weekend open thread — June 15-16, 2024

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

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: The Paris Novel, by Ruth Reichl. When her difficult mother dies, a woman is left a plane ticket and instructions to go to France, where she finds the unexpected.

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

{ 1,293 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. Jackalope*

    What have you been reading? Share the books you’ve been reading and give or request recs.

    Yesterday I read Counting the Cost by Jill Duggar. It’s her story of growing up in a reality TV show family and how she separated herself. Some of it was difficult, but it was all very readable and I finished it pretty quickly.

    1. Pamela S*

      Every year, the Home of Agatha Christie has a reading challenge – this year it was read a book a month from each of the 6 decades in which she wrote. There’s a recommended reading list or you can substitute your own if you can’t find/don’t have the recommended title. In January, I started with her first published novel from the 1920s, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, and apparently it’s now December as I have gone through the entire list.

        1. Magdalena*

          My favorite book by Agatha Christie is her Autobiography! She grew up with corsets and balls, worked as an untrained nurse during WWI and in a pharmacy during WWII, and was considered the least gifted among her siblings. It was such a great read and I don’t even like biographies. It also helped me discover new things in her other books. Very heartily recommend!

          1. Nervous Nellie*

            Oooh, related to that you might enjoy her book Come, Tell Me How You Live, her account from the mid-1940s of traveling with her archaeologist husband to a Syrian dig. We can forgive her the mild colonial bent towards the locals, as it was the culture of the time. And her writing is just fantastic – not a word is wasted.

            1. Tea and Sympathy*

              She also wrote books under the pen name Mary Westmacott. They aren’t mysteries, but rather about human psychology and relationships. If you like Agatha Christie, you should check them out. It’s been a very long time since I read them, but I remember thinking they were good.

    2. Teapot Translator*

      I tried The Apothecary Rose by Candace Robb, but DNF. I’m now reading Midnight at Malabar House by Vaseem Khan, because I liked The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra.

    3. Annie Edison*

      I really liked Counting the Cost! I’m sort of reading Hogsfather by Terry Pratchett, but will probably take a hiatus for a while to catch up on Bridgerton season 3

      1. Jackalope*

        As I said above, I enjoyed it too, but am curious about your thoughts. What did you like about it?

        1. Annie Edison*

          It’s been a while since I read it, but in general, I’m fascinated by stories of people who held deep rooted religious beliefs in childhood and shift or leave that belief system in adulthood.

          I don’t have exactly same types of traumas Jill experienced, but some aspects of her story felt very familiar to me. I was really inspired by her strength in coming to terms with the ways her childhood religion provided deep connection and purpose but also caused harm, and the ways she navigated redefining herself in adulthood

          Also, I’ve been loosely following her since the X Kids and Counting days (I’m pretty sure I watched her wedding when it first aired?) and was really interested to hear her story in her own words

          What about you? What did you enjoy?

          1. Jackalope*

            I too appreciated the description of her journey from the way she was raised to the way she lives now. I wasn’t exactly raised in a cult like she was, but my stepmother definitely was affected by it and so I got some of the fringes. And it’s so hard to move from one to the other! I also enjoyed her stories of her family; I never watched the show, and so while I can’t say it was all new, much of it was.

            It was good to see the ways in which she had reflected on her past. There were a lot of things that she remembered as being good among the bad. I’m sorry for the way that growing up on camera were rough and hurtful, but I’m glad that she had the experience of being truly loved by her parents and her siblings, even if things are hard now because of the separation. And I’m glad she’s recognized some of the bad stuff and is trying to move beyond that.

            I will say that I have a lot of anger at her parents, though, for many reasons. Sigh.

    4. Free Meerkats*

      Currently listening to Meru by S. B. Divya in the car, reading Realm of False Gods series by Steve Higgs on the Kindle, and Tiffany Aching’s Guide to Being a Witch by Rhianna Pratchett and Gabrielle Kent in dead tree.

      1. ampersand*

        I’m on book two and am perplexed about how compelling I find the story even though I’m not sure I like the main character. I haven’t been this into a book in a long time!

        1. Tradd*

          Agreed! I’m surprised I love this series so much. I found it in articles talking about Fourth Wing and Iron Flame. I’ve been reading fantasy since I picked up Tolkien in high school in the 80s. I will definitely reread this series again.

      2. Flower necklace*

        I just finished listening to the graphic audio version from Audible and thought it was very well done. Really made the series come alive for me.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      Finished Kate Atkinson’s short story collection, Normal Rules Don’t Apply, and just started All Fours by Miranda July. So far it’s very readable and funny but sometimes like that friend who goes a little far after three wine coolers, but there is actually a point to the character’s voice.

      Also still reading the Pamela Dean Tam Lin and missing the hell out of my college days when I could be all be all and end all in my opinions of Hamlet.

    6. AcademiaNut*

      Recent read – the Dagger and the Coin series by Daniel Abraham (5 books). Excellent high fantasy series with a theme that looks at the effects of military vs economic power (the dagger vs the coin) in a conflict. I’d recommend it for people who liked Game of Thrones, but want something with a manageable number of viewpoints that’s actually finished.

      Also Tanith Lee’s Biting the Sun / Drinking Sapphire Wine which are excellent but kind of hard to describe, and involves a search for purpose in a post-scarcity society where young people are expected to spend their lives in hedonistic pursuits. Also, published in 1976 but has a world where people casually change and re-change gender.

      1. Book Nerd*

        Tanith Lee is such a weird, wild, and underrated author. That duology/book is one of my very favorites – I keep an eye out for first editions everywhere I go!

      2. English Rose*

        Not come across Tanith Lee and will take a look. But another book from roughly the same time deals (in part) with gender is Marje Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time. Set partly in a future world in which pronouns have been reformed it’s an excellent exploration of where we (humans) could get to.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Margaret Atwood wrote an essay about that book in her collection In Other Worlds.


        As part of Science Fiction writers i have met, I met the late Tanith Lee when I was just a freshman in college at a science fiction bookstore in Berkeley California. I remember that she was very pretty in a very feline way and that we talked about feral foxes in London, crushing opals in wine as poison (not very effective but it is my birthstone), and her books of course.

        1. TL fan*

          Thanks for posting, it makes me happy to read of a direct experience with Tanith Lee. I think I own at least one copy of everything she ever published, but never got to meet her. When things get the bleakest, she’s all I can read.

      4. carcinization*

        Biting the Sun (which might have been called Don’t Bite the Sun when it crossed my path?) was a good one! I was going to talk about the things I liked, but could be spoilery, so I’ll just say that I liked her pet!

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      I read Most Ardently by Gabe Cole Novoa, a YA “remix” of Pride and Prejudice where the Elizabeth character is a trans boy. It’s very cute as a Regency romance but not great as an Austen adaptation – I feel like the author tried so hard to keep all the original plot points even when they didn’t make sense to keep, but the new parts were fun!

      1. Forensic13*

        I read that! It was indeed quite cute, though it did feel a little bit like they just wanted to do an “enemies to lovers” subplot and used the original as inspiration.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Yeah what I liked was the idea that Darcy’s social discomfort comes from being closeted and resenting it, and the Shakespearean rom-com of him not knowing Oliver and Elizabeth are the same person. But the story flopped every time it was like “well this is P&P so it’s time for the proposal scene!” or “I guess Wickham still needs to show up for some reason!” instead of just being its own narrative.

      2. Middle Aged Lady*

        If you like that kind of adaption, Eligible by Curtis Settenfeld was good. Set in modern-day Cincinnati: Elizabeth is a magazine writer and Jane is a yoga teacher! Mrs Bennet is just as exasperating as ever.

    8. RedinSC*

      I’m a bit more than half way through The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry.

      I am actually listening to this on audio book, but I think I would prefer to read it. The narrator, Wanda McCaddon, doesn’t change her voice or tone at all when switching back from one character to another, and the story itself is a bit chaotic, so it’s really hard to know who’s story is being narrated at the time. I recommend reading it

      I also just finished Bookshop & Bone Dust by Travis Baldree, that was a fun prequel to his Legends and Lattes book. Cute, I enjoyed it.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      I read In Ascension, about a marine biologist exploring a deep vent in the Atlantic. Started off with parts that I found interesting and beautiful (discussions about doing science) and parts that I found frustrating (the family background), and the balance shifted in the wrong way over the course of the book–I skimmed the last hundred pages or so and was left frustrated.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Yes! I read that recently too. It really grabbed me, and I was so dazzled by it. I will say I had to reread several parts to pull back into the thread. I still think it would make a great film.

    10. cleo*

      I’ve had a busy reading week.

      I finished A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

      I read All the Right Notes by Dominic Lim in preparation for a fantastic online author panel discussion called Romancing the Rainbow I saw on Weds. Lim was the only one of the 4 panelists I hadn’t read.

      And I just finished Heartwaves by Anita Kelly (queer romance) and it was really good.

    11. GoryDetails*

      The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz, a fun meta-mystery novel with the conceit that Horowitz is actually writing a true-crime book where he’s the Watson to a quirky, not-very-sociable ex-detective. The narrative includes lots of tidbits of Horowitz’ actual life, including his work on various book series, TV shows, and films, to the point where it’s hard to tell which characters are fictional!

    12. Josephine Beth*

      Just came off of a vacation week, so I got a lot of reading in!

      The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley – audiobook with multiple narrators, some really dark themes, but I’ve been in the mood for some creepy/moody books and this was a good one!
      Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six by Lisa Unger – also pretty dark, with some disturbing themes, but I loved the exploration of family and ancestry
      One Perfect Couple by Ruth Ware – I love her books, and this one did not disappoint. It’s a little formulaic, but that’s actually something I enjoy about her style.
      Happy Place by Emily Henry – read this one on the beach, because it is the perfect kind of beach read – fun, interesting, not too deep

    13. word nerd*

      So I decided to finally try Anne McCaffrey this week. Really enjoyed the Harper Hall trilogy and sped through them all in just a couple days. Then went for Dragonflight and disliked it (What is up with an aggressive guy being seen as romantic? Why would I be attracted to a guy who enjoys shaking women frequently?? This old trope felt so dated.), but I liked the Harper trilogy so much that I decided to give The White Dragon a try while it was on sale on Audible. I’m in the middle of it now and it’s been a slog, although not quite my active dislike toward Dragonflight. I guess it’s good I started with the Harper Hall trilogy or Dragonflight would have probably been my only Anne McCaffrey.

      I also read Lock In by John Scalzi this week, and it was fine, but I miss the ridiculous humor of Starter Villain.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I loved the Harper Hall trilogy sooooo much as a kid and never enjoyed her other books. I think I might have tried the same one as you because I only read far enough to be like wow, this relationship is disturbing! and then stopped.

      2. allathian*

        If you want to give Anne McCaffrey another try, I recommend Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern. It’s a self-contained book with fewer of the issues that bugged me with Dragonflight. It also has a parallel YA story called Nerilka.

        But the fact remains that AMC wrote bodice-ripper romances in a soft sci-fi guise (she emphasized that the books weren’t fantasy because the dragons were genetically engineered by human colonists) and many of the tropes of the genre have aged badly.

      3. cleo*

        I have a long and complicated relationship with the Pern books! My current feeling is that Anne McCaffrey is one of those authors that was (way) ahead of her time but is definitely behind our times, especially in the way she portrayed women and sexuality.

        I loved the Pern books as a preteen in the 80s – I also started with the Harper Hall books and they were my favorites. And then I moved on to other authors. In college, I picked up Dragonsdawn on a whim and it made me hulk-smash rage angry. I’d remembered her as writing books with strong women characters and was shocked (shocked) by the sexism.

        Like 10 years ago, after she died, I did a memorial reread of the first 6 Pern books and Dragonsdawn and my reaction was somewhere between that of 12 yo me and 20 yo me – none of the books made me hulk-smash ragey, but yeah, there were a lot of weird sexual politics. And Dragonflight is just so, so cringey. So now I don’t actively recommend her books but I love talking about them with people who’ve read them.

        Have you read Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series (dragons during the Napoleonic Wars) or Sharon Shinn’s Samaria series (sf with angels instead of dragons)? They’re both clearly inspired by Pern but leave behind the ickier parts. The first book in the Samaria series, Archangel, is clearly (to me at least) patterned after Dragonflight, but updated and not cringey. I read it 10+ years ago so I don’t know how well it’s aged, but I really enjoyed it at the time.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          It’s interesting to me that what dates classic sci fi isn’t the technology, but social mores: When the women always pause to put on a hat before getting into the flying car we’re pulled up short.

          (On Pern specifically I recall a book of portraits, and the comment on one was that when this 12 year old grew up she’d find one of the grown men had been waiting for her. WTF?)

          1. Jackalope*

            One of the most interesting and useful comments I heard once on understanding sci-fi is that it’s not talking about THE future so much as it’s a projected continuation of the specific time and place that it’s written in. There used to be the idea that sci-fi was futuristic because authors predicted tech that later came to be, but that was just a coincidence and in some ways perhaps people being inspired by the tech idea. The sci-fi wasn’t actually guessing what society would become later, for example.

            I will add because it was a fun book that I was totally thrown off by Cold Comfort Farm when it did that. CCF for those who haven’t read it was a delightful satire written in 1932 (so between the two world wars) that was written to be a tiny distance into the future. Most of it seems fairly normal, but then at the end the main character gets into her personal airplane, which everyone has, and flies off, and I was this moment of… wut???

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              It was also spoofing a very specific genre of “earthy country life realism (we mean sex)” novels that purported to show life as “real and raw,” which made personal airplanes even more jarring against this rural backdrop.

          2. Angstrom*

            We watched several classic(50s) scifi movies recently and were struck by that — there were women as high-level scientists, but they also defaulted to making the coffee and sandwiches.

      4. Tradd*

        Pern is one of my favorite series. If you like fantasy, try Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar books. Read in publication order, starting with Arrows of the Queen.

    14. Giz's Mom*

      Reading adjacent – I first learned about T.J. Klune here, when Alison recommended “The House in the Cerulean Sea”. Cut to now when I’m halfway through everything he’s ever written, and I just found out that he’s going to be at NYC Comic Con. And so am I! Very excited. I need to buy a hard copy so I can get it autographed. :-)

    15. Alyn*

      Just finished Cinderwich by Cherie Priest; a delightfully spooky novella loosely based on a real cold case.

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        Have you read her steampunk/zombie series that starts with Boneshaker? Very fun. Set in Seattle and I lived there a while, then the series moves beyond that location to include others.

        1. Alyn*

          I haven’t, but I’m not a huge steampunk fan. I have read her other horror books, The Family Plot (LOVED IT) and The Toll (good story but hated all of the characters), as well as her Booking Agents series. (very enjoyable).

    16. Bookworm in Stitches*

      I’m listening to The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. I wasn’t sure I liked it or was going to finish it…and then I got to Day 2. Now I’m hooked. I have a whole bunch of thoughts and guesses. Can’t wait to see how the story plays out.

      And a plug for the Libby App – huge collection of audiobooks for free.

    17. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      My cats got me a copy of Starter Villain by John Scalzi for my birthday. The American hardcover has a very handsome cat in a suit as the cover illustration. It is an engaging and enjoyable romp about a man who unexpectedly inherits a business in which sentient cats play a big undercover role. One line about a kitten made me laugh out loud. And it has a happy ending! Highly recommended.

      1. I take tea*

        I’m not a big audio book consumer, but I listened to the first chapter/s when Scalzi linked to it on his blog and have just aquired it in audio format. Looking forward to it.

        1. word nerd*

          This book works really well as an audiobook–I enjoyed it much more than I would have reading a print book I think.

    18. Amory Blaine*

      Getting a new puppy!!! We met the litter and chose our boy; he’s coming home later this week. I’ve only adopted full grown dogs before— any advice or tips for living with a new puppy? (We’ve done our research and have a plan— just looking for extra ideas/ inspiration to make his new life as great as possible!!)

      1. Amory Blaine*

        Ugh, nesting fail! Although I’m interested in adult or children’s books about puppy training!

        1. Annie Edison*

          Ooh Puppy Brain by Kerry Nichols! I haven’t read the book yet but I’ve been following her for a while and she is just so insightful and wise about how to give developing puppies what they need to have a wonderful life. Congrats on the new fluff ball!!

    19. English Rose*

      I’m just finishing the third of the Marlow Murder Mysteries by Robert Thorogood (same person who wrote Death in Paradise for those familiar). Fun, lightweight, well plotted.

      But the book I’ve enjoyed the most recently was I Hope This Finds You Well by Natalie Sue, which was a book of the week recommendation here. It was brilliant – funny, sad, sooo accurate on office live I’m sure the author must read this column!

    20. Forensic13*

      I just finished Anita de Monte Laughs Last, a mostly dual POV of a vibrant Cuban artist whose husband pushes her out a window to her death and the art history student who rediscovers and champions her a few decades after her death. It’s sort of surreal fiction, as the artist has chapters of her experience from the afterlife, but it was pretty neat. One caveat is that the death and apparently the artist’s personality was based on a real story with basically the exact circumstances and the real artist’s (Ana Mendieta) family is NOT happy about the book, as they were not consulted at all and the real artist isn’t mentioned in the book at all.

    21. Andromeda*

      I read Beast in the Shadows by Edogawa Ranpo on the train to my parents’. Really interesting little detective novella, readable in about an hour but if you’re reading in translation and not a Japanese speaker (maybe one day… sigh…) it takes a little bit of research after to really get the most out of it.

    22. Diana*

      I recently read The Valley Between Us by Cristi Slate. The author is a good friend of mine from college so I got to read it pre release, it goes on sale to the public Tuesday.
      The story is about bride kidnapping in Georgia but the book is about so much more, balancing modern life and maintaining traditions, discovering your own identity and rediscovering yourself when the information you based your identity on turns out to be false.
      There is a thread of discovering Christian faith in the book but I did not find it offensive as it is not a main plot point and none of the main characters lives are suddenly improved by conversation or belief, some characters enter the story with faith and that leads to natural conversation and a character’s desire to learn more.
      The characters really draw you in and keep you engaged in their stories.

    23. Dancing Otter*

      There’s a new novel in the Liaden Universe! Also a short story collection by the same authors.
      Sadly, Steve Miller passed away earlier this year, but Sharon Lee intends to continue the series under both names.

      1. Virtual Light*

        Oh that’s good news! I’m not totally caught up with the books- I’m savoring them- but was so saddened by the news of his death. So hard for her on every level.

    24. Nervous Nellie*

      Two for me this week:

      A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver. Accomplished US poet Oliver argues that since we teach music theory and technique to music students, and art history and technique to art students, and then expect them all to practice, practice, practice, that we should give poetry students clearer direction on poetry technique & structure, and make them practice. practice, practice. She spells out the structures, gives overall guidance and then steps back. This is no paint by numbers how-to. It’s a slim little book with beautiful ideas that apply to poetry but also to letter/blog/essay writing. Her ear for the impact of words is fascinating.

      America by Jean Baudrillard. Grumpy French postmodernist philosopher’s record of a road trip he took through the US. His crusty observations of cities (and the highways in between) are dreamy, pointed, and sometimes right on the nose. The book is from the late 1980s. I read it then and am enjoying revisiting it. Road trip!

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        I read poetry every morning and used to write it as a young person. I got A Poetry Handbook to think about trying my hand at it again. Even if I never write another poem I appreciate more about their structure having read this, written by someone whose poetry I love.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Me too! William Carlos Williams, James Agee, Margaret Atwood & ee cummings are my daily favorites. I was never as fond of Mary Oliver’s actual poetry, but I so appreciate her voice. This little book makes me think differently about all of my writing. Great inspiration!

    25. Sitting Pretty*

      I bought a copy of James by Percival Everett for my dad for father’s day. He’s something of a Mark Twain fan and also really enjoyed last year’s film American Fiction (which was Cord Jefferson’s adaptation of Everett’s novel Erasure, which I read a few years ago and loved).

      Anyway, I bought my dad the book and then opened it and read it in less than 24 hours, it was THAT good. Percival Everett is one of my favorite authors. I’m blown away by how he imagines and tells Jim’s experience of the Huck Finn story.

      So my dad now has the book. He was super excited by the gift. And we’ll get to talk about it as soon as he reads it!

    26. I only want everything*

      I’ve been reading the Andy Carpenter series by David Rosenfelt. The main character is a lawyer in New Jersey who loves dogs. It’s light easy reading as well as funny. Ever since the beginning of the pandemic I haven’t been able to read anything intense, like the Tom Clancy novels I used to read. I’ve gotten my mom and aunt into the books also and they love the series. The books are a pretty quick read too.

      1. Bookworm in Stitches*

        Love his books. The audiobooks are narrated by Grover Gardner which is a perfect match for Andy Carpenter. There’s also a K9 spinoff series which has all the Andy Carpenter characters but he’s not the main character.

        1. I only want everything*

          I love Grover Gardner’s voice for Andy Carpenter! I’ve listened to the series several times. I like the K-9 series too however Andy’s voice and tone aren’t quite right for me in those books. :)

    27. Rara Avis*

      The Backyard Bird Chronicles by Amy Tan. Drawings and observations in a journal format.

    28. booksanon*

      I just finished Watchmaker of Filigree Street. Wow!! I absolutely adored it. I’m getting my hands on the sequel as soon as I can!

      1. Jessica*

        Wow, I was about to warn you that the other book, while good, is not a sequel in the strictest sense, but now I’ve discovered we’re not even thinking of the same thing! MANY thanks for drawing my attention to the actual sequel (The Lost Future of Pepperharrow), which I am eager to read now that I know of its existence!
        And you might enjoy The Bedlam Stacks, which is delightful and tangentially related (Keita appears as a minor character, seen only in memory).

        1. booksanon*

          And meanwhile I had heard of Bedlam Stacks but didn’t realize it was related at all! Excited to read that one down the line. I hope you enjoy Pepperharrow and I’m so glad I could unwittingly alert you to its existence!

    29. the cat's pajamas*

      Does anyone have good recommendations for funny books? I’ve been in a book rut and could use something fun. I prefer books with little to no sexual or romantic content. I love Murderbot and more recently enjoyed Nothing to See Here and Now is not the time to Panic by Kevin Wilson and Sourdough by Robin Sloan. I’ve also enjoyed funny memoirs.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        John Scalzi’s The Kaiju Preservation Society is hilarious. I laughed so much, out loud, on the bus!

      2. word nerd*

        John Scalzi’s Starter Villain is really fun and funny! I just downloaded You Can’t Be Serious by Kal Penn from the library and I’m looking forward to it–the reviews are good at least! Ali Wong’s Dear Girls is good too.

          1. word nerd*

            Oops, just realized that you asked for no sexual or romantic content. I take back my suggestion of Ali Wong then, and I don’t know how much Kal Penn’s book touches on that. I still recommend Starter Villain tho!

      3. Jackalope*

        I Will keep thinking about this, but the first thing that comes to mind is the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. Have you ever read his books? If you have, was that a kind of humor that works for you? If not, the book I started with was Wee Free Men, which is the first book in the Tiffany Aching series, and for me it was a good place to start. (The tricky thing with him is that he has so many miniseries in that world that it can be hard to know where to start.) Every now and then there will be some mild romance, but it’s usually not a main part of the plot and isn’t discussed much.

        Do you read graphic novels at all? A friend got me started on the Squirrel Girl series and I would recommend the first few collections. There’s a lot of dry humor and it’s fun. (I don’t like the later ones as much but maybe you will?)

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          Thank you! I have read some of Discworld and am looking for something different. I like them but kinda burned out on the things I usually read, I think it’s because the last few new books I’ve tried were good but more sad, or just kinda blah.

          I occasionally read graphic novels. I mostly listen to audiobooks so I can listen while commuting etc. but will check that out.

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        Hmmm…I like Shirley Jackson’s two memoirs, Raising Demons and Life Among the Savages–they’re hilarious takes on her experiences parenting her kids. And Dorothy Parker’s short stories are a riot, especially her “monologues” like The Garter.

    30. carcinization*

      Reading McGuire’s Tidal Creatures, finding some of the author’s usual idiosyncrasies a bit annoying this time, but it’s still an interesting story.

    31. Pickwick*

      “Secondhand Time,” by Svetlana Alexievich. She traveled around post-Soviet Russia and talked to people, letting them tell their stories and thoughts about life in a country that went through tremendous changes last century. It doesn’t feel like the type of book that has to be read in any particular order, so I’m bouncing around between narratives.

      Just trying to understand how Russia got to the dreadful place it is today. I can’t help feeling that the US may have had, and squandered, an opportunity in the 1990s to help Russia become a stable democracy. But maybe not.

    32. Elizabeth West*

      American Kompromat by Craig Unger. It’s about tRump and Russia and it’s absolutely hair-raising.

      Next up I plan to read Tananarive Due’s The Reformatory. It’s getting all kinds of praise and I can’t wait. I also bought some books at Fan Expo today, but I need to read the ones I bought last year — they’re still on the pile!

    33. ElastiGirl*

      I’m reading “2020: One City, Seven People and the Year Everything Changed” by Eric Klinenberg. What I really want to read is an in-depth book on how the pandemic affected education, but it may be a while before the data is in. (Any recommendations are most welcome!)

      1. another educator*

        Same. I’ve found a few academic papers, but nothing compelling. Most of the research I’ve seen is still during the pandemic.

    34. KKR*

      Counting the Cost is one of the books my work laptop is sitting on! It was a good read for the gossip imo even though I know not all of it is real, there is insight in seeing what she wants to portray.

  3. Jackalope*

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

    I’m taking my D&D players right now through a super long and detailed dungeon, which has been fun. I’ve been very open about the fact that it’s much more detailed than I could come up with since I don’t have the kind of spatial imagination to put it all together by myself. We’ve had a lot of fun with it so far. Also, I have a player who’s been feeling a bit burned out and needed a break, so the quest in the dungeon is to rescue his character, and this way he gets to have a few weeks off. Anyone else run – or played – games like this, where you took some existing details and made the rest fit your own story?

    1. JPalmer*

      Hades 2 was great. Binged that for a week but going to set it aside for a good 6+ months till it’s ready for release.

      I’m taking a break from my normal D&D campaign and running the players through a high-school ‘Americana Horror’ with bullies, corrupt cops and tons of the ‘dying small town America’ tropes. The game uses a Tension system where they can juice their rolls by taking a negative stat, which causes bad things to happen if it overfills. But the fun part is that they occasionally swap into their highly powerful D&D characters and can magic away solve situations. So lots of slow building horror tension for selective releasing of it.

      I’m thinking I might want to find a new detective game to play. I loved Obra Dinn, Chants of Sennar, etc.

      As for your question: I usually treat all source material as a ‘starting point’ and change what I want. Like the main game is Candlekeep Mysteries. I like fitting in recurring gags/characters, or side fun romps to go get loot/solve riddles/etc with lower stakes/continuity.

      For players getting burned out, I recommend letting them play different characters, or serve a different role in the session. Some players get bored of the mechanics of individual classes, or just the personality of their character. Letting a player control a repair mech for the session, or get turned into a dinosaur with some different abilities can keep things fresh.

      Also I’m a big fan of ‘we arent really playing dnd this session’ minigames, like little dice gambling games, or fishing minigames or whatever. Keeps the attack/save/skill mechanics from getting too stale.

      1. Andromeda*

        Tension reminds me of the kinds of systems I really love, that weave in-character failure into the mechanics of the game rather than making it into an undesirable end state (like in D&D — you fail a roll, usually that’s the end of your interaction with an NPC or you just can’t do a thing. You can create constructive narrative possibilities out of that but it’s not encouraged by the mechanics.)

        There’s a great Powered by the Apocalypse pro wrestling game that does this very well — it has to, because failure/defeat in kayfabe is not the same as IRL failure/defeat — and is probably my favourite system ever.

    2. Paralegal Part Deux*

      Anyone play(ed) Scars Above? It looks interesting but wanted to know if anyone has any experience with it. Tpqqq

    3. Ladymis*

      Husband and I have been playing Diable IV while it’s available on Xbox Game Pass.

      I’ve got a game near the end in Baldur’s Gate 3. And lookin forward to Once Human in early July.

    4. Porch Screens*

      I finally finished Star Ocean: First Departure R last week and have been going really hard with Stardew Valley and Slay the Spire!

    5. Golden French Fry*

      I’m taking a break from Genshin Impact since I noticed my wrist starts to hurt after playing. I found a game called Little Kitty Big City to play instead for a while. It’s very cute!

    6. Nicki Name*

      Trying a bunch of things from my backlog at BGA. Unfortunately I haven’t found anything yet that I both like and has enough people playing for real-time games.

    7. Anna the Cat*

      World of Warcraft, as ever – this week I’ve been focused on farming rares for the last dragonriding manuscripts I need. Plus, I can play Deep Rock Galactic Survivors in the background since it’s kinda mindless and quick to pick back up after pausing.

      VOID 1680AM is planned for this weekend, too. It’s a solo TTRPG where you play a late-night DJ and build a playlist from randomly generated prompts and is up for a CRIT Award, so I figure it’s worth checking out.

    8. JoAnne*

      Monopoly with my grandsons ages 6 and 10. The old game with the cash. It’s fun to watch them do the calculations for purchases and rent. Our kid rules allow us to buy houses once you have a property (do not need to collect a whole colour group). Our games take about a week after school. Well I landed on Boardwalk with a hotel and was able to pay. But I had rolled a double. So rolled again and landed on Chance: “Take a walk on the Boardwalk”! That cleaned me out and they were delighted

    9. Second Breakfast*

      I’ve been loving Sneaky Sasquatch on Apple Arcade. I originally downloaded it for my six-year-old daughter, who loves Bigfoot, but the quests and the clever writing have me hooked. I especially got a kick out of Sasquatch’s quest to infiltrate a corporation in town. The way it makes fun of business jargon might appeal to other readers of this site.

    10. WorkingForMyCat*

      I finished the platformer SANABI and immediately started over to play it again. It starts off with all the old tropes of a retired military veteran coming back for some personal revenge…and then goes much, much deeper and more thoughtful and more touching than I was expecting.

      The platforming is a delightful take on the grappling hook mechanic, and you can set the difficulty to suit what you want from the game. The music is perfect for the game, the art is very well done, and the game wraps up in about 20 hours (much less if you are better at platforming than I was my first run). Highly recommend.

    11. Spiritbrand*

      I’ve been playing a lot of Wayfinder. I paid for the early access when it was going to be an MMO, but it has since transitioned to a one-time fee solo ARPG and it is even more fun just unlocking things as I play instead of paying for them for some sort of need for monetization.

  4. SunnyShine*

    I have a friend who can’t accept plans as they are. She suggests changes that require a lot of effort. for example, instead of going to a store near us, she wants to drive 4 hours away just for fun. Or maybe she wants to go out of state.

    I’m used to flakey friends, but this is the first time I have a friend who is constantly trying to plan something bigger and better.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Being matter of fact and a bit obtuse can work fairly well. Invite her to things that are already planned out, and if she suggests doing something wildly different respond “Oh, that doesn’t work for me, I’ll be going to the local Ikea at 4pm.” and just calmly repeat variations on that if she pushes.

      I’m curious if she ever takes the initiative to plan stuff on her own, though – will she plan an out of state trip and invite people, or does she only hijack other people’s events for her own grandiose ideas?

      1. SunnyShine*

        She plans things but wants input. she’s certainly not the one to say she’s going somewhere so anyone is invited. I’m not sure if it’s anxiety for her as she is an anxious person. She’s really sweet other than this.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          I have a friend like this and with her, it is definitely anxiety. When things work too well, she starts panicking that maybe they won’t suit the other people involved and starts suggesting way less convenient stuff.

          With my friend often waiting her out will do. After she’s suggested all the crazy stuff, she’ll often end up suggesting the original plan that was the one that made sense.

          It is annoying. I sometimes want to say “can we ever just do stuff?!”

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I’ve known people like that too: when things are going “too well,” they react like they’re being tricked and try to take control of the situation by adding complications before anyone/fate can. It’s pretty exhausting.

            1. the cat's pajamas*

              Hmm, this reminds of someone I know. I assumed it was an ego thing for them, but makes me wonder now. Thanks for the insight and good luck with your friend.

    2. Friendship*

      Have you tried straightforward statements: “That doesn’t work for me. I’m up for shopping at A but not B”? I had a friend in college a bit like this, and her plans were just too much (time, money, energy, or a combination). For me, it was key to limit our interactions to plans of overlapping interest because trying to keep up with her made resentful. We drifted apart, no hard feelings. I sometimes travel with a similar friend now, and I just say no thanks a lot. As soon as we get to X, she wants to go off to Y. We know we don’t totally line up in our styles and are both cool with it.

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

      I used to be friends with someone like this — the original plan we had together was never good enough, so she always had to suggest changing things up. It was irritating for sure.

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

        What was the most irritating was when I had made a specific plan to do something by myself (I’m in the city this afternoon, and I’m going to this specific shop where I can get things I can’t get in my home borough), and when I mentioned that, she wanted us to do something together that was not what I had planned and then didn’t respect my “no.”

        I think that was the worst part — not just the suggesting something else (though that was certainly boundary pushing) but the not being able to take “no” for an answer (which was outright boundary stomping). We no longer speak much, and it is for the best.

    4. Sloanicota*

      Lol, I’m in a whole group of friends with this culture.

      Me on the group chat: “Does anyone want to join me at X location’s happy hour today?”
      Them: *rubs hands* let the negotiations begin!!

      One of them essentially always wants to move the location to the place closest to him, if not his own house. The other always wants the best/cheapest deals. I end up going to the place I suggested alone about half the time. The other half I decide I’ll trade doing what I want for the company.

      1. SunnyShine*

        Negotiation is a great way to explain it! it’s not malicious on my friend’s part. I think she has a little FOMO.

    5. Orange m&m*

      I saw some advice once that talked about being really straightforward. Say you suggest a movie. Friend counters with: lunch, shopping, dinner, movie, a sleepover, breakfast & an amusement park the next day. You can say, “Ugh. That sounds exhausting. I’m only up for the movie. I’d love for you to join me. I’ll see you outside the theater at 8

    6. BellaStella*

      I know someone like this and she has severe fomo as you note. Our group will create a plan to do A with these people and this activitt but literally last minute she just changes it all to B with another set of activities etc. I no longer engage because it is a type of narcissistic behaviour and I cannot be bothered.

      1. Rain*

        Is it really a type of narcissistic behaviour?

        (I know tone is weird in text, so clarifying that I’m sincerely asking – my ex was diagnosed with NPD and he tried stuff like this all the time.)

    7. Ellis Bell*

      It sounds like the activity she really wants to do is planning stuff. Planning stuff can be great fun in it’s own right! Just interrupt her before she gets the mood board out and say: “Oh I really don’t want to plan anything else, I just want to know if you’re coming to Costco”. If you’re up for Adventure X, at some point, you can say: “A road trip might be fun at the end of the month if it included x, y and z; why don’t you come up with some ideas?” I totally put the planners to task, but they have to have good ideas for it to work.

      1. Zweisatz*

        Yeah, throwing it back to here for an activity on a *different* day may be the way. “No, I actually want to do [thing you initially suggested], but if you have fun ideas, why don’t you hit me up when you have a concrete plan and date in mind?” If she never hits you up … nothing lost, you didn’t plan to do that anyway.

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

        I think there are different underlying reasons why people do it, but I had a former friend about 15 years ago where, over the span of our 10-year friendship, her “loving to plan” personality turned into bad fantasy writing…what she envisioned was just not grounded in reality, so she was forever disappointed in the outcome. I could handle her planning (that veered into controlling sometimes), but I could no longer tolerate her pouting and wanting to leave the minute we arrived because she thought it would be “more exciting.”

    8. WellRed*

      I have a friend who sometimes does this. In December four of us planned drinks and apps at a new restaurant early Friday evening. All if a sudden, she decided “let’s invite more people!” Let’s do yankee swap! Let’s dress up!” The whole thing fell apart because some of us just wanted….drinks and apps.

      1. matcha123*

        I’m assuming you mean appetizers, but the image of people swapping mobile apps or building them while having drinks is making me laugh.

        1. BikeWalkBarb*

          Same. I immediately pictured everyone handing their phones around showing some new app they thought everyone should install.

      2. BikeWalkBarb*

        I had to look up yankee swap, which is called a white elephant exchange in my part of the US (Pacific NW).

        1. fhqwhgads*

          They’re similar but have different rules, although it seems every social group has sliiiightly different rules for all the games in that genre, so not specifying the rules themselves instead of the name of the game only tends to lead to chaos. Chaos demon level chaos.

    9. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Yes, this came up on CaptainAwkward (bless her and all her works). I’ll add a link to the post in a reply so moderation doesn’t eat this one, but you can search for “escalator” to find it too. She recommends an approach along the lines of “that sounds cool. I’m planning to be at X on Y day. If you want to go make a four hour drive, send me pictures of [cool roadside attraction]!” Basically reinforce that you are doing your thing and inviting your along to that specific thing.

      She’s got much better scripts than me though.

    10. ronda*

      have you tried telling her you dont like it and what you would like her to do instead at a time you are not making plans.

      like “when I invite you to do something you often suggest something different, I am usually very committed to my original plan and would rather you just tell me yes or no”

      then when she suggests changes. “no, I am committed to my original plan”

    11. Zona the Great*

      In my former friend’s case, she used to make secret alternate plans. Once I asked her if she wanted to go to the craft store and then grab a happy hour drink at Chili’s in City A. We lived in Small Town X so this was a normal Friday evening activity. When I picked her up, she was in full body glitter (try and guess the year!) and a halter top. When I questioned why she was dressed up, she announced that I needed to go to City C to pick up her other friend because she invited her along too. I informed her that, no, I would not be doing that and she had to call her friend in front of me and make up some lie.

    12. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Ugh, I have a friend who does this. Her energy is incredible, but it is always so much and she completely hijacks plans. Like I will say – Family is out of town in 2 weeks, anyone want to come over Saturday night for dinner/wine. And after a bunch of people have said yes, she will come back with “Since we are all available that night, lets go to this concert festival 2 hours away and we can camp out in my van, I’ll drive!!!”

      I always bow out because I am not interested in sleeping in a van and staying up until 3 am, but then I am bummed because I was looking forward to girls night.

      1. Rain*

        That would drive me round the bend. I would end up never inviting her anywhere because of it.

  5. Teapot Translator*

    Recommendations for an all-purpose app or software to plan trips that I would like to take in the future, but not in the near in the future? I’ve found Wanderlog, but I’m wondering if I missed another option.

    1. Monkey's Paw Manicure*

      It’s not specific to travel, but I plan my trips (and everything else) with OmniOutliner, though any outliner would work. For a typical trip, I have sections for Preparation (make reservations, things to buy in advance, etc.), Pack (paperwork, directions, clothes, etc.), Itinerary (times, locations, and info for what to do each day), and a section for places that I’m not putting on the itinerary to do, but might keep an eye open for, or save for the next trip there. After a trip, I mark things that I never used and make notes of things I had wished I’d brought to be better next time.

      I’ve been doing this for close to 20 years, so when planning a trip I can usually start with an outline from a similar trip (purpose/climate/duration) and update it.

      I set up most of these for specific trips, but I have a few going for things I’d like to see if I happened to be in a certain area or place. As I learn about things I’d like to see, I add them to the list, along with their websites or pictures.

      1. Reba*

        Oh, this gave me nostalgia! I used Omni outliner SO MUCH in grad school but never since. I haven’t thought about other ways it could be useful like this.

    2. acmx*

      Wanderlog was the main one I found, too and didn’t like the reviews I came across.
      If you use it, I’d be interested in an update/review :)

      I decided to use OneNote for trip planning.

      1. Pop*

        I’ve used Wanderlog for 4-5 trips now (both domestic and international, in cities and outdoors-focused) and it’s worked well! But prior to that I was just using a Google doc so my standards were pretty low. I like the map feature as that helps me plan out days and things like nearby restaurants. No complaints here.

    3. Twerp*

      It’s not specific to travel and you’d have to set up the underlying database for it but you could definitely set up a bit of Notion to do that for you. There could well be a template in their files though.

    4. English Rose*

      I use Evernote for everything, saving links in relevant sections, e.g. travel. You can write notes, add tasks, all kinds of things.

    5. Kathy the Librarian*

      I use Kayak to keep my reservations and such together. But for planning what to do when I get to my destination, I use Google Maps! It has a trip planner.

      I have lots of lists on my Google maps. Restaurants, places I’d like to visit, etc. you can even share the lists if it’s a group trip. Then anyone can add to it.

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        Thanks for this tip! I have an upcoming conference in Baltimore in mid-July and am adding on a weekend. I’ve never been there and have a good list of things to do from asking here in a previous weekend thread. Family are coming down from the DC area for Saturday and this way we can plan together.

    6. WoodswomanWrites*

      Friends and I went to hear a Fleetwood Mac tribute band at an outdoor venue with great food. The band was great, the weather was perfect, and we danced a lot. My friends are two couples and it was the first time I met the new boyfriend of the one who has been divorced a long time. They were all so sweet together and it was a perfect day of fun, music, and great company.

  6. Ginger Cat Lady*

    I’m sick and tired of companies asking for reviews/surveys. Decided a month ago I wasn’t ever doing any of those ever again. I decided to count this week how many times I was asked:
    Monday: 7
    Wednesday: 14
    Thursday 9
    Friday: (so far) 11
    It’s the pharmacy, the lab, the doctor’s office, procedure scheduling, the online shopping X 5, the guy who fixed a chip in my windshield, the grocery store, WalMart pickup, the garden center, and a million reminders for alllllllll of them.
    I need it to just STOOOOOP.
    And don’t even get me started on the lousy “I need you to rate me 10 stars because anything less than perfect means I get in trouble” from the people asking. That’s just not cool.
    That concludes today’s soapbox moment.

    1. Geomancer*

      Preach! I am so over this! I never answer them, as if that’s going to make them stop asking. Your data is insightful.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Me neither, and I am also so sick of that whole “but if you don’t star/like/subscribe/hand over your first born child they will never get another dime and be demonetized and starve and die and it is ALL YOUR FAULT.”

        It’s a damn kitten video, not the Magna Carta, YouTube.

    2. JPalmer*

      Ugh yes. Product data and reviews are all useful expensive data, I am not wasting my time to give that to you for free. You want me to answer questions, give me free months of usage on the software.

      I hate the modern trend of tech/software to constantly badger you until you do the thing they want. No means no and stop asking.

      *glares at Microsoft products constantly asking you to switch your browser*

      1. Elle Woods*

        LOL about Microsoft asking you to switch your browser. I’m always like, “Nope. I like what I’ve got, so stop asking.”

    3. Annie Edison*

      Oh my gosh yes! I feel like it’s become pretty meaningless at this point. I’ve heard lots of the big corporations unfairly penalize managers and employees for anything less than a perfect score, which means I generally don’t feel good about leaving a lower rating unless it was super egregious. But then a five star rating no longer really means anything, and there’s no way to differentiate “this place is amazing” versus “this place is fine”

      I do make exceptions for small businesses, etsy, local coffee shops, etc. I run a small business and reviews are a huge way for me to get more clients, so if it’s a business I like and want to support, I will absolutely write something up on google maps.

      1. anon24*

        Yes, corporations love to use the surveys to penalize their employees and dock them compensation. My ex husband worked in a field where part of his pay was based off of survey scores. Except he was judged off the entire score his company got, and anything less than 10/10 was a failure. So if someone dealt with 5 people, and was mildly disappointed with one of them and gave that person a 9/10 on their survey, my husband and all 5 people wouldn’t get their compensation for that quarter. Guess how many times he actually got his compensation?

        Personally, I either don’t fill them out or give 10/10 even if the service was barely adequate, which is useless to the company anyway. What’s the difference between barely adequate and amazing? I’m not punishing an employee who may have been having a bad day or maybe is just underpaid and doesn’t feel like giving 100% and I get that.

    4. Angstrom*

      I do not want to “engage with your brand”. I want you to provide a decent product or service and then leave me alone.

      1. StrayMom*

        My dentist sent me 5 emails over 3 days last week to remind me of my appointment on Monday, (for the record, I’ve never missed an appointment) and afterward they sent me 2 more emails asking for a review. I responded that I felt they sent waaay too many emails. I received 2 more emails today asking for a follow-up. SMH

        1. Dancing Otter*

          Could we possibly have the same dentist?
          You want to make sure I show up? Send me a calendar invite, and let my calendar remind me according to my own settings. Do not text me just as I’m trying to get out the door.
          True experience, and yes, stopping to check the message and confirm AGAIN did make me late.

          1. Spiritbrand*

            My Primary Care Physician sends me an email to ask if I’ve arrived yet and waiting in the waiting area. It’s unhinged.

        2. Zephy*

          Sounds like we have the same dentist. Is it a chain, perhaps themed around a particular shade of green?

        3. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

          Hah, my dentist texts incessantly. I got a text last time that asked me to confirm my appointment but before confirming “Please read the email we just sent you with important information”. They did not send an email. I asked the receptionist about it and they said the emails and texts were part of a software package with their scheduling stuff and they couldn’t figure out how to dial it back. It seemed to be all or nothing.

      2. Sloanicota*

        I feel this beyond the survey thing. Just trying to purchase a single product or pay for one (1) experience now, there is waaay too much effort put into “capturing” data so they can “stay in touch.” I get it, marketing is hard, but I don’t want to be BFFs, I just wanted to shop here one time on my way to somewhere else.

      3. Isabel Archer*

        Amen to your Amen. In addition to the endless survey and review requests (free marketing data on OUR free time), I haaaaaate the litany of questions when you buy anything in an actual store:

        Cashier: “Phone number?”
        Me: “Um, hi.”
        Cashier: “Hi, what’s your number?”
        Me: “I’m not in your system.”
        Cashier: “You don’t get Store Rewards/Points/Perks/Kash/Bux?”
        Me: “No.”
        Cashier: “You wanna sign up now? It’s free.”
        Me: “No thanks.”
        Cashier: “Will you be using your Store Card today?”
        Me: “No.”
        Cashier: “Do you have our Store Card? You wanna sign up for one now? You’ll save 10% on today’s purchase.”
        Me, out loud: “No.”
        (Me, in my head: 10% savings on these $8 socks? Yes, absolutely, here’s my social security number! Pull my credit so I can save eighty cents at a 29% interest rate!)
        Cashier: “Will you be paying with our Store App?”
        Me, out loud: “No, I’d just like to give you cash for these socks and leave.”
        (Me, in my head: I believe this is called commerce. Money I’ve earned in exchange for stuff Store sells. You should look into it.)
        Cashier, with sigh of irritation and pity: “OK, OK. Do you have any coupons?”
        Me: “No.”
        Cashier: “If you give me your email address, we can send you coupons!”
        Me: “Not today, thanks.”
        (Me, in my head: And thousands of requests for reviews, I’ll betcha!)
        Cashier: “OK, your total is $8. Do you want to round up today to support Sick Children/Homeless Veterans/Climate Change/Literacy/Endangered Species/Food Bank?”
        Me, handing her $8 of actual money: “No.”
        Cashier, handing me the receipt: “Here’s your receipt, there’s a survey code at the bottom. If you fill out this survey on your experience today you’ll get entered in a drawing to win $500!”
        (Me, in my head: There were fewer questions at the Spanish Inquisition. I’m never buying anything ever again.)

        1. Ginger Cat Lady*

          UGH I hate that, too. Tried a new salon and they told me their “system” wouldn’t let them do the service without a phone number. I left.

          1. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

            The salon could not handle the fact that the phone number already existed in the system as my daughter. Because shocker, not all 12 year olds have their own phone. They were completely stymied and almost wouldn’t cut my hair.

        2. Elle Woods*

          Sounds like my experience at Ulta. The cashier was baffled that I wasn’t in their system, didn’t want to be in their system, didn’t want their credit card, didn’t get their coupons, didn’t want to round up my purchase, etc. The ONLY reason I went there was because there was a new Essie polish color I really wanted and it was exclusively available at Ulta. After that experience, I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle and I’d go without rather than deal with playing 20 questions at checkout.

          1. Ms. Murchison*

            I stopped going to Ulta because they said that I couldn’t return defective products unless I gave them my phone number at purchase. Even with a receipt in hand. I took photos of everything I’d picked out, left, and bought it all at Macy’s.

        3. Nihil Scio*

          I hate being asked for my email or postal code. If they really insist, though, I’ll give them Santa’s postal code. In Canada it’s HOH OHO. Not sure what his email is…

        4. Warrior Princess Xena*

          My grandma only recently got converted to self checkout because of this. She noticed that I would use self check when I went shopping and couldn’t understand why. Well grandma…

        5. Kathy the Librarian*

          I went to a store once just to buy a bottle of perfume. They started on their spiel and I said, “Stop. I just want to pay for this and nothing else.”
          The cashier seemed miffed but she did as I asked. I know they have quotas but sometimes I just need to get in and out fast.

          1. Ms. Murchison*

            There’s a cashier in the women’s department at Macy’s who I avoid because she got so nasty with me when I declined to sign up for any of their customer programs. I think last time I took my clothes into the makeup department to check out instead. Things have gotten way out of hand.

    5. Me, I think*

      Agreed, but I did fill out the survey for a medical appt this week in which the provider was, bluntly, terrible. Won’t make any difference in this town but it felt good :)

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

        Yeah, if someone truly suuuucks, I’ll write a review. I was quite ill and out of breath during the winter of 22-23 and went to a new urgent care (with a waiting room full of coughing patients) where the doctor mocked my face mask and my wanting to test for covid, didn’t wear a mask himself, made me open my mouth and then coughed right on my face, and said “Covid’s just a cold.” I ripped him a new one on the review and told the urgent care chain he shouldn’t be working with patients. WTF?

    6. Peanut Hamper*

      Yep. I constantly get emails from Zamazon with the subject line “Do you wonder if your reviews are getting noticed?”

      Short answer: “No.”

      Long answer: “No, I never do. Please give me more reasons to stop buying from you. Also, make like a cockroach and curl up and die in a corner.”

      1. Sloanicota*

        Hahah I also think those emails are so weird. I have literally never given a second’s though to how boost the SEO of my reviews!

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I think it’s some weird fungal offshoot of “influencer” culture. YOUR review could spark a viral trend if you write enough of them! Work for us for free!

    7. Sloanicota*

      Wow, I don’t notice this many requests (but I also never do them). I tend to use fake emails/decline to give a phone number, maybe that cuts down on them?

        1. The OG Sleepless*

          Back in the 90s my husband had a dedicated fax line, so I used to give out that number. I figured an earful of 90s-style modem screeching would make my point.

        2. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

          I give 555-1212 – let them call information to get my number if they really want it

    8. Reebee*

      I hate it when people say “Give me ‘x’ number of stars.” Give me reason to, and I will, but to mention it is so tacky, especially if the service is objectively so-so.

      1. PMaster*

        If anyone asks me to do a survey and tells me what score to give. I’ll happily tell them “Stop telling people what to rate you. That’s not how surveys work.”

    9. Alex*


      It’s gotten freaking ridiculous. Every interaction they want a star rating. Sorry, I’m not doing your market research for you, I have my own job.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I am at the point where I give them the lowest rating and in the description box I write “You ask me this all the time. Quit being so god-damned needy.”

    10. Monkey's Paw Manicure*

      I’m with you. At this point the only ratings I’ll do are for individuals on Etsy, eBay, and Lyft. Big corporate survey? Hell no.

      I went to a hospital for treatment a minimum of twice a month for more than eight years. Every single visit merited an automated phone call survey until I blocked the number the calls came from. On a bad month with surgery and/or emergency department visits there’d be more. On top of that, every six months they wanted me to do a “how is being sick affecting your mental health” survey. Eventually I told the social worker that I was done and wouldn’t be answering those any more.

    11. Middle Name Jane*

      OMG, it’s endless. I delete everything, but that still takes time. And I hate visiting a website and getting an e-mail a few minutes later hounding me to make a purchase. Chewy and Marriott, looking at you.

    12. Knittercubed*

      Wow, you hit a sore spot with me. I knit a lot and get my yarn from farms and independent dyers. I’m always happy to review their yarn once. I’m now getting asked to review on multiple platforms and it’s too big an ask. I understand it’s a social media jungle out there but I really don’t want to be posting 4-5 reviews for one ball of yarn.

    13. English Rose*


      The only ones of these I do complete are when I buy something on Etsy, as I buy deliberately from small-scale sellers who can use the ratings.

      But this week my bank and at least three other big companies have asked for my ‘feedback to make our service better for you…’ Get lost!

    14. 653-CXK*

      The ones I will answer are from my physician’s group, because they ask relevant questions and I’m happy to answer them.

      The rest – I do not answer; the people who tell you they must get a perfect score or they get in trouble are manipulating you.

    15. The esteemed governor*

      I don’t seem to get that many but I will leave a positive review if I think of it – call center employees are often treated like crap and if I can help with a two second click, no biggie

    16. Anonymous cat*

      How about the ones where if you just look at something on the website and leave, you get an email saying, You left something behind!

      I’m just looking!!! And I have NEVER gone back to buy after one of those emails.

      1. Anonymous cat*

        Also, the not going back—not necessarily spite. Sometimes I’ve decided no or I’m doing research or was really just looking!!

        But now they’re bugging me.

      2. Mighty K*

        Some places send you a voucher at that point, so I put stuff (that I’m going to buy anyway) in my basket then leave it for 48 hours and wait for a discount code to arrive

    17. Not Totally Subclinical*

      Dear businesses:


      I hate the must-give-five-stars system. If I had a three-star experience, that means you met my needs and I’ll be back the next time I need the service/item, and even that I’m likely to recommend you to friends. When I get my oil changed or buy a quart of milk, I do not expect unicorns and rainbows and the heights of ecstasy; I expect to get what I needed with no issues and to move on with my day.

    18. Victoria*

      My ONCOLOGIST sent me a survey after our first appointment. Like, am I still alive? Then yes, 10 stars.

    19. Water Everywhere*

      And when you find the unsubscribe link in the mess of tiny print at the bottom of the email you either have to answer six screens of ‘but whyyyyy’ reasons or it doesn’t actually link you to their unsubscribe option.

      The last online order I placed with one retailer, they sent a ‘how was your experience’ survey email AND a ‘remember to complete the survey’ email within like 3 days, before my order was anywhere close to arriving. My reply to the second email was rather scathing.

      1. Junior Dev (now mid level)*

        If it takes more than 30 seconds to unsubscribe I’m marking the email as spam in gmail.

    20. Jean (just Jean)*

      I do something revolutionary: When customer service representatives provide good, or excellent, service on a phone call, I ask to be transferred to their supervisor in order to convey my compliments. (I also ask the CSR to reassure their supervisor that the caller is a *happy* customer. :-P )

      Sometimes I have to ask again for the CSR’s first name, but nobody seems to mind.

      CSRs and supervisors are always delighted that I spent the time to do this. If I remember, I tell people that long ago I provided customer service by telephone, and it was hard work. I do this now as a way to pay it forward to the universe.

    21. Wired Wolf*

      Our district specialist is hammering us on customer surveys…what he constantly fails to understand is that A: People in general are sick of surveys and B: A lot of customers will only answer a survey if something went wrong (and sometimes not even then, they’ll speak directly to the store manager). I think more people are realizing that either the surveys are bunk, comments won’t be seen by the people who should see them, or they can be interpreted to say whatever someone wants (customer rejected a substitution on an item that we were out of and the reason for the rejection was ridiculously petty? Shopper isn’t paying attention…to something we had no way of knowing).

    22. mreasy*

      I don’t do them unless it’s something like Lyft where I know it’s tied to their ability to make money. Sometimes if I really love something I will? Unfortunately an economy of reviews has been set up and some businesses really do rely on reviews. I don’t think the small business owners asking for the review are to blame here.

    23. ElastiGirl*

      The milking of data is out of hand. I wanted to buy a pair of shorts at Gap, and the sales guy asked for my drivers license when I used a debit card. Okay, fine. But then he started to copy my license number down. That’s a big Nope. There’s no reason he needs that. I grabbed the card and walked out. No idea if that is now Gap policy or if the dude was running his own private scam at the employer’s expense.

    24. Ms. Murchison*

      Preach. It’s gotten so that not only do you receive a survey request every time you see a health professional but now I’m getting reminders after the initial text/email. If they hosted it from their own website, I might consider it, but I’m not clicking on that rando link from a domain I’ve never seen before.

    25. Tabby cat lady*

      My current peeve is the survey question “How likely are you to recommend our product to your friends and family?”

      There are lots of reasons I would not recommend a product that I personally like, so that question just irritates me and makes me want to give them 0 out of 10 stars.

      Microsoft asks me if I would recommend Outlook to my friends and family. I have to use Outlook on my work computer. I am at peace with Outlook, but maybe my friends who work for other places are required to use some other email client, so my recommendation is pointless.

    1. Free Meerkats*

      Enjoying the increase in Pacific Tree Frogs in my yard since I stopped mowing a large patch of lawn (roughly 10X50 feet).

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I love frogs! And tree frogs are really interesting critters. This sounds delightful. Unfortunately, I live too far away from water to have them, so I am a tad jealous–but very happy for you!

    2. 248_Ballerinas*

      I treated myself to a 25th-anniversary screening of Run Lola Run. It was my first time seeing it on the big screen. – definitely worth it.

    3. Rain*

      I live in a very Northern place and it’s getting to the point where we have sunlight almost 15 hours a day and I love it.

      1. allathian*

        I’m at 60 N and with summer solstice next week, we have 19 hours between sunrise and sunset.

        We have a colony of wild bees nesting inside our outward-opening garage doors. They’re welcome to do so because the colony can’t grow past the door and we need all the pollinators we can get.

        1. I take tea*

          I love the summer night light here in the North. It’s the summer solistice next Tuesday and my partner and I plan to climb a hill at midnight, as is our tradition. Last time there were firebugs.

      2. NeonFireworks*

        I live at 52º north, and in June I go to bed barely after the sunset, which is amazing. If only it didn’t come with the flip-side in winter. :)

        1. Rain*

          I’ve spent all but 2 years of my life at 47° or above so it’s just normal to me.

          But people will move here in the summer and love the long daylight and then November hits and they realize that the downside.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah. At 60 N we have long days this time of year, but come December, we have 5 hours of twilight between sunrise and sunset. That’s when I relish my lunch hour walks, otherwise I’d never see daylight during the week.

    4. Peanut Hamper*

      I write a zine about Linux and got some very nice reviews this week and some great messages on etsy about it. Also, I managed to finally get a new issue done, so I’m looking forward to putting it out there tomorrow.

      On a completely different note, I’ve had some issues with my right foot and it looks like they are finally going away, so…fingers crossed?

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      I ordered a whole bunch of new hair clips this week, and when they showed up they were much smaller than I expected. I was bummed, but then decided to at least give them a try.

      They are terrific! Hold my hair securely in place without any sagging or repositioning! I’m so happy, since keeping my hair up is a constant challenge. Yay, tiny hair clips!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Care to share, if you think they’d hold up to butt-length curls that snap hairbrushes for fun? :)

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          You have my dream hair!

          I put the links in below: they’re real basic ones I just ordered off Amazon. I am absolute shite at judging how big something is–when I put in just “hair clips” all that came back were those giant tropical spider claws that look like they want to bite through your head, so I modified it with “small clips” and got these bitsy things. But they are amazing!

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Alas, I have tried those and they do not stand up to The Mass :) But I’m glad they work for you!! (To cross the comment streams – my friend was talking about that style once and called them “octopus clips” and I was like “I’m really glad I can’t visualize right now, the THOUGHT of you with an octopus glopped on your head holding your hair for you is funny enough without being able to actually picture it. I’d never get anything done.”)

        2. Once too Often*

          Have you ever tried Lila Rose .biz “flexi” clips? They are sized by the circumference of your pony tail, & have 3 adjustment options on each.
          For the metal ones the clip part is really sturdy; eg a friend ran over one of hers with her car, & it was fine. They have some other fun options, too. The U pins are cool, & can hold a lot of hair.

          Found them at a booth at a fair. Told the woman behind the counter that nothing stays in my (slippery) hair; she had me sit down & try some. They stayed in place!

          NB: while you can buy straight off the website, they are also an MLM.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      We came in through the garage because it was raining. (Usually we use the front or back doors.) I flipped on the light switch next to the garage door, surprising my son (22, born in this house) who hadn’t realized there was a switch there.

      There are always new things to surprise you.

    7. BellaStella*

      Some sunny days with walks in the forest, seeing lots of different birds and butterflies, and reading.

    8. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      I put the bone from a leg of roast lamb out in the garden for the birds, and a local magpie had landed on it before I even got back in the house. I doubt s/he was just coincidentally flying overhead, and think it’s more likely they actually keep a constant eye on my place for offerings. I did hear a bit of warbling later, which is always lovely.

    9. English Rose*

      Bought a bunch of the first peonies of the season, and the flowers are just coming out now – big blowsy and pink. Gorgeous.

    10. Texan In Exile*

      I got to see Amy Tan on her book tour and she was so interesting and so funny. What made it even better is that I saw that in some cities, you have to pay to see her but my library hosted her as a free event.

    11. Rara Avis*

      Lots of birds on my morning walk, including two vultures sunning at the absolute peaks of two adjacent enormous oaks. (Urban park/former farm in the middle of a metropolis.)

    12. WoodswomanWrites*

      Friends and I went to hear a Fleetwood Mac tribute band at an outdoor venue with great food. The band was great, the weather was perfect, and we danced a lot. My friends are two couples and it was the first time I met the new boyfriend of the one who has been divorced a long time. They were all so sweet together and it was a perfect day of fun, music, and great company.

    13. Paralegal Part Deux*

      Got my ears pierced (second piercing) this weekend with a friend of mine. Been wanting to do that for a while, and I’m glad to have done it. :)

    14. carcinization*

      I don’t have to go back to Place that Must Not be Named until 7/30! It’s still sinking in but yay! Also, my older cat (not the new kitten) had some kind of respiratory infection but is now at near-100% after an (admittedly spendy) vet visit and meds.

    15. Elizabeth West*

      Today I went to This Year’s Nerd Con and the weather could not have been more perfect. It was warm but not hot and sunny with a nice breeze. I wish it could be like this all the time. Of course we’re supposed to get mega-hot next week, but today was nothing short of lovely.

      If my feet hadn’t hurt so much, I would have walked up to Boston Common and hung out for a while, but I was tired from standing in line.

    16. janesfriend*

      My friend found a CD player in my car. I have had my car for 4 years…..but I assumed it was too new to have a CD player (and in my defence the slot is very hidden). I am very excited to be able to play the CDs I no longer have any other way to play!

  7. Sunset’s Light*

    I posted last weekend about my sister and our parents clashing over her mental health and their refusal to let go of her manipulative ex-boyfriend. Thank you for all the responses about it. I did indeed end up going to visit them as I had planned before I heard about the drama. To be perfectly frank, I didn’t want to miss out on my birthday gift that my parents get for me every year, a few hundred dollars worth of meat from their local butcher. Not passing that up in this cost-of-living crisis!

    Anyway, we mostly kept the topic of the weekend away from the drama. At one point, my dad did raise it with me, asking what my sister told me. I said that was between me and her, and I didn’t want to be in the middle of it, which he agreed. He then shared some of the stuff she had brought up to them recently, and what surprised me was that none of it had to do with the recent issues of her mental health or breaking up with her boyfriend. Some of the topics he brought up, my sister was mad that they sold our childhood home six years ago (it was a huge piece of property that worked very well when it was our family of five, plus multiple pets living there, but it certainly didn’t make sense once I was done with college and moved out, and my two younger siblings started college) and that she admitted she only went to grad school because the school she chose was in the country her boyfriend was in and she wanted the student visa to stay there with him and didn’t actually care about her degree (our parents very generously paid for all of our colleges, and said they would pay for grad school as well. Only my sister has taken them up on the grad degree offer). He also then told me about a family trip they took last year, one I didn’t go on because I couldn’t get vacation time, in which my sister stole one of our parents credit cards and went to a bar and bought drinks for herself, her boyfriend, and random people there.

    Honestly, the stuff regarding all the money doesn’t surprise me. My sister is the youngest in our family and has been the pampered spoiled child for many years. Now that our parents are starting to cut back on their financial support of her, that might be one reason why she’s suddenly lashing out at them. Just seemed odd to me that this is what my father brought up to me when my sister never mentioned these grievances when we talked. But a friend pointed out that I am getting two sides of the story and each side is probably just sharing with me the parts that make them look best. Of course, whatever the grievances of the past, none of it is a reason that our parents should be hanging onto my sister‘s manipulative ex. But it does make me wonder if they’ve latched onto him even more than other exes because they thought he would be the Financial stability in her life so they didn’t have to be anymore.

    So this continues to be a lot of family drama. I am mostly concerned because our middle brother is getting married in two months and we are all supposed to share a rental house together. I’ve already hit up an extended family member who is aware of the drama to ask them if I could stay in their hotel room with them, if things get bad. I don’t think this is the kind of family drama that can be politely ignored during a family wedding especially once the alcohol starts flowing so I have concerns. My question now is, should I give my brother a heads up in case anything happens at the wedding? My sister told me she’s talked to him about stuff but I don’t know what details he knows. What do you think?

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Ooof, there’s always more to the story, isn’t there?

      I don’t think it can hurt to give your brother an update, but you don’t have to get together to compile a dossier or anything. Presumably he knows her and her history in much the same way you do; just getting on the same page can be very calming when it comes to Big Family Drama.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I’d go for an a quick heads up but not details of the complaints – just that things are tense and complicated, so that he can have a plan if things get drunk and angry.

      From your side, at this point I think staying out of the middle and not being a sounding board for either side is the best option, because you’re getting such wildly different stories from each side. Shut it down when either side starts complaining.

    3. Observer*

      I’ve already hit up an extended family member who is aware of the drama to ask them if I could stay in their hotel room with them, if things get bad.

      Smart move.

      My question now is, should I give my brother a heads up in case anything happens at the wedding?

      Heads up, yes. Details, no.

      You could tell him that there’s potential for drama, and the details don’t really matter (they don’t!). You are just telling him so that he can makes sure to have a person (or three) to keep an eye out for trouble and have them escort out whichever family member starts acting up. Also, maybe a word to the bar tender (if that’s going to be a thing) to limit how many drinks they give / keep an eye out fro someone who has had too much. These folks are professionals, and your brother won’t be the first to have an issue like that, that they’ve been asked to keep an eye out for.

  8. Tradd*

    If you would like a good book on the supply chain mess of recent years, pick up “How the World Ran Out if Everything “ by Peter S. Goodman, a supply chain reporter for the NYT. I’m a customs broker and 30+ year veteran of the international transportation industry. I’m a few chapters in and it’s already very good. Book was just released earlier this week.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Thank you, I’ll look for this. My last job was in the automotive supply chain, which covid made extremely interesting, so this sounds…if not illuminating, at least maybe it will validate why I left this job.

      Also, I’ve been reading your Friday threads, and yep…you definitely have an interesting job. I’ve learned a lot! Thank you for posting!

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Covid supply chain issues became real for me when my friend and her daughter ordered the daughter’s wedding dress and my friend’s mother of the bride dress and then were informed a week later that the factory (which I think was in China?) would not be able to deliver them.

      2. WellRed*

        I believe it was you Peanut, who confirmed for me last year that the automotive supply chain was indeed a mess when the dealer took two months to fix a car I had just bought. At that point, I stopped stressing out about it and went about my life. So thank you! And I have also found your posts interesting, Tradd.

      3. Tradd*

        A close relative worked at one of the Big Three doing mostly logistics for his long career. Partly how I got into the field.

        I enjoy educating people and telling the conspiracy theorists to loosen their tin foil hats! When the mess was happening 2-3 years ago, some people still wouldn’t listen to reason from people in the middle of the supply chain mess.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Thanks for the recommendation! I just put it on hold at my library. I have eclectic taste in non-fiction so this fits the bill.

    3. RussianInTexas*

      Noted. I work for a manufacturer/wholesaler, lots of it in in PPE and for service plastics, and boy, years 2021-2022 were…. interesting.

    4. Nervous Nellie*

      Thanks for this! I have ordered it at the library, and was amused to see a notation on the item page that said, ‘limited quantities, long holds expected.’ Whether that’s because the library system ordered fewer copies than would be normal, or because they expect a large hold request response, it just seemed very on point with the subject matter. I will wait for it as long as it takes, just like I did with toilet paper during the pandemic, LOL.

    5. Square Root of Minus One*

      Thanks! I’d been considering that recently. My work is in chemistry and purchasing is in the top 3 reasons I want to leave the field. It’s ridiculous. Accrediting bodies make it so we can’t usually buy down the street.
      Just recently, coworkers have been waiting 4 months for a reference solution of iron.
      4th most common element in the earth crust.
      Am I glad that they didn’t order gold. I am myself on an ongoing 5-month wait for a rare-earth metal.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        That is a great song for karaoke! But honestly, just about any Monkees song is great for singing out loud.

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

        Davy Jones was such a cutie — I love that song!

        1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

          The Monkees came to Adelaide many years ago -maybe the late 1980s? – audience and the Monkees all well into middle age. Davy Jones was announcing the next song, and a woman in the front row called out that she had written a fan letter to him in her teens and he had never replied – he apologised charmingly and gave her a rose! There was such a feeling of warmth and nostalgia and enjoyment in the room.

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

            It’s good to hear he was nice in person. I was a bit younger than he was, but when I was growing up, my long-term plan was to marry him. I was tall for my age at the time, but I wished hard to be a short adult so that he and I would be similar heights. That part of my plan worked. The marrying, not so much.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              Have you read I Think I Love You? It’s a novel set in 70 Britian about four preteen girls obsessed with Sean Cassidy and their efforts to win free tickets to his concert. It really captures that kind of pure, obsessive love that’s only possible at that age.

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

                Ooh, no I haven’t — sounds great! : ) Sean Cassidy would have been a good plan B if Davy Jones wasn’t available.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I’m not a fan of Springsteen, but that song…it hits me right in the feels.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      “Let’s Go” by The Cars (because I also like the night life, or at least I used to)

      “Every Time I Think of You” and “Isn’t It Time?” by The Babys because John Waite has a great voice, but that whole group is so talented.

      “Thunder Island” by Jay Ferguson

      “I Got You” by Split Enz
      “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House (still missing Paul Hester, alas)

      “My Maria” by B.W. Stephenson

      “Take a Letter Maria” by R.B. Greaves

      “Atomic” by Blondie (“Victor” is also a good choice if you want to freak people out)

      basically anything by Pat Benatar

      “Don’t Change” by INXS

      “Drive” by The Cars
      “Let’s Go” by The Cars
      “Bye Bye Love” by The Cars
      “Just What I Needed” by The Cars

      Basically, any song by The Cars where Ben sang lead vocals. No offence to Ric, but he was better at the weird stuff, and Ben was better at the stuff that ripped your soul to shreds.

      1. Rain*

        I used to go to a place that had “Six Months in a Leaky Boat” as an option and it was always a hit

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          Oh my god! I can’t believe I forgot about that one. It’s such a great song!

          Ah, to be that young again!

      2. Reebee*

        Absolutely love your song list. Almost completely matches my own, karaoke or not. Thanks for mentioning The Baby; I just listened to “Isn’t It Time” at work today!

          1. Texan In Exile*

            We got to see them at Summerfest last year and they were wonderful! I have been listening to them recently when I plank – their music is a nice distraction.

            (I saw an artist talk – Lois Bielefeld – where she talked about her 73 year old mom planking for over 13 minutes. So. Goals.)

            I love your entire song list! I would be happy to hear you sing.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Late in the evening, Barbie Girl tends to make an appearance, if someone is willing to sing the male part.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I have sung this entire song to my department. They still don’t hate me. What is wrong with these people, lol?

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Annie Lennox’s “Why?”, Patsy Klein’s “Crazy,” “‘S Wonderful, ‘S Marvelous,” and Peggy Lee’s “Fever.”

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Man, I miss karaoke now. I had a friend who just could sing the hell out of David Lee Roth’s version of Just a Gigolo, and Bohemian Rhapsody. Just got the whole room in a tizzy.

    4. Peanut Hamper*

      If you have the voice for it, “Constant Craving” by K.D. Lang.

      That line “maybe a great magnet pulls” is utterly amazing!

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t do karaoke in public, but if I’m at home with Rock Band and a couple of rum cocktails in, I will twang the HELL out of Sara Evans’ “Suds In the Bucket”. Add some cheap flavored vodka and Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” will probably follow close behind.

    6. Chaordic One*

      Ain’t No Sunshine When She/He’s Gone by Bill Withers. The whole song is performed in something like only a single octave. Since you don’t need a lot of range to sing it, almost anyone can perform it and sound pretty good.

    7. Can't sing*

      I’m not a good singer so I stick to rap classics:
      Around the Way Girl (LL Cool J)
      She’s Crafty (Beastie Boys)
      It’s Tricky (Run DMC)

      If I could sing, I would try Groove is in the Heart (DeeLite)

      1. 248_Ballerinas*

        Me too, on Groove is in the Heart.

        Speaking of which, was anyone else’s mind blown to learn on Jeopardy that the “I-y-y” is sampled from the Green Acres theme!?!

    8. CTT*

      In my law school non-youth, my classmates and I would go to a karaoke bar that catered to locals and students. The magic hour was 10 pm when it was a 50/50 split between the two, and I learned that both groups loved “Jolene” and that I did a decent job with it. It’s been my go to since.

    9. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash. My “singing” is only appreciated by my cats, so this fits my lack of range.

    10. Sitting Pretty*

      Me and Bobby McGee, the Janis Joplin version.

      Just thinking of it now makes me want to sing!

    11. Reba*

      “I can’t make you love me” by Bonnie Raitt, one of the all-time sad love songs

      My spouse and I do “Islands in the Stream,” lol!

      1. Chaordic One*

        My parents, to my embarrassment, would perform “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Any More.”

            1. Chocolate Teapot*

              I have a selection of karaoke songs based on mood and availability, but Living on a Prayer and the theme from Cabaret are always good.

    12. carcinization*

      REO Speedwagon, “I’m Gonna Keep On Loving You,” judging by others’ reactions (both people I do and don’t know) at the karaoke place. I can do other songs of theirs too but haven’t performed them in that setting. But I’m currently working on “Lost in Emotion” by Lisa Lisa + Cult Jam, so we’ll see how that one goes!

    13. BikeWalkBarb*

      I don’t have one so this is a very useful thread!

      A few years ago at a conference someone rallied a bunch of people to go out for karaoke. He was very into it, very organized, and kept a list in a note on his phone to capture good ideas for new ones. As soon as he had done a song he moved it down. That made me think I should start a list; most things I know all the words to are too high for my alto range (as in, I could perform a lot of Michael Jackson if I could sing in that falsetto).

      One young woman performed a song that made the seasoned karaoke fan say, “Whoa, power move!”: She did “Tequila”. Basically bopped around the whole stage and through the room saying “Tequila!” every once in a while with everyone singing along. Huge hit with the crowd. That might be my go-to if someone forced me to perform.

      Singers in my range are people like Anne Murray, Billy Joel. I just went to Billy Joel in concert in Seattle and could sing everything he performed except his newest song, Turn the Lights Back On. I’m also thinking I may mine Hall & Oates for some ideas. And there’s a fair amount of John Denver in my head. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” has enough of a beat that it could go over okay.

      Time to start practicing for a future karaoke night.

    14. The OG Sleepless*

      My daughter can apparently put a hurtin’ on Creep by Radiohead, but so far I’ve had to take her word for it.

  9. Rain*

    I am stuck in bed with a migraine and trying to entertain myself with light reading.

    Would people mind sharing their favorite AAM post (s)?

    (Bonus points if it has an update.)

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

      Feel better soon, I hope!

      I cannot remember enough details to find this right now, but my hands-down favorite was someone’s long and hilarious post (I think during one of the special weeks?) about working (as an RA?) at a college when a series of calamities occurred. I feel like it might have been winter and there might have been a moose involved. I remember gasping for breath I was laughing so hard.

      Anyway, if that rings a bell with anyone and you can find it, I think Rain might like it!

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I’m not sure if the RA story you’re thinking of is included in this post, but Rain will probably enjoy “the quiet floor, the ghost cat, and other stories from college RAs” from March 21, 2022.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Seconded. I think a lot of those posts could be the topic for a “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” routine.

        Just grabbing the top one, how about “Name three things you can say to your coworker in bed that you can’t say to your spouse in bed”?

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      I am so disappointed that the “I’m an ideas guy and no one will hire me” from ages ago never sent in an update. I have known so many people like that, and most of them aren’t doing well…I’m sorry, but Taco Bell already knows how to make tacos.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Anything by Stella70, but especially her bullet point epic about the most ill starred Christmas party ever.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Stella70’s stories are always pure comedy gold. “Carl! I hadn’t taken down my pants yet!” will live in my memory forever.

      2. Anonymous cat*

        “I waited for the cops to come or Jesus to take me home, but neither happened.”

    4. Hatchet*

      One of my favorites has TWO updates! “HR won’t do anything about a coworker who’s angry about my weight loss”
      I’ll admit I’ve channeled the OP in her final update a few times – it’s such a great take on the advice of “of course this is a reasonable thing to do”, but with a lovely twist :-)

    5. Nicki Name*

      “Someone keeps farting in important client meetings”, which has an update… an epic one!

    6. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      All of the “I work on a hellmouth” stories, how we hoped she would escape! And she did!

      1. Anonymous cat*

        Didn’t she or someone make a roundup post of everything happening? I’d like to read that again!

        I had no idea so many animals could be so aggressive to humans that aren’t trying to bother them. (Act aggressive toward an animal, sure, it might act back, dive at you just for walking by? Aaaa!)

    7. Irish Teacher.*

      I have a few but one that I think people are less likely to recommend is the one about the agritourism business.

      Another is the one about the woman who undermined her manager and was shocked at getting fired for it.

        1. The OG Sleepless*

          The LW of the “initiative” letter came to mind when I read this week’s letter from the guy who thought he was being blackballed. Both of them thought they knew better than the person in charge and refused to change their minds.

          1. Anonymous cat*

            Also the guy who was rude to the CEO’s wife on the train before an interview (not knowing who she was) and was then (on no evidence) convinced she’d badmouthed him and led to him not getting the job.

            And then asked HR about it! Who said no, it was more your lack of soft skills.
            Which he discounted.

            1. Irish Teacher.*

              And then he updated, thanking everybody for their input and saying he wished college had taught him useful information like that you had to be nice to everybody working in a place you were interviewing at. And he seemed to be sincere.

          2. Irish Teacher.*

            I actually recommended the guy who thought he was being blackballed read that and the one about the person who damaged a coworker’s capslock key because they were so sure she would type more quickly without it, in order to get a sense of why interviews would be put off by his response, because it makes him seem like somebody who would react like they did. Sometimes it’s easier to see why a behaviour is problematic when it’s a stranger doing it.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Friday Open Thread, September 28-29 2018. First question is about executive presence. Really interesting analysis, especially the part from OperaArt applying improv classes to this question–if you’re doing improv, how do you convey the person in charge vs someone lower ranking with body language? I’m now tuned into this for acting.

    9. Tea and Sympathy*

      The letters that always make me laugh, no matter how many times I read them, are the stella70 party at her house, the horrible Christmas date, and OP Lynn thinking Joaquin and Wakeen were two different people.




    10. Elizabeth West*

      Spicy food thief.
      Duck Club — quack!
      Anything that makes me go “WHAT IN THE HELL” lol.

  10. Leaving On A Jetplane*

    My girlfriends and I who all live within 30min of each other enjoy taking a yearly trip together. Two years ago, one of our group moved to a place that is a plane flight away. She has flown back to join us on the last two trips. This year, we decided that the trip would be traveling to see her in her new town. This works to everyone’s benefit because, it saves her money for not having to buy a flight to visit us, saves us money because she can put us up in her house and we don’t have to buy a hotel, and she’s been dying to show us her town, her house, and her new puppy. So we’re very excited about it and leave next week. I am worried she will end up trapped in the role of host. To be fair, she likes playing host. When she lived here, she liked to organize dinner parties and cook the majority of the food herself. So she does enjoy doing stuff like that. But I want to be sure this is a vacation for her as well. We have a food chart of who’s cooking what meals and when we are buying meals out in town, so all the cooking will not be on her. But she has volunteered anything in her kitchen to our needs, but I don’t want to eat her out of house and home. She has also said she’ll do all the driving, including picking us up from the airport. I don’t want her to be stuck as the designated driver simply because it is her car and her town if we go out to a drink somewhere, though I don’t know if she would want anyone else to drive her car, and given that this is a small town I’m not sure how plentiful Ubers or taxis are. So I’m just trying to think, what can I do to ensure my friend enjoys herself as well without feeling like she has to be the host all the time, even though she does enjoy doing that?

      1. Leaving On A Jetplane*

        Four of us are going to Wisconsin to her house (was originally going to be six but two dropped out for financial reasons) and we’ll be there for five days.

        1. WellRed*

          Hmm. I personally would consider getting a rental car to be safe. I’d hate to be stuck wanting to run out for something and she has to drive. Obviously do a grocery shop but also is there a plan to take her out to dinner? Otherwise, I’d assume she’s as excited to host you all as she says and have fun.

    1. RedinSC*

      If you’re going out to dinner and/or drinks just Uber. One of the other 3 of you picks up the Uber while you’re there?

    2. RagingADHD*

      A rental car for 5 days split among 4 people is still less than hotels would be, takes the onus of airport runs off her, and gives options if the group wants to split up or run errands.

      1. EngineerGal*

        Yeah rent a car and make sure at least two people can drive it. 5 people * 1 car != fun

        Do at least one guest-funded grocery trip-maybe one or two guests with your host as a jaunt? Or somebody just disappears and wow! there’s milk and trash bags!

        Unobtrusively do household stuff-tidy, dishes, take garbage out, etc

        Help her host is what I am trying to say

    3. Jay (no, the other one)*

      There’s a lot of “I don’t want her to…I don’t know if she…” in your post. Can you talk to her and say exactly what you said in the last sentence? “I can’t wait to see you and your house and your pup! What can we do so that this also feels like a vacation for you?” I do think it would be helpful if you rented a car unless her car is a minivan or an SUV with a third row – sedans nominally seat five adults but it’s a squeeze.

      I love to host and enjoy having a houseful of people – we had 14 people for dinner last night. When people are staying in the house or coming for a meal it’s really much easier for me if they don’t try to help overly much. I find it helpful when people bring dishes in to the kitchen at the end of the evening, for example or when houseguests offer to dry while I wash, but we have things that don’t go in the dishwasher and you won’t know which they are, so please let me do that!

      tl;dr: use your words and ask.

    4. Texan In Exile*

      Two friends and I have visited each other at our homes over the past few years. We have shared the cost of eating out and groceries, but the host’s car has always been enough.

      I will say that when people visit me, I welcome them with the full expectation that I will be picking them up at the airport, cooking, and driving wherever we want to go. It would never occur to me that my guest is supposed to provide her own transportation and pay for her own meals. (Although if we go out to eat, I expect to split the bill, not to pay it myself.)

      Maybe ask your friend? But if she enjoys hosting, then take her at her word.

    5. Victoria*

      1) Rent a car, for sure. That provides flexibility and means that she can turn off host mind sometimes. (Even just to run out to the store because you ran out of soda or whatever.)

      2) Plan a meal that is focused on treating her: either something fun and elaborate that you make at home (be sure to assign one or two people to hanging out with her out of the kitchen, so she doesn’t have to do work in order to spend time with you while you’re working on it) or at a favorite restaurant of hers where everyone but her splits the check.

      3) Be scrupulously good guests. You’re good friends, so you don’t need to be weirdly formal about this, but: make sure she’s never the first person to start clearing the table, spend five minutes wiping down the kitchen at the end of the night, scan each room before you leave to see if there’s anything you can put back in its place, walk the dog with her so it’s a chance to catch up rather than a chore that takes her away from the fun, run the laundry before you leave so she’s not stripping all the beds, etc.

    6. Jill Swinburne*

      For food, you could do what I did on a sort-of-work trip: buddy up into pairs and work out a rota for cooking. One pair takes breakfast, another lunch, and so forth on a given day. Then those pairs (or individuals, if anyone prefers to go it alone) are responsible for supplying and preparing their meals. It was quite good because it was still fun and convivial, fair on each lot of people, and you got to try different foods.

    7. BikeWalkBarb*

      Would she be comfortable with others using her car for the quick store runs to restock? That would mean you don’t need to get the rental car but she’s not the driver every time. Either way, at some point fill up the gas tank for her.

    8. Samwise*

      Trust that she would not offer to host everyone if she didn’t want to. Check in periodically with her to see if you can do anything to help (or offer to help with a specific thing—let me wash those pots and pans, I can fold those towels do you like them a certain way, where are the poop bags I’ll clean up the backyard) but don’t keep insisting if she says no thanks.

      Buy groceries— hey Sara, I’m heading to grocery store for X, let me get stuff on your list.

      Offer to treat everyone to lunch/dinner/go on a bagel run (get all the fixings)

      If you go to something with an entry fee, quietly pay for hers. Out to lunch or coffee? Let the waitron know they should give you the check.

    9. NYC Redhead*

      Personally, I hate the responsibility of renting a car but if you are worried about the availability of Uber & Lyft, the app will let you search other areas so you could check that ahead of time. I would definitely plan on doing that for any night you are all going out.

  11. New York State of Mind*

    I posted in January asking for advice/recommendations for a week’s sightseeing in New York in May.

    I just wanted to come back and say Thank You so much to everyone who gave us recommendations, advice and useful tips – we had an absolute blast!

    I can’t possibly namecheck everyone who took the time to write me a really helpful comment, but wanted to mention some that were particularly useful:

    @Amey helped with the suggestion of adding roaming to my existing mobile phone plan (this was invaluable and made getting around so easy!)

    People using the names @nyc and @empire had so many suggestions about things to do, and what things were not worth doing (E.g. top floor of the empire state) – they really helped with our planning.

    @RagingADHD – we went to Westway Diner on your recommendation- it was amazing, thank you!

    @fallingleavesofnovember – we deliberately left lots of free time to just wander the streets, and we’re so glad we did, thanks for that suggestion.

    @squirrely, @Trawna, @onceaNYer @Lore and @me helped us to know where to go on arrival at JFK to navigate to our hotel – we did indeed go by subway rather than taking a cab and saved ourselves a lot of money! Lugging the cases around was not fun, but worth it to us to save the dollars for something else!

    @Arya Parya – the City Pass worked really well for us and was cheaper than buying individual tickets, thanks for that suggestion.

    @me – the mymta app was fab and a really good suggestion – it worked so well for us, we had no trouble finding our way around, thank you.

    @occasional tourist – My husband was obsessed by the $1 a slice pizza place near our hotel – he must’ve gone there for a slice or two most days (and talked about it on the days he didn’t get there!)

    We had an amazing time, and I think the advice we were given by the wonderful commenters here made all the difference to our planning – thank you again everyone! I’ll post a link to the relevant post in a reply to this one, in case anyone else is planning a trip there soon and would like to check out those ideas.

    1. fallingleavesofnovember*

      Glad that you had a wonderful trip! This is such a great community :)

    2. nyc*

      Ahhh yay! I remember this post and had to go back and see what username I’d used — so glad it was helpful and that you had a good trip!!

      What were some of your favorite sights/outings?

      1. New York State of Mind*

        It’s so hard to pick, it was like being on a movie set; we were constantly saying ‘oooh look at that, look at this!’

        We loved the Empire State Building – the City Pass included a return visit on the same night, and seeing the buildings all lit up was amazing.

        We had a boat trip around Manhattan with Circle Line (included in the City Pass) and that was a real highlight. The man doing the commentary was funny and so knowledgeable – we learned more than we could possibly remember, and it was a great way to see a lot of the buildings.

        The Statue of Liberty is so iconic, that was a real highlight for me. It’s so huge! I don’t think I appreciated just how tall it is from seeing it in pics/on tv. My husband went up into the crown, but I had a bit of an anxiety attack about that and had to stop after getting to the first platform – the stairs were so narrow and tight I just couldn’t do it.

        We had the most amazing lunch in Chinatown, and were tickled that you literally walked around a corner and were in Little Italy!

        Just walking around and seeing the juxtaposition of beautiful, old buildings next to exciting new architecture was really interesting.

        Needless to say, we had an absolute blast! I’d go back again and do some more of the less known things we didn’t do this time (Atlas Obscura has some amazing ideas!) – we crammed a lot in to our 7 days, but only scratched the surface!

        1. nyc*

          Oh that all sounds so lovely! I went to the Crown as a kid and remember I just couldn’t see anything because I was so little!

          Being out on the rivers and in the harbor is so neat and I love that juxtaposition of old and new you mention, too. And yes that Little Italy and Chinatown walk is so fun!

          Hope you get to go back again before too long! And if you have the chance, take the train up into the Hudson Valley or out to the Catskills. The Hudson Valley has cute small towns, and the Catskills can feel a bit like the hills of the UK (though I desperately wish the US had the walking culture you do there — we sadly can’t just get a room at a B&B and wander out into the countryside on public paths in the same way.

    3. Cordelia*

      oh I piggybacked on your post the week after, but can’t remember my user name, and asked some extra questions about travelling solo and eating vegan in NYC. I too got great advice and had a fantastic time, thanks everyone on the thread! I try to pay it back by answering London questions…

  12. moth wings*

    Content warning for moths/bugs

    My roommate is convinced we have a moth infestation in our house, but I am not sure so I am in need outsiders opinions. We saw a moth in our house back in March, just one that we found my roommate’s cat playing with in the spare room/office. My roommate deep cleaned that room, especially the closet because she was worried about moths. I didn’t think much of it because it was just one month. Three weeks ago, my roommate found a moth in our pantry in the kitchen, which does have access space to the attic. i’m not sure if the moth came in from the kitchen or from the attic or wherever. My roommate completely freaked out and did a deep clean of our pantry, getting rid of any open containers and putting everything possible into boxes. I helped her with it for my own piece of mind. It was good that we did that because we found those flour bugs, but everything else seemed fine. Nothing had holes in it like it had been eaten by moths. So I thought she was overreacting. Since then, we’ve probably seen one moth a week in the house. I have no idea if they are all the same kind of moth, I haven’t been looking at them very carefully. Feel like before I moved in with my roommate (we’ve lived together for several years now and get along great) I never thought it was a big deal to see a moth in the house. Of course I’d I saw like 20 months all at once hanging out in a closet or in the pantry, I would agree we had a moth infestation. But just one every couple weeks, especially since its warm weather and we’ve had doors and windows open more, doesn’t seem abnormal to me. What do you think? When do you think we have a true moth infestation?

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      As someone who once had a moth infestation, I feel a bit triggered here. I understand where your roommate is coming from, but I think it depends on the type of moth. Flour moths that get into your rice/flour/etc tend to be pretty small. I don’t think larger moths get into your food, but I could be wrong. Maybe trying to capture and identify what types of moths you have and what they actually do could be helpful in this situation.

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

        In that vein, maybe your state college has an agricultural extension program that can help with moth identification and moth-repelling advice? (Or the internet.)

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          This is great advice! Thank you for mentioning it. Extension offices are wonderful resources. I had completely forgotten.

      2. dark purple blues*

        I don’t know if “infestation” is the right word, but if you don’t have holes in screens, you definitely have moths breeding somewhere. We’ve definitely had moth infestations – specific food items more caterpillar/grub than food, and we only ever saw one moth a night. I found them not in places the internet said I would.

      3. Zweisatz*

        Agreed. First get an overview if you see the same kind of species several times. Because having one of those huge night-active moths from the outdoors vs. a small food moth or a small clothes moth (they have pretty distinct coloring here in Germany) and then how many of the same species is important base information.

        If I see an outside moths several times indoors that tells me to be careful of opening the window at night when the light is on or thinking about window screens against insects. On the other hand if I see a food or a clothes moth again and again – yeah that would be time to investigate (but I would in fact not act on one single moth in three months).

        Anecdotally, we did see clothes moths consistently over weeks (maybe 1 to 3 moths a week, maybe a week without one too) and it turned out there were stashes of wool clothes that they were eating and we hat to clean up/put in bags.

      4. Girasol*

        Yes, flour moths are so small you’re not likely to notice them, just the larvae and webs in your flour. Are you looking at miller moths: brown, triangular, and about an inch big? They often come in such swarms that they look like an invasion. To keep them down, you can put bowls of soapy water just beneath electric outlets with night lights in them. The moths are attracted to the light, but if in flapping around it they touch the soapy water, they can’t fly again and get trapped.

    2. Sloanicota*

      They make these little sticky traps that you can put in various places to see if they’re more consistently in the pantry (the number of moths in a closed pantry should really be zero) or in your closet eating fabrics (ditto). The pantry moths at least are quite distinctive: small, with a sort of darker spot, so it should be obvious if that’s what you’re seeing.

    3. Ricotta*

      I’d start by checking the integrity of your window screens. No point in tearing everything apart if they’re just waltzing in through a gaping hole.

    4. Semi-Accomplished Baker*

      Find those moth traps. It might put her at ease knowing that there’s something being done. And if there’s no moths there, it might help reassure her.

    5. Moth wings*

      Sorry, meant to say that we’ve had moth traps spread throughout the house since the first moth was sighted in March and the only one that has been caught was the one pantry moth, when my roomie freaked out and did a deep clean of our pantry and kitchen

      1. Part time lab tech*

        Yeah, Roomies overreacting, sounds normal to me. I second looking for house holes where the moths might be getting in. Pantry moths might come out occasionally from cocoons in tiny crevices from the previous infestation. Freezing all the dry goods for a week should kill any eggs.

      2. AnonyOne*

        I believe you need different traps for pantry moths and clothes moths (or at least that pantry moth traps won’t trap clothes moths). Not sure which type of trap you are using, but if the traps are specific to one type of moth, you might want to add the other type of trap.
        Clothes moths won’t necessarily chew on all your wool items, they could be focusing on one or two particular pieces (likely those with the softest, most expensive wool – that’s not just sarcasm, they often go for softer wools).

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      A LOT depends on the moth type, and what’s native to the area. If you don’t have screens, I would get some, and continue the deep cleans. If they keep wafting in, an exterminator should probably be your next step.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Moths don’t eat. They only lay eggs and die. The larvae eat and can be very destructive. You can have a big problem of eggs & larvae before you see a lot of moths at once.

      Pantry moths don’t eat clothes, and vice versa. If you found larvae in the pantry, and are still seeing them after throwing out what you found, then they are most likely breeding in something you haven’t found. I have seen larvae subsist on any kind of dry goods, including tea.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Nuts. We had a terrible pantry moth infestation last year and finally pulled everything out of everywhere – which is when we found a bag of nuts someone had squirreled (!) away behind a stockpot in what is not normally a food cabinet. Now everything is either vacuum-sealed or in airtight canisters. No more moths.

    8. Annie Edison*

      I had a pantry moth infestation once and it was absolutely horrible to deal with so I may be overreacting but… That’s kind of how ours started.

      I’d see a moth here and there every so often and not think much of it, until one day I opened up a bag of flour and found it crawling with larva and filled with silky web stuff everywhere and realized they’d infested most of my dry goods.

      If it were just one moth and then done I wouldn’t worry, but if you’re seeing multiple moths, even sporadically, I’d want to make sure it’s not going to get worse.

      I think if you’ve checked through your pantry and put things into airtight containers you’re probably fine, but I’d also keep a close eye on things for a while to make sure

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

        Excellent point! I was a little overly casual about seeing a roach peering at me in my kitchen some months ago instead of going into full roach defense mode. Now, I am fighting the mother of all roach infestations and want to give past me a kick in the rear. : (

        1. Annie Edison*

          Oh my gosh roaches are the worst! My college roommates and I had a roach problem in our cheap university apartment. The worst moment was coming out half awake for breakfast one morning and noticing something weird on the microwave clock…. I looked closer and it was a cockroach. Inside the glass panel. So you could see it just hanging out there on top of the microwave clock but there was no way to get to it and do anything about it, short of taking apart the whole microwave, which I definitely wasn’t handy enough to do. I am not usually one to scream about bugs but there was definitely a non-zero amount of shrieking that morning!

          The cockroach lived quite happily for a few days inside the microwave clock, and I have no idea how the radiation didn’t get to it. Sometimes it would crawl out and block the numbers, and other times you could just sort of see its antenna sticking out at the corner. Ugh, I still shudder about it.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Wow, that is really quite the visual! I think I would have tossed out the whole microwave, even if I was very poor!

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

            Wow, I should count my blessings! (I have been doing a fair bit of shrieking anyway, though.)

          3. sagewhiz*

            Cockroach inside the microwave glass is the WORST! Had it happen once, no clue how the damned thing got in. And yes it never got out. And yes I trashed the micro.

            Aside: Before the 2020 US census, I was “chosen” for an advance, in-depth interview where a census worker came to ask a long list of questions. One of which was, “Have you seen a cockroach within the past year?” I burst out laughing and answered, “Of course! This is Florida!” She burst out laughing too.

          4. ww*

            I once threw out my microwave because of this. Roach got into the, I don’t know, coils and innards, did not in any way seem bothered by the radiation. Decided “infested with roaches” is a great reason to splurge on a new appliance!

            1. ReallyBadPerson*

              I would like to thank you all for preventing dessert in my house tonight. And possibly breakfast tomorrow.

    9. Anima*

      My shared house had an actual moth infestation – they did not live in the food, we cleared and boxed that several times and still had moths. They lived in the little holes one puts pegs in for holding up the shelves. Worth a check, I guess.
      We got rid of them by cleaning these holes one by one and putting tape over all unused ones.

    10. Saturday*

      That doesn’t sound too concerning to me. I get moths sometimes in the summer because they fly in when I open the door at night. If it’s just a random moth now and then I wouldn’t worry too much.

  13. No longer single and alone*

    Definitely not looking for medical advice at all! My new child(less than 6 months) is having major surgery in the next few weeks. Any advice or tips on what to bring or how to pass the time while she recovers? She’s too little for most toys and I’m more looking for stuff to keep my mind off the monotony of spending days in the same room. It’ll most likely be at least a week or two in the hospital. Thanks!

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

      If you have books that you usually read to her, maybe they would be calming for her? And one of your old favorite books for you?

      1. No longer single and alone*

        I’ll definitely bring a few for her and some old favorites of mine as well!

    2. Mystery*

      – Books are sometimes difficult since the hospital environment isn’t great for focus. Magazines can be good, short articles, easy to set aside.
      – Puzzle books.
      – Portable tidy craft (knit, crochet, origami, sketching).
      – Comfort movies/TV shows.
      – Podcasts.

        1. No longer single and alone*

          I may have to find a magazine with a few longer articles. I tend to get irritated with really short ones. Thanks for the tip!

    3. Alex*

      Maybe gather some favorite movies or TV shows that are low-brain-engagement, like stuff you have already seen or really light stuff you don’t have to pay much attention to. Your brain might be elsewhere. Even choosing stuff might feel too overwhelming so maybe download some stuff or put some stuff in your “to watch” queue on netflix or whatever you use for content.

      Snacks and beverages so you keep yourself fed and hydrated.

      1. No longer single and alone*

        I’ll definitely need to do that now since I know I’ll be too exhausted to decide one I’m there. Thanks!

    4. Josephine Beth*

      My youngest spent a lot of her childhood in the hospital, so we got pretty good at figuring this out. A few ideas:
      – adult coloring books or a simple craft that’s easy to pick up/put down as needed
      – bring your own blanket – hospitals can be surprisingly chilly! – and cozy clothes/pajamas/blankets for your little one
      – if you enjoy video games – hand-held like the Switch can be a good distraction
      – for the baby, consider bringing toys that are very washable and/or that you don’t mind losing. Don’t want to bring hospital germs home!
      – most children’s hospitals (standalone or part of a larger hospital) have Child Life Specialists on staff that can bring toys, bubbles, and even play spaces like bouncers or high chairs. Definitely ask about that!
      – if your child is able to leave the room, lots of walks! I’ve probably walked to the moon and back in laps of hospital floors!
      – snacks! I often couldn’t leave the room easily until times when the cafeteria wasn’t available so having easy, healthy(ish) snacks was good
      Sending lots of positive thoughts for a successful surgery and smooth recovery.

      1. No longer single and alone*

        Thanks for all the tips! I’m having a hard time walking the line of feeling like I’ll be moving into the room and my own comfort. I’ll have to ask about the child life specialist!

    5. Pocket Mouse*

      Some way to play music? But having been through a similar hospital stay, I’d say mostly focus on what YOU need – your baby can be entertained by pretty much anything as usual. I’d assume a parent/responsible caregiver needs to be present at all times, so pack like you’ll be staying in a hotel with kind of weird room service. Do you or your partner need to pump? Do you know how to obtain meals for yourself/adults, and will they suit your dietary needs? Will you need to (try to) work part of the time? Does your baby need to use/not use any specific brands or types of diapers, wipes, formula, lotion, etc.? What about laundry and showering? How often will you be able to run home, and for how long? Do you have local people who can support you?

      I hope everything goes smoothly!

      1. No longer single and alone*

        I think the hospital will provide meals for me since my little one is 100% nursing(but I’m going to ask to make sure!) and I’ll be bringing my pump as well. I’ll definitely be on leave luckily and her doctor is recommending the Ronald McDonald House for the daily life stuff and to have a space to breath if needed. My support system will be a few hours away, but plans are made for people to come give me breaks. Thank you for the advice!

    6. Healthcare Worker*

      When my baby was hospitalized I found it helpful to have lots of comfort items – slippers, comfy clothes to sleep in, eye mask and ear plugs, pillow and blanket plus a good toiletry kit.
      Something that helped a lot was making sure I could leave the room daily, preferably for an hour. Even if I didn’t leave the medical campus, someone was with baby so I could walk outside and breathe fresh air, see the trees and
      recenter myself. I hope all goes well!

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        This. Your own pillow and blanket – hospital pillows and blankets are as bad as the food – and someone you trust to stay with the little so you can see the sky at least once a day. Lots of moisturizer – hospital air is very very dry. When I have to deal with something like this I can’t concentrate well on new books or shows so I end up re-reading or re-watching old favorites. I am a puzzle persons so I also do a lot of puzzles. Good luck, and I hope the kiddo is well soon!

    7. Shiny Penny*

      When I spent a lot of time in a hospital I always brought a small fan to point at my face because it helped alleviate the claustrophobic/suffocation feeling of having to breathe processed indoor air for days and being trapped in bed/trapped in a small room.
      If you are able, definitely try to get outside for a while each day and see trees and sky. It helps so much with the weird disorientation of long hospital stays.
      When I was being the Support Person for a family member: Decent snacks that won’t make me ill, because by day 2 my judgment gets worse, and a candy bar (or 3) *now* will mean more to me than a sugar crash later.
      An easy comfort book to re-read
      A water bottle

      For the baby— maybe touch-objects with a wide variety of textures? Like, here’s what a nubbly ball feels like on your left foot. And here’s what lotion feels like on your ear. And would you like to hold a warm washcloth? (But I’m sure the in-hospital enrichment specialist has a lot of practice at this type of thing. You could bring a few favorite objects, though.)

      Best wishes, and I hope it goes really well!

    8. Katie*

      Two of my kids have been in the hospital many times. Things I like to have (and miss when I don’t have them):
      -A back warmer of some sort. The visitor ‘beds’ are incredibly uncomfortable. This makes it bearable.
      -Flip flops
      -Ear plugs (I could still hear my own kids but not the other stuff)
      -Tea bags (that may be a very me specific want…)

      1. No longer single and alone*

        The back warmer is a great idea! And I’m definitely packing tea bags of several varieties. Hopefully hot water will be easy to find!

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

          If not, you can probably find a cheap electric kettle at a drug store or supermarket.

        2. Katie*

          Some places have it on each floor some didn’t. However, it was something the nurses would get for me when it wasn’t available.

    9. allathian*

      Good luck, I hope everything goes smoothly and you have a reasonably comfortable stay. I’m hoping for an easy recovery for your baby.

      Just chipping in to say that I’m so glad things have changed so much in the last 75 years. When my dad was 4, he had to be hospitalized for scarlet fever, and at the time, they only allowed parents to visit for 1 hour *once a week*. My dad was bored and homesick, so bored that he taught himself to read the picture books his parents brought him.

    10. carlottamousse*

      I hope it all goes well for your little one and you. There’s lots of good advice already, but I just wanted to add that hospital wifi is spotty, so if you’re planning on watching or listening to media, pre-download it ahead of time if you can.

  14. Peanut Hamper*

    Is anyone else just not an auditory person?

    I’ve sat in work meetings where someone would read a memo/agenda and I basically got the first three words and then it was just all clicking noises. If they handed me the memo/agenda, and I could read it with my own eyes then everything made sense and sank it.

    I’ve also tried audio books and my attention….just wanders away. At some point I get bored and I’ll think “I should read a book” and then I’ll remember that technically I’m listening to one. But it’s just not the same as reading with my eyes.

    (FWIW, I love long walks and often listen to podcasts and music while I’m doing that. But those things are meant to be auditory, not visual.)

    1. Semi-Accomplished Baker*

      I’m very much an auditorial learner, but I get it. Lectures are my doom. My solutions: turn on closed captions on YouTube, look at transcripts or find an app that transcribes recordings.
      You might say something like”oh my there’s so much information that was discussed here! Can someone send me the agenda or a summary?”

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Closed captions are my life. I love them because not only can I pick up on lines but keep the volume low without constantly going “Huh?”

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      It really depends. If it’s music or a show I’m very familiar with it’s a lovely time-passer while I’m doing other things (like, I love running an old MST favorite while I’m cleaning) because I don’t have to constantly check on what I missed. But I cannot listen to, say, an audiobook and do ANYTHING else but listen because I keep missing stuff.

    3. Alex*

      Yep. I was actually diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder as a child.

      I find that if I am in the car, I can listen to a REALLY well done audio book if it is non-fiction. Fiction…nope, can’t follow the story at all.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Interesting. I may pursue that because a lot of verbal instructions mean nothing to me. I think I’m hearing them, but when the convo is over…I have no idea what just happened. But if I write things down or can get a summary of the convo, that’s different.

        And my ears have always been an issue. This is helpful. Thank you!

        1. Quandong*

          If you find it very hard or impossible to keep track of verbal instructions in sequence (like when people give travel directions, or steps to do a task) that may also point to central auditory processing disorder. It’s really worth looking into an assessment if you can get one!

    4. Random Bystander*

      I’m very much like that, too. I listen to a number of podcasts while I’m working (the house is quiet then–youngest son who lives with me is working, although he’s now on summer schedule which means he’s home on Fridays). I don’t like phone calls (send me an email, please), I’m definitely a “read a book” not “hear a book”. Listening to people talking is a challenge, it’s just way too easy for my mind to wander.

      It also doesn’t help that I’m recognizing that I’m starting to get into some mild hearing loss, which makes it all the more challenging if it’s not something that I have control over (like podcasts vs listening to someone talk) and audio books just require too much concentration to feel like pleasure, while reading a book is something easy enough that I get immersed in the story and don’t think about the task of reading.

    5. anon24*

      Yup. I don’t know if I have some sort of undiagnosed auditory processing disorder or if it’s just my (diagnosed) ADHD but someone can start talking to me and I’m like ok, focus, and then next thing I know I realize I have no idea what’s being said to me. Same with videos, I can watch it 3 or 4 times and still be absolutely lost. Closed captions are my best friend. I hate the fact that so much is being transferred to video format, news, how-to’s, other stuff; instead of being an article, it’s a stupid video. I took African American Lit last semester in college and half the content was YouTube videos, podcasts, and other videos/audio format and I was super irritated. Also, written word is easier to search and find things. A text document can be highlighted, copied from, notated in, and ctl F to quickly find information. I love music, but won’t watch movies or TV, dont even own a TV. I have opinions about this, lol.

      1. I take tea*

        I agree, I definitely prefer written instructions of things, if it isn’t something where a video is really helpful (hairdos, for example). But the kind of “look at this video to know more about it” just annoyes me. Just give it to me in writing, please.

    6. allathian*

      I’m similar, if not quite that bad. Instructional videos are a waste of time for me, just give me the script to read and I’ll be done in half the time and retain more of it afterwards.

      I’m also bad at taking detailed notes, because I can’t listen and write properly at the same time.

      Thankfully I work for the government so all instructions must be in writing for documentation purposes. It’s saved my butt more times than I can count.

      I don’t enjoy podcasts or audio books, I can only focus on them if I’m lying in a dark room with my eyes closed. Otherwise visual stimuli and my internal monolog will take over.

      My dad actually learned shorthand to take notes at university, so this issue runs in the family.

    7. Un, Deux, Trois, Cat*

      I am definitely a visual learner. I make lists and I need things like instructions written out because I will forget the next step. In college I figured out that if I literally rewrote my class notes (I actually took great notes in class) then I could “see” my notes while taking tests and “read” the answers from the pages. Last year I asked a co-worker if she could email me the information she was sharing at a mtg and she refused because because she didn’t want to type it up (she had handwritten notes). She did offer me her written notes so that I could write it down though.
      I do, however, “read” all my books as audiobooks. I can only stay focused in the car, though. I can’t put on an audiobook and clean my house – I need music for that.

    8. cleo*


      I’ve learned the hard way that I won’t remember anything someone tells me unless I write it down. When I was teaching, I’d ask anyone who stopped me in the halls to tell me something to send me an email or follow me to my desk

      I was recently diagnosed with combination (inattentive and hyperactive) ADHD and I think the inattentive part explains some of my issues with paying attention to sound. But a lot of it is just that I’m not an auditory learner.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Interestingly enough, I will remember conversations forever. Verbal instructions? Nope. Something about one-sidedness.

    9. RussianInTexas*

      This is me. Podcasts and audiobooks are useless to me, especially audiobooks. To understand song lyrics I have to read them.

    10. Qwerty*

      YES! I think part of the reason I talk so much is that if I’m not engaged in the conversation my mind just goes elsewhere. I’ve described it as needing a two point tether – with TV you get visual + audio, with reading I’m seeing the words + holding the book, etc.

      On the other hand, if I’m out at a bar/restaurant and there is background music, my brain weirdly latches onto the song and refuses to listen to the person right in front of me.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        We plan lessons with this requirement in mind; we call it “dual coding”. Basically the working memory gets less loaded up if the information comes in different formats.

    11. Chaordic One*

      I’m very much more of an a visual person and I work better with things that are written down. I can function as an auditory person, but just not as well. I tend to become annoyed with videos of things, especially news videos. I really prefer a well-written news story and I can almost always read faster than sitting and listening to a video. I was genuinely puzzled by auditory people. Some of them may be functionally illiterate and have problems reading and comprehending written words and descriptions. Sort of similar to the people who have trouble visualizing things.

    12. Rara Avis*

      I’m a visual learner and have always struggled with phone calls. So hard for me to understand a disembodied voice.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Oh gosh, yes. I’ve always hated phone calls. Just send me a text message or an email.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        Have you tried taking notes while on the phone or would that split your focus further?

  15. Falling Diphthong*

    Any advice for shopping for a mother of the bride dress? Saturday evening adults only wedding, bride and bridesmaids in long dresses, groom and groomsmen in suits.

    My daughter’s baseline is that I should get something I like and feel good in, because that will be best for the photos. (Photos are important to her, moreso than they were to me, so I’m bearing this in mind.) If possible, she’d prefer a long dress to tea length, and in the general color family of the soft pinks and blues the bridesmaids are wearing. I will be wearing flat sandals that are easy to walk in for mobility reasons.

    1. WellRed*

      I’ve seen mother of the bride “dresses” that are more of a matching long skirt and jacket that always look nice but it really depends on your personal style, as your daughter says. Nothing flashy or showy, obviously.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        My baseline look is simple classics, but over the past few years that’s gone all the way down to “that are comfortable for doing yoga and walking the dog.” So I feel like I need to push myself toward more exciting options.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Find a mall and an honest friend with good taste and make an afternoon of it. If you have time, do a preliminary trip with low expectations to get the lay of the land (though maybe you’ll get lucky). In my experience, dresses look so differently on me than on the model that there is no substitution for actually trying things on.

      I recently was my mom’s honest friend for my brother’s wedding. I think it took us three shopping trips, though I don’t know if the first counted since we didn’t even know what season the wedding would be yet.

      Do you know what colors and cuts look good on you generally?

    3. Jm*

      Don’t be stressed. You will look great. Highly recommend honest friend and a preliminary look. Check the website for your nearby better department store- here it is Dillard or VonMaur. My soon-to-be daughter-in-law found three on a clearance rack at Dillard and I loved one of them. I attended one wedding where the MOB looked fantastic, then step monster came in with same dress( that she bought off the rack week before because she couldn’t be bothered until then and had only meager instructions re color and length) It makes for a good story. Find something you are comfortable in, you will look great

      1. Jm*

        If cost is a concern try upscale resale or online marketplace. Many show ‘barely worn’ very nice items

        1. Ali + Nino*

          Several family members found dresses for my wedding on Rent the Runway, in case that’s helpful.

    4. Healthcare Worker*

      Dillards was my go to. The saleswoman was incredibly helpful. I’m a large size, so ordered lots of dresses and returned them. Be open to trying on dresses you don’t think you’ll like. My bonus daughter found my dress and insisted I try it on, and even though I was “sure” I wouldn’t like it, it ended up being perfect. And find a good alterations person for the perfect fit. Congratulations!

    5. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Agree with mall and honest friend. If you’re near a Nordstrom, you could make an appointment with their personal shopper. Last time I checked there was no fee for that and Nordstrom also does alterations. She’ll take your specific requests and your sizes and bring back a bunch of lovely things to try on. Bring the honest friend to the appointment :)

      I wore an Adriana Papell dress to the evening part for my daughter’s bat mitzvah and I felt absolutely gorgeous in it. Her things are size-inclusive and beautifully cut. I bought mine at Nordstrom – you can find them in a lot of place and they have a website and ship directly.

      1. Hyaline*

        I’ve always had good luck with Adrianna pappel! I believe that brand is in Amazon’s “try before you buy” system too, so if you’re not near a nice department store or much shopping, you can order a few dresses you like in several sizes and just send back what doesn’t work.

    6. Semi-Accomplished Baker*

      My personal fave is Jj’s house. Wonderful filters, and they have lots of reasonably priced, elegant, motb dresses. They also sell shoes and accessories. Plus, they can tailor your order! So excited for you and your growing family.

    7. Katie*

      My eshakti.com is my favorite place to get dresses. All dresses can be customized my length, sleeve, and neckline.

    8. Once too Often*

      A friend’s mom looked great at the wedding, lots of compliments on her dress. At the reception she told a few of us that she found it in the lingerie section. It was technically a nightgown! And, she whispered conspiratorially, it was just the right length to wear flats instead of heels. This was a lovely wedding all around.

  16. Falling Diphthong*

    Any advice for someone driving from Boston to Seattle on a northern route? Things that are worth a stop? General advice? (Young fit people in their 20s.) They’re thinking of trying to get a few long days in at the start, and then alternate long drives with exploring somewhere. But not too far off the route, since they do need to get to Seattle at the end.

    1. Jay*

      Lots and lots of podcasts.
      Just, like, ALL the podcasts.
      That’s a major chunk of country and, depending on the exact rout they choose, much of it can be deeply rural.

    2. Rain*

      Tell them keep an eye on their speed in the Dakota/Montana area. A lot of it is just giant, feels and rolling hills and you can easily hit 100 mph without realizing it.

      1. Speed Demon*

        Cruise Control is your friend. Set it at the speed limit and then let everyone else pass you. I swear that if it weren’t for Cruise Control I would have lost my license years ago.

      2. The OG Sleepless*

        We bought a new full size SUV many years ago, and a few weeks later had occasion to drive from Georgia to Louisiana. Rolling down a long, long section of I-20 in a big vehicle with brand new shocks and window seals, we suddenly realized we were happily tooling along at 95 mph with our infant daughter in the back, snoozing away.

    3. Annie Edison*

      I drove Boston to CA and sort of detoured along that route to see a bunch of national parks along the way. If you have the time:
      – black hills are pretty, and I would have enjoyed exploring a little more. Mt Rushmore was underwhelming, but that’s coming from sometime who grew up going to Yosemite and was expecting it to be on a similarly grand scale. The vanilla ice cream at the gift shop was to die for though
      – the Badlands were incredible and I’m so happy I took the time to drive through and explore. I don’t think it needs more than a day or a day and a half, but it was a highlight
      – glacier and Yellowstone are both amazing. I spent several days in each one and could have easily done more
      – if you’re into kitchy roadside stuff, the Corn Palace and Wall Drug did not disappoint.
      – Chicago is one of my fav cities and made a good overnight. Great food and cool museums too if you want to explore longer

      Have so much fun! I loved getting the chance to see how big the country is and take in all the different landscapes

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        I did this route as well and it was great! Went to a rodeo in Cheyenne, loved stopping in smaller towns for meals, as well as stopping in places where I had friends/relatives. If there was a view or an “attraction” I stopped for it and that was awesome.

      2. the cat's ass*

        Delightful! We took the same route when we moved back to CA from MA with two cats in the back seat! We plotted out the trip in advance (remember AAA’s Trip tix with the vertical maps-the best). We also had Nat’l Grographic’s book on Roadside America and did hit tourist traps like Wall Drug. There was a Mac World conference in Chicago that year so we ended up staying in Oak Park but that was fun and we took the train into Chicago for the couple of days we were there. Moving westward, we went to Mt Rushmore AND the Crazy Horse Monument (still in process) as well as a powwow and Sturgis cycle days. Enjoy and take your time, if you can!

    4. ChoicesChoices*

      Unless you’re looking to spend a long time on the drive, stick to interstates. Especially in New England where there are alternatives but they will triple/quadruple the time it takes.

      That said, taking Rte 17 across NY is beautiful, so long as you don’t mind driving through mountains and really, really isolated areas for more-or-less a full day. And the Corning Glass Museum was lovely (it’s been 30+ years though).

      Alternately, if you’re willing and able, you could take I-90 west from Boston, spend night #1 at Niagara Falls, cross over to Canada, go slightly out of the way and spend a day or two in Toronto, drive across southern Ontario, and cross back over in Windor/Detroit.

      I know you mentioned long drives at the start, sightseeing later, but honestly, for large parts of the country you’ll be in the middle if nowhere/have hundreds of miles between points of interest, so you may wish to revisit that plan.

      My personal experience is all between Boston and Chicago, although I know lots of people who’ve gone coast to coast and they all talk about how empty it is in the western half. Obviously there are lots of interesting places, but you can go hundreds of miles between exits and may have to go some distance from the highways to get to the interesting places along the way.

      One other thing I know some folks have done if you’d like a more quirky/unusual route is to follow Rte 20 from Boston all the way to the west coast (it ends somewhere in Oregon; you could veer off toward Seattle at some point or travel from the endpoint in Oregon to Seattle if you literally want to ride the same road coast-to-coast. I don’t actually know what you’d see along the way if you chose this option.

      Hope this helps, and enjoy!

      1. strawberry lemonade*

        The Corning Glass Museum is incredible (I went last year). World-class museum: there was art there that I would never have seen anywhere else. That’s absolutely worth a detour.

    5. Rara Avis*

      When my husband and I drove from the west coast to the east (and then back), we made a stop each day. Some were big marquee places; others were prompted by interesting signs along the road. We were on the southern route so I don’t have specific recommendations.

    6. Ideas*

      Just be sure to plan the overnight stops as you get into Montana/Idaho/Eastern Washington (and I would imagine the Dakotas). Some people have an, “oh, I’ll just drive until I get tired,” mindset, but that doesn’t work very well if the nearest hotels are 3 hours away from the point you get tired. So, just plan that out ahead.

      1. Generic Name*

        +1 Same for eating. It’s a bummer to mentally plan to stop at noon but then realize the next town with a gas station or restaurant is hours away.

      2. Ginger Cat Lady*

        YES! And my brother was killed by someone who decided to “just drive through the night to get there faster” and then fell asleep at the wheel. Take your time. Sleep. Be safe.
        If you don’t have time to do the cross country drive safely, ship your stuff and fly.

    7. Fiction Reader*

      How far north? On I94, Teddy Roosevelt National Park is great. On I90, Devil’s Tower is very cool – I liked it better than Mt Rushmore and the Crazy Horse memorial, although all are worth seeing if they have the time.
      My suggestion is to plan more time for later in the trip, as they get tired of it they will want more stops.

    8. BlueWolf*

      If you have to pick a Dakota to drive through, I’d recommend South Dakota (I’ve been on road trips through both before). The Badlands are really cool and Wall Drug is a classic road trip stop. Depending on the route you are taking on the Eastern end, the Indiana Dunes along the bottom of Lake Michigan are pretty neat too, and not far off I-90 if I recall correctly. You probably want to avoid driving right through Chicago if you can avoid it depending on the time of day, although it is also a nice city if you want to stop. My parents have done the far northern route through Canada before and that could be cool too. They have done a number of road trips all over the country, and they like to pick one stop each day to do something just to get out of the car. They’ve been to some really fun little museums in random small towns. Usually good to do when you stop for lunch, just to break up the driving. Atlas Obscura is great for finding unique road trip stops.

    9. Roc*

      Biased because I live here, but Rochester would be a great first night stop! The drive is reasonable to do in one day (I see they’re thinking of front ending some long days but I don’t know, I think an easy first day might be good so they get a sense of how it’s going to feel!) and everything is close together so if they want to hit a few museums the next morning, have Abbott’s frozen custard at the Lake, and then get back on the Thruway it’s all super easy to do. Also if they have passports/enhanced licenses (and no pets in tow) it takes about the same time to go through Canada to Michigan as to go through Ohio etc. And they could stop at Niagara Falls, Niagara on the Lake, which could be fun if they’ve never been!

      When my family drove to Portland when I was a kid, some favorite stops (some mentioned by others!) were the Bad Lands, Yellowstone… some offbeat ones were Wall Drug and the Corn Palace, both in South Dakota. I was a kid so didn’t do any driving but having done solo 7+ hour drives, it can be easy to say “oh I want to stop somewhere along the way if it looks interesting” and become single-minded on getting to the destination because you’re tired. So having a few key places programmed in to the route, and pacing themselves, seem key!

      Hope it’s an awesome trip!!

    10. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I’ve got some!

      – general safety tips: they’re going to be passing some very big flat expanses of absolutely nothing throughout the trip, with cell phone coverage spotty and variable depending on the provider. If they haven’t already I would strongly recommend setting up some sort of brief check-in system. This is triply true if they’re unfamiliar with the style of driving inherent to South Dakota/eastern Montana, which is a lot of very long rather soporific stretches.

      – Montana in particular has scads of small rock/fossil/geology shops. If that’s of interest to any of the people on the trip, it’s something that you really don’t need to go out of your way much to see them. They’re just in the towns as you go through.

      – there’s a strong chance they’ll be driving through Glacier National Park in Montana; if not, that’s something they could do, as it’s a viable route. I would recommend starting that leg of the trip in the morning. It’s a gorgeous drive through a stunning area, but the roads are older, narrow, and involve some extremely steep mountains. Actually I would generally not recommend taking any of the mountain passes in the dark if they can avoid it (this is true for the Idaho and Cascade ranges as well).

      – IMO Mt Rushmore was pretty underwhelming. It’s not far out of the way so they could stop if they wanted but I wouldn’t necessarily plan a long detour around it.

    11. Lore*

      Make sure to check whether all the passes in the Rockies have opened for the season. If the west had a harsh winter, some of the northernmost passes can be closed till midsummer—I did this trip (ending in Portland but otherwise the same) a while back with my brother, departing on July 4, and we found when we got to Glacier that everything as far south as Colorado had only opened a week earlier. Otherwise I agree with all the recs—South Dakota is amazing; crossing the Mississippi anywhere south of Minneapolis is pretty amazing as well; both Yellowstone and Glacier are spectacular enough that even just driving through is worth it. The high plains desert of Eastern Washington was the biggest surprise for us geographically. We had an amazing meal in Ellensburg WA but it was a long time ago and I’m sure the restaurant is closed—still, the town was a good stopping place between Idaho and the coast.

    12. Midwesterner*

      Toledo’s Art Deco public library with its Vitrolite murals is my favorite quirky find.
      If they are on I94, western Wisconsin drift less area is beautiful.
      Spend some time in South Dakota. Badlands, Wind Cave, not Mt Rushmore.
      And get gas when you can out West…this is not the Interstate you know from the East or Midwest. There may be more stations now, but I remember praying we had enough gas to get to the next city.

    13. Animal worker*

      I moved from Washington DC to Washington State years back, and here are some things that we did that we really enjoyed, some already mentioned, some not. Mount Rushmore (we specifically wanted to see it at night), Custer State Park (they have beautiful scenic drives including a wildlife loop and cathedral spires), Crazy Horse memorial, Badlands, Devil’s Tower (tried to hit this at dusk), Yellowstone (we only had 24 hours but had a wonderful experience), Mount Ranier National Park. And I love to have lots of audio books and favored music when I do road trips.

    14. Samwise*

      Plains Indian museum on the eastern side of glacier NP. Then take the Going to the Sun hwy into the park (this puts you on the inside edge of the highway which is still a white knuckler but not as freakin terrifying as being on the outside edge). Camp in the park if you can. Great hikes.

      Buy cowboy boots in Bozeman.

      1. Samwise*


        And reading / audiobooks for this part of the trip:
        Sherman Alexie , Toughest Indian in the world

        Thom McGuane, any short story collection, and there’s a wonderful free audio of “Gallatin Canyon” (short story) on New Yorker Fixtion podcast

        Annie Proulx, Wyoming Stories (how do you know a character will come to a grim end? They are in an Annie Proulx western story hahaha)

        Percival Everett, Damned If I Do (short stories)

    15. BikeWalkBarb*

      If they’re taking I-90 I’ll put in a plug for spending the night in Spokane as their last night before Seattle, maybe even an extra day’s stay if they like the list below. It’s about a 5-hour drive from there to Seattle (depending on the last bit where they’ll hit Seattle traffic).

      I lived there for many years. The Spokane River runs through the heart of downtown with beautiful falls (more dramatic in spring at high runoff). Riverfront Park straddles the falls with multiple pedestrian bridges so you can stand on one and feel the spray if they’re there in spring. Plenty of good restaurants, shopping, and the Centennial Trail running along the river is a great place for biking, walking, roller-blading. The park system was designed by the Olmsted Brothers and that area is the last green space they’ll see for quite a while as they drive across 300 or so miles of agriculture lands.

      Spokane is surrounded by dozens of lakes so if they’re traveling at summer playtime they may want to check one of those out. I would have said Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, once upon a time (I lived there for many years too) because it has a beautiful lake and nice beach, but depending on their race and politics they may be more than uncomfortable. Some would say unsafe. Makes me sad as a native Idahoan.

      After Spokane they can make a pit stop at the Thorp Mill, which sells local agricultural products, wines, dried fruits and nut/snack mixes, lots of gourmet seasonings and the like (overpriced but hey, you’re already there). They’ll want to get Winegar’s ice cream, which is full fat and proud of it, made with milk from local cows. They truly cannot miss the building from the freeway and it’s also a spot to gas up and get coffee or a latte. The big metal building has two full floors of antiques and old stuff upstairs so if that’s their thing they’ll end up spending some time.

      If they want to stop again, Cle Elum Bakery has great apple fritters and it’s a pretty easy on/off from the freeway. The Italian restaurant there is supposed to be good although I haven’t checked it out; there were lots of Italian immigrant coal miners in the area back in the day. If they were of an age to have watched Northern Exposure I’d also point out that Roslyn, WA, is where that was filmed, and the Roslyn Cafe was turned into Roslyn’s Cafe for the show. The Cascade Mountains are really stunning to drive through; lots of jaw-drop factor. At one point they’ll go under a big bridge that straddles the freeway and wonder what it’s for; it’s a big wildlife overpass that has more activity at night than during the day but they might spot something. WSDOT has cameras on the freeway for and they can look at those to get an idea of traffic, weather if it’s the time of year when they need to worry about the passes, and the animal-watching (very cool shots if you’re lucky; if you liked the documentary “Night on Earth” this is for you).

      Yes, I’ve made this drive many, many times over the years. Several of my siblings live in western Washington and I visited them often, then moved west myself so now I drive the other direction to visit friends and family back in Spokane.

      If they take a route through Oregon and up the coast then I’ll put in a plug for stopping at my current hometown, Olympia. It’s the state capital and has a funky hippie vibe often attributed to Evergreen State College being here (design your own study of program). The town sits on the south end of Puget Sound and the downtown has a great farmers’ market, lots of little shops (no chains in downtown, *no Starbucks*), and a boardwalk along the waterfront where they can stroll, look at public art, watch boats. Depending on the time of year there may be outdoor concerts or festivals. Bike lanes and trails and pretty friendly drivers IME (I mostly bike for transportation); Capitol Forest is supposed to have good mountain-biking if that’s their jam. The time estimate from Olympia to Seattle varies wildly depending on day of the week; they can expect a big slowdown around Tacoma and Joint Base Lewis-McChord but it is what it is.

      Or they can stop in Tacoma and go to the Glass Museum, which has a bunch of Dale Chihouly work and live glass-blowing demonstrations with visiting artists. Another waterfront experience here with a waterfront trail, good restaurants in downtown, Washington State Historical Museum, and if they like cars the LeMay Automotive Museum. Or maybe they time it to go to a concert at the Tacoma Dome. We go there for day trips.

      No, I don’t work for any Chamber of Commerce; I just really like boosting towns with interesting things to do, local businesses, a sense of place, and nice people.

  17. North Wind*

    What paranormal podcasts do you enjoy?

    I’m def on the skeptic side, but enjoy hearing people’s stories. I’ve listened to Battersea Poltergeist and Uncanny on BBC Sounds, and Jim Harold’s Campfire (Spotify, Amazon Music).

    1. Bluebell Brenham*

      I’m not a paranormal podcast fan, but have really enjoyed Rachel Dratch’s Woo Woo. The episode with Lea deLaria is particularly good, but I also loved Seth Meyers, who qualifies as the least woo woo person who will ever guest on her show!

    2. Moth wings*

      If you enjoy comedy, This Paranormal Life is great at balancing interesting stories with their jokes. I really enjoy them!

    3. Jay*

      Hysteria 51 (funny paranormal).
      Monster Talk (the science show about monsters).
      Squaring The Strange (I’ve just started listening and the couple of episodes I’ve listened to have been pretty good, but I can’t speak for the entire catalogue).

    4. iced americano*

      Roz Hernandez has a podcast called “Ghosted!” that is very popular. She’s also one of the stars of a paranormal TV show produced by Kristen Stewart!

    5. Tio*

      Scared to Death, That’s Why We Drink (half paranormal half crime), Real Life Ghost Stories

    6. Fickle Pickle*

      Ghostly has a believer and skeptic that give both sides of a story.
      Paranormal Mysteries and Monsters Among Us are my favorites, both with listener submissions.

    7. Peanut Hamper*

      I’m 100% skeptic, but I saw a ghost once and a UFO twice, so I’ll look for these.

      (I have rational explanations for these, btw, but as a Halloween lover, I love the spooky aspect of things like this.)

  18. Peanut Hamper*

    Really amazing music videos?

    I’ve mentioned some music stuff up above, but some of my favorite music videos are

    “Constant Craving” by K.D. Lang
    “Drive” by The Cars
    “Rockit” by Herbie Hancock
    “Father of Mine” by Everclear (Beans! The kid who played Beans is in this video!)
    “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard (“Photograph” is still one of my favorite songs but the whole “girls in cages” motif—pffft, I’m over it.)
    “Obsession” by Animotion because it’s just so weird and bizarre. (That bass line is pretty wicked though.)
    “What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy)” by Information Society because it encapsulates 80s weirdness, even moreso that Animotion.
    “The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats because, yes, the 1980s can also be about the 1180s.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        And now I am thinking of the last episode of Chuck, when Jeffster performs that song with the LA Symphony.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Camila Cabello’s Havana.
      Jay Z’s Young Forever.

      Not a music video in the traditional sense, but I love the Goo Goo Muck scene from Wednesday.

      1. Smithereen*

        All of Gotye’s animated vids are great! I especially can’t shake the visuals from “Your Heart’s a Mess.”

    2. Amber Rose*

      Indie videos!

      Starship Velociraptor by Jonathan Young
      Once and Nevermore by Shadow Academy
      Shelter by Porter Robinson (I wish it was a movie so bad)

      and a bonus shout out to the parody Stacy’s Dad by Sub-Radio, because it’s hilarious.

    3. WellRed*

      I don’t know if I’d call it amazing, but I’ve always liked the video for Nickelback Too Bad. It really narrates the story well. And now, off to listen to animation. Loved that song!

    4. Chaordic One*

      No Rain by Blind Melon.

      Is there anyone who, at some time, hasn’t felt like the Bee Girl at the beginning of the video?

      1. I take tea*

        If you like the aesthetics of Radio Ga Ga I recommend that you watch Metropolis, where most of the footage is taken from or inspired by. It’s worth to see. If you have the possibility to see it in a theatre with live music, that’s the best.

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      Bad idea, right? by Olivia Rodrigo is very witty and a lot of fun. And the video for Phenomenon by Thao was made around April 2020 and features extremely creative use of Zoom. I remember watching it at the time and being impressed that they’d done something that complicated while the rest of us were still working out how to use the mute button.

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

        Love Weird Al! I’d also suggest first watching his “White and Nerdy,” which is a hilarious video in its own right (and which contains a Donny Osmond dance cameo), and then watching the video that’s got Donny’s full dance performance. Donny nailed it in one take, and it is amazing.

      2. Girasol*

        My favorite music video is Yankovic’s “The Saga Begins” – the entire Star Wars movie plot sung to the tune of American Pie.

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

      A comment on the video for “It’s Raining Men” said something like “Budget: 1/10. Effort: 11/10.” The singers and dancers really do a lot with very skimpy resources — their energy is excellent!

      Fun fact I just learned — Alicia Bridges, who sings “I Love the Nightlife,” is a lesbian! I was recently watching the video, which I had never seen before, though I’ve loved that song for decades. My gaydar is better than it was when I was young, and I took one look at her rocking a mullet and was like, “That lady is gay.” Looked it up on Wikipedia, and yup, she is. The video makes this banger even better.

    7. UKDancer*

      I agree with “Take on Me” brilliant video. Also everything by Queen because I like them.

      I love in particular ones with a good story or that make me smile

      Fleetwood Mac – Everywhere – just because I love the Highwayman poem
      Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams – because I have a crush on Annie Lennox and like the weird randomness of it all including the cow
      Mike Oldfield – Moonlight Shadow – I love the duel and the unexpected owls.
      Shakespeare’s Sister – Stay – just watching Siobhan Fahrey dancing around being evil is brilliant
      Shah Rukh Khan – Dard de Disco – Favourite Bollywood track ever and hilariously random video
      Faudel – Je veux vivre – I love it, upbeat song and really nice visuals
      Garbage – The World is Not Enough – another great story
      Jax Jones+ Demi Lovato + Stefflon Don – Instruction – we use it for Zumba and I just love the way the different participants are included.

    8. Chauncy Gardener*

      This got complicated by all those issues, but Michael Jackson’s Thriller video was so incredible.

    9. Seashell*

      “Every Breath You Take” – the Police

      In the low budget but thoroughly entertaining category:
      “Once in a Lifetime” – Talking Heads
      “Jump” – Van Halen

    10. DistantAudacity*

      I’m a big fan of several of the music videos made by Michel Gondry –
      Daft Punk – ‘Around The World’
      Bjork – ‘Army Of Me’
      Kylie Minogue – ‘Come Into My World’
      White Stripes – ‘The Hardest Button’

    11. Elle*

      I grew up in the age of amazing music videos but Ice House’s Electric Blue is peak 80’s video excellence for me.

    12. Ron McDon*

      I love ‘I’ll bet you think about me’ by Taylor Swift, directed by Blake Lively. It’s such an over the top, sumptuous, brightly coloured confection, and makes me laugh every time I watch it.

    13. 248_Ballerinas*

      I know people are yea or nay on Toni Basil’s Mickey – I’m a big yea.

      Sweet Dream (Are Made of This) was groundbreaking.

      Tom Petty had a lot of interesting videos.

      And I can’t let a staple of my youth, When Doves Cry, go unmentioned.

      1. 248_Ballerinas*

        That is, Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics, not the 1990s remake by someone I don’t care to recall right now.

    14. 248_Ballerinas*

      Ooh, here’s another amazing animated one: This Christmas by Donny Hathaway. Available on YouTube. Don’t let it being a Christmas song put you off. Very well done song and video that earns its heartwarmingness.

    15. Workerbee*

      -Blondie’s “Eat to the Beat” video album – so very colorful and dynamic
      -Mike Nesmith’s “Elephant Parts” film, specifically for the fabulous “Sunset Sam”
      -Big Country’s “In a Big Country” – lush scenery and evocative storyline
      -Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon” – a Technicolor explosion
      -Adam Ant’s “Stand and Deliver” – a fun highwayman romp
      -Fleetwood Mac’s “Gypsy” – magical
      -Stevie Nicks’s “Rooms on Fire” – deeply gorgeous
      -Laura Branigan’s “Self-Control” – multilayered, hot, and don’t miss the very end!
      -Enya’s “Caribbean Blue” that uses Maxfield Parrish imagery

    16. Anna the Cat*

      I really like videos that tell the story of the song, so these are all pretty theatrical!

      Slothrust “Pony” – a rock band covering Pony by Ginuwine, and keeping it just as horny without a single scandalous inch of flesh showing. I just love the aesthetic of this one, and Slothrust is a favourite.

      Genesis Owusu “Stay Blessed” – incredibly simple video that manages to be totally engaging and brings the song to life, which is a straight jam anyway.

      Billie Eilish “NDA” – the video is perfect for the emotions of this song – overwhelming, relentless, dangerous if you make the wrong move.

      No Bird Sing “And War” – ethereal and apocalyptic and completely identifiable. there’s a visual in here around the 2:09 mark that I think would be perfectly at home in Blade Runner.

    17. Zona the Great*

      November Rain by Guns & Roses. Sadly, most young people don’t know she died at the end.

    18. I take tea*

      I like Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse Of the Heart, because it’s so absurd. There’s a really good literal version if that as well.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I was going to mention “Eclipse” – I love the song, and the video, though it is often pretty ridiculous. And the literal version (where people dub the lyrics with a literal description of what’s going on in the video at the moment) is hilarious!

  19. costello music*

    what are your abnormal comfort shows/books/etc?

    i was talking with a friend the other day and mentioned that the hunger games (book 1 only) was a comfort read for me. there’s just something so familiar about it, and the way katniss speaks is… idk, it’s calming. i’ve been reading this book since it came out when i was a teen.

    but my friend (in good fun) was a little amused that i see a book about children dying and a dystopian world as like a comfort blanket. i have other things i turn to (a:tla, how to train your dragon) when i need it but nothing comes about hunger games.

    what’s your oddball comfort things that isn’t like animal crossing or legends and lattes or cozy cooking videos?

    1. Monkey's Paw Manicure*

      Horror movies. Scenes of “spooky” woods always look so cozy, such a great place to set up a small tent and fall asleep.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      The Great British Bakeoff, the four seasons with Mel and Sue. They got me through cancer treatment.

      1. Don’t make me come over there*

        I haven’t watched since they left! I also enjoyed GBBO Masterclass with just Paul and Mary – the holiday episodes are especially cozy.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Most anything on the trashy murder tv channel. Stephen King books. Standing in lines at Disneyworld is remarkably relaxing, I think that’s weird?

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Old Universal horror films. They’re well made and even the silliest have intriguing ideas.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I love Dracula from 1931. Partly because of the opening music (“Swan Lake” by Tchaikovsky) and partly because it’s so well cast.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I don’t think Dracula is as good as The Mummy. But I do love Bela Lugosi and will watch him in anything.
          The Bride of Frankenstein is a really good film.

    5. Moth wings*

      My comfort movie is Rio, the animated film about endangered birds. I watched it on repeat as a teenager with seasickness on a Caribbean cruise, my only comfort when I felt miserable for nearly a week, and it continues to be a comfort film for me.

      I would have thought it was an animated one off but Bluey has also gotten me sucked in recently.

    6. Rain*

      Stephen King & Dean Koontz re-reads – I read them both a lot in my high school and college years so now they’re very comforting.

      For television, I have 3 go to options –
      – Girl With Dogs grooming videos on YouTube
      – “Criminal Minds seasons 3 through 10
      – “Boston Legal”

      I can get through loads of work late at night with one of those three playing in the background

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Basically the only reason I have Kindle is so that I can keep Night Shift by Stephen King available when I’m stuck in a waiting room or what not. First read it when I was a wee bairn and it has somehow stuck. Some great stuff there.

    7. Sloanicota*

      Procedurals, which is weird because it’s almost always murders/chasing down suspects/crimes all day – but, these are typically episodes I’ve seen a billion times. I find it soothing.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        The original Law & Order is this for me. I loved it when TNT was basically all L&O all the time. I got an unexpected bonus from work a few years ago and bought myself the DVD collection because I haven’t found anywhere that streams the whole series.

        M*A*S*H is another. Not as unusual because it’s a comedy, but it is about war and death. I also have the DVD set for that. These days I usually watch it on Hulu.

        1. Hatchet*

          M*A*S*H is one of my comfort shows, too! We watched it growing up (original and reruns), so I think there’s some homey comfort there for me. Plus the fairly muted colors without anything too bright (aside from Klinger’s outfits) make it easier on the eyes when I’m feeling sick.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Mine too; I watched the entire thing all over again on Hulu after I moved and was putting bookcases together. It still holds up remarkably well.

    8. Josephine Beth*

      Disaster movies, especially B-movies – my go-to comfort movies are Twister, The Day After Tomorrow, Geostorm, and The Martian. My friends and family think I’m crazy, and I don’t really get it myself, but somehow it works!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I totally get it. “At least I’m not THERE.” :) (Armageddon is one of my favorites.)

      2. FLuff*

        Me too – quote them too. Plus adding Godzilla, Pacific Rim and more. Armageddon (so many worthy quotes), Independence Day, all Jurassic Parks / Worlds, etc. Any volcanos, meteors, etc. make for good relaxing telly.

        My daughter – the sicko – relaxes watching True Crime murders. Serial killers are her favorite. This was not on purpose. We left the kids with the TV for an hour as we walked around the park. On our return, those two elementary school kiddos were not watching Disney at all. And yes, we were at a kid friendly resort. They rattle off facts about the serial killers too. To concerned strangers. ::sigh::

    9. Chaordic One*

      Old horror and psychological thriller movies. Rosemary’s Baby, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, and <Hush… Hush Sweet Charlotte.

      1. Reebee*

        Same on those! Also “Burnt Offerings,” the original “The Omen,” “The Exorcist,” “The Changeling,” and the original (TV version) “It.”

    10. Dark Macadamia*

      I also feel that way about Hunger Games! It’s such a fast-paced and easy read, and I associate it strongly with a really positive time in my life.

      1. allathian*

        Harry Potter and Agatha Christie for me. It’s got to the point that when I read a Poirot book, my internal voice switches to David Suchet’s!

    11. Brevity*

      Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco. I read it about once every five years. It’s scary and violent, but I love the story.

      1. Sitting Pretty*

        I feel that way about The Name of the Rose! I’ve only read it twice but was just as thrilled on the second read as I was on the first. Re-reading books isn’t usually something I do but I might have to give Eco a shot.

        1. Brevity*

          His writing is so complex that it’s worth it. One summer, I decided not just to re-read it, but also to look up absolutely everything I didn’t quite understand as I went along (like the Italian student protests in the late sixties); then re-read it again immediately all the way through. Took forever and was totally worth the time.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I keep meaning to do that with Lolita (especially the French) instead of skimming over it and guessing at the translation.

    12. JuniperBlues*

      Very off the beaten path, but the song “Beverly Hills” by Weezer always makes me feel better when I feel nausea/upset stomach ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    13. Writerling*

      I get what you mean. For a while I reread the HP books every year, movies and shows it varies with my mood but Sweet Home or Uncanny Counter (maybe even some Stranger Things) provide some comfort when the mood calls.

    14. Arial*

      Either crime/procedural – I have seen Criminal Minds more times than I can count – or a movie that I weirdly love, is Pacific Rim. I don’t like monster and/or horror movies, or even sci-fi that much but that movie is somehow perfectly soothing? I’ve converted multiple people to watching it and agreeing that it is a great movie!

    15. GoryDetails*

      I’m another who enjoys creepy/scary/dark media as comfort-viewing/reading. I’ll re-read favorite classic ghost stories (M. R. James, E. F. Benson, Edith Wharton, etc.), or watch disaster movies (including vintage ’50s ones and more recent ones), or hunt up classic horror (Karloff’s “The Mummy”, Lugosi’s “Dracula”)…

    16. Water Everywhere*

      ‘Code Name Verity’ in books, even though I cry every time I read it. Maybe because it makes me cry and that’s cathartic? Despite all the scary & terrible experiences of the characters I just find it to be the most beautiful story of true friendship.

    17. anxiousGrad*

      The Taking of Pelham 123. I don’t know why but it always calms me down. Maybe because Walter Matthau’s character manages to keep cracking jokes despite the stressful situation.

    18. Agnes Grey*

      “Galaxy Quest”! It’s something my partner and I re-watch when things are feeling really, really bleak; it always makes us feel better. It’s a Star Trek spoof but also such a loving homage to the show and the relationship that fans have with it. There’s a lovely documentary about it too.

    19. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      IT by Stephen King is that for me! The relationships and bonds among the kids in the story really strike deep chords in me. It’s so soothing, in fact, that the horror parts are just background and mostly uninteresting details to me.

      1. I take tea*

        I reread this sometimes as well, for the friendship and the descriptions of the time past. I also enjoy the shifts between the past and the present. There are parts in that book I like to obliterate, but the good parts are really good.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I’m like that with “Gaudy Night.” I get so fascinated by the relationships and politics of Harriet Vane’s Oxford that the mystery is just this fun background.

    20. AGD*

      Books of math puzzles. Or geometric fidget toys. They both calm my (neurotypical but very busy) brain way down.

    21. carcinization*

      It’s “Inkmaster!” I asked my husband because I figured he’d have a better perspective on this than me, but he says I definitely watch it to chill out and not worry about things and all that. It’s a totally silly show with often uncouth people and ridiculous tattoo opinions/parameters. I have tattoos but I’m not a huge collector or friends with any tattoo artists or anything (nothing against them, just not any in my current circle).

    22. Can't Sit Still*

      Mine is a vampire Christmas story that starts with a parent trafficking their adult child, which results in everyone involved in said trafficking dying in various creative and horrific ways and ends with a Christmas wedding in the coven, and finally a pile of presents and sleigh bells on the roof.

      1. Rain*

        Ok this sounds fascinating, but searching for *vampire Christmas story* just brings me to the book ‘The Shepherd”.

        Would you mind sharing the title?

    23. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Control is the best stress relief game. Turn on immortality. Find target-rich area (or the SHÜM machines). Go nuts.

      Even better if you have the Launch ability upgraded to the point where you can throw forklifts at bads with your mind.

  20. Bluebell Brenham*

    Thanks to the folks who told me to “suck it up, buttercup” and follow through with dinner w a longtime friend and her husband. It was interesting to hear what they had been up to over Covid, and we had lovely weather to enjoy a patio dinner. She only had one long rambly story about her job, and there was no follow up about a get together soon. Her husband was definitely a moderating influence, and my having a nice glass of rose didn’t hurt either.

    1. Double A*

      Glad you sucked it up and it didn’t suck! The last minute impulse to bail can be real but usually it’s fine to good when we don’t.

  21. Amber Rose*

    How should the average person conserve water?

    My entire city is about to run out of water. We have basically one pipe and it ruptured and it’ll be 3-5 weeks to fix it.

    I don’t have a lawn to stop watering, and it’s not like I can just stop showering, doing laundry and washing dishes for a month. I refuse to limit toilet flushing or allow my husband to, I would rather mummify. Hard no.

    I’m out of other ideas though.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I put a “grey water” bucket next to the sink and captured times the water was basically clean – did I rinse off fruit? Catch that rinse water in the bucket. Dumping out some water I didn’t drink after dinner? Bucket. I think I even put pasta water in there. I was using it to water my plants, but if you were careful you could use it to flush a toilet.

    2. RedinSC*

      When you’re showering you get in, get wet – turn off water.

      Soap up, wash hair, etc. – turn water back on to rinse off, then water off.

      Condition hair, etc – Turn water on and rinse.

      THere are buckets in the shower too, and you use that shower water to flush the toilet.

      I live in California, I’ve lived through SEVERAL big droughts and this is mostly how I shower now. I also only shower/wash hair every few days. Everything in between is a sponge bath to start or end the day.

      1. Jackalope*

        Turning water off for the shower when you aren’t actively rinsing something off is big. You can get it to where the water is on for less than 5 min but still get nice and clean.

        1. Observer*

          Unless you have to deal with the water temperature – that can add a LOT of run time to your shower. So it’s important to think about how many times you turn the water on and off in that case.

          If you can have some sort of pre-set where you don’t have to tinker, though, that would be a really good idea.

          1. Cedrus Libani*

            If it’s an option, you might consider installing a hot water recirculator. Wasn’t that expensive, and we did it ourselves. It clears out the cooled-down “hot” water from the pipes by pumping it into the cold water supply, which means your shower heats up in a second or two rather than half a minute.

    3. Purple potato*

      1. Brush teeth with water off: apply toothpaste to toothbrush, water on to wet toothbrush, brush without water running, water on to rinse
      2. Same with handwashing. Wet hands, water off, lather, water back on to rinse
      3. Makes can pee a few times between flushes. If you keep a plastic trash bag next to the toilet, you can put your TP into that and pee a few times between flushes. I know it seems a bit gross, but if you’re in a crisis, it’s a trade off

      1. Spacewoman Spiff*

        Yeah, I know the toilet was one thing the OP said was a no-go but you can save so much water, and no harm is going to come of letting pee sit in a toilet, seems like the lowest impact way of saving water. My sewer was busted and for a few weeks while I waited for the final fix, I was really trying to limit wastewater…just throw your tp in a trash can and you can drastically reduce how often you need to flush.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          We do this anyway. It saves SO much water. And then when you do finally flush, that’s when we clean the bowl.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Do you have a dishwasher? Those are the most water efficient, but there are tricks for handwashing if you don’t.

      1. Girasol*

        I remember reading some years ago that a town in the Marin area ran out of water and people were urged to use paper plates instead of washing dishes. Terribly wasteful of one thing in order not to be wasteful of another, but it did kinda make sense.

        1. kalli*

          Paper plates and reusable picnic plates (the sugarcane/bamboo/compressed wood kinds) are compostable though.

          I have severe food allergies and honestly I go through paper towel and picnic plates liek whoa, but it uses far less water than my dad does and he fills the sink in the morning and does his dishes in the same water through the day, whereas I’m wetting a paper towel, putting a tiny dob of detergent on it, and wiping down cutlery and utensils. I might soak a saucepan and use the water from that to wet the paper towel or soak all my utensils in it then dry them, but that’s still less water than the whole sink.

          The one complication is bottles and blender jars, where one has to use a brush of some sort and they tend to be nylon (and the foam/foam squirty ones don’t fit in), but i’ll use the water to rinse containers for recycling and so on.

          Remember though, some water does need to go through the pipes to keep them in order – dry pipes can be a disaster in the making.

          I tend to make my water savings mainly by having a proper shower only 2 times a week with quicker wet cloth wipedowns when/where dirty or in/out rinse before and after going out, only washing when the washer is full (ends up one load every 2-3 weeks) and keep to whatever is necessary for hygiene. I do not recommend not flushing if you have GI issues, for example.

    5. Excel Gardener*

      Honestly if you don’t have a lawn you’re already significantly below average in your water usage, so I’m not really sure what else you can do. Most water is used for grass, industrial, or agricultural purposes. The proportion of water used for indoor plumbing and appliances is pretty small in the grand scheme of things.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        If it’s the city I’m thinking of, outdoor watering is currently banned, and they’re worried about having enough water for fire fighting and hospitals. It’s a pretty extreme csae.

        1. kalli*

          Sounds like Calgary – there’s a state of emergency atm due to the water situation.

      2. Blueprint blues*

        wow, your area must use a lot of water. I live on the edge of a rainforest and we have lawn watering bans in our dry months.

    6. AcademiaNut*

      If there’s rain predicted, stick buckets, wading pools, etc. outside (including on balconies, parking lots or sidewalks). That water can be used for washing or flushing toilets. Save water used for washing fruits and vegetables, wash your hands in that, then use that to flush the toilets by pouring it into the tank. Dirty water isn’t great for the tank, but this is only supposed to be for 3-5 weeks, so you can wash out the tank afterwards.

      Personally, I’d buy some dry shampoo and a bottle of rubbing alcohol, in case they need to do rolling shut-offs of the household water and you can’t shower every day. Dry shampoo for the hair, rubbing alcohol to de-stink armpits. Wear pants and shirts a day longer than you’d usually do. Keep an old set of clothes for sweaty or dirty work and change into that as needed, to keep work and public clothing cleaner – the dirty clothes will get kind of gross before you wash them, but you’ll need to do less washing over all.

      1. Shiny Penny*

        In my childhood we sometimes flushed the toilet using grey water from a bucket, but never poured it into the tank— pouring water into the bowl triggered the flush to happen just fine.
        At a friend’s cabin, they had to pour the grey water into the bowl from a few feet up to trigger the flush, but I’m not sure why that would be. It should trigger simply from the increased weigh of added water in the bowl, from what I’ve heard.

    7. Annie Edison*

      We used to use bath and shower water to flush the toilet when we had bad droughts going up. I was pretty small so I was mostly taking baths at the time, and my mom would just leave the water in the tub afterwards. When we needed to flush, we filled a bucket from the tub and poured that water into the toilet to force it to flush. You could probably get a similar effect by capturing shower water in a bucket if you wanted

    8. Two cents*

      Can you travel somewhere else for the weekends? Visit friends, relatives, national or state parks, have a weekend getaway somewhere that HAS water where you CAN take a nice long shower and also take a book to a laundromat? Best way to conserve water would be to not be there at all and even get ahead of your needs. My other ideas have all been said already. Good luck!

    9. WellRed*

      Quicker showers less often, wear clothes an extra turn and, I know it’s wasteful, swap in some paper plates and bowls.

    10. Llellayena*

      For a temporary situation like this: paper plates and cups, stock up on frozen meals (either store bought or one day of making a huge pot of something to freeze) and meals that don’t need a pot of water to cook. Buy a few gallons of water for emergency shut off times and regular drinking. Sponge bath days when it’s not hair washing. Only run the laundry or dishwasher with a full load or take a day a week to drive to a different town for a laundromat. I like the comment about spending the weekends away. If you work from home, extending going away to the week could help too. If you’ve got kids, ship them off to relatives (advantages of summer vacation). If you’re a member of a gym, do they have a location in an unaffected town where you could shower?

    11. Llama face!*

      One pot meals and batch cooking saves dishes (and store any leftovers in the cooking container instead of using storage containers). Pre-moistened face and body wipes could be handy for cleaning yourself if it gets more extreme. Ditto for antibacterial wipes for cleaning surfaces. If you use a kettle to make tea/coffee, then don’t toss the stale extra boiled water. You can use it for rinsing dishes, watering houseplants, flushing toilets, etc. You can also get compostable bamboo and wooden dishes and cutlery if you run out of clean dishes/don’t want to wash dishes.

    12. Semi-Accomplished Baker*

      Don’t laugh.
      You can pee in the shower. If you do it before you shower, it goes down and is probably no less nasty than dirty water that has been used to clean yourself.
      Hubs will probably be overjoyed you endorse his preferred method

    13. Generic Name*

      What are the local authorities advising residents to do? Hopefully they’ve got more specifics than “just use less”.

    14. TO person*

      Is your toilet low flush? People used to put a full sealed mayonnaise jar in the tank to reduce amount of water used, when toilets used a lot. You could do the ‘if it’s yellow let it mellow’ thing and flush once or twice a day before it smells.
      You can definitely put off laundry longer than you think. Try not just automatically doing your usual loads – I bet you have several weeks worth of sheets, towels and socks! Undies could be washed in the shower with you. Put a timer on your shower. Same with dishes – do them once a day. Good for you for trying and all the best to Calgary if that’s where you are!

    15. Samwise*

      Put a plastic bucket under the faucet in the shower to catch the water you use to get it to temperature, leave the bucket there while you shower. Use this gray water to flush the toilet of #1 or to water plants. You will be astounded at how much water it is.

      Toilet rule: If it’s yellow let it mellow. If it’s brown flush it down.

      Five minute showers unless you’re truly filthy.

      Turn off the water while you brush teeth

      Run the dishwasher and wash clothes with full load.

      Bucket in-the kitchen sink for gray water, use it if you run the disposal (or for the toilet or for watering)

  22. a new or a new-to-me phone?*

    I plan to buy an unlocked Samsung Galaxy S23 to replace my very old Samsung Galaxy. Since the S23 is last year’s model, amazon only has refurbished ones, not new ones, and I’ve never bought a refurbished phone before. What are the potential issues with buying a used phone? Is there any way to guard against those issues?

    1. siusoreowij*

      I can’t answer your specific questions, but I have bought several refurbished phones, and so far I’ve never had issues.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Same, no issues and for the last 15 years or so I pretty much only buy refurbished phones and computers. But I make sure each device has been through a many-point quality checklist, and that the vendor seems legit and has a return policy.

          1. Pocket Mouse*

            I’ve bought refurbished items at Apple, Gamestop, and other stores I know are legit independently of the specific shopping effort. Others I don’t already recognize I’ll look at Amazon reviews, if that’s where I’m shopping, Google (“RefurbCompany reviews”, “RefurbCompany legit”, “RefurbCompany scam”, etc.) and/or look for people’s experiences on forums like Reddit. For the process, usually I either see or don’t see a #-point refurb checklist alongside the listing for the item, or linked to it- I want to see that they’re at least *saying* they checked or replaced the battery, screen, camera, etc. —and I make sure to print the listing, checklist, and the return/warranty policy to PDF in case I do end up having issues.

    2. Warranty*

      If you’re really sensitive to screen quality there can be some small blemishes, although they’re not as common as they used to be.

      It might be a version or two behind on its operating system and thus apps may stop being compatible sooner than on a brand new device (probably only an issue if you use a device to death).

      Otherwise, as long as they have a warranty it should be fine. The warranty is key; that’s your “guard against” for anything that might actually be wrong.

    3. Isabel Archer*

      I highly recommend backmarket.com. They refurbish used electronics to keep them out of landfills. I’ve bought 2 cell phones and a laptop from them, and all were perfectly good. Prices are great, delivery is prompt, and customer service is on point. They have a many S23s right now, since the S24 and the A54 just came out. You can choose unlocked or locked to your carrier. Good luck!

    4. Sloanicota*

      I always buy older phones from swappa. The only complication I’ve had is that the workers at the store of my carrier, understandably, don’t want to help me if I’m having an issue, and can be flat-out wrong about their advice (at one point telling me the phone wouldn’t work because it was locked, when I knew I’d bought one unlocked; at another point telling me it might be because the phone was from overseas when the actual issue was a problem in their system with my account being shut off).

    5. Observer*

      What are the potential issues with buying a used phone? Is there any way to guard against those issues?

      The main issues are checking to make sure that the phone is in good condition, the phone is truly free of the last person’s stuff, and there is no spyware on the phone.

      And that’s why I’d probably not buy through Amazon, unless Amazon is the actual seller (not just fulfillment.) There are a lot of garbage sellers on Amazon, and they don’t do things the way they should.

      Samsung does refurbs – I would trust them to get it right. (https: ~~www.samsung.com~~us~~smartphones“certified-re-newed-phones replace the ~ with /)

      I would also look at a site like swappa – they seem to do a decent job of making sure that these items are legitimate. Or some of the major electronics retailers, again buying from the retailer, not something on their marketplace. (BestBuy, B&H come to mind.)

    6. Cedrus Libani*

      I bought one, an older Pixel, from Amazon. It was advertised as locked to Verizon (the provider I have), but was actually locked to AT&T. Took a week in customer service purgatory to get it all sorted out. Saved a few hundred dollars, but oof.

  23. Comic strip recommendations*

    Does anyone else enjoy reading comics? (Ex: Cathy, Calvin & Hobbs, Peanuts, Garfield etc.) I’m not much for drawing, but I love reading comic strips and am always on the lookout for some new ones. If anyone has any recommendations to share with me I would appreciate it a lot. Thank you in advance :)

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton is a fantastic webcomic. Lots of history and literary humor along with just general randomness. She doesn’t update anymore but you can read the whole archive on her website or there are a couple compilations if you prefer a physical book!

      1. Clisby*

        I loved her graphic memoir “Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands.” It’s about her heading west to the Alberta oil rush to earn enough to pay off her college loans.

    2. Rick Tq*

      9 Chickweed Lane started in July of 1993 and is still updating 3 times a week today. It is the story about music and dance, love thru the years, and how sometimes the people you least expect have done incredible things. Brooke McEldowney is a fantastic artist, his drawings of Edda as a ballet dancer are amazing.. It is available on Gocomics.com.

      Another very popular webcomic is Digger by Ursula Vernon (diggercomic.com). The story is complete.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I love 9 Chickweed Lane – especially the cat-centric panels, but it’s all fun.

        And Digger is a classic; Vernon (aka T. Kingfisher) has a magnificent imagination!

        1. BikeWalkBarb*

          Aaaaahhh, how did I I not know that Ursula/T. had a comic strip?! Thank you for this gift. I’ve read everything by her under both names, I think.

      2. Chaordic One*

        McEldowney’s webcomic, “Pibgorn,” (a spin-off from 9 Chickweed Lane) is quite good, too. Available on Gocomics.com it is apparently a bit too “adult” (and perhaps too risque) to be published in newspapers.

    3. Aphrodite*

      I read Doonesbury, Cathy, Pickles, Drabble (all on GoComics) as well as Sally Forth and The Far Side. Doonesbury is in reruns except for Sundays and Cathy is on its third or fourth rerun. My favorites, though, are Sally Forth and The Far Side.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I ADORE Breaking Cat News!

        I read the physical comics page in the paper every day: online it’s Cathy, Far Side, Sally Forth… so many! I also like the “soap opera” strips like Mary Worth because Josh at The Comics Curmudgeon does great snarky takes on them.

    4. Jay*

      If you want print media, Pearls Before Swine is my favorite active comic.
      If you don’t mind Web Comics, look into Randy Milholland. He writes the new Popeye strips these days, and also his own comic, Something Positive.
      Girls With Slingshots, Questionable Content, Penny Arcade, XKCD, and Hijinks Ensue are some other favorites. As these are all Web Comics, understand that they can on occasion be a bit not safe for work.

    5. Porch Screens*

      As far as *web*comics go, I’ll second the recommendation for Digger. Selkie and Gunnerkrig Court are quite good and currently ongoing. I love love love Unsounded by Ashley Cope but while there are plenty of moments of levity, it’s a very dark story in a lot of ways and has a lot of things that probably deserve trigger warnings.

    6. Rain*

      I used to love Get Fuzzy & Foxtrot – both of them have print media books and archives online. You can

      1. Sloanicota*

        These were exactly the two I was going to say, based on comps of Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes. I will say I thought Get Fuzzy was hilarious in the weekly comics and somewhat less so in book form … that cat is just way too mean all at once!

    7. AcademiaNut*

      It’s not being written now, but For Better or For Worse was a good one – there are lots of anthologies.

    8. Makare*

      Girls with Slingshots is a great one, it’s complete now but it’s still online, or you can get a hard copy in two volumes. It’s quite silly and fun, but also heartfelt, I really love it.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      On GoComics:
      Breaking Cat News, about cats with a newscast.
      Red and Rover, about a boy and his dog in the 70s. Perfect sweet start to the day.
      Non Sequitur is probably my favorite cynical comic. Alternates between general comics and those focused on a family in Maine that includes a miniature Clydesdale one daughter liberated from sleepaway camp.
      Stone Soup. The artist has now retired, but this tale of family life (initially widowed mom and two girls, her mom, her sister and sister’s toddler) hit a lot of chords for me. I particularly like how mom Evie evolved from a rather generic supporting grandma to a cool person with her own life.

    10. Chauncy Gardener*

      Bloom County was awesome. I still miss Bill the Cat. “oop! ack!”
      Calvin and Hobbes is a total classic
      Rhymes with Orange is really super.

    11. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Questionable Content (QC) is my favorite webcomic. It’s set in Northampton, MA, where the quirky humans live with AIs, some of whom have human form and all of whom have their own quirks and foibles. It’s been going for years and you can read the archive free on the website. I’m the sort of person who always like to start at the beginning. I found the archive a year or two after I started reading the comic and spent a few weeks thinking “oh! That explains everything!” as I saw how relationships had developed over the years.

    12. GoryDetails*

      I have some favorites, including:

      xkcd by Randall Munroe (quirky/snarky, often science-based)

      Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal by Zach Weinersmith (VERY snarky/political/social-commentary, often NSFW, with alt-text AND a bonus-content button for each panel. (There are some books with themed collections, including “Science: Ruining Everything Since 1543”.)

      Wilde Life by Pascalle Lepas: a mix of slice-of-life and supernatural-weirdness, in which protagonist Oscar Wilde (not *that* one) finds himself roommates with a ghost, mentoring a teenage werewolf, and having sundry adventures with other mystical beings.

    13. Forrest Rhodes*

      Non Sequitur by Wiley absolutely makes my Sundays.

      His strips are both thought-provoking and laugh-out-loud: Eddie, the New England Lobstahman, telling yet another impossible/improbable story; young girl Danae with her plush horse, their adventures, her sister, and her un-flusterable dad; the Wiley Bears; the seekers-for-truth, for whom the Oracle on the Mountain always has surprising advice; and a whole flock of others.

      I really should write Wiley a thank-you letter; maybe I’ll finally get that done this week.

    14. goddessoftransitory*

      Love them and always have! I learned to read partially though the newspaper comics page and haven’t quit since.

      You’d probably like The Comics Curmudgeon (link below.) He reads and reviews comics every day!

    15. beep42*

      The new Nancy! The new writer has, with permission from whoever controls the original strip, updated the characters to the present. Quirky but often really nails life. I read it on GoComics.

    16. Alyn*

      Never Been Deader is a new one I discovered recently thanks to a friend; it’s on Comics Kingdom.

      There’s also A Girl and Her Fed by KB Spangler, and she also does another comic, Side Quested, with Ale Presser.

      On the geeky side of things, there’s Dork Tower by John Kovalic

    17. BikeWalkBarb*

      If you’re at all into riding a bike, Yehuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery.

      BikeyGirl.com has single-panel comics on bike life too, very much from the viewpoint of the non-spandex rider on a happy upright city bike.

      The Oatmeal, by Matthew Inman who also created the Exploding Kittens game. Has some as panels, some animated sequences.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Love The Oatmeal. His take on the “white/gold or blue/black” dress thing was hysterical.

  24. Giz's Mom*

    If you’re ok with reading online I can highly recommend XKCD by Randall Munroe. They’re oneshot comics and he updates M/W/F

    1. Giz's Mom*

      I came back because I can’t believe I forgot One Of Those Days, by Yehuda and Maya Devir. Great, family-centric one panel comics. They’re both online and in print form

  25. Feral Bees*

    Am I totally insane to think that my partner and I could plan a low key wedding in four-five months? we don’t care about decorations, we have a small budget so really all we want is a place to get married and a place to hang out with our friends and family. What actually takes 6 months- a year to plan?

    1. Hatchet*

      Congratulations! We planned our small, low-key but nice wedding in 5 weeks. It was perfect for us, and it can be done!
      My two cents – figure out venue(s) for ceremony and reception and lock those dates in. Meanwhile work on your invitations. We make ours online through Staples – they have a ton of templates, just make sure you pick one that they can print locally, or alternately make something in Canva and upload it to Staples. They printed ours overnight and we picked up envelopes & printable address labels. I’m happy to share more of our steps if they’ll help you.

    2. Maggie*

      No you can definitely plan something low key in that time. Book a restaurant that’s what I did. 50 people buyout and they provided all the food and drinks and we hung out. The actual wedding I planned day of and got married the same day lol

      1. Pellegrino*

        Yes! Also booked a restaurant for a similar number of people and for the wedding ceremony itself, a nearby public arboretum that was very low-cost.

    3. Pop*

      If it’s TRULY low key, it’s absolutely doable. If your version of low key is “dye wood sola flowers myself to save money on floral arrangements,” but for everything, it’s not enough time. Wedding guest list/size matters a lot too – my partner and I had 12 people and easily could have planned ours in a month.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yep you can do it as long as you’re not super dependent on a specific venue that is often booked up. That’s what takes the year-plus to handle, in my experience; you only have certain dates that work for the people you most care about being there, and everybody is trying to get the same weekends in May or June here, so you have to book way ahead. If your whole crew is local, you can probably snag a last-minute-cancellation spot at a “real” wedding venue place – but if you’re happy in a park/restaurant/personal home, you certainly don’t need a whole year. My sisters’ was complicated by the fact that most of our family had to fly in, so she felt obligated to provide something worth everybody flying in for (with the costs of hotel rooms, rental cars etc).

    4. Generic Name*

      I planned an “elopement” in 6 months. Just the two of us. No guests. The biggest limiting factor was getting a dress nd having it altered in time, but that may have been because it was 2020

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      In my professional opinion as an event planner, it’s doable of you keep it both simple and small. Any more than around 50-60 people and it will get too complicated. 4-5 months will take you to late autumn or erly winter, and that will be an advantage because there is less competition for wedding services like florists at that time of year.

      The things you should do first are:
      – Venue – the most important thing to sort out. If they have a list of required or preferred caterers, make sure the caterers are available before you book the venue.
      – Caterers – given the relatively short lead time, they might want a bigger deposit than usual.
      – Photographer (if you’re having one).
      – Dress – if you’re not buying something off the shelf, it takes quite a bit of time to find and alter a dress. Also, if you’re having bridesmaids and want them to buy a specific dress, decide on it now. For my wedding, I just told my bridesmaids the colour scheme and said they could wear any nice dress in that colour scheme and it worked out fine.

      Good luck and let us know how it goes!

    6. Jackalope*

      Things that can take awhile: getting a venue reserved for both ceremony and reception (obviously you can do both in the same place but then you have to make sure it’s reserved for longer); getting a dress and having it tailored to fit you right; reserving caterers; reserving the person who will perform the ceremony; finding and reserving a photographer; lots of misc! The dress can take a lot longer than you’d expect, and you want to make reservations far enough in advance that you can have the dates available on the calendars of people and places you want to include. My recommendation is to figure out what’s most important to you and plan around that. For example, we planned around a handful of family members that it was important for us to have there, and around the officiant (a good friend of mine from high school). Then I found a venue and everything else that worked with those dates. Obviously some of these details can be fudged; if you’re just buying a nice dress at a thrift shop you may not need to worry about the tailoring time, and if you’re getting married in your parents’ back yard and having a potluck, schedule dates will be less of an issue. But plan that everything will take longer than you expect and will cost more than you expect even if you’re going super cheap and casual.

      My strong recommendation is for the book A Practical Wedding by Meg Keene. It’s the only wedding book I read, and it was so helpful. She goes into a lot of useful (and, as the title suggests, practical) advice on planning, and looks at all different scales of weddings from the kind you’re wanting to big formal gala affairs. I found it so useful to help me figure out what I needed and when, and also to help me figure out what we did NOT want. 10/10 stars, would recommend, would use again except that I hope not to have to get married ever again!

      1. Reba*

        Seconding the book rec, it’s a great antidote to the wedding industrial complex. There is also a website, which is not what it once was, but maybe still worth a look. We wrote our own ceremony and vows and it was really helpful for that.

    7. Amory Blaine*

      Totally do-able! We “planned” a low key wedding a few months ahead of time and it was wonderful. We had a potluck (except for the cake), not-too-fancy clothes, and no expectations for out of town folks to attend (although the most import ones did). The venue was key for everything else to work out!

    8. allathian*

      How low key is low key?

      My husband and I took much less than a month to plan because we got married at city hall with just our families of origin and my MIL’s husband attending. My sister and SIL were our witnesses. The reception was at our house and we used the coffee service we requested as a wedding present because my mom brought it over the day before so we could run it through the dishwasher.

      We had two savory pies and a tiny wedding cake that we got from a bakery. The only decoration we had was my bridal bouquet that I put in a vase when we got home. All invitations were by text SMS and we thanked them in person. A city hall employee took our wedding photo using our digital camera, we sent it to our guests as email attachments, and it was the first photo in our son’s first year photo book because I was 8 months pregnant when we got married.

      In total, including the license, a festive maternity gown and black leggings for me, our wedding rings, a silver necklace for me, and a new shirt and tie for my husband, it all cost slighly less than 1,500 euros. But we got the low-key wedding we wanted.

      Congratulations! I hope you have a lovely wedding.

      1. Girasol*

        Same here but ours was a wedding picnic with a few friends, including one who was a legal officiant. For a low-planning wedding, you might start by thinking about two people eloping in street clothes at the county courthouse, and then add anything you’d be sorry you didn’t do, and anyone you’d be sorry wasn’t there, instead of starting with all the fussy events and gewgaws that an expensive wedding planner would insist that you simply must have and trying to pare down.

      2. Giz's Mom*

        We also planned ours within a few weeks. It was a “crap I’m not going to have health insurance” kind of wedding, but we had been together for more than a decade and both been married before. Ceremony at the courthouse, reception at our house for 30ish, with an amazing local caterer. My sisters decorated the house. He wore suit pants and my favorite shirt, I had an amazing red dress from Macys. It was awesome, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

      3. Clisby*

        One of the nicest weddings I’ve attended (well, actually, I didn’t attend the wedding itself, because it was just for close family) was followed by a reception in the bride’s back yard.

        Another was a nephew’s wedding – he literally married the girl next door, so my brother and sister-in-law hosted the wedding itself, and then we went next door where the bride’s parents had a reception.

        If you want to save money, for heaven’s sake don’t buy some ridiculously expensive wedding dress you’ll never wear again.

        My husband and I hated the idea of doing any of this, so our wedding planning consisted of:

        – Going to the courthouse to be married in the probate judge’s office
        – Accepting the invitation of a neighborhood friends’ group to take us out to dinner to celebrate.

        It cost us $48 for the marriage license and whatever the parking was when we went to the courthouse.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      What takes a long time is finding a venue with space in their booking schedule. And potentially caterers etc with space in their booking schedules. If you’re flexible on both fanciness and dates, it should work, in the sense that people can plan big 60th birthday parties in this time frame.

      How do you feel about wedding dresses? Daughter’s took six months between ordering and arriving, and I think that was on the speedy side.

      1. Sloanicota*

        The dress follows the formality of the wedding, I think, so if you book a big fancy venue you may want to go Full Pouf that takes six-months-plus to alter – or if you’re doing a picnic at the park you’re happy with an off-the-rack white dress from anywhere that you could buy the week-of. If you have any friends who would be great at tailoring, that’s something to keep in mind. There are lovely white dresses online that come in regular sizes like any other dress – and you could give yourself permission to spend more than you would if it was “just” an ordinary day. Order several and return some, perhaps.

        1. Generic Name*

          I mean, it can, but I got married in the mountains (an hour from my house) and I wanted to look like a princess, so I wore a traditional wedding dress. I wore hiking boots to get to the ceremony location and changed into my satin shoes. :) But as I mentioned above, my dress took a long time to alter, and would have taken months to order, but the shop let me buy the sample gown in stock, which could be altered to fit me.

    10. Chauncy Gardener*

      If you go to a “special” wedding dress store, they’ll tell you it takes months to get a dress ordered etc. Just go now and buy one off the rack or at a consignment/second hand shop. Then you’ll have time for any alterations.
      Second the restaurant idea for sure.

    11. Texan In Exile*

      We went from setting a date to wed in 3 months and that included negotiating with in-laws threatening to boycott the wedding.

      We had immediate family only (nine other people). No rehearsal. I got my wedding dress at Macy’s – I had always wanted to wear red so I got a red sundress that I have worn again. No bridesmaids. My husband wore a suit.

      Supper after at one of our favorite restaurants. I think it cost about $600?

      BTW do not let anyone stay at your house, not even your parents or your partner’s parents. They can get a damn hotel instead of staying in your bedroom (they couldn’t take the stairs) and complaining about everything.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Oh – and we did it on a Friday afternoon. The church was easier to get on a Friday than on a Saturday. Because there were only 11 of us, the restaurant was also easy. We worked with the chef to create the menu, with vegetarian and non-veg options. We brought our own wine but also offered cocktails.

      2. Jackalope*

        I think the last is a YMMV type of thing. We had our house crammed full of people for the wedding from two days beforehand to the day after and I loved it. But none of the people were the kind of people who would be jerks about everything, so it just gave us the chance to enjoy having extra hanging out time with people. It was mostly our attendants, so people we were pretty close to.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          Oh definitely! I would have loved having a houseful of my friends! They wouldn’t have told me they were lactose intolerant, demanding Lactaid, and then eaten all our expensive Carr Valley cheese, ruining their appetites for supper. They wouldn’t have drunk all our good booze, gulping it down like water. And they wouldn’t have complained about how I make apple pie, dry laundry, or do or do not offer oatmeal to people who are already eating cornflakes.

    12. RagingADHD*

      Not insane at all. Most of the lead time for a small / simple wedding is just availability because things are booked so far out.

      If you’re flexible / creative about venue and vendors, the actual work of planning & arranging doesn’t take that long.

    13. Qwerty*

      Venues often book a year out, so getting the date will likely be the hardest part. Start aggressively looking at venues now and ask what packages/partnerships they have – some of these places have become one-stop shops where they handle food, decorations, DJ, wedding cake, etc.

      You’ll probably need to go to a chain like David’s Bridal or Group USA for your wedding dress, where you can buy something in your size in stock and then get it altered. Again, start shopping now because that process can still take a couple months. The boutique places generally make the dresses on-demand and can take over 6months to arrive.

      However, it can be done! A friend just got married with 1month planning – ordered her dress on Etsy, eloped to Vegas, and booked a restaurant for a 30person reception when she got back. Another friend did the full wedding experience in ~6months by getting a venue that did the full package, not being picky about dates, and buying her dress at David’s Bridal.

    14. HannahS*

      Absolutely. My husband and I got engaged in December, planned a 100-person fairly traditional wedding by March…and then cancelled the whole thing (because, alas, it was 2020 and, well, COVID.)

      As long as you work efficiently, cut whatever you don’t care about, and go outside of the traditional wedding industry, it’s fairly easy. Let me know if you have further questions!

    15. MissCoco*

      We did a 10 month turnaround and what I found that I needed a year for was finding a venue and photographer that weren’t booked. (we didn’t hire any other professionals, but if we were using a florist or DJ I think we might have run into some issues there as well). But assuming the place you want to hang out with friends and family is currently available then no, 5 months is fine.
      If you want a traditional wedding dress purchasing experience, 5 months is usually too short for that as well, but there are many other ways to get a wedding dress than a traditional bridal boutique.
      Seconding or thirding A Practical Wedding as a recommendation. Not just for wedding planning stuff but the first few chapters really got me and my husband on the same page as to why we wanted a wedding and what our priorities were, and it helped a lot to not get bogged down in minor details that weren’t priorities for us.

    16. HBJ*

      No? I don’t know why this would be considered insane at all. The internet makes it seem like everyone is having 1-2 year engagements or more! And that’s just not true of everyone. Shorter engagements are very common. I myself had a six month engagement, and we didn’t actually start wedding planning until about four months before. I know many people who had 3-6 month engagements and had very lovely weddings.

    17. Hyaline*

      A lot of the “year out” timeline is more about venue and vendor availability than about the actual work of planning. If you are specific about certain locations, or needing a large venue in a specific area, or wanting a particular photographer, and especially if you’re specific about several of those things, finding a date where everything lines up is often the part you need a long lead time for. If you’re not only low key but flexible about where, when, and who (in terms of vendors like photographers, hair stylist, etc) you can get married next month if you want to!

    18. fhqwhgads*

      It’s not that it takes that long to plan. It’s that a lot of venues are fully booked that far in advance.

    19. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      My wife and I planned ours in less than three months. (Summer of 2008 in California. Same-sex marriage was ruled legal, and we knew it would be voted on in November, so there was a clear deadline. We were married at the end of August.) It’s easily doable. Smaller guest list makes everything easier. We rented the back room of a restaurant for the reception (less than 25 people total) and the ceremony was at a Unitarian church.

    20. Observer*

      Am I totally insane to think that my partner and I could plan a low key wedding in four-five months?

      LOL! I come from a community where 5 months is considered something of a long engagement….

      If you have a home and furnishings, you absolutely do not need more time than that unless you have very specific requirements for your venue / catering or there are family / scheduling issues (eg a close family member who is deployed.) Those things can push your schedule out because they might not be available in your time frame. But otherwise, if you’re willing to put some time in and focus, you can definitely get it done.

    21. anywhere but here*

      Totally doable. We didn’t confirm venue until like 4-5 months out and then basically everything except the clothing we did 2-3 months before the wedding. (We did confirm who the caterer would be around the same time as the venue, but that’s easier for smaller and non traditional venues.) We had a “big” ish wedding (100+ people invited, like 65 actual attendees including kids) that was more traditional and it still worked out pretty well, although it helped that caterer and venue took care of a lot of the setup & breakdown. Just plan for longer than you think it will take to do anything you care about and, I cannot emphasize this enough, make sure to skip EVERYTHING you do not care about. It is not worth the time, effort, money, or energy, to do things you don’t care about just because “everyone else does it” or “this is what happens at weddings.”

      Oh and book the photographer as soon as you can (if you want one). The good ones book up pretty far out. I would say that no photographer or a cheap one is better than midrange because there’s nothing worse than paying a lot for photos and STILL not liking them.

    22. The teapots are on fire*

      You can totally do it. Buy the dress off the rack or order it right away, and nail down the venue! On shorter noticed like this the venue may dictate the date a little bit and it sounds like your’e flexible. Look at non-traditional venues like community centers and small museums or local historical society headquarters, American Legion halls, or Masonic lodges, particularly on Not Saturday. (We were married in an aviation museum and it was a blast). We also considered a small county art museum.

      Look into caterers that run out of locally-owned grocery stores and get your cake from a grocery store (we got a Chantilly cake from Whole foods and it tasted better than bakery cakes and was cheaper.) I had a friend do my flowers but another friend ordered all her wedding flowers from a grocery store as well and saved a bundle.

    23. kiki*

      I think it depends on how small and lowkey you’re really thinking. I say that not to doubt you specifically, but because I’ve seen a lot of people say going in that they want a “really small wedding with no bells and whistles” when they do actually want some things that take more time or need more than a few months of lead time, like an ornate dress, a sought-after photographer, a guest list over 50 and a venue that can accommodate that

      Some of the six months to a year of planning for weddings isn’t really active planning time– it’s just planning a date far out enough that all the things you want (venue, catering, etc.) aren’t already boooked up.

  26. Bethlam - commercial jingle*

    I’m hoping some of the older commenters might be able to help me identify a jingle from an old commercial. The doctors said my hair would start coming back about 2 months after my final chemotherapy, and they were spot on. Because it’s nubby and bristly, my husband started singing the jingle from a long-ago commercial: “Those tiny little bits of hair, the nubs, the nubs.” The tune is When Johnny Comes Marching home, and we only know those first few words.

    The darn song fragment is stuck in my head and is driving me crazy. I’m pretty sure it was a commercial for a razor or shaving cream – don’t remember which (and Internet searches were no help), so I thought to try and crowd source the answer. Does anyone remember the commercial, the product, or the rest of the jingle?

    1. Chaordic One*

      Maryn’s is right. I spent some time googling hoping I could find a video of the commercial but I couldn’t find anything. I did find a curious bit of trivia, though.

      The arguably influential and satirical poem and song, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” by Gil Scott-Heron included the line, “The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.”

    2. Bethlam*

      Thanks. I also spent some time googling that razor and couldn’t find anything. Had high hopes when a 1970s commercial was one of the results, but it was just talking (and shaving, lol) – no singing.

  27. Anonymousforthis*

    How do you maintain boundaries with a friend who wants the friendship to be closer and more intense than you do without risking the friendship?

    I have a long-distance friend who I’m decently close to. Recently, though, the friendship has become more intense (in a mostly one-sided way) and I’m getting the sense they are starting to have higher expectations of me that I’m not comfortable with.

    The friend has started to share more details about their mental health and relationship problems, but it’s happening often enough that I’m starting to feel like an unpaid therapist. I also don’t feel they express as much curiosity about or hold as much space for my problems and mental health struggles as I do for theirs, so it feels one-sided.

    Additionally, this friend has started to get really invested in the idea of us meeting up in person much more frequently than we have historically, like 2-3 times a year instead of once every year or two, and they’re pushing for some these trips being longer than quick weekend visits. For many reasons, I’m not interested in that.

    I feel like this friend is starting to think of me something like a chosen close family member, with all the expectations that come with that, while I am more comfortable with us being somewhat close friends but not *that* close. I’ve already tried setting some boundaries around this, and while my friend accepted them I could tell they were disappointed and maybe a bit hurt. I’m a little concerned this has or will damage the friendship if I don’t handle it well going forward.

    1. Oink*

      Your friend is allowed to decide to call off the friendship if this doesn’t make her happy, just like you’re allowed to draw boundaries over her behaviors that make you unhappy. There isn’t a set definition of what is right and wrong in a friendship. It boils down to what unspoken terms and conditions you mutually agree to. If what she wants are regular catch ups with an unpaid therapist where she talks more than she listens, you either agree to those terms or respect her decision when she decides you aren’t what she’s looking for.

    2. Zweisatz*

      I think you should continue to do what you’re doing.
      This is the age-old question of “how do I set boundaries without hurting their feelings?” and sometimes, even often, you can’t? And that’s okay.

      I’d argue for the friendship to stay in a shape that works for you there *needs* to be some re-setting of closeness and yes, to your friend that might feel like rejection or disappointment at times. Your job is only to be clear and kind about it. “I’m comfortable with the amount of times we’re meeting. I will unfortunately not be able to slot in more meetings/trips.”
      As for the deep sharing, short answers or less reaction from your side will probably help (even though they may feel unnatural). Ironically, you might be able to copy what she’s doing, given that you feel like she’s not giving a lot back. (Of course as long as that wouldn’t be an unkind way to set the boundary – but setting it is okay.)

      Final thought: This kind of question lends itself to captainawkward.com. If you haven’t perused old posts yet, I’m fairly sure you will find advice on a very similar scenario there, probably even several.

    3. WellRed*

      I’m guessing whatever is going on with her mental health and relationship is making her needier. I think you can keep doing what you’re doing. You sound kind but there’s only so much of her feelings you can manage.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I have a friend like this, and it’s fascinating – through no action on my part, I can see her occasionally deciding she longs to have a lifelong bestie, and she doubles down on my friendship (like, nothing has changed since the last time I talked to her a month ago, except that we are now BFFs in her mind). It happens when she’s stressed about other things in her life, I think it’s a distraction for her. It also fades when she’s happy and content and busy in her “normal” life, and she can barely call me back during those periods. So, while other people will give you the advice of being honest with her and letting her feelings be a bit hurt (which is good advice) I’m going to put a vote in that you may be able to kind of ride it out without really committing to that two-week-long-bestie-roadtrip that you know you would murder each other on.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Well, you can’t deny them what they want without them being disappointed. That’s not a reasonable expectation.

      But I think if you don’t want to have a big confessional talk/blowup (which is by its nature more intimate that you seem to want), the best approach is to just say yes or no to things on a case by case basis without any blanket pronouncements.

    6. Qwerty*

      Addressing this part “I also don’t feel they express as much curiosity about or hold as much space for my problems and mental health struggles as I do for theirs”

      Bring up your life without being asked. If you need to talk through a problem bring it up. Or maybe bring up topics that are not about problems or mental health, but just fun lighthearted stuff to make the conversation positive.

      Chatty people who talk non-stop about themselves without being prompted generally expect that others will do the same. I doubt she’s unloading about her life because you are constantly asking about it

    7. Catherine*

      Flat out, I don’t think there’s ever a way to do this without risking the friendship. Even when I’ve set the Small Doses Friend boundary successfully, the other party usually needs a little time to process their feelings about it and that can feel very unsteady for both sides. But more often, trying to hold the friendship at current distance instead of escalating ends it, at least in my experience.

  28. The Prettiest Curse*

    What’s one cultural trend that you’re glad is over and one that you wish would be over?

    Glad it’s over – Big blockbuster movies having to be in 3D so that they can charge more for tickets.

    Wish it would be over – Very high-waisted jeans look good on nobody. They’re the 2020s equivalent of the puffball skirt.

    1. Rain*

      Glad it’s over- the ultra low-cut jeans look of 2004-2005.

      Wish it would be over – crop tops I don’t need to show everyone my bra every time I reach over my head.

      1. Sitting Pretty*

        Yeah I work on a college campus and so see fashion trends in real time (since most of this stuff doesn’t touch my closet otherwise). I remember walking across campus a year or two ago and seeing the crop tops, and my heart just sank to the ground. I knew for the next couple of years I wouldn’t be able to find a single sweater or tank top that reaches my hips. The stress of shopping in the 90s is still little too fresh.

        1. Courageous cat*

          Crop tops have been in for at least 10 years now FYI, just like oversized garments are, so I have no doubt you’ve been able to find regular sweaters/shirts in that time, haha.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Damn it, I want fabric on the top of my pants AND the bottom of my shirt. What is this nonsense where we can have only one at a time?

    2. Good Lord! The beards!*

      Glad it’s over — or at least seems to be where I live — vaping.

      Wish it were over (or maybe it is, I haven’t been out and about much lately): men wearing long long shaggy beards.

      1. Diana*

        Can confirm that long shaggy beards are not over, at least where I live. I so wish they were too.

      2. WellRed*

        Seriously guys, what’s with the beards. I found myself loooking at a ZzTopper the other day on a young ish dude. His poor wife.

      3. Sitting Pretty*

        Haha I love screwball facial hair. What a fun goal to set: I’m gonna grow a beard down to my sternum. Then in a couple years I’m gonna chop it and grow a handlebar mustache and muttonchops.

        As a cis woman I can’t. So I love when people who can grow fur from their face do wacky stuff with their beards and mustaches! But I understand not everyone has the same taste.

        1. RagingADHD*

          It’s the grooming that makes the difference to me. A well kept beard can be charming. It’s when they’re scraggly and unkempt that I wonder how much leftover potato chip dust and bits of scrambled egg must be in there.

        2. cactus fruit*

          guy at work with fast growing full facial hair did a fundraiser where you put money in the facial hair pot you wanted (handlebar mustache, goatee, etc), and he agreed to abide by the decision for a month or two. he was raising money for a cancer charity. he ended up raising several hundred dollars, but his wife & mother were aligned and each put a couple of hundred in the bin they chose. It wasn’t the handlebar mustache one, sadly

      4. Sloanicota*

        Along the same lines, glad it’s over: ironic mustache – there are still some about, but it used to be SUCH a thing with a certain type of guy, and I always think it looks non-ironically-awful. Sadly the manbun trend has also significantly died down here – that one I liked, as long as it was not tied with ironic/scraggly facial hair.

      5. Generic Name*

        Aw, I love my husband’s beard. It was big and poofy over the winter, and I loved it. He trimmed it up recently, and I was bummed. lol

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Vaping all over the damn place here. Also, vaping/smoking pot openly, making the entire street smell like a skunk convention.

          1. Jean (just Jean)*

            I’m stealing your line (with permission?)!
            Best. description. EVER. of the smell of pot.

      6. HardAgree*

        Glad it’s over- vaping
        Wish it were over- daily marijuana use

        I agree on shaggy beards- if they were groomed, or well-kept, those are nicer, but I guess if the person wearing it is fine with it, shrug.

    3. The Other Sage*

      A loooong time ago platform shoes where a thing where I lived, and by that I mean it was impossible to find summer shoes that where not platformed. I didn’t feel comfortable in them, and I was glad when I could finally wear something flat without feeling too hot.

    4. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Glad it’s over: cold-shoulder tops (at least it’s over in the sense that I can find normal blouses again).

      Wish it were over: the man-bun. I’m a cis woman of a certain age. I have come to appreciate and admire tattoos and often find them sexy. I love a good beard (not a scraggly one) and a nicely waxed mustache. I just cannot abide the man-bun. It’s also none of my business since I’m monogamous and my husband is bald….but ick.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yeah, man-buns are a trend that absolutely needs to end. Long hair on men is totally fine, and I appreciate that men with long hair have fewer styling options than women with long hair – but give us variety, please!

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          I’m not sure what it is you want here- you think long hair on men is fine but want… what, exactly? Something else, when you acknowledge there isn’t much else (at the moment)?

          The “give us variety” part reads a bit like the flip side of men telling women to wear makeup or to smile, as in “it’s important that I be pleased by what I see when I see you, and that’s more important than you being able to do what you want with your body”. Or maybe you’re a man who wants to break free of gendered constraints, in which case: so say we all!

          1. Jay (no, the other one)*

            I have a personal preference that I wrote about anonymously on a not-all-that-serious Saturday thread. I don’t go around lecturing men on their hairstyles and I try very hard not to judge people by their looks. I can’t speak for The Prettiest Curse, of course.

            Not to mention that gender-flipping doesn’t really work when men are so much more likely to be directly and seriously threatening to women than women to men. If I yelled at a man to get rid of his bun, I might be in danger. He would not be.

            1. Pocket Mouse*

              Yeah, I was replying to two specific things The Prettiest Curse said. I just think “I don’t like seeing X, even though X isn’t hurting anybody” is different from “I don’t like seeing X, so people with X should do Y, even though X isn’t hurting anybody”, and the latter is problematic regardless of context, power, and threat differentials, though obviously those things affect the course of events. A different side of the dodecahedron, if not the coin.

    5. Pocket Mouse*

      Is the trend of women’s shoes injuring the back of their heels over? I really, really hope it is. I feel like during/after college if I saw a femme woman’s ankle area, there was invariably an open, bandaged, or healing wound across at least one of her achilles tendons. To be clear, this is a combo of shoe design and social pressures/priorities. But no one deserves that.

    6. Generic Name*

      I’m so glad the skinny Jean trend is over. It was like the only style of jeans one could find for like 15 years. Ugh. I do love the high waisted look. Maybe it’s because I was a kid in the 80s, but it’s very nostalgic for me. The style of jean that is hot right now is what we in the 90s called “mom jeans”.

      I’m old enough now that I don’t really follow trends anymore, but I enjoy what’s out there now. I won’t be wearing crop tops (thankyouverymuch), but if the young folk want to, more power to them.

    7. Hyaline*

      Book and crossover to movies/series:

      Glad it’s over/fading: grim dark everything in fantasy

      Wish it was over: Romantasy

      Nothing wrong with either but I’m tired of One Big Thing dominating my fav genre!

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      Glad it’s petering out, if not over: man buns. For every man that knows how to take care of long hair, there’s ten that don’t.

      Wish it would be over: IPA beers taking over EVERYTHING. Every store, every restaurant, there’s fifty of the damn things for every other kind of beer, and Husband haaaates IPAs so I get to hear about it every time.

      1. Qwerty*

        In my city, IPA is the only beer available for the majority of the year. Even in the middle of winter, it can be difficult to find a stout or porter on tap because all the draft beers are competing to be hoppiest of IPAs

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Fist bump of solidarity. My husband hates IPAs as well. Dry-hopped beers kick up his allergies in a bad way. We went to four baseball games on a recent vacation and every.single.beer stand in both parks had three IPAs and a golden ale. He finally found a good pilsner at the last game and was THRILLED.

      1. carcinization*

        Probably not in my size/probably not cut like the turn-of-the-millennium ones, though! But I will investigate eventually.

  29. Rain*

    My husband and I were talking about this earlier, And it made me curious about what other people think.

    What is something that you will only buy a brand name of, and what is something where you don’t mind the generic?

    For some reason the only ibuprofen that doesn’t upset his stomach are the coded tablets from Advil, so we have to buy those. But all other painkillers, we can buy the generic version of.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I will only buy branded cola – my preference is Coke Zero, but I’ll accept any of the zero-calorie/sugar options from Coke or Pepsi only.

      More selectively, I am brand-specific on Cheez-It crackers, Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal and Totino’s pizza rolls. I’ve tried store brand versions of all three in the past and been disappointed.

      Otherwise I’m pretty much open to generics for everything else I can think of.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Aside from food, I’m also brand-specific on deodorant. I don’t much care on any other toiletries – I like tea tree and mint shampoo/conditioner but I don’t care what brand, etc, but you will pry my clinical strength Secret gel (NOT solid) out of my cold dead fingers.

      2. WellRed*

        I went to a wedding with store brand soda. I get saving money where you can but cmon, for an extra $30 you can serve the real deal.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I don’t mind it for most other options, like orange soda or root beer. Just cola :)

        2. Observer*

          I get saving money where you can but cmon, for an extra $30 you can serve the real deal.

          Depends on the size of the wedding. But also, if someone doesn’t get the difference, they are not going to see why they should not cut that corner. I’m someone who really cannot tell the difference. But then, I don’t much like most kinds of soda anyway.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I haven’t tried the Aldi brand, but I prefer the original orange kind anyway over any of the alternatives. :)

      3. Lady Alys*

        Cheez-Its are the only cheese crackers. Trader Joe’s peanut-butter-filled pretzels are almost more addictive than Cheez-Its (I can’t believe I just typed that) but Aldi’s peanut-butter-filled pretzels, which *should* be identical? Right? They are not.

        1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          I cannot buy Trader Joe’s peanut butter filled pretzels, because I eat far too many of them if they’re in the house.

    2. WellRed*

      My Cheerios gotta be real! My mom has tried to sneak the generic past me but I can always tell. Peanut butter, on the other hand, is always store brand.

    3. Ricotta*

      It pains me, but Oral B brush heads. I’ve tried both WalMart and Target store brand ones, and my teeth just don’t get clean. I thought I was doing great saving money and then my hygienist was like “Uh, what happened? You used to be really diligent.”

      That said, any old toothpaste is fine.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, Oral B brush heads for me too. The difference is amazing, especially the ones with flossing action. I’ve always been a diligent brusher but a lazy flosser, so when I needed a new brush because the old one could no longer keep the charge for two minutes, I upgraded to the iO that pretty much eliminates the need for flossing.

    4. Dancing Otter*

      No substitutes: diet cola must be Coke or Dr Pepper, though some store brand ginger ale is palatable; soup, because store brands have limited varieties, and if I’m sick enough to want just basic chicken noodle, I want the good kind!

      Generics depend a lot on the store. Costco (Kirkland) is generally good; Jewel has excellent house-brand dairy products; some of Trader Joe’s frozen vegetables are better than the brand names. The “bargain” grocery stores, though, I’m going to look for brand names I recognize.

      Many people have trouble with NSAIDs like ibuprofen on an empty stomach. My gastroenterologist would really like me to avoid them entirely. I’m glad your husband found one with a coating that works for him.

    5. My Brain is Exploding*

      My dad: only Quaker puffed wheat. My spouse: mostly branded soda (very few exceptions), NO generic peanut butter (only Skippy, Jif, or Peter Pan). Generic PB is ok for baking, though.

    6. Seashell*

      My mother is insistent that Motrin works for her and Advil doesn’t. They’re both Ibuprofen, so I find that hard to believe. I think she needs a blind test for that.

      Store brand canned beans or canned pumpkin puree are fine for me.

      I recently had store brand frosted mini-wheats. It was OK, but the brand name is better.

    7. Texan In Exile*

      Dawn dish soap. The good parchment paper (I don’t remember the brand, but generic doesn’t cut it.)

    8. Belle*

      We do a lot at Aldi for their house brand, but there are a few things we just find the name brand is better for us. Heinz ketchup, Brawny paper towels and Spaghettios (my kid has tried a whole bunch and can tell). Otherwise we load up on the store brand. We actually prefer several of Aldi’s house brand items vs name brand – such as crackers, applesauce, chicken nuggets and cottage cheese.

    9. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I’ve got one item where I’m the exact opposite: Ginger beer. I prefer the Safeway and Kroger store brands. A lot of the name brands feel like they’ve gotten very fancy with their recipe, especially Fever Tree. Meanwhile the store brand one is simple, not too sweet, and spicy enough to take the roof off your mouth.

    10. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Lipton noodle soup, Motts apple juice, and Rolled Gold pretzles have no replacements for me! Other soup mixes have a weird starchy texture, other pretzles just don’t taste the same, and no other apple juice actually tastes like juice and not syrup.
      And one the exact opposite: I HATE brand-name cheerios, but every single generic/store brand that I’ve tried is good!

    11. goddessoftransitory*

      Hmmm….I don’t really mind generics for much, but:

      I do want name brand soda: the off brands taste off. Same for ketchup. Heinz 57 or Hunts. Not that watery crap that every other ketchup becomes. And Hebrew National hot dogs or GTFO.

      Toiletries: I need to use Neutrogena brand face stuff or I break out in rashes. I use a specific brand of shampoo/conditioner that I’m too lazy to go look at right now or my hair flops about like the offspring of a wad of kelp and very put upon Dickens character. And Crest toothpaste–anything else tastes wrong.

    12. Kingdom.*

      Brand name: Coke, Heinz ketchup, Kellogg’s Cornflakes and Rice Krispies.

      Generic: cleaning stuff, painkillers, most other stuff

    13. Unkempt Flatware*

      I’ll give examples not about food. I refuse to buy anything that only lasts a season. I won’t buy cheap flip flops at Old Navy for a trip to the beach. I won’t buy a knock-off with cheap material to save money. I don’t give novelty gifts to my niece and nephews. I don’t buy single use streamers and other party favor-type stuff. I buy only high quality lasting materials that I don’t have to feel guilty about. This makes my father absolutely incredulous as he only gives very cheap shitty gifts and accuses me of having bad financial habits. Even though I tell him I don’t want any gifts from him, he resents me for being “high maintenance”.

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          Thanks! It makes me feel better about being a consuming human. And yes, he’s by far the most difficult person I know.

    14. Esprit de l'escalier*

      Bandaids have to be Band-Aid brand — the generic ones can’t handle getting wet At All, and almost always it’s for a finger near the tip, which is darned hard to keep completely dry. A supermarket bandaid might stay on for part of a day, but real Band-Aids are usually good for 2 or even 3 days, with an equal level of attempted water-avoidance on my part. Band-Aids cost more, but not 2x-3x more, so it really is cost-effective as well as much less aggravating to get the good ones.

      1. Rain*

        Ooh yes! We hike a lot so we stock up on the Band-Aid brand hydrocolloid Band-Aids.

        We tried generic ones once And they were not at all the same and in fact made my blisters worse.

    15. Lore*

      Heinz Ketchup, Hellman’s mayonnaise, Coke, Q-Tips, Glide floss. Target’s house brand housewares (cleaning supplies, toilet paper, tinfoil, etc), I generally prefer to brand names, but some other generics of plastic wrap, foil, parchment, storage bags are definitely inferior.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Oh, mayo! I’m one of those who can’t stand the taste of Best Foods Mayo. I don’t know what it is but it tastes all wrong to me. On the other hand, we buy Kroger brand mayo that uses olive oil and it tastes just fine, so *shrug* weirdness.

    16. Qwerty*

      Weirdly there are a couple brands that I prefer the generic Meijer version – like their version of Aveeno lotion and Kraft parmesean cheese.

      Coca cola I always get on brand, though I prefer generic cola to Pepsi. For medicines – Pepto chewable tablets, because the generic brands look the same but are chalky.

      I think in general I stick with brand names with distinct flavors and am usually fine with generic for ingredients or non-food items. Like, anyone can make a pretzel but only one brand makes a white cheddar Cheez-it properly.

      Fun fact: Oreos are now considered a brand name item, but are actually a knock off that advertised well enough that the original no longer exists

    17. JustEm*

      Cheerios must be brand name – the generic brands all taste like cardboard to me. I also strongly prefer Fage brand Greek yogurt.

      I buy a lot of stuff that’s Kroger or Costco store brand. My daughter only likes the organic Kroger pouches, won’t do the more expensive fruit and veggie pouches

    18. HannahS*

      Branded only:
      -toothpaste (Crest)
      -whole wheat flour (Robin Hood tastes better)
      -day/night cold and flu tablets (Tylenol only; the generic made me feel so dopey)
      -cocoa powder (I buy Camino because that’s what my store has but it is SO MUCH better than generic)

      -all other OTC meds
      -eggs, cheese, milk, toilet paper, zipper lock bags

    19. fhqwhgads*

      Dr Pepper – none of the knock offs taste right or good.
      Pretty much everything else I’m ok with generic.

    20. California Dreamin’*

      Bounty paper towels and Charmin TP. I buy them at Costco but won’t use any other brands. My husband is partial to Jif, and no other brand of peanut butter shall enter our home. I’ll do store brands for lots of other food items, though, like beans or Nutella (or “hazelnut spread”).
      I don’t really buy much bottled water anymore, but when I did, I was very picky about brands. I don’t like Dasani or Aquafina… I swear they have a “taste” and I want my water tasteless. Evian and Arrowhead were both good, and Crystal Geyser was also fine. Generic would be a no-go. To this day if Dasani is what I can get (in an airport or whatever), I’ll pass and maybe do an iced tea instead.

    21. Square Root of Minus One*

      Only brand: mustard. And one specific European brand only, the rest (other than specialised shops) doesn’t even come close: too much vinegar, oil and/or salt. Also, in the same vein, I’ll be careful of the olive oil for salad dressings, but I consent to downgrade for cooking oil.

      Generic OK: most other things, but especially pasta. I don’t feel Barilla or Panzani are worth the mark-up.

    22. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Crest toothpaste. Q-tips, as someone already mentioned. Saran wrap because our store brand doesn’t stick to anything except itself. Whisps cheddar cheese snacks – everything else is too salty. I don’t eat cereal any more; when I did I only bought name brands. My husband can’t tolerate dairy and the only semisweet chocolate chips he can eat are Toll House.

      We shop at Wegman’s and mostly I really love it. Their store brands are usually excellent. My only complaint is that they sometimes stop stocking the “real” thing in favor of their store brand – they used to stock Whisps and now it’s only theirs, which I don’t like, and they used to stock Saran and no longer do.

    23. Samwise*

      Hellmans or Best Foods mayo
      Heinz ketchup
      Zatarains creole mustard
      Talk o Texas hot okra pickles

    24. Annie*

      I’m a weird case – we’ll take most generics, there are some name brands some of us can’t stand, and then there are store brands that manage to outshine the rest.

      Truly horrible generics: Kroger brand diet cola (the light gray label). Not sure if we got a bad batch or what, but it tasted watered down last time I had it. All of their other sodas still taste fine (or at least not unexpectedly horrible) to me. Also, their malted milk chocolate waffle cone ice cream has this Chinese restaurant smell to it that ruins the experience. The only other ice cream I truly dislike is the one with walnuts in it that taste like wood chips. I don’t remember the brand, however.

      Name brands we can’t stand: Colgate toothpaste (severity depends on exact product). Oddly enough, Ultra Brite (their cheap brand that looks like just another generic until you look at the other side of the tube) is the exception to the “no Colgate because it makes someone in this house gag” rule.

      Surprisingly good store brands: Aldi bottled tea. Their unsweetened tea is the only one I’ve found that doesn’t taste like spiked water. Lidl’s chocolate almond milk and refrigerated Minute Maid fruit drink knockoffs are the best I’ve had of each. Dollar Tree’s dark chocolate bars (their other chocolate bars are too sweet), jarred morello cherries, and sweetened condensed milk are each made from a short list of simple-sounding ingredients and do the job well. Kroger’s Simple Truth organic milk is the only organic brand in my area that’s not ultra-pasteurized (I can taste the difference), and it has a uniquely refreshing taste. Walmart’s candy bars and Dollar Tree’s boxed crackers also taste fine on their own merits but are disappointing to anyone expecting them to be exactly like their name brand counterparts.

  30. Amory Blaine*

    Getting a new puppy!!! We met the litter and chose our boy; he’s coming home later this week. I’ve only adopted full grown dogs before— any advice or tips for living with a new puppy? (We’ve done our research and have a plan— just looking for extra ideas/ inspiration to make his new life as great as possible!!)

    1. Zweisatz*

      A dog-knowledgeable person I know made sure to have a LOT of introductions (at the appropriate time) to different people, things and situations so the dog wouldn’t become fearful or aggressive later – men, women, children, different vehicles, people with mobility devices, etc etc just as diverse as possible (not sure if they had a list from the internet to jump off or their own)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Specifically a situation to acclimate your puppy to: vet visits! Talk to your vet about how best to acclimate puppy to going to the vet and to the basic parts of an exam, so that every visit doesn’t automatically mean a scary thing involving vaccines and testing. Our vet encourages folks to bring puppies by monthly (preferably during their slower hours of course) and they go around and say hi to all the receptionists and vet techs (who excitedly chuck treats down their gullets and love on them) and they get weighed and someone will pull out a stethoscope and all that jazz – nothing even remotely resembling a formal exam, beyond the weight check (which is a good thing to do for puppies anyway to monitor their growth), but basically just getting them used to being at the vet when nothing really happens, so they tolerate it better when something IS happening.

        Disclaimer: I tried this, but it only worked so well with my woofapotamus because she actually ended up in the puppy hospital with pneumonia for a week at 4.5 months old, so she got all the super big scary experiences before we could really acclimate her well, and now she just doesn’t like being there. :(

        1. Sloanicota*

          I wish someone had done that with my boy! I got him as an adult so it was too late. He’s such a terror at the vet. I have found ONE person he can stand and it’s still touch-and-go the whole time, despite heavy medication. Poor lamb, he just doesn’t understand – he’s sure they’re trying to hurt him (and I mean, many of the things they do are either painful or uncomfortable or at least require his tolerance). We did “well doggy” visits and he is fine to come in, be weighed, even go back to the room, but as soon as the vet comes in, all bets are off.

    2. Sloanicota*

      This probably won’t happen to you but if you haven’t looked up “puppy blues” it’s good to be forwarned that this is totally normal and passing!! I got a case after I adopted my (adult) dog, just because it was taking *so* long to settle into a normal life, and was really freaked out thinking it meant I’d made a mistake or didn’t love my dog. I wish I’d known there’s a term for it and everything … and it goes away!

    3. Susie*

      Set the new puppy up for success by ensuring anything that might be fun to chew is not accessible. I had only adopted until we got a puppy a couple years ago. I was thoroughly unprepared for the amount of chewing. We had all the toys for her to play with, but that didn’t stop her from nipping at my kids (and making holes in almost every tshirt-those teeth are sharp), destroying my very expensive watercolor brushes, books, and wool yarn. We had a plan to keep her contained in controlled spaces (we had a large playpen), but small lapses had consequences. My husband was more prone to give her more freedom in the house because he felt bad about her being “separated” from the family. If you have someone like that in your house, make sure you both are on the same page about what supervision looks like.
      She’s 3 now, but I still need to keep my yarn and watercolor brushes away from her. She’s ok around books, thankfully.

    4. Time for Tea*

      Make being round you *the* place to be, practice recalls while puppy wants to be with you anyway when he’s little – so many people don’t do enough recall training (using whatever word and/or whistle and/or hand signal) because puppy is all ready sticking to them like glue, it gets to 6 months and stays the rest of its life on a leash as now it wants to explore the world away from Mum and Dad and they can’t get it to come back….

      Teaching recall and stop at a distance are far more useful life skills than a sit for most dogs.

      Drop a few treats or kibble on a towel and roll it up as an easy cheap mental exercise for puppy to work out how to unravel. Frozen kongs take ages to get stuff out and frozen carrots are good too for teething particularly.

      Puppies need more mental stimulation than physical exercise plus lots and lots of rest, lots of issues can be attributed to being overtired like human kids get!

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Co-sign. Do not wait for “obedience class.” Work on the most important things immediately. We taught our pups recall, stop and “drop it” from the minute we brought them home. We also trained them not to go in or out of a door without permission. When we brought home our golden as a (very very adorable) ten or twelve week old puppy, we put his little butt down in front of the door, waited a beat, and said “OK” before we let him into the house. Same with crossing streets when we worked with him on a leash.

    5. Dear Liza dear liza*


      Puppies do best with a routine, with regularly scheduled naps, meal times, play time, etc. It makes it SO much easier to get them potty trained and gives you some very needed down time. Google “AKC puppy schedule” for an example.

    6. DreamOfWinter*

      We’re in the same situation, bringing ours home in about 10 days. Our breeder sent us a book called The Puppy Playbook, by Joanna Russell, which has wonderful checklists and day-by-day advice on training, socializing, and everything else you may need. Enjoy your new little guy!

  31. Throwaway Today*

    Do you have tales about friendships changing because you realized something about your friend that was less positive than initially assumed? How did the friendship change after your realization? Did you make it work somehow, maybe with less close contact?

    I’m bummed out because a very close friend of several years might just be too rigorously conservative to make this work. Her personality also really doesn’t lend itself to “live and let live, let’s not talk about politics” because she will intensely start discussions with an accusatory tone even when I try to just change topics and move on.

    1. Oink*

      I had a friend who did something hurtful. All it required was an apology but she refused to admit she was wrong. I got the full bingo of non-apology apology: initial ghosting (she stopped contacting me for months), gaslighting (“that never happened”), turning the blame (“ok I know you’re upset but look at what YOU did too”), defensiveness (“look I’m just not good at saying sorry okay”), and victimization (“I was really hurt tooooooo”).

      It made me see how immature she was and I lost too much respect for her to continue the friendship.

      1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

        The narcissist’s prayer (Dayna Craig):
        That didn’t happen.
        And if it did, it wasn’t that bad.
        And if it was, that’s not a big deal.
        And if it is, that’s not my fault.
        And if it was, I didn’t mean it.
        And if I did, you deserved it.

      2. Throwaway Today*

        Ugh yeah, that’s an issue with her too. And to make it more complicated, it’s really unpredictable too. For some things she would genuinely apologize and mean it, but when she said something really hurtful regarding one of the demographics I’m in a while ago, it was both “Why didn’t you say anything” when it came up and “Well here is why I don’t see the issue”.

      3. Nervous Nellie*

        Your bingo card construct has blown my mind and given me a good chuckle. I am going to use it to reframe negative interactions as something humorous now. Keeping count will be a comforting distraction. Thank you so much for this!

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I told mine very explicitly (ten years into our sibling-like friendship) that if they continued to do thus-and-such behaviors that they had developed, I would not be able to maintain a friendship with them because it was damaging to my own mental health. After about a dozen repetitions of that conversation, both in person and through email/text/messaging means, in which every single time they insisted this was the first they were hearing that it was a problem, of course they would change those behaviors, and then nothing changed, I cut them out of my life. (That was almost ten years ago and to this day, my understanding is that they swear I ghosted them and they have no idea why.)

      So it really depends on what your difference is and how far you’re willing to bend over backwards to accommodate it. What I learned from my experience is that I am not as flexible as people like to think I am and if I am pushed far enough I will snap. :P

    3. allathian*

      I had a friend I loved a lot who’d supported me through some tough times. When I got back on my feet, she became a lot less fun to be around. I suspect she had a savior complex because she always hung out with people less fortunate than she was or who had some trouble in their lives. I started refusing her invitations until she stopped inviting me, but we never officially broke up.

      Another friend drank too much. She was a trust fund kid and the first of my friends to get a cellphone, and she’d call me at night weepy drunk. I had to take my phone off the hook at night to stop the calls getting through. In the end I called her and told her to delete my phone number from her phone so she couldn’t call me at night, even if I’d likecto talk with her when she was sober. She never called again.

      I stopped seeing a third friend because she was always late to our meetings, to the point that I stopped enjoying her company. The last time I saw her was when my son was seven months old. I’d timed her visit to start during my son’s naptime, but when she arrived he was awake and took most of my attention. She didn’t have any kids. I never heard from her again. I guess I showed my frustration at her poor timing a bit too clearly…

    4. Sloanicota*

      I mean, some people do also change over the course of their lives – some people get more conservative or they’re unwilling to keep it to themselves anymore – and friendships change as a consequence. I definitely lost some formerly-best-friends when they had kids because they had zero interest in anything I said for the next, oh, ten years and became weirdly retro in their opinions. They came back later, and sometimes we started a new friendship, sometimes we didn’t.

      1. Throwaway Today*

        Huh, you’re right. We’ve known each other for more than 10 years now and it makes sense that things might drift, even if I don’t want them to.

        1. allathian*

          It’s also possible that you’ve changed. In my case I know I have, I’m a lot less willing to tolerate what I perceive as poor treatment now than in my 20s. I started changing in this regard in my 30s.

    5. Elle Woods*

      I had this realization about a friend a few years ago. We’d get together for happy hour a few times a year. Looking back, I realize how that we’d go out and she’d never once ask how I was or what was new with me. When I’d bring up something from my own life, she’d say, “Oh, wow,” and immediately launch into a long story about her life. There was also a growing rift in our worldviews that became too much to ignore. Like your friend, she didn’t have the “let’s not talk about politics” personality. The pandemic put the final nail in the friendship. We’re still connected on Facebook but that’s it. I’m OK with that.

    6. Cat Executive Officer*

      Yep. This has happened before and is happening with one of my friendships now. The friendship I have now…I still generally like and respect her as a person, but we seem to be growing in different directions and don’t have as much in common anymore. There is also the factor of, I don’t like her spouse, so she does accommodate some things about him that lead me to believe that we have fundamentally diverging values, since someone with similar values to be wouldn’t even entertain someone like that.

      When I was in college, someone I initially befriended because I thought she was nice and we had some stuff in common turned out to be meaner and more selfish than I thought. I had to distance myself from her.

      I think it is what it is. Sometimes people grow in different directions.

      1. Cat Executive Officer*

        Sorry, that’s supposed to say “…because she accommodates…” Not “so she does”.

    7. Girasol*

      Anymore, politics! No tales. I don’t want to get into it and political discussions are out in this group anyway. But it’s sad that politics have skewed so far left and right that friendships and even families are broken up over just that.

    8. Irish Teacher.*

      Sadly with my brother. We are sixteen months apart in age and grew up pretty much like twins and best friends. I still have a relationship with him and I doubt he is even aware things have changed but…I no longer see him in the same way after the way he responded to a cancer scare I had a few years ago and I really started to see a mansplainy side to him. And I can’t stop seeing it now.

      A rather hilarious example was when he told me that “not all de Valera’s biographers think he did a good job.” Like, dude I have a history degree and have been obsessed with de Valera since I was about 9 and have read probably 90% of the biographies written on him. My brother has, to be fair, a good layperson’s knowledge of history (of the facts anyway; he often interprets things out of context) but his degree is in science, he hasn’t studied history formally since secondary school and I am pretty sure he has never read one biography of de Valera.

      He’s also insisted that people can have appalling politics and be good people, citing certain politicians and campaigners who promote horrible or bigoted ideas but who are, by all accounts perfectly pleasant to hang out with and when I pointed out that a person who is fun to hang out with but actively works to harm the vulnerable is not a good person, he started arguing about “well, I don’t really believe in ‘good’ and ‘bad’ people anyway. It’s too simplistic to put people into categories like that,” when he was the one who initially brought up the “you can’t just people by their political views. Some people with problematic views are still good people.”

      1. Throwaway Today*

        Yeah that does sound familiar. Both something happening and your image of them shifts as well as a very different stance on people having hateful politics and still being a good person. I’m sorry to hear you have to deal with that.

    9. Frankie Bergstein*

      Yes – a few:

      -a man who seemed nice and easy to talk to but turned out to be trolling for an affair and had cheated on his wife many, many times. Spare me this drama. This one was awkward but didn’t hurt.

      -a friend where I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, not even to talk about our relationship dynamic! This one didn’t hurt that much.

      -a friend who used me as her trip planner / unpaid therapist, then attacked me when I brought up the dynamic — narcissist’s prayer fits perfectly here (see up thread). She basically gave me all kinds of excuses about how the friendship was one-sided and it was okay / it was my fault / I didn’t understand how hard her life was / she never specifically and directly asked me to do the things I did for her, etc. This one hurt a lot and landed me back in therapy (ultimately a good thing in the long run!)

    10. HannahS*

      I had a lot of progressive friends who were all about learning and listening until I politely pointed out that they were unknowingly propagating antisemitic propaganda and then they went full DARVO and that was the end of that. Turns out all the noise about fragility and people being more scared of being called racist rather than being racist applied to others, but not themselves. It was devastating, frankly.

      On lighter variants, I had a friend for whom I bent over backwards for years, acting as her free chauffeur, hotel, and therapist but eventually revealed herself to be someone who had no willingness to behave sympathetically towards me, even when I explicitly said, “What I need from you right now is for you to listen and support me.” That got a furious outburst from her because I was asking her to be inauthentic (lol) and I was DONE.

  32. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    Very specific request designed to enable me frittering away money on the Vinted app (UK): any good labels/brands/stores to look for in the quest for well designed costume jewelry (specifically pendant necklaces)?

    I currently check on FCUK, V&A, Tate galleries, and do a lot of joyfully mindless browsing, but if anyone is like “oh Jigsaw used to do great jewellery” please let me know!

    1. OxfordBlue*

      Butler and Wilson used to do wonderful costume jewellery in the late 80s and early 90s and some of M&S stuff from the same era was very good too.
      My top tip for costume jewellery would be to check out local auction houses, my local one Mallams often includes job lots of costume jewellery in their sales. If you look on their website you can see what I mean and see the sold prices which are very reasonable. Well worth seeing if you have something similar near you so you can go to the viewing days and perhaps get something unique for a few pounds.

  33. ModernFamily*

    I am re-watching Modern Family (ALERT – SPOILERS AHEAD). I’m up to the part where Andy and Haley are having feelings for each other. I have so much sadness at this part knowing they ultimately don’t end up together. I love Andy. He is goofy, smart, ambitious, kind, and a lot like Phil. I wish they had their happily ever after.

    What cuts me up even more is knowing Haley ends up with Dylan after an early unplanned pregnancy. I liked Dylan as Haley’s first teenage love but not as a husband and father of her children.

    Any commiserations or discussions on this welcome. Or any fictional endings you desperately wish you could change?

    1. Rain*

      The last season of “How I Met Your Mother”. It was so bad it ruined the show for me.

      And GoT, of course.

      1. Helvetica*

        The visceral hate I feel for HIMYM is deeper than I’ve ever felt for any show, and it wasn’t even that I loved it deeply previously. But the last season is just so awful at undercutting everything previous.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I think it’s so interesting how people hate the ending. I was only a casual watcher but it made sense to me that Ted/Robin might have been the end game all along. I think their problem was that Robin/Barney became too likeable! I guess NPH was just the dark horse of the show haha.

          1. Sloanicota*

            To be clear, I’m saying this as someone who didn’t watch the last season in order (may have still never seen every episode, in fact) but did watch the finale, which I think very much influences my opinion. Like even on GOT I heard people say it’s not the concept of the ending they liked, the last season just really failed to pull it off – was it similar in HIMYM? I just don’t quite understand why it’s gone down as like, series-breaking-worst-ending-ever.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            Loved about the HIMYM ending: That the mother had died after a happy 10-ish years together. I thought that was really well laid out over the course of the show, and made a lot of sense for why Ted would now lean back into the moments that led up to meeting her. I found that poignant.

            Hated about the HIMYM ending: It was Robin all along–Ted just needed to find a dead baby mamma, so he could have both kids and Robin. In the final season, any time the episode description was “so Ted and Robin wonder what if…” I would skip that episode, because man was I sick to death of this storyline. You had the opportunity to make it work and didn’t–don’t ask me to invest if you won’t. (I also came to hate the romance on Castle for this reason.) I think Robin would have worked after 1-2 seasons as an ending.

            Also hated: The last we saw Robin she was completely estranged from the group–Penny recognized her from a bus ad. But apparently off screen there was this whole story where she reintegrated with Ted and his kids, and with the rest of the crowd, they just didn’t bother to show it.

          3. Helvetica*

            I think that is why I hate it – that the show-runners had a vision and wanted to complete it, despite the story having evolved differently. Anyone who’s ever written fiction knows that you need to trust the story. I will confess that I liked Barney and Robin a lot as a couple and to me, it made no sense to spend an entire season (!) on their wedding to undo it. And Tracy/the mother was so perfect for Ted that him going back to Robin after she died also undid a lot of his own progress as a character.
            tl;dr I have a lot of feelings about the ending.

          4. ThatGirl*

            The mother (Tracy) became very loveable and had great chemistry with Ted and then they killed her off in 20 seconds! That was what pissed me off.

            1. Sloanicota*

              I guess that’s the curse of the twist ending (same of GOT in a way) – if the show was just about all the years getting to find the Mother, and then in the end he meets her and they live happily ever after, I think that might have felt a bit anticlimactic to me. But I’m not sure I would have wanted to watch a whole season (representing ten years) in which she dies, either! That would be such a downer. There had to be some kind of twist, but clearly the one they picked didn’t satisfy the fans. It was such a clever show too, with all the call backs and circular references.

    2. UKDancer*

      I’d love to change the last season of Game of Thrones which was just awful. SPOILERS AHEAD.

      I hated the face-heel turn Danerys did which seemed to come out of nowhere – I mean I could buy her slowly going evil but not so quickly, the plotlines were awful and I hated Arya killing the Night King when it came out nowhere and didn’t make sense and the ending was just awful and lacked logical sense. Also Cersei was fascinating and the best they could find for her was a “rocks fall everyone dies” ending. I mean what a let down.

      I wasn’t a massive fan of the series but I just thought it went from being entertaining but problematic to being a complete car crash.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I feel similarly about GOT. Part of what made the first few seasons great was watching everyone scheming against each other and (slowly) putting their plans into motion. Arya killing the Night King, Arya and Sansa pretending to hate each other but *plot twist* were secretly working together all along both were totally opposite in terms of plotting from the first few seasons.

        And Dany turning evil…yeesh. In a show where so many people are horrible, kill and plot to kill so many people, we as an audience were supposed to think that Dany’s (admittedly very deadly) quest to *checks notes* end slavery is suddenly where the line has been crossed? If the writers had taken a “slowly turn evil” approach, maybe it would not have felt so “ok, now take our word that one of the main protagonists on this show is actually and antagonist and has to die.”

        1. UKDancer*

          Yeah I think it would have worked much better for her to get the throne and take over and be welcomed (and after Cersei you really expect her to be welcomed. I mean Cersei blew up the sept and killed countless people. Dany should be a welcome relief). Then for her to slowly become consumed by madness as things didn’t work out as planned, people challenged her and the north rebelled for independence.

          I’d even have seen the sense of Cersei escaping leading a fightback and a civil war and the two of them dying in battle and someone else picking up the pieces and trying to rebuild a shattered land. What they did just felt stupidly rushed.

          I also agree that the Sansa / Arya scenes were hopeless and made Littlefinger look really stupid (a cardinal sin in my view). Also the part where Sansa said basically that being abused by Ramsey made her stronger is awful – what the hell and no it doesn’t.

      2. nnn*

        I agree Danerys evolution happened too quickly (like a lot in the last season did) but I recently rewatched the whole series and once you know where it’s going to go, you can see clues to it planted all the way through the series. Everyone ignored them because we wanted to root for her. I saw a great Peter Dinklage (Tyrion) quote that said, “I feel like what [the showrunners] Dave [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] did was extraordinary. This happens. Monsters are created. And you don’t see it coming. We vote them into office. You look the other way. So for everybody to get upset because they loved a character so much and they had so much faith in that person—there were signposts all along the way for that character.”

    3. Falling Diphthong*


      What I thought was happening at the start of the final season, and it really re-ignited my interest in the show:
      • On island, Jacob and Esau are godlike beings who argue about humanity and its potential. Jacob keeps crashing vehicles into the island so the people can demonstrate their good qualities under pressure; Esau is irritated by this and kills the people off. There are rules to their contests. The key for the humans is realizing that you don’t have to side with either of them: you need to stop them from messing with humans for their entertainment. Which blowing up the island did.
      • In the flash sideways, we see what would have happened in each person’s life if the island wasn’t messing with them. (Handwaving about how you’re drawn to the same people across timelines.) Kate would have made the same disastrous choices; Sawyer wound up lawman rather than conman.

      I find there’s a special frustration to things that start out really promising and then go off the rails. Perhaps exacerbated by modern detailed breakdown of successful stories, like when fans figure out how the time jumping could fit into the story based on detailed analysis and the show runners are like “Ha ha we didn’t worry about if any of it would hold up, we just thought it would be cool.”

      1. Filosofickle*

        I didn’t watch Lost at the time — being somewhat allergic to any show that “everyone” is watching — but I always expected to watch it eventually after it wrapped up. Then I heard about the ending and how frustrating it was for pretty much everyone so I decided not to invest in it! To this day I haven’t watched a single episode because of that.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          It’s a good embodiment of the distinction between having an idea and executing the idea. For stories, the interesting set-up is a lot easier to execute than nailing the resolution of that interesting set-up.

    4. Sloanicota*

      Supernatural. It’s not that it was a *bad* ending in theory in terms of the two brother’s relationship,* it’s just that it was a downer, and sort of undid a lot of the character progress to take them basically back to where they were at the beginning. To be fair, the showrunner’s originally ending was at the end of season 5, and that would have been a downer too (not his fault that it ran for like ten more seasons!). It was kind of a downer show in general but I definitely had moments of really enjoying it.

      *let’s not get into a whole fandom debate, I realize the show has passionate fans, I agree Cas deserved a better ending also, but I am someone who thinks the show is more centered on Dean and Sam’s relationship … like the HIMYM example above, part of their “problem” – which is kind of a good problem to have honestly – was that the Castiel character was such a dark horse.

    5. Seashell*

      I agree with you on Modern Family. Haley was kind of dopey, but not as much as Dylan.

      Similarly, I have mixed feelings about who the kids ended up with on The Middle. It was nice that Sue got her dream man, but I think she & Darren meshed better together and were more on the same level. I liked Lexi, but Axel fit better with Devin Levin.

      1. MissGirl*

        I loved Darren and hated that they broke up! I understood why I just wish the plot line didn’t go there.

    6. Elle Woods*

      Sex and the City. I though the end of the show was perfect and very satisfying. Then they went and ruined with a not-great movie, followed by an even worse second movie, and a completely unnecessary series.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I agree on this one. The original series was great when my kids were small–only half an hour, NOT aimed at children (unlike most of my day) but not because of gore or violence. It was a nice indulgence after the kids were in bed. Great ending. To do the movies, they had to undo all the satisfying emotional resolutions of that ending.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yeah the movies were terrible and I didn’t like the new series either. It just didn’t work for me. SATC was a moment in time and it worked perfectly and the ending felt right. Trying to repeat it really didn’t do anything for me.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            The revival was head scratchy for me. Like if someone moves across the globe to be with you and you’re ecstatic about that, I think it’s okay for that person to believe, and say, that the two of you are in a relationship.

      2. Unkempt Flatware*

        Oh those don’t exist in my world. But I will say that now the SatC has a second wind, I like that younger women realize how awful and selfish Carrie was and what a great friend Samantha was.

        1. UKDancer*

          Oh I always thought Carrie was awful and selfish, that was part of the thing that made it interesting to watch. I really liked that the characters were so complex and multifaceted and none of them are particularly nice people. It is what made it interesting.

          For me neither the films nor the other series seemed to get that and so I didn’t like them.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Yes, I thought the original series got that Carrie had some awful qualities. Like, when Miranda did the math on how many pairs of $300 shoes make a $30,000 down payment on a condo, I don’t think we were supposed to empathize with Carrie.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      The season one finale of The Killing. Such utter bullshit–there were op-ed pieces written about it!

    8. Qwerty*

      I’ve given up on watching final seasons – I can maybe make it halfway through the final season before giving up. I think its a combo of writers feeling pressured to tie everything up in a neat bow or and the tendency for spinoffs means the planned ending might not be possible.

      A lot of shows also go on too long so the happy endings have to die in order to give us more storylines for the extra seasons.

    9. Tea and Sympathy*

      Roseanne. It was an awful final season, that didn’t fit the feeling of all the seasons that had come before. Then the finale tried to maybe correct that be using the it-was-all-a-dream trope, except changing it to she-was-writing-a-book. That trope almost always just feels like lazy writing, and this one was particularly bad.

    10. I take tea*

      The ending of the film version of The Mist fills me with rage every time I think of it. Which is sad, because it was otherwise brilliant.

      I know that Stephen King isn’t always the best at endings, but I liked the open ending of the original story a lot more than “hi, here’s the army saving us all (a bit too late)”. The whole premise of the original story is that the army effes up big time, and the soilders in the shop hanges themselves rather than coping with the consequenses. It just doesn’t make sense for the army to come around with big leaf blowers and save the day.

    11. EngineerGal*

      Little Women-Jo and Laurie are meant to be-Amy?? WTF?

      Jo ending up with the professor is just bleah

      Having him played by Gabriel Byrne in one of the films did not reconcile me-and I love me some Gabriel

    12. Roland*

      Ross and Rachel… But they got together and broke up often enough so I tell myself they just broke up again after a month.

      Actually reminds me of how so many people complained about Jackie & Kelso still doing their on-and-off again thing in That 90s Show because it “contradicts the finale of That 70s Show” – nah, just because Jackie and Fez kissed in the last episode instead of a random episode doesn’t mean it’s gonna last! (The real bummer ofc is that there’s no hope of any Jackie-and-Hyde in the 90s because Danny Masterson is terrible.)

      1. Roland*

        Though if we’re going finales in general and not just who-ended-up-with-who… Merlin. You could take a masterclass on how to stick it to your fans for no reason from those writers.

  34. Cookies For Breakfast*

    I have a gorgeous patterned maxi skirt I’d love to wear to go to a wedding in two weeks, but I’m struggling to work out what sort of top to match it with for an elegant look (I don’t already own anything suitable). I’m hoping there’s a tool somewhere where I could upload a picture of the skirt, and get some suggestions on other garments that match. Do any websites of that sort exist? A quick Google just now is only returning articles about how to style an outfit in generic terms.

    1. WellRed*

      Can’t answer the app question but you’ll want a minimal top with a maximalist skirt. Maybe a slim tank and statement necklace plus some sort of wrap if it might get chilly.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        That’s the ideal, but I’m really struggling with colours. I own a gold top I thought would work but is too pale for the skirt, a bright green one that looks like an obvious clash, and a royal blue one that maybe could work if two different tones of blue is not a big fashion no-no? (the skirt is in between navy and midnight blue)

        What complicates things is that none of my statement necklaces seems suitable either (two are black, the other is a deep, dark purple). So maybe the skirt idea is too ambitious for this event. But don’t get me started on looking for a dress, I’ve had several disappointments with sizes and shapes recently!

          1. FashionablyEvil*

            Agreed! Also agreed that a slim tank plus one or two fun pieces of jewelry (could also be a big bracelet or statement earrings) would work. Also, bright lipstick.

            I just did a long skirt with a basic black tee, bright red lipstick, and big hoop earrings for a less formal event. It was perfect.

          2. Observer*