tell me how many months of inactivity would cause this, they never sent a warning email or text message. I had enough points to get $200 of debit cards.

      I haven’t been back since.

    23. BikeWalkBarb*

      I never go to any restaurant or other business that spells its name with K in place of C, like Kalico Kupboard Kitchen. There was a place like this in a small town near where I went to college. Someone told me that was code for being a Klan meeting place, or at least a former one; they had held their meetings in the basement. It’s not very secret as codes go but that was enough for me.

      Thanks to this question I went looking for whether there’s any credibility to this. I found a Nebraska history site that said “Kountry” is an example of the Klan’s style of frequently spelling “c” words with a “k”, then a piece on some history of the Klan attacking restaurants. Links to come in a reply (although the K word may get this held for moderation so search for Restaurant-inThroughHistory dot com to find that one).

      I used to live in North Idaho, same county as the Aryans, turned my back on them when they marched through downtown Coeur d’Alene as part of a large peaceful protest organized by the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations. I don’t need much reason to stay away from a place labeled KKK.

      1. carcinization*

        This is mostly amusing to me because of a very popular soul food place in Houston run by an African-American family, the Breakfast Klub (easily google-able, I was glad to see it was still there since the last time I went/waited in their long line for amazing food was pre-COVID). About the owner: “The spirit and entrepreneurial mastermind behind the breakfast klub and Reggae Hut Café, Marcus Davis, is best known for his charismatic personality, authentic kustomer appreciation, and his tireless kommitment to the kommunities he serves.” Just saying, if you ever make it to Houston, there is a really delicious exception to the rule!

        1. BikeWalkBarb*

          Good to know! I may be in Houston later this summer for a conference. But all the K misspellings here bug me no end.

    24. goddessoftransitory*

      I boycott Charmin because I DESPISE that cartoon bear campaign. Loathe, detest, and abhor it. It’s like being coated in dirty sticky lollipops and I HATE IT.

    25. Tea and Sympathy*

      I won’t buy lume deodorant because I hate that they’re creating a perceived need (for using deodorant everywhere on your body) that isn’t a need for most people. Also, I don’t like hearing the term “butt crack” in a commercial.

      I also hate the credit card commercial with Kevin Hart that is just a bunch of guys saying “cash back”. It’s loud, repetitive and annoying. But it’s for the credit card that I already have, and I don’t hate the commercial enough to change.

    26. ElastiGirl*

      Not a product but a store. My supermarket recently put its health/beauty section behind a gate. You have to leave your cart outside the section and pay for your health/beauty items at a separate cash register inside the gate.

      I don’t appreciate the presupposition that their customers are criminals. I told the manager that I won’t shop at a store that treats its customers so poorly, walked out, and haven’t been back. Fortunately I have many other choices.

      1. carcinization*

        The WalMart in my town does something similar… I was shopping for a gift for someone who liked a certain kind of nail polish, and finally had to give up because most of the personal care/beauty items were locked up with no-one to unlock them. So I don’t buy those types of items there (I don’t go to WalMart often anyway, but had thought they carried that type of nail polish)!

    27. Firebird*

      I avoid a certain chain restaurant because my ex used to take his affair partner (AP) there. However, I still go to a corner tavern, because since he brought his AP, the (previously friendly) bartender glares at him and tries to ignore him as much as possible. I appreciate the solidarity.

    28. Grits McGee*

      Not me, but a friend is boycotting their favorite local ice cream shop because they stopped allowing samples.

  17. Moving away*

    Looking for big books/podcasts/websites about moving abroad with kids. My little family and I will be moving internationally in about a year and I want to start reading books (fiction and nonfiction both welcome!) about others experiences just to get my head more in it. It doesn’t have to be self help, it doesn’t even have to be the central theme of it.

    For example, when I lived in Seoul I watched Lost in Translation about twice a year. There was something so cozy and relatable about watching it while feeling like a stranger in a strange land myself.

    1. M*

      Slate’s Dan Kois? did an excellent book on this when he and his family moved abroad for a year.

    2. Camelid coordinator*

      I really loved Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik, about living in Paris with his young family. I read it quite a while ago and hope it lives up to my memory. I am excited for your move!

    3. Roland*

      Bill Bryson’s I’m A Stranger Here Myself is one of my faves. It’s a collection of columns he wrote for a British audience after he and him family moved to the US (first move for the wife and kids, homecoming for him).

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        That one is terrific! Also Notes From a Small Island (going the opposite way, from the US to Britain.)

    4. Fiction Reader*

      There is a charming TV series about the Durrells, a British family who moved to Corfu in the 1930’s. It is based on books by Gerald Durrell and is semi-autobiographical. I haven’t read the books but have heard they are good.

      1. Rara Avis*

        The book is My Family and Other Animals. It’s fantastic, but also recounts a different era.

    5. Six Feldspar*

      A little off the question, but I watched The Martian the night before I went backpacking overseas solo for several months. It was really comforting and gave me a lot of confidence to be reminded that if you get stuck people will generally try to help! And help is closer to reach than it would be on Mars…

    6. Love, Patti*

      The book The World is a Classroom by Cindy Ross might be of interest. She homeschooled her kids and was focused on using the opportunities afforded by different locales to enrich learning and create opportunities for kids to explore their own interests.

  18. 9 Lives*

    My sister, 28 years old, has been living in another country with her boyfriend of seven or eight years. That relationship has suddenly fallen apart with the revelation that he has been very emotionally manipulative over the years. Problem is she doesn’t have a reliable job and has mostly relied on her boyfriend for support while living aboard. Her visa to that country has been very spotty over the years, going from student to work back to student, and any other visa she could get her hands on to stay there. Because of all this, she’s coming back home to our country and will be staying with our parents.

    I don’t anticipate this going well. She stayed over the holidays; she was meant to stay for only a week or two, but some visa issues kept her in our home country for at least a month. During that time, she severely butted heads with our parents, for not getting her visa issues sorted out herself. Our parents had to do it for her. This is on top of several other issues about her not having reliable full-time work or being able fund her life. she has also been going through some mental health issues, that have been difficult for her to get diagnosed in another country, but we’re hopeful will be better addressed when she’s home. The problem is, I want to be supportive of her being back at home, staying in our parents house and me a short driveway in my own house with a roommate. The problem is I don’t want her to stay in my house. My roommate and I do have an extra bedroom because we started our house with the two of us and a third roommate. When that roommate left, we decided we could handle the house on our own have lived just the two of us ever cents.

    I do not want my sister living here, and I know my roommate would not either, especially because my sister has a dog and my roommate has a cat. So the pets alone are an excuse to not have her try to move in with me. But even if I didn’t want her to stay with me full-time, I do want to try to support her during this difficult transition she’s going to be going through, especially because I know my parents will be trying to support her, but will probably be throat while she staying there, if her being there during Christmas was any indication. So how can I be supportive of her without opening up my house to her. I even wouldn’t mind if she came to spend a night or two. The problem is she wants to bring her dog everywhere because she uses her dog as an emotional support dog. But I absolutely cannot have that dog in my house with my roommates cat.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I think you’re better off not having her to stay at all, under the circumstances. It will be harder to get her out once she’s in.

      But I also think it might help to broaden your perspective on what she’s dealing with. It sounds like she was completely dependent on a controlling partner who very effectively isolated her from family or the ability work, and she was stuck in that situation for her *entire adult life* so far.

      It’s only to be expected that she would struggle to function on her own or establish a healthy adult relationship with your parents. She’s starting over more or less at age 20 in many ways.

      You can support her and your parents by taking her out, maybe helping with transportation to therapy appointments or job interviews, maybe help with paperwork and “adulting” stuff if she has trouble organizing it, and introducing her to people so she can start building a social / support network.

      1. Juneybug*

        I agree with Raging ADHD – don’t let her stay at your place. Don’t let the drama at your parent’s house follow you home. Her staying at your place is not going to fix any of her problems. It might give your parents a break but the roomate and cat will not have a break from the drama you just invited in.
        And what happens if her dog hurts the cat? Or your roommate decides to move out due to the drama? Again, don’t bring the drama home and possiblity upset your life.
        If your sister or parents hint or ask out right, just keep saying “No, that will not work out for us and the cat” and then change the subject.

    2. MissGirl*

      Take a breath. You’re spiraling. If you don’t want your sister to move in, then you don’t let her move in. No one has even asked you yet. If they do, then you repeat that it’s not possible or use your roommate as an excuse. You don’t need to justify your reasons to us or anyone.

      As for how you can support her, wait until she asks you or expresses a need that you can help with. Offer emotional support. Take some time to figure out why you feel so responsible for all this. Your parents are adults and so is your sister. They can sort this out.

    3. Jay*

      I want to start out by saying that I’m sorry that you have to deal with this. It’s a hard thing.
      I’ve had some bitter secondhand experience with something like this.
      I won’t go into details too much, as they are generally specific, personal, and not mine to share. But someone I respect deeply watched their youngest sibling nearly bankrupt their elderly parents in a situation that sounds very like yours.
      That said, it is very important to find out (as gently and unobtrusively as humanly possible) exactly what was going on, not just what your sister tells you.
      If you are certain that it was emotional abuse on the part of her ex, then RagingADHD is truly spot on, and has said it perfectly.
      But, from what you are writing here, it sounds like your sister has other mental and emotional issues.
      If the her situation stems from those (aka, the emotional abuse consisted of waking her up for work in the mornings, or regularly trying to get her to fill out her Visa paperwork), this changes things considerably.
      She will need completely different kinds of help and support from you and your parents, and a lot more of it, at that.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      Why on earth would she stay at your house when you’re only a short drive away? When the pets are incompatible anyway? I would be very surprised if she expected such a thing, and if it just comes up, employ your Pickachu face and say “Why?” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being dismissive, it is stressful when a loved one doesn’t have the independence they should have and could possibly become the old man of the sea. Really though, this sounds like an issue for your parents and your sister. They may have boundaries to set with her, yours are already in place due to the fact you’re not part of the household and have no parental relationship with her. Your role seems more side-line supportive. Drop by, be a friendly face, be a venting opportunity for either side… that’s it. I would say that the more you protect your own space and boundaries, the more cheer and calm you can bring to that role. Also, there’s so much good news here. She’s free of a terrible anchor in her life, is staying with people who love her. There’s every reason to expect a fresh start. Definitely prepare for the worst, but don’t forget to hope for the best too.

    5. ecnaseener*

      Invite her to hang out often so she can get space away from your parents. Otherwise, leave it be — don’t borrow trouble when no one but you is suggesting you should host her, and you know you can’t because of the dog.

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      I strongly suggest you never let her spend the night, even once. That sounds like a slippery slope it would be very difficult to recover from.
      Perhaps just be an ear for her and help refer her to resources if she asks. I would imagine your parents will need a lot of support. Maybe bring them meals, or go over there and cook and clean for them or something? Take them out?

    7. Venus*

      I agree that she shouldn’t stay, even for one night. You need to be healthy to support her, and you can’t be healthy if she is staying with you. If anyone suggests it then it’s fair to use your roommate as the reason.

    8. A Girl Named Fred*

      If you’re a Captain Awkward fan, you might benefit from reading one of her most recent letters. It was about a similar issue – “how do I convince my sister I don’t want to be roommates” – and the answer was basically that you can’t convince her, but you can decide that victory means never having her move in and sticking to that no matter what.

      Other than that, I agree with RagingADHD and also with taking a breath. All of this isn’t going to crash down at once; give yourself permission to take it one step and one day at a time. See if that doesn’t cut down the panic some. And good luck!

    9. Clara Bowe*

      Also, gently, it might be good to repeat to yourself that whatever happens between your sister and your parents is actually their business and responsibility and not yours.

      I genuinely say this with compassion and experience. I was told something similar when I was emotionally caught up in a family emotion Storm a while ago. I was so stressed out and wanting to help and support and protect people involved. Someone (clumsily and poorly) reminded me that the emotion storm going on was between those parties.

      It is kind for you to worry about what may or may not go down between your sister and your parents. But they are all adults that need to handle that logistical and emotional situation themselves. If they or your sister suggest or demand her moving in? “That is not possible at this time.” Just like Allison often suggests in work situations, that can be a complete reason. You do not have to justify. You do not actually have to explain. Emotionally it absolutely feels like you should, but no. You do not.

      And, gently, some of this seems to be anticipating stuff that may not come to pass. Is it a good idea to have a plan if someone suggests sis moving in? Absolutely! That is smart. And gives you time to practice the scripts. But – I say this as someone who has spent a lot of time and money learning this skill, so no shade if you are not there yet – try and not build up a thing in your head that might not come to pass.

      You do not want your sister moving in. You do not want her bringing her dog to your home. Come up with a reasonable response to those possibilities. Eg.:

      If she or your parents ask “That is not possible at this time.” “You are welcome to visit, but the dog stays with mom and dad. It is unsafe to the resident pet. I know you would never want your animal in danger, so I know you will understand and respect that the resident animal should not feel unsafe in their home.”

      Then, if you find yourself holding on to the worries and thoughts around the possibilities of those things happening, bring out the decided upon responses and practice saying them or thinking them. That way if they do happen or come up, you are ready. That process has helped me dramatically reduce my stress and anxiety with a lot of different situations.

      Finally, you have every right to feel stressed out. This seems like a culmination of a lot of other worries and stressors for yourself and that your family have shared with you. It is kind and empathetic for you to be worried about all of this and wanting to do all you can to help!! But for as well as you know the people involved, you are not telepathic. Trust them to use their words and try to only engage with stuff they actually ask for. And you are an equal party who can say yes or no on the provided info.

      Good luck. This is hard, emotional stuff and I am sending you my absolute best.

      1. Not A Manager*

        I completely agree that the emotional dance is between your sister and your parents, and you don’t need to cut in, as it were. “That sounds really difficult; I hear that you are feeling ___; how about if you and I do [activity you are willing to do that is not her moving in with you]; would it be helpful if I [helpful thing you are willing to do].” You can use these phrases both with your sister and with your parents.

        And never, never let her bring the dog into your house. Not even for a short visit as emotional support. Your house is a dog-free space, period. If she needs the dog, it has to be elsewhere. Not that you *must* have an excuse about her staying with you, but this is such a very good one.

    10. Part time lab tech*

      I suggest two things – self education and boundaries. Firstly it is very difficult to “prove” emotional abuse, particularly if your sister has always been a bit flakey (ie before her boyfriend). The book Why does he do that? is often recommended and maybe RAINN or other domestic violence organisations might be helpful. Understanding the possible dynamics and timelines might help you keep your temper when she’s being a jerk or she’s not over it after a month. Maybe screen a couple of therapists for her when she’s ready.
      Being mistreated might explain a paralysing lack of confidence/trust or a strong desire to be safe and supported. It would not excuse continued sponging or refusing to take accountability for her current behaviour. Setting boundaries will enable you to continue offering support rather than burning out. How regularly are you willing to visit/talk/have her visit? Then be reliable about it, even if you don’t tell her that you’re scheduling contact with only a little flexibility.
      It’s also possible she was procrastinating on the visa because a part of her didn’t want to go back even though the conscious part insisted she did.
      When I was in a very difficult time, sometimes it really helped to do very ordinary stuff like a walk or lunch with non judgemental people who were safe and caring and talk about ordinary day to day things.

    11. Lilli*

      Perhaps it would be a good idea to call a domestic violence hotline? The abuse was “only” emotional but they could have some practical advice for helping someone else get back on their feet after leaving an abusive relationship.

  19. office hobbit*

    Since there are lots of readers here: has anyone tried the Book of the Month subscription? Did you like it?

    I’d like to read more books but I find choosing books exhausting, so having someone provide a curated list of options sounds appealing. (I also prefer reading on paper to ebooks, and I like owning pretty books.) I had thought Book of the Month was just riding the wave of subscription popularity until I learned how long ago it was started, and how many classics they picked when they were newly published. That made me think their selection might be as good as the marketing claims. Interested to hear others’ experiences!

    1. InkyFingers*

      I know nothing about Book of the Month but suggest you buy Louise Erdrich’s latest novel, _The Sentence_. It’s superb, about a woman who gets a job in a bookstore after being released from prison (IRL Erdrich owns a bkstr) and at the end of the story is a massive, wonderful!!! recommended reading list. I am still working my way thru it.

      1. Indolent Libertine*

        Upvoting this comment! I too loved that book and copied the whole “recommended reading” list at the end.

    2. Spacewoman Spiff*

      I used to be a member and liked it, I think you have a choice of five books each month and it’s always fun when they show up. I wound up cancelling my subscription because I already have SO many books and cannot STOP buying books, but it sounds like it might be a good fit for you! From what I remember, it was easy to cancel or skip months, so you won’t be trapped if you end up not enjoying it.

    3. Maybe Not Entirely a Lurker*

      I follow some online “book clubs” for the recommendations, especially Reese Witherspoon’s version. Oprah’s choices don’t really resonate with me as much, but they might be perfect for you.
      I remember as a kid wanting SO BAD to get to sign up for the BOTM Club!
      There’s also a website called something like “what should I read next,” where you input a book you’ve enjoyed and get choices – that might help narrow things down for you.
      But overall: HOORAY FOR READING, and especially for actual books you hold in your hand!

    4. Girasol*

      I haven’t tried Book of the Month because many years ago I was told it was a scam. But a friend talked me into an Audible subscription – audiobooks – which is pretty much the same book-of-the-month model, and I love it. It’s cheaper than individual book purchases and I discovered that I rather like getting pushed to buy a new book regularly.

    5. Scientist*

      I like it! I skip months fairly frequently if nothing feels right, but just as often there are 2-3 books that sound really good. They offer a pretty good range of genres and have a diverse author slate. I look forward to seeing the list revealed every month!

    6. tabloidtainted*

      I’ve been a member for many years, but I’ve skipped every month for the past…maybe two years? I find that their selections have trended towards lower quality writing and gimmicky fiction. I read Pachinko and Long Bright River and many other fantastic books through them, but it’s been mostly downhill since 2020.

    7. office hobbit*

      Thanks everyone for your thoughts! Sounds like a mixed bag but low risk, since they allow skipping. I’ll continue to mull it over.

      Since posting my question I also learned that The Book Riot has a recommendation service, which sounds like it may be better for getting recs that interest me and aren’t all newly published works. A bit late for asking, but if anyone has used this I’d love to hear how it went!

      1. Meg*

        I used Book Riot’s Tailored Book Recommendations (TBR) about four years ago, and was happy with it.

        Out of the three titles they recommended, I chose to read The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea. It was marvelous, and I never would have heard of it if I hadn’t used TBR.

        I tried reading the other two titles, but they were too similar to other nonfiction books about nature, which is what I read most.

        TBR asks if you want them to make recommendations in your comfort zone or out of it, so whenever I try it again, I’ll choose “outside my usual”.

    8. BikeWalkBarb*

      My library posts book recommendations all the time. They often relate to the various themed months, like books by AAPI authors this month, and they have other topical lists. What about using the librarians as your curator? Even if you prefer to buy over borrow you can look at their recommendations.

  20. Anonymous cat*

    For the stitchers and embroiderers out there! Do you ever buy pattern books on kindle? And is there a way to print out individual patterns from a kindle ebook?

    I don’t want to buy more physical pattern books but when stitching a pattern, I prefer to make a copy, enlarge it, and then write on it as a stitch. Obviously that won’t work on a kindle reader!

    So has anyone run into this when crafting and found a solution?

    1. Undine Spragg*

      Not a crafter, but you can make a copy of a kindle page wherever you are making copies of books. You need a flat copier or scanner of course. It might take some learning to get how light to make the page, that’s all.

    2. Uisce Chick*

      I just looked the one pattern book I bought in kindle and it looks like you can select a whole page (by pressing in a word and then dragging the selection box to include the whole page) and then select the “share” button (the “square with up arrow” icon) and the share options include print

    3. AcademiaNut*

      Load the page on the Kindle app on your computer, make it full screen, and take a screen grab, which you can then print out.

    4. AK_Blue*

      Not a solution to your question, but there’s a humble bundle available right now for embroidery!

    5. Isabekka*

      i can’t link it but there is a website called Antique Pattern Library which well let you print or download hundreds of free patterns for Embroidery,
      Cross-Stitch Sewing and so on. It’s very useful and the patterns are all free to download.

  21. All food can be breakfast food if it tries hard enough*

    I have a friend who grew up very different from me and we are having a debate about breakfast food.

    She grew up with two working parents but did things like grocery shop regularly and eat meals together. She maintains breakfast foods are things like cereal, pancakes, eggs and bacon, etc. I grew up with a SAHM who only cooked dinner like twice a week and the rest was a fend for yourself situation. So breakfast to me was always whatever leftovers or things from the pantry you could scrounge up.

    My friend thinks my breakfast choices are unhinged. Think tacos, corn dogs, chicken pasta, etc.

    So. What is you’re favorite non traditional breakfast to have in the morning? Or are you a die hard oatmeal / eggs / traditional breakfast food kinda person?

    1. Lemonwhirl*

      I will eat anything for breakfast. I used to love pizza for breakfast before I stopped eating dairy. Mostly, I have lentil dal and rice for breakfast.

      I worked for a month in Malaysia and got to stay in a hotel with an amazing breakfast buffet. It had EVERYTHING. All the standard breakfast foods including an omelette station. A variety of local food including a station that would make the local noodle soup. A selection, usually 3 or 4, of European/American dinners, like spaghetti or fried chicken. An extensive selection of fruit. A salad bar.

      It was amazing, truly a dream.

      1. All food can be breakfast food if it tries hard enough*

        Pizza is one of my top ten breakfast foods.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        And it all depends on what culture you’re working with: Jook, for example, sounds to me like a delicious light dinner, but it’s a breakfast food in Asia.

    2. Owlette*

      While I completely agree with your tag that any food can be a breakfast food, I’m afraid I have the hard set tastes of your friend. No deviations from what my family culture determined was breakfast – cereal, toast, eggs if you’re feeling wild

    3. Cookies For Breakfast*

      My regular breakfast is yogurt with cereal, but I love a sweet pastry as a treat, and if there’s cake around the house, I’ll happily have that. I grew up having biscuits with either coffee or tea: in my home country, that’s quite standard in the morning. Breakfast biscuits are a whole market, with several varieties available, and many ads full of happy families eating together.

      All this to say: my breakfast has to be sweet to some degree. I live in the UK now, and people here consider that unhinged. I’ve been called crazy by an ex-colleague when I told her about biscuits for breakfast!

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Biscuits like the UK ones or the US ones? Because the US biscuits are not at all sweet.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          She’s got to mean sweet biscuits if she’s in the UK, I don’t know many people here who’ve even tried American style (I find the gluten free versions to be a very useful recipe though). Biscuits are typically not eaten for breakfast, but my niece likes a ginger snap and a cappuccino for her breakfast, so Cookies for Breakfast is not alone on that one!

      2. Lexi Vipond*

        A sweet breakfast isn’t *that* weird in the UK – sweet cereal, toast with jam or banana, pain au chocolat…

        Actual cake is a bit unusual. And chocolate specially for putting on bread, which I was once given for breakfast in Belgium, is still kind of odd to me!

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        My most treasured holiday is the Friday after Thanksgiving: Pie For Breakfast Day.

      4. allathian*

        I’m the reverse, my breakfast absolutely has to be savory. The sweetest thing I’ll tolerate is flavored yoghurt.

        When I was on vacation in Spain I enjoyed churros with hot chocolate for breakfast, but only because it was too hot to eat a hot lunch or early dinner, so the only hot meal of the day was eaten after 9 pm.

        Normally I eat breakfast as soon as I get up (between 5 and 6.30), a snack at 9 if I get up before 6, lunch between 10.30 and 12, I’m not happy if it goes any later than that, and dinner by preference before 5 pm, by 7 at the latest. If dinner’s early, I’ll have a snack before going to bed at 9.30 or 10.

        Amerikan style lunches at 1 would be far too late for me.

    4. Also cute and fluffy!*

      Not only am I a die hard traditional breakfast food kinda person, I do sometimes prefer breakfast for dinner!

      1. All food can be breakfast food if it tries hard enough*

        I actually prefer breakfast for dinner…. instead of actual breakfast lol

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Breakfast For Dinner would be a great band name. And it was definitely a treat for my sister and I growing up (not realizing that it probably translated into “Mom was too busy/tired to cook or go to the store; here’s cereal and toast, whee!”)

    5. Still*

      I think there’s a huge distinction to be made between food that you would specifically cook fresh for breakfast and food that you’ll happily eat for breakfast if you have leftovers. I’ll happily eat cold pizza for breakfast but I won’t order fresh pizza.

      That being said, spaghetti carbonara is a breakfast dish and I will die on this hill. Eggs and fried bacon/pancetta = breakfast pasta.

    6. Jay*

      Up until recently, I was a “Cereal because it’s convenient” person (until recently because I’ve finally gotten a doctor who was willing to refer me to a dietician, and, now, no more cereal).
      But, really? Left completely to my own devices, I’m a “nothing until late morning/early afternoon”, then a nice lunch. Which is sometimes a really big breakfast eaten at two in the afternoon.

    7. ecnaseener*

      Sorry, I’m with your friend on this one — obviously you can eat whatever you want whenever you want, but breakfast foods are Breakfast Foods. (And I didn’t grow up regularly eating breakfast as a family or having breakfast cooked by my parents either — but the fend-for-yourself school day breakfast was cereal. There were probably always dinner leftovers available if I’d wanted to have those for breakfast, but I never did.)

      1. UKDancer*

        Yeah. I wouldn’t want leftovers for breakfast. My stomach takes a while to get going so I like simple bland things like cereal and toast for breakfast most of the time (with croissants at the weekend) as I’m not really comfortable with anything more exciting. If I’m on holiday and at a nice hotel I will go for a full English (bacon, eggs and sausage) but I need time to digest it afterwards.

        But it’s a matter of personal taste.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          This is a good point. A complicated dish isn’t really what I want first thing in the morning.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Leftover pizza (I heat it in the oven and do not grasp the logic of cold pizza) from the great pizza place when my husband brings it home post-sport.

      I cannot face savory soup in the morning (at the hotel buffet breakfast for international travelers), but accept that this is other people’s normal breakfast.

      I still remember when my mom served roast beef, peas, and potatoes for breakfast as an assignment for nursing school. Somehow “we serve breakfast all day” has a marketing appeal that “we serve roast beef with peas all day, including breakfast” does not.

    9. Clisby*

      I’m rarely hungry at breakfast time, but when I am I usually want eggs & bacon, eggs benedict, that kind of thing. Maybe cheesetoast. When I was growing up, we sometimes got traditional breakfast foods (eggs, bacon, pancakes) for dinner, which was always a treat.

      My husband will eat anything for breakfast – a lot of times it’s last night’s leftovers.

    10. MaxKitty*

      I enjoy baked beans and mushrooms for breakfast when in England. And in Japan, miso soup and gyoza. There was all kinds of seafood there in our hotel in Japan, but that I skipped.

      1. Rose is a rose is a rose*

        as a teenage vegetarian in Newfoundland lo these many years ago, I somehow learned that miso soup was a common breakfast in Japan AND managed to find miso paste in 1990s rural Newfoundland, so I had a months-long phase of miso soup for breakfast. These days my breakfast is usually eggs and toast, oatmeal, or granola with berries and yogurt, but I do love leftover cheesecake or pumpkin pie for breakfast when the opportunity arises.

      2. Girasol*

        Just back from Scotland and our whole gang is swearing that we’re going to do more baked beans and mushrooms for breakfast. Yum! I need to learn to make Scottish potato scones. They’re not what I expected a scone to be: little flaps of flat bread with a perfect hash-brownish flavor.

    11. YNWA*

      I love breakfast food. . .for dinner. For breakfast, my favorite non-traditional food is lasagna.

    12. Lady Danbury*

      Imo, there’s a distinction between breakfast foods and foods that you can eat at breakfast time. The former is cultural. While it’s typically pancakes, cereal, etc. in the US, it includes baked beans and mushrooms in the UK or steamed buns/dumplings in China. Some of my favorite breakfasts were in high end hotels in China, Japan and Trinidad because they’d have such a wide variety of typical US breakfast foods, as well as Asian/Indian breakfast items, which we’d normally consider lunch or dinner (including in Trinidad, due to the strong Indian influence).

      The latter is pretty much any food, though for me it tends to be leftovers rather than intentionally making non-breakfast foods for breakfast. However, I’m a firm believer that adding an egg can transform almost any food into breakfast food, so leftovers can also turn into steak and eggs, breakfast tacos, hash (leftover roast/fried potatoes, meat and veg), etc.

    13. RussianInTexas*

      I grew up with standard deli sandwiches for breakfast. Really. I now mostly switched to oatmeal or eggs, but not opposed to still have a sandwich instead.
      Sometimes on weekends I make a breakfast of cheese and fruit.

      1. Past Lurker*

        I love sandwiches for breakfast! Ham and cheese or grilled cheese for example.

    14. Ricotta*

      Just to introduce some chaos: I do 16:8 intermittent fasting and don’t eat breakfast at all.

      I do love a good diner breakfast for dinner, particularly a combo with veggie omelette, bacon/sausage, and waffles/pancakes.

    15. Monkey's Paw Manicure*

      Pie! The summer fruit has arrived and this week I’ve made cherry and strawberry-rhubarb. (After Halloween my pumpkins become breakfast pie.)

      There’s a lot to be said for a steak for breakfast, too. Nothing else, just the steak.

      1. Big sky, big steaks*

        The first time my English husband ordered steak and eggs for breakfast at a family-owned joint in a small Rocky Mountain farm town was memorable. The size of his eyes when he was brought a plate with a steak hanging over the edges – plus the eggs, and the obligatory potatoes. He still laughs about it.

        (Not breakfast, but at another local place I once ordered a steak sandwich and was brought a beautiful 10-ounce steak and four pieces of toast. I said “oh, no, I ordered the sandwich,” to which the reply was “that *is* the sandwich.” We take our beef seriously out here!)

    16. RussianInTexas*

      Few year back BF and I went to Russia, and by chance ended up staying in a 5 star hotel in Moscow. Their breakfast buffet was amazing. I had things like cheese, smoked white fish, caviar, fancy deli meats, etc. They had a selection of breads, fruit, yogurts, the egg station with the stuff making eggs to order, pastries, various hot dishes.
      Him, not used to anything outside of the standard “American” hotel breakfast, was amazed, but still only ate scrambled eggs or cereal, because “who on earth eats fish and cheese for breakfast?”

      1. Lady Danbury*

        Salted codish is standard breakfast fare in most (culturally) Caribbean countries. Codfish and potatoes in Bermuda, ackee and saltfish or saltfish fritters in Jamaica, saltfish buljol in Trinidad, etc. So good!

    17. Venus*

      I don’t know if this context helps, but a lot of breakfast traditions like orange juice and cereal are based on big advertising campaigns decades ago. So the crowd that views these things as traditional is doing it because of Albert Lasker.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Have you read Laura Shapiro’s books on food history? Something From the Kitchen covers that whole post WWII advertising blitz really well.

    18. Jay (no, the other one)*

      My kid does not like to eat until she’s been awake for a couple of hours. This is a problem when you are six and school starts at 7:45. A friend of mine has a kid with similar preferences who is a few years older and she said “if she eats it in the morning, it’s breakfast.” So my daughter ate slices of turkey pepperoni and sliced ham in the morning, usually in the car on the way to school.

      The first time we went to Europe and she saw the traditional European breakfast spread of sliced cold meat she was THRILLED.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Until the western things like muesli made it to us, the standard weekday breakfast at home was tea (even for the kids), and an open face sandwich or rye bread + butter+ cheese. At school (and occasionally at home) it was hot cereal like porridge – cream of wheat, rice pudding, pumpkin and millet porridge, buckwheat, or even the Baltic got milk and noodle soup.
        Things like eggs (never scrambled, not a thing), pancakes, blini, were exclusively weekend things, for the lack of time.

    19. LemonDrops*

      for a while I would eat salad for breakfast. a great way to get extra nutrition and greens in! but it wasn’t very filling unless I made the salads ridiculously enormous

    20. Alex*

      My dad did the morning “get up and get to school” routine with me and since he isn’t a breakfast eater, I didn’t have breakfast either. That said, if you say “breakfast foods” I’m going to think of your American traditional eggs, toast, pancakes, cereal, etc. But of course you CAN eat anything for breakfast!
      Now that I’m grown and making my own food choices, I usually go with eggs, oatmeal, or some kind of bread/pancake item. I rarely eat dinner leftovers for breakfast unless it is rice, which I found I enjoyed for breakfast when I visited Asia.

    21. My Brain is Exploding*

      When we travel, I try to find out what people usually eat for breakfast. For example, our guide in Panama said most people eat sandwiches. A Japanese breakfast consists of things many Americans would not like for breakfast! I’ve always thought Americans were kind of … odd … to have specific breakfast foods. Also, economics has a lot to do with it. Many people throughout the world have some variation of beans and rice for every meal. And…I like leftover pizza!! And my all-time favorite breakfast was the day after Thanksgiving one year, when I had run out to grab a very early Black Friday bargain. I was back by 7 am, made toast, and then a sandwich with leftover turkey, lettuce, mayo, and cranberry sauce.

    22. Llellayena*

      My standard breakfast is two cheese sticks. Apple pie also makes an excellent breakfast (fruit, grains, dairy if you add whipped cream…)! I’ve also done leftover rice with butter and cheese.

    23. WellRed*

      I find it so interesting that your SAHM didn’t really cook and the working parents did! I love classic breakfast foods, everything from cold cereal to toast to omelets to pancakes! I could never eat chicken at breakfast (just had this conversation last night with someone).

      1. BookMom*

        Schwan’s (now called Yelloh) used to have breakfast corn dogs. I believe they had blueberries in the batter.

    24. bibliovore*

      I eat a piece of “air fryer” salmon, kimchi and rice (sometimes fresh pickles) or soy egg, kimchi and rice or smoked salmon, kimchi and rice, or last night’s protein with kimchi and rice.

    25. GoryDetails*

      I seldom have breakfast at home – just a cup of coffee when I first get up, and then nothing until lunch. But if I’m traveling, I adore elaborate breakfasts, whether the “full English” type or a buffet of bagels and salmon and hash and creamed eggs and… yeah.

      While I do tend to think of certain foods as “breakfast” – cereal, bacon and eggs, etc. – I’ve never limited myself to eating them in the morning. Having “breakfast” for dinner was quite common when I was a kid, and even now sometimes I’ll make bacon and eggs or a simple omelet for dinner. And I found that if I want a late-night snack, a bowl of cereal works very well. So, yeah, they are “breakfast foods”, but I can and do eat them at any time.

      As for non-breakfast-foods for actual breakfast: again, I seldom feel hungry first thing in the morning (unless traveling, see above), but if I *am* peckish for some reason, I’ll happily nosh on leftovers: pizza, reheated stew, cherry pie… {grin}

    26. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My favorite breakfast actually is tater tots (not hash browns, actual tots) and bacon. Carbs, fat, protein – a little of everything to get my day going. :) I pretty much only get it when I’m traveling though. At home, I do protein shakes for breakfast most weekdays and don’t really eat breakfast (unless I have a brownie or something available) on weekends. If I’m treating myself to a “real” breakfast at home, it’s either toaster waffles with peanut butter or a turkey and cheddar sandwich.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        demonstrating my superpower as discussed a couple weeks ago: I woke up this morning and looked at my Facebook memories, and ten years ago today I posted:
        This morning’s “duh” moment: Breakfast does not have to be breakfast foods. It’s hard to find a good quick healthy breakfast when one does not like bananas, oatmeal/porridge, nuts, eggs, or most protein powders/shakes. (I swear, I’m not this picky about non-breakfast foods. But all the breakfast foods I like are the super carb-y kind: pancakes, waffles, toast, and oh god all the potatoes in the world.) But I can just have a damn turkey sandwich for breakfast.

    27. Random Bystander*

      I absolutely adore eggs and bacon as breakfast. Or French toast with eggs and bacon. Or omelets with whatever inside. About the ‘wildest’ I get is just breakfast from ethnic traditions other than my own (like when my sons took me out for Mother’s Day, and middle son who won’t eat leftovers [middle son is 26, bought the house across the street, so his aversion to leftovers is his issue, not mine] had a lot of beans and rice left over from his dish, and he gave that to me–and then I re-heated that and put a fried egg on top–would have loved to have a tortilla or two with that, but didn’t have them in the house at the time).

    28. goddessoftransitory*

      In day to day life I eat cereal, or Husband makes pancakes as a treat. And I tend to like having fancy breakfast when we happen to go out for that meal–waffles, hash browns, stuff that’s too involved for me to put together on a regular basis.

      But I am also a fan of second breakfast/brunch/elevenses, which to me means “polishing off that last bit of whatever that is too small for a meal but too tasty to chuck out.” Beside me at this moment is the empty plate that moments ago contained one last portion of Welsh Rarebit, for example. Those last forkfuls of pilaf or couscous, small but delicious bit of pasta with the heel of the garlic bread, hey, there’s a quesadilla left! All go in this file.

    29. IGoAnonAnonAnon*

      I love a savory breakfast — leftover cheeseburger or pizza or pastas are faves. I’m currently eating my breakfast: leftover soup made with garbanzo beans, potatoes, carrot, celery, tomatoes, and orzo. I pepped it up with some chili oil and Parmesan cheese.

      1. All foods can be breakfast foods if they try hard enough*

        You are my people. Leftover cheeseburger is my #1 favorite breakfast food. Lots of protein, some carbs and whatever else happens to have been there too.

    30. Empress Ki*

      Where I come from, a traditional breakfast is baguette, butter and jam (optional croissants on Sundays). I like to eat eggs and smoked salmon on sourdough toast. This is weird to my family. It’s more normal to eat that for dinner, not for breakfast !

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

        Baguette, butter, and jam is what my Belgian parents thought was an appropriate school lunch for me. It is quite tasty!

    31. Aphrodite*

      Both, actually. I adore a more traditional breakfast; in fact, it is by far my favorite meal of it day. It includes two sauteed eggs (duck, if possible), one half strip of thick-sliced bacon, a cauliflower “pancake,” yogurt (sometimes I combine the eggs and yogurt to make cilbir), fruit, a half-cup of Heritage Flakes cereal with milk, sometimes in season corn on the cob.

      But . . . I also love anything else: hamburger, tacos or nachos, fish fillets, pasta with chicken, steamed clams, grilled steak and onions, stir fry, etc. I have no limits here.

    32. Girasol*

      I grew up on dry cereal and sugar with toast and jam for breakfast, and never understood why I was famished at 10:00 am and asleep in class at 11:00. Now I aim for more protein and veggies, often last night’s leftover anything. But if I’m awake and nothing is right at hand, my go-to is to warm a big pile of frozen berries in the microwave, put a scoop of cottage cheese on top, and add whatever nuts are around.

    33. Not a Morning Person*

      I’m not big on breakfast. I really don’t feel like eating anything when I wake up and the thought of a heavy meal or what most people would consider to be a traditional breakfast kind of makes me feel nauseous. I’m usually quite dehydrated when I wake up. I like a big mug of tea (black or orange pekoe, can’t stand Earl Grey) and maybe some water. Sometimes I might have a couple of pieces of buttered toast and that’s about it.

      OTOH, I do like traditional breakfast foods, but I’m more likely to eat them for dinner, or maybe at a late brunch on Saturday or Sunday when they’re really lunch.

    34. BreakfastFoodVsFoodForBreakfast*

      I love cold, leftover pizza for breakfast.

      That said, I make a distinction between “stuff I’ll eat for breakfast” and “breakfast foods”. I do think of eggs, waffles, pancakes, cereal as breakfast foods, but I will eat them at other times and will eat other things for brwakfast.

    35. Seashell*

      I usually stick with traditional breakfast options, but I do have cold pizza occasionally and pie if it’s leftover from a holiday.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        I do love me a slice of pumpkin pie for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving.

    36. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My breakfast horizons expanded when I had Asian roommates, and further when I worked somewhere with a breakfast truck that included Cal-mex options. And then I spent some time in Scandinavia.

      I find I do best when I have some protein in the morning and egg&cheese sandwiches get tedious.

      When I plan ahead I end up with fried rice, pho, congee, breakfast burritos, or at least smoked fish with my bread.

      I wonder what your friend would say about my in-law’s corned beef hash–tradition for morning after St. Patrick’s Day.

  22. Angstrom*

    I think travel expands one’s definition of “breakfast food” — in Scandanavia, for example, cold cuts & cheese would be common.
    I enjoy seeing the variety. There are folks who want something small and simple, and the big-breakfast folks who happily devour things like chile egg burritos and corned beef hash.

  23. Miss Buttons*

    Any recs for visiting southern Vermont? We’ll be spending about three days there in July. Will also do three days in northern VT, know that area well, already have all hotels and activities booked for Stowe and Burlington area. Just need info for southern VT. We’ve been to Hildene and will likely visit there again. Other than that, need recs for hotels/inns, restaurants, activities, state parks preferably with lakes/kayak rentals, walking or biking paths, quirky general stores, historic sites, museums, etc. Hildene is in Manchester so recs for that area would especially be appreciated.

    1. Camelid coordinator*

      I am excited to see your question, I’ve been exploring the area between Bennington and Wilmington a lot recently. In Bennington the Bennington Museum is fun and has a nice Grandma Moses exhibit. If you are into Revolutionary War history you could visit the Bennington Battle Monument, and it has a great view. The Blue Benn is an old fashioned diner in an iconic diner building with good diner food and good hippie food. (They might be cash only.)

      Woodford State Park is between Bennington and Wilmington and has boat rentals, camping, and a short hiking path around the perimeter of the lake. In Wilmington there is a quirky little downtown shopping street with a good bookstore, a multi-room general store, and some gift shops. (If you are staying in Manchester you probably loaded up at Northshire Books though.) At the visitor center you can get a map of walking trails in Wilmington. It is nice to be able to just go for a little hike after you put the purchases in the car. I usually go to the Anchor Seafood Restaurant so the kiddo can have lobster roll. Hope this helps!

    2. GoryDetails*

      The White House Inn in Wilmington is quite lovely – and I have fond memories of staying there with friends back in the ’80s, when we would hold mystery weekends there. (I haven’t stayed there in recent years, though it looks as though it’s still going strong.) It’s beautiful, and even has a secret staircase.

    3. Fellow Traveller*

      Pastime Pinball! It’s a pinball museum near Manchester where the machines are all set to play for free so you pay admission and can play all you want’ depending on the type of ticket you buy. It has machines from the 1930s all the way to modern times. We stopped by on a road trip to Montreal and were sad we could only spend two hours there.

    4. biscuit*

      Weston is a cute town with an old mill and a summer playhouse, if you like musicals/theater. Also highly recommend Grafton for another cute town – can easily spend the day around there: go wading in the creek, tour the Grafton cheese factory, pop into antique shops, get ice cream at the general store, rent bikes and bike some of the country roads nearby.

  24. Falling Diphthong*

    What are you watching, and would you recommend it?

    Last night watched Aliens 2, as I had never seen the series. (Watched Aliens a couple of weeks ago.) Quite good; you can see why it became a classic; I like the nine-year-old’s world weariness.

    Was inspired to do the series because someone described it as the ultimate no-backstory tale. Like Vasquez is just who she is in this immediate crisis of aliens that want to lay eggs inside you.

    1. Coke Drinker*

      I started watching Resident Alien recently! (I know it’s been around for a while, but I’d never heard of it until a couple weeks ago.) I’m only eight episodes in and I would recommend it, it’s very well done and strikes a tone that is both humorous and serious.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        We are on the season two, and regularly have laughing out loud moments with it. Who knew Alan Tudyk was so good at physical comedy?

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          100% agreed. The entire cast is so good, but watching Alan Tudyk portray this character is so great!

          FWIW, I also checked out the graphic novel that the series is based on from my library. It’s different, of course, but equally charming and quirky. I recommend it!

    2. Autumn*

      The standout for me is Fisk, an Australian series about a small law firm. Like The Office but not mean, hilarious with a feather-light touch. Dead Boy Detectives was a lot of fun. I also enjoyed Bodkin, though it was a bit uneven. Will Forte always cracks me up. Watching Fallout now. I am not a gamer but I heard it was good (and apparently Matt Berry is going to pop up at some point?). It’s very gory, shocker. I am realizing as I write this that I’ve been watching a lot more TV recently than I have for years, I must just be in a phase.

        1. WellRed*

          I’m loving Will Trent. Also, the Rookie which I didn’t like when it first came out.

    3. KarenK*

      I’m watching an English sketch comedy show called Horrible Histories. It’s hilarious.

    4. Aphrodite*

      I am currently binge-watching on YouTube old re-runs of TILL DEBT DO US PART, a Canadian show that ran from approximately 2005-2011. Fun times. Would I recommend it? I really think it depends on the person. I get a kind of weird kick out of it.

    5. YesImTheAskewPolice*

      I’m watching the new Doctor Who episodes. So far they are entertaining enough. My biggest quibbles are probably with Ruby and the Doctor – their bond seems too strong, given that they’ve only spent a little time together, and somehow Ruby is already too settled into the new world. I’m also not a fan of the new interior of the Tardis. It looks way too clean and slick, both for the show itself as well as for the current Doctor. Still, I’m curious to see how the season will develop.

    6. Reebee*

      “Hacks” and “Kath and Kim,” and highly recommend both! I’m also watching true crime shows, especially “American Monster” and Paula Zahn’s show “On the Case.”

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Apparently I should have read reviews before marching on through the series, because we found Alien 3 to be pretty sucky. And we are not alone.

      Alien is good; you can see why it’s iconic.
      Aliens is very good, and builds on the first.

      Shoulda stopped there.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      Murdoch Mysteries! I find it the epitome of cozy.’

      Also almost finished with Shogun, which totally lives up to the hype. The performances are stellar and the photography gorgeous.

      1. Lilli*

        Yes! Though I will say with Murdoch that you should skip some/all of first season, maybe more. It is not the same as the mid and later seasons. I was so disappointed with the first couple of episodes that I gave up watching but then I found a list of top ten episodes, went with those and continued watching from what I found interesting. That was a much more enjoyable experience for me.

    9. Bookwizard*

      We’re watching anime, as always – only Delicious in Dungeon now because Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End is done for the foreseeable future. I would unquestionably recommend Frieren for basically anyone; it’s got Studio Ghibli vibes in a lot of ways, a classic and approachable fantasy with beautiful scenery and music. I actually told my mom to watch it, which I don’t think I’ve ever done for an anime before.
      Delicious in Dungeon seems like it will just be a goofy thing until It Absolutely Isn’t. I think it kinda crossed my line for body horror a couple times but I’m sticking with it anyway – the emotional weight and the depth of the characters really work for us. Also it’s just kind of a general ode to self-care and self-worth and being able to get along with and love people who are different than oneself. The protagonist is wonderfully autistic-coded and we relate to him deeply around here.

  25. RussianInTexas*

    Not really a question, just still somewhat stunned. I live in the greater Houston area.
    In the last week we had three, let’s call them, false weather alarms. On Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday, the are had strong thunderstorm warnings, tornado and hail watches, flood warnings, and not much came of it except some rain.
    And then Thursday came. In the morning it looked like another same old, some rainstorms around dinner time, nothing out of the ordinary. People just ignored the warnings and went on their own way.
    It was a derecho. The first I’ve been through, and I’ve been through two hurricanes, few tropical storms, and a catastrophic freeze. This storm was almost as bad as the Hurricane Ike. Two tornados, wind speeds up to 100mph in the Downtown, 127mph in the Heights. 7 people are dead, massive damage, the Downtown has blown windows in the high-rises, trees snowed, high voltage transmission towers toppled like children toys, over half a million people are still without power.
    And my side of town is basically unscathed. We had some strong rain, it got pitch black and kind of scary, with the phone yelling various warnings, and then it was give. Not a single branch down. Trash for picked up yesterday on schedule. Everything is open. Meanwhile, two of my coworkers been without power since Thursday 6pm.
    It’s just amazing this much destruction happened in literally two hours.

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I saw the pictures. Terrifying. Windstorms scare me. We had a much smaller derecho here a few years ago – it was literally two blocks wide. Those two blocks had trees smashing into roofs and cars destroyed. We are a half-mile away and didn’t lose a leaf off a tree.

      1. Dicey Tillerman*

        I was living in DC in 2012, and the derecho that summer was one of the most terrifying things I have ever experienced. I got on the Metro and the weather was fine. 10 minutes later when I got to my stop, the power in the station was out. Along with everyone else I hiked up the escalator, came out onto street level, and it was like the world was ending.

    2. Anima*

      Since the flood in Ahrweiler happened (that made international news, you should be able to Google it), the German weather forecast is really, really high strung. When every weather phenomenon is a storm, none is. Could it be that the three false alarms before made the people de-sensitized and so the death-toll for Houston was quite high?
      It’s like the weather app that cried wolf.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        And we are used to strong rain deluge, they happen often, it’s fine. We know what to do.
        This was not usual.

        1. Anima*

          Alright, that is terrifying! Glad you’re ok, and sad the other half of Houston is not.

    3. Roy G. Biv*

      I’ve been through two derechos in the Midwest, and I agree with your take on it: deceptive weather, and then an efficient swath of mass destruction. Weather is wild!

    4. Elle Woods*

      I saw the pictures and video and was stunned by the destruction. I’m glad to hear that you’re OK and have little damage.

      1. Fiction Reader*

        There is a charming TV series about the Durrells, a British family who moved to Corfu in the 1930’s. It is based on books by Gerald Durrell and is semi-autobiographical. I haven’t read the books but have heard they are good.

    5. Random Bystander*

      I understand–I was living in Syracuse in 1998 for the Labor Day Storm (a derecho which in 15 minutes in my area knocked out power for pretty much the whole city, and as we joked we became the “mulch capital” because so many trees had been destroyed if they were taller than 12 feet). Temperature dropped 30 degrees in that time, and I remember (it was like 1am) screaming that we needed to get down cellar (grew up in the midwest, where tornadoes are the major thing). It took eight days for my neighborhood to get power back, but yeah, outside the path, you would’ve had no clue that anything like that had happened.

  26. Camelid coordinator*

    I just ordered a new RoadID because I am moving to a new town (and it comes in purple), and the website needed to send me a code. The automated email was pretty much the opposite of the one that kept getting asked out a few weeks ago! It was from “RANDY” and signed off with an XOXO. (There was an also a funny bit about robot duties.) I thought you all would enjoy the contrast!

  27. LemonDrops*

    I came here looking for book recommendations that don’t have romance in them. I understand why romance is a common subplot but I’m so tired of reading about romances when I pick up a book about Sci-fi or fantasy. I prefer these genres, but at this point I’m open to others

    1. Cherrywood*

      C J Cherryh has at least two soft sci-fi series, Foreigner (diplomacy) and Faded Sun (aeons of warfare coming to a head). I believe the Pride of Chanur series is also without romance.
      Cherryh is _excellent_ at describing alien cultures interacting, acting for perfectly internally consistent reasons. The above would provide several thousand pages of fun. :-)

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Murderbot is an excellent series, and the pov character shares your feelings about romance plot lines.

    3. Excel-sior*

      I’m the same. not that I don’t mind a bit of romance, but sometimes it definitely takes center stage when it really shouldn’t.

      may I suggest C. Robert Cargill’s Sea of Rust. its a fun read and every character is a robot, AI or drone so romance is at an absolute minimum.

      Arthur C Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rana is a classic (although please be warned ther are some outdated points of view). from what i remember there was very little romance.

      finally, Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time and Children of Ruin. lots of fun (and a little scary in CoR), very little romance. lots of spiders.

        1. Excel-sior*

          ah. I’m afraid they’re one of the 2 big threads in the story (i don’t think it gives too much away to say it charts the rise of a spider civilization). i found it fascinating, more so than the human side of the story, really loved it. but if you have a thing with spiders, it might not be for you (depending on how big a thing, I’d recommend giving it a go anyway, but appreciate it might be way way WAY out of your comfort zone).

          1. BikeWalkBarb*

            Not an arachnid fan here and I loved Children of Time. I think it made a big difference in having the spider POV rather than having humans terrified of spiders looking at them and freaking out through the whole thing as the POV. I’d say give it a chance.

    4. Nicki Name*

      The best sci-fi book I read last year was Eversion, where everyone is too busy dealing with cosmic horror to develop a romance.

    5. Nicki Name*

      Here’s a great fantasy with zero romance that I can recall: The Goblin Emperor.

      (The author has written a couple other books set in that world which do involve a slowly developing romance, though it doesn’t take up very much of those books.)

    6. Clara Bowe*

      I will always throw down for the Ascendance of a Bookworm series. It’s a Japanese light novel series with main characters who a deeply uninterested in ~romance~. And while marriages are involved in the wider series (for real, like 14+ books in) they are not romantic in any way, shape or form. More political stuff required for realm stability as a part of the established culture and magic system.

      And the two main leads are deeply ace/aro coded.

    7. GoryDetails*

      Terry Pratchett’s “Discworld” books rarely feature romance at all, and even those that do have a lot of fun riffing on romance tropes.

      James White’s “Sector General” books are great fun, SF-meets-galactic-hospital tales with a slew of very different aliens cooperating with the handful of human characters to diagnose and treat ailments. “Medical procedural in SPACE” kind of thing, with a nicely inclusive attitude towards beings of all types. [The earlier books do feature an irksome attitude towards Earth women – on the part of some of the Earth men; the aliens, many of whom come from species with either no gender diversity or with different genders at different life stages, can’t imagine why the Earth folk are so fussy. Later in the series, the main Earth woman character does get due respect AND a promotion.]

      For more recent SF, Becky Chambers’ “Record of a Spaceborn Few” – one of her “Wayfarers” loosely-linked series – is a good one; lots of fascinating characters, intriguing world-building.

    8. Squidhead*

      There is very little romance in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. There are some relationships that develop, but any mooning and swooning is promptly skewered and there’s no sensuously-described physical contact. (The sub-series of Tiffany Aching books has slightly more romance than the “regular” books. There are tons of reading lists online with suggestions of what order to read the books in, as there are many books and they fall into some overlapping character sets.)

      1. Jay*

        I couldn’t agree more with Pratchett as a choice!
        Brilliant, insightful, and a positive joy to read.

    9. Forensic13*

      The Rook by Daniel O’Malley (there are a couple things that might feel like romance, but it’s not a spoiler to say they’re definitely not)

    10. Stretchy McGillicuddy*

      I just recommended Mike Chen’s books in a different post but his sci fi books are refreshingly romance-free, other than the obviously-named Quantum Love Story. Give We Can Be Heros a try for a sci fi book featuring a man and woman lead with zero romantic interest in each other.

      1. Stretchy McGillicuddy*

        Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea is a recent favorite of mine, too. It’s a historical fiction adventure novel based on a legendary Chinese pirate queen. Some sex but no romance. :)

      2. Hyaline*

        I love Mike Chen! His books often center relationships of all kinds—family, sibling, friends—but not romance-y.

    11. Morning Reading*

      I liked Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice. I don’t recall any romance elements in it.

    12. Writerling*

      Mood, and the reason everything I write now is romance free (center page anyway, maybe a drop or two in the background). Thanks for the question, more book recs!

    13. ecnaseener*

      I’m really enjoying the Too Like the Lightning series. I’m only halfway through the second book, but so far there are people in existing relationships, but no plotlines about people falling in love or even really plotlines about those relationships.

    14. Hyaline*

      Nghi Vo’s Singing Hills novellas are great little infusions of fantasy with no romance. Cleverly told and insightful but also just fun. You don’t have to read in order.

      I don’t remember Some Desperate Glory by Emily Tesh having much in the way of romance and it was a good recent sci-fi release.

      The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty alludes to past romantic entanglements but it’s focused on found family relationships and parent-child relationships.

    15. Hrodvitnir*

      Oooo. All fantasy reccs and I’m basically just recommending my favourite series, so ymmv. I strongly prefer romance not to be a core part of it, though they don’t all have zero.

      If you haven’t read Robin Hobb, I highly recommend. The Farseer Trilogy from memory has no romance, and The Tawny Man trilogy (needs to be read second)… it heavily features some attraction related stuff but is definitely not romantic per se. I feel like Robin Hobb doesn’t tend to make romance central in any of her series (yes, she’s a woman with a male pseudonym).

      My absolute favourite series ever is the Katherine Kerr Deverry series. It’s set over multiple lifetimes, so while there are various relationship themes, it’s not focused on it.

      And my final favourite series is the Empire series by Janny Wurts with Raymond E. Feist. I assume you’ve read Magician – it’s set on the other side.

      There is a pretty major romantic subplot, so if you’re super off it right now I wouldn’t recommend, but the focus is very much on politics and the main character’s life as a whole.

  28. Coke Drinker*

    Does anyone have any tips for stopping/cutting back on unhealthy drinks? I have a huge Coca-Cola obsession to the point where I’m worried it’s going to cross the line into too much. I don’t enjoy many other drinks, I’m not a tea or coffee or juice drinker, so the soda is the only source of caffeine I get. I end up drinking it like some people drink coffee, in the morning to wake myself up or when I need a boost.

    I also love it because it makes me feel happy/motivated – like when I’m going through a stressful moment or need motivation to get stuff done, it works to make me feel better. I logically know that it’s very sugary, bad for the heart, bad for the teeth, etc., but every time I try to restrict myself, I end up drinking way more than I usually do. Does anyone have any tips?

    1. RagingADHD*

      You’re going to have to pick something else to put in its place and develop a taste for tea (maybe iced or herbal? Iced herbal?), coffee, or one of the other options you have already written off. Leaving a vacuum where the Coke used to be is not an effective strategy, as you have found.

      In other words, the most difficult part of change is that it requires change.

    2. fposte*

      How do you get your Coke? Sometimes that’s a gateway you can exercise some control over. You can decide no Coke comes into the house, for instance, or you buy one overpriced convenience store bottle on Saturdays as a treat. If it’s a work vending machine, maybe you can squelch your ability to pay; I had a thing about vending machine cookies for a while and unhooked my credit cards from Apple Pay and put the physical ones in beautiful little colored envelopes with comparatively pricey stickers on them. I do find it helps to have a regular time when the treat is permissible and to be philosophical about the likelihood that those permissions will start to open up after awhile, so I periodically need to reapply myself.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This — when I feel like I’m drinking too much soda, I don’t bring unopened sodas into my home. I allow myself to get one while I’m out and about, and bring it home that way once it’s already in progress to finish it, but I don’t order a soda if I get takeout, and I don’t get it with my grocery shopping, and I tell my husband not to pick up my flavor if he’s picking himself up some.

        A couple other things: I keep a big water bottle at my desk (I WFH) and I require myself to drink the water bottle before I get a different non-water beverage (so every other drink is water), and while I am also not a tea drinker, I did find a couple of sugar-free drink packets that I do like that have some caffeine in them – Crystal Light’s got a citrus one and a mango (I think) one that are both caffeinated, plus a strawberry flavor. I also, despite not being a tea drinker, do like their peach mango green tea flavor.

    3. Ideas*

      My husband started buying the mini cans instead of the full sized ones. I don’t think he was quite as dependent on it as you are though, so YMMV. Oh, and you can try having it over ice when possible to slightly dilute it. Small steps!

      1. Double A*

        I was going to suggest the smaller cans!

        Also, could you get unflavored seltzer and start diluting the coke a bit with and eye towards moving towards seltzer.

        Also how do you like flavored seltzers?

        1. WorkNowPaintLater*

          The flavored seltzers is how I’ve managed keeping away from Coke Zero – the bubbles and a little bit of flavor seem to make my brain happy enough. Combined with lots of water and new love of cold brew coffee (only in the morning).

    4. WellRed*

      Oh man. I stopped drinking Diet Coke for several years but got quickly addicted again so I sympathize (though I don’t consume mass tons of it). It’s a real problem.

    5. Clara Bowe*

      Quick note: when you do start reducing your intake, be careful to keep an eye on your salt levels. Soda has a ton, and when I cut mine out/reduced it, my salt levels tanked because that was where I was getting my daily intake.

      As for reduction options, it might be worth it to try a few things. For caffeine replacement/step down, there are a few snack bars or candies that are highly caffeinated that can be used to taper there. The Awake brand is pretty easy to find.

      As for the experience of the soda/dopamine hit, it might be worth it to think about what you like about the experience of drinking it. Is it the mouth feel? The bubbles? The sweetness? The shape of the can/bottle? Ease of access?

      Think deep on those and work to find switches/work around. Like if you love the bubble sensation, you might be ok swapping to Coke Zero or Zero Cherry because there is a similar bubble content. Etc.

      But also? If your health numbers are fine, you do your regular dental hygiene and are not having cavities/damage you might be fine just keepin’ on?

      Any which way, good luck!

    6. Sloanicota*

      I will say, as someone who is always trying to moderate my drinking (of alcohol) – a) Doing Dryanuary etc is fun the first time as a challenge, but ultimately I think it made drinking a MORE desirable treat because it was forbidden and I was thinking about it all the time. If you find the same thing, I had much better luck proactively drinking sometimes but limiting overall (two a week, say). It’s really tough to change a morning caffeine routine so maybe the goal is “just” limiting it to one, or cutting it 50/50 with coke zero (my personal belief is that diet soda is bad for you, but maybe you can divide up the risk) or buying the mini cans and having just one. Personally I had a lunchtime diet coke issue for a while and cans of flavored sparkling water “worked” because the routine was so similar, but it wouldn’t if I was in it for the jolt. Try to focus on the thing you want to do *instead* rather than what you don’t want to do (learned that from dog training).

    7. Overbooked*

      I found that Coke still tastes like Coke when diluted with 3 parts regular fizzy water to one part Coke. This doesn’t help with the caffeine problem, though.

      1. Double A*

        My husband gets his caffeine in pill form. This was how he kicked his energy drink habit after his doctor told him in no uncertain terms how bad it was for him.

    8. Jay*

      I switched from Pepsi to Pepsi Zero.
      The Pepsi Zero fit nicely into place and cut out the sugar without cutting out the caffeine (also my daily caffeine delivery system, other than the occasional morning mug of coffee a couple of times a week).
      After a couple of weeks of the Pepsi Zero’s my body adjusted to less sugary beverages, and then some other options that didn’t fill the space before, suddenly did. Things like sugar free iced teas, seltzer waters, that kind of thing. Without the overwhelming SWEET!!!!!! of regular soda, they all tasted good and I was able to transition further away from the Pepsi Zero’s to other beverages at that point. I still keep some around the office for a caffeine fix when I don’t want to waste time with a coffee run, but, unless I’m doing really crappy in life and caffeine is all that’s keeping me moving, I don’t have it at home at all, anymore.

    9. Zona the Great*

      I know you said you don’t drink juice but could you start trying a sparkling juice to mimic the bubbles and sweetness and coldness of a Coke? I used to love buying the slightly flavored sparkling water cans at Costco (no sugar or fake sugar, no calories, barely flavored) at pour it over a 1/4 glass of my favorite fruit juice. So refreshing.

    10. Future*

      I would second trying to acquire a taste for tea or coffee and eventually getting used to drinking that with little or no sugar. Caffeine itself is addictive but not the worst for most people, barring certain health or sleep problems some folks might have. It’s the sugar and other things in soda that are bad for you. Coffee and tea are fairly neutral health-wise, and there are so many ways to drink them that you may eventually find something you like about them if you keep trying different coffee or tea drinks with a sense of curiosity.

    11. ww*

      I am 100% addicted to Coke and honestly…I think everyone is allowed one minor bad habit in life. I do regular dentist checkups etc to make sure everything is running OK internally and as long as it is I’m going to continue to enjoy my daily can. I will say that for me half the appeal is that crack of the can opening so I started buying cans of seltzer. It’s not a full replacement for Coke, I still have a can a day usually, but sometimes I’ll grab a seltzer instead, and either way it keeps me from being tempted into two cans, or if I’ve already had soda with a meal out I grab a seltzer at home instead. Sometimes I’ll have half the can of Coke and then switch to seltzer and save the other half for the next day (flat soda doesn’t bother me). You might try just not buying the case of soda (or buying a smaller case) and see if you can trick your brain with seltzer.

    12. ElastiGirl*

      My husband was highly addicted to Diet Coke — about 8 cans a day. I didn’t mind when it was Diet Coke with Splenda, but they stopped making it during the pandemic.

      He went cold turkey when he caught Covid. That was tough.

      Now his compromise is that he doesn’t buy it for the house. He goes out every morning and buys one fast food Diet Coke. And he’s switched to Spindrift (like La Croix but with flavor) for carbonation during the day. No other caffeine.

      Still not ideal, but way better than it was.

    13. The Dude Abides*

      Seconding not having it in the house as a way to step down.

      I add 6-8oz coffee to my morning protein shake – it gives me that pick me up. My current formula is

      2 tbsp natural PB
      6-8oz regular coffee
      1-2 scoops chocolate protein powder
      Top off with milk

      It seems strange, but it took me a few iterations to get it right, and it’s been my go-to for almost a year.

    14. ColdTurkey*

      This isn’t going to help you at all, but I used guzzle coke down all day every day. I knew it was bad for me, but I hated most other options (and artificial sweeteners make me sick).

      After years and years, I just gave it up cold turkey. I mostly drink water and sometimes tea (which I discovered I like so long as it’s a strong black tea with no flavorings added in and I don’t try to add milk, lemon, or sugar to it). I don’t know what switch flipped in my brain that day. I was in my 30s and had been drinking tons of coke my whole life to that point. I was ready, I guess.

      FWIW, I really did give it up cold turkey – it’s been 15-20 years (I did not memorialize the date) and I never went back.

      So no practical advice, but maybe some hope nonetheless.

    15. Nicki Name*

      Don’t try to go cold turkey on caffeine. Mr. Name did that by accident once when trying to switch to lower-sugar drinks. Absolutely would not recommend.

    16. Bethlam*

      Empathizing as I sit here with my Mt. Dew. Quit drinking it while I was going through chemo because my taste was off, plus chemo is hard on the kidneys and you have to drink a ton of water.

      Told myself it was a good time to just quit permanently, but here I am. For me it’s purely about taste – not a caffeine thing at all.

  29. Lifelong student*

    Thanks to those who offered me support and ideas when I was in a panic about having to see a doctor to review test results. The review was not as bad as I feared- there are some irregularities but without prior results it is impossible to know if they are new or not. The irregularities are generally benign but do have the potential not to be benign. The tests will be repeated in six weeks for comparison. I am not in a panic anymore- what is is what is. I did tell one friend about my panic and that helped as did all the messages I received here. My partner is aware that there is “something” but not of the possible but unlikely bad outcome- so I do not have to deal with partner being anxious- which would make it harder for me.

    1. A313*

      I’m glad it wasn’t as bad as you feared and hope followup proves uneventful. And yes, managing other people’s emotions on top of your own can make everything so much worse — it’s good to know who you can share with and when!

    1. Just a name*

      I’ve got a Fitbit Inspire 3. It tracks sleep, which is why I bought it originally. I wanted something small. I bought a stretchy elastic band as I hated the silicone one it came with. I previously owned a Luxe, which I lost because the band just clicked on to the watch. The Inspire 3 has an added mechanism that locks the watch on to the band. The app is easy as well. Battery life is decent if ou don’t set it to automatically sync. The app will show you how many hours of sleep you got, how much time you were in each stage of sleep (deep, REM, light, awake). It also monitors estimated oxygen levels, but it is an estimate.

    2. Manders*

      I love my Versa 4. I got a generic metal band with magnetic closure off Amazon for it. It does a good job of tracking sleep, and I feel like it’s really accurate.

    3. Squidhead*

      My Fitbit Inspire 2 tracks sleep and I can view the “details” on the free version of the app (but their “analysis” only comes on the premium version; I didn’t find the analysis very insightful when I had it and I don’t miss it). Occasionally the device will mistake me sitting very still and reading as being asleep, but as far as I can tell it seems reasonably accurate. I think you can also set “sleep hygiene” alarms (like, bedtime in 30 minutes).

    4. Camelid coordinator*

      I use a Garmin Venu 3 to track sleep and fitness, especially running. If you are not into tracking anything besides sleep it would be too much.

    5. Bethlam*

      I love my Fitbit Charge 4, which tracks sleep. Tracks a lot of other stuff, too.

  30. Texan In Exile*

    I’m American, so I was completely baffled when I read in Prince Harry’s “Spare” that he told Meghan she needed to curtsey to his grandmother but not to his brother.

    Why would someone who is not English curtsey to the queen? And especially why would someone curtsey to the queen when they are meeting her as their boyfriend’s grandma and not as a political figure?

    (William was apparently quite annoyed that Meghan did not curtsey to him and Harry noted that she was meeting her boyfriend’s brother, not the future king. Wouldn’t the same principle apply to the grandma?)

    1. My Brain is Exploding*

      Nope, Americans don’t/shouldn’t bow or curtsy, that is show obeisance, to foreign officials. We do not acknowledge them as OUR officials/government.

      1. Clisby*

        Correct. Americans are not supposed to curtsey or bow (especially to Brits, of all people).

    2. WellRed*

      I’m American and it wouldn’t occur to me not to courtesy. But now I wonder, have Americans ever curtsied for anything/one?

      1. GoryDetails*

        Some areas of the US do have a “curtsey” culture – formal things like debutante balls, for example (mainly in the deep South? among certain social/economic classes?). And stage performers will come out and take a bow at the end, which may involve curtseys by those wearing dresses. But it is true that Americans aren’t supposed to bow or curtsey to their own leaders or to those of other countries – though I can see how it might feel weird NOT to do so if everyone else in the room/reception line is.

        In the case of the current royals, and proper etiquette when marrying into the family… that would feel different to me. Should she have to curtsey? No – but if my intended asked me to curtsey when first meeting my future parent-in-law, I’d probably do it. [Wouldn’t think to curtsey to a future sibling-in-law, though.]

    3. Excel-sior*

      probably for the same reason as me calling a US president “Mr President” if i ever met them instead of Donny or Joe-Joe.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        There’s a difference there, though. “President” is literally a job; “queen” is a hereditary role. It’s also perfectly acceptable to greet a US president as “Mr. Last-Name” or “President Last-Name”.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      That wasn’t all that surprising to me, even though I’m super working class and don’t really have much interest in the royals. I’ve seen the queen at events I’ve been working, so maybe that’s where I’ve picked it up. If you are Joe Random, you don’t have to bow or curtsy to the sovereign, but you can do if you want, and if you don’t, it’s considered courteous to do something, like nod your head or shake hands. It’s considered more important for other royals or high ranking families to do the curtsy/bow thing because that’s their culture and it shows their knowledge of such things. It’s kind of ridiculous of William to expect to be treated like a sovereign before he is one, that’s like expecting people to treat you like the boss when you’re still just a colleague. I don’t think Meghan had to curtsy, but I can see why Harry probably wanted her too. He was introducing her as a future royal.

    5. Zona the Great*

      Interesting. If I met her in England, like Meghan did, I’d curtsy. If she, for some reason, came to Toronto or wherever Meghan lived, I certainly would not. But I don’t think the Queen expected curtsies outside of her domain, did she?

    6. RagingADHD*

      My understanding (also as an American) is that there is a protocol/ hierarchy observed even within the royal family, and that Queen Elizabeth expected it even from her children and grandchildren. According to that protocol, both Meghan and Harry should be bowing / curtseying to William because he outranks them. And after William married Kate, Kate would outrank Harry too.

      Formal protocol can be exempted in close relationships, and it sounds like Harry & William didn’t observe it between themselves. So Harry gave Meghan a “pass” but William didn’t agree and thought it was rude.

      Of course, as an American Meghan technically shouldn’t curtsey to anyone, but many people do as a social convention. Even other heads of state have been known to nod/bow or bob curtsey to royals to try to be “proper” even though it really isn’t.

    7. Forrest Rhodes*

      Agreed that the curtsey is not required of Americans when meeting British royalty—but it likely wouldn’t hurt when you’re trying to make friends with the new in-laws, no?

    8. Jules the First*

      If you are being formally presented to the Queen, you curtsy. Whether you are American or not…one does not shake hands with the Queen, and the curtsey is the appropriate greeting. If you meet her casually in the hallway or at the breakfast table, a hello or good morning is perfectly acceptable (gosh…I guess I should really change all that to past tense, but it still feels strange to do that).

      I spent a long and painful afternoon teaching my boss’ wife to curtsy properly when they hosted the Queen on a visit. Technically one also curtsies to any member of the Family when they are carrying out the Sovereign’s duties, which means that Kate or Harry or even one of the less senior royals might merit a curtsy at a state occasion, but otherwise a polite handshake is perfectly appropriate. On American soil a handshake would have been just about acceptable, but I can absolutely understand Harry’s insistence on the curtsy given that he needed the Queen’s approval to marry Meghan…and she has a track record of saying no, especially to commoners (rumour has it that Kate and Wills broke up the first time because HM said no, though we’ll never know for sure unless Kate decides to speak out).

      1. IT Manager*

        The Queen is certainly free to expect a curtsy from anyone, but Americans don’t perform obeisance to anyone. That’s kind of our reason for existence. We are citizens, not subjects – we don’t bow to our own government, let alone someone else’s, and we don’t acknowledge any personal differences based on lineage or hereditary titles. It’s literally in our constitution.

        Mind you, it’s getting harder and harder to get Americans to remember this, we seem to be falling all over ourselves to suck up to both royalty and wealth whenever possible. (Meghan of course was in a different position in meeting potential future family, so is free to adopt their customs if she pleases in order to fit in.)

        1. Jules the First*

          I get that, but the options when meeting the Queen are limited. You curtsy or you don’t get through the door. It’s just how it works. Possible exception if you are also a head of state, but otherwise…

          (Fun fact…the heir to the throne has a passport – British diplomatic – but must surrender it upon acceding to the throne, as the British sovereign can travel only by invitation from a foreign government)

    9. Hrodvitnir*

      I mean. I’m a NZer, we have a wildly less formal culture than the US and I’m personally pretty allergic to all deferent behaviours, but I’d file that under “culture-specific politeness”.

      Ie: you don’t *have* to do it, but I’ll generally go along with other cultures’ expectations unless it really hit up against my personal ethics.

      Am I a fan of the monarchy? Not particularly. Would I bow to the monarch? I dunno, maybe.

      The British royal family has a long history of harmful actions, but most governments have not actually freed themselves from classism, and there is no government innocent of causing harm to civilians for political gain. I don’t personally find old fashioned formality like curtseying wildly more offensive than a general expectation for deference to sometimes-dubiously elected officials.

  31. Grits McGee*

    I posted a couple weeks ago asking for NYC recommendations, and as requested, am now posting with an update!

    Y’all successfully talked me out of going to the Met, and instead I ended up going to the Chelsea flea market, meeting a friend for very delicious pizza at L’Industrie, and people watching at Hudson River Park. Someone correctly guessed that I was going to see “Oh, Mary!”, which I cannot recommend enough.

    One thing that surprised me though- people were so friendly! And walked so slowly! Has anyone else encountered surprises that run counter to expectations like this when traveling?

    1. GoryDetails*

      Glad you enjoyed your NYC trip!

      I had a similar reaction when I went to Paris many (many!) years ago; went on my own, with my very elementary level of French, and with some fear of the legendary rudeness-to-tourists – but everyone I encountered was quite nice to me, possibly because I did at least try to speak French when I could, and was polite when I couldn’t understand a reply.

    2. New Yorker*

      99% chance the slow walkers were not New Yorkers, but other tourists. I find that New Yorkers are willing to help out tourists…for the most part.

    3. FriendlyNewYork*

      I am a New Yorker who has lived in other cities (Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston for the last 25+, a few others) and it always surprises me that people expect NYers to be unfriendly. In my experience they tend to be friendlier than average. Bostonians, on the other hand, tend to be less friendly by nature and a lot less willing to interacts with or help strangers. Both of these are gross generalizations, of course.

  32. Busy Middle Manager*

    Anyone else have a good experience with wisdom tooth extraction? I just had one out and, wow, I feel like a weight has been lifted, and I didn’t even know there was a weight there. I got it out due to infection but now I feel better than I did before that started. I realize I must have had a very low grade headache for ages and just considered it normal.

    But you know how when something happens and you can always google someone else with the same experience online? Well apparently I’m alone in this experience, so I am asking here! All I’m finding is people saying they regret getting them removed.

    I felt like I was going to croak that day, but now I’m marvelling at modern technology. I am afraid to think where I’d be if this wage ages ago.

    I want to hear at least other positive experience!

    1. UKDancer*

      I had one out, it was fine. I mean having it removed wasn’t enjoyable but it was fairly routine and necessary. The dentist used local anaesthesia and I took paracetamol when it wore off. The main thing was to keep rinsing with a saltwater rinse and be careful to start with. I followed the after care instructions and it was uneventful.

      I mean it wasn’t exactly enjoyable but it was necessary and it was fine afterwards.

      Sorry not an exciting story.

    2. GoryDetails*

      Re wisdom teeth: maybe you’re just running into that tendency people have to broadcast unpleasant experiences over benign ones?

      Granted, the process of having my wisdom teeth removed wasn’t what I’d call fun, and as mine were removed in my early 20’s when I realized I needed braces, I wasn’t suffering any pain from them beforehand. (They had to go – along with four other PERFECTLY HEALTHY TEETH {grrr} – to make room for the remaining teeth to line up properly.)

      Anyway, the extractions (done under local anesthetic) went well, the discomfort afterwards wasn’t too bad, everything healed up quickly – and, eventually, a couple of years of adult braces left me with much more maintainable teeth. So while I wish my mouth hadn’t been too small for the teeth that came with it, I’ve never regretted having those wisdom teeth out.

    3. Elle Woods*

      Not a wisdom teeth story but a dental extraction one. I had a bicuspid removed last fall and holy moly did that make a positive difference in things for me. Like you, I’d had a low grade headache for a while and had come to consider it normal. I chipped the tooth last summer and went to my (now former) dentist. He recommended extraction because of the size of the chip and that there was already a filling in the tooth. He couldn’t get it done in office so I had to go to an oral surgeon. I felt sooooooooo much better after she extracted it! No headaches and no occasional eye or ear pain either.

      I’m in the implant process now and should be done with it by the end of the summer. It will be nice to have a full smile again!

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        Oh glad to find another person! You have the ear thing too? The tooth pain was actually the last place it was! The second to last symptom was hearing and ear stuff. Again, not bad enough to run to the doctor, but sort of concerning. I thought I was just generally losing hearing due to too many clubs back in the day or something. Nope. Hearing rapidly improved in just a week. It’s insane in a good way.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          When I had all the trouble with my molars last and this year, earaches were a HUGE common symptom.

    4. Excel-sior*

      i had 2 removed a few years ago: one was growing at a weird angle into the other and causing me a significant amount of pain (especially when i picked up an ear infection). don’t regret it for a second despite a minor issue with it healing over. i went under general anesthetic as well, good little day out lol

    5. Hurry up and relax*

      I had all 4 of mine extracted when I was around 20. I didn’t notice any significant changes really before or after. Recovery wasn’t fun for a few days but then it was fine.

      Either way… I don’t regret it but also didn’t really seem life changing in any way. The dentist had said they might cause problems someday if I didn’t get rid of them, so I did. I’m not sure if that’s true or if it’s some scam to get people to spend money. Maybe it’s true then I would have eventually had issues so I’m glad I got rid of them in case that might be true.

      1. RagingADHD*

        This is me, except that I learned the hard way that I don’t react well to certain anesthetics and I was sick as a dog for 48 hours.

        But long term, the actual teeth / no teeth situation didn’t make any perceptible difference either way. Mine were never going to come in properly because they were oriented the wrong way, so it was better to have them out before the roots got any closer to my facial nerves.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Nope, 100% not alone. I had a couple of damaged teeth extracted that apparently, I had just gotten so used to the constant pain that after they were out, I didn’t need so much as an aspirin for the post-surgery pain because it still felt better than I was previously used to.

    7. The Prettiest Curse*

      My wisdom teeth were really deep and at a weird angle, so I had to have them taken out under general anaesthetic. The recovery was a bit rough for at least a week, but it was otherwise fine.

    8. ThatGirl*

      I had a perfectly neutral experience – everything went fine, my pain was manageable, I felt no better or worse than before. I’m a little surprised there are people who regret it since they’re not usually extracted for fun.

      1. Generic Name*

        Yup. I was 18 and had all 4 out under general anesthesia because they were impacted. Had to eat soft foods for a while. No biggie.

    9. atoothremoved*

      I had one out and it was fine! I was nervous about getting dry socket, but it never happened, thank goodness. The pain wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Kind of like a sharp ache on the first evening once the meds wore off, then a dull ache for a few days after. Honestly, the worst thing for me was having super deep roots, so what should have been a five minute job according to my dentist was a 15 minute one. I was also awake for it as it was only the one tooth and, like you, got it out due to infection.

    10. allathian*

      I had the wisdom teeth in my upper jaw out in my mid-30s. They had emerged fully so it was a 5-minute job for each tooth, with local anesthetic. The aftercare was simple amd I recovered quickly. Never had any wisdom teeth in my lower jaw, just as well as they wouldn’t fit.

      I had a molar in my lower jaw extracted in January, it was a failed root canal. The relief I felt after the extraction when the infection finally healed was quite something.

    11. Six Feldspar*

      I got three out at once!

      It took longer than a regular dental appointment but i got them all done with painkillers. I didn’t have anyone to pick me up so I didn’t get knocked out for it, I also wanted to know what was going on.

      (Slight gore warning)
      They were just beginning to come through my gums so the dentist could make a, um, slit essentially and pull them out. Good timing because there was less of an open wound to heal up. On the other hand I don’t want to try to eat even soft food with three sides of my mouth out of action again…

    12. MassChick*

      I had all 4 removed when I was in my late twenties. The impacted ones (bottom) were causing pains in the front of my face. I suspect the other two could have been left but dentist claimed they would cause problems. Recovery wasn’t fun but thereafter I was fine, no more odd pains and never thought of it again. This was in the USA a couple of decades ago.
      A few weeks ago , my sister in India had one wisdom tooth extracted after it caused an infection. The dentist recommended it was better to just do the one for now even though she said the other bottom one might also turn out to be problematic. She was quite swollen for a few days but after a week felt fine and now says she feels better than before. She will only consider extraction if she has problems. I read a piece in Salon (I think) that reported that something like 20% of wisdom teeth extractions were unnecessary so in hindsight my 4 extractions may have been overkill but didn’t seem to have caused problems.

    13. ecnaseener*

      Apparently the top ones tend to me more difficult to remove than the bottom ones, and that definitely bore out for me (although they hadn’t fully erupted yet when I got them out, so that probably had a lot to do with it).

      I got a bottom one out recently and it was no worse than a filling, quick too! The one unpleasant difference was — with a filling, if they don’t use quite enough Novocain you feel some pain, and you tell them and they add more Novocain and then you’re fine. With the tooth extraction, if you aren’t fully numb, you feel not just generic pain but a Something’s Getting Ripped From My Body sensation, which gave me an adrenaline rush that had nowhere to go, so for the rest of the extraction I was just quivering.

    14. Generic Name*

      My husband had several teeth extracted, including some wisdom teeth, and one tooth that had abscessed. Afterwards, he said his sinuses were draining like crazy for several days and was blowing his nose constantly. After the drainage stopped, he suddenly could smell much better, and he had to use his asthma inhaler much less frequently. The dentist said that the upper tooth’s root was going into his sinus and the resulting hole from the extraction would close eventually. The drainage that came out looked like it was stuff from an infection, so he’s thinking that the bad tooth had affected his sinuses. It seemed to odd to me that I also googled it, and I found one or two personal accounts of the same thing, but nothing on any dentistry based websites. Glad that your experience was positive! I think the internet leans towards the negative because people tend to share the bad more frequently.

    15. Voluptuousfire*

      I had one removed due to it decaying. I had sensitivity on that side of my mouth for years but never made the connection. Once it was gone, along went the sensitivity.

      Mine was easy peasy—Novocain, doctor went in with dental pliers and loosened it and pulled it out. The only thing was the cracking sound that it made as it came loose. I had little pain and bleeding, so I was fine. I was in an out in half an hour .

    16. Chauncy Gardener*

      I had all four of them (all of them impacted) out two at a time in my early 20’s. It was a total breeze. No swelling or anything.

    17. Jujujuju*

      My wisdom teeth removal was fine too, but I understimated how long the recovery for my overall fitness would be. I felt fine and ran a half-marathon two weeks later. Big mistake! I almost had to give up after 10km… So, I‘d let your body rest for a while even if you feel fine!

    18. carcinization*

      The only person I know of who “kept” their wisdom teeth instead of having them extracted before they grew in eventually had to get a much more involved surgery that required cadaver bone. So I guess I have the opposite experience of having no reference for someone who successfully kept their wisdom teeth without negative health effects.

  33. Sloanicota*

    Annie Edison’s post above about traveling alone made me realize I need to ask for the opposite advice: what are some tips that might make traveling with a group of friends more enjoyable? I am in a social circle right now where people seem keen to travel together. We’ve all come into a stage of life where we have some time and some money. However, I never seem to come away from these trips feeling like I really enjoyed myself as much as I expected. There are plenty of advantages, but I’m a bit of a grumpy cat who walks by herself in my life, and I find myself doing a bit more Deep Breathing to Stay Calm than one expects on a vacation that was supposed to be fun. I need to get better about proactively and cheerfully scheduling more And Now It’s Time For Me To Go Off On My Own (No Offense!) time, and perhaps defending my sleep/wake cycle a bit better. Any other tips to help these trips go better?

    1. WellRed*

      Honestly the time to go off on your own is probably the biggest thing that will help.

    2. GoryDetails*

      Definitely suggest some number of “do our own thing” windows during the planning stages. And if your sleep/wake cycles are way off from those of your friends, possibly get your own room (if you aren’t already doing that). But it might be that you and your friend-group just aren’t great travel-mates; I have some friends with whom I can cheerfully make travel plans with no pressure on either side, while there are others whom I just cannot travel with at all. If your friends hear you when you say you need some go-your-own-way time – and don’t give you grief about what you missed! – then things should be manageable. Good luck!

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        My bestie is wonderful. She is my bestie for so many reasons. I like her husband a lot. And i will never ever ever travel with them. At home I find her flakiness and lack of focuse endearing. On a trip I would find that absolutely infuriating, and I know I would end up being the cruise director by default and then she would be late and I would be annoyed and just, no.

        Agree about using your words and especially doing what you need to do to sleep when it’s right for you. If you’re not sleeping well, nothing else will work right.

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

          Yeah, gotta know who you’re traveling with — I have one friend who is super chill and rolls with the punches and others who are really uptight if things go wrong. I try not to take it personally when the uptight ones freak out at any little setback. That’s just who they are, I guess, but I do prefer super chill friend for trips.

    3. Saturday morning*

      Yep…use your words. We have had a number of family trips since our kids reached adulthood. Our daughter, in particular, does get overwhelmed with too much togetherness. On our first trip there was some moodiness/difficulty with that. We talked about it later; on other trips there were accommodations made – there was always a place where we stayed where she could go and chill, and she often went up to bed early; we planned the trip with everyone listing ONE thing they would like to do, and we all tried to do those together; we may all do different things in different combinations other times (young people do one thing and older people another, or men do one thing and women do something else, etc.). Also even when doing group things together, we might be separated…for example at a museum or flea market, we’d all go together but separate when we got there and meet up again at a certain time. You also might cheerfully stay home from an all-day group excursion if you think that will be too much. Cheerfully is key. (Like me at an amusement park, I’ll go, I’ll do some things, I will HAPPILY hold all your gear while you go on something that goes high and/or upside down. I will also wander around a bit by myself and meet everyone for lunch or a show.)

    4. fposte*

      As you say, don’t wait until you’re annoyed—plan for your needs proactively. Once you’re stressed and tired it feels a lot more personal, so come with options in your armory. Earlier breakfast on your own, need for walking, time for napping, etc. I also find it useful to have a personal priority list that you can honor, so you know that whatever other people want, you want to see the museum and take the ghost tour or whatever and don’t care about the lizard exhibit to the zipline. Treat all of that to yourself as well as your travel companions as a reasonable matter of fact thing rather than something you’ve had to resort to.

      Some of this echoes standard social advice about not waiting for permission—if you need to crash at 8, just say “No late night for me! Great day! See you all tomorrow!” and go to bed. “I’ll meet you back at the hotel at [hour]” is a great dilemma solver to a vague afternoon or one where the dominant plan isn’t to your taste—if you proffer a specific action people are usually happy to agree or at least to give a concrete alternative.

    5. I’m a nerd. Here’s a list*

      After some mismatches, I have a list on my phone. Just some things to discuss with potential travel mates:
      KL travel preferences

      – [ ] Need to eat frequently & carry snacks & water
      – [ ] Need frequent bathroom breaks
      – [ ] Can’t travel to altitudes above 10,000 ft. Altitude sickness
      – [ ] Hotel room with en suite bathroom

      Musts if at all possible
      – [ ] Own hotel room – not shared (I snore)
      – [ ] I Prefer not to be the driver especially manual car.

      Strong preference
      – [ ] Business class air travel. Lie flat seat preferred on long hauls
      – [ ] Carry on luggage only, for myself
      – [ ] Not much into bars/dancing / casinos
      – [ ] Hotels or entire VRBO rather than B&B
      – [ ] Ok hiring the occasional driver / tour guide
      – [ ] Ok with public transit if safe
      – [ ] I don’t want to be in online photos/posts

      – [ ] Likes looking at sites, historical sites, museums, architecture, natural wonders
      – [ ] I move kind of quickly through museums
      – [ ] Walk < 6 miles/day instead of big hikes
      – [ ] Sightseeing with some breaks & lunches. Not constantly on the go
      – [ ] Likes trying foods, restaurants, deserts, food stalls, local places, nice restaurants
      – [ ] Not usually interested in shopping. Especially clothes. A few souvenirs (mostly postcards)
      – [ ] Prefer to research/plan ahead & book some things & wing some
      – [ ] Spend some time apart & do a few separate activities
      – [ ] Personal Safety – important

      My Sleep / Road Habits
      – [ ] Early riser 6am
      – [ ] Early to bed 10-11p
      – [ ] Sleep 8-9 hrs / night
      – [ ] Need some alone wind down time before bed
      – [ ] I live out of suitcase
      – [ ] Usually ready in 20-40 min
      – [ ] Pack light Not a lot of clothes or fancy clothes (although appropriately dressed for Europe / other cultures)

      – [ ] Meals normally moderate to nice, occasional $200 pp

      My Strengths / Weaknesses
      – [ ] Good at researching, planning, reserving
      – [ ] Assertive in situations that need it
      – [ ] Bad at navigating. Really bad

      1. Never check a bag*

        KL: I LOVE that you have a list of your phone! I have a similar travel profile, but I never thought to list everything out. (I have to ask – you don’t happen to live in NJ, do you? Your list sounds so much like a good friend from college) Anyways, compatible travel styles are so important – there are so many people I like to hang out with in my day-to-day life, but would NEVER travel with!

        1. I’m a nerd. Here’s a list*

          lol. Not from NJ but sounds like I should meet your friend. I use the list for discussions, not hard & fast rules. Like, we can do budget travel for a trip but need to talk about it so people aren’t split business class vs economy. And it’s a surprise. Or one wants to sleep until noon & dance in bars till 3am (& have each other’s back) then I’m not the travel partner for that trip. Communication helps soooo much

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

      Bring some things that will help you self-soothe. For me, that looks like my espresso cup, a teaspoon, sweet and low, and Medaglia D’Oro instant espresso. Knowing that I can wake up and have an espresso exactly the way I like it before having to deal with other people/hunting down breakfast is reassuring. Also, a good book to disappear into when necessary!

    7. Lady Danbury*

      Finding compatible travel friends makes a HUGE difference. Not every friend needs to be a travel buddy and that’s ok. The first step to having great vacations is to know yourself. Understand your travel style, preferences, budget, etc. Do you want to travel with a big group or just 1-2 friends? Hotel room or rent a house? Early riser or sleep in? Schedule every minute or go with the flow? Once you figure that out, find people who are similar to you. Of course every vacation involves some level of compromise, but if you’re a 1 (on a scale of 1-10), it’ll be far more enjoyable to travel with 2’s and 3’s than to travel with 10’s.

  34. wedding question*

    How much do people give for a wedding gift these days? I’m attending the wedding of a friend next weekend and plan to go with the “contribute to our honeymoon fund” option on their registry, but debating how much to give. For context, we’re all in our mid-30s in DC. I’ve known the couple for a while but we’re not super close friends. I did get a plus-one and am bringing my boyfriend (who has met the couple but doesn’t really know them) — so my gift will cover for both of us. I’m thinking $120-150 — do you think that sounds reasonable?

    1. wedding question*

      Oh and we’re also going to a casual dinner the night before that the couple is hosting. So maybe that would mean giving a somewhat higher gift?

      1. Reba*

        No. The gift is not a quid pro quo or a payback for the invitations!

        This to me is an insidious belief about weddings and other life events, although I get on some level it probably started out as trying to be helpful guidance.

        Anyhow, I would be comfortable with the amount range you named, it is generous but not over the top. (I’m in your demographic)

        I hope it’s fun!

    2. Anono-me*

      Assuming that these parameters fit comfortably within your budget, here are two suggestions for a nice but not over the top cash gift from a friend. If they are registered for ‘good china’, the cost of one place setting. Or the cost of coverings your plate/s at the reception. (Google reviews of the venue, they should have a ballpark price .)

      To be perfectly clear: I am not saying this is a requirement. No one should give a wedding gift outside of what is practical for your own budget. But sometimes, people want to give a normal midrange for their relationship typ of gift and need some way to figure out what the parameters are for that category.

    3. migrating coconuts*

      Some people say it should at least be the approximate cost of your meal. Not a hard and fast rule as weddings come in all shapes and sizes. Mostly I take into account what we can afford and how close we are to the couple. The last few have been in the $200-$250 range but that was because they were the children of close friends, and we are older and can afford a little more. I think your range is very reasonable for what you have outlined. Have fun!

      1. Eclipse*

        “Covering your plate” is an obnoxious money-grubbing concept that has no business being recommended as a suggested wedding gift amount. That’s not a wedding, it’s a fund raiser. If you expect your wedding guests to “cover their plates”, then instead of sending them a wedding invitation you should be selling them tickets to the event.

      1. Emma*

        For context, we’re not in DC, but would probably do $100 for someone we’re not super close with, $200 for close.

        I’ve also done as low as $30 in the past when that’s what my budget would allow.

        At our wedding, some people didn’t give gifts at all! I think you’re fine.

    4. office hobbit*

      I gave $100 recently (as a single person)–I based it on the cost of the registry item I’d intended to buy before someone beat me to it. In your shoes I would probably do $150, but that’s partially because I like numbers at round, big increments for these things. $125 would also be okay if $150 feels like a pinch. But I wouldn’t do something in between those two.

    5. Weddingguest*

      I’m in your demographic but different large city, lower cost of living than DC. As a single person I give $100.
      With a plus one I’d double that for a good friend (like friend of 5+ years) or $150 if it’s less of a good friend. But! all depends on your budget and what you can reasonably do.

    6. carcinization*

      Wow, I have never spent that much on a wedding gift! I think the most I’ve spent is 70 or 80 dollars and I thought that was a big deal! It seems like different people have different ideas about this though.

      1. Esprit de l'escalier*

        This is tremendously influenced by location, so your $75 that is fine for where you live might be OP’s equally fine $150 for DC (if OP can do that much). Also depends on how recently you were in that guest situation, because inflation.

  35. ReallyBadPerson*

    It sounds as if your visits involve an overnight stay. Why not prepare a meal for all of you, then bring it with you for dinner, along with some other provisions? You can eat the leftovers for lunch the next day and use the other stuff you bring to supplement. I realize this doesn’t address your father’s controlling attitude, but nothing you do will fix that, so you just need to meet your need for food.

    And I do not understand the food policing at all! Have your parents always been this way, or is this new?

  36. Nervous Nellie*

    Maybe I missed the little joys thread? If not, here we are! I have a joyous doozy to share with all. On NPR this week there was a new article about grade schoolers in Cork, Ireland, who have made the most energetic and positive rap video. It’s in celebration of Ireland’s annual childrens’ creativity day (another joy!) on June 15th.

    I’ve watched it several times and am going to add it to my morning routine to energize me and give a strong dose of positivity. These kids are bangers! Amazed. I’ll pop the link into a following comment.

    1. GoryDetails*

      Bird-related joys: the orioles are back! I’ve had a nesting pair in my neighborhood for years now, and always set out a nectar/jelly/orange feeder in spring, but some years I barely see them – so when I spotted two squabbling males and one female (who took advantage of the boys fighting to nip to the feeder herself) it made my day.

    2. fposte*

      So many joys this week with a great trip with friends! Special small joys shoutouts to random human encounters with the lovely guy at the Quebec City post office who offered to stamp our passports with the famous Quebec City chateau and my seatmate on the plane back, a vivacious Montreal lady who loved solo travel and gave me some great future destinations.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I – through pure serendipity – brought home an 80 year old floor loom in excellent shape last night, for a tenth of what I’d have paid for a new one. (And I haven’t even taken a weaving class yet. Though it’s on the docket for this summer.)

      Last week I opened the Facebook app and, reaching for the memories button, accidentally hit “marketplace” instead. I have literally never opened the FB marketplace before. And as it loaded, this lovely picture of a loom was literally the first option on the page. It had been posted for a couple weeks and all the other folks who had messaged her had either flaked or ignored the “no shipping or delivery, you have to come get it” stipulation, so it was still available. And not only is it in great shape, but the seller was familiar with the weaving shop near me because that’s where she’s sourced some additional parts in the past for it. (Heddles and reeds, so stuff intended to be replaceable.)

      So now when we finish my craft room upstairs, it will have a whole-ass floor loom in one end and I am GIDDY.

      1. Firebird*

        Congratulations on the serendipitous floor loom. I accidentally found a sewing machine the same way, only on Next Door.

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

      One of my former students who is now a colleague is moving on to new adventures. When I went to wish her goodbye, she was like, “I love you, Prof. Squirrel Nutkin. You’re the best teacher I ever had!” Warmed my heart.

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

        Also, I was stuck in nasty traffic when *YMCA* fortuitously came on the radio. I was so happy to be at a dead stop so that I could do the arms.

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

      Thanks for starting the thread, Nervous Nellie! : )

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Sure thing, SN! I was so eager to share the Irish grade school rappers that I just couldn’t wait.

    6. allathian*

      We cleaned the deck and outdoor furniture last weekend and I’ve enjoyed sitting there for a part of my lunch breaks every day this week because the weather’s been nice.

    7. Firebird*

      My son was with me when my car hit 50,000 miles. He tried to take a picture but was just a bit too late.

  37. Cicadas*

    We are having a cicada invasion here. They really haven’t bothered me much but now one is stuck in my fireplace in a crevice where I can’t get to it. It’s singing every now and then which is a little annoying to me (but very interesting to my cat!). I kind of feel bad for it being stuck in there. I would remove it if I could to set it free outside. I don’t know why I’m writing this other than maybe as a little bit of a vent! How long do I have to live with it chattering in my chimney? Are you having any cicada issues where you are?

    1. Zona the Great*

      As a severe introvert, cicada season is the worst part of my year. I go catatonic when the temps here reach 119 and I also have a symphony outside.

    2. fposte*

      We’re in an overlap of two broods and they’re about a day or so from emerging—they’ve already emerged in a few neighboring towns. I believe last brood emergence wasn’t much of an event due to local predators, but who knows if it’ll be the same this time? I did buy some plant netting for a small Japanese maple just in case, though the cicadas may beat it here.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Learn from my mistake last year: I netted my small magnolia to protect it from the cicadas. But then in the Fall, the deer massacred that same tree, presumably because it was much more lush and full than comperable saplings that hadn’t been netted (they had hardly bothered it much in other years). So have a deer plan for your maple, if there are deer in your area! (My magnolia did recover and this year is almost back to where it was, but it was touch-and-go for a minute).

    3. mreasy*

      I was just in Nashville and anytime I got out of downtown they were divebombing my face and head!

    4. Six Feldspar*

      Small comfort but I think cicadas only live a few days so the problem should sort itself out pretty soon, this one has just been unlucky to get stuck inside. Hope the cat enjoys their toy!

        1. Cicadas*

          Oh my goodness that would be awful! Lol but it was a fun read. I’m glad I just have this one cicada to deal with.

  38. Susannah*

    Alison, the best thing about your cat photo with the mess (and one of the reasons I love kitties) is that unlike dogs, they have no looks of guilt on their faces. it’s more- yeah, so, obviously we did this. What are you gonna do about it?

  39. ThatGirl*

    Since a lot of folks ask for travel tips – we’re going to be in Hawaii in July for a wedding and staying a few extra days. We’re staying in Waikiki and then two nights at Aulani. Won’t have a car. Any off the beaten track or cool local joints in Honolulu? We’re not interested in the military related stuff, I’ve been to Dole plantation and Kualoa ranch (I was there 22 years ago, in college). Bishop Museum is on our list.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      If you watched Lost – the Lost tour is one of my favorite things I’ve done on Oahu!

    2. H.Regalis*

      Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design, but it books months out so you’d have to book it probably at least three months in advance.

    3. AwesomeOahu*

      I found it really easy to get around Oahu by bus, so don’t feel like you have to stay in Honolulu. That said, in Honolulu, I enjoyed the Hawaii State Art Museum (free) and Iolani Palace which were across the street from each other and I visited on the same day. Walking around the International Marketplace was fun, although I enjoyed it more my first trip than my second. The Honolulu Zoo is near Waikiki (I walked there from my hotel) and was quite nice. There was also a small aquarium approximately across the street (right on the beach) – I wouldn’t make a trip there, but if you’re there it was a pleasant hour break from the beach.

      I know you said you’re not interested in the military stuff, but I found the Hawaii Army Museum fascinating. It’s a small museum at the edge of Waikiki really and it’s definitely not on everyone’s radar so I figured I’d mention it.

      I did enjoy Sea Life Park all the way on the other side of Oahu – it was about an hour by city bus if I remember correctly with beautiful scenery most of the way. I also really enjoyed snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, also easily accessible via bus (it’s between Waikiki and Diamond Head IIRC; I did not go to Diamond Head so cannot comment).

      I should note it’s been quite a few years since my last visit so please take that into account when evaluating these suggestions.

      Hope this helps – have a great time!

      1. ThatGirl*

        We’re happy to bus/uber around and I think someone in the larger wedding group will have a car. The bride grew up in Hawaii so we have local knowledge too.

    4. Lynn*

      Not particularly “off the beaten path” but I HIGHLY recommend snorkling at Shark’s Cove, and do it when it FIRST opens in the morning. It gets busy later and it’s much nicer not bumping into people.

      Wear water shoes (lots of sea urchins) and bring a snorkel. It’s perfect and gorgeous for inexperienced snorklers. Also- not shark infested. :-)

  40. DreddPirate*

    I came across an interesting trivia tidbit…

    The commonly used (and often abused) motto “The customer is always right” is not the full quotation and is taken out of context.

    The complete original quote is:
    “In matters of taste, the customer is always right.”
    Harry Gordon Selfridge (founder of the UK department store chain Selfridges), circa 1840

    1. fposte*

      Counter info—that’s a myth as well. The “In matters of taste” is a recent retcon. There’s a decent Wikipedia article discussing the early versions. But mostly it dates to a time when catering to the customer was a pretty novel idea.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      Thank you!!!

      As a former retail worker, I appreciate knowing this. I would love to have responded to some really rude customers who used half of the this saying as an excuse for their rudeness.

    3. migrating coconuts*

      The customer is always right seems to give people the feeling they have the right to be as outrageous as they want to retail workers. This is what they need to know for the perfect comeback.

    4. Excel-sior*

      another one that’s been used a lot is “a rotten apple” with people who use it always forgetting “spoils the whole bunch”.

      1. Miss Persnickety*

        A couple of other misleading misquotes:

        Money is the root of all evil.
        Actual quote: “The love of money is the root of all evil.”

        I look to the hills, from whence cometh my help. (this as a statement typically on posters with beautiful mountain scenery, as if looking at the scenery is what gives help).
        Actual quote (notice the question mark): “I look to the hills, from whence cometh my help? My help comes from the lord…”

  41. Te*

    Have you tried Kindle Unlimited? (Amazon’s service where you pay something like $12/month and get some Kindle ebooks for free. It doesn’t include all books but it does seem to have a lot of good ones). What do you think of it? I mainly read on my Kindle. I have a library card but I get wait-listed for months on popular and/or new ebooks.

    1. Maestra*

      I’ve not done kindle unlimited, but does your library have Hoopla in addition to Libby/Overdrive? You only get 5 borrows a month, but there’s no waitlist for what they do have.

    2. Annie Edison*

      I had it free for few months when I got my kindle and ended up not renewing after the trial. I felt like I had to wade through a long list of books I felt pretty meh about in order to find the few I was interested in.

      I know lots of people that love it though. I think it depends on what kind of a reader you are? If I were going through a lot of books very quickly I could see it being great, but I am kind of picky about what I like and don’t have a lot of time to read. I’m much happier using Libby and going on the waitlist for things I’m interested in

    3. MaxKitty*

      If you’re looking for specific popular books they may not be on Unlimited. But when I’m just looking for something to read, it’s been helpful. I’ve found some authors that I really enjoy.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I use it mostly for schlock true crime and read at least three books a month, more when I’m on vacation. I also get a free book to own every month, and I don’t remember if that’s KU or Prime or what. I don’t really need it – my library has a good selection of ebooks – but it keeps the true crime from taking over my library hold list. I don’t think KU is very good for new books though. Lots of potato-chip style books of varying genres :) Seanan McGuire does have a duology she wrote as Kindle exclusives that are on there, and about 2/3 of Dean Koontz’s bibliography (he does put most of his new stuff straight to KU).

      I do wish they had a list or queue feature though, that didn’t require me to make a whole wishlist for it and would automatically drop me the next book on the list when I return one.

    5. OxfordBlue*

      I’ve had it pretty much ever since it first launched here in the UK and I love it. I have found lots of new authors to try and also read magazines using it. It’s great if you’re a fast reader because there are so many books to choose from. I know an author who has put all her e-books onto it and she told me that she gets a greater income from people reading her on KU rather than them outright buying her books.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Think DVD Netflix for e-books, sort of. You can have ten “checked out” at a time, and keep them til you’re done, for your monthly fee.

    6. AlabamaAnonymous*

      I’ve had Kindle Unlimited for several years and really like it. I like to read a lot but have really specific tastes. KU lets me try out a lot of authors to see if like their writing. And there really are a lot of books available, maybe not the best sellers of this year, but from a few years ago. For me, it is money well spent.

    7. Lime green Pacer*

      I think the books differ depending on where you are. In Canada, I found it helpful for some non-fiction books on crafts, but I found the fantasy to be very schlocky. Prime Reading is even worse, the selection is much smaller.

    8. Pam Adams*

      I like it. it tends to have older series books that I want to reread, but don’t need to own

    9. Lady Danbury*

      I love kindle unlimited. Worth every penny for me. I still pay for certain books (if I really really really want them), but can usually find plenty of free books to keep me occupied.

  42. Win*

    Anyone had any luck calming persistent rosacea? The next available derm appointment is months out.

    My skin- mid-30s, dry, a little hormonal acne now and then
    Main triggers- cardio, heat, dryness
    What helps- cold water, kaolin white charcoal face mask, hydrating serums, occlusives, sulfur soap. Tretinoin seems to help.
    What doesn’t help- Metrogel, azalaic acid

    1. Manders*

      Yes! My doctor put me on doxycycline (low dose), and it works amazingly well. My rosacea started during 2020 when we were all masking all of the time and I just thought I had a reaction to that. I wish I had realized sooner. Unfortunately you will (obviously) need a doctor’s prescription for that.

      1. Win*

        I’ve been on dox before and I believe it helped (I was given a couple other things at the same time so I don’t know which one made the biggest difference). But the dr said they don’t like to prescribe it long-term and had me stop after a while. I don’t know the exact reason for that, I assume it’s probably due to the risk of antibiotic resistance. In any case, I thought it was mainly for acne, I didn’t know it helps rosacea as well.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          Definitely helps rosacea. There are antibiotic creams or gels that also help and don’t have the same issue with resistance.

          1. Win*

            That’s great to know, thank you. You mean other than Metrogel? Granted I was given a very low dose of it, so that could be why it didn’t consistently help me.

            1. Jay (no, the other one)*

              I think there are a couple of newer ones, and none of them work that – there’s a three-week (ish) cycle for skin turnover and it can take at least that long to see results.

    2. Joey*

      I use Eucerin Redness Relief products — the cleansing gel & moisturizers. If the rosacea stings or itches, the night cream is especially soothing. Also patting dry when washing my face vs rubbing helps.

      And I also use this over-the-counter treatment gel called Prosacea (sulphur is the active ingredient — like your soap?), which I only need to apply once a day even though it recommends applying it a little more often.

      I order this stuff from Walgreens … it’s pretty cheap and effective … I haven’t been to a dermatologist to know if there’s something better out there but I’m satisfied for now.

      1. Win*

        I think I’ve seen ads for that! I think I will give both these products a try, thank you!

    3. Hrodvitnir*

      I don’t have personal experience with rosacea, but I have discovered third hand that it can become a really significant large blistery lump if you’re unlucky! Most common in white middle aged men, as is the group the person I know with it falls within.

      This is relevant only in as far as the firstline medical tx was indeed retinol. I see you’re already using tretinoin, but in case you were unclear, retinoids are indeed one of the major treatments for it.

      My sympathies! I hate it when I’m flushed, so rosacea would definitely make me very frustrated.

  43. Postcards*

    Does anyone know of anywhere I can get reasonably priced postcards (individually or as a package of different ones)? They could have jokes or fun facts or just pretty pictures–I’m open to suggestions.

    I sent my young niece (elementary school age) and older brother a postcard each week for half a year a few years ago, and wanted to do it again for my niece for a while for fun. I’m having trouble finding somewhere to buy a bunch of good postcards though. Last time I used Zazzle, but I didn’t want to use them again (I didn’t like how I had to buy a membership to get free shipping, otherwise the shipping would have been like $11 every time I bought 20 postcards.)

    1. biscuit*

      Etsy has TONS of options for postcards – pricing varies and some sellers charge shipping, but others don’t.

    2. GoryDetails*

      Do you have any local tourist-type welcome centers? Sometimes those have racks of postcards with local sights. (I realized over the last couple of decades that a lot of places that formerly had postcard racks no longer do so; they used to be everywhere…)

      Bookstores might have individual postcards, and will definitely have postcard-books; not sure how economical those would be, but they might offer some options.

    3. My Brain is Exploding*

      Sometimes you can get random postcards (like a box of postcards people bought as trip mementos) at garage sales, which are fun to send! Also you can get plain postcards, pre-stamped, at the Post Office. So they are the cheapest you can get and you can look up jokes on the internet and write your own on the back!

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I sent a lot of postcards during early COVID lockdown, and I got themed boxes of 50 from Amazon. I think I had a box of random animals and a box of Disney ones. (Weird fact: Disney World doesn’t sell postcards in their gift shops, basically. You might occasionally find one, but it’s unusual.)

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      Bookstores! Independent ones have fabulous ones. If you’re in Seattle, Elliott Bay Books.

      1. Stretchy McGillicuddy*

        My local used bookstore always has a box of postcards for sale. You could also try putting out an ask on NextDoor or your neighborhood Listserv. People may have boxes of them sitting around that they don’t want.

    6. BellaStella*

      I also love sending postcards and get them at touristy places and also at bookstores. Another place I have found historical ones is the local charity shop for like 25cents each.

    7. E*

      My local thrift store has a large collection of postcards and regular cards at a great price

  44. Suddenly have Rosacea*

    Hi – I’ve had eczema all my life but now in my mid-50s I’ve suddenly got Rosacea. I’ve seen my doctor and been given medicine and I’m not looking for medical advice. Just if anyone has experience with and recommendations for day to day trying to hydrate skin so I don’t scare small children or my boss who has commented on my suddenly very red face around my eyes lol. None of my eczema products work. They literally make it worse so I can’t use Aveeno, Cetaphil, E45, Doublebase, Simple. So if anyone has any experience with this and recommendations for moisturising creams I’d appreciate it. Thanks

    1. A313*

      I don’t have rosacea per se, but I can have reactive skin. Avene Tolerance Control Soothing Skin Recovery Balm has been helpful. I like a lot of Avene’s moisturizers, but I am allergic to propylene glycol, so even with Avene, I have to read the labels. Vanicream is often suggested for rosacea.

      If you aren’t sure it’s rosacea, like diagnosed by a dermatologist, you could be dealing with something else, like an allergy. It could be helpful to see a dermatologist. I found out through skin testing about the propylene glycol, which is in a lot of things.

    2. Joey*

      Someone has the same question just a bit above you. I just left a longer reply above but recommend Eucerin Redness Relief moisturizers and also the cleansing gel.

    3. Win*

      Hi, I’m the person who posted the similar question above. I also shared some things that help me in tht question, take a look. I don’t have eczema, just pretty dry skin and I also find that hydrating products help me a lot.

      Here are some specific product recs for hydration: Marine Hyaluronic Acid from the Ordinary. Apply it after washing your face, while face is still slightly wet (this is VERY important), and let it sink in, which it does very quickly. I recently swapped it out for Corsx Snail Mucin serum because I’d read great things about it. I use it the same way as I did the Marine Hyaluronic and so far it seems equally good for my skin.

      I use a light moisturizer during the day – CeraVe for dry skin, or Cetaphil for dry skin. At night I use a heavier one, I think it’s Pond Rejuvenation or something (I can check when I get home, if you want to know the special product). An especially helpful tip is: apply a thin layer of Vaseline after applying your regular moisturizer. It keeps your skin from losing moisture, and my god, it makes a big difference for me. The only reason I don’t use it during the day is because I’m usually wearing sunscreen and I don’t want to mess with its effectiveness. I will caution you that some people’s skin doesn’t react well to Vaseline. YMMV. I hope this helps.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        Aquaphor ointment, cerave healing ointment and La Roche Posay Cicaplast Balm are Vaseline alternatives that also offer additional skincare benefits. Google slugging for more information/tips.

    4. Filosofickle*

      The moisturizer that worked to knock down my rosacea is Colleen Rothschild Extreme Recovery Cream. I use a fair bit of it multiple times a day and it’s expensive, but it has finally hydrated my sensitive face enough (without clogging it up) to prevent and heal the skin breaks.

    5. Writerling*

      I was told I had rosacea, but not by a dermatologist so I’m not sure I believe it, but I do get really dry skin/patches sometimes. I use Weleda products and always recommend them for many reasons. Look at their sensitive care or skin food face lines, very hydrating and fast absorbing. I would’ve recommended the facial oil but they discontinued it however their serums are pretty similar. (How I wish they had sample sizes…)

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      I have found that lotions with rose water/oil really help my rosacea. You can also get a skin laser treatment that makes.it.go.away. It’s out of pocket (in the US) but really worked for me.

    7. Lady Danbury*

      Another lifelong eczema and sensitive skin sufferer, combo on my face and super dry on my body. I’ve recently started using Vanicream on my body and that has been extremely helpful. I’ve also heard great things about using hydrating body serums, so that’s on my list to try. My current body routine is to apply Vanicream on damp skin, then seal with Cerave healing ointment. I use gold bond eczema cream on itchy spots and also use Dove’s eczema body wash.

      For my face, I use a mix of Cerave (face wash), hydrating serums and Asian skincare, which is deeply hydrating without being irritating or comedogenic. My fav hydrating serums are Cosrx snail mucin and Inkey List Polyglutamic Acid. Current favorite toner is Purito centella unscented toner. I layer my skincare (toner, serum, toner, moisturizer) to increase hydration without being too heavy. I’ll use a heavier moisturizer at night and then a gel based moisturizer during the day, plus sunscreen. Depending on the weather and my skin needs my night moisturizer my range from Cerave to Cosrx to E45. Day moisturizer is currently Elf.

    8. Emma*

      I’ve been using vanicream facial moisturizer. I have rosacea, but not eczema. Prequel is another interesting brand, because you can search by skin problem. I haven’t used their moisturizer, but their hypochlorous acid spray (“Universal skin solution”) really helped calm my skin when it was in a raw and red state.

  45. Melkhanik*

    This is a bit like the board game group post on here, and also, has anyone else had a similar experience? CW: Brief mention of sexual assault and molestation.

    I run a TTRPG. We play in person and these are all people I know. I need to talk to one player soon about some things that are bothering me which I have tried to let slide, but can’t.

    Player shows up extremely late: We play for three hours and they’ll showed up two hours late. It’s always for bullshit reasons like they took a nap and didn’t set an alarm, or they’re driving back from visiting relatives and didn’t factor in that the return trip takes X hours, even though they have a smartphone and it’s a trip they’ve made many times.

    Every time this happens, I am the one tracking them down to find out where they are. They never let us know they’re running late. This, I have talked to them about, it went fine, and I’m waiting to see if they’re able to show up relatively on time. I know I can’t expect overnight change, but I need them to at least start setting an alarm.

    Also the last time this happened, I had to deal with them vomiting apologies at me, which I ignored, because it was the whole, “I feel bad for what I did and I need you to tell me it’s okay so I can stop feeling guilty” thing. I have done this myself many times and I know it when I see it.

    The second thing, which I still need to talk to them about, is that they trauma dump a lot. Every session, all session. For example, if someone were like, “XYZ style of pants are back in style now,” they’ll respond with “Oh, the first guy who raped me wore those kinds of pants. I was eight.”

    I am so frustrated and done with this. Our game isn’t a therapy session, and I am really not okay with hearing about all the incredibly fucked up things that have happened to this person every time I hang out with them. I’m sorry those things happened, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, but I cannot listen to this even one more time.

    They’re a close friend. They’re a good person, and I know if they knew how I felt, they would stop. I feel bad being angry at them for things that I have never actually said bother me.

    1. WellRed*

      I doubt they would stop but if you haven’t said anything you need to. As to showing up late to game night, either stop inviting them or stop following up, texting etc. don’t let them interrupt the game (be very into the game when they do stroll in). If you don’t nip all of this in the bud, you will soon find yourself with a group.

    2. Rick Tq*

      Stop inviting them, and stop allowing them to show up 2 hours late to a session. When they come to the door tell them they are too late and aren’t welcome, then close the door. Harsh but appropriate.

      If you don’t start policing the late arrivals and trauma dumping you won’t have a group to game with soon.

      And no, they aren’t a good person, they are abusing your game sessions for their own needs. A good person wouldn’t be late time after time after time.

    3. Shiara*

      At some point in the very near future, you’re likely going to need to decide what’s more important to you: having a good game session at game group time, or having this friend participate in the group to the extent that they can.

      Some questions to think about: Is Player this flaky with other hang outs or is something about game group? Is there anything they are reliably on time to?

      Your friend might be a consistently flaky person, in which case a ttrpg is just not a good fit for them and they won’t get better. They might be someone who can get it together for something they really care about/feel consequences for, but for whatever reason they don’t care about ttrpg or it doesn’t fit their schedule. In this case the best thing to do is to release them from their shame spiral and you from managing them and remove them from the group.

      About the trauma dumping, do they do this in all kinds of hangouts? do you know of they do it with other people? what’s your/other players’ reactions when they do it? Does it derail the conversation or are you able to do a pivot “so sorry to hear that, did you see that gorgeous shirt on Y?”

      It might be helpful to have a “Hey, I’ve noticed you have been bringing up the awful stuff that happened to you a lot lately. Do you have someone to talk and help you process that with you?”

      I’ll link to a captain awkward post that has some good scripts for dealing with a related issue that you might be able to modify to your situation.

      1. Melkhanik*

        They don’t trauma dump at every social thing I’ve been at with them. I’ve been at parties, other gaming events, dinners, etc. with them where they don’t do that.

        They are super late and flaky with everyone. The only thing they’re consistently on time with is their job.

        I know in the past they tried to see a therapist a couple of times, but it was just too painful and they stopped.

        I did talk to them today though about not trauma dumping! It was awkward but I’m glad I did it. We’ll see what happens.

        1. n to k*

          What did you say to them? I might want to have this conversation with someone too and maybe I can adapt your language.

          1. Melkhanik*

            This isn’t verbatim, but approximately: I know this is awkward, but I need you to stop bringing up [trauma dumping topics] at game because it’s off-putting and game isn’t the place for that. That’s some really serious stuff. I don’t mind talking about that with you if it’s just you and me, but not at game.

    4. Morning Reading*

      My suggestion is to separate the lateness issue and the trauma dumping. “Jane, we need all players to be here when the game starts. If you’re late again, you’ll have to bow out of the group.” Then, next time Jane is late, invite her to sit and watch the gaming but tell her she’s too late to join. When she leaves, ask if she’s planning to attend again as an observer. If that would be problematic, suggest doing something else together another time with the strong implication that obviously she won’t be coming to game night anymore. “since you’re not gaming with us anymore, let’s get together to do something else. Join me for a hike on Saturday?”
      Address the trauma dumping separately and during a private conversation, if you address it at all. That is probably something your friend couldn’t change by force of will; might need therapy or such to change behavior patterns.

      1. Morning Reading*

        Apologies if I misgendered. I was thinking of your friend as our iconic Jane.

        1. Melkhanik*


          I did address these two things separately. I didn’t want it to turn into, “Here is every petty grievance I’ve had with you for the last X years.” Talking to them about not trauma dumping was awkward, but I’m glad I did it, and now I just have to see how things shake out.

    5. Sloanicota*

      I have a longtime friend who I love and who struggles with mental health. For both our sakes, I sometimes have to set clear, loving boundaries around what I am able to handle on a given day. Sometimes she can’t meet it and we try again another day. It can seem unkind but it’s actually a) necessary, as the alternative used to be me dreading her calls and avoiding her, so our friendship was doomed if something didn’t change, and b) more respecful to ask her to navigate clear and direct requests vs hiding my needs. For me, it’s “I need to change the subject now. Do you want to talk about something else or would you rather go home?” or “I can’t handle one more apology from you” (this is her thing, giant unneccessary shame spirals) “Please don’t apologize again today or I’m going to have to end the conversation.”

    6. say what?*

      I sympathize with your situation, and I apologize for asking this question instead of having a suggestion, but what is a TTRPG? I know what an RPG is, but not TTRPG (google was no help).

    7. Raia*

      I haven’t dealt with the lateness, but I have dealt with a friend who was constantly trauma dumping and apology spiraling, even at fairly minor things like opening mail addressed to me on accident. They refused to go to therapy or seek help in other ways, and were actually trauma-dumping on all friends not just me. I ended the friendship for my sanity, I could not handle the stress of supporting someone to that degree while caregiving for a family member with cancer. I hope you have better luck than I did, truly.

  46. Bibliovore*

    My garbage disposal isn’t working. Did the reset. Unplugged replugged. It makes a noise but doesn’t work. There is nothing stuck that I can see.
    The sink drains but does back up. The Bosch dishwasher won’t turn on. checked the plug and circuit breaker but it won’t turn on. no lights no codes.

    So who do I call?
    A plumber? One that I called will not give me any kind of quote to replace the disposal (which is about 7 years old.)
    The second one is $67 for the call. I am okay with that but they will only give me Wed. between 7 am and 4 pm and no estimate (is it $250 or $500?)

    I went on the internet and looked at youtube videos- way too scary for me- I have zero in the mechanical repair department.
    Can someone give me some good orderly direction?
    Neighbors have not been helpful.
    The Bosch Appliance repair person?

    1. Morning Dew*

      As for your garbage disposal, when you said you did the reset, did you simply press the button or did you use the Allen wrench? If you didn’t do the latter, get an Allen wrench and there should be a slot below your unit to insert the wrench and move the wrench in both direction. Hope that helps.

      As for the dishwasher, I would say you would have to call an appliance company. If you use Yelp, I think there is a place where you can pose your questions and appliance fixers in your area should get back with you with a quote even just to come out to assess the issue.

      1. BlueWolf*

        Agree on trying the Allen wrench. I thought my disposal was toast after a visiting friend somehow managed to send a shot glass down the drain without realizing and then turned on disposal. Got most of the big pieces of glass out, but some very small pieces got caught in the mechanism. I tried the Allen wrench thing and it was a little tricky, but I did eventually manage to turn it enough to loosen the stuck bits and it has worked fine since.

    2. My Brain is Exploding*

      Did you try unplugging the dishwasher, waiting a while, and then plugging it back in?

    3. ThatGirl*

      Plumber can replace it, no problem. I had one install a new faucet and replace ours and I think it was $500 or so for everything. I already had the faucet but not the disposal. Disposals can run $120 to $500 depending on how fancy you want it :)

    4. Anono-me*

      If wrench is a no go: is there a handyman you could call? (Unless this is something restricted by law to plumbers where you are.)

      Since you mentioned your dishwasher isn’t working also: If a dishwasher is set up to feed into the garage disposal; that can make a repair/replace of the disposal more complicated and time consuming, and so harder to quote over the phone.

      1. Anono-me*

        Also, I just realized that I should clarify. I would solve the disposal issue first and see if that took care of the dishwasher.

    5. gsa*

      The advice on the Allen wrench fix for disposal is spot on. I also used a broomstick to get around the perimeter and twist it to get it moving again.

      When our 18yonBisch dishwasher crocked a few years ago, The appliance repair guy said that the parts and labor would be around $800. We bought a new one.

      Good luck!

    6. TPS reporter*

      I’ve had success at finding good local repair people in next door or yelp. I definitely don’t like doing things that an expert should probably handle l.

      it sounds like to could be an electrical issue so try an electrician too?

    7. bibliovore*

      Miraculously the plumbing company texted and said someone could come at 8:00 am and no extra charge for Sunday.
      The disposal was burnt out . He is replacing that and two connecting pipes.
      The dishwasher was my stupidity. I unplugged things to test the outlet and replugged them swapped.
      He is here now.

  47. anon24*

    Semi-inspired by Bibliovore’s comment above, I’ve thought before, I wish someone would create a “Call a parent” hotline. For when you need urgent “right this minute” advice, but it’s not a 911 issue. For example, a few weeks ago I was solo driving on a 12 hour drive and halfway through my check engine light came on. I was pretty sure I was safe to continue driving, but I didn’t want to keep driving 6 hours and potentially damage my engine. I also didn’t want to stop, pay for a tow, and get stuck in a state I don’t know. I ended up calling someone I hadn’t seen in 6 years and be like I’m so sorry, I’m in [state], here’s what’s happening, do you think I’m ok?

    And I wish there was a hotline where people could volunteer their specialty skills and you could call and be like my computer is doing this weird thing and I need advice now, or my car overheated and how do I get it home, or I have this weird cooking question, or a water pipe at home just broke and is leaking everywhere and I got the plumber’s voicemail, what do I do right this second, stuff that you would love to call a parent about but maybe your parent just doesn’t have that knowledge. I know there’s Google, but Google isn’t always helpful or quick.

      1. anon24*

        Lol this is exactly what I mean! I imagine it would have 2 divisions, an “I need answers right now, it’s a (non authorities worthy) personal emergency” or a “I just need personalized advice” division. Sometimes you just need someone with more life experience or different knowledge than you who you can personally talk to! I don’t play the lottery, but if I magically won it this is what I would set up with my winnings! Sometimes things happen in life and you just need someone to tell you the next steps or who to call, even if it isn’t actual professional advice.

    1. Jessica*

      yes this would be so great!!! like the butterball hotline but all year and all the topics.

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

      I feel like Reddit’s MomForAMinute and DadForAMinute subreddits sometimes work for things like these. The Dad one has an “advice” tag with which you can mark your post.

    3. bibliovore*

      As I was perseverating about what to do, I remembered the fabulous wisdom of this commentariat. Just reading the responses helped me calm down and take an action.

  48. fhqwhgads*

    Anyone handy around who can help me understand doorknobs? I’ve been googling but I keep finding answers to not quite the problem I’m trying to solve.
    Here’s the sitch. I want to change the interior-side doorknob on an exterior door. The exterior-side of said door is a knob with a keyhole. The interior side is a knob with a turney button to lock from the inside without the key. I want to swap it for a handle with a turney button. But I don’t want to replace all the hardware. Lock is fine. Exterior side is fine. Don’t want to re-key.
    What I don’t know is how can I be sure that whatever I buy the through-the-door guts will line-up and be compatible with the rest? Is it enough to just buy the same brand? Or would it need to be a specific series? How do I find out? Do I take the inside half off and bring it with me to a hardware store and say “this but a handle not a knob”? Or are there terms I could know that would help narrow it down?
    I feel dumb but also everything I’m searching on is just telling me “don’t use hardware meant for interior doors on exterior doors” but that’s not what I’m trying to do.

    1. My Brain is Exploding*

      IDK but I would take a picture and go to the hardware store and ask people who work in that department.

    2. Indolent Libertine*

      Take pictures, go to a locksmith. I think they’ll be able to tell you whether that manufacturer makes a lever type handle that you could swap for the interior knob.

    3. Morning Reading*

      I don’t know either but from your description, it sounds like the interior knob with the button controls the same lock as the exterior knob with the keyhole. To me, that indicates that you probably need to replace both sides and will end up with new keys, because the two sides fit together.

      Might be wrong; definitely take the knob you want to replace to the store. But new knobs both sides might be easiest.

    4. UNCLE BUCK*

      If this is loop with thumb latch outside, find the handle maker, look on the edge of the door striker (spring loaded button that holds door closed when not locked) the name is normally there or if original key that will have maker. Take the whole handle to a non big box store. It sounds like you want to go from knob to a lever. You will most likely have to buy full set, just buy a lock set not full deadbolt and handle set.

    5. office hobbit*

      I don’t know about the handle question, but for the keys, a locksmith should be able to set the final product to match the key you already use.

    6. gsa*

      First off, you have to rekey if you want the interior and exterior key to be the same.

      Second, I doubt any hardware store will sell you 1/2 a lock. Typically you have to buy the entire lock.

      Example to follow:

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I’m not trying to buy half a lock, just use half of it. I was hoping to avoid a locksmith, since we actually already rekeyed everything the way we wanted it prepandemic. But the problem is just the knob itself.
        Basically I’m trying to replace this https://cdn11.bigcommerce.com/s-rp7lyq159d/images/stencil/500×659/products/30763/97386/kwikset-hancock-knob-keyed-entry-satin-nickel-740h-15-gc-20__96875.1542237907.jpg?c=2
        with the bottom one in this image: https://cdn11.bigcommerce.com/s-rp7lyq159d/images/stencil/1280×1280/products/40160/116056/405-hyl-smt-514__47893.1692043645.jpg?c=2

        1. gsa*

          As long as you buy the same brand as you have, you shouldn’t have a problem putting them together. However, if you want the keys to match, the lock will have to be re-keyed. Look at Pharmgirl’s comment below. Be sure to bring in your old key, if you find a hardware store that will re-key it for you.

    7. Pharmgirl*

      I don’t think you can buy just the interior handle – but you can ask the hardware store to rekey the new set to match the key you already have. Depending on what brand you buy, some hardware stores include this service for free with purchase of a doorknob.

    8. SofiaDeo*

      Must the inside part have a lock? Ours doesn’t, we have a separate deadbolt to lock the door from the inside. We’ll never accidentally lock ourselves out.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I think maybe I phrased the question wrong. We do have a deadbolt and a keyed lock on the door in question. I’m not intending to replace the lock itself, nor the latch nor the strike. I’m hoping to keep all of that, which is already in the door, as well as the exterior knob with the keyhole. What I was hoping would be possible is unscrew the interior knob with thumb-turn (which as far as I am aware is just two screws) and then screw in the lever-handle from a same-brand set. But I don’t know if it’s a safe assumption that the parts of that half of the new set will actually line up with all the stuff already in the door.

        1. SofiaDeo*

          At least some do, take at least the interior part with you into a store or locksmith selling the same brand. Find a handle you like that matches the size & alignment of the latch assembly from the same manufacturer, it likely has the same diameter for at least some models that accommodate the cylinder of the lock.

          To be double sure, I’d remove the latch too & bring that along, as well as the exterior part. It’s easier to get a good fit if you actually have the parts you are trying to match. Measure the thickness of the door to verify the old exterior spindle will reach the new interior part.

  49. Once upon a time*

    I’m reaching the final interview stage for a job that would require a move closer to family. It’s a small city, but not an area I’m super familiar with and I’m wondering if anyone has any advice for how to find the neighborhoods I may want to look into. Any websites or guides or just general feedback from someone who has done this before.

    I’ll have to sell my current place, so expect I’ll probably rent for a year before looking to buy something more permanent.

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

      You might check to see if the city has a historically “gay” neighborhood — those can often have cafes, nice restaurants, cinemas, bookstores (if there are any to be had in the city), etc.

      Or if you like other kinds of stuff, maybe look up where those other things are located in the new city and go from there.

      In any event, I would suggest

      A. visiting a bunch of neighborhoods and checking out the vibes in each during different times of day. Do women with children seem comfortable being on the street? Do groups of children seem comfortable playing? Are friends laughing and talking and relaxed? Do you feel like you will enjoy becoming part of the social fabric of the neighborhood? Are there the amenities that you want there? (Library, grocery store, urgent care, etc.)

      B. Renting for a year (or less if you want) to get a feel for your neighborhood before deciding to buy there.

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

        Oops — sorry, I didn’t see that you already said you’d rent for a year!

    2. Morning Reading*

      Check local news sources, newspaper if there is one, signup for Nextdoor or other local social media before your move. HR or other new coworkers may have tips. Since you plan to rent at first, check reviews of any big apartment complexes, they might reveal problems in an area. Go to local library and ask the librarians; if the neighborhoods have names, you can probably look them up online. Walk or drive around prospective areas different times of day. If you cant get there before you move, explore with online maps, traffic and weather patterns. Is there public transportation? See where it goes.

    3. Bibliovore*

      Mr. Bibliovore used to move a lot for his job. He would find an independent bookstore and ask there for neighborhoods.
      We from a huge east coast city to a small midwest one.
      What was important to me- nearby public library, not onerous public transit to my new job, parking (his car) nearby grocery store/bodega for picking up essentials. Safe to walk the dog at night.
      The place we found was a 1/2 mile from the gym, a small market, a public library, the post office, a middle school (I like being around families and kids) a park, three pretty decent restaurants, and the bus that I needed to get to work.

      I thought we would be living in a downtown area but as soon as the sun went down there was no one and I mean no one walking on the streets where the residential buildings were.

      1. Bookworm in Stitches*

        That’s a good reminder to visit a neighborhood you’re interested in more than once, varying the times of day and conditions. Friends of ours viewed (and purchased!) a home for sale on a snowy day and loved how quiet the area was, not much traffic. Turns out it was actually a very busy area, people had just stayed home that day because of the snow.

    4. Treena*

      I do a combination of two things. I pin the important things to me on google maps. Work, bookstores, libraries, hobby locations, stores I’ll be shopping at frequently, etc. Then join local facebook groups and ask what people think about different neighborhoods and see if there are any areas that overlap.

    5. MissCoco*

      We’ve had to do two brand-new-city moves in the past year and my main strategy is asking current or recent residents. For a move when we didn’t know anyone at all in the city, I asked friends who live in the same region if they new anyone living there, and these friends-of-a-friend have been kind enough to make recommendations.

      My husband also likes to check each city’s reddit page. Even if you are not a reddit user, you might find that others have asked about specific neighborhoods or just questions about what neighborhoods are desirable.

    1. Part time lab tech*

      I’m assuming you mean internet resources as opposed to in-person courses. If you meant handouts or slides I don’t know.
      permies.com has a well moderated forum within which there are a number of experts of varying skills and interests.
      permaculturenews.org has a library of interesting articles.
      milkwood.net also has a book
      permaculture apprentice, deep green permaculture and under the choko tree are more personal blog type accounts
      Gardening Australia has gradually incorporated more and more permaculture and I believe has a you tube account.
      the survival gardner has good info but a little too much religion for my taste.
      Brad Lancaster has books on rainwater harvest that are often recommended although I haven’t read them (not in my library).
      When I was very interested in this area a few years ago I also looked up books in my local library but I can’t remember now which ones. I hope this is useful and sorry if I misunderstood your request.

    2. Shiny Penny*

      I’m enjoying Parkrose Permaculture on you-tube. She covers plant cultivation/soil development type topics on an urban lot. But she also discusses bigger permaculture philosophy, and how it can help address social problems like racism, ageism, and misogyny.

  50. Coffee Cup*

    I feel like I missed something about what led to the weekend thread rules, and that is is too late to ask!

    1. YNWA*

      There were a number of regular posters who used the weekend thread like a journal and it was somewhat off-putting because the posts took up a ton of space, the posters expected people to remember what they’d posted prior, and it somewhat devolved into what seemed like fan fic when the original tale ran its course. Additionally, some posters would post incredibly personal information about themselves, coworkers, or family that verged on confessional and/or doxxing (unintentional). There were also some very graphic posters who went into great detail about their health, injuries, illnesses, mental illnesses that felt like they were expecting the commenters to solve those issues. It’s been a work in progress and AAM has had to remind the commenters several times over the past few years to keep things light and conversational.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yes to all this. If anyone is interested in reading the initial discussion that lead to the new rules, there was a meta-thread about weekend open thread rules here:


        That lead to a trial run of new rules the following week (with real-time feedback on how the new rules were going):


        I think there might have been a few more weeks of trial-running the new rules before they took their current state.

        1. Sitting Pretty*

          I became a regular reader later in 2020 so missed this whole chapter. It is so fascinating to go back and read the threads now! It makes me grateful all over again for this community, and the care people bring to making this place a good one. So many people contributed to the discussion and then adapted as the culture changed.

          And HUGE props to Alison who managed a really tricky shift with such nuanced, thoughtful attention!

      2. Joey*

        Yes, and it seemed the “anything goes” environment led to a lot of dark posts that were only venting or even talking of harming themselves. You’d be reading along and be hit with some disturbing content that wasn’t open to discussion — in that some posters would get mad if people replied to them as you were supposed to intuit that they were just venting, didn’t want input, were just making an announcement about their circumstances, and didn’t want the “wrong” type of feedback (even sympathetic murmuring or emergency resources). So it was difficult to read and also felt pointless because you couldn’t do anything for them and they were just spreading their disturbing ideas.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      One element was that Captain Awkward stopped taking comments, and so there was an insurge of people doing “Here’s the latest update on my terrible life” type posts.

      But I think it’s also the standard goal of open threads–back in the day Ta-Nehisi Coates also aimed for the “Like a dinner party” model. So you discuss books you liked, ask if people have travel advice, ask if anyone knows how to find a good plumber, etc, but don’t trauma dump (see the post upthread about a game group with a trauma dumper), don’t discuss religion or politics.

    3. Venus*

      It wasn’t anything specific, rather I think it’s what is easist for Alison to moderate when she’s doing this page 24/7.

      1. Squidhead*

        There were a few specific threads about bodily functions (including vivid descriptions) that led to the “no highly personal body topics” rule!

  51. Once too Often*

    Shout out to anyone dealing with cancer in any way; sending positive vibes to all. And huge thanks to all who offer support. Never underestimate the difference you make.

  52. Morning Reading*

    I’m lately re-reading or listening to my old Travis McGee novels. I know some of you here write or read fanfiction of various sorts. Is there anything based on John D McDonald characters out there? How can I find it, if it exists?
    I’d love to know whatever happened to Meyer, for example. He’d be in his 80s or 90s by now, but his musings on the state of the world could be epic. I feel like Travis would have bought it by now, done in by a villain, or accumulated damage from old injuries, but Meyer could still be around, telling some old stories.

    1. Maryn*

      Oh, I’d totally read such fanfic if it existed. I’ve never sought it, so maybe it does…

    2. Pam Adams*

      There’s a Travis McGee tag on AO3- Archive of Our Own. I’d start there.

      Meyer was the best!

  53. Just a name*

    Our annual community association meeting is today. A recommendations on how to survive what is shaping up to be somewhat contentious? I am not looking forward to it but I do tend to get myself a bit worked up unnecessarily. I do have a hard time not rolling my eyes as well. 2 years post retirement I fear I may have lost my ability to keep a straight face.

    1. Esprit de l'escalier*

      I try to understand the point of view of people saying things that I disagree with and/or think are dumb. If possible, by asking real, not snarky questions, or if the format doesn’t allow that, then by thinking about it in a not-snarky way. This doesn’t cause me to suddenly start agreeing with them, but it can help me to modulate my reaction from scorn or outrage to curiosity and maybe even some empathy.

  54. Compression socks are warm*

    I’ve been wearing knee-length compression hose for months, and now I’m wondering what I should do when it gets really hot here and I’m taking my morning walk. The socks are very warm, which was great in cold weather, but I think they’ll be very uncomfortable when I’m walking outdoors in the summer. But …. I need the compression when I walk. If you wear compression hose, what do you do in summer?

    1. A313*

      They are warm, and I’ve not found anything for that, sorry. It’s a trade off, for sure. Are you wearing actual socks with compression versus the ones that look somewhat like pantyhose/nylons? I can’t say the pantyhose/nylons-looking ones would be much, if at all, cooler, though. If you wear ones that are thigh-high, can you wear the ones that only go up to your knee — that might be a little cooler.

      On the upside, they do provide some warmth in the winter if you’re in a colder climate.

    2. SofiaDeo*

      I wear thigh highs in summer. I purchase reinforced toe ones, and can open a few pair at the toe seam. I also will put another thin pair over the hose on occasion, to wick sweat.

    3. 653-CXK*

      I wear compression hose year-round, and the only time they bother me are the hot, humid days when it’s more difficult to get them on. If you can get the open-toe compression hose, they might help.

    4. one more librarian*

      Open toes help. For me, the best solution has been a compression wrap that goes from just below the knee to just above the foot — I wear lightweight leggings under and can wear sandals all summer. My wrap is inelastic and has 5 wide velcro straps that allow me to set the prescribed compression level. My physical therapist recommended them as a “Some people prefer these” kind of thing, and I prefer them SO MUCH! No wrinkles squeezing my ankle joint!

  55. Miss Buttons*

    Thank you, Once too Often. You are so kind. My treatment (chemo and radiation) ended about three months ago. I echo the thanks to all who offer support. I have big anxiety now, the biggest since diagnosis. It is actually quite common after treatment ends, waiting for the recurrence other shoe to drop. Trying to live one day at a time, grateful for life, seizing the moment and the gift that is each day. Cancer support groups are quite helpful. Particularly Healing Circles. And counseling helps. Shout-out to all who struggle with this.

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