weekend open thread — July 6-7, 2024

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

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: The Mythmakers, by Keziah Weir. A young writer recognizes herself in a short story by an author who she met years ago and tries to find out why.

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

{ 907 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 will be removed. We also can’t do medical advice here.

    Please give the full rules a re-read.

  2. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Share what you’ve been reading and give or request recs. Anything particularly fun for the summer?

    I just started Sociopath: A Memoir by Patric Gagne. It’s the memoir of a woman who has been diagnosed as a sociopath, sharing her life experiences and trying to make sense of everything. It’s a very interesting book so far, and as someone who has often found books about mental illness fascinating, I’ve been enjoying it a lot. It’s also sparked a lot of reflection on my part, as someone who is decidedly not sociopathic and has been trained by society to have a lot of negative feelings about sociopaths. Often for good reason, but it’s still helpful to think about and figure out what could make it better for those born with this condition.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      My reading has not been going well lately. I can’t seem to find a book that grabs my attention. The last book I was able to finish was The Fox Wife by Yangsze Choo, and when I finished it, I realized that I was pretty meh about it. Not bad, but not gripping.

      1. Rain*

        Have you tried reading collections of short stories? I find that when I want to read but I can’t get my brain to settle down and pay attention to a whole book, reading one or two short stories usually gets me back in a place where I can read novels.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          Good idea. I think I have an Alice Munro book in my TBR pile. I’ll try that.

          1. Agnes Grey*

            You can never go wrong with Alice Munro! Margaret Atwood’s short stories are excellent too, so trenchant.

        2. Agnes Grey*

          I’ve been having trouble focusing on reading lately but short stories have been a good way to get back into it. I was able to finish Truthtelling, by Lynne Sharon Schwartz, and am almost done with Olive Kitteredge by Elizabeth Strout – can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get around to that one!

        3. RC*

          I remember particularly enjoying the short stories in “How Long ‘til Black Future Month?” by N.K. Jemisin

        4. Ali + Nino*

          Whenever short stories come up I just have to put in a plug for Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan. Intense but definitely worthwhile.

      2. Amory Blaine*

        Me too! I’ve abandoned 3 books in the last month, something I almost never do. I decided to re-read a favorite series, the Queen’s Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, and have been going through a book a day. Sometimes I just need to remember why I love reading.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          I have just bought brand new editions of Sarah Caudwell’s books. I love those books. I should probably put them on top of the pile.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Even though I view occasionally abandoning a book as a good thing–it means I am stretching out of a narrow “I’m guaranteed to like this band,” and so also likely to find something outside my usual choices that I really love–I have abandoned a surprising number in the past month or two.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          I will try books on recommendations, from here or elsewhere. Just this batch from the library that fails to interest me.

    2. Nervous Nellie*

      Two for me:

      Stories of Your Life by Ted Chiang – rather long short stories that are dreamy, poetic and otherworldly somewhat-sci fi. The title story was made into the film Arrival. The stories stay with you long after you’re done.

      From the Other Side of Night: New & Selected Poems by Francisco X. Alarcon. The library wrongly sent me this instead of a similarly titled non-fiction book, but I am not complaining. This Mexican poet creates such perfect, heartbreaking images in English and Spanish. It’s impossible not to read these aloud. What a terrific discovery.

      1. PhyllisB*

        This reminds me of something that happened to me years ago. I was in a book club at our local library and our assigned book that month was The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. I got to the library and realized I had forgotten to write down title and author. The librarian leading the group was off that day and no one else on the desk knew. All I could remember was it had bees in the title. I decided it must be The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King. it was not, but I discovered a whole new series I enjoyed. (if you ever enjoyed Sherlock Holmes you would probably like this series.) I always say that was my favorite mistake. BTW, The Secret Life of Bees is wonderful, too.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Marvelous! Yes, both are great. You might also like The Murmur of Bees by Mexican author Sofia Segovia, about a child who has visions, and who has a faithful entourage of bees….

          1. BikeWalkBarb*

            I’ll chime in with the delightful novel “The Bees” by Laline Paull. It features bees and the life of a hive, anthropomorphized enough that you relate to their anxiety when they can’t find blooms and their concern for healthy hatchlings. It feels true, in a way, with real behaviors of bees turned into plot elements in the life of Flora 717, a worker bee of unusual size and strength.

        2. Clisby*

          I second The Secret Life of Bees, but it’s one of those books that it took me awhile to like. I must have read the first 2 chapters 3 times, trying to work up some interest, and I guess something on try #3 got me to read on a little more and I read the rest of the book.

      2. Henry Division*

        Both of Ted Chiang’s collections are excellent. I loved some of the stories in Stories of Your Life, really liked the Tower of Babel one and the title one. As a whole I think I liked Exhalation better, but it’s been a second.

    3. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      I just finished Nine Tailed by Jaci Lee (one of my Amazon First choices). Enjoyable fantasy with a young adult feel even though the main character is a century old nine-tailed fox who has been hiding as a human since a terrible incident in her past that has made her a loner who never settles down. Lots of Korean culture and mythology as Sunny faces an old enemy.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Well, my library doesn’t have Nine Tailed, but my search brought up The God and the Gumiho by Stacie Kim. It sounds interesting, so I requested that instead.

        1. Great Frogs of Literature*

          If that sounds interesting, you could also try Yoon Ha Lee’s Dragon Pearl, which is middle grade sci-fi with a lot of Korean influences.

    4. CityMouse*

      I just read:

      Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow. I’m honestly not sure how I’d rate this one because there were some really interesting and compelling bits of writing, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about the book as a whole.

      The Monsters We Defy – historical fantasy set in early 20th Century DC. I liked this one a lot.

    5. Happily Retired*

      “The Cautious Traveller’s Guide to the Wastelands,” first novel by Sarah Brooks. I don’t even know how to describe it. Best attempt: speculative fiction set in end of 19th century on the Trans-Siberian Express, where Something happened fifty-ish years ago to cause the wildlife and environment of Siberia to rapidly and drastically change, threatening the train runs and passengers, and now it’s getting much, much worse. (Told you I couldn’t describe it.) But the writing is incredible: well-drawn characters, taut and coherent plot, and edge-of-seat suspense. I found it on the new book reshelving cart at the library. When this one’s done (tonight), I start Irish mystery-suspense writer Tana French’s new book “The Hunter.”

        1. GranolaCrunch*

          You might enjoy Yiyun Li’s Tolstoy Together, based on her posts at A Public Space as she invited people to read War & Peace with her during lockdown. I finally finished W&P this way!

        2. RW*

          Fun! I enjoyed W&P way more than I thought I would – he gets a bit preachy about hs view of history sometimes, but the characters were lively and I got invested!

      1. Jen Erik*

        When I was reading ‘The Hunter’ I found I wished I recalled ‘The Searcher’ better – if I’d been able to lay my hands on my copy, I’d probably have paused ‘The Hunter’ and done a quick reread. I still really enjoyed it, though.

        The Sarah Brooks book sounds great.

      2. Tortally HareBrained*

        I finished The Hunter a little over a week ago and am currently reading the sequel The Searcher. These are good, with a slow but not uncomfortable pace to them. I’m enjoying the main characters a lot.

        1. Tortally HareBrained*

          Strike that on the titles. I am reading the books in order, just have them flipped in my head for what they are named.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      In the mystery line:
      The Appeal by Hallett, in which an English village rallies around their local theater troupe when the founder’s toddler granddaughter has a rare type of cancer that only responds to expensive private treatment. An epistolary novel that really hits the actual style of emails–you piece together events by how people are reacting to them in the messages they send each other. You can tell something is off, but exactly who is conning and who’s being conned is delightfully confusing. I really liked this. Even if mysteries aren’t your usual jam, you might like it for great execution.

      Every Time I Go on Vacation Someone Dies in which an author on a book tour in Italy plots to kill off her main character… who is also her ex, and also on the tour. Should’ve been up my alley, playing with the tropes of the cozy travel mystery. About 100 pages in someone appeared to be murdered, but wasn’t (again), and I realized that I did not care what happened to any of these people. The characters were paper thin.

      Currently reading Very Bad Company, in which the executives of a tech startup go on a corporate retreat to celebrate the company’s sale, while attempting to make sure the purchasing company’s due diligence doesn’t uncover anything unseemly. Like the exec who vanishes on the first night and may have been murdered. Or the fact that they are faking the profits. Or… Everyone makes a seven figure salary, but low seven figures, which is clearly not enough to live on. You aren’t expected to root for anyone per se, but to watch in delight as it all crumbles. (I was expecting something like Ten Little Indians, but they are not on a remote island killing off everyone. Yet.)

      1. allathian*

        The only book I know of that has been published with three different titles. I have the first paperback edition, Ten Little N-words, and the rhyme’s jarring to read, to say the least. The modern title is And Then There Were None.

    7. word nerd*

      My favorite read this week was Real Americans by Rachel Khong, set across three generations that started in China during the Cultural Revolution and then immigrated to America. I liked this so much better than her previous book Goodbye, Vitamin, and it also gave me hope that I like *some* stories that span generations after striking out on several recently.

      1. Annie Edison*

        Ooh I didn’t know she had another book out! I really liked Goodbye Vitamin and generational epics, so this sounds right up my alley

      2. PhyllisB*

        Interesting that Rachel Khong should come up this week. I just read an interview with her in Time magazine that mentioned both of her books. I’m going to be on the lookout for both of them.

    8. Dwight Schrute*

      I started the mistborn trilogy and so far I’m really enjoying it. I dnfd the second crescent City book which I hate doing but it just wasnt doing it for me

    9. Annie Edison*

      I binged “Anita de Monte Laughs Last” by Xochitl Gonzales overnight earlier this week when I couldn’t fall asleep and loved it. It’s got elements of magical realism and a tiny bit of a ghost story, and tells two parallel stories. One is the life of a Cuban American artist in NYC in the 80s, and the other story is a young latinx woman attending Brown university as an art historian in the 90s. It explores the ways that race, class, and gender impact their careers in the arts and academia, and the pressures they experience from their white male partners to subsume their own ambitions to support his instead.

      Highly recommend, plus her first book (Olga Dies Dreaming) if you haven’t read that one yet. Content warnings in this book for domestic violence, a moment of fairly bloody horror-ish imagery, and descriptions of eating disorders, just in case you’re sensitive to any of those things

    10. Shakti*

      Currently reading Peter Lawford the man who kept the secrets by James Spada (it’s phenomenal so far!!) very well written and researched!! Just finished Marilyn: the passion and the paradox by Lois W. Banner and it was superb!! Top research, brilliant writing, and genius analysis. Highly recommend!! Also reading Una Habitación con Vistas by EM Forster and am loving reading it in Spanish

    11. Still*

      I’ve finally started reading The Adventures of Anima Al-Sirafi and I’m liking it so far! It’s been recommended here many times, so thank you.

    12. BellaStella*

      I have the second book by Mark Manson, and am about half way thru it. It is really interesting and does give some hope.

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I literally just read Sociopath yesterday. Quite an interesting read.

    14. Not Alison*

      I just finished “The Ride of Her Life”, a true story about a 60+ woman from Maine who rode her horse across the country to California in the 1950s. If you like horses, you will probably enjoy this story.

    15. I'm here for the cats*

      I intensely enjoyed 90% of The September House, and I only didn’t love the ending because I suspect the writer and myself have very different individual ideas on what’s the worst thing that could happen to a domestic abuser.

    16. Lifelong student*

      I’ve been waiting for this thread ever since I finished “The Women” by Kristen Hannah. Absolutely fantastic book. It had me in tears sometimes. Moving and wonderful.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Yes, that was a wonderful book. I read it a few weeks ago and it broke my heart. I also felt so ashamed at how those of us at home never understood how war affects the soldiers involved and especially how they were treated when they returned.

    17. The Other Dawn*

      I’m reading the first book in the Scarecrow series from Matthew Reilly. I’m halfway through the book and I’m not sure how I feel about it. The opening battle was way too long and there really weren’t any insights to start fleshing out the main character, Scarecrow, until that was over. It’s getting better now that the battle scene is out of the way. I started reading it to bridge the gap between my last book and upcoming new releases. It was on my “want to read” list on GoodReads, and all the new books from my favorite authors haven’t yet been released.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        There’s a lot more character development in his Jack West series. I do love the Scarecrow books, but he does lean hard into the character’s taciturn and somewhat mysterious nature which makes the character development difficult. (I feel like I was probably the one that recommended it to you based on our past similarities in book tastes.)

    18. Seashell*

      I just read Hits, Flops, and Other Illusions: My 40 Years in Hollywood by Ed Zwick. It was interesting with a good amount of stories about working with famous actors and dealing with high-powered Hollywood executives. He directed some good movies and was involved in running two of my all-time favorite TV shows (Thirtysomething and My So-Called Life), so I enjoyed most of the subject matter.

    19. vombatus ursinus*

      I finished ‘Fool’s Fate’, the final book in the Tawny Man trilogy by Robin Hobb, last weekend. It’s one of those where you find yourself carrying the book around with you everywhere while reading the last quarter or so as the denouement becomes so gripping! I enjoyed the series overall — the only thing that bothered me a bit were how sexuality and gender were handled — progressive for the time but feels very early 2000s now.

      I then proceeded to breeze through ‘Good Material’ by Dolly Alderton in under three days. It’s a very readable anti-romantic comedy, which charts a stand-up comic’s emotional and social journey after being broken up with by his girlfriend. Lots of well-observed dialogue and humour. There’s also a very well-executed POV shift towards the end.

      And now I’m about a quarter of the way into ‘Eve: How the female body drove 400 million years of human evolution’ by Cat Bohannon, which I picked up at a local science festival. I’ve become pretty sceptical of ‘popular’ science books since seeing how the sausage is made during my PhD, but with that caveat at the back of my mind I am finding it really interesting and thought-provoking so far. I really enjoyed the first couple of chapters about our very distant ancestors, which dealt with the evolution of lactation and the uterus. Now I’m getting more into the human/hominin evolution stuff proper, which tends to be both more fraught and less interesting to me, so we’ll see. (Btw from my cis perspective, the book so far has handled gender with nuance and takes care not to exclude trans people or those with differences of sexual development from the narrative)

          1. vombatus ursinus*

            I hope you enjoy! Turns out that milk is far more interesting than I ever knew …

      1. allathian*

        I just finished Assassin’s Fate, the last book in The Fitz and the Fool trilogy. The more recent books are a bit better re gender representation. The Rain Wild Chronicles quadrilogy features an unhappy and abusive marriage between a gay Bingtown trader (who has been coerced to marry and produce an heir) and his independent and adventurous wife, but the later books in the series also feature two happy gay relationships. To be fair, the abusive husband also abused his gay lovers. Also, the genderfluid nature of the Fool becomes more obvious with each book. And Fitz learns to accept that, even if it takes a while.

        I found the mysteries with the Skill and the Wit, the Serpents, Dragons, Elderlings, the White Prophets, Silver, Memory Stone, and the intricate connections between them fascinating. The ending of Assassin’s Fate was very satisfying.

        1. BikeWalkBarb*

          I discovered all these books very recently and as a lifelong reader of fantasy don’t know how I missed them before. Loved them the overlapping story lines and the work she did to connect without giving things away if you read them in a different order than the publication sequence.

        2. vombatus ursinus*

          Thanks for your thoughts! I’m glad to hear that Fitz will go through some more character growth in that area. I had actually already read the Liveship Traders and Rain Wild Chronicles before starting on the Fitz books, so I’m very keen to see how it all comes together in the last trilogy! And I agree that the intricacy of the plotting and world building is very cool :)

    20. GoryDetails*

      In my search for books with unusual titles, I came across this one, which I’m enjoying:

      The Trans Space Octopus Congregation – a collection of LGBTQ-focused speculative fiction stories, by Hungarian author Bogi Takács (e/eir or they/them pronouns).

    21. Bluebell Brenham*

      I just finished The Funeral Ladies of Ellerie County which was a sweet novel about a family in Northwoods Wisconsin with a lot mixed in- spunky old ladies, a crisis to raise money, a romance, strangers in town, and more. I liked it. Also in the middle of Fight Like Hell, by Teen Vogue writer Kim Kelly – an inspiring history of union activism in the US. Still have 2 stories to go in Your Utopia, by Bora Chung.

    22. BlueMeeple*

      I recently read both Emily Wilde books, and loved them, so much that I pre-ordered the next one, rare for me as I’m not buying books unless I really like them. :)

      I’m currently reading Jack Whitehall’s book written with his dad, which makes me giggle as much as Bill Bryson’s do. :) I’m hoping that the new Janice Hallett book will be free for me at the library soon too. :)

    23. PhyllisB*

      I just finished Camino Ghosts by John Grisham. This was my favorite of the Camino series, and I’m thinking this was based on a true story. I know a lot of people don’t like him because they think he’s too commercial, but I’ve enjoyed most of his books over the years.

    24. chocolate muffins*

      Reading When the Vibe is Right by Sarah Dass which is okay. I didn’t realize that it was a young adult book when I decided to read it but it has been enjoyable even for my fully adult self.

    25. Mrs. Frisby*

      Finished The Nix by Nathan Hill–a sprawling multi-generational story about a man whose mother abandoned him when he was 11 and his search to find out more about her as an adult after she commits a crime. It’s long (over 600 pages; audio book 22+ hours) but I really enjoyed it. I’ll definitely be checking out his new one, Wellness, based on how much I enjoyed this! (I both read it and listened to it on audio and the audio production is fantastic; a top tier narrator.)

      It’s not a beach read, but I love reading multi-generational stories in the summer so for me it was a summery read.

      1. word nerd*

        I enjoyed Wellness so much I picked up The Nix because of it. Gotta admit I didn’t like The Nix nearly as much, but I often struggle with multi-generational stories (see my comment above :P). In any case, Wellness is fantastic!

        1. Mrs. Frisby*

          Good to hear! Also, glad to see from your earlier comment that you also liked Real Americans–I’m very excited about that one and just waiting for it to come from the library.

          1. word nerd*

            As long as we’re having a conversation, I have to say I reread Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH a few months ago, and the book has definitely held up since childhood. It’s so good, and it puts a smile on my face every time I see your username!

            1. BikeWalkBarb*

              Such fond memories of that book! And it always reminds me of The Mouse and His Child, by Russell Hoban–another charming one.

            2. Mrs. Frisby*

              Agreed–when I read it as an adult I was delighted to see that it was just as good, if not better, than I remembered it being as a child! Now I’ll have to add The Mouse and His Child to my list, as well.

    26. TheBonesaretheirMoney*

      Just finished The Husbands, which was great. I think the best of these surrealist stories deal with the fantastical mechanism a little, but focus more on the effect. It was also fun reading something that treats my everyday married life as something part fun, escapist, and part threatening.

      I’m partway through Robin Sloan’s Moonbound, which is good so far, but I can tell my overall opinion on the book will depend on how the ending goes.

    27. Atheist Nun*

      I recently finished and can recommend The Most Precious Substance on Earth by Shashi Bhat. I usually read nonfiction, so I had forgotten that great fiction can illustrate truths in a way that I cannot appreciate from reading statistics and facts (as much as I like those things). In this novel the author excels at showing how sexual violence and microaggressions can erode a woman’s spirit and self confidence. But an unexpected bonus is that, despite these heavy subjects, there is a lot of humor in this book too–really!

    28. Rara Avis*

      All the Beauty in the World by Patrick Bringley. A memoir of working as a security guard at the Met. I’m usually more of a fiction person, but I enjoyed these lovely, meditative essays.

      Excavations by Kate Myers. Fun characters, but if you know anything about archaeology, you can guess the entire plot from chapter one.

      The Ruth Galloway mystery series. She’s a forensic yeho keeps getting pulled in to murders.

      1. Rara Avis*

        Okay, no idea where Yehong came from. Auto-predict offered “anthropologist “ and that’s what I thought I chose.

    29. Henry Division*

      Been reading a lot of Japanese fiction this year, currently like the one I’m reading, Out by Natsuo Kirino. I shouldn’t be surprised to find I’ve been enjoying women authors more.

      I also have Shogun waiting for me on the shelf. This is gonna be a journey, we’ll see if I make it through.

      1. Mitchell Hundred*

        If you like Shogun, check out Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa. It’s set in the same time period, but instead of being about political struggles it’s about a man’s quest to become a great warrior.

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          If this is the same book I’m thinking of, I so love that awful old woman who beats an innocent bystander into being her son/grandson and has to carry her…

          1. Mitchell Hundred*

            It’s been a while since I read it, but that sounds right. There’s definitely an old woman with a grudge against the protagonist, and I think she press-gangs someone into helping her.

    30. Sloanicota*

      I’m also in the middle of Gagne’s book. It makes sense to me that sociopathy could be just another mental illness, but I’m particularly interested in the implied morality and social implications – why is it doing “bad” things that relieves the pressure, why couldn’t it be an adrenaline rush through, I don’t know, a rollercoaster or something?

    31. Rainy*

      I’ve been rereading the Discworld books in series order, though I didn’t start at the beginning. It’s been a long time since I did that and I’m really getting so much out of the reread, especially because while there are some specific ones that I reread pretty regularly, every couple of years or so, I usually do it sporadically as the mood takes me rather than in order.

      1. allathian*

        I’ve been stuck halfway through Lords & Ladies for about two years now.

        Maybe I should just drop it and read another Discworld book instead.

        1. Rainy*

          Just go to the next :) I find there are a few Discworld books that I have to be in the right mood for; maybe you’re just not in the right mood for it right now.

    32. BikeWalkBarb*

      Reading City of Miracles, third in the trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett; the first two are City of Stairs and City of Blades. I got hooked on him reading his Foundryside trilogy. Both have fantastic, intricate, consistent world-building, interesting approaches to magic (Foundryside) and religions/god (the City books), and characters I cared about. The Foundryside trilogy has a bit of humor now and again that’s mostly not there in the trilogy I’m reading now.

      For nonfiction, I keep dipping into Krista Tippett’s book Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living. It’s built with many of her interviews from her “On Being” podcast but it isn’t just a transcription set. If you like books on human nature, mindfulness, and how we could be better than we are, this is a good one for you.

      In a similar vein, Leading from Within: Poetry that Sustains the Courage to Lead, by Sam M. Intrator and Megan Scribner. They invited leaders from many walks of life to share their favorite poem and reflect on how it ties to their approach to leadership. I read poetry every morning and enjoy anthologies around a theme. This approach with the brief essays isn’t a literary analysis; this is a book on leadership in a deeper, non-trendy vein, easily read a page or two at a time if you like having that kind of book on hand.

      1. Bluejay*

        This is a niche nested question so I expect you won’t see it, but how do you keep that habit, how did it start, what does it do for you?

    33. ElastiGirl*

      Almost done with Five Days at Memorial, about the horrors (including euthanasia?) at a large hospital in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina). Sometimes chilling and fascinating, sometimes a bit of a slog, but I will finish it.

      Also looking for suggestions: What are the must-read romantasies that you’d recommend? I’ve read Fourth Wing and the Court of Thorns and Roses books. Thanks!

    34. not my usual self*

      I have a little more time to read right now, and read 2 books this week: Newitz’ The Future of Another Timeline, and I finally read Baldree’s Legends & Lattes, much-recommended everywhere. I liked both of them, obviously they were very different books. The latter got me thinking about how one person’s “cozy” is definitely not another person’s cozy…

      Spoilers for 2+ year old book:
      In the book one of the characters loses their livelihood to fire and the descriptions of the fire’s effects are rather detailed/graphic. Wasn’t necessarily expecting that in a book much-lauded as a cozy comfort read! I still enjoyed the book overall but that part was pretty rough for me due to my personal history.

    35. Pita Chips*

      I have been reading the Brother Cadfael books by Ellis Peters. Besides clever mysteries, there’s a lot of history of Britain that I did not know –like the war between King Stephen and Empress Maud. I’m on #14 now.

  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 still working my way through Final Fantasy 9. According to online time estimates I’m guessing I’m a little under halfway through the game. Once I finish (or burn out) I’m going to try a couple of the games mentioned last week.

    1. Jay*

      Just finished the new Cats module from Cell To Singularity and am playing some Rogue Trader.

    2. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I’m still playing Hades 2 and super stoked about it! They released a balance patch that revamped how all the weapons work and made some of the ones I didn’t like way more enjoyable.

    3. beep beep*

      Does it count if it’s gaming that I’ve been watching? This week is Summer Games Done Quick, a charity video game speedrunning marathon that runs twice a year to raise money for charitable causes. They also do showcase runs sometimes. which meant that yesterday I watched a very, very good Shiba Inu play a baseball game and it was incredible.

      Oh my end, I finished the main story of Mineko’s Night Market, and the ending really soured me on it. It’s got a fairly engaging loop once it hits its stride, but there are some very slow or frustrating points.

        1. A Girl Named Fred*

          I just slammed that video into my Watch Later playlist, thank you for sharing!! I never remember when SGDQ/AGDQ are but I love watching them when I see the videos start popping up

    4. Potato Potato*

      I picked up a child-sized xbox controller and it’s been the best thing for me and my small hands! I re-picked up Celeste, and it’s fun now instead of frustrating because I can hit all the buttons more easily. I think I’m gonna pick up Hades 2 next. I loved Hades, but it hurt my hands to play unless I used specific weapons that discouraged button mashing

    5. Henry Division*

      Also dipping into Hades 2 every now and then. It’s a really good time suck for a long flight.

      My friends and I have also been stream-playing Dream Daddy together. One of my friends had never heard of the game before and has been having an absolute blast. (Also one of the dads is very similar to their spouse and they’re smitten.)

    6. Reluctant Mezzo*

      It wasn’t till today I finally got my second set of passcodes for my pre-purchase of Dawntrail…(FFXIV). Apparently the techs at the Square Enix store are just a teensy bit behind…

    7. Jackalope*

      Follow-up: someone recommended Strange Horticulture last week, and I decided to try it this evening since I was ready for something completely outside of my normal. I had a lot of fun with it! As did my housemate, who came and watched and enjoyed helping me figure out the puzzles (in a good way that I appreciated, not an obnoxious way). I played for a few hours until I felt like I was ready to stop using my brain, and enjoyed myself a lot. I’ve heard that it’s a fairly short game and it’s not something that lends itself to a lot of extra play time (there’s no grinding, for example), so I’m probably not too too far from the end, but I’m enjoying the ride.

    8. RagingADHD*

      I just started Paper Trail, which is a mobile game included with a Netflix subscription. I’m really enjoying it!

      It has charming animation, and is a lowkey / cozy quest, where you “fold” the playing area like origami to solve puzzles and make a path to move along. Very relaxing but engaging, and you can move at your own pace. I just hope the world is big enough to keep going a long time, because I will be sad when it ends.

    9. Pizza Rat*

      My TTRPG group is currently playing Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. I’m Pink and a mean shot with the bow and ridiculously fast.

    10. Spiritbrand*

      Still playing Wayfinder: Echoes. I really enjoy the style and the gameplay is just hard enough to make it interesting. I’m looking forward to their full release soon.

  4. Tradd*

    I’d be interested in hearing the experiences of EV owners who do not have the option to charge at home OR work. The Tesla Model 3 has caught my eye, but I rent an apartment, so no charging at home, and no charges at work (none in the office complex at all). I drive 40 miles a day for work and I often go for weekend trips in rural areas, so that is also a concern. I also live in a cold climate.


    1. CityMouse*

      Do you have a public garage near your work or home that you can charge at over night or during work and walk? I have a friend who charges their EV at a public garage near his apartment overnight once or twice a week depending on weather/travel.

      1. Tradd*

        No. I live suburban and work suburban. There are no public parking garages anywhere. Plus I have mobility issues so that wouldn’t be an option anyway.

        1. Reebee*

          What kind of experiences are you looking for related to your current situation? Resolution for similar circumstances? Didn’t follow through with a purchase? Etc.

          Otherwise, seems like it might not be a good time to get an EV, based on what you describe.

          1. Tradd*

            I’m looking for info on how much of a hassle it was getting EV charged? Did they have issues with cold weather? That sort of thing.

            I’m really trying to decide if I would be better off with a regular (not plug in) hybrid.

            1. Rain*

              We’ve been exclusively EV the since 2016.

              The one we currently have gets about 320 km per charge and takes about 8 hours on a fast charger to charge to 80%.

              Even with as little as we drive (less than 100km a week) I don’t think I would feel comfortable having this as my only car if we didn’t have a fast charger app and at my husband’s office parking lot.

              There are a lot of good options for various types of hybrids that might be a better choice for you given your current situation. (Pun only mildly intended.)

              1. Rain*

                I would pay so much money for an edit option.

                The last line of the third paragraph should have read “I don’t think I would feel comfortable having this as my only car if we didn’t have a fast charger at home and at my husband’s office parking lot.”

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              Away from home (we have a house with a charger), I will say my spouse has an EV (Chevy Bolt) and has taken it on 1000 mile trips. For where the infrastructure is now, you need to be the sort of person who enjoys optimizing things. (He brings our dog on these long trips and walks her while the car is charging.) Studying the apps that guide you to charging stations and the reviews about which are most efficient.

              1. Jay (no, the other one)*

                We have a Hyundai Kona EV that is primarily my husband’s car. We have a Level 2 charger at home. We do not take that car on road trips – I have a plug-in hybrid Mini that’s our long-distance driving car. We have occasionally taken the EV events on our college campus, which is about 70 miles away. There’s a charger in the public garage there and it is very expensive. Can’t see using that as the only way to charge the thing.

                Definitely need to charge it more in cold weather especially if we want to use the seat heaters. Hyundai had a battery recall a couple of years ago when the supply chain was totally f***ed and they reprogrammed the battery until they could get the new one, so for about six months it only held 80% of its usual charge. One very cold and foggy winter morning we had to pick our kid up at the airport (60 miles away). We realized about halfway home that we were in trouble and thankfully there was an REI at the next exit with a Chargepoint charger in their parking lot. Would not want to do that again.

            3. Not Jane, I hope*

              The biggest issue I’ve found is that public charging is usually more expensive than home charging – rapid chargers are typically so expensive that it is no cheaper than than running a petrol car.

              This is the UK, pricing might be different in other countries.

        2. CityMouse*

          Do you have a level 3 charger anywhere close and would you be okay sitting in your car for 30 minutes on a regular basis?

          I absolutely love my Bolt, but I have a charger at home so I just charge at night. it is also true that I charge my Bolt about twice as often when it’s below freezing as I do in warm weather.

          1. Tradd*

            Sitting in my car while charging wouldn’t be an issue. As long as I have something to read, I’m good!

          2. ThatGirl*

            I love my Bolt too but I don’t take it on long trips – it’s our around-town car. And over the winter it definitely needs more frequent charging. We have an L2 charger at home.

            Tradd, I would also reconsider a Tesla personally. They’re not well made and lack some basic safety features.

            1. CityMouse*

              Even ignoring the big public face I wouldn’t get a Tesla because they’re known for quality control issues. I also hate the large screen interface and prefer physical buttons to control my car, which my Bolt has.

              I have taken my Bolt on longer trips, you just have to do some more involved planning.

              1. ThatGirl*

                Oh, I’m sure it’s possible, but we also have a Prius and I’m just not that inclined to plan ahead :D

    2. Jay*

      Can you run a heavy duty extension cord out your window?
      Or would that expose you/the vehicle/your apartment to too much risk?

      1. Tradd*

        Someone else in my building tried that. The management shut that down very quickly! We don’t have designated spots so even if that was an option, no guarantee you’ll park in front of your windows!

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Do you know which person it was? Asking them what they do instead might help you learn about any local options near where you live.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          It could well be that if you wait a few years, the infrastructure will have caught up more.

          On our trip to Maine, the best charging experience was at a brewery that gave tours. Generally speaking chargers work well in walkable areas with things you can pop into, rather than in gas stations by a cloverleaf.

          1. Reluctant Mezzo*

            We’re lucky to be on the West Coast–our town is middlin’ rural but we’ve had chargers at the local Fred Meyer for several years, and a new set just got put in next to a gas station much further away from the center of town.

    3. TheBunny*

      My father charges his in front of Loews. They actually have a charger at home but my mom’s hybrid uses it.

      I’ve also seen extension cords from apartments, out windows and to cars.

      I’m in CA so the window cord thing is laughed at and tolerated…not sure where you are.

    4. BellaStella*

      The website DrivingElectic has some good reviews and info on EVs including a whole section on charging – it is UK centric but interesting. Is there a supercharger tesla network in your suburb surrounding area? The website also has at least 20 articles specific to ‘cold weather’ for you to read maybe. Good luck!

    5. NicolaAgricola*

      I love my electric car but I wouldn’t do it in your situation, it’s not worth the range anxiety. I home charge and have only had to use a public charger for one trip and it was ok but needed planning. I had to pick my route carefully because public charging coverage a bit patchy still here in Ireland, I had two routes that took the same time, one that had only three charge points at quite slow speeds and the other that had about 50 charge points of which over 10% were rapid chargers of up to 150kw.

      Also, bear in mind that if you are paying for public charging it can be expensive, still less than petrol here in Ireland but expensive never the less. For example at home I pay €o.07 per kWh between 2am and 5am and €0.11 for the rest of the night, but when I charged on the road at a rapid charger I was paying €0.67 per kWh which is higher than my peak rate at home. It’s also not great for battery health to be rapid charging all the time, the slower speed of a home charger is better.

      Also wouldn’t go for a Tesla, but that’s just personal preference. I don’t know what cars are available where you are, but we have a good and rapidly increasing choice here and there are plenty that I would choose over a Tesla (I have a Jaguar I-Pace, my husband has an MG4, my son has an 8 yr old Mercedes B class that was very cheap but crap and a good example of how far electric cars have come in quite a short period of time).

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Not me, but I had a coworker in that situation and I asked her how it worked. She would go to a public charging station that was nearish and be stuck there while it charged. She was making it work but was increasingly annoyed with the inconvenience. Then she switched jobs so I don’t know how it all worked out for her.

      I am not patient. I need to have a home charger.

        1. Toyota fan*

          I would also look at the Corolla Hybrid (a bit less sporty but quite a bit cheaper than a Prius) and the Camry Hybrid (also a bit less sporty but a bigger, more comfortable car for about the same price as a Prius).

          1. Thinking*

            We had a 2009 Camry hybrid for nine years. We were looking at Prius until we sat in the Camry. The comfort difference was noticeable. Like you I have mobility issues and comfort mattered. We drove that car across the country multiple times. It never needed anything but tires. I suppose the technology is even better now. People kept telling us to get an RV. Ha. We could drive and park normally, and the difference in gas costs easily paid for comfy hotel beds complete with housekeeping. And it didn’t have a kitchen to keep me working when my spouse retired. I hope you find a great car for your life.

    7. No Cute Name*

      Sorry this is late but I’ve owned a Mach E for two and half years now and I really love it. I do have charging at home but only the slow kind (just plug it into my normal garage outlet.) Sometimes I have to charge it at a fast charger, if I do a long drive on the weekend. It takes about 45 minutes. My nearest fast charger is at a nearby Walmart and I don’t mind sitting in my car or shopping at all. I live in Colorado and I do notice a bit of a performance difference and longer charging speeds in the winter but it’s very manageable. I’ve done one road trip – about 750 miles round trip so not huge. There was a definite learning curve getting used to the rhythm of longer stops but I like to get out and walk around since I get stiff driving anyway. So it suits me just fine but I totally see how it wouldn’t be a good fit for other road trip styles. I can do my short daily commute for several days without needing to charge at all.

    8. Excel Gardener*

      As a fan of electric cars, I wouldn’t. You’ll be reliant on fast chargers, which are relatively abundant in cities but less so in rural areas. Even in cities, they’re a less common than gas stations so you’ll need to plan routes that include them.Aside from the inconvenience, it’s also the case that frequently fast charging your car is bad for the battery and will make it’s maximum capacity decrease faster.

      If I were you, I’d wait a few years. If you must get a new car, get a used hybrid for now.

      (On Tesla specifically, I know multiple people who own Teslas and they have largely had good experiences. Especially the Model 3 is pretty good on quality issues, my understanding is some of the other, older models like the X and S are the ones with more issues.)

    9. RC*

      We rent, and bought an ioniq 6 about a year ago, where it came with 2? 3? years of free charging at Electrify America (we’re in California if that matters, but I think the free EA was from a Volkswagen settlement). it’s been great so far, it gets >300 miles to a charge and charges fast on the fast chargers, like 20-80 in the time it takes to order a burrito.

      It’s later this year or early next that they will let everyone use the Tesla chargers but yeah absolutely no way were we going to give that dude money and yes their QC is famously trash (things I didn’t know before moving here but now I know a lot!)

      hope that helps! there are a bunch of apps that let you scope out your charging options (one is A Better Route Planner), and they’ll hopefully only get better. we’ve also charged from a normal outlet but it is slooooow.

  5. Teapot Translator*

    Update on Wanderlog. A few weeks ago, I asked for website or app recommendations to plan trips I would like to take one day, who knows when. I checked Notion, and it has a trip organizer template, but it’s not what I need exactly. Wanderlog is not perfect, but the Google Maps integration allows me to visually see the trip. I’ve used it to plan a few trips, and it fits my purpose. It’s a nice short activity for the weekend: borrow guide books from the library on one destination and plan the trip on Wanderlog.

    1. Tisserande d'Encre*

      I’ve been using Wanderlog to plan a trip that I’m leaving for on Monday! I wish there was an option to upgrade to Pro (offline access) for just a month, but it’s only annual.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Is it possible for tou to get an esim card? That’s what I did on my last two trips and it was very reassuring to be able to count on data on the go.

        1. Traveling soon*

          Oh, I have questions about esims! Can someone (simply) explain what they are, how they work, are they easy for a non-tech savvy person to use, are they safe/secure? Thank you!

          1. Teapot Translator*

            I think they are safe/secure, but I’m not a techy person.
            First of all, not all phones are compatible with esim cards. You need to check on Google.
            The advantage of esim cards is that you don’t have to take out your regular sim card, you can leave it in. Esim cards give you data but no phone number abroad.
            I have tried two companies: Airalo and RedTeaGo. I found RedTeaGo easier to set up. The instructions for Airalo weren’t clear, I had a hard time installing the esim card and I’m an average tech user.
            Once you’ve set up the esim card, you need to deactivate your regular card and activate the esim card. I suggest doing this before getting out of your zone of coverage (e.g before taking the plane) to avoid any roaming charges from your carrier. That’s about all I know, I think.

    2. fposte*

      I didn’t know about this and it sounds well worth exploring, if you’ll pardon the wordplay.

    3. acmx*

      How much personal info is required for an account (past email and password)?
      Curious what features are missing for you?

      I love this: It’s a nice short activity for the weekend: borrow guide books from the library on one destination and plan the trip on Wanderlog. :)

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I couldn’t answer the first one as I often create my accounts using Gmail. Probably not the greatest method, but it saves on putting in passwords!
        As to your second question, at the beginning, I would sometimes search for something, and it would refuse to find it. It took me some time to figure out that it’s because that particular attraction was closed. Also, I wish there was a way to create subsections. So for example, there would be a title, then first level cities, and second level attractions. Of course, I can’t tell you if that would be better, but that’s how I would have done if it had been possible.

        1. acmx*

          Oh, I’m with you on that! I’m using OneNote sort of and I am doing a similar breakdown. I don’t have solid plans for personal travel so I just have ideas for if I ever get to Japan again.

          Happy travel planning!!!

  6. ww*

    Hair product question~! I’m in need of something to tame frizz, especially humidity frizz, but have no idea where to even begin as I am a “sleep on my hair wet, brush it in the morning and call it a day” kind of person. Hair is long, thick, and that kind of wavy that looks messy no matter how often you brush it. I wash it every 3-4 days. I also get it dyed varying shades of red not found in nature so there’s a decade and a half’s worth of intense bleach in there, plus custom color added shampoo/conditioner. (And yes I could ask my stylist, but tbh I go to a very bougie salon and her product recommendations are priced accordingly…I’d love to find a drug store product that does a decent job and isn’t $40 a tiny bottle!)

    Very much hoping to find one product, not a whole system…the fact that I’ve had long hair for all 35 years of existance and have never bothered to figure out de-frizzing before today should tell you how much effort I actually want to put into this lol.

    1. Not A Manager*

      Find a thick, creamy conditioner. Drugstore brands are fine. Shampoo and condition your hair as normal. When you get out of the shower, don’t dry your hair at all. Squeeze the excess water out with your hands, at most. Now work a little of the conditioner through your wet hair with your fingers. You don’t want a “leave-in” conditioner, you want the same conditioner that’s meant to be rinsed out. Comb or brush your hair to detangle it.

      Now rub a little *more* conditioner on your palms and gently style your hair however you like it. If you like waves, just comb your hair until it’s wavy. If you want more bounce or curls, take small sections of your hair and gently crunch them upwards. Try to let your hair air dry before bed. Experiment with how much conditioner to use, but for dry, frizzy hair more is better.

      To preserve your style for a few days, wrap one or two silk scrunchies around the dried hair in a low ponytail. Try to sleep on a silk pillowcase. In the morning, use a spray bottle with some water in it and just spritz your hair and scrunch it in your fingers to refresh the style.

      My styling is a bit more involved than this, but you want a one-and-done and this is what I do when I don’t have time. If you generally like the result after leaving in the conditioner, but you want more curl definition and to preserve the curl longer, then after you style it with the conditioner, while it’s still wet, follow up with some curl setting gel that you rub in your palms and squeeze ONTO the existing curls. Don’t rake the gel through your wet hair with your fingers or you’ll straighten out the curl and it will look weird.

    2. Pretty as a Princess*

      Could you blow it out to at least just “damp” and then put it in a loose braid overnight? You want it to be not soaking – just wet enough that it can dry overnight when pulled back loosely. It wouldn’t pull and break when drying and you’d get some more structured wave with the body you already have. I’d suggest *not* brushing it because that is contributing to the frizz, as well. Comb it wet, finger comb or scrunch product into it. Control it overnight somehow. Then fingers, a few pins or a clip or what have you for your day. On days that you don’t wash, still pull it back at night.

      For inexpensive, the Frizz-ease serum is a reasonable product, combined with an anti-humidity spray maybe? Kenra’s is good – it has a price tag but it’s also a little goes a long way. A serum in it at night, blow over fingers just until damp, put it back in a loose braid or two. In the morning, an anti-humectant spray or maybe a paste product (rubbed between your hands) to help clump together some of the waves strategically. A cute half-pony, or a styled ponytail, or a little braid to tuck your hair behind your ear, or a quick bun, or a fun fast braid… you’d be done with your hair in 5-10 min without the frizz.

      If you are willing to spend 5 min putting it up-ish in the AM (or putting part of it up), there are some great instas for braid, bun, and ponytail hacks that give you just enough to tame an unruly mane!

    3. Hroethvitnir*

      Oh boy, I am you. I have negative interest in blow-drying or straightening my hair, and I’m super sensitive to the feeling of anything but the lightest products in my hair.

      I only figured out in my 30s that there probably isn’t anything one product or action I can do to make my hair smooth, and people with the most beautiful hair generally spend a *lot* of time on it (and/or are genetically gifted).

      I have figured out I probably have a mix of 2b/3a hair – and a lot of it, so I literally only see curls when I’ve slept on my just-washed hair. Also low porosity, which means it can be hard to get moisture into your hair and product/sweat builds up easily. Porosity is basically just how tightly the outer cuticle sits on itself and is genetic – but bleach and other chemical treatments will force the cuticle wide open (as you probably know), so you likely have high porosity hair. That means moisture will get in easily but it’s hard to retain.

      It might be worth looking into tips for high porosity hair. Also, satin pillowcases or a bonnet. (I’ll share a video by a cosmetic chemist in response to myself you’re interested.) Keratin smoothing treatments (blow outs, not straightening) can definitely help, but it’s temporary and expensive. I’m always amused by the idea of basically shellacking extra protein only your hair.

      I am also interested in any very light products that help with this!

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Neat! I watched this and really like this presenter. I just ordered her book at the library (The Science of Beauty by Michelle Wong). I also watched part of a 45-minute video where she debunks a number of hair myths popular on social media. I’ll take the word of a PhD in chemistry over a TikTok presenter any day. Thanks for this!

          1. Hroethvitnir*

            Nice! Yeah, she’s great – she also does things that break down how to read academic papers (I think re: the claim rosemary oil is as good as monoxidil for hair loss. Spoilers: absolutely embarrassing excuse for a scientific paper.)

      1. Double A*

        Agree on the satin pillowcases!! I switched to satin pillowcases and it’s made a big difference for my wavy hair in terms of reducing frizz. I didn’t think it did, but I went back to cotton for awhile out of laziness or not being able to find a clean satin one and my hair looked so much duller. It’s truly the lowest effort hair hack.

        I find that Cantu and Shea Moisture products work pretty well for me. They are cheap and available at a drugstore. The Cantu leave-in conditioner I think is my lynchpin product, though I don’t use it as a leave in, exactly; I use a good dollop of it, but I give it a light rinse so there’s some left but not as much as I started with. Even though I have thick hair it gets weighed down easily; Shea Moisture have a mousse that seems to smooth but doesn’t make my hair dull after a day. I can use it a few days in a row or just kind of wet my hair the next day to reactivate it.

        I also never brush my hair when it’s dry unless it’s right before I am going to shower.

        1. Hroethvitnir*

          Oo, thank you! I watch a bunch of Black American hair videos so I’ve seen Cantu and been kind of tempted.

          Re: pillow cases, it’s always nice to see confirmation that something is working – even if it often is because you stop and it gets worse, haha.

          I’m never sure if my hair would benefit from the more curl-centric techniques – it really does sit 90% straight most of the time. Fun fact: Black hair is actually stronger when damp, and presumably that applies to other peoples at a certain degree of coily?? I haven’t read the paper that researched that, but the person I linked to above does reference it in either that video or her older hair one. I’ve actually been trying to use a boar bristle brush when sitting on the computer, which makes *straight* hair shiny…

    4. RaggedyAnnie*

      First, lose the brush and get a wide-tooth comb. If your hair expands and gets poofy with humidity, brushing makes it do more of that (I’m avoiding the word “frizz” because sometimes that’s interpreted as damaged hair.)

      I have similar expandable hair in humid weather. It’s wavy-curly but only if it’s cut properly. Ask your hairdresser about a graduated cut, where they come sections of the hair straight out away from your head (or even slightly upward) before making the cut. This encourages waves/curl. Coming hair straight down and cutting evenly across the bottom discourages any curl. BTW it’s always been a challenge to find a hairdresser who knows how to deal with curly hair.)

      I never wash my hair before bed; sleeping on it wet means the finger-in-a-light-socket look in the morning.

      Wash in the morning, use a good good leave-in conditioner, comb your hair and scrunch/push the waves/curl in place and let it air dry. Comb after it dries.

      There are some styling products that dry “crispy” until you comb them out. I use them sometimes but I water them down a bit by putting a very small amount in my palm, add a few drops of water, stir around until blended, then apply to my hair with both hands. Then comb and do the curl scrunch thing. Leaves it less crispy- and the crispiness goes away when you comb after it dries.

      Garnier buttercream leave-in conditioner works for me, it’s at the drugstore. For the dries-crispy stuff I use something called Curls-Up. Also drugstore.

      Good luck!

    5. Ellis Bell*

      Easiest= silk pillowcase (I get the one side silk, one side cotton ones, because I’m picky about fabrics touching my face, and can’t do satin on my face at all. I can fall asleep on the silk side which helps prevent frizz while I’m tossing around and switch to the cotton for my ‘lie in’ portion of the morning).
      Slightly more effort: let my hair air dry a touch (I’m never getting it to ‘damp’ levels in one evening because it’s a sponge but it’s less than sopping wet, smooth on a gel (I like kinky curly custard, or Umberto Gianni curl friends), and Dutch braid before bed; it doesn’t have to be a braid, it can be a bun, but the tension cuts down on frizz – tying your hair up does affect the drying time though, so it’s still damp in the morning (my hair seems to require a long drink to prevent frizz though) but I just rebraid and don’t wear it out till the next day.

    6. Indolent Libertine*

      No brushing, ever, is the key to taming frizz. I only brush right before washing my hair, to remove anything loose. Otherwise just a wide tooth comb. My fave product is Rusk Str8

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Oh very good point. I use satin gloves to detangle sometimes as well if I must tackle it when it’s try.

    7. Just a name*

      I never brush my hair. I wash, use a wide tooth comb with Aussie moist 3 minute miracle conditioner to detangle, use a if clip to put my hair up, finish my shower, then rinse. I use 2 products. First I use a spray gel from herbal essences (never use a product that has alcohol in the ingredients. I find it makes my hair drier and frizzier). I spray my wet hair and use a wide tooth comb to distribute it. (I never comb or brush it again until the next wash). I use Curls Rock amplifier cream (from Bedhead/TIGI). I just use it to scrunch my curls. I never sleep with wet hair, but the longer I can air dry the better my curls act. I do a bit with the hair dryer (bend at the waist) but just to scrunch my curls and dry the underside a bit. With a bit of help, I have more curls than waves, with less fuzz. I sleep with my hair pulled up in a loose bun using a satin scrunchie so the curls don’t get pulled out. I can refresh the curls with a bit of water. I wash every other day because my scalp gets itchy and I have a harder time with tangles if I go too much longer. This is just my routine, and as is true with curls, your mileage may vary. Good luck!

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Without a diffuser? Huh, I might try this. Everyone loves diffusers for curls but me; I consider them to be auto-frizz machines, whereas blow drying isn’t, it’s just time consuming. I also struggle to get the underside dry, but my hair responds well to scrunching …

        1. Just a name*

          No diffuser. They seem to slow the drying time and I didn’t have time for that when I was headed to the office. In hot weather, I’ll finish with the dryer on the cool setting to keep myself from overheating.

    8. ww*

      Thanks all! I’ll be honest that sleeping on wet hair isn’t likely to change just because of my work schedule, a lot of the time it’s shower right before bed or don’t shower at all (and my hair will stay soaking wet for hours upon hours like a molding chinchilla). And I can’t fathom sleeping on hair in any kind of not-100% loose configuration…there’s just so MUCH of it that keeping any style up requires, I don’t know, buttresses and cement (war flashbacks to the night before my bat mitzvah trying to sleep with a million pins in)…but switching to a comb and silk pillowcases seems easy enough! And I will try the noted mousses etc. I have so little patience for blowdrying that I never replaced my broken blowdryer but I’ll consider 45% less frizz a win.

      Really genetics gave a labor-intensive mop to someone too lazy to figure out basic braiding…but at the same time it looks so good for the four days post-salon and pre-shower!

      1. Rainy*

        Oh I just saw that you’ve been brushing your hair when it’s dry. Eek!

        I use a Wet brush on sopping wet hair to detangle and a Denman brush to set the curl after I add curl creme (both at my stylist’s recommendation), but if I run anything through it after that it’s my fingers or a Pattern comb. Get a silk bonnet and on nights when you don’t wash it, sleep in a bonnet. It will help A LOT although like me you’re probably going to need the special bonnets for longer hair. Mousse doesn’t work for my hair–I use a UV/heat protectant spray and then my curl creme and plop it in a hair wrap to get the worst of the wet out of it. Then I let it down to finish air drying. I *can* use a blow-dryer on it but really only if I want to commit to flat-ironing it, because blowing my hair try turns me into a human dandelion clock (and takes more than an hour).

      2. ElastiGirl*

        I sleep on wet hair, too — but I plop it. I’ve been meaning to get a sleep bonnet but right now I plop it wrapped up in a t shirt. I shower right before bed, run some curling product through it, tie it up, done. In the morning, it’s slightly damp, slightly crispy, but I just shake it out and scrunch it slightly and it falls into place and is dry before I leave the house. Easy-peasy. (For the record, 2C/3a hair, depending on relative humidity)

    9. Rainy*

      I was having this problem recently as I let my hair grow, and the product I’d been using when it was 4-5 inches long doesn’t cut it anymore when it’s waist-length. I talked to my stylist and she recommended just moving from the lighter spray leave in I’d been using to the heavier-duty creme. It definitely solved my problem. I use Kevin Murphy Killer Curls. I do have curly hair, but according to my stylist, curl formulas tend to be more humidity-proof than products made for wavy hair.

      1. frizz frame*

        I don’t start with wet hair, but I’ve found the Paul Mitchell Super Skinny to help. It is expensive but you don’t need much and a little goes a long way, especially if you have shorter hair.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      Bookmarking this as my coworker is convinced my dandelion poof is curls. I think she may be right, given what happens to my hair when it’s wet now that it’s about shoulder length, much shorter than it used to be.
      She recommended Shea Moisture Curl-Enhancing Smoothie leave-in, but I haven’t tried that yet, only the styling mousse in an attempt to keep the humidity here from making it freak out.

    11. Newbie*

      Garnier Curl Nourish conditioner, Aussie Hair Insurance leave-in. Boom, done in under $10.

    12. Banana Pyjamas*

      Oh we have very similar hair and hair care preferences. Garnier Fructis Hair Filler + Hyalronic Moisture Repair Gel Cream. It doesn’t weigh down the hair at all, which I have problems with. I use as much of this as curlies use leave-in conditioner. It actually makes my hair wavier. I cup my hair, so like scrunching but more intentional. I partially or fully air dry before bed. Lightly rewet in the morning. Run your wet fingers down from your part to fix frizz.

    13. ElastiGirl*

      John Frieda Frizz-Ease Secret Weapon. It truly is a secret weapon. It’s magic on dry hair. A dab on your palms, rub it into your hair (or just across the top to tame flyaways and frizz), then rake your hair into shape with your fingers. 20 seconds, done for the day.

    14. Maestra*

      I may be a little late – but I like JVN Air Dry Cream. They also have a few other products that I think are good: The instant recovery serum and the leave in conditioning mist. In a lot of ways, it sounds like I have hair like yours. I also sleep on it damp/wet, but I sleep on a towel pillow cover by Kitsch when I do. Mostly that’s actually for my pillow’s sake so it doesn’t get mildewy, but it’s microfiber and I think it’s gentler on the wet hair. I also use one of their hair turban towels after washing.

      Anyway – I never comb or brush my hair when it’s dry. Pretty much I use the Air Dry Cream and then in the morning I might run my fingers through my hair to set it how I like it.

    15. Writerling*

      My friend swears by Curlsmith for the anti-frizz but I haven’t tried it yet. She did get me a satin bonnet type to sleep in and it keeps my curls pretty darn close to ‘intact’ as you can get overnight! Recommend that, if not the pillowcase, as a good starter.

    16. Anono-me*

      Garnier has a Pure air dry product that I like for less than $10 a spray bottle at Target. I spray one or two times after washing my hair before going to sleep and it looks nicer the next day when I comb it. (But I have flyaway straight hair.)

  7. Deirdre*

    Can anyone suggest a grocery list app. I always go to the store with a list yet I never come home with everything. It is so frustrating. I thought perhaps an app that would organize things by type might help and preferably one the husband and I can share on our phones. This exits right?

    1. Tradd*

      If you have an iPhone, the stock Reminders app has a grocery list function and it groups items by category. I use it all the time.

      1. Jackalope*

        I just looked at my Reminders app and couldn’t find anything relating to groceries. Is there a particular way to get into it?

        1. Tradd*

          Comments with links get moderated, so I’m just going to say Google for “Apple reminders app grocery list.” You will get a hit on a hit to from Apple itself.

    2. Anon-E-Mouse*

      We use an App called Our Groceries. Simple, not glitchy, allows multiple lists.

      1. Alyn*

        This is what I use. I have a list for the warehouse stores (e.g. Costco); pharmacy, supermarket, etc. If you upgrade to the premium version (one time purchase) it lets you sync across multiple devices, so my spouse can add something from the tablet and it shows up on my phone when I do my shopping.

        1. Comma Queen*

          You don’t have to have premium to do this! My husband and daughter are both able to access and modify the lists I set up. You just need to grant them access by having the system invite them by email (“Share Your Lists” under Settings).

      2. Dwight Schrute*

        I just use the Amazon Alexa app since we have echo dots and I can just tell the echo to put an item on the list or add it manually. before that we used Google docs

      3. Belle*

        We use Our Groceries too. I think we did pay a one time fee to share in a household, so my husband and I can share th same lists. You can scan items or manually add. You can also have multiple store lists, such as one for Aldi and one for Kroger. Highly recommend it.

    3. Cabbagepants*

      If your grocery store does curbside, then their own app will allow you to put down items you want. I like my grocery store’s app because you can only put down items currently in stock AND they are automatically organized in your virtual cart based on location in the store. It makes it very easy to shop efficiently. No more having to go all the way back for something.

    4. Jaydee*

      I just use Google Keep and organize my list based on the layout of the store. Of course they move things around so it’s not perfect, but it has helped me avoid the frustration of getting 90% done and then realizing I forgot something on the clear opposite side of the store and need to run all the way back to get it (inevitably with ice cream in my cart threatening to melt). I may have to backtrack one or two aisles or do a couple loops of the produce section if things aren’t in the exact right order, but usually not much more than that. You can also set up checkboxes to check things off, which makes it a lot easier to make sure you got everything.

      You can share Google Keep notes (my husband and I share some of them with each other but despite the fact he loves everything Google, a shared grocery list in Google Keep has not been successful).

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        This is what I do, too. My husband and I have it shared so we can both update, and it’s just a basic checklist. Weekly stuff like milk and bread is grouped roughly by location in my preferred store and random stuff gets added at the bottom and deleted instead of checked. I also use emojis sometimes to highlight things, like if there’s an item I plan to get at Target instead of the grocery store I put a bullseye or if I need to remember to pick up cupcakes for my kids etc.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I also use Google Keep, and I like that it’s very easy to reorder and just leave a space between my “groups”. I’ve got 3-4 shopping lists on there now for different stores.

    5. Esprit de l'escalier*

      What works for me is a very simple notes app, aptly named Simplenote, that syncs between devices, so I can update it on my phone or on my laptop, and I imagine you and your husband could sync to the same list.

      I regularly shop at a large chain supermarket and a small independent grocery plus (irregularly) at a couple of more specialized places, and I have a separate Simplenote list for each store.

      The main thing I do to organize the big-supermarket list is (1) I indicate the aisle for each listed item, and (2) I add items so that they are in aisle-number order. This is easy to do because below the current shopping list I maintain a reference list of items that I buy frequently and their aisle numbers.

      This works beautifully until the supermarket goes through one of its occasional total internal reorgs where they move almost everything to a totally different and unpredictable location. This happens every few years, and then I have to revise my reference list, but aside from that it is great. If I come home without something I wanted to get, it’s because I forgot to add it to the list, and no system will help with that :(

    6. Double A*

      I use Paprika. It’s a recipe clipping app and it’s GREAT for that, but I find their grocery list function is good as well. I like that you can automatically add ingredients from recipes. I bought the app some time ago; it’s worth paying for, and it’s a one time payment, or at least it used to be.

    7. hales*

      I am quite fond of AnyList! Let’s you make multiple lists, and grocery lists will automatically be sorted by type of item.

      1. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

        I second AnyList! We’ve used it for years and it works great.

        1. Accidental Itenerate Teacher*

          I’ll third this- my sister and I use any list and it works great
          We have multiple lists that we can share between us (grocery, hardware, etc) and you can use the existing categories or make your own

    8. wireknitter*

      I love Out of Milk. It has pre loaded categories for items but you can also make your own. It also has to-do lists. I use one of those to list favorite meals so that when I get in a rut I can remind myself of favorites I haven’t thought about for a while.

    9. TheBunny*

      Out of Milk is actually a pretty good one.

      My husband is constantly telling me to “add that to the shopping list” and that’s what I use.

    10. Fellow Traveller*

      My Husband and I use Out of Milk too. It’s simple and basic. I have an iPhone and Husband has Android and it’s been pretty seamless.
      I didn’t know about the To Do list function!

    11. Katefish*

      My husband and I use a shared grocery list in MS To Do and just check/uncheck items as needed.

    12. curly sue*

      We use an app called Bring – all four of us in the house have android phones, and it synchronizes very well across them all. What I like is that you can set up multiple lists and choose to share per list, so my spouse and I can have a shared ‘kid birthday shopping list’ or similar and don’t have to worry about the kids seeing it, while they can still add things to the household groceries list. There are apparently some paywalled functions, but we’ve never needed anything more than the free version.

    13. MissB*

      I use Shopper. I’ve used it for years. It does have a share function.

      I like it because I can have a lot for each store, like a Trader Joe’s list and a Costco list and as long as I’ve associated that list with a store, the pricing for an item is tracked differently by store. I can also rearrange aisles by store.

    14. Un, Deux, Trois, Cat*

      AnyList! You can add items on your phone or on a computer and you can share lists with other people in your household. You can also add recipes and add ingredients from those recipes to your shopping list. https://www.anylist.com/

  8. Jackalope*

    I mentioned last week that we got a new kitten, and that’s been making me think of pet naming. How do youall pick pet names? Do you go for descriptive names (Blackie, Fluffy, etc.)? People names? Character names from stories or games that you like? Share your pet naming conventions!

    1. Aphrodite*

      I choose a theme since I always have three cats. My current theme is French and their names are Chloe, Dominique and Noelle. The previous theme was Greek mythology and those cats names were Amara, Athena and Aphrodite. Prior to them was my beloved feline soulmate whose name was suggested by a then-friend: Persephone.

    2. Jill Swinburne*

      Mine seem to be going literary. Our cat is named Eliot, after T.S. Eliot (“The naming of cats is a difficult matter…”) and our dog is called Luna, sort of after Luna Lovegood, so I suspect we’ll be looking that way for future pet names. Probably wouldn’t name a pet after anything from Harry Potter again (she’s 11 so well before the batshit stuff started), but if a future cat suits the name Macavity I’m quite keen on that.

    3. Double A*

      I’ve usually gone with people names (which means our cats current have a couple of very popular children names, though the cats are quite old so they predate the trend with the children’s names). Our last two cats we’ve named after other animals, for no particular reason. Those two cats were the first I named with my husband, so it was really a matter of throwing things against the wall and seeing what we both liked and would be good for toddlers to say.

      I think in general I do like people names and would go back to that.

    4. Bean Counter*

      I had my first dogs’ names picked out before I even met them, Vinny and Freddy – as in Vinny Barbarino and Freddy “Boom Boom” Washington. They turned out to suit them perfectly.

    5. Hard Agree*

      We name pets after favorite characters from whatever we are watching as a family, characters who have names that I also enjoy. Our new kittens are Peralta and Santiago, named after characters from Brooklyn 99.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      My cat is named Bailey after the Irish cream, lol. When we got him we knew cats named Brandy and Bourbon so we started listing other alcohols and that was the cutest (not a big drinker at all, but I think food and beverage names are adorable). Probably next time we get one my kids will want to pick the name so we’ll end up with something like Kitty or Princess Fluffy

      1. Bean Counter*

        You just reminded me – when my friend got her very young daughter a cat she asked her what she wanted to name him. She said abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz and that’s how they got a cat named Alphabet.

    7. Reading Rainbow*

      This sounds insane probably but I just see what vibe the animal has and it always seems to me like they inspire a name with their personality.

      1. BellaStella*

        Same and also in my experience animals live up to their names. I had a Malamute for 12 years named Loki. He was indeed full of mischief.

    8. Pennyworth*

      Related question – do animals find it unsettling if you change their names? I often look at rescues online, and I’ve started thinking I would stick with whatever name they come with, especially if they are long-term shelter residents.

      1. acmx*

        I changed my older dog’s name when I adopted her. I never used her original name and didn’t use any name for at least a week. She’s fine with her new name but then she’s one of the smarter breeds (I always feel bad saying that, like I’m calling other dogs dumb lol) and learns quickly.

        I can’t name anything by vibe, wish I could :(.

      2. Dog and cat fosterer*

        Most rescue animals are given their names by the rescues or shelters, and don’t really know them. They get names because Cleocatra is much more appealing than S1234567. I always encourage new adopters to rename their pets. A new name for a new life! You can always keep the same vowel sound if a dog seems to know its name, but honestly dogs and cats pick up a new name pretty quickly if you give them a treat at the same time! You can keep the name if you think it really suits them, but don’t feel stuck with one that doesn’t fit.

      3. TheBunny*

        I don’t think so? My cat Maxwell was named Peanut at the shelter and he knows his name…his vet actually has commented that it’s clear he knows his name when it’s said… so at least in his case it went fine.

      4. Hroethvitnir*

        With dogs if the shelter knows the name they will respond better to something that rhymes with it, which is how I’ve changed adult adoptees’ names.

        Cats, again if we know the name they’re raised with, most of them don’t care. Some definitely do know their names though and again, at least rhyming is nice to do.

        They will definitely learn you’re referring to them regardless!

      5. Jackalope*

        At the shelter(s?) close to us, at least with kittens and puppies they deliberately pick names that are all around a specific theme and are meant to be changed. So for example they give every kitten a name that is a type of fast food, or a type of flower, or a famous Shakespeare character, whatever. That way the foster family has something to call them while they’re living w/ them, and as someone said below, it’s easier to help them find homes if they have a name rather than just a number.

        That being said, if a critter came from a long-time family and was old enough, and if I knew the name the shelter gave was the critter’s actual name, I would consider keeping it. The critters I’ve adopted were mostly either on the younger side or strays whose name (if any) I had no way of learning, so I go for new names.

      6. My Brain is Exploding*

        I’ve worked in rescue, and we’ve had our own dogs. I think if a dog knows their name and if they have no bad associations with it, it’s easier to just keep it. However, if a dog came from a bad situation and may have negative associations with their name, then changing it might be a good idea. I always had a lot of dog names in my mind, and all our dogs – our own and our fosters – already had names, to which they responded well and seemed to fit them, even if they were more bland and generic names than I would have picked for them.

    9. ThatGirl*

      My husband is a big nerd and always wanted to name a dog after his favorite video game series – Legend of Zelda – so our first dog, a boy, was named Link. When it came time to adopt again, we reserved Zelda but ended up with another boy and named him Yoshi – kept the Nintendo theme and it fits his personality.

      1. Jackalope*

        The new kitten that inspired this discussion was also named after my favorite video game character! We had previously always gone with names from books (although I’m pretty sure I’d be down with nature names too), but I’ve been wanting to use this name for a cat for awhile, and couldn’t resist!

    10. TheBunny*

      Always people names. And it’s kind of a “know it when you see it” kind of thing.

      We currently have Maxwell and Jackson.

    11. Rara Avis*

      I wanted to go with Cato, Cataline, and Catullus. But my husband persuaded me to go with Lysander and Demetrius for our wild orange kitten boys (because they chased each other up and down), and then my kid chose Leo(nardo da Vinci) and Artie(misia Gentilleschi) for the next two.

    12. Hroethvitnir*

      Heh, naming animals actually kind of stresses me out. I can’t imagine trying to name a human!

      For non-dogs I like the most boring possible human names – I’m also a fan of food names (like Potato), but I haven’t personally done it.

      For dogs it’s a painful search for a name that’s ideally 1-2 syllables, feels appropriate for the individual, and my partner and I can agree on.

      Our first cats were Bert, John, Oscar and Jessie (whole litter of 5 wos) + Eisen for the 7 wo tortie that came with them because I was running out of ideas (it is German for iron, in reference to the red). They were foster fails. We took many unwanted cats over time, and the others we named were Klaus, Spider (from a comic series Transmetropolitan), Elric and Heidi. Bert (18) and Heidi (13) are the only ones left. :(

      Our current dogs that we named are a whippet named Cuchulain after the Irish/Scottish folk hero and Torsten (just because we liked it). Cuchulain is obviously not ideal for calling him, but it’s been fine.

      1. Jackalope*

        One of the important things for me is that all critters in my household at any one time have names that sound very different from each other. No pet equivalent of Rod, Rob, and Ron, because I want them to be able to tell whose name is whose when I call for them.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          Ha! In Russian mine, my sister’s, and my brother’s nickname versions of our names end in the same syllable, and many times my dad would get yell for one of us, all three would pop out.

          1. Rara Avis*

            My grandma would cycle through her daughter, daughter-in-law, and both granddaughters before hitting the right name. My father-in-law did his three sons. There’s actually research that shows brains store names in groups this way — and that dog names are usually in the “family” file, but cats’ aren’t. Maybe because cats so seldom answer to their names …

            1. allathian*

              That’s interesting. My parents had two cats from the same litter, a bobtailed polydactyl calico called Pelle, named for Pelle Svanslös (Pelle or Peter No-Tail), the main character in a popular series of children’s books and movies. His ginger and white brother who had a tail and the usual number of toes was called Olle because his name rhymed with Pelle.

              I’m not sure Olle ever learned his name because he was intellectually challenged like msny ginger cats are, but very lovable nevertheless. Pelle certainly knew his name and was otherwise smart as well. He could open doors by jumping on the handle. He also enjoyed retrieving stuff and would give high-fives and roll over and play dead on command. He was easy to train because he was smart and treat motivated.

        2. My Brain is Exploding*

          No matter who you call for (at least with our dogs), they all come anyway.

    13. GingerSheep*

      Currently have two cats and a dog – vastly different naming processes, though the overarching rule was two-syllables, easy to pronounce, and different sounding names for all.
      First cat was named by my 5-year old who insisted on keeping “the mysterious kitten with no name” I had been inventing stories about as the kitten’s actual name. I agreed as long as we could use “Mysti” (short for mysterious), so here we are.
      Second cat had a shelter name we disliked but that he seemed to know, so we kept the first syllable and changed Timeo to ‘Titus’.
      The dog is a purebred and here in France all pure-breed animals have to have names starting with a specific letter according to year of birth. So all 2021 births had to start with S, and we picked out “Spirou” (a Belgian comic book character) who we felt fit well with the puppy’s looks and personality (and growing up, it sure does!).

    14. Ellis Bell*

      We go for an attribute (either physical or personality) and then test it out to see if they like it/respond to it. So, the dainty kitten who liked to smush noses was called “Smudge” (She also had very poseable legs like a carousel horse or ballerina, but both those words were too long to get her attention). The mischievous kitten was “Loki”, the big Tom with a half ginger, half black face was Harlequin, or Harley, the ginger Tom with a very loud purr like a growl was Tigey.

    15. Anon for Cat Naming*

      My last round of cats I named after streets in Chicago. (Based on an idea to use the street names at Wrigley Field, but I didn’t like Clark and Addison so I chose different streets.)
      Recent kittens named after physical characteristic and a “family” name, that is I gave my polydactyl kitten the same name as my childhood family cat who also had thumbs. The other named after an advertising icon (the railroad kitten) that she resembles.
      Previous cats named for their coloring 0r appearance. My old grey cat when I lived near Chicago was named Greylord, after Operation Greylord, an FBI investigation of judicial corruption in Cook County. He had droopy whiskers that made him look distinguished and I often told him he was “judicial.”

    16. RussianInTexas*

      I don’t have rules, by my current cats were just obviously “their” names.
      The very old kitty is named Spirit, and she was named that before I met her.
      The Orange Floof Twins were Fred and George from day 1. I wanted “twin” names, and this just worked immediately.

    17. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      All three of the dogs I have/had are named after kickass female characters with A names. (Coincidentally they have all had a 3 syllable name followed by a 1 syllable, for the everyday parts of their names.) But all our pets end up with extensive names including titles by their third gotcha day.

      Angua Grace was named (not by me) for the first female werewolf in the city guard of Ankh-Morpork. (I think I’m remembering that correctly. My husband is the Terry Pratchett fan and the one I originally adopted her from. Her full name was Angua Grace Puppinsky-Rompanopolis, Lieutenant General of the Red Hound Army and High Ambassador to the Kitten Kingdom.)

      Alannah Jane will be 10 this fall and is named for the main character in Tamora Pierce’s Lioness Quartet. Her full name is Alannah Jane Sleepyface Corporal Radar Wigglebottom the Froshus, Queen of the Carrot Mafia and Bane of All Flossiraptors Errywhere.

      Abigail Rose has not hit her third gotcha day yet so her extended name is still evolving. She was named after historical First Lady Abigail Adams, fictional First Lady Abigail Bartlett, and Mother Abigail from The Stand. Her current iteration is Abigail Rose Sleepyface Goofin’ Gorilla-Paws Sinatra, Wuffleberry Princess, Daintiest Woofapotamus, and Boss of the Boo Rhimoceros Gang – but she has grown into her paws, no longer has blue eyes, and she shredded all the blue rhinoceroses bad enough that she can’t have them anymore, so it will shift some.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        I love this! My mom adopted cats name Bill and Princess. In our family we have a joke that everyone’s middle name is Marie when they are in trouble. So Bill Marie and Princess Marie.

        Princess was rickety in her old age, and my mom decided she needed an old lady name, so by the time she crossed the rainbow bridge she was known as Princess Gertrude Marie. My favorite nickname for her was Principessa Bella Diva, she absolutely ate it up.

        Bill has always had a heck ton of nicknames: Memo, Memito, Memote (he actually is quite large), Bubba/Bubby (Bill). He’s 18 now, but you’d never guess.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Aw :)

          If I were to end up with boy dogs (which I never have done yet), there is a very strong chance that my first boy dog would be Abraham, as in Lincoln, to continue the 3-syllables-starts-with-A-good-role-model trend.

    18. Falling Diphthong*

      Husband’s family had a tradition of “Spot” translated into a bunch of different languages.

      Current dog’s name is her shelter name, not because of philosophy or attachment (she was a puppy and had had the name for a day or so) but because we all absent mindedly called her by the name on her paperwork while trying to find the vibe name, and eventually realized we had named her.

      Current cats were adopted together, and their names are an alliterative pair drawn from two different categories of possible cat names. Which we liked better than any of the pairs within one category, even though that was our theory going in. These are very much vibe names.

    19. StrayMom*

      “Binx” was a little smidge of black fur, big green eyes and a big personality when he showed up in our barn five years ago just a few days before Halloween, so naming him after the cat in “Hocus Pocus” was a given. Our kids were tweens obsessed with music when we adopted our last Golden Retriever, and wanted to name him after a drummer – “David Growl” was considered, but we settled on “Ringo”. We’ve adopted a couple of rescues, but I didn’t change their names – “Mexico” the Quarter Horse was 12 when we came to live with us, and he knew his name, so I wouldn’t have dreamt of changing it (although I did call him “Fabio” on account of his gorgeous, flowing long tail). “Toffee” was just a 4 month old Border Collie-Aussie mix-puppy, and her toes look like they were dipped in caramel, so we think that’s how she got her name and it fits her because she’s so sweet! We do tend to give all our pets nicknames “Binxster”, “Ringo-Dingo”, “Toffee-girl”.

    20. Seashell*

      I have only had one pet of my own, and we kept her name, which is a typical human name. I like it.

      I helped pick my childhood dog’s name, and it was a food that matched her color. I helped my mom find names for cats she got when I was in college and was home during the summers. She insisted on names that lent themselves to nicknames, so I made lists with that in mind. One of the names was a type of fabric, and one was a food.

      My mom’s 2 later cats, which she got while I was entirely out of the house, got human names. One of them was a name I would have considered using on a baby, so that would have been confusing. Anyway, I didn’t have another baby, so no problem there.

    21. GoryDetails*

      Congrats on the new kitten!

      My pet-names come from many sources – favorite fictional characters (Chiun, Raffles), descriptive terms (Sprite, Sirocco), herbs (Coriander), and lots of human names (Phillip, Abigail). My current cats have a chess theme, starting with the name “Chess” – which I chose in part because my ginger cat was the color of chess pie, but which segued into the boardgame when I got him a bonded pair of black cats to liven up his days, and couldn’t think of suitable pie-related names for them. So they’re Rook and Gambit!

      My current trio are all from a local rescue organization, and had names from previous owners (or from the rescue organization), but I didn’t care for those names. The cats don’t seem to care what I call them {wry grin}.

      Oh, and I did have one cat whose shelter-name I kept: a lovely senior ginger named Trooper. His name fit him so perfectly I didn’t hesitate to keep it. (He was 16 when I got him – was in the shelter when his aging owner couldn’t keep him – and he spent his final year with me.)

    22. Sloanicota*

      LOL I’m not very creative at it. I always give cats a two-syllable, ends-in-a Y-sound name, because I want it to be interchangeable with “kitty” when I call them. I want them to come or at least recognize that I’m talking to them whether I say “Daisy” or “Kitty.” That’s because I end up calling all my cats Kitty more often than their real names. Dogs, I want a one-syllable name because I want to be able to shout it and have them come. Max, Rex, Red, Lou – whatever.

    23. The OG Sleepless*

      I don’t really have a convention for naming pets. My current dog is named Daisy because she’s an intimidating-looking pit bull, so I wanted a silly flower name to offset her look. I was thinking of something even sillier-sounding like Tulip or Petunia, but I chickened out a little.

    24. Elle Woods*

      My family is bit into sports, and when I was growing up we had dogs named Kirby (after Kirby Puckett of the Minnesota Twins) and Barkley (after Charles Barkley). My husband and I are talking about getting a couple of dogs in the near future and have decided to go with names of our favorite musicians: Bowie and Prince.

    25. Zephy*

      Our two cats are named for Valar, from the Silmarillion (Melkor and Tulkas). I don’t know if we’ll stick to that naming scheme for our next 12 cats(!), but I generally gravitate toward either puns, fictional/historical characters, or fictional/historical puns.

      I used to work at an animal shelter and the names we got ran the full gamut. People names, food names, descriptive names, classic names (if I never meet another Bella it will be too soon), ironic names, pop-culture names. I’d say it was about even odds that adopters would change their new pet’s name in the course of the adoption process. A lot of the animals we took in were strays or foundlings, too, so they didn’t come in with established names (that we knew of). The ones that were found with tags, we kept those names, to increase the chances their people would find them. It was rare for the shelter to change an animal that came in with a name, but on occasion we had to, to reduce the chance that specific people would find that animal (and, probably, it helped the animal form new and better associations around what happens when people make a specific sound at it).

      1. Jackalope*

        I had a friend who worked pretty hard to talk me out of Feanor and Nerdanel for my two oldest cats. She was right; my Queen could have been a Nerdanel, but my Tom is a stereotypical big, lovable goofy orange boy with none of the personality intensity of Feanor.

    26. Damn it, Hardison!*

      My cats, Parker and Sophie, are named after characters in the show Leverage. Their middle names, Alice and Charlotte respectively, are aliases of the characters. They have turned out to be aptly named. If we get a third cat, her name will obviously be Maggie to keep the theme going.

    27. Random Bystander*

      Well, I don’t have any actual conventions, but I have had a number of cats with various reasons for their names. I will be including cats both past and present.

      Circe (died last June 28, at the age of 15.5) had been adopted from a rescue when she was 6.5 years old. She was a long hair dilute calico, and Circe had been her shelter name, and I did not change it (she’d been through enough in her life–she’d been through a failed adoption before I got her).

      Autumn (died April 25 this year at the approximate age of 12.5, maybe 13) came from the same rescue. She was a calico, and this was her shelter name also but I don’t think there’s a more perfect name for a calico cat who is rescued during the fall season. She had GI lymphoma, which shortened her life. It is believed that she was the mother of the next two (they were all rescued together and it looked like a dump job due to the location they were rescued from).

      Domino (died Sept 18 last year at the approximate age of 11.5) had GI lymphoma and a heart murmur that meant he could not have the steroids usually given to slow the disease. He was a black-and-white cow print DSH who was, as we said, so sweet they named a brand of sugar after him (yes, Domino brand sugar was called that long before Domino the cat, but …) We also, if we felt like ordering from Domino’s for dinner would say “let’s have the feline chef prepare dinner” and still will sometimes say “let’s have the ghost chef cook tonight”.

      TV, now the grand lady of the house, is approximately 12. She is a DSH black-and-white tuxie girl (yes, black-and-white TV).

      Cosette (usually just called Cosy) is approximately 9 years old. She rescued herself, showing up in front of the house one cold February night, emaciated and sick. Even though I had four cats (see above) at the time, I brought her in (stopping first in the garage until I got her to the vet) and knew that the starving waif would become a beautiful lady cat. She is a DSH dilute tortie (but the tortitude is full volume), but is named for the character in Les Miserables (no diacriticals on keyboard).

      A little over four years ago, a trio of gray/mostly gray cats showed up. Socks (gray tabby with white feet), Lady Jane (gray tabby whose face just looks very aristocratic), and Callie (mostly gray dilute calico). Between the three of them, they gave birth to 9 kittens, of whom only two survived. I did manage to TNR Socks and Lady Jane (who still show up to eat, but remain untouchable), Callie disappeared around the time I started my TNR project.

      Jemmy-any-dots (usually just Jemmy, JemJem, or … yeah, you get the idea), who was born probably in May four years ago, is a DSH brown tabby with spots on his sides. So I modified his name from the character in Cats, Jenny-any-dots whose “coat is of the tabby kind with tiger stripes and leopard spots”. I was able to trap him when he was 6mo old and got him neutered and he has lived indoors with me ever since. He is Socks’ son.

      Leo is an orange tabby, also born around the same time as Jemmy, from Callie. Leo just seemed to be the right name for him, and I trapped him and brought him indoors at the same time as Jemmy. When they lived outside, Jemmy and Leo were bonded, and even though they’re probably more like cousins from the standpoint of biology (could be half-brothers), they remain a bonded pair who like to snuggle together.

      Unfortunately, others in the neighborhood don’t seem to be prone to spay/neuter, so I had Char (DSH solid gray, was Charcoal until I was able to confirm female) show up and sometime around last May she gave birth to a litter that included my last adoptee.

      Pandora (sole survivor of Char’s litter), I captured and brought indoors almost exactly a year ago (July 17). She is kind of the genetic lottery winner with multiple recessive traits–she is a DLH colorpoint (dilute tortie). When I brought her in, she was very sick (upper respiratory infection) and heavily flea-infested, so she might not have made it if I hadn’t brought her in when I did. She’s now thoroughly spoiled rotten. I had thought of going to mythology since she came to me soon after I’d lost Circe, and so I settled on Pandora for the pan-dorable girl.

    28. Chaordic One*

      As someone of a certain age, I’ve always heard that the best (and most pretentious) pet names were from obscure Beat poets from San Francisco’s North Beach. In the past I’ve named pets after 1980s indie singers. I like the idea of naming pets after sitcom characters, however, my last two pets were named after TV cartoon characters.

    29. Dodubln*

      We lean towards characters names from books/TV/movies. Our current marmalade cat is named Raylan Givens, after the character in the Elmore Leonard books/”Justified” TV show. Although he seems to be called “DammitRaylanStopIt!”, more days than less. ;)

    30. star*

      my family had a theme of opposites

      A teeny wee kitten was named after a big burly rugby player, and a black cat named after a white dog. I enjoyed that while it lasted.

    31. Helvetica*

      I always heard cat names should have S in them because they react to the sibilant sound better than other names. So my cat is called Saskia (I do love that it is also a human name).

    32. Smol Bookwizard*

      stories and games!
      Our current pets are 4/5 named after anime or game characters, sometimes directly (Lancer and Kino and Aya) and sometimes obliquely (Miki, the surname of an anime girl; Maru, a common dog name suffix in anime shows).

      I find it delightful. I like to tell them about “their shows” and show them pictures. Lancer is a big scary handsome thing with an obsessive fealty habit so he is the one I am proudest of (and I always feel so bad for the Lancers in Fate, I find a bit of catharsis that I got one and get to love him).

      We have a few names in the potential queue but usually we just catch the vibe of an animal when we bring them into our lives and assess who is their best namesake, often with a minor nod to whatever previous name if any they had.
      The odd one out is Turnip, a bird who came with a similar name and we decided on that adaptation.

    33. Dicey Tillerman*

      Cats, past: Little Girl (renamed from Jasper at the shelter), Lucy (sounded good with Little Girl), Lionel and Bobby (orange Maine coon brothers who came with their names).

      Dogs, present: Scoot and Gauge, named after ski trails at the mountain we go to in the winter.

      I also have a snake plant named Spike and partial custody of a lemon tree named Snickett.

    34. Goldfeesh*

      I have had pet rats for about 20 years now which means I’ve gone through a lot of names since they have sadly short lifespans. I generally do theme names now. I’ve done descriptive and pun names as well. Sometimes names don’t stick and they get called nicknames. I had a Himalayan-colored rat named Sherpa but he became Snerps. His cagemate was Kenny Jr, named after my dad by my husband, but he was always called Junior. The third of that trio was named Mike for my brother and called MikeMike.

      My current group of rats arefour brothers so they are John, Paul, George, Ringo. Then we got another group of three. One had a mask over his eyes and so became Bandit. One had a gray hood and became Smokey. The third guy also had a mask and became Rogue because another Smoky and the Bandit name didn’t fit him.

      The six rats before them were Iowa State football rats. I had (Charlie) Kolar (who was also a black rat Kol/Coal). There was (David) Montgomery, (Allan) Lazard also often called LardZard. I had a (Brock) Purdy, named him before he went to the 49ers, and (Breece) Hall. The longest-lived of the 6 was (Mike) Rose. He ultimately free-roamed the bedroom because he wouldn’t get along with the Beatle rats or Smoky, Bandit, and Rogue. He slept between two pillows every night. :) He was so spoiled.

      We’ve had so many rats over the years I don’t remember everyone and their names anymore. If I could go back in time I would have taken and labeled some more pictures especially the pre-cell phone camera days. Like my very favorite rat I ever had, I don’t remember his name anymore. He was a black hooded with a huge personality and so very smart. He recognized my voice over the phone when I was talking to my husband. He heard me and immediately started gnawing on the cage bars which he never did for my husband because he knew my husband wasn’t trained to let him out like I was.

    35. carcinization*

      I just pick a name or other word that sounds good at the time. My dog that passed away in August was named after a Russian historical figure, my elder cat is named after a day of the week in French, and my new kitten is named after a star in the Aquila constellation. Previous cats were given slightly uncommon people-names.

    36. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I have had a lifelong obsession with owning two dogs, named Waterloo & Clyde, after one of the many NYS Thruway exits, just because those two names together are just amazing.
      It’s good fun to decide which type of dog would which name.

  9. *daha**

    I saw an article on the Shibumi Shade and I’m thinking of buying one. Has anyone here tried them? (It’s an alternative to a beach umbrella. There’s a tall arch strung with a long swath of fabric. The breeze billows out the cloth and it makes shade. I’m considering the Mini model, which shelters 1-2 people. It is pricy at $175.)

    1. Rain*

      It looks near but I have a dumb question maybe but .. does it work if there’s no breeze?

      1. Still*

        I’m guessing it might be okay for places where it’s pretty much always windy? But I don’t understand why not just have two arches, one on each side? Is it because the billowing looks pretty / sounds nice? It seems pretty form-over-function to me.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          I think that would be too close to a canopy, and you can’t charge almost $300 for it, when you can buy one at Academy for $40.

    2. Dear Liza dear liza*

      My friend has one and it’s unexpectedly noisy to sit under. I could barely hear the ocean.

      I’m a big fan of my Cool Cabana. I can carry it, put it up, and take it down by myself, a not very strong or handy person.

    3. Maryn*

      If every beach you might visit has a strong and consistent wind, Shibumi Shade would probably be okay, but it wouldn’t be my first choice because few beaches are like that. My guess would be that the free end would be in your face or knocking over your water bottle way too often when there’s a momentary lull.

      I’d probably go with either the Sun Ninja Tent ($130) or the Sportbrella ($50-75). We have a Sportbrella that’s six or seven years old and like it pretty well, although we replaced the stakes it came with for coiled ones that twist into the sand.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Same, including the twisted stakes. We’ve had our Sunbrella for at least ten years and it’s still in great shape. I’m considering something smaller because I can’t really set it up by myself and sometimes I like to go to the beach without my husband.

      2. Imtheone*

        It was developed for the North Carolina beaches where a strong breeze is the norm. It is noisy. However, it stays up in a strong breeze , unlike most beach umbrellas.

    4. sagewhiz*

      Talk about timing—an article about the shades popped up on Slate dot com’s home page today.

    5. mreasy*

      I recommend the shades that have 4 fabric “legs” with pockets at the bottom you fill with sand, and usually only 2 poles for the front. They don’t require digging and you can fit at least two people in the usual size, and they do NOT cost Shibumi prices. I also read that article and it loooks like you need an extra accessory to make up for lacking wind? They are definitely cool looking and super easy to set up though!

  10. Ricotta*

    Any other US folks bunkering down for a weekend of terrified pets? God I effing hate fireworks!

    1. Double A*

      One slight benefit of living in a wildfire zone is people don’t mess around with fireworks. And after the Caldor fire people, which was started by target shooting, I didn’t even hear guns this year.

    2. RMNPgirl*

      I’m on night 3 of horrendous fireworks. Last night there were 8-10 sets being shot off around my house. Even my laid back cat was on edge and hiding. I do not understand why regular people need fireworks. We should just have professional shows people can watch and basic things like sparklers for everyone else.

    3. Rain*

      Fireworks are illegal in our city but you’d never know it based on the way our neighbours behave. Lucky for us that none of our cats are bothered.

    4. BellaStella*

      I hate fireworks too. The pollution that goes into water systems, the noise for the birds and bats is horrid.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      We had fireworks last night here in the UK, which is massively unfair! Completely inexplicable! We already have to put up with non stop fireworks from mid October to mid November, and then they start up again for Christmas and New Year. Terrifies the cat. Someone may have been celebrating the election, which is fair, but I wish the sale of fireworks was more restricted.

      1. Jill Swinburne*

        In NZ the sale is restricted to three days before Guy Fawkes (I think you can only buy them from 2-5 November) but in practice people just stockpile them and let them off whenever.

    6. RussianInTexas*

      My neighborhood is rather strict with the fireworks.
      We are hunkering down for the hurricane instead!

    7. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      We don’t have any more animals but my husband and I are both military (with 7 deployments between the two of us) and we HATE it.

      We smile at the neighbors setting them off in our cul de sac because it makes them so very happy, and make ourselves scarce. That part is bearable because we know to expect it (except for the new folks who just moved in and didn’t think to give the neighborhood a heads up and startled the crap out of us popping them off).

      For the rest of the city that pops them off all night, we use earplugs and white noise to muffle some of it so we can sleep, and just deal with the nightmares that my husband has. The nightmares are so much worse for him this time of year because of the fireworks. Why are these a thing arghhh. Why would anyone celebrate a battle where people are being injured and killed by the very things whose noise you’re now joyfully replicating. I get it, people just want to set off colorful bangy things, it’s not malicious, but it has such an impact.

    8. AvonLady Barksdale*

      We went with some friends to the country to get away from the fireworks. Sadly, some people in the nearby town decided to shoot off some fireworks themselves and point some guns in the air so it wasn’t quite as peaceful as it might have been, but it was better than what we get here in the city (and we live in a neighborhood with a TON of illegal fireworks– they start on Juneteenth and don’t stop until about July 15th).

      Our dog didn’t mind fireworks until we moved here, though I think age played a much bigger factor than location. Last year was absolutely horrible and we endured several months of a terrified, panicked senior bud who hated walking at night. Now he’s on Prozac and he gets stressed but he’s ok. His friends, though… poor buds, they were not happy.

    9. Chauncy Gardener*

      Yup. I get the professional displays the towns do (although my dog doesn’t!), but why oh why do some of my neighbors have to do their own? It’s dry here and just go watch the town’s display for Pete’s sake

    10. Writerling*

      I don’t even have pets but fireworks were still going off tonight! They started… probably the 2nd? I hate them too, and not just for pets (poor wildlife!).

  11. SuprisinglyADHD*

    How do you get back your excitement for a huge personal project? I’ve completely stalled on a major restoration project and it’s gotten to the point where even looking at it makes me feel sick to my stomach with guilt for not working on it. I really want to finish it but I can’t get past the awful feelings to even try. There’s different sections in my garage, basement, shed, and backyard and I just feel so bad about the whole thing. I would appreciate any advice for getting excited and happy about it again.

    1. AlsoADHD*

      Something that helps me is when I remind myself that nobody gives a F. Seriously. I might feel horrible about the piles of unfinished laundry or things I intended to take upstairs or the fact that I never found the time to get a certain work certification or even buy groceries, but there are zero human beings in my life or out of it who even register these things that cause me shame.

      Some people have told me thinking about how little anybody cares is not pleasant, but I find it super liberating and hope this reframe can help you.

    2. captain5xa*

      Do we have the same house?

      We bought an old cabin 15 years ago that needed LOTS of work. It is in a beautiful secluded spot that we love – quiet, lots of wildlife, but every. single. room. needs work.

      We’ve learned to take victories in small chunks. Instead of being stressed over the fact that “this entire room needs the old paneling taken down and new sheetrock / insulation done”, we do small projects. We get excited that we did one wall or even half a wall.

      And remember, anything you do is progress, no matter how small. For example, “Look! I painted the door molding!” while ignoring that the door is too cr*ppy to fix and will need replacing. The painted door molding is beautiful dahling!

    3. Ginger Cat Lady*

      It okay to give yourself a month off to recover from the burnout!
      When you’re ready to get started again:
      Choose a small, simple mini project that can be completed in a day. Something finished will give you the satisfaction and excitement that partially sanding a baseboard won’t.

      1. Zweisatz*

        Yeah, if I keep pushing myself to do something that I just can’t right now that makes it so much worse. Take some time off from the project where you don’t try to progress.

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          For a lot of people, telling yourself you CAN’T work on it is also helpful. It helps me let go of the tension/resistance pulling in the opposite direction, and just rest, and then rediscover the small things I do enjoy about the project.

    4. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      It there any part of it that you could pay someone else to do? For example if a ceiling needed painting but you can’t face having a stiff neck for a week and standing in the paint tray at some point, etc. Does rubbish have to be removed, or something scrubbed? You might be able to consider the cost as an investment in carrying on with it yourself. Is the restoration less interesting to you now, could it be simplified? If you had a breakdown of all the tasks, do you have a friend or relative who might keep you company while you did a couple of the tasks, chatting away, and possible doing a task with you? Do you have a local church or scout group or Rotary organisation that might be interested in doing one of the tasks? My main thought is that you need company to accomplish it, and that’s perfectly reasonable!

    5. Chauncy Gardener*

      I don’t mean this as hard as it sounds, but just start working on it again. Get out of your head and just do it.
      My husband heard me talking to myself the other morning “Just suck it up and start, Chauncy. You won’t finish what you don’t start. Stop thinking about it and just get going”
      It worked! Now the overwhelming feeling is gone and things just feel more…practical (or something?) and it’s manageable
      Good luck!!

    6. Girasol*

      Have you asked yourself why you’re putting it off? I’ve found that when I’m saying, “I should but I just don’t feel like it today” for the umpteenth time, it’s because there’s something about what I have to do next that’s bothering me. I ask myself, what’s making the next bit so hard to face? Once I state the problem out loud I can work on finding an answer and get going again. Sometimes there’s something I don’t know and I have to do some research, or the task is too big and I have to break it into steps, or I don’t know what to do but I can figure out who to ask. Procrastination generally has a reason hiding inside.

    7. BikeWalkBarb*

      What about reframing the entire thing? You’re not procrastinating or stalled. You are prioritizing something(s) else at this time.

      What are those things you’re doing instead? Maybe you’re getting enough sleep for a change, maybe you’re reading great books, maybe you’re putting in overtime because that’s what your career needs right now, maybe you’re spending an inordinate amount of time playing games on your phone. Could be many, many things. Whether you made a conscious decision or not, you’ve prioritized other activities for a while.

      That’s okay. Humans do that. Nothing to feel guilty about.

      If you made a list of the things that are your priorities–identified by the fact that you give time to them–are they the priorities you want to have? If there’s one thing consuming time that you’d actually prefer to cut back on, take *that amount of time* in your week or month and turn it into project time. Don’t try to restart everything, don’t try to finish anything–just reprioritize a chunk of time.

      Write this down, too. You’re updating your list of priorities. Probably a good idea for all of us to do that every so often.

      And if everything on your list is actually a higher priority for you than these projects, now you’ve said that out loud to yourself and it’s okay. The projects will wait for you, right? Life happens.

  12. Reading Rainbow*

    What is the best way to try to sell old clothes, shoes, and bags nowadays? I used to list stuff on Poshmark but it seems very weird now.

    I need to do a huge closet purge as I no longer work a white collar job and do not need my formal work wardrobe. My mom also brought over a ton of boxes of all my teen clothes from the 00’s that she has apparently kept, and hilariously a lot of it has come back into style. I’m considering trying to sell some of that stuff as well but I’m not sure where the youths are seeking out their…………. Vintage…………… Ouch……….. Their vintage stuff at this point. I did a booth at a flea market and put up a rack of my high school clothes for a few bucks each and the teen girls were INTO IT, almost everything sold! But we don’t have markets like that around here too often so I can’t get rid of all of it that way.

    I usually like to do a round of trying to sell stuff before I move to donating it, and right now in particular the extra cash would be nice. There are one million online marketplaces for secondhand clothing now though and I don’t know which ones are worth using. Any recent experiences?

    1. The Magician's Auntie*

      Are you in the US? In the UK, Vinted and eBay would be good places.
      I WISH I’d kept my teenage clothes to sell now!

    2. Grits McGee*

      For your non-vintage clothes, ThredUp might work for you. You won’t make much money, but I like how easy it is (just pop clothes in either a bag they send you or your own container, and then mail it). I also like that you can see that items were sold, rather than wondering if everything just went in the trash.

      1. A313*

        I’ve bought from Thredup and been satisfied with my purchases. But I don’t know how it works on the seller’s end.

      2. BikeWalkBarb*

        I’m planning to use ThredUp for my recent closet cleanout because they’ll donate what doesn’t sell. I don’t have to think about it after it leaves my house and I can feel good about the final disposition of the clothes. I really don’t want to deal with shipping one garment at a time.

        If you do end up selling things and have some left over, consider joining your local Buy Nothing group and giving things away directly. I’ve done that in the past and it was so nice to hear back from someone that she wore a jacket that doesn’t fit me any more and got lots of compliments on it. More personal and neighborly than dropping off a box at Goodwill, and I’ll continue to do that with items that don’t fit the ThredUp guidelines.

        1. ElastiGirl*

          I buy almost all my clothes from ThredUp but have never sold back to them (and I have a *ton* to get rid of that no longer fit), so I’m happy to hear this. Thank you!

    3. WellRed*

      With Poshmark I’ve found that unique pieces sell best, especially vintage while jeans and office clothes are a hard sell. And good labels obviously help. Unfortunately, buyers offer crap money for a lot of items and having to fit stuff within post office packaging is a pain. I take it you don’t have a local consignment?

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      Do you have any local consignment or vintage (yes, ouch!) clothing stores?

  13. Fax facts confusion*

    I just got a new home printer, yay, and it has a fax capability which I have never had before. I have a landline, and as part of setting up the printer I put its fax cable into a wall jack, because I’ll be faxing some documents pretty soon. The next day I needed to use my landline and it wasn’t working. I pulled out the printer’s phone line and my landline was good again.

    Does this mean I can’t use my landline when I have my printer set up to fax, or did I do something wrong in the installation?

    I also wish I could test the fax application, but since it has to go to another fax machine’s phone number, I don’t see how I can test it before I need to use it. The faxing process appears to be very straightforward, but haha, famous last words.

    1. Pennyworth*

      Last time I had a printer with fax capability it was exactly the same. I think it happens because there is only one phone line, and it can’t handle two phones.

    2. Quandong*

      You’re right, you can’t have both the phone and fax using the landline simultaneously. Before the internet when businesses relied on fax everyday, they’d have multiple phone lines so the fax machine was always connected.

    3. Sister George Michael*

      You can buy a phone jack splitter – – basically a jack that two things (phone and fax) can be plugged into at the same time.

      To test it, you can send a fax to the Office Depot or fedex/UPS store near you and then call them to ask if they received it.

        1. Agnes Grey*

          Okay, half of that got eaten, sorry. Was reminiscing about the “joys” of getting called repeatedly by a fax machine set to redial and occasionally faxing to them in desperation.

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      It came with a fax option? Isn’t that like a car coming with a buggy whip holder?

      1. Chaordic One*

        Well, you never know when you might have to send a document to the IRS. They don’t accept e-mail. Or there’s always snail mail.

      2. Fax facts confusion*

        You would think so, but I’m dealing with estate/financial paperwork and sometimes the only options are fax or snail-mail. It feels more secure to fax and it would be very handy to do it from my house. And as I do have a landline, why not take advantage of this old-timey functionality.

      3. Clisby*

        Clearly you’ve never dealt with a company/agency that required fax or snail mail. Once we dealt with a health insurance company that required that. This was not in the dark ages – it was back in the 2010s.

      4. Banana Pyjamas*

        Look, our county commissioners decided to save money by shutting off all the fax lines without telling anyone. During tax appeal season. It was a disaster! Do you have any idea how many seniors are out there who don’t have enough mobility to go places easily and also don’t have computers/internet? It’s a lot. Fax is important for accessibility, at least from an organizational standpoint.

    5. Fax facts confusion*

      Thanks for suggesting a phone jack splitter, but I don’t think it would work for me because my landline phone and the printer are in different rooms. I can plug the printer’s phone cable in when I need it and leave it unplugged most of the time.

      I’ll call my local UPS/Fedex store and ask if I can fax them a test sheet.

      1. TryItAnyway*

        You can use a phone jack splitter with one outlet and plug phones directly into others. That’s what I used to do when my computers often came with fax capabilities.

    6. Esprit de l'escalier*

      Aloo Baingan! I’m hoping to find a recipe that would get close to my favorite Indian-restaurant dish. It is so totally delicious at the restaurant that whenever I have it there, I long to replicate it at home. So far I haven’t found a recipe that comes close enough – maybe because I don’t have access to small Indian eggplants or slender Asian ones, just the basic eggplants at Kroger. I could make it on the stove or in an Instant Pot, per the recipe. (By now my mouth is watering just thinking about it….)

  14. Unkempt Flatware*

    Do bullion products provide the nutrients of the base? Would I get the benefits of mushrooms from a mushroom bullion?

    1. Rara Avis*

      I don’t know for sure, but my guess would be it’s mostly flavor and a whole lot of salt.

    2. Madame Arcati*

      Well, it depends what nutrients you are thinking of – I’m not very sure what the nutritional content of mushrooms is to be honest!
      For chicken, beef or other meat, a main benefit would be protein and you wouldn’t get that from stock. Maybe some vitamins depending on how they survive the process. But even in home made stock there’s not much actual meat content in the end.
      For veg your main benefits are vitamins (such as C) and fibre. No fibre benefit from stock obviously and I know vitamin c isn’t that stable but other vitamins/minerals might come through.
      A look at the nutritional info on my not-trashy but not-premium stock cubes (Knorr) indicate trace amounts of everything listed (calories, fat, carbs, fibre, protein) except salt, and says nothing about vitamins so I assume not much – the other things are compulsory to list but you can bet your bottom dollar they’d shout about vitamin content if there was any worth having.

    3. I'm here for the cats*

      I would only trust the stock I made myself. Hypothetically mushroom stock would have decent amount of water soluble vitamins, but some would be damaged by heat as it is. Then again no one needs that much vitamins anyway. Main issue is excessive sodium and sugar, and absence of fibre, in store bought ones.

    4. Hroethvitnir*

      I would imagine it wildly varies. Dried food generally retains micronutrients, but I would be suspicious that your average mass produced bouillon is actually mostly dried mushroom.

      I found a chart on foodassets “Nutrient Loss Sample Comparison Chart”:

      Dehydrated: 3 – 5% nutrient loss due to low heat during the drying cycle and the gentle air flow, this translates to minimal loss. This means that there is less than 5% nutrient loss on dehydrated food on ANY size portion .vs. 40% – 80% in canned or frozen.

      Dehydrated food weighs less by 70 – 94%. The nutritional value in the food isn’t destroyed by drying process. Remove the water and the nutritional value goes up as a percentage of the reduced weight.

      Not about bouillon specifically, but the general idea of dehydrating food should loosely translate if you’re making your own. At least one commercial mushroom bouillon I found on a nutrition database registered nothing but carbs, sodium and sugar. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  15. H.Regalis*

    Your favorite restaurants in downtown Minneapolis that are not formal/dressy and are under $50/plate for mains. I’ve been to Owamni and it’s awesome, but I want to try some new-to-me places.

    1. Elle Woods*

      A couple that we’ve liked: Zelo and Mara. (Mara’s a bit on the dressier side though.) If you’re willing to venture to the North Loop, Red Rabbit, Bar LaGrassa, and Maison Margaux are good.

    2. Scientist*

      My favorite Minneapolis restaurants in downtown and a bit outside of downtown:
      112 eatery (great food, great service, very cozy in the fall and winter)
      Martina (so delicious, beautiful inside and out, amazing cocktails)
      Bungalow Club (basically same adjectives as above)
      Spice and Tonic (v good Indian food, great service)
      Cafe Racer (excellent food in a neighborhood with a great patio in the summer)
      Monte Carlo (mostly for cocktails on the patio in the summer)
      Curry in a Hurry – also Himalayan – both south of downtown (the tastiest takeout around, or eat there)
      Okome House (very tasty Japanese food, especially their onigiri)
      Zen Box (more good Japanese food)

  16. LGP*

    Burping a baby!

    My wife and I just had a baby (yay!). He is almost six weeks old and is formula fed. I’ve seen all different kinds of burping techniques online, and I know every baby is different, but I’d like to hear what worked best for others. Bonus points if it works on a baby who screams as soon as you take the bottle out of their mouth. :p Thanks!

    1. RagingADHD*

      We had good success with both the shoulder burp and the one where you let them sit on your knee and support their chest and chin with one hand while you rub / pat their back with the other.

      With screaming as soon as the bottle leaves their mouth, watch out for reflux or issues with their speed of drinking. We didn’t realize for a while that our second baby was getting too much too fast, which caused her a lot of discomfort and reflux-ish symptoms even though she did not actually have GERD, per se.

      1. Venus*

        I have one family member who was so happy to eat that she would bawl at the end of every meal but it was about the food ending. I presume it started a bit later, and not at birth, but was definitely a thing when she started to eat mushed food. It was so bad that the parents could get her to stop crying by pulling the food back out and then she’d start back up as soon as they put the food away. They didn’t do the back and forth at most meals but did it on my first visit to show that she really was quirky about food. She was well fed and grew out of it thankfully, but it was funny for a few months!

    2. Hroethvitnir*

      I’ve only ever used the shoulder (with gentle jiggling!), and it works great. High enough that the pressure of their weight is on their tummy, but not so high that the edge/point of your shoulder is pressing right into their tum – or you’re asking for vomit.

    3. Deborah*

      I learned the “joystick” technique from friends (almost 3-month old here!) Take the baby and place their bottom on your knee, then gently move them back and forth while supporting their neck. Doesn’t work 100% of the time but often produces a nice burp!

      1. just here for the scripts*

        You have great typing skills for a three-month old! Not to mention language skills!!

    4. No Tribble At All*

      Congrats!!! I had good success with what I called the “drunk little man” technique: sit baby on your right knee facing to the right, like your leg’s a bench. Use your left hand to hold his neck/shoulders so his head doesn’t flop around. Wrap your right arm around him and tilt him forwards. He’ll look like a little floppy drunk man leaning forward onto a bar. The tilting forward + using your left hand to pull his torso up a little bit reeeeeally gets them burps out.

    5. Pocket Mouse*

      A well-kept secret, at least in the US: generally speaking, babies don’t need to be burped!

      If the babe’s screaming as soon as the bottle is taken out, it may be he wants something more in (food, pacifier) rather than something out (gas). If it is gas, I hope the tips others have given work for you!

      1. Generic Name*

        Can you cite your source? Even La Leche League taught moms (who were all breastfeeding) that burping was necessary. Of course this info is nearly 20 years old at this point, so I’m curious how it’s changed.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          Other than personal experience? The fact that there are places in the world where it’s not at all common to burp babies is convincing to me- Google has info on this for however deep you’d like to dive. Or, if you prefer, an RCT saying burping babies does not reduce colic but does increase regurgitation: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24910161/

          It’s not harmful to actively get babies to burp, but it’s not necessary. The gas will get out one way or another!

      2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        Agree. We breast fed but never burped. It’s not necessary. 6 weeks old is right in the middle of PURPLE crying stage. If this crying is happening a lot in the early evening, it’s entirely possible there is nothing to do per se to make baby happier. Just gotta do what soothing you can and ride it out. It should improve by 12 weeks old.

    6. Hypatia*

      sometimes we’d lay the baby across our lap, and gentle rub or Pat the baby’s back. the baby’s face would be turned to the side facing the parent.
      if baby is crying after being fed, it could be:
      -gas, so try burping.
      -needing to suck more- some babies sooth themselves by sucking- so try a pacifier.
      -a growth spurts, and the baby needs more food. 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months are very typical growth spurts times.
      – general displeasure and confusion, so try rocking, swaddling, walking, in crib with a mobile or musical toy. YMMV.

    7. Loreli*

      Google “football hold for baby gas”, there’s photos and some YouTube examples. Our kids loved this hold.

    8. Maybesocks*

      Try holding the baby on your shoulder and walking down stairs. It worked for us!

  17. Broken scones*

    What are some interesting idioms and expressions you know of? (Example: I recently came across one in English I never heard of until recently : “There’s many a slip twixt the cup and lip.”) I’m curious about any in English or Spanish in particular, but I’d also love to hear about them in other languages if anyone is willing to share! :)

    1. Weekend Warrior*

      My English granny had a lot of expressions but the one I still use a lot is “if it had teeth it would have bitten you”, said when the thing someone’s looking for is right in front of them all along. I usually just say it to myself but she said it to others! :) Grannies can be tough!

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        I usually hear “if it was a dog, it would bite you.” Never heard “if it had teeth,” but same idea.

      2. Zephy*

        Related to that, an expression I picked up from my mom is “it must not have jumped out and bit [you/me] hard enough,” upon finding a searched-for item right in front of you. I’m betting she or someone in her family was told “if it was a [dog/snake] it’d have bit you,” and then responded with “well then it must not have bit me hard enough,” and a new idiom was born.

        1. allathian*

          In Finnish, when someone can’t find something that’s right in front of them, another person who can see the lost object (keys, phone, glasses, etc.) can say “ota silmä käteen” (grab a hold of/pick up your eye).

    2. Valancy Stirling*

      I’ve always loved “no le busques la quinta pata al gato”, “don’t look for the cat’s fifth paw.” Essentially: don’t look for trouble where there isn’t any.

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      I can give you a couple of Irish language ones.

      “Aithníonn cíoróg cíoróg eíle,” which means “a beetle recognises another beetle” or “it takes one to know one.”

      “Is minic a bríseann béal duine a shrón,” which means “a man’s mouth often breaks his nose.” In case the meaning isn’t obvious, that is talking about people saying something offensive and getting punched for it.

      “Níl aon tinteán már do thinteán féin,” which means “there’s no fireside like your own fireside” or “there’s no place like home.”

      “Níl siad imithe uainn ach imithe romhainn.” This one is kind of religious and about those who have died. “They have not gone from us; they have gone before us.” It loses a lot in English, ’cause in Irish “from us” is one word and “before us” is one word.

    4. RussianInTexas*

      Russian: stop hanging spaghetti on my ears, aka stop lying so outrageously.
      To prove you are not a camel – to prove something obvious.
      To force someone out of themselves – to annoy someone.
      Without a tsar in the head – a stupid person.
      Trees – sticks: oh my god, FFS
      Blini – same as above, also a PG curse.
      Also, “oladushek” – a small pancake, is a term of endearment for a significant other.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’ve always heard that one from Texans as “All hat, no cattle,” like someone who looks the part of the cowboy (or well-off rancher) but doesn’t actually have any work behind it.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        As useless as tits on a bull

        I didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday

        Have an open mind, but not a sieve

        He has more money than sense

        1. Subtle Tuba*

          My dad’s version of the third one: Don’t keep your mind so open your brains fall out

    5. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      “I’m not green even if I’m cabbage-looking” – meaning I don’t believer that.
      “green” here has the meaning of naive, gullible.

    6. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      “all fur coat and no knickers”
      (“knickers” in UK means underpants.)

      Someone with luxury items who skimps on the basics, or figuratively, someone/something that appears great but doesn’t have a good foundation.

      1. carcinization*

        Does “knickers” mean something other than “underpants” somewhere else? I’ve never been to the UK but didn’t think it was a word like “fanny” that has different meanings in the US and across the pond….

    7. The Dude Abide*

      Not my circus, not my monkeys – when something is f’ed up, but you have no authority over it

      You make a better door than a window – when someone is standing and blocking someone else’s view

      1. allathian*

        The Finnish equivalent “et ole lasimestarin poika/tytär” translates to “you aren’t a glassblower’s son/daughter.”

        1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

          Wait, is THAT what my german MIL means when she asks “Was your father a glassblower/glazier?”???
          I’d understood it meant I was blocking her view of something but couldn’t see where my parent’s occupation came into play xD

    8. The Magician's Auntie*

      In Scotland they say, “If she were chocolate, she’d eat hersel’ ” (or he/they)

      Hersel’ = herself

      It basically means “She’s full of herself”

    9. Accidental Itenerate Teacher*

      Oh these are fun!
      My dad always says “Do I look like I just got off the pickle boat?” meaning “do you think I’m stupid”

      And my mom uses “Cold as a big dog when a big dog gets cold” meaning “very cold”

      1. Hroethvitnir*

        I love the pickle boat one!

        Reminds me of “I’m not as green as I am cabbage looking” – which the internet tells me is English (and maybe from Yorkshire), so it figures it would have travelled to Aotearoa. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus on the etymology but a common one is the idea that it’s a play off a head looking like a cabbage and green meaning naive. I kind of assumed it was from “cabbage” being used for intellectually disabled people, which is a bit yikes.

      2. allathian*

        There’s also the old “brass monkey weather” as in weather cold enough to freeze the ears/balls off of a brass monkey.

    10. RLC*

      Just fell off the turnip truck: naive, not worldly wise. Variant: just fell off the cabbage truck.
      Two cabbages are better than one: two heads are better than one.
      All around Robin Hood’s barn: excessively lengthy route or discussion.

    11. Clisby*

      “That dog won’t hunt.” Translation: This idea is not going to work.

      “You/he/she/they ain’t right.” Translation: “You’re being silly.”

    12. Random Bystander*

      “the sky is clabbered up to rain” — it refers to the way the clouds look some time before the rain actually starts, but you just know it’s fixing to rain soon.

    13. allathian*

      In James Herriot’s books there’s at least one reference to a lazy wind, that is a cold wind that doesn’t bother to go around, it just goes right through you.

    14. Pippa K*

      In Jordanian Arabic, “your mother-in-law loves you,” meaning someone is lucky, and for some reason said when someone shows up just in time for food.

    15. Loveslanguages*

      The French have some fun ones:
      (En) faire tout un fromage – to make a whole cheese out of (something), or to make a mountain out of a molehill
      Coûter les yeux de la tête – to cost the eyes out of your head, or to cost an arm and a leg
      Chanter comme une casserole – to sing like a saucepan, or to sing terribly

      My favorite Spanish idiom is “el mundo es un pañuelo” – the world is a handkerchief (it’s a small world).

      1. allathian*

        Also, “copains comme cochons,” or friends like pigs, that is best friends.

    16. different name for this*

      I can share a couple from learning Danish!

      “At koste det hvide ud af øjnene” — to cost the white out of your eyes (=be very expensive)
      “Der er ingen ko på isen” — there’s no cow on the ice (=everything is fine)
      “At spille kong Gulerod” — to play King Carrot (=to behave arrogantly)

      An Australian one that I like is “don’t come the raw prawn” (=don’t act all innocent — usually said when you think someone is trying to trick you).

      “To be flat out like a lizard drinking” — the usual meaning of ‘flat out’ i.e. really busy, but just a more fun way of saying it :)

      1. allathian*

        There are some similar ones in Finnish.

        “Maksaa silmät päästä” is “to cost the eyes out of your head,” that is, to be very expensive.

        “Oma lehmä ojassa” is “one’s own cow in the ditch,” usually said when someone appears to be doing someone else a favor but they’re really doing it for their own benefit.

        1. londonedit*

          One of my favourite Finnish ones is ‘doesn’t have all the Moomins in the valley’ as an alternative to our ‘sandwich short of a picnic’. And another one my Finnish relatives say is ‘don’t go further than the sea to fish’ – which means if you find what you’re looking for, don’t bother carrying on looking to see if you might find something better.

    17. Blythe*

      My favorite/most used is “going to hell in a handbasket.” (Ie everything is falling apart… but, like, in a spirit of amusement/eye-rolling, not anger.)

    18. Broken scones*

      Popping in to say thank you to everyone that commented on my question. I have enjoyed every single response! ☺️

  18. TheBunny*

    Cat litter that cats don’t drag around the house? Anyone?

    We have an automatic litter box so we’ve solved the issue with scooping and with the smell, but the jerks…ahem my furry kids…still manage to drag litter everywhere.

    Any suggestions on litter that doesn’t do this? It needs to be clumping or the box can’t auto clean it.

    Pretty sure this doesn’t exist…but thought I’d ask.

    1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      There are mats which claim to trap the litter on the cats’ feet as they exit the tray- if you have room for one. My cat tends to leap out of the tray and then run up the hallway like a maniac, so I haven’t bothered trying one, I just keep a dustpan and brush by the tray.

      1. Ricotta*

        Yeah the mat is what you need to change, since the auto box limits the type of litter it will tolerate.

        We used to use the nubby plastic kind (Chewy calls it “Petmate Catcher Mat” if you want an example) and they work okay when they’re completely clean, but even a tiny bit of dust makes the litter skid across the surface and keep going. Emphatic diggers kick up enough dust in one visit to mess them up.

        Switching to a honeycomb-style catcher mat works better for us. (Chewy calls this one “iPrimio Cat Litter Trapper EZ Clean Mat, Black, Large” if you want an example.) The litter goes down to the second layer, so they are easy to pick up, fold, and dump directly back into the box, then wipe the upper layer with a wet paper towel and you’re done.

        If you have a cat who uses the box and then parkours to clear the entire mat, thus sending litter yards away, you will instead need to create a layout that prevents them from doing that, like turning the box and blocking entry from a few sides. (Of course, some cats don’t tolerate losing any sight lines where they eliminate, so this is very YMMV.)

        1. TheBunny*

          Parkour covers it. I’ve seen him pivot in mid air following litter box use.

          We did get one of the honeycomb mats. I think it looks like it must be uncomfortable on their feet…but litter throughout my house is awful on MY feet.

      2. TheBunny*

        We have one of those mats. It does…sort of…work.

        But they still manage to drag it all over

    2. hazel*

      I’ve had pretty good luck with Dr Elsey’s No Track. It does still track, but way, way less than any others we’ve tried.

      1. A different cat-owner*

        What would you say is the airborne dust level of this litter? I’m a first-time owner of a cat who’s used to Scoop Away, and while it’s overall fine I’m on the lookout for reducing dust.

        1. tabloidtainted*

          Dr. Elsey’s does have dust clouds. I switched to Arm & Hammer Cloud Control for my asthmatic cat and it’s the lowest dust clumping clay litter I’ve found.

    3. I'm here for the cats*

      I personally found pine pellets the best for this specific purpose. However my old man hates how it feels on its paws. We agreed that I don’t dictate what texture of toilet pellets he gets, and he doesn’t dictate what texture of toilet paper I get. So back to draggy tofu litter we go.

      1. anxiousGrad*

        They also use pellet litter at the shelter I volunteer at. It doesn’t smell, which is another nice perk. For some cats they use clay litter instead. I don’t know how they determine which cats need the clay litter, but the default is pellet, so maybe the clay litter cats are like your cat. The clay litter also isn’t messy.

    4. nonprofit director*

      Boxie cat litter is the least-tracking litter I have used. It also seems to generate the least dust. I use the extra strength variety and it clumps well. It looks like you can subscribe, but I just buy it at my local pet store.

    5. Commander Shepard's Favorite Store*

      I like Arm & Hammer Cloud Control. It’s unfortunately not a no-track litter, but it’s the best of anything I’ve tried so far, and only seems to get scattered in a ~2-foot radius around the box. As a bonus, it also does as it says on the tin, and generates little to no dust. Plus it smells good (I mean…for cat litter, anyway! And I’m someone who’s sensitive to artificial perfumes) and clumps really well.

    6. YNWA*

      I have a tripod cat and switched to Fresh Step Lightweight Clumping Cat Litter because it’s low dust, low tracking. It is clumping, but maybe not as clumpy as standard litter. She’s very vigorous in her box and the normal Tidy Cats litter we were using was getting literally all over the house.

    7. numbers lady*

      I use crystal cat litter, and I used to use it with an automatic litter box so that shouldn’t be a problem. I find very little of it ends up past the mat under the box. I do use a mat under/in front of the box that has 2 pieces with holes in one to trap the litter.

    8. Texan In Exile*

      I’m not trying to alarm you, but our a/c tech said they didn’t realize their cat had diabetes until too late and that the litter was sticking to his paws. I just looked it up and apparently, the excess glucose in the urine can cause this problem.

      1. TheBunny*

        It’s not this. It’s the fact that both of them leap out of the box like they are Olympic High Jumpers.

      2. Dancing Otter*

        My diabetic cat also got litter stuck between his toes, but it was because the diabetes made him drink like a horse. The litter couldn’t absorb the sheer volume of urine fast enough. We had to increase the depth of litter in the box (even with appropriate medical care), and check his paws daily.

    9. Random Bystander*

      Do you have the litter robot (specific model)? I’ve found that a lot of the litter ends up deposited on the stairs (I purchased a bundle that included the stairs), and very little tracks any further than that. I use Tidy Cat Free-and-Clean (regular weight for the robots). I have another different model that came with a mat similar to the honeycomb style mentioned by Ricotta, and that also seems to do well with keeping the litter from spreading elsewhere.

      1. TheBunny*

        We have the Dakeres one. We have a 15lb cat (a Maine Coon so not fat just a bigger cat in general) and he hates the round openings and won’t go in. This one is square and he seems to be tolerating it.

        But the exit of it basically provides a kitty launch pad. We have the mat in front but… yeah. Cats.

    10. WS*

      I have a blind elderly cat who will get near (only sometimes in) the litter box and then pee quite happily on the floor nearby. Not the same problem, but I think the same solution – we just covered the area in mats so wherever he pees there’s something to catch it. Position mats so that wherever the cats exit, they’ve got to walk over something.

    11. Songbird121*

      Word’s Best Corn Litter. We used it after we ended up with a cat with asthma. Vet said it can be a lower dust option. We still felt like there was dust when we pored it out, but all of a sudden there was not as much litter tracked around the house. We have never gone back. It clumps well, has great scent control (red bag for multiple cats), and is similar in granular sizing. We recently got some clay litter from a neighbor who didn’t need it and I was shocked how much more of a “litter box smell” there was again. I haven’t done the price comparison. I think it’s more expensive, but I don’t think by all that much. We will never go back as long as we have cats that tolerate it.

    12. ReallyBadPerson*

      We use Clean Paws cat litter. It isn’t perfect, but it is the best we’ve tried. One cat in particular likes to cavort in the box. He once had to wear a cone because of an eye infection, and he would use the cone to scoop up the litter and fling it into the air as if he were tossing confetti at a parade.

      1. TheBunny*

        Well, that’s a trick our cats haven’t tried yet. Egads. They really will play with anything that isn’t a cat toy.

  19. Product recommendation request*

    This sounds easier than it has proven to be: I wish to buy a spatula. Some of you might call it a turner. Suppose you’re cooking something in a pan on the stove, like a burger or piece of fish or grilled cheese sandwich; the implement you’d use to move the food around in the pan and flip it over to its other side is what I want. I’m looking for a spatula with

    (1) a thin blade. If it’s not very thin it doesn’t properly slide between the food and the pan and you can’t slip it under the thing. So no silicone, because that’s always something else (metal) coated with silicone, and by then it’s too thick. Also no metal, because nonstick pans.

    (2) a thin handle. So many otherwise viable spatulas have a giant ergonomic handle. I don’t care about it being comfortable to hold; I’m not going to be wielding it for that long at a time. I store my cooking implements in a jar, handles down, so I need the spatula not to have a giant handle that takes up half the jar.

    I can’t find anything online that looks like it’s any good (and I’ve made a couple of disappointing purchases). I went to my local dollar store, because I feel like the thing I want should be a cheap, bottom-of-the-line model, but the ones they had all had gigantic handles. Does anyone have any idea where I could just buy the most basic and ordinary plastic spatula? Thanks for any suggestions!

    1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      You could check out local op shops/charity shops, they usually have a pile of kitchen utensils.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Try googling “nylon spatula”. I’m getting results that look pretty good. Some of them still have large or medium handles.

    3. Gamer Girl*

      You need a fish slice! (I swear that is what the thin ones are called). They are great and nice and thin. For ergonomic, possibly try Oxo brand? Some of their other cushioned/ergonomic products work very well for me, like the vegetable peeler and garlic press. They were pricey but completely worth it: 13 years later and both are good as new even though I use both near-daily! My mandoline from them only just broke after a decade of heavy use.

      1. fposte*

        That’s what I was thinking. I make a lot of use of my fish slice and I never cook fish. One use is to move sections of jigsaw puzzle around.

    4. Jules the First*

      I have two. I like the Dreamfarm Chopula for cookies and pancakes and things where you want thin and delicate. For things that need a sturdier support (like grilled fish or overeasy eggs), I have a nylon one from Ikea which has a slim swoop of a metal handle.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I was gonna say, I got one of those at ikea. It might have been part of a bundle.

        1. YNWA*

          I bought a great bamboo spatula/slotted spoon set from Ikea. They’re probably my two most favored cooking implements.

      2. WS*

        I also have a Chopula, it’s fantastic for very thin things plus sturdy and rigid enough to actually lift. Best spatula I’ve ever had.

      3. mreasy*

        I was trying to recall the brand of mine – it’s also the Dreamfarm Chopula. Highly recommended and I’ve had mine for at least a decade with no damage.

    5. Hypatia*

      My sympathies! My favorite one was from Tupperware, black, straight edge, firm, thin handle. it lasted for years, but eventually succumbed to falling into the burner a few times. The only replacements that come close – but still aren’t great- are the cheapo Dollar tree ones or Target. No one seems to make a simple flipper/spatula anymore. I’ll be reading this thread with interest to see if anyone has found a good one.

    6. beep beep*

      When I moved out I bought a pack of kitchen implements from I think Walmart, Farberware brand. Very cheap, nice thin handles, not sure if they get thin enough at the tip for your liking but they are serviceable for us in our nonsticks. Walmart online says they still have them- you get a slotted spatula, a solid spatula, and a “basting spoon” for $5.

    7. Ricotta*

      “Matfer Bourgeat Exoglass High Temperature Pelton Slotted Spatula” is a favorite of America’s Test Kitchen and my mom swears by it.

    8. been there*

      What you need is a cookie spatula. Even the silicone ones will be much thinner than an all-purpose spatula. I recommend the OXO one.

    9. Willow’s Mom*

      I use a wooden spatula from Jonathan’s Spoons. I have had it for a million years and it is the greatest spatula ever.

    10. ElastiGirl*

      My fish spatula from Williams Sonoma sounds like exactly what you’re looking for. They come in various materials; mine is nylon (which is, conveniently, the least expensive). Ultra thin blade, thin handle, works like a dream.

  20. California Dreamin’*

    Has anyone been to both the Paris and Rome catacombs? I’m planning a trip to Italy for my kids’ high school graduation next year and when looking for stuff to do in Rome thought the Catacombs would be fun. But we took them to the Paris catacombs when they were young and it was a real highlight. I gather the ones in Rome are different and don’t have all the bones… so I’m wondering how it would compare and if it would be worth visiting.

    1. Spacewoman Spiff*

      I didn’t go to the catacombs in Rome, but I did go to the Church of Santa Maria Immacolata (aka Church of the Bones), and it sounds like that might be up your alley? Probably the coolest place I visited while in Rome.

      1. Tourist*

        Depending on your family members’ personalities, the Capuchin Crypt in Rome was exceptionally odd (and for me, disturbing), but if you like crypts and catacombs this one is certainly something to see. The bones are definitely present in an unexpected way. The photos on the website do not accurately depict the arrangement of the bones. Keep searching images if you want more details. Don’t search if you are sensitive to death.


    2. Decidedly Me*

      There are multiple catacombs in Rome, so it’s worth reading up on the different ones. I didn’t visit the catacombs in Rome, but I did go to the Capuchin Crypts (must see!) in Rome and the Paris catacombs on a single trip. At anothet time, I went to the catacombs in Palermo. They’ve all very different and definitely not a “if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all” sort of thing.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I went to the catacombs in Paris years ago and would recommend good shoes as the ground was uneven.

    3. Bone fan*

      I’ve been to the Paris Catacombs, one of the Roman catacombs, the Capuchin Crypt in Rome, and the Capuchin Crypt in Palermo. If you make it down to Sicily I highly recommend the Capuchin Crypt in Palermo. It is the coolest of the four.

      The Roman catacombs are also really great but a bit outside the city. There were no more bones in the one open to tourists that I visited; they’ve been moved due to problems with theft! I think the other Roman catacomb open to tourists is similar. They are far older than the Paris Catacombs, though, and the tour is really interesting and informative. I’d recommend if you have four or more days in Rome but with the caveat that it isn’t really the same category of macabre creepiness as the Paris Catacombs or the Capuchin Crypts.

      Seconding folks who suggest the Capuchin Crypt in Rome. It’s fascinating and very central. It is also pretty small compared to the Paris Catacomb tour, which could be a good thing or a bad thing. It’s something you can do in less than two hours.

        1. Narwhals are real*

          Assholes and ghouls, I guess. It’s a pretty disrespectful souvenir.

          But, and it’s not really the point of your comment I realise, I don’t think the Roman Catacombs were exclusively for monks; originally (maybe always?) they were for all Christians because in the 2nd Century, pre-Christian Rome didn’t allow bodies to be buried within the city, and unlike the majority Pagans, who were cremated, Christians at the time required their bodies to remain whole when they died. So a few rich Christians with land outside the city gave some of their land for burial. Because of the lack of space and the nature of the land, the Catacombs gradually became the extensive series of tunnels they are now (over several centuries). It’s pretty cool.

      1. California Dreamin’*

        Thank you! We have five full days in Rome so can easily accommodate some more out of the way options.

        1. Narwhals are real*

          Great! I’m so excited for you. Rome is one of my favourite cities ever.

  21. MozartBookNerd*

    Podcasts based on conversations (but not political ones)? Looking for 2, 3 or 4 engaging people, sitting around and talking about almost anything interesting – other than the U.S. presidential election or other politics in general. (I usually like the conversation on “Pod Save America” or “Professional Left,” for example, but these days I’m making a point of seeking a break from the politics at nighttime!)

    Conversation in general is great for falling asleep, I find! Does anyone else think so? Maybe it reminds me of being a kid while my parents had guests in the living room, I dunno.

    “WTF” with Marc Maron is good when I know anything about the guest; “Fresh Air” is about the right idea, too. “Stuff You Should Know” was fun with its breadth of topics, but I used to get little impatient with the hosts’ seeming lack of care with it. (OTOH great podcasts like “This American Life” and “RadioLab” have never worked for me for falling asleep because they’re not based on conversation. Same problem with audiobooks unfortunately!)

    1. Jules the First*

      No such thing as a fish, maybe? It might be too comedic but is definitely conversational.

    2. Anonymous cat*

      Do you like podcasts about tv shows? I like one called Coffee Klatch which is actually several separate podcasts about shows like Westworld or The Magicians or Game of thrones. It has two people talking with occasional interviews.

      Or another one is Sawbones. A husband-wife team discuss medical history topics and general medical topics. I think they’re fun to listen to, and I’ve used them to help me fall asleep.

      1. chocolate muffins*

        If podcasts about TV shows are a go, maybe Office Ladies? I think that’s what it’s called? It’s the woman who plays Pam and the woman who plays Angela from The Office. I don’t do podcasts in general but listened to a few episodes of this one and found them pretty enjoyable.

      2. MozartBookNerd*

        Wow, Sawbones seems great! In fact I tried it last night per your suggestion and it worked like a charm!

        TV ones is a good idea, but I guess it’s gotta be the right show. Years ago there was a very good episode-by-episode series about West Wing!

        1. Goldfeesh*

          If you liked Sawbones you might like Still Buffering. It’s Sydnee and her two siblings. Here’s the tagline: A cross-generational guide to the culture that made us. They discuss movies, tv shows, music, anime.

          I also really enjoy Crime Writers On. They are a review podcast centering on true crime tv shows, movies, podcasts and pop culture. The four hosts have wonderful chemistry and you don’t have to listen to the media they are reviewing to still enjoy the show.

    3. office hobbit*

      Ologies is interviews (usually on a science subject) in a conversation format, and very fascinating.

    4. Jackalope*

      Does group story-telling work? I’m currently listening to a podcast called Canada by Night of some people using the RPG game Vampire the Masquerade to tell a story together. It’s been playful and lighthearted and I’ve enjoyed it a lot for background noise. (Note that I’m not super into vampires usually but this is less dark than a lot of vampire stuff and no romance so far except that one character was already married when she was Turned; their relationship is stable so not an active romance plot.)

      If that’s something you might be into then give it a shot and I can recommend others if you’re interested. I started with this one because it’s light and fast – episodes are from 25 min to an hour.

    5. Zweisatz*

      TV I say with Ashley Ray – she’s a comedian and writer and former TV critic and every episode she invites someone from the industry (TV as well as streaming) to talk about what they are watching and recommend.
      Can be really interesting insights into how TV is made and she’ll have actors on that you know and if you’re interested you’ll find new stuff to watch.

      Why won’t you date Me with Nicole Byers of Nailed It (Netflix baking show) fame. She talks with a new guest every week about love and dating. They’re often comedians, actors and other “industry people”. Due do the topic (and depending on the guest) it can definitely get raunchy so if that’s a concern, picking the guests who are likely to be more buttoned-up (e.g. well-known actors) can be the way to go.

    6. Emmy*

      Lateral with Tom Scott, perhaps? He has three different guests each episode and they try to answer questions about odd things. I’ve only watched the short YouTube videos they have done but at some point I want to listen to the whole episode with Adam Savage from Mythbusters and Sam Reich from DropOut.

    7. Miss Dove*

      Omnibus with Ken Jennings and John Roderick. Just the two of them talking about esoteric things and going off on tangents.

    8. ecnaseener*

      My Brother My Brother and Me is a classic.

      I’ve also been enjoying The Universe with John Green and Dr. Katie Mack, there’s only a few episodes so far. It’s about astrophysics but very layperson-accessible with Mack explaining things to Green.

    9. Lots of Pods*

      You Are Good, which is “a feelings about movies.” It’s clear the hosts are friends and they have a nice rapport, and the movies are sort of a junping off point or throughline more than anything else. Other podcasts from that family of hosts would work, too: You’re Wrong About (especially the earlier episodes with Mike and Sarah, or ones with Blair Braverman or Jamie Loftus as guests), Maintenance Phase, and If Books Could Kill. All of those basically have co-hosts who switch roles between being the one sharing about a topic they’ve become well-versed in, and being the new-to-the-topic listener. I really like that format, so they basically all work for me.

      Normal Gossip is another fave. It’s a (fun!) gossip story each week with lots of back and forth between the host and guest.

      Other recs that are conversational: Best Friends (a little choppy but the hosts are so funny), Sentimental Garbage, and Sounds Like a Cult could all suit. If you’re looking for interviews, Queery and Gender Reveal are my go-tos.

    10. beep beep*

      A YouTube channel I like that covers history and myth from around the world has a podcast, the Overly Sarcastic Podcast. No politics, the hosts’ cats occasionally feature, I very much enjoy listening to them while cooking dinner.

    11. dear liza dear liza*

      SEARCH ENGINE by PJ Vogt (from Reply-All [rip]). He picks a topic of interest and then interviews people about it. Tends to be Internet and NYC-centric.

      ENDLESS THREAD. “Hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson dig into the internet’s vast and curious ecosystem of online communities to find untold histories, unsolved mysteries, and other jaw-dropping stories online and IRL.”

      1. dear liza dear liza*

        Oh, I also like Ezra Klein. While he definitely interviews politicians, he does other topics. His interviews about AI have been really interesting.

    12. Annie Edison*

      Wiser Than Me with Julia Louis-Dreyfus is my new favorite. She interviews women in their 70s, 80s, and 90s about their lives, careers, families, the aging process, and the lessons they’ve learned along the way. Both of my grandmothers passed away when I was very young, and my mom passed a few years back, so I don’t have many female role models for growing old with aplomb. I’m loving this show for filling that gap

    13. Donkey Hotey*

      Suggestion: Writing Excuses.

      And agreed on Stuff You Should Know. The one time i tried listening, they were reading something about a subject they knew nothing about. Why bother?

    14. Rosyglasses*

      I really like Smartless with Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Sean Hayes — it’s funny and they often have really interesting guests on.

    15. Anon Poster*

      I just listened to my first episode of Off Menu with James Acaster and Ed Gamble. They ask guests about their ideal meals, which is the gateway into conversation, joke, etc. I was on a stressful plane ride when I listened and it helped take my mind off things, so I’m going to give it another episode and see about adding it to my regular podcast lineup.

      I also like Brett Goldestein’s Films to Be Buried With. Similar to Off Menu, but movies instead of food.

      You’re Wrong About has done serious episodes, but they also do a lot of more pop culture type topics that are fun to learn more about.

      1. Helvetica*

        I love Off Menu and it was going to be my rec. You must have an appreciation for British dry humour as most of their guests are British but the conversations are a delight. I think Richard Ayoade’s episode is one of my favourites – although maybe because I also like himself a lot – but also Claudia Winkleman is a delight, because she doesn’t drink water. It is insane and I love it.

    16. star*

      try The Listening Project – search BBC listening project. may not be a podcast, but is downloadable.

      they set up and recorded conversations between pairs (or more) of ordinary humans in Britain.

    17. ronda*

      I like Judge John Hodgeman. The Judge, a bailiff, and at least 2 litigants discuss their case and the judge decides. It can vary based on the case (I found the dungeons & dragons ones tedious) but I think most are a good conversation. Some commercials in the episode are also in the format of the judge and the bailiff talking about the product. feb 14th episode, Live from Lexington had delightful guests for the 1st case, the 2nd case was fine too. (most episodes are not live)
      and I do use it to go to sleep.
      if you end up liking it, there are lots of back episodes.

      and if you like advice: the dear prudence podcast. she has a guest and they answer the letters together. just listened to LeVar Burton one (11/24/2023) and he was delightful. But they can have some heavy topics in the letters.

    18. Distractable Golem*

      Wiser Than Me: Julie Louis-Dryfus (sp?) talks with remarkable older women (isabel Allende, Annie Leibovitz, Jane Fonda, etc) about aging, what they’ve learned, etc.

    19. MozartBookNerd*

      So many really intriguing ideas! Grateful to the coomentariat and looking forward to them! Will report back . . . .

    20. TheSüperflüoüsUmlaüt*

      The Rest is Entertainment, with Marina Hyde and Richard Osman. Two funny, witty insiders chatting and answering listener questions about BTS stuff regarding TV shows, films and book/news publication.

      1. janesfriend*

        Love, love, love, The Rest is Entertainment. Also Chat 10 Looks 3, which was where I heard about TRIE. C10 is two Australian journalists talking about food, books, tv, culture, all sorts, but no politics, because they are both involved in that for their day jobs.

  22. Jules the First*

    Those of you who are parents…how did you decide to try for number two (or not, as the case might be)? I got a sort of promotion at work this year so timing isn’t ideal but my medical team says its now or never and I feel like there’s no clear solution. Extra interested if you had fertility assistance and had to factor that into your choice.

    1. Mrs Claus*

      We decided we wanted two kids before we began trying for our first (and didn’t change our minds). What helped me was picturing life in 20 years – what did I want it to look like?

      It’s a cliche that there’s never a right time to try for kiddos for a reason.

      It took a number of years and fertility treatment to get baby number one, so we didn’t take efforts to prevent pregnancy after they arrived… and surprise! Baby two. My work is not well pleased with the timing, but honestly, work is not going to join me around the Christmas table in 20 years like these kids hopefully will. Work doesn’t get a vote.

      If you set your job aside, what do you want to happen?

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Like Mrs Claus, we hypothetically wanted four kids before starting to try for number one. Secondary infertility meant that we decided two was enough–second pregnancy took years.

    3. Local Garbage Committee*

      My second is 3 months old so I have recentish experience with making this decision. Like having a first child, it’s not really a decision you can make rationally since there are so many unknowns. Imagining what not trying for a second would feel like in the future was also helpful for us, and knowing we had the supports we needed in place (good childcare sitch for #1, enough money, relationship in a good place, friends and family we could reach out to for help were the things we identified for us) helped us decide to go for it!

    4. California Dreamin’*

      It took us a couple years to get pregnant the first time, so we never went back to using birth control after that. Years went by and no pregnancy, and we kind of hemmed and hawed about what to do. My husband was completely happy with having just one child, but I just didn’t feel “done.” I was enjoying motherhood so much, and I really wanted to do it again from the beginning! Plus I’m an only child myself and when I envisioned the future, I really wanted to have a larger family. So when I got a small inheritance from my godmother, we decided to use it for IVF (there was no insurance coverage for IVF back then.) We were fortunate to wind up with a set of twins from that cycle. There are ten years between our older child and our twins… which probably would not be anyone’s preferred spacing. And I was in the middle of getting a new degree to make a career change when we had the twins, so that was all really delayed. But sometimes you take what you get timing wise! Honestly I would have loved to go for #4 but at that point husband was for sure done.

    5. RagingADHD*

      We always intended to have 2, but her timing was a surprise. Turns out, the method of BC you use before having a kid may not work quite the same afterward.

      But it was a happy surprise.

    6. Clisby*

      We knew by the time our daughter was 2 that we’d like another child, but didn’t know whether we’d get lucky again (I was 42 when my daughter was born.) We had pretty much given up when I got pregnant at 47, and had my son at 48. We didn’t do anything special, just didn’t do anything to prevent pregnancy.

    7. CityMouse*

      I’m a one and done mom. The reality is when it came to decide I just realized I was happy with my family the way it is and I just didn’t want to go through all that again. COVID and having some heart issues post partum contributed to that decision plus the harsh reality that it’s now more dangerous to be pregnant in the US.

    8. One & done*

      We’re also a one and done family. The only reason we had on the plus list was to have a sibling for our one. We decided that if we were to have a second baby we should really want a second & not just have one as a playmate for the first. Our family of 3 feels very complete & happy.

    9. Rara Avis*

      We always planned for two because both of us have derived strength and love from our subs. Started trying when #1 was approaching 2. We were dependent on IVF and ran out of money and energy before we got the second. Since then we have made peace with our only.

    10. o_gal*

      Another one and done, for a reason that not a lot of women like to admit. I thought we were going to have between 2 and 4 kids, and we bought a house big enough for that when I was pregnant. But I hated, absolutely HATED, the infant months. I may have had a slight bit of post-partum depression but not enough that needed to be treated. I hated maternity leave – could not wait to get back to work. To me, taking care of my son was a slog. He was overall a good baby but the day in, day out drudgery of infant care just wore me down. And of course, everyone wants to talk about how wonderful it is when they’re that little and state how much you must absolutely love, love, love this stage of his life. When he started crawling at 8 months, it got much better because that also meant that he would wear himself out and finally get on a regular nap schedule. And that’s about when his personality came out as well. So from about that time onward, I started liking it. But swore that nope, I’m not going through that all again. The 2 times after that that I thought I might be pregnant were shear terror to me (both times ended fairly quickly – probably was pregnant only about a week.) So yeah, we only had 1 because I hated my kid as a baby. Not a popular reason, obviously LOL

      1. CityMouse*

        I personally think it’s a lot healthier to struggle with the baby stage but enjoy having a kid more than be someone who likes babies but struggles with kids.

      2. Venus*

        You’re not alone! My friend only had one and commented that she hated it for the first year and only really enjoyed her kid at 3 years old.

      3. Patty Mayonnaise*

        I am mostly in this same boat! Pregnancy sucked and my kid is calibrated to very low sleep needs. I didn’t really feel like going through another year plus of sleep deprivation – it’s torture for a reason! Also, I still go into a blind rage anytime I hear “Oh my kid was SUCH a bad sleeper, they didn’t sleep through the night until they were X months.” People, if you are measuring your kid keeping you up at night by MONTHS, you are not having a difficult time LOL.

    11. Double A*

      This is super grim, but I said to my husband, what if our first child dies? And that was honestly a deciding factor for him. I always wanted two because I wanted them to have interaction with other kids at home, I strongly did not want a single child to be reliant on me for entertainment since we live in a rural area. I love kids playing together. My husband was an only child and grew up in an idyllic rural situation where he could head out the door and play with friends.

      He struggles with have two in a lot of ways but knows that little kids are really hard and that in the long run it will be easier. And I do indeed love how the kids are coming to play together. I also love the unique relationships each kid has with each of us, so it’s not like I only wanted them to be playmates.

      The timing was necessary because of our age. We didn’t have fertility issues but I was almost 38 when our second was born so that was just luck.

      1. Big Sister*

        That’s interesting. I grew up in a rural setting with no other kids around, and my brother and I basically ignored each other entirely (when we weren’t trying to hurt each other). We definitely were not company for each other. I wonder if my parents thought like you did, and how they felt when they saw how we really did NOT get along.

        My brother and I didn’t have a reasonable conversation until after I’d left home.

        1. CityMouse*

          Maybe that’s part of why I don’t agree with the “must have siblings” pressure. My sibling has some pretty severe mental health issues. So while it wasn’t all bad, there were some very scary and violent bits when I was a kid. The idea that my sibling will help me care for my parents when they age also isn’t realistic at all.

    12. allathian*

      I was 36 when I got pregnant the first cycle we tried. The pregnancy was an uncomplicated one, but I was in active labor for more than 24 hours, and it took months for me to recover physically and mentally. I’m glad we took lots of photos of our son when he was a baby because it’s all a blur for me. I got a lot of support from extended family, and my husband certainly pulled his weight in handling his share of night feedings even when he was working and I was on maternity leave. Our son had a low birth weight and he got donated breastmilk in NICU and formula and breastmilk at home because he wasn’t allowed to lose any of his birth weight so we couldn’t wait for my supply to catch up with demand. Bottle feeding was just so convenient that I didn’t want to give it up later, when he’d gained enough weight that we could’ve tried switching to breastmilk only. I never tried pumping because I was on maternity leave until our son was 2.

      When I was ready to give another pregnancy a chance, our son was 4. I had a first trimester miscarriage when I was 42 and another when I was 46, and at least one chemical pregnancy between them. After the second miscarriage we decided to stop trying.

      Now I’m rather happy that we never had to deal with siblings fighting. As much as I love my sister, all I remember from our childhood is that we fought constantly, I’m sure we had good times too, but I don’t remember them. My mom was 25 when I was born and 27 when my sister was born, and I’m pretty sure that if I’d met my husband in my 20s we would’ve had more kids. In my 20s I had a lot more energy to deal with chaos than I did in my 30s, never mind now in my 50s.

    13. Perpetua*

      I wasn’t sure if we’d try for a second kid, we left it somewhat open, but I knew I/we did not want a very small age gap between kids, so for the first 2, 2.5 years after the birth of our first kid, we didn’t even think about having another. When we started entertaining the thought, we pictured our lives in the upcoming years, and what we wanted them to look like, and we felt good with the idea of adding another kid to the mix. We’re both only children and also wanted to give our kid a bit of a different experience, but that was a minor factor and would not have been the main reason to have another child. We mostly wanted to experience it ourselves, having more than one.

      We felt ready to start trying when first kid turned 3, had an ectopic pregnancy soon after, thankfully got pregnant again half a year later and here we are, with a two-week-old second child. :) We also moved countries in the middle of my pregnancy, so it was an intense time, but I wouldn’t change anything about it.

    14. ElastiGirl*

      As an only child, I knew that having one child meant a commitment to having two. Because I had my first in my mid-30s, we had our second within 3 years. I also wanted them to overlap in the same schools, so that worked out well.

    15. Part time lab tech*

      My husband wanted 1 or 2, I wanted 2 or 3, so 2 was our compromise. Weirdly, my desire for a third child has been constant ever since my youngest’s birth even though rationally I am careful about BC and can think of many reasons why a third would be a Very Bad Idea.

    16. Quality Girl*

      I always said I’d be happy with 0-1 kids. My husband wanted one, so that’s what we went with. I haaaated being pregnant and had some post-partum issues and both of those situations sealed the deal for us. TL;DR: we just knew one was right for us.

    17. Mostly Managing*

      We knew we wanted more than one kid, and we knew that there’s no guarantee of how soon it will happen.
      So as soon as the idea of being pregnant again wasn’t awful, we stopped trying not to.
      Our first two are 27 months apart.
      Then there’s a nearly five year gap.
      #3 and #4 are 26 months apart – #4 came nearly a month early!
      (a boy, a girl, a boy, a girl, for those who like to know these things – it was never a case of “keep trying for a ….”)

      There’s never a perfect time to have a baby.
      On the other hand, you generally get more than half a year’s notice that it’s coming so there’s time to plan once you know.

      Make the decision based on what you and your partner want your family to look like. Work will cope!

  23. BellaStella*

    Question on rainy summer days. Where I live we have not had a lot of sun this year and it is forecast now to rain 8 of the next 10 days. Not great due to flooding here, but good for forests. My question is …. when it is literally pouring outside, what are your inside things to do? I am going to finish Mark Manson’s second book, I am baking some sweet potatoes, and will make soda bread and cook lentils today. I may go thru papers to put some in the ‘to shred’ pile. I cleaned Friday night so no real chores to do. What do you like to do on these kinds of days?

    1. 248_Ballerinas*

      Read ;print or audio books), look at recipes and plan shopping lists, practice on the Tricky Bridge and Duolingo apps, listen to music. The Doors are good rainy-summer music (not just because of Riders on the Storm).

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I like to sit outside on a covered porch, or inside with a window open, and meditate, or read, or do yoga, or nap – just kind of doing things close to the outdoors.

    3. WellRed*

      I’m trying my hand today at quick pickles and meal prep for the start of the work week. A little reading, streaming and picking up should round out the day.

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      To actually answer your question: I always have a list of stuff to do, but reading, cross stitch, organizing, meditating, writing/journaling, and baking are all regular indoor activities. And, at the same time, I’ll write the esteemed Billy Connolly and say “There’s no bad weather, just bad clothing. Get yourself a sexy little raincoat and go outside.”

    5. Past Lurker*

      I’m more inclined to exercise indoors on rainy days, but also like to take a nap while it rains outside.

    6. Mostly Managing*

      Read a book.
      Knit while watching tv/movies
      Play board games
      Clean something every day, even if I don’t want to!

      And, I have at least one kid who LOVES the rain. So in a rainy week there will be at least one “puddle walk” where we go out and get completely soaked! (It’s actually fun. we come home and get dry again, and the fresh air does us good)

  24. Valancy Stirling*

    Procrastination thread! I was reading older threads from before I started reading this blog, and I loved this year. Consider this a sign to go do the thing.

    1. Turtle Dove*

      Thanks, that helped me! I made myself stand up at 10 am sharp and clear the deck (literally) before my husband cleans and seals it today. Whenever I feel a guilty tickle that it’s time to get off my butt, I set a deadline not far off to close my laptop and do something besides read. It works like a charm for tackling small chunks of chores and projects.

    2. Not Totally Subclinical*

      Which thing? There’s at least fifty that I can see from where I’m sitting.

      (And thanks! I did one. 49+ to go.)

    3. Past Lurker*

      Fine, I’ll go get groceries instead of reading all of the entries for the weekend open thread. As soon as I finish my iced coffee and eat my banana lol

  25. I'm here for the cats*

    My 16 year old kitty got to the point that he’s getting some looser than ideal stools as the norm, sometimes he steps on them, and he hated his paws wiped. Anyone got any good ways of keeping the house clean with an older kitty like this? I sure hope he can live forever haha.

    1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      I think I would experiment with a larger litter tray, on the assumption that he is not as flexible and so can’t turn around and scrape as easily as before. If he has more room to move around he may be able to watch where he steps more easily!
      And, immediately rewarding any paw wiping with a nice treat might encourage him to cooperate of course…

    2. Liminality*

      The only thought that I had was, maybe a bigger litterbox so there’s more turning/stepping room? The Litter Genie was also very useful in helping me keep the litterbox clean between uses. It’s kindof like a diaper Genie. Good Luck!

    3. A313*

      To try to fix it another way, can you try giving her some canned PLAIN pumpkin (not the pie mix). It can help firm things up. Of course, make sure to check with the vet first!

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        We got dehydrated pumpkin powder at the pet food store for our occasional pet pumpkin needs. (You can either sprinkle it on food dry or mix it with water to rehydrate it. My dog will happily lick up some rehydrated pumpkin out of a bowl, so that’s the way I use it.) Makes it easier than dealing with having a partial can open for days when you only want to use a little at a time, and the rest of the bag will keep for a lot longer than an open can would.

        Disclaimer: I have no cats and I have no idea whether this is a good idea for cats in general, let alone your cat.

    4. Time for Tea*

      I used Protexin Pro-kolin paste to help reset my cat’s digestion and bind things up, if you can get it or a similar product where you are.

      I’d also try experimenting with a bigger tray, lower lip, easier to get in and out (is there furniture in his path, etc, he’s having to navigate?), and try less litter or more litter depth (my vet suggested a thin layer of litter as they use in the surgery for cats unsteady on their feet, along with just using a very low sided baking tray, my cat was actually better with a deep layer being contrary). In his last year of life (he made it to 20) we just had puppy pads down all over the house.

    5. Two cents*

      Reducing the fat content of my cat’s food made a world of difference for loose stools. Think about treats, too: most of them are 20% fat if not more. We did this based on our vet’s advice, though, because our cat had some gall bladder issues. Might be the wrong thing for your cat.

    6. Rainy*

      We have giant, uncovered litterboxes for our kitties and I think it helps the cats a lot with “placement”, as it were. They typically have plenty of room to dig, turn, etc.

    7. SuprisinglyADHD*

      What are you wiping his paws with? If it’s a damp rag or paper towel he might like warm water better, or you can try cat wipes, which are great for both kittens and elderly cats. If your cat wasn’t in the habit of having his paws handled regularly (like to cut his nails), you might be able to acclimate him to it by making it part of treat time as well: either when he gets treats you touch each foot, or you practice checking each foot while he’s relaxed and then immediately give treats and praise.

  26. RussianInTexas*

    Jury duty! I had a fairly long one from the Tuesday week before last to Tuesday of this week. It was a fascinating and educational experience, but also rather nerve-wracking and stressful (as can’t sleep stressful). It was a murder trial. We, the jury (I was an alternate and did not deliberate but agree with the verdict), saved a young man from life in prison, by finding him not guilty by reasons of self defense. He will still go on trial for distributing drugs, but that carries a lot shorter sentence, and the three years he already spent in jail will count towards it. I do sincerely hope he’ll turn his life around. He already gotten sober.
    I fully believe that the state thought it was a slam dunk case, because drug dealers living in the flop house motels murder each other all the time, no explanation needed, because just look at these people!
    There were folks that wanted to ask me questions when I posted about my service last week, so here I am, can talk about it!

    1. RussianInTexas*

      It was a criminal case, starts with “m”, which it seems I can’t type out due to filters. The jury found the defendant not guilty by reasons of self defense, MUCH to the state’s surprise.

      1. Blueprint blues*

        do you personally feel that was the correct moral decision.? I know that you may be restricted in considering evidence etc. so, without those restrictions, was it the correct decision?

        1. RussianInTexas*

          I believe so. It was a sordid, sad, “d” related incident, in a motel where people live, none of the people involved were upstanding citizens, two witnesses are in prison currently, etc. I think The State’s intent was to hammer down the whole “d”-dealing side, and people like that just m-er each other all the time, why even bother with the reason?
          Well, we saw that the reason was important. And the young man, who was 21 years old 3 year ago, when the incident happened, actually gotten sober in his last three years in jail. I hope he turns his life around. One can hope.

          1. Blueprint blues*

            that is both sad and hopeful. it also took me a bit to figure out that d was not divorce.

          2. RussianInTexas*

            It also revealed the absolute laziness of the city’s police investigative unit. There were also prosecutorial shenanigans, in which the AAG tried to bring up the tapes from the jail phone call that happened literally yesterday during the defendant’s testimony. The judge delivered a pretty nice smuck down on that:
            1. Up until that point we didn’t know the defendant was incarcerated, and weren’t supposed to know.
            2. The defense had no time to listen to the tapes.
            Afterwards, when the attorneys and the judge talked to the jurors, we asked what was on the tapes. Apparently it’s was just the conversation that the defendant needed better clothes for being on the stand.

        2. Clisby*

          At least in SC, and I would imagine in most states, jurors are asked during the voir dire if there’s any reason they can’t fairly examine the evidence in court, and based solely on that evidence, decide whether the prosecution proved the case beyond a reasonable doubt. If a prospective juror can’t do that, their moral obligation is to speak up so they won’t be on the jury. Once they’re on the jury, their moral obligation is to live up to the oath they took. And it’s entirely possible some jurors might believe the defendant to be guilty but feel morally obligated to vote not guilty, because when the judge gives instructions, nowhere in there is a statement like “decide whether you think the defendant most likely is guilty.”

          1. RussianInTexas*

            We got long and very detailed instructions, to the tune of 3 pages of small print, on what is the “m” vs what is self defense.
            There was no doubt the defendant did do the did, the question was why.
            According to the judge, the 9 hour deliberations in what should be a fairly simple case were very unusual.

      2. Clisby*

        I’ve been on two juries – the prosecution sometimes does seem to have a tendency to be surprised to find that jurors take seriously the judge’s instructions on their job: Make the prosecution prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, or acquit.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          I think the prosecution was sure we would look at all the drugs, the people involved, and just don’t care about the rest

          1. Clisby*

            Once I was called for jury duty (not chosen), and for some reason the jury pool was sent out while something else was going on in court.

            One member of the jury pool had actually been seated on the jury the day before. She was recounting how the prosecutor was disappointed in the not guilty verdict. She shrugged and said, “We didn’t see why we should make his case for him.”

    2. Needs Breaks*

      I was in a jury pool once, but didn’t get selected. The process was very interesting. I was praying to not get chosen because at the time I was experiencing overactive bladder. So…how many breaks did you get and could jurors ask for one if they wanted one?

      1. RussianInTexas*

        1. We would get a break mid morning, then lunch, then mid afternoon, unless the jury would get ejected for the bench and the counselors needed to hash someone out
        2. Yes. You could raise your hand to the bailiff, and that would stop the procedures. That would however mean that EVERYONE on the jury would have to exit.

        1. Clisby*

          One thing I was gratified to see the 2 times I was on a jury was how seriously all the jurors took the position. I’ve heard so many people grouse something like, “Lawyers just want to get stupid people on the jury.” If the juries I served on were anything to go by, lawyers either are not trying for stupid jurors or are stupendously bad at choosing stupid jurors.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            Our jury deliberated for 9 hours. Everyone took it very seriously. This has a potential of sending someone to prison for the rest of his life.

            1. Chuffing along like Mr. Pancks*

              So many people roll their eyes whenever jury duty is mentioned, but it’s so important that people take it seriously. Good on you!

            2. goddessoftransitory*

              The three times I was called everyone took it super seriously. The one case I was seated on was very, very stressful (the second day the foreperson opened up deliberations by saying “I don’t know about you all, but I couldn’t sleep last night.”)
              We all understood what was being asked of us, for sure.

          2. RussianInTexas*

            Well for once the lawyers don’t pick the jurors per se. They can strike a set number of jurors for reasons not based on the protect categories (10 each in my case here), the judge can strike people who clearly unfit, and those who have legitimate excuses, and after that it’s just the first 14 people in the numerical order, from the lowest remained.

            1. Clisby*

              That’s how it is here. First, when you get the jury summons, there reasons you can cite if you don’t want to serve. Not just that you don’t feel like it, but for example, anyone 65 or older can exempt themselves, caregivers for young children can exempt themselves, and there might be a few others.

              Second, during the voir dire, the judge asks questions (possibly suggested by prosecution/defense – I’m not sure) like whether anyone is related to someone in law enforcement; whether anyone is related to or has a close relationship with the defendant; whether anyone has been a victim of a violent crime; whether anyone has health reasons that would make jury service too burdensome; whether anyone has problems with, say, drug laws or the death penalty. The judge can weed out people based on answers to those questions.

              Third, the prosecution and defense then can strike a certain number of jurors. They can’t cherry-pick; the clerk of court has some way of randomly selecting jurors to be considered, and the prosecution and defense have to take them as they come. They can ask the judge to strike a juror for cause; otherwise, each of them has to say “seat the juror” or “strike the juror.” Once they run out of strikes, it’s pretty much just seat whoever gets picked next.

          3. The OG Sleepless*

            I’ve been on a jury twice and I thought the same. Both times I really felt that I was with a group of smart, thoughtful people who really wanted to do the right thing.

    3. RussianInTexas*

      Watching 5 hours of dashcams, body cams, surveillance videos was rough.
      Once of them was of a first police responder who was attempting CPR on a clearly dead person lying in the pool of blood, while the victim’s girlfriend screaming outside the room.
      And if course multiple close up forensic photos.
      And the whole story of multiple wasted lives, with problems starting when they were teenagers. Poor, non white, never finished education.
      Just sad and waste overall.

    4. RussianInTexas*

      Things that were fascinating:
      the minutiae of the court working – the procedures, small details like juror badges, the infrastructure, the protocols, etc
      Then after reading the verdict the judge came to talk to us, and welcomed questions. Asked if we would talk to the attorneys, we did that too.
      The court also offered everyone an armed escort by a sheriff’s deputy after the trial, no one took that one up.

      1. Clisby*

        That happened in one trial when I was a juror. We talked to the judge and to the attorneys.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I did too, as I recall. The attorneys also had questions for us (not to influence the case, obviously) about what we would have liked to consider if possible and so on.

    5. Texan In Exile*

      Ever since I saw 12 Angry Men, I have hoped that if I were on a jury, I would have the courage to speak out and be very very careful about the verdict.

      (Also, after seeing Sister Helen Prejean talk last month – and reading about the numerous cases of prosecutorial misconduct in Texas, I am more convinced than ever that our judicial system does not always get it right.)

      1. RussianInTexas*

        The prosecutor was one of the Ken Paxton’s boys*, which did not endear me to him. I tried really hard not let this influence me, because it’s not about him or my political views. But he was also a rather abrasive person.
        * there was a conflict of interest for the DA and the outside prosecutor had to be brought in.

    6. Esprit de l'escalier*

      Being selected seems so random. Many years ago I got a postcard instructing me to report for jury duty. I had to decline, as a month earlier I had moved 500 miles away to another state. I was never called again, whereas one of my work colleagues was called 2 or 3 times during the 10 years we worked together.

  27. Agatha King*

    I would love to hear some best practices from the diarists/journal writers out there. What do you use your journal for? What routines do you have in place to keep a regular practice going?

    I have the specific issue lately of not having big blocks of time alone to really focus and do deep thought work, so I’d love any hacks people have found around that, especially if you’ve found ways to get yourself into a focused state really quickly. But all thoughts and ideas around the subject in general are welcome : )

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I usually write about how the day went and what went well and what I need to work on. For those times when I’m near my journal, or don’t have time, I generally make notes on index cards and toss them into the journal for when I do have time.

    2. Sitting Pretty*

      When time or energy is limited, try a list. A list of 10 things you’re grateful for in this moment is the old standby for a reason! It shifts focus on a really nice way.

      But it can be a list of things picked up by one of your 5 senses, or a list of things you recall from a recent (or long-ago) experience, or a list of desires/commitments for an upcoming interaction. Even a list of stuff you love about your bed or cat or hands. You get the idea :)

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      I’ve kept a diary since I was…12, I think. I use it to write about what’s happening, in my life or in the world at large and to express my opinions on them. During the height of covid, I kept a daily record of the reported numbers. Kept those recorded for the first year or two. The last three days were following the British election.

      I also do a bit of theorising, like if somebody’s in a bad mood, I might write about what I think might be up with them. Or reflect on something somebody told me.

      I don’t really feel there is any great need to really focus or do deep thought work. For me, it doesn’t require any more deep focus or thought than posting a reply here. It’s simply writing down whatever is on my mind that I want to record that day.

    4. Annie*

      Sorry, piggybacking here, but I also really want to do more journaling but I just can’t seem to find a good time of day to do it consistently. When do you journal? Or is it a more or less random time?

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        I do my diary just before bed/sleep, so around 11pm on working nights/after midnight in the holidays.

    5. Catherine*

      I journal directly in the bullet journal I use for managing tasks and mostly just add bullet points throughout the day as thoughts/observations arise rather than taking dedicated time blocks. I’m more likely to do dedicated journal time the morning after some kind of social event and then I write while eating breakfast.

    6. ElastiGirl*

      I can’t afford to use up my writing energy on a daily journal, but I have kept a monthly gratitude journal (in list form) for over 30 years. It’s a great discipline, and would be one of the first things I’d grab if I had to evacuate my home.

    7. Bethlam*

      I keep 2 journals, both of which are in Excel spreadsheets. First is my Fitness Journal, where I log my daily exercise and Fitbit stats.

      For my journal, diary, whatever you want to call it, I have columns for high temp, low temp, GDD (growing degree days), weather conditions, and a column for what I call outside stuff: when the maple whirligigs quit falling, what’s blooming when, did we get enough snow to have to plow, when did the Japanese beetles hatch, the day we first noticed the leaves changing color. This is the one that’s especially interesting to look back on; I’ve noticed a distinct climate change effect in GDD, earlier bloom times, longer periods of hotter weather and less rain.

      When my husband started having stomach trouble, I added columns for what we had for lunch and supper because we were trying to find cause and effect for his symptoms.

      The main column is my “journal,” which is mostly our “I dids.” We’re always trying to remember when we did this (often for yearly maintenance types of activities, but also for “what day last week did I mow?”), how much we paid for that, etc. That’s the reason I use a spreadsheet – I can do a search on key words and find what I’m looking for easily. This is also where I occasionally comment on current events, and I include some of my own personal feelings and reactions about things when appropriate.

      This is also where I write info on our medical stuff. I tried keeping a separate medical journal, especially when I got my cancer diagnosis last fall, but it was just too cumbersome and I found myself duplicating information because often the medical stuff and the “I dids” were related.

      As for when: my husband goes to bed earlier than I do, so that’s my writing time. I made a rule which I follow 98% of the time: I have to do my journal every night (the fitness log is just stats, and I can plug in several days at a time for that one), and I have to do 15 minutes of actual writing. Usually, that turns into 30, 45, or even 60 minutes once I get started, which is sort of the point of the 15 minutes minimum rule. Some nights it’s really just 15 minutes, but not often.

      I went through a lot of trial and error over the years until I found the right method that worked for me and that I would/could maintain. Experiment until you find what works best for you.

    8. Part time lab tech*

      I prefer physically writing stuff out but type using my phone for privacy and convenience reasons. I have a family that has trouble not reading stuff if they see it and I am not good at putting stuff away every single time.
      I also have a bullet journal that’s more for events and to do lists. I am also more likely to remember if I write it down.

    9. Fellow Traveller*

      I have two/three journals:
      1) Jibun techo- it has a 24 hour format so i use it to track my time- I literally write down what I did that day in 30 minute increments.
      2) Hobonichi Cousin- I use this to track various things in my life- gratitude, exercise, brushing my teeth, connecting with people, meals, outside time. There are also daily pages which I use if I want to do more loing form journalling.
      3) Levenger five year journal. This is where I write a short blurb about my day- it can be what I do, something I’m thinking about or worried about or feeling. If I’m coming up blank, I have a standard prompt, which is to write: 1 thing that went well that day, 1 thing that was hard, and 1 thing I want to do better with tomorrow.
      To do my full journal practice takes at least 20-30 minutes a day, so I don’t always do all of it. Most days I aim to do at least one of the journals. I either write first thing in the morning or last thing at night, but I’m the kind of person who does better with flexibility rather than structure. If I’m running an errand that will require waiting, I’ll often bring a journal with me. I think also, part of it is thinking theough why you want to journal- it is to keep a record? Is it to work through things? Is it to brain dump? Is it to have a writing habit? I think that might also inform one’s journaling practice.

    1. GoryDetails*

      Had an enjoyable get-together with friends yesterday, a trip to a local winery that I hadn’t been to before – and where a noted regional lobster truck was in attendance. (It was also “dog day,” where people were encouraged to bring their dogs to the large outdoor seating area, and there were a LOT of dogs – all shapes and sizes, and most of them very well-behaved, though some of the smallest ones got a bit bark-y here and there.) The lobster was delectable, the weather warm but with a mild breeze, and overall it was a lovely time – and we all got out of there just ahead of a band of thunderstorms!

      1. Dicey Tillerman*

        I know you’ve mentioned this lobster truck before–remind me of the name?

        1. GoryDetails*

          Cousins Maine Lobster. (I found that I liked using their tater-tots as croutons in the lobster bisque, but I was primarily there for the lobster roll!)

          1. Dicey Tillerman*

            That’s it, thanks!

            Also: how have I never considered using tater tots as croutons, must investigate immediately.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      The election results, plus seeing Emma Raducunu do well so far at Wimbledon!

    3. Elle Woods*

      Our neighbors, “Jack” and “Diane,” moved out last weekend. They were the first ones to buy a lot and build in the neighborhood and Jack decided that meant he could tell people what they could and couldn’t do. (Digging up a small part of your yard to put in a garden? Not if he has anything to say about it!) Diane reserved her criticism for any woman who worked outside the home–it was doubly bad if you had children too. None of us in the neighborhood had any idea they were selling/moving until the trucks pulled up and started loading up their stuff. No one will miss them. The new owners move in today. Keeping my fingers crossed they’re better than Jack and Diane!

    4. Turtle Dove*

      I rode my bike to the school track to meet some pals for an evening walk. Afterwards one of them bicycled partway home with me. I felt like a kid again, when my friends and I bicycled together. Love that vibe!

    5. chocolate muffins*

      I got to travel to a country where I had never been before and had a lovely time!

    6. fposte*

      I got a ticket to see Maria Bamford this winter, and it’s a great little venue where we’ll really see her!

    7. Knighthope*

      Had an excellent piece of Key Lime Pie with gingerbread crust made by a friend’s husband who gave me a second slice “to go.” Food 52 recipe.

    8. Girasol*

      Our volunteer group harvested bitterbrush seeds for the forest service nursery to grow so that in spring we can replace plants lost in wildfires. We jam shallow canvas baskets mounted on hula-hoop sized rims up against the bushes, then beat the bushes with tennis rackets to make the seeds fall in. I think running around the hills whacking plants with tennis rackets is a hoot. It was a lovely blue day cooler than any we’ve had lately, and I was not the one to find the rattlesnake, so it was a pretty joyous day.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Sounds marvelous! (And very amusing – though I hope that whoever DID find the rattlesnake is okay.)

    9. Elizabeth West*

      That the week ended. It was a long one, even with the break in the middle. In fact, I think a holiday during the week makes it feel even longer!

    10. Filosofickle*

      I spent my first 23 years in California without A/C, but installed it a year ago and am feeling much joy for that. It’s hella hot right now yet I am comfy inside! (Without guilt, since I have a super efficient heat pump running on solar. My gas and electric bill is near zero.)

    11. Banana Pyjamas*

      The kids named an owl fluffy Hooty-Hoo. They don’t understand why it’s so funny, and we won’t be explaining.

    12. BellaStella*

      A hike with a friend and good results in the UK Thursday and France today. Seeing a baby chamois. Counting butterflies on my hike. And good results from my tests at my doc.

    13. Irish Teacher.*

      Cork has just won the hurling semi-final by a mere 2 points (1-28 to Limerick’s 29 points!). Now for the final!

  28. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    Alison’s book rec sounds like it could be a take on the Bad Art Friend story, I wondering it’s that or another spin.

  29. StrayMom*

    I confess that I’m not at all familiar with politics in the UK, and I hope it doesn’t appear that I’m trivializing the recent recent election, or that this post is inappropriate, but I am a HUGE fan of Larry the Cat, the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office. I especially loved the photos posted yesterday of him yawning “ANOTHER new human?” We visited Downing Street last October and I asked one of the officers about him – she said that he wasn’t prowling outside that day, and that he isn’t particularly fond of tourists (completely understand that!). Long live Larry!

    1. Ellis Bell*

      Oh my goodness, I adore Larry. I go to London quite a bit, but haven’t stopped by; nevertheless if I went to Downing Street it would be to see Larry, not the PM. I’d love to know who the civil servant/s behind the account are. I just reactivated my x account because I wanted to see his reaction to the election.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      I am in the UK and I’m a big fan of Larry, who is now onto his 6th PM. I especially admire his ability to calmly take a nap outside No. 10 while hundreds of members of the media are just across the street. He has just seen off one dog (owned by the departing resident of No. 11), but apparently will have to live with a new puppy soon.
      There are several other resident cats in UK government buildings too – in many cases they are working cats because the buildings are old and have mice.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Sorry, that should be 2 dogs, I forgot that our immediate former PM has one too!
        Incidentally, according to one of the many Larry fan accounts on IG, he has a higher approval rating than any current politician.

    3. Donkey Hotey*

      I firmly believe that before the new PM meets the king/queen, they’re should be a photo op of them performing the First Feeding of Larry.

    4. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      We also also Palmerston nearby, official Chief Mouser to the Foreign Office, before he retired to the countryside.
      He was caught on camera having several standoffs with Larry after sneaking into Larry’s home at No. 10. To keep the peace, Palmerston had to evicted by the police.There was at least one fight there in which both cats received honourable wounds.

    5. Buni*

      The Evening Standard put together a video of all the political cats – there’s one at no. 11 too, an official Treasury cat and one in the actual Houses of Parliament. It’s either Larry or the Treasury cat that regularly attacks journalists….

    6. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Oh and trivialise away. Larry is by far the most impressive & respected of all the No.10 residents. Also the best at his job.

    7. Irish Teacher.*

      I’m still amused by his walking off on our then-taoiseach (Irish prime minister)

    8. tangerineRose*

      I just tried to find this on Facebook and found 3 groups and at least 2 accounts. Which is the best? Larry the cat sounds adorable!

  30. Not A Manager*

    I have a bruise on my face. It’s fading, which also means that it’s spreading. Right now it’s a sort of purple-brown.

    I wear a light foundation but that’s not enough to cover the bruise. I know people use color theory to correct skin imperfections, but I’ve never tried it myself. If I get some kind of cover up stick, what color do want? Orange?

    1. Pizza Rat*

      It largely depends on your skin tone, but I’d look into green or yellow. Andrew Barnett MD has a graphic on post-op bruise coverup using the color wheel, I’d give that a quick google.

    2. HamlindigoBlue*

      Probably pink, yellow, or orange, depending on the bruise. Usually, you need to use the color opposite the bruise’s shade on the color wheel.

      1. Rainy*

        Yup, turn to your colour wheel to figure it out! I know there are apps because my hairstylist uses one to mix toner :)

  31. M&M Mom*

    Hi, not seeking medical advice, more lifestyle/shoe advice. For the second time in as many years, I have injured/broken my foot just by walking around in flats. I try to wear sneakers for my work commute, but a few weeks ago I was wearing flats for most of the day, and by the end of the day, the top of my foot hurt. Same foot that was previously broken. I have been limping ever since. Had an X-ray, it’s not broken this time. I can’t really figure out why it happens. The shoes are not tight and I wear them often . Has anyone else have this problem? Must I now wear sneakers only for the rest of my life to try to prevent this from happening again? Thanks.

    1. CityMouse*

      Did those flats have arch support? If not, you could try adding an arch supporting sole to the flats. Flats can actually be particularly bad for arches if they don’t have a solid sole.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Did you have PT after breaking your foot?

      My daughter kept re-injuring hers, and it turned out that being in the boot caused lingering weakness in the soft tissues that didn’t just “snap back” from ordinary daily activity. She needed 6-8 weeks of PT to really build it back up, and has been injury free since then.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        This. I got stress fractures in both of my feet at different points, and nothing truly got better until I did PT. Before that, I had tendinitis and some of that soft tissue weakness, and both of those contributed to slow healing and breaking my right foot again. Went through PT and haven’t had any issues since.

    3. Just a name*

      I injured my foot years ago. Now I’ve developed arthritis in the top of that foot. I assume it is related. If my shoes don’t have arch support and some cushioning, I develop pain there.

      1. ArthritisFromInjury*

        this is common for orthopedic injuries, so others with foot/wrist/whatever pain it may be arthritis if you had an injury 20-30 years ago.

    4. My Brain is Exploding*

      You could go to a physical therapist to strengthen your foot muscles and make them more flexible. (You can read Katy Bowman’s book and start incorporating foot exercises into your daily routine now.) In my experience, a podiatrist is likely to want to give you orthotics as a permanent, not temporary, solution, without addressing the real cause of your discomfort.

    5. Angstrom*

      You might attack it two ways.
      1) Strengthen your feet. Barefoot or equivalent when you can, especially on soft surfaces(sand, grass, carpet, etc.). Start slowly and work up.
      2)Support your feet bettter on hard surfaces. Aftermarket arch supports/insoles can make a huge difference.
      Our feet did not evolve to work on hard surfaces. We lose the natural fat cushions in our feet as we age. Fashion doesn’t seem to recognize this.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I support this. My feet work better in shoes when I spend as much time as possible barefoot.

        As a bonus, walking on sand (i.e., the beach) is a great way to strengthen your feet.

    6. Spacewoman Spiff*

      I used to get pretty intense pain along the top of my foot, and it turned out it was due to lack of arch support. Birkenstock makes some little arch support inserts that are small enough to fit in flat shoes, and I use those when I need to wear slightly dressier shoes.

    7. Sitting Pretty*

      When time or energy is limited, try a list. A list of 10 things you’re grateful for in this moment is the old standby for a reason! It shifts focus on a really nice way.

      But it can be a list of things picked up by one of your 5 senses, or a list of things you recall from a recent (or long-ago) experience, or a list of desires/commitments for an upcoming interaction. Even a list of stuff you love about your bed or cat or hands. You get the idea :)

      1. Sitting Pretty*

        Nesting fail! This one double posted and was meant for Agathe King.
        Shoe reply to M&M Mom below.

    8. Sitting Pretty*

      Beyond arch support, consider the overall structure of the shoe. Many flats are just kind of loose-fitting and your foot slides around inside, even when they serm to be the right size. One of the reasons many athletic shoes work so well is that they keep the foot aligned when you’re walking and moving.

      So consider cute sneakers that can work with professional attire for sure. But also look into well-made dressier shoes. I like Clarks for this. Their Mary Janes, for example, have slightly higher uppers than your average flat as well as a strap, so they’re cute but also just more “containing.” I can be on my feet for hours in them without trouble and have bought several different styles over the years. I’m sure there are other good brands out there with this higher level of structure and support.

    9. Ellis Bell*

      Are they flat-as-a-pancake and hard as a board flats? If so, you might do better with cushioned soles and arch support; there are walking shoes designed to support the foot in ballet/loafer styles. If you do okay in boots (more likely to be made for walking and have supportive soles) then you’ll do okay in other types of walking shoes. Brands I’ve liked include Pavers, Clarks, Naturalizer, Fitflop, Hotter and Hush Puppies.

    10. fposte*

      I have an old stress fracture in a metatarsal that bugs me from time to time. I don’t wear flat flats (I wear a lot of Clarks) and I also use metatarsal pads in all my shoes. My favorites are these beveled felt ones you can get in quantity on Amazon.

    11. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I badly tore ligaments in my foot and the ache would return intermittently over the next few years if I hiked too long. I’d tried various types of insoles, barefoot shoes etc, but none helped..

      Finally, I Googled for an orthopaedic doctor and he prescribed insoles, specially made after scanning, to raise parts of my foot (All on my insurance, Germany) and to wear comfortable, roomy sneakers only.

      It took several months, as he had warned, but these insoles – maybe plus completely ditching slippers & going barefit indoors – totally cured my lingering injury.

    12. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Most shoes I’ve had, I rip out the insole and replace it with one that has arch support and a bit of heel cup. I usually get Dr. Scholl’s insoles. I’ve just had to be careful, when buying shoes, to make sure the back of the shoe is deep enough to accommodate the thicker insole.

    13. Chaordic One*

      When you say “flats” I’m picturing ballet flats, those kind of thin-soled shoes that have no arch support. I know that other people claim they love them and I frequently see people wearing them, but they’ve never worked for me. (They do look cute, though.) While I’ve never broken a bone, I have had bruises and pulled muscles in my feet from wearing them. You might consider trying insoles in your shoes (although I’ve never really found insoles helpful for this particular situation).

      IMHO, when you are shopping for shoes you really don’t need a whole lot of arch support (although there’s nothing wrong with having it), but you do need a bit more substantial sole (like maybe an eighth of an inch to a quarter inch thick). There’s nothing wrong with having a low heel (between half an inch to an inch).

    14. WS*

      Make sure you get checked for osteoporosis, too. This is how my mother found out and has since been able to improve her bone density with medication and exercise, and has only had one break in the 20 years since.

    15. Lissajous*

      On the physio and rehab front: I broke my ankle two years ago and then got the hardware pulled out 6 months later.
      In the recovery from that: I got to 80% pretty quickly – a couple of months once I could take the moonboot off – and could walk normally at that stage, and my physio commented that a lot of people stop at that stage.
      I do ballet classes, and it turns out this is both a really good way to strengthen feet and calves (which is actually why I started – before the ankle!), and also if one of your legs is not as strong you will know about it!

      It probably took another few months to get to 90%, and a year before I was at 95%+.
      It wasn’t until I went on a good long multi day bushwalk with a heavy pack that I got to 99% – and that was earlier this year.
      So really do give physio and rehab stuff some good consideration.

      I wasn’t going to the physio the whole two years of course, but when I was I absolutely did the exercises multiple times a day, and I was always looking for ways to get all the little muscles working. Walk on the grass not the footpath, walk on the bit under the trees where they can’t mow as much so the ground is less compacted and the grass is longer so you can’t quite see the footing.
      The last 20% takes 80% of the effort – true in both project management and in injury recovery!

  32. Pots and pans*

    As I have gotten more and more into cooking, I’ve slowly bought new pans – different kinds, good quality, bought on sale. At my last birthdays, a friend gave me a whole set of pans after I had just done some kitchen remodeling. They are nice pans too, different brand than my original ones. However, I realized I basically use 4 pans regularly (from my stock and the new one). I live by myself, have a smallish kitchen, rarely entertain, and am pretty good at keeping the dishes done so I am questioning the need for all these pans. They are just in the way. How many pans is “reasonable”? Are the different kinds of pans that are “must-haves”?

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      We have four (round with handle) pans and use two regularly. Likewise four pots and use one regularly.

    2. fposte*

      It’s completely dependent on your cooking patterns. I do think most people don’t regularly use all the pans in a collection, but which ones is very individual. I use the big soup pot and the tiny 1 quart pan the most; after that it’s some flat skillet, either bigger or smaller depending on need and convenience, and a 3 quart pot. I have a few more with nonstick vs. stick variants and a specialized cast iron, but it wouldn’t be tough to live with big pot, tiny pot, and big skillet if I needed to trim down.

    3. GoryDetails*

      Heh! I ran into the same thing. While I have enough storage space to keep a variety of rarely-used pans and appliances on hand, it’s definitely true that I do the vast majority of my cooking with three: a 1-quart saucepan, a 1.5-quart saucepan, and my cast-iron skillet. (The larger multi-quart soup pot gets used moderately often, but not on a near-daily basis like the others.)

      What I hope to do with my own collection is to stage them by frequency-of-use – a shelf for the larger-sized pots and casseroles, for use when (very rarely) entertaining or (less rarely) making foods in bulk for freezer storage, another for purely-seasonal things like Halloween or Christmas-themed platters, cookie-cutters, cake molds… And for the rest, I want to select out the “donate to thrift shop immediately” ones, and put the others in a “tentative” location, with sticky-notes indicating “last used on” dates. If I get through a year without using those latter ones, they can go too.

      If you don’t have the storage space or inclination to mess around with “will I ever use these” pans, feel free to ignore, and donate/sell the extras immediately!

      Side note: some time ago I read a charming little book, French Cooking in Ten Minutes by Edouard de Pomiane, from the 1930s. It’s about cooking for one in a small Paris apartment, and impressed the heck out of me for its tasty meals based on a small number of simple ingredients and, I think, two cooking pots/pans at most.

      1. Aphrodite*

        I was intrigued by your mention of that book and while doing a search for it came across this video series based on the book. It is charming: https://www.google.com/search?sca_esv=65e5986c7a7849bb&sca_upv=1&q=french+cooking+in+ten+minutes&tbm=vid&source=lnms&fbs=AEQNm0AVbySjNxIXoj6bNaq7uSpw-2eW7KIQ8H4T_tEPJYsPzOi5GKsV0RKGmy84LfyUxrl-4_0AusV0IdjeUAdX2KBg7BmnGLOak5d-z-_u-BD5mANqasZxTMen5uZGRcW3Asxblx5Q1OYqkbmwkXLBzqCwgdzwtvZKVFrUj4v_fdTR68ZFGhx48b8eVoqoZU1-F3aJ5DD9pJyvzF_j7l0x84J8mAwSfQ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjy1oms-ZKHAxUWmI4IHVvnDPIQ0pQJegQIDBAB&biw=1296&bih=868&dpr=2

    4. Buni*

      Also a household of one who hasn’t the room to entertain: I have three nesting deep-ish pans with handles, two sizes of frying pan and one large double-handled stock-pot-type thing I use for making jams / chutneys. I’ve never needed (nor felt the need) for any more.

    5. Knighthope*

      I definitely need 2 sizes of soup pots and a large frypan, for example, but don’t use them frequently, so they are in the dining room closet. Frequently used small saucepans, small frying pan, and double boiler get the prime storage real estate in my small kitchen.

    6. Jay (no, the other one)*

      There are no rules about this – it depends on your space and your needs. We cook a lot and entertain fairly often. We use three skillets regularly (small and large non-stick, large cast iron) and two more sauté pans at least once or twice a month. Also one saucepan and two Dutch ovens, medium and large. We have room for more so we also have another saucepan, a larger Dutch oven, and a smaller cast-iron pan in the kitchen (along with a tiny cast-iron skillet that I use for cornbread for two). In addition we have two very large stockpots that we store in the garage. We use them three or four times a year but when we need them, nothing else will do.

    7. Bibliovore*

      Living alone- moved on a lot of kitchen stuff to a women’s shelter. Know that I think about it, there are a few more things that I should let go of.
      What I kept and use-
      Small non-stick from costco for an egg over easy or grilled cheese.
      Large non-stick for quick stir fry something or quesadilla or omelet.
      Medium cast iron pan for everything else.
      Le Cruesette large round dutch oven for boiling pasta (over 35 years old), boiling eggs, beans, soup, ramen.
      Small pot for reheating things.
      Turns out I mostly cook stuff in the microwave in silicone bags.
      I have a rice cooker, an air fryer, and a rarely used instant-pot (congee and steel cut oatmeal)

    8. miel*

      I’ve recently re-homed a few pots and pans. Like you, I regularly use about 4, but have several others sitting on the shelf.

  33. The Dude Abides*


    The Romania/USA match…happened.

    For it being an international game, I was expecting a higher level of polish that just wasn’t there.

    – Romania had to sharpie numbers on before halftime; numbers were falling off and they didn’t have a backup set of jerseys.

    – my role changed several times in the build-up. I ended up sitting next to the red hat, who then told the people running the graphics what to do.

    – an assistant’s flag fell apart during the game. There were extras, thank goodness.

    That being said, would I do it again? Yes. I also think that the stadium needs to get its shit together if they want to host a World Cup game in 2031 or 2033.

    1. PX*

      oooh the comments in r/rugbyunion this morning were scathing both in terms of the actual quality of rugby (sucks that USA seems to be back on the decline) but also the reffing. didn’t hear about the Romania jersey quality though lol

      1. The Dude Abides*

        It was the center ref’s first international test, and I think he did well considering it was tight throughout.

        That subreddit is always going to bitch and moan about the refereeing, and most don’t know the actual laws, let alone the changes that are live as of this week.

        Re jerseys – look for the starting props right before/after halftime.

      2. The Dude Abides*

        The people on that subreddit know fuck-all about the laws, let alone the changes that just went live this week.

        USA’s been on a decline for a while at all levels – everyone involved in the admin side is territorial as hell (NCR is a glaring example)

        Check the Romanian #1 and #3 around halftime, and when the #17 gets carded.

        1. PX*

          It’s a bummer for sure re:USA and Canada as well apparently, just poor management which is not great when you’re going to be hosting a world cup soon! Fingers crossed things improve so you can at least put up a decent showing by then.

          Lol, there were some funny posts yesterday showing how you can have fans from both sides in the same match post bitching about the reffing so I always take it with a large pinch of salt. I’ve seen people post questions when they are trying to pass their ref exams and I could definitely not do it (I love you rugby but why are your laws so complicated)

    2. Past Lurker*

      Thanks for sharing your experience! I wonder if it’s usual for your role to have changed several times?

      1. The Dude Abides*

        From talking to the World Rugby folk on-site, the issues were unique to the venue – wasn’t an issue last weekend in LA, shouldn’t be an issue next weekend in DC.

  34. Nicosloanica*

    Question for my readers: from the description of this week’s book recommendation I’m guessing the story was based somewhat on “Cat Person.” Do you like stories that are “pulled from the headlines” in some way? I know Law & Order does this, and I’ve read plenty of novels inspired loosely by real-life events too. Does it bother you, as in L&O, when the fictional story goes a completely different direction than the real-life inspiration plot? Where’s the line for you, if there is one?

    1. WellRed*

      It doesn’t bother me. It’s still fiction and to make it more palatable or even practical it’s probably necessary to change things up.

    2. GoryDetails*

      I often do enjoy based-on-a-true-story works of fiction, though I have run into a few that seemed overly mean-spirited or just ill-timed. My favorites are based on incidents long past, historical events etc. Even then, if the author chooses to give a real-life character a villainous plot, against all historic evidence, it raises my hackles a wee bit; Dan Simmons did that in his novel “The Terror,” based on the ill-fated Franklin Expedition. He used the real names of the crew, and did follow historical fact to a large degree, but he wanted some heavy-duty villains and chose a couple of ordinary seamen for the role, and I couldn’t help wishing he’d made up his villains instead.

      That said, inserting fictional characters into historical events – especially very well-known ones – can backfire; I enjoyed “The White Lie” by J. G. Kelly, based on the Scott Antarctic expedition, but the author opted to replace a historical character with a fictional one as the villain, and as I’ve read a LOT about the expedition I noticed the name-change at once. While I didn’t guess the full extent of the murder-mystery plot, I immediately knew who would be involved! But I definitely prefer that tactic over villainizing a perfectly decent historical character.

      Stories based on modern incidents, like a lot of the crime and medical shows, can be fascinating – but can also be problematic, especially if court cases are still pending; no matter how many disclaimers are in the book/film/TV show, people might make assumptions on real-life guilt or innocence based on popular fiction. (Then again, some of the real-world cases are so bizarre that if they’d just appeared in fiction nobody would believe them.)

    3. I'm here for the cats*

      I personally cannot do it. It’s almost like a phobia to me when it comes to real people fanfictions. I can’t even read Three Kingdoms and that’s pretty old.

    4. Irish Teacher.*

      I think I rather when it goes in a completely different direction.

      Though for me, the line is when it goes in a direction that…sort of trivialises or misses the point of the real event. I mean, say the real event was a racist attack and they remove the racism and make it a personal attack retaliating for something the victim personally did or if it was a crime that was motivated by a particular religious or political ideology and they remove that to make the story less controversial and make the criminal “just evil.” Or, to use a non-crime related example, if it were somebody dying of a particular illness due to systemic problems in the health service and they change it to the person was just diagnosed too late for anything to be done.

      But otherwise, I see no problem with stories that are “inspired by” but not really about the real-life events. I’ve read a number of British stories about child murderers for example, most of which I suspect are to some degree inspired by the Jamie Bulger case. The child murderers are nearly always a similar age to those children and they usually kill another child, often a much younger child, but that is usually where the similarity ends – a lot of the child murderers have been girls, for a start, there has nearly always only been one child involved in the killing… – and my sense is that the author is more exploring “what would cause a child so young to become a killer?” rather than explicitly writing about that killing.

      There’s also a well-known book and film in Ireland, What Richard Did, which is very loosely based on a well-known crime but again, it is just looking at how well-connected, rich, “young men with promise” get away with things rather than trying to write about the actual event.

      I don’t think that is wrong, again so long as it doesn’t trivialise the matter. If they changed “Richard” to a young man from a poor family or to a young woman or to a member of a minority group, that would bother me because it would seem like they were glossing over the part privilege played in the situation.

      1. UKDancer*

        I think the James Bulger case was pivotal and shocking so it’s probably influenced a lot of writers both directly and indirectly. The age of the perpetrators, the nature of the crime and the debate around how to handle young criminals are all questions that continue to promote debate. It actually inspired me as part of my degree to look at how courts dealt with young people accused of serious crimes.

        I’d say the idea of “young, attractive and wealthy person gets away or thinks they can get away with murder” is probably not a one off case. In the UK I can think of both Jeremy Bamber and Brian Blackwell as cases of young and good looking guys who thought their charm and looks would let them get away with it.

        I would agree that things that are inspired by are ok but I’m less comfortable with some of the drama re-enactments on television unless the case was a long time ago. For example there was a really good drama in the 1990s with Michael Kitchen called “Dandelion Dead” based on the Herbert Armstrong case from 1922. I enjoy that because it was a long time ago (and Michael Kitchen is a really enjoyable actor which helps). I’d be less comfortable with something based on a case in the last 30 years. I watched the one about Dennis Nilsen called “Des” but it wasn’t comfortable because it felt too recent and was also quite disturbing generally.

        1. Sloanicota*

          For some reason I’m more okay with “stories loosely inspired by the James Bulger case” that go quite astray from the facts versus stories that are obvious parallels to the Black Dahlia murder(s) – because in one case we know so much, and in the other we know so little, so we really failed the murder victim multiple times – first by failing to solve her case, then by sensationalizing it, and now by speculating that she was a prostitute or knew her killer or whatever (because “totally random killer got away with it” is not very satisfying, so writers have to make up a lot).

        2. Irish Teacher.*

          Yeah, “young men with promise” getting away with things isn’t unique but What Richard Did was very much advertised as being inspired by a particular event.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I remember the late A.S. Byatt using the Moors Murders in her book Babeltower–basically a character was a reporter covering the trial and it was in contrast to a trial for obscenity that the main characters are involved in. The reporter is made up as is their coverage, but obviously the two killers were very real: Byatt was using the contrast of a fictional book “influencing” people in immoral ways to a couple who committed heinous acts partly because of what the man of the couple had read.

    5. RagingADHD*

      The more loosely inspired the better, IMO, because I feel like regurgitating people’s real-life tragedies for entertainment has a lot of potential to be voyeuristic and icky. Exploring real events to honor the story can certainly be done well, but to me it has a higher bar.

      So personally, if it’s going to rip some sensational element from the headlines as fodder for a story that’s actually about other characters, I prefer it to be only tangentially related.

    6. allathian*

      I’m fine with historical fiction featuring real people as long as the people concerned are dead, as well as those of their descendants who knew them in person rather than as historical figures. So now I might read stories and watch shows featuring historical figures set in WW2 or earlier without any qualms. Granted, that rule’s far from absolute because I really enjoyed The Crown, in spite of the fact that it was dramatized. I’ve also enjoyed fictionalized accounts of the Apollo space program (From the Earth to the Moon, Apollo 13), the JFK assassination, and the Watergate scandal, for example.

      I’m currently re-reading a series of crime novels by Virpi Hämeen-Anttila set in Helsinki in the 1920s. All the main characters are fictional but some supporting characters are historical. The political turmoil of the time, including political assassinations, is described very realistically.

      I don’t like it when woman’s place in society is shown to be better than it actually was, or that of minorities either, for that matter. I don’t like reading or watching idealized versions of the past. That’s why I don’t enjoy Murdoch Mysteries with the Black woman pathologist and why I won’t even consider watching Bridgerton.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes I agree with you on the past. Things were as they were and I am not massively keen on pretending they were otherwise. I think we do ourselves a disservice and it’s better to face facts. I can buy Bridgerton as a fantasy set in a parallel universe vaguely equivalent to Georgian England. Although it doesn’t really claim to be I suppose.

        I’d say things like Reign and Philippa Gregory’s adaptations annoy me more because they make pretentions at being accurate. Her take on Margaret Beaufort in making her the villain really annoys me. I don’t know what Lady Margaret did to her, but she really doesn’t like her.

      2. Sloanicota*

        That’s funny – to me, I’m totally fine with making older historical things more diverse. For one thing, every time I think “there were no black women doctors and women were just wives” it turns out that, nope, there actually were, but characters like this that just sort of got erased or overlooked – and two, most of that stuff is set so long ago that it doesn’t bother me to sort of do an alternative-dimension version, like Hamilton where the cast is diverse or Merlin where Guinevere is a black woman, or whatever. You don’t want to wash out history and make it seem like there was no racial issues – so ideally there’d be some element of directly addressing it – but it doesn’t really irk me to add some color to the cast and sort of make it clear it’s a bit of a liberty. Ditto making women leaders in times where there probably wouldn’t have been any, because I don’t need every single show to be Mad Men.

        1. allathian*

          I’ll add that I’m always up for diverse stories from the past that didn’t get told at the time.

          Examples include the Black cowboys who made up as much as 25% of the cowboys who went up the trail in the 30 years between 1860 and 1890, yet who were whitewashed out of history by Hollywood barely 50 years later.

          Another one’s Hidden Figures, the story of the Black women mathematicians whose long unacknowledged contributions to the US space program were essential in getting Americans into space.

        2. Irish Teacher.*

          Yeah, actually one of Sophie Hannah’s Poirot stories – the one set in Ireland – annoyed me by having a character say somebody “couldn’t be his doctor because it was a woman,” when not only were there women doctors at that time, but one of them, Dr. Kathleen Lynn, was extremely prominent and had been a member of our parliament, so there is no way the characters could have been unaware of the fact women doctors existed.

  35. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr*

    I am annoyed and frustrated. My MIL will be moving to an independent senior living community near us (NOT the annoying/frustrating part; this is a good thing). They have ADA-compliant toilets. Great. Except…she’s about 4’11” and ADA toilets are higher than “regular” toilets and she’ll have some trouble with that. They won’t change it out (everything in this apartment community is the same…cabinets, etc. etc.) and trust me, this is the best place for her now (for proximity, cost, and amenities) and probably all other places around have ADA toilets, anyway. I supposed they’d have to change it if it shortness were a disability, but I can’t think of anything else other than sneaking in a toilet and changing it. Ha. Other ideas? It’s annoying because it would HELP with her toileting, not hinder it!

    1. fposte*

      I’d just get a stepstool or two and work on a configuration. A 6” stepstool may be low enough to slide close to the bowl while still allowing her a step up.

        1. fposte*

          I thought of that and they specifically state they’re not to be used as stepstools. So basically a more robust makeshift squatty potty.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I searched on Amazon for “toilet stepstool for adults” and found a lot of options – they’re specifically shaped to fit around the base, some had hand rail type bars.

      2. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        What about a squatty potty or its cousins? It fits around the toilet base so it’s not in the way but could be used as a step stool

      3. Grrrrrrrrrrrr*

        Balance is an issue, as is the ability to get on the toilet in a timely (quick) manner.

      1. Llellayena*

        Actually it’s based on the idea that it’s harder for most people to stand up from a low seat. It also puts the toilet seat closer to the height of a wheelchair seat for transfers. A toilet stool should help. ADA accommodations are about helping the broadest range of possible disabilities, but it still means they’ll miss some people.

        1. AccommodationDesign*

          Yes, they’ve made some ADA changes on buses that make it significantly harder/more painful for me to ride the bus. One of them is raising the height of the accessible seats so even my feet (5’6″) don’t sit flat on the bus while I’m seated which makes it harder for me to keep myself locked in place so I don’t get jerked around which causes severe back pain.

          They made other changes to new subway cars that mean I need to take up 3 seats because I can’t hold on any other way (they no longer have a way to wrap my arm around the pole at the end of a row so I have to hold on with both hands to get less stability (and across three seats because of pole placement).

          In general, many ADA requirements are designed to work for motorized wheelchairs. If you’re not using one those accommodations can often make it harder for you.

        2. Part time lab tech*

          My Nanna was about this height and I would like to suggest getting organised early if you think she will need a wheelchair.
          A nurse at her facility suggested a wheelchair and my mum was going to get her a custom smaller one. The nurse went to my aunt to get the normal one the nurse wanted. Then suggested donating it to the facility after my Nanna died.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Ask again after she moves in. If the staff provides toileting assistance/supervision, maybe get one of them to observe with you. Explain *to the decision-maker* that you’re worried about falls and injuries. Offer to pay for the swap-out yourself, and to replace the toilet when she vacates the apartment.

      If that gets you nowhere, ask them to note in her case file that the family is asking for this accommodation because you are concerned about your MIL’s safety, and that nonetheless the facility is refusing to allow it. This will use up capital and you want to employ this tactic sparingly, but if it’s important to you, my guess is that staying juuuust on the right side of the “litigation” line might persuade them.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      How handy are the people around you? And would anyone be expected to check for changes. (e.g. My aunt’s senior living has a requirement that you have one meal either in the dining area or delivered, which builds in someone checking on you daily.)

      Because my first thought was yours, just change it out, expecting to need to change it back when she’s no longer there. But FPoste made me think that someone could custom build a little step that tucks up against the toilet.

    4. Mystery*

      Potentially ask if the facility can have an OT do a safety assessment of her in the home to see if they have options.

    5. Shiny Penny*

      Could you have her doctor write a letter stating that a shorter height toilet is a medical necessity? The safety risk seems extreme enough. (And then, as a second step, offer to pay for it and to change it back later, if that gets you a yes more easily.)
      I’d wait til she was moved in, so they don’t just reject her/you for being “a problem.”
      Also maybe their in-house Occupational Therapist could be an advocate? Though they might not have one, if it’s independent living…
      Or you could find an outside OT to do a safety evaluation, and add authority to your (extremely reasonable) concerns.
      All the step stool ideas sound pretty darn dangerous for her, especially if she’s toileting independently. The last thing she needs is a fall!

      This actually strikes me as also a sexism issue, in the same way that seatbelts are designed to keep the average adult men safe, and not optimized for the average adult women.

  36. Dr. Doll*

    Has anyone used “Nokbox” or other life-business-planning type tools? Any recommendations or any to avoid?

    1. Lifelong student*

      I created something like this from scratch. Bought a case on Amazon which is supposed to be fireproof and waterproof. It has a combination lock on it. Will hold hanging files. I created my own- I had hanging files, folders, and tabs. It holds quite a lot. I did not feel the need for their directions. I like the fact that it has handles- I call it a go box.

  37. Chauncy Gardener*

    I just came here to say that I just found out there is a small town in Minnesota called Fergus Falls!!
    I hope all the residents are avid AAM readers

    1. BookMom*

      I used to live nearby and the locals just call it “Fergus” as a short name. (Truly.)

  38. RMNPgirl*

    Anyone else watching the Brooks Falls brown bears? We’re getting a lot more showing up each day. I was so excited to see Grazer show up yesterday with two cubs! She’s a really fierce mama bear so those cubs should do well. She’ll fish the lip of the falls next to the big boys and has previously chased some of them off.
    A lot of people are wondering if Otis will show up. I have mixed feelings because he’s so old, ancient for a wild male brown bear. I don’t want him to end up getting killed by another bear trying to get food, I’d rather he not show up and be able to believe he was snug and cosy in his den and just passed away peacefully of old age. But on the other hand, I do love him and would like to see him for another summer!

    1. fposte*

      I love the fat bear cams. I only check the info out periodically, so this is the first I heard that Grazer is back. I love her so that makes me happy, even though she’d rip my face off in a hot second.

  39. Texan In Exile*

    Cats with kidney disease – possibly useful information if this is your cat.

    Shirley, our 16 year old Siamese mix, was diagnosed with kidney disease a few months ago. She was already down to 4.5 lbs from her usual 6.5-7 (she lost a lot of weight when her companion, Laverne, died last summer) and was eating even less than usual.

    She was also getting dehydrated. Our vet gave her sub-Q fluids and then we tried at home, but she made it very clear that she was not interested in having us put a needle in her back and in waiting while 200 ccs of fluid dripped under her skin. The vet is one thing, but that’s not something we are supposed to be doing to her.

    And she was starting to vomit violently late at night.

    A friend suggested Purina’s Hydracare for the fluids.

    And I saw that cats with CKD can get upset stomachs, leading to the vomiting, and that Pepcid AC can help.

    We started her on the Hydracare and are giving her 1.6 mg of Pepcid AC (1/6 of a 10 mg pill) ground up mixed in her food or in Laxatone every night.

    In the two weeks since we started, she has had only one violent barf (compared to a couple times a week) and has had an appetite! She is eating a can of food every 24 hours, which has never happened before. And she is gaining weight! It’s slow, but it’s happening. She is alert and engaged and we attribute it to either the Pepcid or they Hydracare or both.

    I hope nobody else’s cat has CKD, but if yours does, these solutions might be useful for you.

    1. RMNPgirl*

      Look into the Gif tube for cats. We got this for our family cat when he got kidney disease back in 2007. It’s a flexible tube with holes in it that gets placed along their back with an opening at the back of their neck. You can then just hook up IV fluids to it (no needles) and give them fluids. We gave our cat fluids every night for 4 years before he passed away and not from kidney disease, it was cancer.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Thank you! I hope it doesn’t come to this, but it’s good to know it’s an option. And I’m sorry about your kitty.

    2. Ricotta*

      I cannot recommend enough “Tanya’s Comprehensive Guide to Feline Chronic Kidney Disease” online. You can also buy it in book form if you prefer.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Yes! She is amazing. That’s how Mr T found the non-RX food that seems to be keeping Shirley stable (and that she will eat).

          1. Texan In Exile*

            Weruva, Chicken Checkmate Pate. It’s much cheaper than RX but has similar ingredients. Our vet said it’s OK for her to be on that for now. (And we did try the RX CKD food, but she doesn’t seem to like it as much.)

  40. Ginger Cat Lady*

    We need a good backyard picnic/dining table that can withstand weather. We first bought one from IKEA. Despite getting the weatherproof coating, the finish was trash within a year. My husband stripped it and refinished it, but after another year, the wood was splintering and it had to go. Next we tried one with a glass top, broke within 6 months.
    Needs to seat at least 6, preferrably 8, and ideally not have a hole for an umbrella because we won’t use that. Does anyone have one that has stood the test of time? We’re willing to invest some money into it if it will last, but not if it will only last 1-2 years.

    1. fposte*

      What region of the country/world do you live in and how much daily/annual maintenance and storage are you prepared to do? That’ll make a big difference.

      If you were near me in the Midwest, I’d suggest teak, with covering off season and annual wash and sand as needed. Chicteak dot com has been a good source for me.

    2. PX*

      fposte has already recommended teak but from my highly rudimentary research last year, if you want wood – you will likely need to pay (alot) more to get a high quality solid wood set – particularly if it will be outdoors year round. Cheaper sets these days will likely be acacia which in my experience will not last long particularly with cold/wet.

      Otherwise something metal and just have removable cushions is likely the next best alternative.

    3. TX_Trucker*

      What type of weather conditions? Tables made from hardwood like Hickory or American Beech are great for dry hot climates. I live
      in a drought prone area, so no idea how those woods will do in a high rain climate.

    4. Dear Liza dear liza*

      We have a metal/wrought iron table with matching chairs from Lowe’s. The top is a grid in which you can place 8×8 tiles, which we have occasionally switched out. It has sat on various decks for 15 years and shows no signs of wearing out.

    5. Jay (no, the other one)*

      You get what you pay for and what you want will cost quite a bit. We have a screened porch and inherited my mother’s set of iron furniture, originally purchased in 1962. We had it cleaned and powder-coated, which was not cheap, and it will last another 50 years. Outside we have a metal table with a glass top and metal chairs with thick plastic webbed seats, all almost 30 years old. Also powder-coated, probably aluminum instead of iron, although I don’t know for sure. That was on a screened porch originally and has been outside since 2001. We don’t cover it. We pressure-wash it every spring. The webbing is white, so we don’t have to worry about fading.

      Four years ago we bought some wooden garden furniture from Wayfair – four Adirondack chairs, three benches. One bench remains, only because it’s in the back of the yard and no one sits on it. We replaced the Adirondack chairs with resin/composite models from LL Bean. Much more expensive and clearly more durable. Bean also has tables and chairs – not a bad place to start. The NYT Wirecutter column has a guide to shopping for outdoor furniture.

    6. California Dreamin’*

      We’ve had our teak dining set (seats 6) for 25 years. We live in a dry climate but it has at times sat out where it would get rained on in the rainy season (it’s now on a covered deck.) We didn’t do any upkeep on it for years and let it weather to a silvery gray, but now we have it refinished every few years. It’s still in great shape. Very pricey but a good long-term investment.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Same! We’ve had our teak set for about 25 years as well. We strip and stain it every 7 years or so (maybe). We are in New England and it stays outside year round.

    7. MissB*

      Teak is clearly the answer.

      I got the most amazing used set off of my local FB group. The table is round, the top is at least 2” thick and came with six very solid chairs. That set will outlast me, absolutely high quality. I priced out a similar style table at about $3k (table alone).

      I paid $300 for this set. I do not regret it for one minute, though my husband looked at me sideways because we were just coming out of an ice storm one February when it popped up.

      So shop used! I see lots of high quality sets on FB marketplace all the time. There is one local guy that clearly buys them and restores the finishes. After looking at the various offerings, you’ll get a sense of what is quality and what isn’t.

      My fabulous nextdoor neighbor bought an oval Teak table and eight chairs for $500 a few years back. It was totally gray and she and her hubs restored the finish and it looks brand new. Amazon sells the stuff that you need to restore it.

      Teak will outlast you, and it’s totally worth it. I also got a heavy sofa, two comfy chairs and three side tables – all teak- from the same person when I scooped up her dining set, also for $300. It sits out on my wraparound covered porch all year. It pains me that I need a couple of couches and comfy chairs – teak, of course- for my new patio. I’m gonna have to buy new, only because I’m not seeing anything on FB marketplace, but I’ll wait until next spring to buy and who knows, maybe another neighbor will be moving and offloading some nice teak furniture….

    8. Hatchet*

      I bought this one from Amazon a few years ago and it has held up well in the south under a pergola. It might be a good option if you’re looking for something made of metal and glass. (I’ll post the link separately.) Good luck!

    9. RLC*

      We have powder coated cast aluminum table, chairs, and lounge. Have been on covered porch for about 10 years (west exposure in northern Rocky Mountain location); still look new. Cushions stored indoors when not in use (to avoid bird droppings and squirrel damage). Set was originally quite costly but we got a great deal at an end of summer clearance sale at local furniture shop.

    10. Elle Woods*

      Consider looking at furniture made from recycled milk jugs as an option. My neighbors have an outdoor dining set made from recycled milk jugs that seats six. They’ve had it for about 10 years and it’s holding up really well to our wild Midwest temperature swings. They did pay more for it but said it’s been worth every penny.

  41. PX*

    Wimbledon gang: who else is following? Feels like as always the womens draw will be wide open and with Djokovic just coming back from knee surgery I’m wondering if this will be Alcaraz’ to lose. But it definitely feels like lots of seeds are falling early which always makes for fun!

    And I got to see a bit of the Monfils/Wawrinka match a few days ago which apparently had the oldest (or 2nd oldest) combined ages in the modern era! Cant believe they are still going tbh, feel like Monfils predates even Federer/Nadal! (It was also a highly entertaining match)

    1. fhqwhgads*

      I think it’s Alcaraz’s to lose even if Djoke hadn’t just had surgery.
      Shelton’s looking good and I hope he goes far, but ooph Sinner’s right there. Hoping Fritz crushes Zverev.
      Bummer Gauff and Keys are in the same quarter. I’d like to see Coco win the whole thing.

  42. anxiousGrad*

    What would you do?

    I’m dog sitting for someone through Rover. For a variety of reasons, I’m planning to make my account inactive after I complete this booking. The owners already paid Rover the fee, and Rover will send the money to me two days after I finish the booking on Monday.

    Long story short, this booking has been a complete nightmare. The apartment is infested with bugs, the owners did not set up a proper space for me to sleep or even leave towels for me to shower with or to dry off the dogs with even though there are intermittent thunderstorms this entire weekend. I’m also not sure if they left enough poop bags or dog food for the whole visit.

    Beyond that, one of their dogs, who’s 55 lb and all muscle, is terribly behaved. They’ve had him since he was a puppy and walk him everyday, and despite that he’s not at all leash trained. He pulls like crazy to the point that I have rope burn on my hand after every walk. I’ve walked dogs in animal shelters for years, so I know how to handle a dog that’s excited and poorly behaved on a leash. I would say that his leash manners are on a par with the worst behaved dogs I’ve walked in shelters.

    Obviously I’m never going to dog sit for these people again. My question is, after I’m done, should I tell them any of this? Part of me feels like it would be really satisfying to tell them that they need to leash train their dog before they leave him with a sitter again. They’ve already paid Rover and I don’t care if they leave a bad review since I’m going to inactivate my account. On the other hand, I don’t know if there’s any point in doing that and if it would just be petty.

    1. Double A*

      I don’t think it would be useful to provide feedback to the clients, but does Rover not have a platform for providing that information for future sitters? I would definitely provide that information to Rover if you can, including noting that the dog is unsafe.

      If the clients contact you or in anyway indicate they’d like you to sit for them again, I think you can let them know that won’t be possible because of the dog’s lack of training.

    2. Esprit de l'escalier*

      If there’s no way it could harm future-you (and it sounds like there isn’t), it would be a kindness to other Rover sitters to warn them about this household. I don’t see anything petty about it as long as you are accurately and calmly describing the situation.

    3. Rainy*

      I’m pretty sure you can leave a review for Rover clients, and I would. At least so future sitters know to bring a headcollar or an anti-pull harness with them for safety!

    4. Miss Cranky Pants*

      Does Rover not require a meet & greet session so you can, ya know, meet the animals you’ll be sitting? I always takes dogs on a test walk when I initially meet the family, and a couple of times I’ve had to say no, can’t do this before accepting a booking. I’m not familiar with the whole “hire a stranger to care for your pets” apps universe, so maybe I just don’t have a clear idea of how they work.

      Yes, let other Rover sitters know, and you saying something to the client probably won’t result in any changes for them or the dog. Some people just don’t care if their dog is badly behaved. :(

      1. anxiousGrad*

        I did a meet and greet but they told me he was just excited to meet me and would calm down, and unfortunately I took their word for it. I think you can review clients on Rover, but the clients don’t see the review and other sitters can’t see it, so I don’t really know what the point of that is.

        1. Esprit de l'escalier*

          Oh, so other sitters can’t read reviews!?!! That does seem pretty useless, then.

    5. TPS reporter*

      I think you would be doing a service to the dog and future sitters to tell the clients about leash training. if they think this was successful they will leave him with another witter with potentially disastrous results.

      you can be pretty neutral when you say it and leave out the parts about the condition of the place.

      are there any leash training resources or classes you could point them to?

    6. Sloanicota*

      I wouldn’t. I used Rover for my dog on an unfortunately timed work trip not long after I brought him home. It didn’t go well, although I had tried to be as honest as I could about his known and unknown behaviors. It was clear enough to me that feedback was unnecessary, and I never tried to use Rover again (I take him to boarding now and he seems to do great there, plus they have the experience level to handle him). If you can leave a review to other sitters – which I think you can – be honest but fair, and let that be enough.

  43. Anon Poster*

    Any homemade smoothie aficionados around? When I make smoothies, I just do a bunch of spinach/other greens, water, and a couple handfuls of fruit. They taste a little grassy, which I’m fine with, because I don’t really have much of a sweet tooth.

    I’m going back to work soon and have been experimenting with adding Greek yogurt and oats so I can have a more filling smoothie for breakfast. How feasible is it to make the smoothie the night before? Do things get weird with overnight storage once the yogurt is involved? Should the smoothie be stored in the freezer or fridge? Am I overthinking this? (Probably)

    1. Anon Poster*

      Also! Any tips for masking the yogurt taste? Maybe by adding lemon or something? I know I can add juice/honey/maple syrup, but I’m trying to keep the sugar content low if possible.

    2. Angstrom*

      No major issues. Oats will absorb liquid overnight and will be softer in the morning. Some mixtures will separate and may require a quick stir. If you freeze the whole thing you’ll have a giant popsicle in the morning. If you like an “icy” texture, you can freeze some in an ice-cube tray and then blend with the refrigerated part the next morning.

    3. Girasol*

      When I was working long hours I found that a dairy smoothie in a jar to drink at my desk was the quickest solution for breakfast. I didn’t use yogurt but did use cottage cheese, milk, orange juice, and peanut butter and sometimes vanilla or cocoa. I used to make up five jars on a Sunday night, throw them in the fridge, and grab one on my way out every morning. They were good all the way to Friday morning though they sometimes separated a little and needed to be shaken before opening.

    4. Rainy*

      If you don’t like the taste of yogurt, yogurt probably isn’t the right solution for you. What about adding a scoop of protein powder, or peanut/almond/whatever butter instead?

      Also if you do yogurt and fruit and then let it sit at all, it’s going to start separating because of the added liquid, where protein powder shouldn’t and I know almond butter doesn’t, peanut shouldn’t either.

    5. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I make protein shakes with a little frozen spinach added. It gives colour but does not affect the flavour. When I want to boost the vits and sweetness, I add a handful of berries.
      Protein shakes can be made the night before, but I always consume them withn 24 hours.

    6. Sitting Pretty*

      I like to assemble my smoothie in advance but not blend it until I’m ready to go. Having everything all put together in the blender cup/pitcher in the fridge makes the morning blend quick without affecting the texture as much as leaving it blended all night would.

    7. Fellow Traveller*

      Have you tried using kefir? I find it tastes leas like yogurt but many of the same nutritional benefits.

      1. Anon Poster*

        I’ve honestly never heard of kefir, but I see my local Sprouts has some, so I’ll give that a try!

  44. Voluneering woes*

    I can’t quite decide if this belongs in the work thread or the weekend thread- I’m looking for a gut check regarding expectations for a volunteer role, but it’s volunteering for an organization related to my profession so the line is fuzzy. I can repost next Friday if needed

    Here’s the question: I agreed to take on a volunteer treasurer position, with the understanding that it would take about 5-10 hrs/month doing things like overseeing bookkeeping, reconciling bank statements, and preparing an annual budget for the board. Those are all things I enjoy organizing and am happy to do.

    But, I’m getting the growing sense that there’s also an expectation of being fairly constantly reachable via text, phone, and email that I just don’t have the bandwidth for right now. I’m recovering from burn-out+grief from a series of rough personal events and I really need to be able to switch off and limit my availability until I can get that under control.

    Should I have known in advance that this level of reachability and contact is the norm for a volunteer position? I’m feeling really guilty for agreeing to take it on, but then not being willing to be reachable as often as it seems they want, but also feeling like “available daily for calls/texts/emails as needed” should have been included in the volunteer description if that was an expectation?

    Am I off base for not knowing that would be expected? I’m trying to decide if there’s a way to push back and say “look I’m happy to do the budgeting and financial reconciliation stuff in the original job description, but I’m not able/willing to be available for calls and emails on weekends, and I’m going to need to limit my availability pretty strictly for the next two months while I sort out some mental health stuff.” I feel like there’s nothing in this position that’s urgent enough to require constant communication, but also feel like I’m doing something wrong if I don’t respond to emails/calls/texts as they come in. (for example: since Wednesday I’ve received several emails, a missed phone call, and a text asking if I’m free for a call today or tomorrow, which seems like a lot for a holiday weekend. I’m currently ignoring all of them until Monday but also feeling guilty about doing it) How would you handle this?

    (some personal context that may or may not actually be relevant to the question: I think I’m partially worried about this because I’m in a new city without much of a support network yet, and the people I’ve met through this organization are also sort of my friends. I don’t want to loose the few friendly faces I have here by not going along with the expectations for the role. But they are also mostly of an older generation where pushing through was more of the norm, and I’m not sure how much understanding there would be around mental health stuff if I come straight out and say “look my anxiety and burnout levels are too high right now and I have to step back”)

    1. fposte*

      I wouldn’t worry about their expectations, and I’d depersonalize the reasons why you want to stick to 5-10 hours a month—it doesn’t matter if it’s for mental health or sex parties, it’s your time and you get to say.

      What I’d suggest is figuring out an availability schedule that works for you and then sharing it with the board or whoever is contacting you. Right now it sounds like both sides are in vagueness purgatory. They don’t know what turnaround time to expect and you don’t know what you want to give. So maybe you handle responses on Monday and Thursday, except holidays, or even just once a week; maybe you propose a standing monthly Zoom for handling questions that need synchronous discussion.

      A question you need to ask yourself, though, is how comfortable you can make yourself with delayed responses. Even if you institute a schedule people will still contact you whenever, often not because they expect an immediate response but because that’s when they had the thought. So an understood response time may be something for you to lean on, but you still have to be able to make your peace with queries hanging out in your voice mail for a few days.

      1. Volunteering woes*

        I don’t mind the unanswered stuff in my email inbox, but the calls and texts are causing weird amounts of distress right now- they feel more intrusive when they pop up when I’m trying to unwind and destress. I’ll have to dig into that a little more and figure out why it feels so stressful. Thanks!

    2. Angstrom*

      It’s perfectly reasonable to say “I have other commitments (yourself, but don’t say so) on weekends, and will get back to you on Monday.”
      Maybe send the board a summary balance sheet every week to head off the obvious questions?
      My partner has had similar issues with group members who are retired and have apparently forgotten that not everyone has unlimited free time.

      1. Volunteering Woes*

        Ooh I like the idea of proactively sending info – that might be helpful here

        In addition to being retired, most of them have wealthy spouses (or ex-spouses) who are the primary income earner, and most bought their homes years ago, so I often feel like there’s not an awareness of what it’s like to be in this field, in this economy, without a spouse’s income helping with the bills. I just don’t have the same kind of time and energy available to volunteer

        Thank you for letting me vent and commiserating a bit – it’s helpful!

    3. Sloanicota*

      Two things. 1: Don’t ignore them, just communicate your availability. You can do it nicely. “I’m not going to be available over the holiday weekend but let’s touch base Wednesday on this.” Ignoring them starts what I heard Captain Awkward start the “grudge clock” for you but not them; you know they’re annoying you, but they just think maybe you didn’t see the message yet, maybe they need to follow up. Maybe it can be a big-picture expectation set: “I’m not usually available during the week but we can always check in Wednesdays at five if there’s something you need that I’ve missed.” If that’s not good enough, you can resign. 2. This is mean, but a lot of people on volunteer boards (I’m on one myself) are not looking to be efficient; they are looking to fill their time. I had to explain to my fellow members that I have a job, I’m not retired, and I want to do what is required but don’t have a ton of bandwidth for more. That includes meetings, where these people would yak on all day if they could. They don’t have a lot of other social outlets and the ability to do this was a huge reason they joined the board. That’s not my situation, so I had to be clear that I was available for that one (1) hour meeting and would then need to jump off but they were welcome to keep yakking.

      1. Volunteering woes*

        Ooh that distinction of filling time versus being efficient explains… so many of my volunteer frustrations over the years actually. Thank you for that framing!

      2. Texan In Exile*

        Yes, that was how a woman in a voting rights group I volunteer with was able to recruit me to her committee. I usually only do the public-facing events, where I need to be at a place for two hours to register voters. I have avoided the committees (even though they are worthwhile) because I hate hate hate meetings. I hate them when I’m being paid for them but I hate them even more when I am doing them for free.

        She promised I did not have to attend any meetings if I did not want to.

        (But even with that, there has been some scope creep. I have been accepting it, as this election is so important.)

    4. OfficeHours*

      I agree. Explain you volunteered for 5-10 hours that could be done mostly on your own schedule and you cannot be regularly available whenever other people have a question.

      Under the circumstances, I’d offer to set up an office hour, maybe 30 minutes/week, when people can ask you questions about stuff. If you can, set it at different times on alternating weeks. Then direct folks to the office hour if they ask you for info in between. Maybe set aside short scheduled windows for reading/answering emails too.

      If this doesn’t work for them, then I’d be inclined to walk away unless they have a different solution that results in similar solar time expectations.

      Good luck!

    5. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      One thing to keep in mind, if this is an all-volunteer group, is that the other volunteers are probably mostly getting their org-work in during evenings and weekends. That means that their questions for you will disproportionately be during evening and weekend times, because that’s when they’re working on org-stuff. Being proactive about sending out reports that contain the information they’re likely to want will be important if you’re not going to be available for questions during the work time of most of your co-volunteers, but I know for us it’s really difficult if people in certain roles can’t make it to at least some of the weekend meetings or work sessions.

    6. the Viking Diva*

      I had some success with an approach similar to what Office Hours suggests. I set two times a week (e.g. Tuesday evenings, Saturday mornings) when I would handle my volunteer tasks, read and respond to email. I communicated that schedule to the group, explained that I needed to put some boundaries on the role (my reasons were similar to yours but really none of their business), and put a filter on my email. The filter grabbed any items with the email address of the person(s) who emailed me a lot and put them in a folder to deal with at the designated times.

      It was efficient for me to handle the work in a batch, it took fewer emails because I could connect some dots, and I felt a lot less resentful because I could remain largely oblivious to the bombardment. It was a win/win: for me it kept the work sustainable, and for them I lasted longer in the role than I would have otherwise. I did have one trusted person (not filtered) who could reach me if something came up that was actually time-sensitive. In reality, nothing about that work was very urgent, and it worked fine.

      Good luck, Woes! Volunteers have to be a bit responsive to the organization, but it’s very reasonable to say, This is the talent and time I have to offer, and I need to keep my involvement chunked in a way that lets me meet that commitment. You can frame it that way – such that you are helping them by organizing your work in a way you can sustain, rather than asking for snowflake treatment.

      1. Volunteering woes*

        Thank you, this is helpful! I think that should work for emails, but I’ll have to figure out how to handle texting. I know I can just turn off notifications, but I still see that I have unread texts on my phone and then feel frustrated about it

        1. Unhealthy*

          Could you ask them to stop texting you and only e-mail questions going forward?

          You could explain that you don’t have time to answer texts during the day and have too much stuff going on to remember to text back later. If they e-mail you, then all their questions are right there when you sit down at your computer at whatever time you designate to focus your volunteer work.

    7. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In addition to what everyone else said, you weren’t off-base in not knowing they expected more availability (if indeed they do). You took them at their word about what they said the time commitment was.

      With volunteer stuff (and also with work, for that matter), I find the most helpful framing is: “Here’s what I can offer. If that doesn’t work for your needs, I understand and can bow out.” No need to justify *why* that’s all you can offer.

    8. ronda*

      you dont need to give them personal info about why you are not available, just that you are not available.

      you can talk to whoever recruited you for the role about what expectations are and decide if the role is for you.

      Otherwise tell them the 5-10 hours you are available and hold stuff until then.

    9. miel*

      Also: mute/ filter the emails/ texts. I have done this with a volunteer gig where the messages were arriving constantly, and muting the messages lets me engage when *I* want to. It’s been amazing.

    10. Ellis Bell*

      You should never have to say that you’re on the brink of burnout for people to respect your time. If a volunteer colleague/friend/anybody says “Oh I’m really busy, but I can spare Sunday mornings and Thursday afternoons for (whatever)”, I’m not going to pick at their reasons for being busy; they are an adult in charge of their own lives and time commitments! Maybe they are busy painting mugs, or nurturing a garden or their relationships or cooking healthy meals .. or earning a living. Unless they choose to share how they divvy up the hours, it’s none of my business!

  45. Esprit de l'escalier*

    Your proposed statement would be perfect if you shortened it. They don’t need to know about your personal health issues any more than an employer would, they just need to know what your boundaries are. Also, don’t box yourself in by saying “for 2 months” because you might not want them pestering you all the time even after you get settled. Frankly, they sound pretty inconsiderate towards a volunteer, especially as your offering to do basic treasurer tasks is a big gift to them.

    Tell them what you will and won’t do, and make it as brief as possible so they can’t find any wiggle room: “I’m happy to do the budgeting and financial reconciliation stuff in the original job description, but I won’t be available for calls and emails on weekends.” Maybe I distorted your intended meaning here, so adjust as needed but keep it short. You do not owe them an explanation or an apology — if anything, they owe you an apology for this bait-and-switch volunteer task description.

    If I could wave a magic wand and remove your unwarranted feelings of guilt, I would do that too.

    1. Volunteering Woes*

      Thank you so much! Your wish for a magic wand to remove the guilt was actually really helpful – I’d been feeling like it must be my fault somehow for not anticipating this.

      I’ll explore shortening somehow, but am finding it tricky because a close personal friend, who does in fact know the extent of what’s going on, is also involved and close friends with others in the organization, so there’s a lot of weird overlap of personal/professional.

      But thank you for the reminder that they don’t need to know, and it’s OK to set limits!

      1. Esprit de l'escalier*

        Granted that I don’t know what your entanglements are here, you still do not owe the organization your private details or all of your time. It’s really okay to express your boundaries and stick to them if they’re pushy.

        Volunteer Board members sometimes seem to assume that other volunteers will be as (very!) involved as they are, but you can nicely tell them that when you volunteered to do this task, you were not making that kind of open-ended commitment to the org.

        Say that you need to not get these weekend contacts, and if these contacts persist you will unfortunately have to withdraw altogether. Don’t offer or accept a compromise on this — it has to be clear and non-negotiable. Your needs are just as important as theirs are and it’s not okay for them to ignore your needs (if they should try to). Volunteer treasurers are not easy to line up and they would be really dumb to push you away once you have told them to stop.

    2. Sloanicota*

      To be fair, I think it *is* very common for boards to undersell the obligation/time commitment when they want to recruit people, and actually have a higher expectation, but that doesn’t mean you have to go along with that if you’re not available for more than what you committed to. You can also offer to step down if they’re unhappy, although rarely do they have anyone else willing to take over thankless jobs, so hopefully they’re aware of this and more willing to work with you as a result.

  46. Esprit de l'escalier*

    Aloo Baingan! I’m hoping to find a recipe that would end up close to my favorite Indian-restaurant dish. It is so totally delicious at the restaurant that whenever I have it there, I long to replicate it at home, although with a basic eggplant from Kroger.

    Do you have a tried-and-true recipe you could point me towards, or a site that is really reliable for this kind of dish? I could make it on the stove or in an Instant Pot. (By now my mouth is watering just thinking about it….)

    1. Nervous Nellie*

      Oooh, yes – I love the recipe from Tea for Turmeric. Izzah’s recipes are lovely.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          My pleasure! And do notice that she has a whole Instant Pot section on her site. Her recipes have never failed me. Bon appetit!

  47. Random grooming question*

    What do you do about sideburn hair? I must admit that I didn’t really think anything about it before and let it do it’s thing, but now that it is going gray, it’s all coarse and uncontrollable. I been using a bit more styling goo on them but am wondering if I am missing some solution.

    1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      I think this could be an Ask your Barber question really. Maybe they will suggest trimming the sideburn length so each hair is shorter. I have been watching you tube videos of a hairdresser, it’s called “Regal Gentleman”, and the hairdresser Dan is not only very pleasant and thoughtful, his explanations of how he needs to cut the hair to achieve the result the customer wants have been very educational!

  48. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    Wow, what a great milestone:
    After our general election on Thursday, we now have our first MP who was born in the 21st century.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I’ve wondered before if those who become MPs or have some other great career achievement at only 21 or 22 – when this is wildly untypical for their field – feel that their later career is a letdown, or if they are OK if this fizzles out after a few years

      1. Isobel*

        The MP who sprang to mind was Bernadette Devlin McAliskey – who has had a long career in politics and social activism, just not necessarily in the Westminster system – but she was elected aged 21 at a very different time and political situation from today’s MPs.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          And I think she is still involved in republican-socialist campaigns. I would doubt she sees being an MP as the pinacle of her career. I think she is still holding out, not just for a united Ireland, but for a more left-wing, socially just, united Ireland.

          But like you say, she is a very particular case, in that her politics are very much opposed to the mainstream and she is working for a complete overhaul of the system, so I doubt she sees having had a position within it as the ultimate aim.

      2. UKDancer*

        I think it’s quite challenging being an MP so young. It can feel a hard place to make friends and network when everyone else is much older. It’s not an easy job with a lot of travelling and late hours especially if your constituency is a long way from London. I know Mhairi Black who became an MP very young stood down this time because she found it challenging and depressing.

        I think this election has probably resulted in a few people waking up as MPs who probably didn’t expect to get elected given the swings in some areas. I note the Reform chap who was the last seat returned was completely surprised and had to give notice at work because he hadn’t anticipated getting in.

        1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          There’ll have been several rather unusual resignation letters after our GE:

          “I really enjoyed working here, but I’ve just been elected as an MP. This was a really unexpected opportunity that I can’t turn down…”

          1. Irish Teacher.*

            In Ireland at least, teachers can take a career break for this and given the number of teachers in our Dáil… “Public representation” is actually listed as one of the reasons for career breaks. I think our Minister for Education may still be on a career break. She pretty much went straight from teaching into a Ministry.

            Not sure if it’s the same in the UK.

            And of course, people in the private sector do not have such a luxury. (This may be one reason why so many of our TDs are teachers.)

        2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          and they’ll have to keep on good terms to get a reference and keep up to date with their mainstream career, because many first-time MPs will lose their seat at the next GE.
          Let’s hope they read AAM’s advice!

      3. Irish Teacher.*

        Yeah, I’m thinking that about both our current taoiseach (who is…about 37) and our last taoiseach who just stepped down at the age of…44, I think. Where do you go after stepping down as premier of a country? (He just stepped down ’cause he was bored of it, I think, not because he was pushed out or anything.)

        We also had two youngish presidents – Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese (young for a president meaning in their 40s or so). Mary Robinson’s career afterwards definitely wasn’t a letdown. She went on to be UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and now in her 70s or early 80s, is working with the Elders, campaigning on things like combatting climate change. (She was also so popular that even the candidate she beat to the presidency admitted he would not have been as good a president as she was.)

        I do wonder how it feels for Mary McAleese though. After leaving office, she went to study canon law in Rome and I think she is now lecturing in the UK (it does amuse me to imagine her CV including “President of Ireland from 1997 to 2011,” though in reality, I very much doubt she is applying for jobs with a conventional CV).

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I imagine that the incumbent MP that the new 22-year-old MP beat felt even older – because the incumbent had been an MP for longer than the 22-year-old has been alive!

  49. fhqwhgads*

    Anyone have experience with home reno projects on cathedral ceilings?
    My attic is well insulated – done recently, by me – but half the house is cathedral ceilings. Based on the temperature difference I’m guessing the ceilings are either not insulated at all (code said that was OK at the time the house was built 50+ years ago) or possible just R13, which is what the attic was originally.
    I have no idea if the rafters are 4″ or 6″ or 8″. It is very unlikely to be any more. I am trying to get some more insulation in that area without ripping the ceiling off. Thinking of going the route of a sort of false second ceiling. Something like framing 2x4s over the existing ceiling and then putting R15 and then new drywall over. But then I wonder if that’s silly and if we need a new ceiling anyway might as well rip the old one down…and if there is nothing up there we could get better overall coverage using that depth too and a single ceiling instead of doing new-over-top.
    Basically I have analysis paralysis over this and am not sure if I need an insulation company or a drywall company or both or a GC. And I don’t know what questions to ask. And I feel underinformed.
    Anyone been there? Have suggestions?

    1. Everyone is different*

      If you are thinking of a second ceiling why not get up there and break through a section to see what is there. I would look for a contractor that hopefully has done this work. You’ll probably need them as you will need both someone to insulate and someone to put up the new ceiling. And that will need to be coordinated.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Part of the goal of the second ceiling approach is avoiding disturbing the existing drywall at all. I know it’s less of a big deal to punch an exploratory hole, but the heights are a PITA, and the dust is a PITA. If we need to clear out stuff/tarp over stuff to protect it anyway, might as well just decide to rip it off.

    2. MissB*

      Not a contractor, but we had an odd unfinished space on our second floor. Kind of an attic, but a second level attic room.

      Since it already had a floor and a window, we really only needed to insulate and drywall (and wire, and frame in some closets).

      Since the structure was built in the 1920s, the existing framing for the ceiling would not have provided us with the appropriate r-value. The easiest solution was to sister up the framing with a deeper board to provide the correct r-value.

      You could see if you could get the right r-value using spray foam insulation or solid panels. Those may be more expensive options but additional lumber may be just as expensive. A GC could tell you.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Yeah that’s the other option I’m considering. If it’s only 4″ or 6″ up there, then sistering for depth would be needed. But for other logistical reasons, I can’t lose more than 4 additional inches of height in the room. If there’s already R13 and we add R15 over it (second ceiling approach) we’d be close enough to R30 that I’m ok with that. I’d need 7″ of space – for 6″ of closed cell spray foam to hit R30. I’d need 11″ for 10″ of fiberglass, which is only doable if the space up there is already at least 6″. Need 9″ for 8″ of mineral wool.
        Or potentially the whole thing is prohibitively expensive to do at all in the sense of not offsetting any energy savings…although would be more comfortable. Ugh. I can’t turn off my brain.

  50. Busy Middle Manager*

    So a while ago I asked here and elsewhere, what are sites like reddit but are not reddit. The bot and paid account issue over there is completely out of control (same niche political opinion sprayed across hobby and city subs since last week, hundreds of upvotes in seconds on a mediocre comment on any given low traffic sub, no way they are real upvotes, etc.)

    last time I asked this, Discord was recommend. I just made an account….it looks like a chat room for your friends? That’s not what I am looking for. I want to be able to search “expats in London” or “golden retriever puppy owners” and discuss with people I do not know but share a niche interest. Please don’t tell me Reddit was the only site of this kind

    Is there some part of discord I am missing? Or is there another site with a similar name? Thanks for any ideas

    1. miel*

      Sometimes niche Facebook groups can be good forums for discussing niche topics. Of course, it’s a higher commitment because you have to find the group, join it, and then ask your question.

    2. Annie*

      There are quite a few sites that look and act very reddit-like out there. There’s even a subreddit called RedditAlternatives to help you find them!

      For general-interest ones, Saidit and Scored are two I’m familiar with.

    3. Unhealthy*

      If there are certain topics/hobbies you’re interested in, you can sometimes find forums for those specific things if you google around a bit.

      There’s also huge forums where you can post about many different things (so kind of like Reddit), though I’m not sure how you’d go about finding them on Google. One that I randomly came across years ago is the City-Data forum, where there are are subforums for every state in the US and other countries, and subforums for many other topics (fitness, garden, education, automotive, relationships, retirement, psychology, etc.).

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        Oh interesting, I’ve used city-data to look information up (because it’s turned up in searches) but hadn’t ever noticed the forums. Not that I need another place to spend time on the internet, but good to know it’s there.

    4. Tx_Trucker*

      Discord will do what you want. But you need to find the “right” discord server and not your personal one. Try going to disBOARD to search for a discord server you want to join. I’m sure there is a way to search within discord, but I never bother to learn how. Once you find “your” group, join it in Discord.

  51. CatMintCat*

    We arranged to adopt two kittens from a local shelter yesterday. I was surprised at the amount of paperwork to fill in and questions to answer. Last time we adopted (which admittedly was 20 years ago – those cats lived long lives) it was “You have $100? Which kitten do you want?”.

    As long as our application is approved, a black girl and tabby boy will be joining our family on Tuesday. I’m not too worried about the application – our vet is also the shelter’s vet, and they said they’d recommend us happily – “they get into your house and they live forever”.

    1. miel*

      Congratulations on your (pending) new additions to your family!

      Side note, the amount of paperwork is a topic of discussion in animal welfare circles. My impression is it’s like a pendulum that’s gone back and forth: at some point, shelters started adding tons of questions to try to make sure a home would be really good… and then lots of good people were turned off/ screened out/ intimidated by the paperwork and would probably just buy a pet from a breeder instead, so now some organizations are trying to streamline their adoption processes. What’s old is new again, perhaps.

      1. Ricotta*

        Yup, or every animal is catastrophically special needs, AKA the pissfingers dilemma. (Originally a tweet, look it up for context.)

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        Really awful that human beings can be so reactionary to specific situations, which is probably why they end up asking for a massive amount of paperwork. As a species, we have a terrible time trying to find balance.

    2. Sloanicota*

      That’s funny, I just adopted a kitty from our city shelter and was kind of stunned at the *lack* of paperwork. I think there was one question, and it was Your Address haha. Then again, our city shelter has a strong value of getting pets into the community and removing barriers, so I suppose that’s why. I have certainly looked at cats through private shelters and thought it was poor form that they require the full application (tons of pages, essays, question after question) before confirming the pet is even available, and then in my experience they rarely get back to you.

    3. Jackalope*

      I was seriously turned off a few years ago when we adopted a pair of kittens. I found a pair at a small local rescue and sent them an email asking if they were still up for adoption. They responded that they were and sent me the application form. Dear reader, it was SIX pages long, and asked SO many personal questions that had little or no connection to whether we would have been able to provide said kittens a good home. They also required multiple home visits, and I just…. I couldn’t do it. I get that if you take in human children you’re opening yourself up to that sort of thing, and I get that for young humans. But cats don’t have to learn how to participate in society, they don’t have to be trained on EVERYTHING like kids do, they’re much less likely to have past trauma than kids who can’t be with their bio parents…. It’s such a different situation.

      In the end we decided to go with the Humane Society instead. They had a 2 page application and the questions all made sense. (For example, half of page 1 was the address field, and then they asked if you were renting or owned your home and if you rented was it a place that allowed pets.) Plus they offered help if desired for the questions. One of the questions was whether you have other pets, for example, and when we said we did they offered a counseling session (twenty min or so on the spot) which we took them up on about how to integrate the new cats into the household. It was very helpful for us that first time; we just got another small kitten and this time we didn’t go for the optional counseling since we knew what to do, but I was glad they were willing to help if needed. But nothing they asked was out of line, and it was an easy process – we were in and out with all paperwork complete and our new critter(s) in an hour or so.

    4. Generic Name*

      I adopted kittens about 7 years ago. I went to one of those charities that operates in the big box pet stores. I was surprised at 2 things 1) like you all, the paperwork was a lot. They asked for (and called!) multiple references, and 2) they wouldn’t let me adopt a pair (so I went back the next weekend and got a second kitten ha ha).

  52. Down a google rabbit hole...*

    My dear friend is getting married (yay!). She previously loved drinking red wine but recently had to stop due to medical issues. She would still like to take a sip at the toast so she’s asked me to help find a Non Alcoholic red wine that is dry and lower in acidity. I’ve gone down so many google rabbit holes and am so confused. Does anyone know of a NA red wine that isn’t too sweet and tends to be less acidic? Thank you so much!!

    1. HannahS*

      Hm, I don’t drink and I find that pomegranate juice (not POM, more like from random Azerbaijani brands) tends to be quite dry, as is biodynamic grape juice. Both options are tart, though. I’ve never had wine so I can’t really compare it.

      If she wants something reminiscent of wine, avoid all the fancy sparkling juices. They are generally super sweet.

    2. Rainy*

      Look for de-alcoholized or alcohol-removed wines (I think just “non-alcoholic” are sometimes just unfermented juice, where de-alcoholized wine is filtered. You can definitely find dry de-alcoholized wines–a quick google gives me Sovi Reserve Red, Grüvi Dry Red Blend, Lautus Savvy Red.

      1. Down a google rabbit hole...*

        Oh, I didn’t know that about de-alcholized vs. non-alcoholic. Thanks! I’ll do another google rabbit hole search with my new terminology ;)

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I also have medical issues with alcohol and when I’ve tried de-alcoholised stuff, as opposed to Non Alcoholic, it gave me a crazy headache and apparently this is A Thing that happens to people with sensitivities, because the wine started life as alcohol and even after processing there’s still something left over? I would not say the headache was bad enough to avoid trying, but I’d want to try it on a day when I had very little going on iykwim.

        1. Rainy*

          To be marked non-alcoholic, the alcohol content has to be below .5% ABV. This is about the same amount of alcohol, or sometimes less, that occurs naturally in fruit juices and yeast-raised bakery products.

          If wine does it but fruit juices and yeast-raised breads and pastries don’t, it might be the tannins or some other characteristic of the wine, rather than the alcohol. Sulfites are a common headache/migraine trigger, for example.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            I think it is the sulfates, tbh, but whatever it is that affects me in alcohol doesn’t affect me in non alcoholic wines, yet it does in denatured stuff.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          This is interesting because I had a mocktail made with non-alcoholic mezcal, and my body decided I was drinking and so needed to go sit quietly in the corner and avoid people and think about a nap. Even though my tastebuds agreed that this did not contain alcohol, some chemical in the drink strongly triggered the feel of drinking for me, in a biochemical sense. (Because this isn’t fun, I drink very small amounts of wine with large feasts, and since my health got pounded these last few years usually don’t bother.)

          I like Currant Affair black currant juice, which is much drier and less sweet than regular grape juice; I would say it has a similar flavor profile to HannahS’s pomegranate juice.

    3. mreasy*

      Check out the Boisson website – they have all NA beverages and descriptions of all the wines.

  53. Relationship advice*

    I’m a 55-year-old woman who started at the gym a couple of months ago. I am fit, but I wanted to do more strength training. I’ve met some great people at the gym, including a man who I see there on a regular basis. I enjoy our conversations, which are always about the weather, the gym, and other random things, nothing too personal. We only know each other’s first name. I strongly sense that he has developed feelings for me and is slowly working his way to asking me out. The thing is, I’ve been happily married for 30 years and counting, but he wouldn’t know this because I don’t wear any of my good jewelry to the gym. I only wear my Fitbit. We’ve never talked about relationships or family, so there was never an opportunity to bring my marital status up. He would just assume I’m not married based on the lack of a ring on my finger. I think he’s a very nice person, and I’d hate to think he’s putting hope into something (us) that will never happen and missing opportunities with other women who are possible for him. Should I just tell him that I’m married even though it would be a random thing to say since we don’t talk about such things OR should I just handle it with kindness and humor if it gets to a point that he asks? I’ve thought about just wearing my wedding set one day, but that seems weird as well to all of a sudden show up with them on. What should I do?

    1. sswj*

      Can you just drop in a casual “I said to my husband the other day … ” or “My husband mentioned …” into your random conversation?

      Or maybe he’s married too and is just enjoying another human interaction.

      Personally I think I’d just wait and see, and if he does ask then answer with a friendly ‘no, but thank you’.

      1. Morning*

        If you think being married would deter him, go ahead and mention hubby casually. (I notice people, usually women, do this often with the slightest related context. It’s sunny out? My husband and I are grilling on the deck later. I’m using the weights here because the ones my husband and I have at home are not designed for me. I missed my workout yesterday because husband and I went in a day trip. Etc.)
        I wouldn’t put too much on the rings/lack of rings. I don’t know that single people or people flirting generally even notice them these days, and if they do, they might not mean “monogamous, don’t even bother.” Married people date sometimes, unmarried people sometimes wear rings. I’m not even sure what you mean by “wedding set,” I think you mean engagement and wedding ring? If so that’s overkill for the gym, the simple gold band, or a flexible substitute suitable for your workout, will suffice.
        Then if he asks, kindness (With or without humor) is definitely the way to go. Who knows maybe he will invite you to meet his wife because he senses that you two could be good friends? Good luck.

        1. Morning Reading*

          Well the site didn’t lose my whole post before I hit submi this timebut it lost part of my name.bweird

    2. Tirana*

      I wouldn’t assume anything. He might just want a friend. I suggest you carry on as usual, and just deal with it kindly and straightforwardly if it ever comes up.

      1. Unhealthy*

        Yeah, it’s hard to tell without actually being there, but I wouldn’t assume anything either. He might just be a very outgoing and extroverted people-person if they’re just talking about the weather and gym. If casually mentioning your husband to make it clear you’re married/unavailable makes you feel better, it’s totally reasonable to do that though!

    3. Workerbee*

      I mean… if he’s going to use a fitness center as a place to ask someone out, especially without knowing more than superficials and a first name, then the results are on him, including managing his own feelings.

      I doubt he’s devoted whole worried paragraphs about your feelings on the matter the way you have for his.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        If he’s ‘slowly working his way to asking [her] out’ then he’s definitely spending paragraphs worth of though on her feelings on the matter! He may or may not have let them out of his head, because men are not encouraged by our society to discuss their feelings much, but he’s definitely been thinking them.

        And if he’s developing a crush on Relationship advice (and why shouldn’t he, she sounds like a lovely person), he’s definitely DEFINITELY spending a lot of time thinking about her and her feelings and whether, maybe, she might like him back enough to get coffee with him sometimes.

        That’s not to say that his feelings aren’t his own to manage. They are, as are all of our feeling are our own. But if Relationship advice can make it a bit easier on him by simply name dropping her husband, she will have made the world the tiniest bit nicer and for a very low effort. And I think we all should the tiny nice things when they are easy.

        And to her benefit, he’s probably going to be more comfortable continuing the friendship on platonic lines if he hasn’t asked her out. And she likes talking to him.


        I also rather dislike your characterization of him as “us[ing] a fitness center as a place to ask someone out”. I know there is a trend of encouraging women to feel comfortable saying no to men they aren’t interested in, which I’m supportive of, but I’m not happy about the need to denigrate the man to do so. He’s not hitting on a near stranger, he is (possibly! he hasn’t actually done it yet) asking out an acquaintance who, in her own words, enjoys talking to him and who he sees on a regular basis. That is a totally reasonable thing to do. His acquaintance can say no without having to think less of him first.

        1. Relationship advice*

          Thank you! You get it! I would like to continue our casual friendship without it feeling awkward. I won’t go into detail, but I picked up on some signs of attraction, which caused me to start pondering what to do about it. I believe he is in his mid-sixties, a bit older with more patience and control of his emotions. He is considerate and respectful and likely doesn’t want to make me feel uncomfortable at the gym, so he’s playing the long game. I really appreciate those qualities in him. It’s why I know we could continue to be friends if this is handled correctly. I am going to look for an opportunity to mention my husband, even if it will likely be obvious as to why I’m doing it. And, yes, as others have mentioned, this could be for nothing! He could have someone great at home himself or he could just be enjoying getting to know a new person in this disconnected world (like I am).

    4. Relationship advice*

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. My husband also thinks I should just keep being myself and, if something comes up, deal with it in my usual kind and friendly way. I do not feel uncomfortable at the gym in any way, so there’s no pressure to deal with anything. I can overthink things sometimes. Posting this question and reading your responses helped. Thank you. Have a great day!

    5. Not A Manager*

      I’d just namedrop the husband. He brings up the weather, you say, “Yeah, my husband is always on the weather apps. Me, I just look out the window.” “Gardening? My husband is the gardener, I don’t do much of that myself.” It shouldn’t take more than one or two mentions to get the point across.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Even one mention should do the job! I agree this is the way and what I would do, since this is someone you genuinely like and he’s not giving any red flags; it’s a kindness to let him know you’re not available. You’re not responsible for his feelings, of course, and who knows if you’re even reading it right, but when you’re meeting people off the apps it’s hard to know what’s what sometimes and I’ve appreciated this kind of hint before.

        1. MozartBookNerd*

          1. Nicely said: “it’s a kindness to let him know you’re not available.”
          2. Also seconding or thirding how effective AND easy even a single casual mention is likely be. “Oh yes, it WAS such a beautiful weekend, but as a result, my husband overdid it in the garden and got sunburned!”
          3. Very different from an awkward “Can we talk for a moment? There’s something I’d like to clear up. Just in case, and I hate to be presumptuous. But I just thought it’d be best to be explicit: I’m married! We can still be friends right?” Augggggghhhhh what a horrible scenario.
          4. The difference between #2 and #3 is that, psychologically, the fellow at the gym will be very tuned in to the information, so there’s no need to clobber him over the head. Thank goodness. (Contrast with overbearing young coworkers in some of the non-weekend AAM letters, where being unmistakable and direct is necessary!)

    6. HannahS*

      Just as reassurance, one time I met a man, a friend of a friend, who mentioned his partner very early in the conversation. I really appreciated it! I was single, and we were both members of the same community at an age where a lot of people are trying to find partners. It was…somewhat obvious that he was doing it deliberately, but I thought it was good, and spared me any thoughts of trying to explore other possibilities.

      (He and that partner later broke up and now he’s my husband but that’s another story.)

    7. Ellis Bell*

      I remember being really paranoid about what to do with my engagement ring at the gym because I didn’t want to knock it. There is a whole industry devoted to What To Do With Your Ring. You can put it on or inside a necklace, tuck it inside a zipped wristband, or in a zipped scrunchie, or have a secret pocket in your gym towel. A way to bring it up in conversation is to mention that you fell down an Internet shopping blackhole of what to do with your ring when working out but ultimately decided it was probably best being kept at home. Lots of women don’t wear rings to the gym, so you’d also be pointing that helpful hint out to him. I don’t think it would be weird to wear your rings one day either; in fact I envy your memory. I am always bound to forget my rings when I want them, and forget to remove them when I need to. This may be why I bought the zipped wristlet for my gym bag!!

      1. Relationship advice*

        I don’t know if it’s so much my good memory as it is sticking to a routine. I come home from work, remove all my jewelry, and change into my workout clothes. I throw on my Fitbit, and off I go to the gym before the couch gets a hold of me. :)

    8. Maggie*

      Just mention your husband? Him “it’s nice out today!” You: yeah it’s great, my husband even decided to do some gardening since it cooled off outside

  54. RussianInTexas*

    Hankering down for the direct hit by the Hurricane/tropical storm Beryl. So many spring storms this year, plus derecho. A very dramatic weather year here.
    For whatever reason, when I am expecting a Weather, I must clean my house and do all my laundry, least I am caught in a power outage without all my underwear being clean.
    Does anyone have similar weird preparations?

    1. Dicey Tillerman*

      We had about 6 hours notice of our state’s shelter-in-place orders at the very beginning of covid. For whatever reason, I suddenly felt compelled to go to Target and buy a new electric toothbrush, as if I would never be able to brush my teeth again. In the same trip I ended up buying 14 bananas, but that’s a whole other story.