Open thread

Today we have an open thread all day.

Here’s one topic to get the conversation started.

Don’t Let Facebook Make You Miserable
Raw Google search data proves that we are not who we say we are on social media.

We typically share only the best aspects of our lives on social media and that can make other people feel miserable about their own lives.  For young people Instagram has been found to be the worst site for mental health, apparently “driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety”.

I’m as guilty as the the rest since most of my posts are about the happier moments of my life and I’m sometimes tempted to go too far in using photo filters.  The dull or dissatisfying aspects of life are less likely to be shared on social media.  What about you?  Do you see how kids are negatively affected by this?  Does it affect you?

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126 thoughts on “Open thread

  1. I think you have to assume that most people post the highlights only. Mostly, I love social media. I love seeing other people’s happiness. Once in a while, it’s too much and then I have to turn it off.

  2. I find that the social media posts are most hurtful to middle/high school kids when they find out a group they thought they were part of excluded them from some party, sleepover, event, etc. Most kids that age understand you can’t take a large group everywhere to everything. It stings a little when only half of the group is invited and you aren’t in that half, but it is much worse if you are the only one excluded.

    Generally, as human beings we share the good news of our lives far and wide, but the sadness (other than maybe a death) much more narrowly. For example – new job is shared far and wide, but passed over for promotion is shared narrowly. But, seeing people who are posting “great” news every day when you only have similiar things to post monthly can make you feel like they have a better life.

  3. The annual Christmas letter lives on – but you get to read a new one everyday! I don’t have facebook my kids keep my apprised of family doings and show me pictures of various family members.

  4. in the days before Instagram, kids didn’t always know if they were invited/not invited to any party, event, trip etc. Instagram, Snapchat and other social media is used by tweens and teens to post every minute of their lives so their “friends” know immediately where everyone is at any given moment. I think it leads to hurt feelings if someone knows that they were invited to something. I also find it helpful to catch some kids (and/or parents) in lies because some kids can’t resist and post a photo even when their parents tell them not to post something.

    I am on Snapchat, but I rarely use it. I can’t stand it, but DD and her friends live on there so I have an account so that I can try to understand what they are doing there all day. I do like Instagram. I like to have something other than Facebook to share a photo of a sunset etc. I also like the fact that it isn’t as easy for my friends “friends” to see what I post on Instagram vs. Facebook.

  5. I enjoy Facebook. Most of my friends are more likely to post about bad hair days, kids being bratty or funny, etc. than braggy types of posts. I have a couple friends who are such good writers and post the funniest takes on every day moments of their lives. I really only had one friend who would brag about her kid to the point of annoyance (and that seems to have tapered off – I’m guessing because her kid is now old enough to be on Facebook).

    DD (high school junior) is not into Facebook as it is something that only old, unhip people use (aka me). She is forced to use it as a number of her sports teams will use it to post information.

    She used to be on Instagram and I definitely felt like there, kids were very careful to post only the most carefully curated moments of their lives. I don’t think DD is on Instagram any more. She uses snapchat and of course texts and facetimes frequently.

  6. Lauren – I’m sure you know this but you can set your Facebook settings so only your friends see your posts (and not friends of friends). This is what I’ve done.

  7. Random question – we could use a new set of every day dishes. Our current set is about 20 years old, lots of chips, not enough of the small plates (because a couple have broken). Since it’s been 20+ years since I’ve bought dishes, I’m not sure where to go. Macys? I feel like it would be nice to see them in person before buying them.

  8. I have everyday dishes from Crate & Barrel. I’ve had them for 15 years and the quality is great for the price. Other places to see dishes are local places with wedding registries or Bed, Bath and Beyond.

  9. Seattle, if you still like that pattern, check out Replacements.com
    I’ve replaced several pieces of my grandma’s china there, and nosed around the site a little. They have a huge assortment, so if you want to replace chipped pieces, they probably can.

  10. Seattle – I got my dishes, gosh, well over 20 years ago at a Mikasa outlet. They have held up really well, surviving several moves and now kids.

  11. My friends tend to post happy events but not every minute of the day. One relative who used to post every minute has now cut way down on her posts and posts only few happy events. And it did look like her life was more exciting or more leisurely- Starbucks in the middle of the day vs. being stuck in the office trying to figure out a question. Some of my friends are single and travel to exotic destinations, Again being unconstrained by schedules makes me envious.

  12. I went through two sets of every day dishes over 25 years and each set was impossible to match. I went to plain white porcelain. I suggest you get a good quality like those sold at Williams Sonoma through their catalog for the most used pieces and fill in with cheaper pieces where ever

  13. I have heard DS sigh about the fun lives others have, as seen through social media. I pointed out to him that people generally only post the good stuff. Summer vacation has started here, so his account is flooded with beach pix right now. I don’t like it that he’s friended people he doesn’t know in person, but he pointed out that I’m on here. Busted! But more than that, he is a really private, cautious person. I can’t imagine him giving our address to anyone. He and I were both happy at the step towards socializing when he started his account late last fall.

  14. Old mom, did you try replacements.com? I’m curious if they have your unmatchable patterns.

  15. Old Mom, what about Costco? I tend to get replacement sets there. After 20 plus year of marriage, we’ve gone through four or five set. I’m not sure how we are so hard on them, but after five or six years, lots of dishes have gotten broken, gone missing, or I get tired of them.

  16. Since it’s been 20+ years since I’ve bought dishes, I’m not sure where to go. Macys?

    Crate and Barrel and/or Ikea?

  17. My kids say that snapchat is most popular with kid in their HS, in particular girls. They don’t do Snapchat but they are on all these fantasy and sorcery chatrooms, and I can’t keep track of them all. I wish they were on Snapchat, then I would have a central place to check!

    I am a little concerned right now because I discovered that DS2 has a fake Facebook identity. I have been on it, and it looks innocuous, but why? He has set himself up as a girl from Vietnam, attending a college that I know he very much aspires to. There are two friends, who both look to be fantasy chatroom people. I am annoyed because I am sure he used his school gmail account to set it up – I had asked several times how they were going to track kids doing things like that, and kept being told it wasn’t possible. Well, it is. What do you guys think – should I confront him or just watch it? He is really bad at covering his tracks.

  18. I like Facebook because I can correspond daily with old friends and relatives. Before Facebook, I often went months without communicating with my sister. Now I know what she eats every day (she is a prolific poster)

  19. Of course you can use gmail to start a different account. What were school admins thinking? Anyway, if my son was caught setting up a fake ID, even one that was poorly done, claiming to be from another country and using an address from a domestic middle school, I’m sure he’d be more careful next time. Mine’s on Steam, so he dumps his cache frequently, and occasionally wipes his hard drive and reinstalls all his programs (which is why there is no connection to my computer!) That would make it hard for me to catch him. I don’t think he has worked out full fake IDs, but I know he does pick up new handles for himself all the time. I see that as connected to some issues irl, so those are what I talk to him about (we work on them all the time anyway). That’s what I suggest you do, Mooshi. Figure out what it is about this that bothers you and talk to him about those things. If he’s trying to solve a problem by doing this, you could help him come up with other solutions, either with or without mentioning the account.

  20. He has set himself up as a girl from Vietnam, attending a college that I know he very much aspires to.

    I assume he’s trying to check out the girls that go there. I wouldn’t bring it up.

  21. I’m still loving the Corelle dinnerware I bought for casual use, and if I had to do it over I’d buy more to use for all our dining. It’s durable, light weight, stacks in less space, and it fits my (aspirational) minimal lifestyle. Now in the warmer weather I’m finding it much easier to take outside for dining on the patio. I still like my Mikasa French Countryside set, but the Corelle literally take up less than half the storage space.

  22. I hate Corelle because it is so light. I like dishes with more heft – the diner-style stuff which they have at Crate & Barrel, Sur La Table, etc. I do agree that checking it out in person is best, and I agree with the recommendations for stores so far.

    I try not to take social media too seriously. Obviously, people are more inclined to share happy things than sad or even mundane ones. The people who share a lot of the latter often come across really poorly because it’s not necessarily appropriate for the setting. (I am not talking about sharing bad news or looking for advice occasionally, or people who use social media to provide updates about a sick family member, etc. I am talking about constant vaguebooking or constant posting about major issues to a wide list of friends or daily posts about what you are making for dinner.) Personally, I really enjoy seeing pictures and updates from friends/family who are far away, and from virtual friends. I tend to ignore the rest.

    I can see how it could be really damaging for middle and high school kids though – ,making that time of life more difficult.

    Does anyone else find those Tasty videos strangely addictive? I always stop for at least a short time & watch them for some reason even if I’m not at all interested in making the recipe. Now others have gotten into the act too – there is some website that posts a lot of church cookbook condensed soup type recipes, and those are really kind of horrifying to watch. Condensed soup does not look appetizing in a short video clip (even though I am not above eating tater tot hotdish if served to me).

  23. “Mikasa French Countryside ” – A friend has that set. Yes, it is thicker somehow and takes up a lot of space. I think my set is close to Lucerne White. It may even be called something like Metropolitan Diner – plain, simple, white. That’s not the real name, but its something like that. It didn’t leap out at me on their site after a quick look.

  24. I agree with Old Mom on white dishes, with color provided by serving and accent pieces from old sets or wherever. I am of an age where I am not buying new dishes, although I do still buy green bananas (that refers to the punch line from an old joke). However, unless you use your good china fairly frequently ( by frequently I mean a few times a month to 5 nights a week) , I wouldn’t go low end for the dishes you eat from hundreds of times a year. Bed n Bath, Crate and Barrel, Macy’s, all have a good selection. My everyday china is an 80s short lived Villeroy and Boch pattern that I once bought as my good china (the accompanying everyday was from Crate and Barrel low end), and I use Dansk stainless flatware as well. Both of those are worth many times my Mom’s “good” Mikasa china set with the platinum border and her entry level silver plate flatware, neither of which can go in the dishwasher. Those sit in the buffet for that large Thanksgiving dinner I’ll get to host in my dreams, and a couple of ritual meals per year. I also have a few place settings of my post college hand painted Arabia, if I feel like a little variety once in a while.

    Replacements is very expensive, but a great resource especially to fill in one or two crucial pieces from a cherished set. I like to support the owner who took a principled stand a few years ago, so if price is not a factor in the purchase decision I’ll go there. Ebay is the way I go for most things, patience required and a quick decision when a targeted item pops up on the saved searches.

  25. Since it is open thread, I wanted to re-establish my Totebag cred by stating that we watched the Spelling Bee on ESPN last night instead of Game 1 NBA Finals (after it became clear that LfB’s Orioles were going to hammer my Red Sox). The two finalists had clearly memorized most of the foreign words in the dictionary and all of the historical roots, but the winner gave the impression that she could field an unfamiliar word. The deciding word was one that simply hadn’t made one kid’s word list, and he was completely devastated and made a very poor guess. It reminded me a bit of recent international Scrabble champions whose native language is not English. They memorized the Scrabble word list, a much smaller set. One thing that I thought was handled well was an extended feature piece during one of the breaks on the fact that Indian-American kids dominate.

  26. ssm – Bed Bath & Beyond?

    HS grad wknd for DS3. All the official festivities occur Sunday. My folks got here last night so DW is a-tizzy making sure everything is perfect, even though my mom & especially step dad are not at all like that about food, housekeeping, etc.

  27. Corelle is light, but it makes such an appealing THUNK! when a kid throws it across the room, as mine have been known to do

  28. All this talking about tableware came at a particularly opportune time for me. The stuff I use on a daily basis– both plates and utensils– I bought maybe 35 years ago for my beach house. It came from Pier One and I have loved it because it is so colorful that you simply cannot look at it without feeling happy(ier). But over the years, there has been lots of attrition. What used to be enough feed hoards of guests has dwindled to maybe Junior, me and a friend or two.

    I want to return to something whimsical and colorful. And hopefully, it will be something that Junior likes because he will probably wind up with it. When I spy something, my inclination will to buy 12 place settings, but I don’t entertain as often, so probably 8.

    Your tips on where to shop are all very helpful.

  29. Wow. Just wow. This WaPo article about a family with four generations receiving disability payments. It doesn’t seem possible for any social service program to fix this family.

    “This month, reality was a $600 electricity bill that included late payments. An additional $350 for the mortgage, $45 for water, $300 for cellphones. Then $98 for cable television, $35 for Internet service, $315 for furniture bought on credit, $35 for car insurance and $60 for life insurance.

    Kathy sat with a notepad that said “Live Like Your Life Depends On It” and did the math. Their monthly checks totaled $2,005 — $1,128 less than when the twins received benefits — and bills would consume all of it except $167. There wouldn’t be enough to whittle down her payday loans. Or to settle up with the school for her granddaughter’s cheerleading. Or to pay her lawyer for a divorce from her fourth husband.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/local/2017/06/02/generations-disabled/?utm_term=.aa25c3444c4b&wpisrc=al_alert-national&wpmk=1

  30. I assume that the people who are living their best lives don’t have time to be posting on FB all the time. I mean, if you’re truly spending all your time doing wonderful things with your loving family, why are you on FB uploading pictures of your coffee or the sunset?

    You can get dishes on Amazon too, although if you just want a decent looking set in white or a simple pattern then Costco or another big box will be easier and cheaper. The advantage of Amazon is variety. We’ve been gradually buying up more and more Spode Woodland for every day dishes because the different pictures in the middle are fun. Like the black lab one:

  31. When I was practicing law, my firm required that we do x hours of pro bono every year. I usually did SSDI or SSI appeals to fulfill my hours (which don’t require an attorney to do, but almost always get granted if an attorney is involved). It was so depressing. I have no answers to the problems that some people face. But, man, did I feel terrible for many of them. Many really had very little hope of improving circumstances.

  32. Meme – if I’m looking for something I also use Shop Goodwill. They have a lot of stuff from the 50s on.

  33. Meme, there are several companies I support for that reason.

    My dishes from my wedding were Mikasa Paradiso Garden. Not sure who or what I was/we were tryin to be with that. These days I use Grandma’s Johnson Brothers set from the 60s. It’s also not really “me”. Favorite dishes I’ve bought so far were probably the Ikea ones in Germany. For bright, colorful, “happy” dishes, go Fiestaware. They are cheery, not too terribly expensive, and widely available, so you can often find a discount. Start with a good mix of color, so if you have to add or replace some down the road, you won’t have to worry about exactly matching g the color.

  34. PTM, you might like Fiestaware since it comes in a lot of colors.

    We watched the last episode of the current season of the the Americans. Is anyone still watching, and/or up to date on all of the episodes? I was so excited this week because I spotted my childhood park/playground in the finale. I can see my former apartment building and the Hudson in the background too. They showed one of my favorite restaurants on Arthur Ave in the Bronx a few weeks ago. I found the show to be a little slow this season, but it was fun to keep looking for places that I knew since they filmed several scenes in the Bronx this season.

  35. thank you all for the suggestions on types of dishes and where to buy them – much appreciated!

  36. Also Meme, I appreciate your comment about it’s worth spending money on the dishes you use every day. DH and I do also have some china – but we never use it because we each had a set of 4 that we brought to the relationship and neither one of us wanted to switch to the other person’s set.

    This was also a good prompt for me to realize that we need to buy more silverware. Our supply of forks especially keeps decreasing (DD, DS and I all bring our lunches to school/work and I think we’ve had some losses along the way). I’ve just been putting up with the annoyance factor of running short (or we all eat dinner with salad/dessert forks) when the lightbulb suddenly went on – duh – buy a new set of silverware!

  37. HM, you’re right on track for me. I like the second recommendation a little better because it can be nuked. Thank you for being so helpful! You are on the right track. Your suggestions are very welcome and I’m going to bite on something pretty soon.

  38. I’m embarrassed (or at least more embarrassed as usual). I don’t know the what terminology. What is a set of plates called? What is a set of everyday silverware called?

    I know what “china” is. I have a 12 place setting of Wedgewood Hibiscus (I think). I think it’s been used twice in recent years, I’m sad to say. I also have my mom’s old blue willow, which I like.

    But I really do need more stuff for everyday.

  39. PTM – I am not sure that there is an actual name. Everyday dishes are often sold as a set. Like a set of 20 pieces will have 4 place settings.

    I love dishes and seeing what everyone likes.

  40. Shortly after moving into our current house, we bought our everyday dishes at a Mikasa outlet. We still use those dishes daily, but they’ve been augmented by a bunch of stuff I brought home from DW’s parents’ house. Using those dishes killed two birds with one stone.

    Were we to need to augment our everyday set, I’d check out places like Goodwill, Saver’s, and thrift shops, or consider using our good china more regularly. But with DS leaving soon, and DD following not long after, we won’t need as many dishes.

  41. Silverware is also called flatware.

    My mom had Franciscanware Desert Rose. It’s okay. I use my grandma’s Blue Willow. Mom also liked Della Robbia dishes, and had several. They’re pretty: https://www.google.com/search?q=della+robbia+ware&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiOpJTO-p_UAhUkxVQKHSu1BWQQ_AUIBygC&biw=1366&bih=638

    DH has a set of heavy stonewear in beige and off-beige. His first wife couldn’t stand it and I’m not nuts about it either. But sometimes we use it. We have two many plates.

    My grandmother also had a few very expensive china plates that she kept wrapped up. I can’t remember the brand. They’re pretty and I had them displayed on the wall for awhile.

  42. I also got all the sterling silver — from each grandma and from Mom. Naturally the sets don’t all match, but I tell myself it’s Martha Stewart chic to mix it up. It’s such a pain to polish that I rarely use it, and of course it isn’t dishwasher safe. But for a few years before she and Dad become incompetent, Mom said What the hell, and started using the real silver every day.

  43. SSM, for the silverware, a few thoughts:

    -Buy a new set (I’ve seen them at Costco) and use what’s left of your old set(s) for taking outside the house.

    -Check out Goodwill, Saver’s, etc. for stuff that can be used outside the house (no one will care if it’s an orphan or part of a set).

    -We had a similar problem, and bought sets of something like 36 forks and 36 spoons from Costco. DD especially has a history of not always bringing home dishes she takes outside the house.

  44. “I usually did SSDI or SSI appeals to fulfill my hours (which don’t require an attorney to do, but almost always get granted if an attorney is involved).”

    Did you ever feel like you were an enabler by doing that?

  45. Finn – an enabler of what? People not working? Not really. I mostly just felt sadness for the crappy lot in life that some people are dealt. But as with many jobs in the legal profession, it isn’t always clear whether you are helping the good guys or bad guys because things are usually more complicated than that.

  46. I like the look of mix and match place settings. We augment our white pieces with old fine China pieces sometimes when entertaining a large group.

    I was almost run over by a driver in a snazzy silver car just now as I was crossing at a stop sign. I noticed the red things in the wheels so I knew what make of car it was. I congratulated myself for learning that here. ;)

  47. ssm- we started running out of spoons because I think they walked away from the kitchen. I looked around for new flatware, but it turns out I really, really like the stainless we picked when we got married. I ended up ordering a bunch of spoons (I bought extra, not just replaced the lost ones) in our original pattern from replacements.com and I was unexplainably satisfied when they arrived. They were kind of expensive but so worth it!

    We have Fiesta for our everyday dishes, and I like the look and the colors – many, many colors, and I did the square-ish plates that I think are a bit more modern. One word of caution, they are heavy. I love melamine and eat on it when I’m by myself. I don’t think it’s really acceptable as everyday dishes, unfortunately.

  48. Here is my everyday pattern. The color was too specific and it didn’t sell well, so I got it on clearance.

    Here is my just out of college set. I really love it, but DH doesn’t.

  49. PTM – my time in a major department store’s Home Department taught me the term “every day dishes” for sets of plates, and “flatware” for non-silverware (though folks use silverware for every knife spoon and fork around, even when it’s not silver).

    We need new dishes, and have gone back to our original Pfaltzgraf (some pieces are 20 years old). That sh!t is heavy. But we are steadily breaking those bowls and plates. DH just broke the BEST pasta serving bowl I ever had… I was very sad. We just killed off my mom’s 40 year old Iron stone (stoneware). The plates started to disintegrate.

    I feel bad that I haven’t participated more lately… I’m swamped at work and home. I miss everyone! Wah!

    DS2 is being baptized this weekend. I have no idea where these last 4 months have gone. And he’s huge compared to his bro at the same age. I keep trying on our family christening gown to make sure it fits. I’m equally as worried about his after-party outfit. The worse is the baby goes in his diaper and a onesie. I’ll be *that* parent.

  50. Our everyday dishes are so chipped. Y’all are inspiring me to rise above that and replace them. I do use a set of china from my parents’ home pretty much every day in the fall, since the pattern lends itself to that season. But it never occurred to me just to look for fun dishes on amazon. I may head down that rabbit hole and never return!

    MM, is your son convincing as a Vietnamese female college student? None of my boys could have ever pulled that off. Youngest DS, who is now a senior (!) and his friends don’t bother with facebook.

  51. Since it is an open thread today I wanted to ask for advice from the group. My 17 year old relative is in rehab due to a mix of alcohol, marijuana and Xanax. He is a smart, popular boy who seems to have moved from just alcohol to adding in the other 2 things to get the buzz/high he needed. I believe it was a pretty new addiction – maybe moving from casual, occasional use to more frequent necessary use pretty quickly. He got scared and asked his mom for help, and she checked him into a facility. I believe the physical addiction was conquered pretty quickly since it was so recent, but of course the issue is going forward.

    His family are big social drinkers and he has been allowed to have a drink with them at parties/dinners for several years. On a family vacation last summer (at 16) he was pretty much drinking as if he was 21 with his parents’ permission.

    One question is what do you think his parents should do regarding alcohol when he comes home? If it was my child I would remove everything from the house, not just to remove the temptation but to show that alcohol is not necessary to live your life and have a good time. I am sure they will get advice from the counselors, but when his mom asks me for advice I want to be prepared. I don’t think she wants to do that – she and his dad would really struggle to not drink at home.

    Also, he has not had meaningful after school activities for the last year and a half. He is an athletic kid who started playing football in hs but wasn’t big enough to play after freshman year. He switched schools from a big football school to a private school where he could have played – but ended up not joining the team. There was talk about his trying out for the golf team, but it never happened. His drinking and drug use may have contributed to not wanting to join a team, I’m not sure.

    He isn’t in clubs and doesn’t have a job, and he is very social – always wants to go along with the gang. His friends and his popularity are everything – and maybe that stressed him out too much. He has an older sibling who is close to being a genius and kind of nerdy (parents never had to worry), and perhaps he felt inferior to her.

    So, any advice on how he and his parents can navigate his senior year in hs and college? I believe he has been told that he can’t/shouldn’t drink until he is 21 so that his brain has a chance to recover and not get hooked again. Sorry for the long rambling story!

  52. One of our ‘special’ patterns is Siena majolica, known in our household as the pissed off deer pattern.

    We have a cake stand, dessert plates, and coffee pot. It would be nice to have a full set but we don’t have the space, and it’s pretty expensive also. So it comes out for birthdays.

  53. Temporary Anon, his family isn’t going to like this, but they need to keep alcohol out of the house. It’s the only humane option.

    Golf sounds good, but it’s kind of drinky, isn’t it? Culturally, I mean? I’m sure it’s too late to join orchestra. This is a tough one. I know some people get their socializing from the 12-step groups that they join. Perhaps that would work for him.

  54. We have Portmerion Botanic Garden it is lovely and holds up well. sometimes they have it at home goods! I love the Spode Woodland. Gonna look at that.

    I love Facebook and I post all sorts of imperfect things – especially laughs at my expense like how I look like Nick Nolte after a run. I like to think it makes people laugh and lowers the bar for everyone. I’m just disappointed that my friends aren’t more interesting. Don’t wanna see your meal. Be funny, be smart, be thoughtful, be sad, be happy, be angry but don’t be boring. I do really enjoy celebrating all the little successes in life with people that I wouldn’t otherwise share that with because we aren’t THAT in touch but I’m happy to see their lives progressing nonetheless.

    On the kid with the problem, YES take away the booze until he creates a new habit and a new pathway in his brain. Yes he will have to learn how to be around booze, but give him a minute. That is very very sad. I have a friend who has a son who seems headed in the same way. Saw him the other day high as a kite, super high – middle of the day, no shame. I don’t know if he is just a jerk (he’s 19) or kind of wanting someone to call him out and help him.

  55. “Temporary Anon, his family isn’t going to like this, but they need to keep alcohol out of the house. It’s the only humane option.”

    I totally agree. We are the types that always, always have wine & beer in the house, but I would get rid of it cold turkey in an instant in that situation. It may not be forever – but at least for my kid’s senior year!

    A friend has struggled with this & since her brother (adult) got out of rehab, all their family parties are dry. She said it is mildly annoying at times (and she is not a huge drinker), but everyone was on board to help him through. There will be plenty of temptation everywhere else.

    On the other topic – we are looking for flatware and having a hell of a time finding something we like. It all feels so flimsy. I want something with heft in the hand. I found one set at Macy’s that was okay, but of course it was out of stock. Macy’s is really a terrible store. (I tried all the other usual suspects though. Except Bloomie’s home store and the restaurant supply warehouse.)

  56. Temporary Anon, I wish I had advice for you. You have my sympathy, for what that’s worth. And I agree with RMS and Moxie that keeping the alcohol out of the house seems safest so he’s not around that temptation. The occasional parental drink at a restaurant or dinner party seems like it would be ok, though.

    Back on the plates topic, I realized I need to post on what may be the best current dish pattern out there: Calamityware. We already had a lot of blue willow dishes, and Calamityware makes a fabulous addition. Look closely at the scene depicted:

    There are also pirates, alien invasion, and other fine calamities you can get. In fact I just saw on their website that they’re now up to 12 of them.

  57. “I am sure they will get advice from the counselors, but when his mom asks me for advice I want to be prepared. I don’t think she wants to do that – she and his dad would really struggle to not drink at home.”

    I guess that I would start with that point — assuming that she asks for your advice, which might not happen. But if she does, consider asking her whether removing alcohol would be a hardship for the adults, and then let her think about the ramifications of her answer.

    (I’m not convinced that this is the right thing to do, considering that the kid is almost a legal adult and will have plenty of opportunities at social events to drink if he is so inclined, not to mention that in a year he may well be off to college and then all bets are off.)

    The more difficult challenge will be finding something outside academics to engage him during his senior year. It’s too bad that an athletic kid isn’t doing a sport, but maybe that ship has sailed. Too much free time is a bad thing for most teenage boys, but for this one it could have disastrous consequences. Perhaps he needs a job, even if he doesn’t need the money.

  58. I agree on the no alcohol in the house. Or, if it’s there, it needs to be locked up (just like the prescription medication surely should be in that house). I don’t want to quite drinking in my home and I would be really resistant to anyone who suggested it. However, I don’t think there is any choice.

    There is truth to the addict’s adage – New places, new faces. Quitting an addiction means quitting the situation that caused the addiction. If the 17 year old is graduating this year, they should seriously consider other school options (including home school or online). I’m impressed that a 17 year old was able to get addicted to Xanax. I see very few people with serious benzo (Xanax, valium, Ativan, et al) addictions these days. It’s hard to come by. The kid has good connections. That should probably be disrupted.

  59. Perhaps he needs to start a sport that is okay to start as an adult – martial arts, crossfit, yoga, community softball, etc. Some people need to substitute one addiction for another. I think those are the people who are helped most by 12 step programs.

  60. Mémé, I second DD’s recommendation to check for a refurbished Canon. That’s what I ended up buying for DD, not long after a good experience buying a refurbished Canon camcorder.

    The Canon DSLR came directly from the Canon website. The camcorder was purchased from BH Camera, who also has refurbished Nikons. In both cases, had we not known they were refurbished, we would’ve thought they were new, and we’ve had no problems with either.

    The best deal we thought we found was from BH for a refurbished Nikon one model earlier than the current model, but they were out of stock. The camcorder I got from BH was a good deal on the previous model.

  61. @SSM – Ikea has high quality flatware that you can buy of single items. I buy 6-packs of dessert spoons all the time. They mostly don’t get lost when they go with school lunches, but I don’t get too sad when they do.

  62. I find that the social media posts are most hurtful to middle/high school kids when they find out a group they thought they were part of excluded them from some party, sleepover, event, etc.

    Or when all the school mommies that you thought were your friends at drop-off go coffee-ing and drinking without you. I thought they were my friends. :(

  63. Temp Anon, I would suggest:

    -It seems that drug/alcohol abuse often is connected with self-medicating. The kid’s parents should see if that’s the case, and try to address whatever was being medicated.

    -It’s late in the game, but not necessarily too late for the kid’s parents to try to find him a better peer group.

    -IMO, it’s really important for him to find some sort of passion and direction during his senior year so he has some direction for college. If not, it might be best for him to attend a local college/CC/JUCO and live at home until he does find some direction and matures.

    “Perhaps he needs a job, even if he doesn’t need the money.”

    That could be one way to provide some separation from his current peer group, which may be part of his problem. But it’s also important to carefully vet the job situations, his job may well provide him with an alternative peer group. My nephew had a part-time job for several years, from HS through college, and while it’s been several years since he left that job behind for a FT job/career, he still hangs out with friends made at that job.

  64. Ugh….the the above post was way more pitiful that I wanted it to be. I’m really actually well adjusted and I have friends. (Just not the ones from school drop off).

  65. Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I really like the suggestion of a “grown up” sport that he can join now (and hopefully keep doing) or a job. He has been spoiled because he is a youngest child and is cute (and was charming before he became a teenager). They have a housekeeper (their former nanny) who makes his bed when she is there and does his laundry. Yikes! I think he needs to be doing his own chores and more help around the house.

    My understanding is that this program still has a lot of support once he leaves. He keeps going back in the daytime, and they have links to some sort of clean and sober teen group that goes bowling and to the movies, so hopefully he can feel like he is a part of things on the social front, even if it is with new kids.

    Two of his friends actually had a mini-intervention in the school cafeteria because they were worried about him. I think they drink but never went down the marijuana/xanax booster road. That is nice to know. I also thought that maybe he could socialize with those kids (not the ones with whom he did drugs) early in the evening or during the day, and then go home before the drinking starts. He got a ton of notes and letters from kids at school wishing him well, so maybe they will support him next year by hanging out without drinking at least some of the time. Time will tell.

  66. Parents of graduating seniors, have you started shopping for what your kids will need for next year? E.g., XL twin sheets, computers, warm clothes?

  67. Temp Anon – I am in the camp of the parents needing to lock up the meds and the liquor rather than emptying the house. It would be great if they weren’t active social drinkers, but they are. Putting the question the way Scarlett did might give them pause, but if they see themselves as wine lovers or whiskey connoisseurs they may not make the connection. It sounds like the kid took the initiative to get himself into rehab, perhaps motivated by the concerns of his actual caring peers. The professionals can handle the hard questions with the family, and perhaps steer him to writing a note to his parents asking them for an in house moratorium during his first year of recovery.

  68. I like HM’s china choices. We have white daily dish wear from Crate and Barrel. There are two sets that we are using so not all the plates or mugs are the same. In a couple of years I sort of want to start over new house, new furniture and new dishes.

  69. Temp, I agree with the others. They need to remove the alcohol from the house, at least for a while. Yes, he is going to be around it out in the world (especially when he goes to college) but they can make things easier for him while he gets used to being sober. And I agree with trying to help him find some sort of activity he can channel his energy into to distract him.

  70. Temp Anon,

    One more thing — although it’s wonderful that this boy’s friends have rallied around him, some of their parents might regard him as a “problem” kid that they would prefer their kids not hang out with. Hope that doesn’t happen, but everyone won’t have the detailed intel that his family does regarding his issues and treatment. If you live in the same community, you could help run interference for them (to the extent that you’re not violating their privacy); if not, at least you can be prepared to help your family member cope with that kind of reaction.

  71. Meme, I like the Olio lenses I’ve been using with my phone, but am curious about mirrorless cameras. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/digital-cameras/buying-guide.htm

    Moxie, that’s my relative you’re talking about!

    Temp anon, Scarlett has already hinted at it, and you may have intended us to read it in your post, but it sounds like your older relatives are taking a shortcut to solving some problem in their lives. Assuming they are missing an emotional skill, does the high schooler have a way to learn that? I have no idea how to bring that up, but don’t see how he could give up booze if he doesn’t have a different way of dong whatever he’s used it for–socializing, escaping feelings, tapping into feelings, dealing with stress, whatever. If he’s a “rising” senior, then I certainly agree with those who’ve suggested some kind of job or (unpaid) internship or research project.

  72. For outside, in the car, etc, we use Ikea Kalas. They’re supposed to be for toddlers, but they are fine for us. I wrote a review of them, which somehow went into an Australian website. Every once in a while I get an email saying how many people have found it helpful, think it’s around 700 now.

  73. The flatware is Gorham Quintette. It has a nice, heavy and well-balanced feel in your hand

  74. but if they see themselves as wine lovers or whiskey connoisseurs they may not make the connection.

    Well, wakey wakey! If you can’t live without alcohol in your house, you have a problem.

  75. Speaking of the spelling bee, DW forwarded me this email exchange from her family. For some background, FIL is extremely conservative and was a big Ben Carson backer, and is now 100% in support of Trump. SIL follows in her father’s footsteps for the most part. BIL is a strong libertarian and not nearly as conservative as the other two, and is generally sane, unlike the others.

    FIL: I just turned on the spelling bee on espn2 and I swear every one of them is an indian.

    BIL: Indian or Asian….been that way for years

    SIL: exactly – I would be more surprised if it were a caucasion from Hoboken

    FIL; there was one honkey from Oklahoma but she didn’t make the finals. All the kids were really poised, more than I would have been. Keep working on your kids, break the string of Indians.

  76. Dishes: we also reached critical mass on our wedding dishes (not china, we registered for nicer everyday stuff on the theory we’d actually use it, Royal Doulton, white middle with gorgeous dark blue rim and back with i think a subtle sort of geometric flower pattern in rose and teal). After some trial and error I ended up upgrading to Fiestaware from Kohl’s — dark blue, turquoise, and lime green, and we mix and match. With the sales and 30% off coupon, it was a freaking steal – like maybe $120 for 12 full place settings? And it seems durable as hell — think the added heft helps it stand up to the occasional hard landing. Love love love.

  77. Finn-
    Our third time playing the freshman move in game. But yes. DW ordered DS3 a comforter and sheets last week (twin XL), intending to spread the purchases out over the next 10 weeks. The computer is included in the cost of attendance so he’s chosen the model he wants — choice of 2. Clothes: he may need to refresh some stuff but he already has the basic college outfit and also whatever he needs for internship interviewing…but that won’t happen until second semester at the earliest.

    In your case, I really recommend buying as much as possible online, most especially big bulky things like pillows, blankets, towels, and picking up the stuff at the nearby Target or Bed Bath & Beyond vs shipping from your home to the mainland. Especially good if the school has a shuttle to those stores so easier to get things back to the dorm.

    Some things, like a comforter from e.g. The Company Store (1) are better / will last longer than generic Target brand (2) won’t be needed immediately — even in NE there is warm weather in late August/early Sept and (3) can be ordered for delivery shortly after he moves in. He’ll be fine for a few days if he does not have every last thing.

    I assume you (or anyone) already know / have done this but get a Visa or MC in your kid’s name on your account. Makes it so much easier for the kid to buy needed stuff (or to have fun on your dime within set limits). Also, if you can open an account at a credit union locally usually members can make withdrawals at other credit unions’ atms nationwide fee free, so that’s worth checking into. Especially in your case, if you also use a credit union it’ll make it easier to transfer money to his account at the same institution. There are also “student” accounts offered by many banks, so he could just open on at the branch on campus and you can fund it via direct deposit from your paycheck. Another way to send money painlessly is via Popmoney offered by some banks. With my bank it’s free to send to anyone for a 3 business day delivery; some banks will charge a nominal fee (B of A charges $4 IIRC).

  78. Thanks, Fred.

    DS and I have looked at credit cards, and were figuring on his getting a Discover It card. They have a card specifically targeted at students that looked good, especially since Discover looks good for checking and savings as well. Discover only has one physical branch, in Delaware, but their account holders have free access to an ATM network that has a lot of ATMs in places like CVS, which has a location right next to campus for DS.

    I think DW also ordered a Visa for DS on one of her accounts, although that would be in part because we plan for DS to drive himself and DD to summer school, and use that card when he needs to gas up the car.

    I took a look at our CU, which offers free ATM access to ATMs within a network of CU ATMs nationwide, but the nearest ATMs on their network are at least one train station away.

    I’m pretty sure our credit union will transfer money to his checking or savings account for free. I need to check if our regular bank will also do that.

  79. Mémé, keep in mind that I’m not much of a photographer, but I did go through the buying process recently with DD. I’m hoping some more knowledgeable totebaggers will also chime in.

    Do you know what kind of lens you want, or what kind of photos you plan to take? Back in my SLR days (yeah, way back before they were digital) I had a single lens, something like a 35-200 zoom. It was convenient not having to carry around extra lenses, and that lens covered most situations, but wasn’t optimal for any.

    If you do go with a refurbished Canon, I suggest you look really closely at the packages that include the body and lens(es). The marginal cost of the lenses is quite low, so unless you really know what you want, that might be a good way to start, then move on to other lenses after you have some experience with the camera and lenses and discover the shortcomings of those lenses.

    That’s where DD is now. I got her a package with two basic zoom lenses, which was a good start, but as she’s taken pictures and compared notes with her friends and some other online photo enthusiasts, she’s figured that most of her pictures are of people, and she wants a lens with a low F-stop and is willing to trade other features for that, e.g., a fixed lens as opposed to a zoom.

    Another option to consider is the used market, which is quite broad for used camera equipment. DD is thinking about trying to sell the longer zoom that came with the camera kit and look for a used lens with a low F-stop.

  80. Mémé, I suppose, based on your topic from a couple days ago, you may have already bought a camera.

  81. It’s fun hearing about and seeing everyone’s choice of dishware. I like colorful dishes but have found that over the long term white is easier and I don’t get tired of it like some colorful stuff I’ve had.

    I believe about 20-30 years ago the most commonly sold stainless flatware became continental sizes, which are larger. When I compare old flatware I bought to the newer stuff, the old dinner forks are about the size of newer continental salad forks. I’ve also noticed this with cookware. Most old pots and pans seemed to be smaller, even though they were used for preparing meals for larger families. I guess houses have become larger, too. And of course, WE have become larger . . .

  82. Finn,
    College kids don’t need much cash. DS rarely has to visit an ATM.

    Fred gave you great advice. Will just add that some dorm rooms are bigger than others, and that if you can’t get the dimensions of the room before you arrive, you might hold off on purchases of additional furniture such as futons. At our university, most students loft their beds, which gives them additional floor space but makes it very cumbersome to change sheets. Glad we did not spring for the expensive linens. And, again, this is a function of individual dorms, but two of our sons rarely used their comforters even in the winter because the rooms in their older dorms were so overheated. However, there was no A/C either in the older dorms, so the first month would have been unbearable without a fan.

    Current college DS recently commented that he actually used about half of the stuff that he brought his freshman year.

  83. “Current college DS recently commented that he actually used about half of the stuff that he brought his freshman year.”

    Our experience was similar so it seems to make sense only to buy stuff as they need it. This may be more true with boys. And he did not need cute matched towels so in hindsight I wished I had sent him with some gently used ones from home. YMMV.

  84. I recently heard that Apple Pay is actually more secure than using credit cards directly because the merchant never gets any of your credit card data. Not sure if this is true but I’ve been trying to use Apple Pay more often.

  85. “College kids don’t need much cash. DS rarely has to visit an ATM.”

    Does anyone? I probably withdraw cash, either at the ATM or when I use my debit card for a transaction, less than once/month.

    All this talk of buying stuff for college reminds me of earlier comments re how matchy-matchy roommates are at Vandy. My niece, who wants to be an engineer, is looking at that campus this summer. She’s also doing a mini UN at The Hague. She’s done a couple of those elsewhere, so I suggested she take advantage of the location to do an informational interview. They use very few engineers, so I think it could be useful for her to know specifically what kinds of engineering they hire most. My sister is adamantly opposed to the girl stepping out of line, and insists that any school with a good rep and lots of engineering majors to choose from will be sign. No reply when I asked how she thinks the daughter can choose between them.

  86. Finn – No, I haven’t bought one yet. I needed advice first. But I will probably place the order today. Never considered refurbished. Thanks guys. I also am considering mirrorless for smaller size and weight.

  87. Finn Discover has one product for students that initially rewards at 1% with quarterly bonuses I think and then matches the year’s rewards amount upon proof of a 3.0. My middle kid has it.
    As others have said, cash is mostly optional, especially with venom so they can settle up virtually with each other for their share of the keg and accompanying pizza/subs.

  88. Finn–Bed Bath and Beyond, Target and probably other places will have online lists of things to buy. He won’t need at least half of it, but it does give you ideas of stuff you might not have thought of.
    Splurge on the mattress topper.

  89. “As others have said, cash is mostly optional, especially with venom so they can settle up virtually with each other for their share of the keg and accompanying pizza/subs.”

    You obviously meant “venmo” but the auto-correct this time generated a terrific mental image.

  90. I ordered a Sony. Refurbished with two lenses, but with a better manual not power small lens than the standard one supplied new. I will report back in July in my trip report, unless i reject it immediately.

  91. Finn – on buying warm clothes, I suggest he wait a bit and get a feel for what the campus style is. Then he can head over to the mall and buy outerwear that fits in.
    I came into a dorm from overseas with just my clothes and shoes but managed in a day to buy necessities for college. I added warm clothes and other items as I went along. Now there is online delivery to the nearest store so that makes it easier.

    On Indian Americans and the Spelling Bee. My impression is that one parent is exclusively devoted to Spelling Bee training. It reminds me of families I see in things like sports or dance.
    It is an extra curricular activity that is academic in nature vs. any others that children/families choose to pursue.
    And DD, tell your FIL not to worry, some families and kids like ours are slacker, non Spelling Bee people.

  92. Meme, did you buy your camera direct from Sony, or did you buy from a company that sells refurbished cameras?

  93. Finn Sony doesn’t sell refurbished direct to consumers, AFAIK. This is an authorized conduit dealer for (according to the reviewers) factory refurbished cameras. The substitution of the higher quality non power 18 to 55 mm for the mass market power 16 to 50 mm lends credence to that assertion.

  94. Finn – a couple of days ago, I ordered DD a set from Amazon – 2 sets of XL sheets, 2 sets of towels, a comforter, a pillow and a mattress pad – for $139. I wanted to wash those ahead of time. Everything else, we will buy after we see dorm room measurements and look at the configuration of the room post bed lofting. She and her roommate will go out on their own to get a few things too – don’t expect your DS will want matching coffee mugs and twinkle lights and a throw rug that fits with a certain color scheme … ;)

  95. On dishes, I see on multiple friends’ FB feeds the same dishes I got when I got married – Lenox Poppies on Blue https://www.classicreplacements.com/images/detailed/15/DSC04332E.jpg
    I also picked up a Pfaltzgraff pattern that I liked about 10 years ago, but I don’t remember the name of it. I was surprised to see when I visited my brother (pre-marriage) in California that he had the same pattern.

    On the relative in rehab, I would absolutely get all of the alcohol out of the house. I cannot imagine putting my desire for a glass of wine ahead of the sobriety of my kid, especially since he will be out of the house in a relatively short period of time.I don’t have any particular addiction, but I have trouble resisting Munchies Mix if it’s in the house. I solve that by never buying it. If I were trying to recover from an addiction, and I was alone in the house with the substance, I don’t think it would end well for me.

  96. @SheepFarmer: Well, you have company: we are now fostering three adorable kitties and their mom. Here is one: http://i.imgur.com/en5CLUy.jpg

    DD has been asking forever if we could foster, so I told her we could sign up at the rescue a friend helps at. After months, I was assuming we were never going to be called, but they texted Friday that they had a mom and kittens coming in the next day, and boom, here we are. There is a non-zero chance we will be ending up with another cat after all of this — just too damn cute for words, and the mom is very young and sweet and has gone from terrified to desperate for affection, and of course they can never find a home for adult cats. . . .

    On the plus side, it has been far more entertaining than TV, and they will (theoretically) be gone in a couple of weeks.

  97. DD, here’s one for your inlaws. I’ve never understood “team whitey” racism–why should I care which of two kids I’ve never met wins something?–but tossing this comment in is also just bizarre. Wtf? I do not think my great-grandparents’ German origins gave me an advantage in learning that language.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2017/06/04/a-cnn-host-assumed-an-indian-american-spelling-bee-champion-could-read-sanskrit/?utm_term=.a007dd14a9dc

  98. Laura, such a sweet face! Such upright posture! That pretty kitty would never cause problems, right?

    Becky, Poppies on Blue was my sister’s pattern, before she got the Fiestaware.

  99. WCE, payscales for some professions, such as bookkeeping and teaching, went down as the gender balance shifted to mostly women. I’m beginning to think the reverse happened in computing. I know nothing of its history; how many of the early computer scientists were women?

  100. LFB,
    Very cute. Enjoy your new family member(s). Might was well keep them all!
    I have only seen our cat once since she came home from being fixed. I was leaving food out for her and her kitten, but no one has eaten the food in days. I hope that the two cats are still together and will eventually come back here. I had grown fond of both of them.

  101. SM – the anchors should have just congratulated the kid, let her pose with the trophy and moved on.

    I had a choice of taking Sanskrit or French. Took French. My teacher wanted me to take Sanskrit and the adult me wished I had. Couldn’t take both languages alas.

  102. RMS, you know that you started all this, by mentioning foster dad john’s kitten cam (The Critter Room) as a pick me up four or five years ago. LfB, I suggest that if you are going to keep one or your fosters that you keep the mama and a male kitten. Two bonded cats entertain themselves in an empty house all day. The shelter should provide the spay and neuter for all of the family. There actually aren’t nearly as many opportunities to foster kittens and puppies in the Northeast Corridor as you might imagine. The weather and predators are hard on strays or ferals, and domestic animals other than commercial breeding stock are almost all altered. Truckloads of barely weaned animals come up from the deep South – Alabama is a prime source – to New England all the time to be placed with adopters.

  103. Saac, I’m not sure there has been a clear, linear trend of women in com sci one way or the other. As Mooshi has noted, there were more women graduating in Com Sci in the ’80’s as a percentage of com sci majors than there are now. At one rural company I worked at, they trained the bright/interested typists to be computer programmers in the ’80’s when they got an IBM mainframe, because the advent of word processing meant less need for typists and they were trying to avoid laying anyone off. (Virtually all the typists were women.)

  104. RMS, you know that you started all this

    Je ne regrette rien!

  105. My son’s mother in law was a college educated graduate student wife in the 60s and had a file clerk job at Harvard Business School while her husband was in med school. When they got their first computers, the programming and data input were seen as a clerical tasks, so they rounded up some of these bright underemployed women to do it. She worked there for almost forty years and retired with a very senior position. I defer to Mooshi for explanations of how geek culture and the no holds barred culture of the internet crowded out women in the 90s and beyond, but one can see economic parallels today to the use of lower wage women in the 60s in the use of overseas or immigrant lower wage individuals for many if not most tasks that are lumped into computer jobs.

  106. “I recently heard that Apple Pay is actually more secure than using credit cards directly because the merchant never gets any of your credit card data. Not sure if this is true but I’ve been trying to use Apple Pay more often.”

    Interesting. I use it where I can, which is basically just Whole Foods and Walgreens.

    I don’t use much cash either. Farmers Market, the Italian ice stand, and vendors at ballgames. That is about it. So in the winter, I will go a month easily without using cash, but in the summer I usually take out cash once a week for the market/weekend ballgames.

  107. I am just old. I hate using a credit card for small purchases. I got in the habit of carrying a lot of cash when I was a young mother in the days when taking time to write a check or going through the long process of credit card transactions was courting disaster with several preschoolers in tow. I increased credit card use when I got a cash back card with a bonus for using it at the grocery store or gas station, but not when I am buying a cup of coffee or a small item at the hardware or drug store. OTOH, with chip cards you rarely have to convert currency while traveling in the developed world.

  108. Meme – in the home country there were two tracks for computer personnel. One was Computer Sci – Engineering which was the harder and higher level track. The other was a two year sort of coding school diploma which students did after completing their undergrad.
    The Comp Sci – Eng students usually ended up with the better jobs at tech giants.

  109. Laura – thanks for the suggestion of Fiestaware. I think DH and I are going to order some. The section of their website where you can play around with what mix of colors you want is mesmerizing. DH, DS and I all spent several hours yesterday messing around with various palettes.

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