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The past 24 hours of questions at Ask MetaFilter



Published: Wed, 17 Jan 2018 01:58:08 GMT

Last Build Date: Wed, 17 Jan 2018 01:58:08 GMT

 



DIY saltines

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 01:58:08 GMT

I'm looking for a light, crispy saltine cracker recipe that is as close as possible to store-bought. Most cracker recipes seem too fatty/pie-crust-like or too sweet or too much like Wheat Thins, which I don't want. I want that flour-y, dry, crackly texture.

I don't want to use a food processor, mixer, or blender but I will if I have to. I don't have access to a microwave. I can convert any measurements. I'll use any material including lard or margarine if that's what it takes. If you don't have a measurement because you bake by feel, just give me a good description. I am pretty experienced as a home baker but for some reason can't find a cracker recipe I like!



Can someone explain open G tuning in layman's terms?

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 00:20:52 GMT

I'm less interested in musical theory than in practical, this-is-why explanations. Specifically, why does Keith Richards (who's #3 on my top 10 of list of guitarists to take to a desert island), and presumably other guitarists whose tuning preferences I'm unaware of, prefer open G tuning? What's the rationale for it? What does it do to, or what does it change about, the way music sounds? Thanks



Tell Me Your Favourite Job Perks

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 23:16:41 GMT

The (very) small company I work for is hiring in a competitive tech market, and I'm hoping to mine the hive mind for job perk ideas.


While we pay well and have flexible hours, we realise that throwing in with a new company can be concerning to people. In order to help improve our attractiveness as an employer, we are looking for ideas about creative and interesting "Job Perks" people have had, or heard of.

Some examples (although not super creative) of ones we already offer include:
- Monthly Cell Phone Credit
- Subsidized Insurance
- Reduced Fare Bus Passes
- Gym Membership at our onsite gym
- Two work from home days per week, with flexible hours the rest of the week

Things of that nature, but obviously less mundane.

Thanks in advance, all!



How do I port my 2009 Macbook Pro wholesale to my 2016 Macbook Pro?

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 22:36:26 GMT

I want to move EVERYTHING from my mid-2009 MBP, running Yosemite 10.10, to my new(ish) 2016 MBP running Sierra 10.12.4--soup to nuts. I've looked over previous asks which are similar, but nothing addresses my specifics. I don't even know if what I want to do is possible. Basically, I want to make the 2016 a direct clone of the 2009.

My 2009 has 8GB of RAM and a 250GB internal SSD drive that I swapped in for the old HD that the computer had come with. My new(ish) 2016 has the same amounts RAM and internal drive. I have a USB-C cable and adapters to plug it into regular USB ports. I just want the absolute simplest way to take my 2009 set-up/prefs/apps/etc and copy them to the new computer, so that I don't have to spend days downloading and setting preferences and passwords and shortcuts and putting All The Things where they should be. If I could move my old SSD into my new computer, that's what I would do - but you can't do things like that anymore with Apple products.

I've looked at Migration Assistant, but that appears to about documents and files, and not what I want.

I have kept my 2009 backed up with Time Machine to an external HD about once a month, but to be frank (and embarrassed), I don't really know much about how TM works, and it's been so long since I originally set it up, I have no idea if it's backing up everything, or just some things.

Also, I have been fucking around with my new(ish) computer since I got it this morning, half-heartedly trying to set it all up -- do I need to erase it before I move everything over?

Finally: if what I am asking is actually a bad idea, I welcome information about why it is a bad idea, and what I should do instead.

Thanks all.



Books for my mom.

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 22:12:58 GMT

Looking for recommendations for fiction books for my mom available in e-book format. She says she's willing to read most things but I know she doesn't much like Sci-Fi (or probably speculative fiction (vampires, zombies, elves) nor bodice rippers. Mysteries and westerns have been well received in the past.

Last round I gave her
Walt Longmire (good)
Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman
Cork 0'Conner
Anna Pigeon
Mrs Pollifax
Liz Sullivan



Recommend an Android podcast app that will keep shows together

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 22:10:42 GMT

BeyondPod is pretty good. But I like to manually select which episodes to add to my playlist. BeyondPod has a single playlist, so episodes from a bunch of shows all get added to the bottom of my playlist and I have to manually move the new episodes to put them next to other episodes from the same show. Is there a podcast app out there that will keep episodes from the same podcast together, or allow me to create multiple playlists so I can just create a playlist per show?



Support when your spouse has a chronic illness?

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 21:35:14 GMT

My wife was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease a little over a year ago. We've found online communities that provide her with fantastic support, but I haven't had any luck finding similar communities geared toward spouses/partners. I'm trying to find a (probably online) group of other well spouses that could provide support and community for me. Any ideas?

I would love to be able to talk to other spouses/partners who have similar experiences, especially folks who are relatively young (we're in our 30s). A lot of what I've been able to find so far has seemed targeted at couples who are substantially older and where the ill spouse is very significantly disabled. A lot of it has also had a very negative tone. Thankfully, my wife is getting great treatment and is doing well overall, but she still has regular flares where she's exhausted and has trouble thinking clearly. Even when she's feeling well, we have to be very careful about her rest and eating and activities to avoid triggering a flare. I'm hoping to find a place where I can talk about those aspects of our life and get ideas for how to handle them.

We are a queer couple so I'd want to steer clear of anywhere that would be a problem. And we're interested in having kids so I'd be particularly interested in resources for parenting when one spouse has a chronic illness.



Pulled back from a friendship and now he's asking why

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 21:12:41 GMT

I've been doing the slow fade on a friend over a couple of months for reasons I'll explain inside, and now he's wondering what happened. I don't have the emotional energy to get into a long conversation, but maybe I owe him that? I'm fine with a cordial relationship so there doesn't need to be a confrontation, but I don't want anything more than that.

I've known him for about two years. My primary reason for pulling back is that he has done and is doing some things that I consider unethical. Not on the level of harassing someone or embezzling money, or anything that affects me directly, but things that do not comport with my value system. Secondary reasons are that we have very little in common in the way of interests and life experience, in part because there is a huge age gap. There's more but the point is that we are not compatible.

He used to contact me daily, I think in part because he was lonely and I paid attention to him. I'm positive there was no romantic interest. I suspect I was his only IRL friend so I responded more than I would have otherwise. I let this go on way too long; I have a history of poor boundaries and thinking I'm obligated to please people. I've been leaving him on read but he can see I'm active on other social media so he knows I'm avoiding him. I feel weird saying "hey, you know that thing you did a year ago, it still bothers me" or "I've always had a bad feeling around you because of X and it got to be too much." But I feel I owe him something better than just ghosting.

There aren't likely to be any repercussions from breaking it off; we have a few friends in common but they are closer to me than him. I'll probably see him at social events but I wouldn't be uncivil and I highly doubt he would be either. I just want some closure to this so he's not left hanging and I can go deal with the other stresses in my life.



Helping children grieve loss of pet

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 19:59:49 GMT

Our dog passed yesterday and we are looking for advice on helping our children grieve. Complicating factor - one of our children is on the autism spectrum and has been particularly close to the dog. We expect they will act out extensively given issues regulating emotions. Suggestions or thoughts welcome on how to approach

Our ten year dog (Hansel) was a wonderful and beloved family member for nearly ten years. He passed quickly after an unexpected illness. Our children knew he was sick and they saw me carry him to the car to race to the vet - where he collapsed and passed.

We have told our children (3 and 5) so far that the dog is at the vet, and is very sick. Our 5 year old is on the spectrum and already has begun acting out because he is worried about the dog (we barely got him to school today - it was a "yip you can wear pajamas if that will get you on the bus" sort of morning). To make matters worse he recently had a school teacher pass very unexpectedly and quickly after a brief illness....and although he understands the notion of death to some extent...he has become very concerned that anyone or anything that gets sick is going to die.

Our current plan is that we delay telling our children the news till Friday this week, to allow us the weekend to help the children grieve without school, work, etc all getting in the way. The downside to that plan is that delaying the news is also heightening anxiety.

Current plan is:
1. Stick with the story that the dog is at the vet and has been very sick, and that it is ok to be worried about Hansel, we are too, but that we love him.
2. We've let his teachers know what has happened (and he is a smaller class where they are accommodating about it and he has the right support structures at school to help)
3. Working with our ABA (autism therapist) to get advice and build a plan on his response, and will have an ABA with us at home for a regular session when we break the news to the children on Friday
4. On Friday give the children the best "normal day" we can (Cheese Pizza at school for lunch etc.). Early afternoon, when our ABA will be at home with us, sit down as a family and tell the kids as directly as we can what has happened and try and help them grieve.

Totally making this plan up as we go and its probably not great......so any advice warmly taken.



What's in the box?

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 19:58:30 GMT

This vintage postcard depicts a costumed dancer from the Folies Bergère, c.1900. What is the utility of the small box attached to the front of her bodice? My attempts to Google have not turned up any clues.



Everything went off and then it went on again

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 19:55:11 GMT

A momentary power outage -- you know, the ones that last 1 second -- hit my house a couple days ago. Since then, every time my laptop wakes up, it wants to take forever to connect to wireless. It does, after about 45 seconds, but this is annoying the hell out of me. What is this about?

I am super computer-challenged, but here's what we've got:

My MacBook Air which is having the trouble.
Several iPhone 6's, not having trouble.
A PS4, not having trouble.
A MacMini, with a wired connection, not having trouble.
A MacBook Pro, not having trouble.

We have a Netgear thingy (modem? router?) -- all lights green

a TP-Link thingy (modem? router?) -- all lights doing that flashing green thing which means they're working

and a TP-Link extender halfway across the house -- all lights blue, meaning it's working

Thoughts about what I can do to fix this?



Need a new career path,

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 19:06:20 GMT

I'm a video editor in search of a new career. I have no idea what that could or should be.I graduated with a Journalism degree in 2005, found early work in small corporate and documentary video editing, and switched to the reality TV sphere in 2010. I worked my way up from night assistant to editor on a trivia game show that I loved, but it was finally cancelled at the end of 2013. I wasn't able to translate that to another editing job, so I've been back to assisting, often at night which no longer works for me. I'm coming to the end of a contract, and the stress of the semi-annual hustle for the next gig is finally getting to me. I'm not getting where I wanted to be, and I don't even know that I want to get there anymore. Actual editing contracts (vs assisting) are higher paid, but even shorter with more stress of finding the next gig, and I don't think I have it in me. I don't want to be scrambling for the next job every 9-12 months; the uncertainty puts me through the wringer. I need something else but I don't have the first idea what it could be. Maybe you've got some ideas? Here's a breakdown of my skills and interests: - As I said I went to school for journalism, and did some writing for a music magazine while in school. I can write well but never really found a voice, and the act of writing was pretty painful. I haven't written professionally in a decade or more but occasionally I'll write a short political rant on Facebook and people respond well to my style. - I minored in Law and enjoyed it a lot. I'm analytical and able to look at large quantities of information and figure out what is most important, and how it applies to a certain situation or under certain rules. I think I would enjoy a legal profession but I am not the type of person who would be comfortable arguing in court. I worry law school would be a costly mistake. - The happiest I have ever been at work is when I spent some time writing for the trivia show. My brain is full of useless knowledge and I could easily form it into snappy trivia questions. If I could make a living on trivia (in a real work environment, not hosting trivia nights) I would excel. - I am detail oriented, I will flag issues at work even if they have nothing to do with me. I want to make sure the product we are putting out is the best it can be and I will catch things that others miss or will let go. I will remember weekly tasks that my supervisors will forget. - Numerous times I have been in charge of the work of others, either managing teams of interns or co-ordinating the work of peers on large projects. I enjoy delegating and reviewing others work to make sure everything is going well. I would probably enjoy a post production co-ordinator position but I'm not sure how to make that switch, and I worry it has the same short term contract issue. - I work well with people but I am not a people person if that makes sense. I am a strong confident team member, and I can lead/supervise but I am probably not suited for something where I am the centre of attention for long periods of time, or trying to hustle sales, funding, clients etc. I have mild social anxiety that makes me inclined to avoid most outside of work functions. I have enjoyed editing because most of the time I am left alone in a quiet room. - As I said I hate the uncertainty and hustle of trying to find another gig every year. I know the job market is rough, but I want a job that is secure enough that I can spend years in a role or company and not always be aware that even if things are going well time is running out. - I am empathetic and worried about the state of the world, I would enjoy doing something where I feel I am either doing good or empowering others to do good. I'm in Toronto Canada and would prefer t[...]



Is it normal for employers to offer a low-paid one week trial period?

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 19:06:11 GMT

I had an interview for a graphic design job in another city a couple of months ago and they just offered me a paid one week trial period with a day rate of £50. This doesn't come close to covering my travel and accommodation costs. Is this kind of thing normal?

They said the trial is for my benefit because I'd be making such a big commitment by relocating, but the fact that I'm relocating makes the trial week impossible. If I do it I'll be hundreds of pounds out of pocket with no guarantee of a job at the end of it. I explained that £50 isn't enough to cover my expenses and they said that they couldn't offer more because it wouldn't be fair to the other applicants who've done trials there. I'm a little shocked that they expect people to work for a week in a very demanding job for less than minimum wage.



Excel Filter: Conditional Formatting Problem

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 17:54:30 GMT

Something is going wonky with my conditional formatting in a simple (I think) Excel sheet. I want cells in column D to turn green if their value is less than the value in the column C. No problem, except when I paste values into column B (column C is a running total working off of info in B), the conditional formatting stops working and turns cells green for awhile after it should stop.

This doesn't happen when I type the values, only when the values are pasted. However, pasting should ideally be an option. I can't find an example of this problem elsewhere online.

Screenshot of my rule
Screenshot of what is happening in my sheet

Column A is a plain value
Column B is where I add values (hopefully by pasting!)
Column C is a formula that adds the new citation count to the last to create a running total (eg, C3=C2+B3)
Column D is a formula that squares the value in column A (eg D3=POWER(A3,2)

Let me know if you need more info. Thanks for your keen eyes and Excel expertise.



How to handle my reactions to a 18yo niece while she's here on vacation?

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 16:52:03 GMT

My much missed & loved niece turned 18 & came to visit me in the USA. I hadn't seen her for 3 years & looked forward to it immensely. Unfortunately she turned into a teenager in the mean time & I have no idea how to handle it. Now her teenage antics are putting a damper on a long awaited trip to Disneyworld. How do you vacation with a teenager?My niece came to visit me. I was looking forward to it so much I cried with excitement the night before she came as I missed her very much after moving from Australia to the USA. She was warned repeatedly I live in a smallish midwestern town & that December & January is a terrible time weather wise to come & visit. That there was almost no public transport & I can't drive at night or in snowy weather (the flickering moving lights trigger ocular migraines which leave me almost blind). She insisted that none of this was a problem & came anyway. She would give us no idea of things she wanted to do insisting she'd be happy doing whatever & she'd make her own arrangements if she didn't want to do what we'd planned. So we arranged numerous activities including trips to Chicago several times. Basically she told us she was bored the whole time & hated everything & OMG we're so boring why are we so boring. Which came as a huge surprise to my husband and me as we'd spent most of the time with her all of us laughing & having fun, or so we'd thought. She then went off to NYC where low & behold she has a friend working as a Nanny in NYC. She is currently in NYC staying with her Apparently the whole visit to the USA was a ruse to to stay with this Friend in NYC. No one including her parents & Grandmother she lives with currently, know why she lied to us about staying with her friend in NYC as no one would care if she did, in fact we'd think it was great, she was under no pressure to even come & visit us. But now she was reminded by my facebook feed that my husband & I are off to Disney in a week & suddenly she wants to come with us (we offered to take her way back when she was planning the trip but never heard from her about it). We're sort of happy to take her, my brain says this is just a stage, you have to fight to keep connections with teenagers as they go through this weird friends over family stage. Trouble is I just can't figure out how to do it without resenting her OMG you're all so boring but the second you do a thing I want to do I love you again behavior. I'm resentful and angry that she's complaining about the boredom of her visit here when we put out selves out a lot financially & physically to try & give her a good time & not even a thank you. I'm worried whiny eye rolling teenager & dramatic sighs are going to take from my very dorky geeking out when I'm at DisneyWorld. Throw into that the silly pointless lying and I'm at a loss. We'll be sharing a 2 room apartment & she has her own ticket so we were just going to go here you go have fun, but yet again she was all I don't know how to fastpass/book meals can you plan everything for me & tell me what to do when I'm there but then I'm going to complain because you booked Asian food (which we love & she hates) twice in a week in a park full of other food options she's free to buy and why did you book me on Haunted House that's a kids ride etc (seriously I should disown her just for that comment *joke*). Sample conversation. I want to go to Universal (OK go) but it costs so much(Well we aren't going there but we're happy to drop you off when we go to see the manatees) so you won't pay for me to go? (no) oh then I don't want to [...]



What is a perm and will it work for me?

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 16:12:11 GMT

I am very bad at hair and have no idea what I'm doing. I'd like my normal every day hair to look something like #1 or #6 or #12 in this list I've been told that's alot of wand work but I prefer to sleep in the mornings. Would a perm work for me?

Background: I have straight hair that's a couple of inches above shoulder length. I would say medium thickness. Never been dyed or permed before, so currently very healthy. My hair does obey very well and I've never needed to use products when I style my hair at home (when I used to do that more often).

As said above, I am very bad at hair. I have no idea how to get the look above with a wand/straightener. I have no idea what products to use to achieve that look. I've been told it's a lot of work to get the messy bob look, and I would rather sleep than get up an hour earlier to do my hair (current routine is just to wash and blow-dry).

I've heard that perms these days don't look as bad as they did a long time ago. I have no idea what kind of hair care comes with a perm. If I was able to get a perm that achieved this effect, how much work would go into styling it every day? (Or is there a secret to get this look without all that work?)

Ugh, why does it take so much work to get my hair look look messy?



Power my old clock

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 16:09:53 GMT

How can I get this old GE clock working with a battery? It obviously used to use a wall plug, but the wire has been cut off. I tried attaching it to a single AA holder, but it didn't work. Images here: https://imgur.com/a/IjZuB. Thanks!



ISO therapist recommendations in Triangle, NC

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 15:55:49 GMT

New location, same concerns for the kid in this question.

Little Darling is now in grad school at Chapel Hill and still struggling with anxiety and self-doubt and occasional catastrophic thinking. She knows therapy would be helpful but is nervous about the process of identifying and reaching out to prospective providers, so she asked me for help.

I'm working my way through the Psychology Today database from the earlier thread but would appreciate any personal recommendations either here or by MeMail. We have BCBS but would absolutely consider someone out of network if it will get her help more quickly. Thanks, MeFriends.



Why did the CPI for medical care in PA / NJ / DE / MD in 2017 stay flat?

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 15:52:26 GMT

In looking at the 2017 annual stats from the Labor dept for medical care CPI, I noticed something rather odd. Unlike every other region in the US, and unlike the total overall CPI trend for the region itself, the medical care CPI for PA / NJ / DE / MD was almost flat in 2017 - 0.4%. This is a strange outlier.

I am wondering if you might have any insights as to why the CPI for medical care in this specific region was so different from everywhere else in the country, and so different from the overall CPI for all items in the region. It looks like an external force of some kind is affecting the numbers, and now I'm so curious that I have to know!

The data tool I am using is located here.

All urban consumers, not seasonally adjusted, medical care, by region, with annual trend and % change included.



What should I read/do to prepare for becoming a dog owner?

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 15:46:30 GMT

I've wanted a dog for some time now, and I have decided that I'm going to aim to adopt one this summer, after my next round of board exams is done. I've never had a dog of my own before. What books should I read in the meantime? I'm planning to adopt an adult dog, not a puppy. Is there someone I can talk to about finding the right kind of dog for me? I'm primarily looking for a dog for companionship.



What language is this and what does it say?

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 15:42:22 GMT

It's an old certificate that we found in my girlfriend's grandfather's place.

We're doing some family inventory and trying to see if we can put an intricate family history book together. We found what seems to be a signed certificate of some sort.
If anyone can tell what language it's in - or better yet.. can translate it, it would be of great help. Certificate Here.



Was an anchor of roses significant in Canadian Victorian funerals?

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 15:19:44 GMT

I've just started reading L. M. Montgomery's Emily of New Moon for the first time, which is set on Prince Edward Island in about 1890 or so but published in 1923. One detail caught my attention and it seemed significant, but I can't tell why. Emily's uncle brought a "great anchor of white roses" to place at the head of her father's coffin. Was there a significance to it being in the shape of an anchor or was this a lyrical touch by the author?

Here's the passage in question:
Her father's coffin stood in the centre of the small room which had been a bedroom. It was heaped with flowers—the Murrays had done the proper thing in that as in all else. The great anchor of white roses Uncle Wallace had brought stood up aggressively on the small table at the head.
A note for people who haven't read the book: Uncle Wallace has not been presented as a sympathetic character.

This website says that an "anchor might denote maritime connections in life" but Emily's father was a journalist before he contracted tuberculosis, with no obvious connection to the sea, other than living on an island.

It seems to me that an anchor of roses would have a special significance on an island in Victorian Canada, but I haven't been able to find a definitive answer why Uncle Wallace placed a "great anchor of roses" so prominently by the coffin of Emily's father. Considering how the character is presented so far it feels like some Victorian insult delivered in floral form. Can someone more knowledgeable in the funeral customs of Victorian Prince Edward Island figure out the meaning of it? Or say that this is simply a lyrical description by Montgomery?



How to handle friends who troll without flying off the handle?

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 14:58:56 GMT

it seems like the vast majority of my friends enjoy argument-by-trolling and I have a really hard time engaging intellectually without getting actively angry/resentful about flippant responses and/or bad-faith readings. thoughts on how I handle this internally? context inside.obviously this is something we all have to deal with on the internet everywhere because it's 2018 and everything is terrible, but I have two ongoing group email chains with two different groups of friends, and in both cases (it's worse with one of them) any conversations/disagreements tend to very quickly escalate into trolling and shit-talking. my friends don't intend this as serious insult/attack; it's just one of their forms of friendly/fun interaction, in conversations in which they don't have a lot of stakes. I don't necessarily have high stakes in the game, either, except that I care a lot of about trying to have good-faith conversations that allow for disagreement, and attempting to practice this ends up getting me laughed at/shit on in a way that makes me feel stupid at best, and actively spiteful toward my best friends at worst. some examples, varying in degree: - yesterday I threw an off-hand comment about how I think I'm no longer interested in Disney movies a la Moana because they feel (to me!) like kid's stuff. even as I tried to backpedal/explain this comment I got huge amounts of shit and was called out for "I'm not angry YOU'RE angry" responses. I became increasingly upset and exhausted by the whole thing and eventually wholesale apologized, not so much because I had nothing to say in my defense but because I had nothing to say that I didn't feel would come out as a) condescending or b) actively insulting/angry towards my closest friends. the key for my here is that their response was fashioned mostly in the form of sarcastic jokes at my expense, which made it hard to respond any way other than defensively/sarcastic-in-kind. another key is that this conversation did not really matter to me, starting as it did from a throw-away comment, but it still really got under my skin. - earlier today someone in another thread brought up the Aziz Ansari story, specifically in the context of this opinion piece about it. I'm not a fan of that piece, to keep it short and not litigate the conversation in here. this whole movement recently is also something I'm trying very hard to be sensitive and responsive to because I consider myself a feminist and as a white man who considers himself a feminist I feel like it's my obligation to practice that as consciously as possible so as to be part-of-the-solution-not-part-of-etc. the response from a couple of people was to make fun of/attack me aggressively, first for 1) being part of the "thought police" trying to censor dissent from the #metoo movement, then 2) for being a man trying to "silence" the woman who wrote the piece. the back-and-forth looked something like: I'd write a long-ish paragraph explaining my feelings, and receive a couple of one-sentence responses mocking that response. eventually I peaced out of the conversation with effectively a "fuck you, I know this is fun for you but you know it's not fun for me" and left it at that. but even having done so, it's sticking with me and dragging on my whole emotional state this morning. the latter situation happened with a group of friends who are really my wife's friends by origin; by this point I'm very close to them, but any time I get into this sort[...]



Uninterruptable Power Supplies, Interrupted

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 14:56:15 GMT

None of our UPSes are currently preventing electronics from shutting down during blackouts. They are all either brand-new or were known to work properly (nothing would shut down during a short blackout) . Their loads are all under capacity and the batteries are all good. What's happening and how can we fix this?

The UPSes have plenty of headroom for the power draw of the devices that are always-on through them. All the UPSes are APC, mostly by coincidence. Almost all the batteries are less than two years old.

We've lived at a few different addresses in the same city over the past dozen years, and have had the same power utility for all of them (Duke Energy). Previous residences were in neighborhoods 10-15 years old. Our current house and neighborhood are about 30 years old. All our neighborhoods have had buried lines.

At our current house we've had occasional power fluctuations -- sometimes a couple incidents a week, sometimes less than once every two months -- that have the impact of short blackouts. Sometimes they happen while HVAC is running, sometimes not. They don't seem to be brownouts because the power cycles fully off when they happen. For example all the electronic displays on appliances are completely dark and are reset when power restores; houselights turn off completely rather than flicker, HVAC shuts off completely, etc. The power will be out for anywhere from a couple seconds to half a minute. A full-on blackout lasting over a minute has been rare enough to make it hard to say how frequently those occur.

What might be causing this and what can we do about it, short of radically re-engineering our role in the power grid? We are planning to add solar panels but it won't happen for at least a year due to budgets. We'd like to not lose computers and hard drives to the status quo before then.

A whole-house power management unit might solve the problem but it would be an unwelcome expense unless we know for a fact it will work and can be repurposed into any eventual solar system we install. Since none of our small, discrete UPSes can cope with the fluctuations, I'm currently skeptical that a large monolithic one can.



Should I just stick to textile crafts?

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 14:18:35 GMT

I am planning a pregnancy this year, and I'm also planning several hobby projects that might not be compatible with pregnancy. I'm looking for a sanity check about the level of risk these projects carry, and if I can mitigate that risk with some precautions.

First things first: I know I'll have to decide for myself how much risk I'm willing to carry, and that the only 100% safe path may be to avoid these projects altogether. I'm hoping to gain more of an understanding of what the scientific and medical literature says about this before I take that step.

Gardening: I want to expand my vegetable garden with another raised bed and a bunch of containers. I am worried about toxoplasmosis. We have a suburban fenced-in backyard, but get squirrels, birds, the occasional fox or stray cat. Will wearing gloves (any particular kind?) and frequent hand washing be enough?

Canning/preserving: Relatedly, I want to preserve a lot of the food that I grow. I took a 2-day canning course with my local state extension, so I feel confident that I'm doing the right techniques. I use tested recipes from the Ball book, or extension websites. I guess here I'm worried about botulism and other food-borne illnesses. Would it be safer to stick to high-acid (i.e. water bath) canning and skip pressure canning? How about fermentation (I want to make sauerkraut)?

Homebrewing: I want to try out brewing some beer and cider. Obviously there's the alcohol factor, but is there any other reason I shouldn't do this? Like, is it possible to get sick from making errors or not properly santizing your equipment, or does that just make for terrible tasting beer?

The homebrewing project is the one I'd be most happy to wait on, since it will probably be more satisfying to be able to get drunk on my results instead of just having a taste. But the other two are a big part of my spring/summer free time, so it would be great to feel confident that I can do those.

I have read Expecting Better (that's where I learned about the gardening), but it has been a few years since that book came out. If there's more up to date or more specific info out there, I hope you kind Mefites can interpret it for me!



Worth it? Housing discrimination complaints w/HUD

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 08:29:07 GMT

I've been discriminated against for rental housing. I found another place and financial harms were < 1k - don't need immediate intervention. BUT, do believe discriminatory practices should be reported. If you've filed a complaint with HUD or know the process, what should I expect? Is it worth it? Medium city in the US - Midwest. Small potatoes landlord, not major rental company.



Let's play name the author!

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 08:28:49 GMT

Looking for where this idea came from. I can't remember where. My Google-fu fails me. The idea: If a primitive man (maybe Bushmen?) came across the radio in the desert, and it starts transmitting voices, they would think of it as magic. If they broke down the radio into its component parts to try to figure out how it works, it would not come even close to explaining the radio. May have something to do with reductionism (??).

I went through Simulcra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard, and the Origin of Consciousness by Julian Jaynes but it is not there.

Arthur C Clarke has a quote which has a similar flavour: " Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic".



She likes me, she likes me not

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 08:02:48 GMT

I'd like to stop thinking about whether or not a friend is romantically interested in me.

I'm not really a physical person-- I know some people don't like to be touched and I'm too awkward to ask for permission. When I was younger, I avoided physical contact with my parents (for unrelated reasons) and did not have many friends, so I'm not used to close contact. I get flustered when it happens.

A friend of mine has become sort of physically touchy (?) with me and not with other people in our friend group. Since I'm not used prolonged contact, in my head I can't help but construe it as a sign of romantic interest. But I don't think she's actually interested in me, judging from her body language.

I'd like to stop thinking about whether she's interested in me because it makes me feel bad about myself. I don't know how to describe it, but it doesn't feel "safe" to entertain such thoughts, so I end up mentally putting myself down and telling myself I'm unlovable, that there is no way she is interested in me.

(Notes: I'm on therapy and medication. The medication has improved my mood a lot, but not my self image.)

Is this a question of boundaries? If so, how do I approach that conversation? Other than this issue, I don't mind being touched, and it feels nice. Is there a good way of mentally framing this situation so I'm not bothered? Or is this a problem for therapy? I would like to throw this whole issue under a bridge.



What if I don't want to travel the world anymore?

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 07:10:48 GMT

At a juncture in my career where I should probably be looking at spending some more time abroad for the sake of professional advancement. However, the instability from traveling so much for my job in recent years is kind of sucking away most enthusiasm for this concept. Did you face a similar choice and choose to stay put? How did that go?I am in a job where I do international trips usually of 2-3 weeks every few months, though have done longer trips in the past year as well. Previous to that, I lived abroad for a few years at a time for school and for work - probably altogether this adds up to 4.5 years or so abroad in the past 10-12 years. I initially pursued this line of work and study because it fits well with my interests and allowed me to see the world a bit. And I do really like my job and find it interesting and feel lucky to have the opportunities I've had. However, the instability is starting to get to me... of the past year I've been gone from my home base about 1/3 of the time, and am currently on an extended trip of around 4 months. I have been feeling very conflicted lately because while it seems that the next logical step in my career would be to move abroad, I just have a hard time really getting enthusiastic about this concept. I know if I were to move abroad (and I'm getting some pressure from various corners in my organization to do so or pursue that as my next step), my career would be likely to pick up a lot faster and I would gain a deeper understanding of the field that I'm in. The fact is that despite having a fair amount of experience living abroad, I only have limited experience working abroad for extended periods in my current industry/domain. However, I'm also to a point in my life where I'm tired of moving every 2 years. I've been in the same city now as a home base the past 3 years or so and I really like it/feel like it fits me well. I was finally feeling recently as if I had some friends and had found some pursuits I enjoyed in my free time that I wanted to get into more deeply. I have this feeling that there are new levels of satisfaction to be reached in the fact of establishing roots somewhere and being more part of a community, but right now it's really more of a hypothesis than anything, since I haven't stuck around anywhere for more than 2-3 years at a time since graduating university. I'm kind of introverted so I feel like it takes 1.5-2 years generally to really get settled in somewhere and start building a network of people. Let's not even get into my romantic life, but I have not found thus far that constantly leaving town is good for getting to know new people generally, and build on potential relationships of all sorts - and I feel like the same can be said for meeting new romantic interests. (I know! On principal, the vague possibility of meeting someone as a romantic partner is not the right reason to not pursue professional opportunities!) Everyone I talk to about this recently seems to encourage me to see how things evolve and not turn down a chance to go abroad again for a few years: I'm still young (ish), I should see the world, pursue all the opportunities, etc. And I have a feeling myself that if I don't pursue that possibility it could start to feel somewhat like this particular career was/is an unfinished thoug[...]



I don't like my new cat

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 05:05:05 GMT

...and the feeling seems to be mutual.A few months ago, we adopted an approximately one-year-old cat, mainly to keep our older cat company. He's been a handful from the get-go (see my earlier question about allowing him access to the outdoors that he so desperately desires). He's quite high energy and finds his way inside couches, mattresses, weird holes that we didn't even realize existed around the plumbing under the kitchen sink, etc. He's also constantly howling to go outside at all hours, including multiple times throughout the night. We play with him throughout the day including trying to coax him into high-speed chasing games with various toys. We have about four cat towers at last count and numerous high perching places in the house. I take him out twice a day on a leash for about half-hour each time, and am hoping to build a larger outdoor enclosure for him once the weather gets warmer. We ignore his bad behavior and howling to the extent that it's possible. He is neutered. The good news is that he is neutral/disinterested in our older cat, rather than aggressive. He has taken really well to harness training and seems to love his walks. He is quite adorable and his antics can be really funny, when they are not crazy-making. The bad news is that he seems to have zero affection towards either my partner or I. He was very lovey dovey in the shelter, which is why I picked him, and for about the first week after we brought him home he was a total lap cat. But now he has no interest in being petted--he will get up and walk away if you try to pet him. I have not heard him purr since that first week. He seems to view his residence in our house as much as an exercise in frustration as we do. Between us, my partner and I have had no fewer than 15 cats throughout our lives, so we know from cats. We've never had a cat who is this frankly indifferent towards us. I feel nothing about him other than an occasional flash of amusement and a lot of irritation. I've had other cats who were high-energy and demanding, but they were all also very affectionate towards me, which more than made up for their bad behavior. I feel like if new cat were to disappear from my life tomorrow I would feel nothing other than relief at not having to deal with him anymore. I don't particularly want to take him back to the shelter, which like all animal shelters was clearly overloaded. He's also been through a rough time--was abandoned at the shelter in a very distressed state before we adopted him. I also know that pets can pick up on your attitudes towards them, but I've been reserving my judgment as much as possible until recently in hopes that after he got settled in he would be more affectionate. I'd like to just let him free to roam outdoors as he pleases, except partner doesn't want him to slaughter wildlife and birds and I'd feel pretty terrible if something were to happen to him. I've had previous outdoor kitties die terrible deaths. Any tips for making myself like this little monster a bit more? [...]



we are all enough, hopefully, hypothetically

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 04:45:41 GMT

How can I feel "attractive enough" in a more reliable, stable way, other than the diminishing returns of taking selfies? Complicating factor: internalized transphobia.I've been working on putting myself out there in the dating world over the last couple of years. It's been very hard for reasons I am working through alone and with a therapist, with taking more risks in real life, etc. I've become less goal-oriented (i.e. the purpose is to find a partner) and more into the idea of accepting myself and enjoying myself more fully. If a person comes along who can add to my life, awesome!, and I want to be ready to put myself out there for a possible relationship. I'm proud of this mindset I've been working towards, and feel like I'm more or less taking care of the things I can reasonably control about my life, and accepting what I can't. So that's the positive part. The hard part is that lately I've unearthed something that's really been messing with me and causing me to stay in extra-safe-never-going-to-happen land (crushes I don't act on or are impossible, first dates with people I already know I'm not attracted to, etc.) I just have a really unstable and often negative feeling about myself for being undesirable as a trans woman. It's painful to admit, and I hate feeling this way. I also truly don't think this about others -- I have many beautiful and lovely trans folks in my life, some of whom I've developed intense feelings for, and their captivating energy is so self-evident to me. I just don't always feel the same way about myself. I've read about internalized transphobia/homophobia/etc. and I know it's a common and difficult thing that many of us grapple with in different ways. The problem for me comes up with this block of being like, how could I possibly share myself with another person (and often this fear is stronger with men), and face the vulnerability of possible rejection. I've had the surgery I wanted and needed so badly, and I feel very good about my body and energy and what I have to give as a human in this world in many ways. But it's also just this terrifying block -- really just this pure ball of fear of rejection, and a kind of inwardly-directed disgust maybe -- that I have yet to really start dealing with. The main reason I'm asking this is that, for a while, selfies served as my go-to tool of being confident in this defiant, unapologetic pretty way. They've meant a lot to me over the years. And through them, I can objectively recognize that it's possible that somebody else would find me attractive (sometimes the feeling is "wow these internet strangers find me attractive!" and other times it's "I don't know if my friends are supporting me or secretly maybe crushing on me? but I'll take it" and still other times it's "what am I even doing prioritizing physical appearances so much, as if my physical apperaance is somehow the most important part of me as a person!? we're all going to age and change and die, this isn't the most important stuff at all." So, you know, a mix of fleeting affirmation and despair!) For whatever reason, the selfie magic has dissipated and it now pretty much always makes me feel neutral or bad, which is fine -- but I still find myself reaching for them when I just want to [...]



How to follow Vacationland

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 04:12:46 GMT

I just finished reading Vacationland by John Hodgman and loved it. Looking for humorous memoirs in a similar vein to read next.

I loved Vacationland. I struggle to finish most books these days, but I could not stop reading this one.

I'm looking for other memoirs written in a similar style: funny, sincere, self-deprecating, introspective - while still being an easy, enjoyable read.

I started reading some EB White essays after finishing the book, but it's not quite scratching the same itch.



Professional Woman of Color Problems, issue #2,859

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 04:07:40 GMT

I very awkwardly admitted to my boss that I don't like one of my co-workers (I didn't say it was because he is a walking jumble of microaggressions). Nothing's come out of it since, but how impolitic was I?I'm definitely still learning the ropes of how to be a white collar professional, and I feel like I'm reminded of this everyday. This is the first solidly white collar company I've worked for, for an extended period of time, and I've only just graduated from college a few years ago. I'm trying to have better judgment in this area, so I have no idea what to make of this incident. I'm currently a part-time employee at a company while being a full-time graduate student. I've been at this company for a bit more than six months, and I'm angling to be hired full-time when I graduate this summer. It looks good - I started as an intern, they liked me enough to promote me to part-time, and they're dropping not very subtle hints of mentioning other projects I can work on once I join full-time. I really like it here, as one of the reasons why I was interested in this company was that it has great company culture. It's in a progressive industry in a progressive area. Up until a few months ago the entire executive team was all women, half of them women of color, and our CEO and COO are women. It's also a small company, with most of the perks of a small company – almost everyone has been unfailingly nice, and because of my project I've been able to work directly with the CEO. She's by far the best boss I've ever had, and I respect her immensely. The one sticking point is this co-worker – let's call him Adam. He's in the same department as me, but we have very different projects so we barely meet, and I'm glad because almost every time we've talked he's been so boorish. Either it becomes a discussion over libertarianism or he says something weirdly ignorant ("Oh, in [developing country I grew up in], they don't have table cloths, right?") I try to avoid him as much as possible, but one issue is commuting. I live far from the office, and I don't drive. He lives in the same neighborhood, and he drives, so he's offered to drive me a couple of times. He did give me a ride once, and it became an (uncomfortable, to me) hour long discussion on libertarianism. He doesn't scare me – he doesn't give off those vibes – instead, he infuriates and exhausts me. Either he says something racist that isn't racist enough for me to call out, or he tries to get me to agree with his libertarian views. Especially as a young Asian woman, I don't want to give him any ammo to think of me as weak/inferior, so I feel like I have to engage with and push back on his politics, in a measured, respectful way. I've done well in my pretense – he thinks I make some smart anti-libertarian points, and that I enjoy spirited debates about the usefulness of government after nine hours of work – but it's so draining. I don't know how much he's picked up on my do-not-talk-to-me vibes, but I hope he hasn't picked up on it. So – cut to the office holiday party last month. At dinner we end up sitting next to each other, and for two hours there's the one-two punch of a weird racist remark (in response to[...]



Getting Siri in my car

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 03:32:36 GMT

My car doesn't have a Siri button. I want a Siri button in my car. Are there any Bluetooth, wireless Siri buttons out there I'm not seeing? (I've seen this thread.) I used to have a couple (Flic, CodaWheel or something), but they no longer work. Any other ideas for facilitating easy Siri access in my car? Hey Siri doesn't work reliably, especially when music or podcasts are on. (iPhone X.)



What are your favourite marrow recipes? (The vegetable, not bone)

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 03:07:53 GMT

I went away for a week and came back to find my zucchini plant produced some pretty epic marrows. Last time this happened, I made stuffed marrow, and it lasted us for about three dinners. This time I have twice as much marrow to start with so stuffed marrow could get kind of boring. Any other recipe suggestions?

No dietary restrictions, but some recipes that aren't just a vehicle for cheese would be good, since I've been eating a ton of that lately. Also it's summer, so heavy stews, soups and so on are okay, but lighter fare is better.



Fitting In Their Suitcase Is Out

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 02:57:16 GMT

One of my dearest friends and his girlfriend are moving across the country in June. I need some coping tips.

I've known C and N for 15 years now; C and I worked together on his theater company for half that time. And he is possibly the person I trust more than anyone else on the planet, and just gets me on a level few people do. But work has always been thin for him here (he does lighting design and photography) and his girlfriend N is from the Colorado area and has been wanting to return for years. They're finally going to go there this June.

So far I've been...coping. I've been reminding myself that this really will be better for him (he has some job leads already, as opposed to barely scraping by here), and reminding myself about how infrequently we actually see each other in person anyway these days (....not much over the past couple years; they manage 3 AirBnB properties and are often away at one of those, or he is doing some craft fair with his photography). I'm also making a bit more of a conscious effort to cultivate other friendships.

But this....this is gonna be hard. Like, saying-good-bye-to-your-high-school-best-friend-who's-going-to-a-different-college hard. I've already caught myself at times - when they talk about the move, or even just mention it - I'll sort of bite my tongue and not look at them because I'm afraid I'm going to blurt out "IT SUCKS THAT YOU'RE MOVING AWAY AND LEAVING ME". And I'm afraid I'm going to be a wreck when they actually do move.

I have quietly told C that I will miss him terribly. He knows. And - to fend off any suspicions about the nature of my devotion; this isn't unrequited love for C. We did date for a few months right when we met, then broke up and started working together instead and found that was better. These days he feels so much like a brother that it literally sets off my incest taboo. N I know a little less well, but I've come to love her too, and they really are made for each other; he's been smitten by her since they first met.

I'm afraid I'm going to be a wreck when their moving day comes, and I want to be able to let them go gracefully. Help.



How do I get grandma home from Nigeria when she doesn't want help?

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 02:31:15 GMT

Entire family is worried sick about Grandma. She's been courted the last 6 months by a scammer in Nigeria. Yesterday she left in the middle of the night without telling anyone, got on a plane, and is now in Nigeria. Help us get grandma back safe.

Grandma is 77 and he is 27. They started talking 6 months ago and it's been a nightmare on the family. She's isolated herself, driven away her closest friends & family, and refuses to get help. They're "deeply in love", he's her "soul mate, the only one who cares about her", and "they'll be together forever". We get that she's lonely and we don't know what to do.

Yesterday she left in the middle of the night. She left her pets alone in the house, disconnected her utilities, and told no one. She's now in Nigeria posting pictures of herself with this 27 year old (family shots, nude shots, etc) and we don't know what to do. She has implied she would be there anywhere from one month to nine, as long as it takes to get married and get her new husband to America. The only way she is communicating with anyone is via Facebook.

We are trying to find any resources that might help. We don't want to spook him or endanger her in any way. This is a very uncomfortable situation and we're at a complete loss.



Best trimmer for pubic hair? (must be available in the UK)

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 02:10:56 GMT

I'm looking for recommendations about specific models / brands, but also types that work well (e.g. ceramic blades?) I can't seem to find trimmers specifically for pubic hair (for a woman, if it matters). I don't know if I can use head-hair clippers or a beard trimmer. (I don't want to shave using a razor, as this makes me itchy. I want to trim, but the closer the trim the better.)

I had one shaver with metal blades that seemed to start catching hairs after maybe three or four uses. I don't know if these can be replaced but I'm quite disappointed.