Tuesday open thread

We have an open thread all day today.

Here’s a starter topic if you’re interested.

Duvets and Comforters, recommendations

I’m sure some totebaggers have ideas on this, particularly on “the pros and cons” of duvet covers.  Apparently many people struggle to get a comforter inside a duvet cover and to make it stay in place.  But duvet covers do seem to fit in nicely with the idea of no top sheets.

I find a down comforter inside a white duvet cover just perfect.  What do you like?

Upcoming topics:

Wednesday  —  Parenting teenagers  (S&M)
Thursday  —  It’s a small world  (Becky)
Friday  —  Hometown food favorites  (Cassandra)
Sunday —  Politics open thread


177 thoughts on “Tuesday open thread

  1. I like to was our sheets about every 7-10 days. I was them more often during allergy season. We use a top sheet with our duvet. The reason is that it IS a bit of work to get the insert in the cover, and it also is harder to wash the duvet cover since it’s bulkier than a sheet. We use hypo allergenic inserts since DD and DH seem to be allergic to so many things.

  2. I just posted. I have a new phone, but I’m not sure why it won’t keep me logged into the Totebag.

  3. Due to the “change of life”, I never know whether I’m going to sleep comfortably through the night, or wake up burning, or wake up freezing. So DH and I have switched from a single duvet to a “layered” bedding system (so that I can put on or take off layers as needed). We have a flannel top sheet and a light cotton quilt that we share, and those two layers are generally fine for DH. If I wake up hot, I’ll fold over one or both of those layers (just on my side, not DH’s) to get them off of me. If I wake up cold, I add one or both of a couple of extra individual-sized layers that I keep by the bed (another cotton quilt, and a fleece throw). Luckily DH is a deep sleeper so all of this commotion of mine doesn’t wake him up.

  4. We had a duvet cover at one point. I gave up and went back to a regular comforter. But we also use a fitted sheet, top sheet, a blanket (in the winter), and then the comforter. DH runs hot so he barely needs a top sheet, but I like to snuggle up in a ton of layers (and I like the weight), so that was our compromise.

    Question – so that leadership program I was accepted to wants us to bring a “personal artifact” to the orientation. Something we can share which tells a bit about ourselves, or has some sort of meaning. I’m at a loss for ideas. So what would you bring to the orientation? (keep in mind that you have to be able to share it and carry it with you).

  5. Ditto on the duvet covers being more trouble than they’re worth. It’s really a two-person job, and one of the necessary persons is never around when needed. A top sheet is much easier to change out.

    We have both light and heavyweight comforters, but for the first time in years it has not been cold enough here to pull out the heavy one. And I just bite the bullet and, at the end of the season, leave them out for the laundry service pickup. It costs about $35 or so for them to launder it, which is well worth not having to spend two hours feeding quarters into the grotty machines at the laundromat.

  6. Hey Rhode, I just discovered several bins of rocks saved by the rock hounds in my household. Don’t you have some rocks or shells or other artifacts that you found that perhaps helped you nourish your interest in science? (If not, I can send you a few of the smaller ones.)

  7. The trick to duvets. Put two corners in correctly. Shove the rest in the cover. . Shake a couple times aggressively. Somehow it works.

  8. It works if you start with the corners. I use the ties to hold the insert in place. The trouble I’m having now is with those new yummy, soft blankets. We have two that are throw sized and they’re easy to launder in our machine. DD just started using a queen size from Costco. She loves it and she uses it on top of her bed. It got dirty and I did try to wash it in my machine. It fits, but it must throw off the balance for the machine because all of that plush/Sherpa fleece retains a lot of water.

    It might cost me more to wash the thing at the laundromat than it did to buy the blanket.

  9. I like Rhode’s question. I’ll have to think a bit on that.

    We are duvet family all the way! I can’t even explain how happy it makes me to be curled up under a duvet on a cold winter morning. And like qqqq, drop two corners in and shake.

  10. Maybe something from an organization or volunteer event that was important to you. What about a memento of a bucket list item? Like something from travel or adventure? Or something with some history that you can’t get rid of, that moves with you from house to house and you have a memory trigger every time you rediscover it.

    I’d bring my baby’s hospital shirt or a medal from the first volunteer board I ever belonged to.

  11. They’re easy to wash but even with great tutorials online…it’s a chore to put them back on.

    I gave up after 7 years of duvets. Now we sleep with just the insert. It’s a simpler life without it.

  12. We use a cover and a top sheet. I’d be fine with just the cover but DW likes a top sheet. I don’t think it’s a big deal to get the cover on (and we have a king size) but doing all the buttons is a pain. I recall seeing a youtube video that there is an easy way to put the cover on by rolling it up together with the comforter somehow. I just get the two corners in and shake.

    Back to my previous college posts, I checked ASU’s enrollment and it’s about 50,000 at Tempe and 85,000 or something insane total on all the campuses.

  13. I will try the corners and shake method. I have tried various methods but I leave lumpiness which DH tackles.
    Inspired by Marie Kondo I have taken to folding clothes neater. DH got rid of a lot of his paperwork and cleaned out the garage over the holidays. It feels great to see clutter free rooms.

  14. “It got dirty and I did try to wash it in my machine. It fits, but it must throw off the balance for the machine because all of that plush/Sherpa fleece retains a lot of water.”

    What kind of washer do you have?

    Being able to wash things like blankets and sleeping bags is one of the features we like about our front loader.

  15. We have a down comforter in a duvet cover. At one point we used a top sheet but DH makes a mess of the bed when he sleeps, tugging the covers and sheets over to his side until they’re pooled on the floor next to him. It’s easier to make the bed with just a duvet, and making the bed every day is one of my nitpicky things.

  16. @Louise – Pretty much the only lasting take away I had from Marie Kondo was the folding. I really like folding my clothes so that they are stacked up in little rows where I can see everything when I open the drawers. It’s so much better than stacks where you have to dig through & stuff ends up lost at the bottom.

    But I am an un-sentimental purger. My problem is that I need to do it more aggressively, more often to really be satisfied.

    I love my duvet & cover, but OF COURSE still use a top sheet because there is no way I am washing that duvet cover more than once a quarter. I use the corner & shake method, but it’s still a PITA. Sheets are washed once a week, no exceptions.

    The problem with the sherpa/fleece stuff is that is clumps quickly, and when you wash it – it just accelerates the clumping. So I end up buying a new Costco sherpa throw every year. Yes, it is wasteful. I don’t care.

  17. Pretty much the only lasting take away I had from Marie Kondo was the folding.

    Mine was to learn from the clothes that don’t spark joy and try not to make the same mistake. I bought a sweater from Boden in November that I should love and I just don’t. I’ve been wearing it because it’s warm, but it definitely doesn’t spark joy. I resolved to put it in the give-away pile, but before I did, I tried it on one last time to assess why I didn’t like it. It was actually informative.

    (And if I’m perfectly honest, I knew the second I tried it on I didn’t love it and I should have put the 10 minutes of effort into returning it).

  18. Duvet:

    Turn the duvet cover inside out. Then reach in and grab the far corners. Then grab the corners of the duvet then lift and shake and the cover falls over the duvet in the process turning right side out. Then button or zip. Easy peasy.

  19. My main complaint is that sometimes, even when it’s buttoned closed, the duvet will form a tightly wound ball in the dryer with the fitted sheet, pilow cases, etc. Then, when you pull it out, the outside is dry but there is a tightly wound wet inner core.

  20. It never occurred to DW or me that you’re not supposed to use a flat sheet between yourself and the covered duvet.

  21. We also use down comforters in duvets, and the two corners and shake method.

    It’s worked well for us; I find putting the comforters (two of them) into their duvets to be no more onerous than putting on a flat sheet.

  22. Milo,

    That’s like washing the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. It defeats the whole purpose.

  23. nah, I like an extra layer of fabric between skin and the things that will never be washed. on the underside, that means there’s a fitted sheet that gets washed frequently, and a mattress cover that gets washed less frequently before you get to the mattress that never gets washed.

    Same for the sheet under the duvet.

    I’m more sensitive to this idea right now because I’ve had a horrible cold for the past few days, and have alternated between chills and night sweating the past couple of nights. Cleaning lady came today, and not a moment too soon.

  24. We use both a duvet with cover and a flat sheet. The purpose of the duvet cover in my mind is more decorative, while the top sheet is the part you wash weekly.

  25. We finally got it right for two people with very different internal thermostats and both at an age where the body doesnt adapt quite as well to temp fluctuations. House is a bit warmer than I like overall, and he still wears a fleece during the day. At night we use a top sheet, a cotton blanket and a quilted bed spread. Three different weights are available for summer (antique, not cat proof), winter (needs dry cleaning) so fall/spring usually stays on all year. It fits in the new washing machine. The bed which is a platform with memory foam on a board, looks very neat without all the poof. Our newly discovered secret is the dual control electric mattress pad. I have it on the lowest setting, he has it on 8 out of twenty. We have never slept better.

  26. “I checked ASU’s enrollment and it’s about 50,000 at Tempe and 85,000 or something insane total on all the campuses.”

    Which suggests that about 35,000 students are spread through the other campuses. If your DS is largely on one of those other campuses, it might have the feel more like a 20,000 student campus that apparently is OK with him.

  27. I like an extra layer of fabric between skin and the things that will never be washed.

    You wash the duvet cover with the fitted sheet and the pillow cases.

  28. “I love my duvet & cover, but OF COURSE still use a top sheet because there is no way I am washing that duvet cover more than once a quarter.”

    Ditto for me. I wash sheets about every two weeks.

  29. “So what would you bring to the orientation?”

    An obvious candidate would be a photo of my family.

    I like to bike, but an actual bike might be too unwieldy to bring (unless I rode to the orientation), so I might also bring in something related to biking. Perhaps a bike helmet or bike light might say not only that I like biking, but would reflect on my totebaggy concerns of safety in all endeavors.

  30. I usually wash the duvet cover when I wash the fitted sheet, about once every two or three weeks, depending on how busy I am and the weather. Pillowcases get washed weekly.

  31. Rhode, the personal artifact request annoys me and seems too cutesy. TBH I would be inclined not to play along unless I could think of something that was pretty obvious.

  32. I agree w/July @ 12:14 but I would bring my UNC coffee mug. I love coffee, I love the Heels, and I’m here to get stuff done.

  33. Also – congrats HFN if you’re reading on the Clemson win. We were pulling hard for them last night! (I think I remember you have a kid there?)

  34. Milo, that makes sense. Do you use pillow covers under your pillowcases, or wash your pillows?

    DW has a body pillow, over which we have two pillowcases. The outer case gets washed weekly; the inner case gets washed every couple months or so.

    DD’s pillows have covers under the cases because she had some allergy issues. Those covers get washed, but less frequently than the cases, which are washed weekly.

  35. Yeah, a coffee mug is a good one. Recently I’ve been using one I got the last time we were in Hawaii. Beginning in about a month I’ll use a baseball motif one.

  36. When I get stuck with that kind of “bring a personal object/tell us a secret about yourself” kind of crap, I rely on the fact that I was the Shoop Shoop hula hoop champion of my second-grade class. So I’d bring a picture of a hula hoop. I really detest that kind of assignment.

  37. “We use both a duvet with cover and a flat sheet.”

    I assume you meant a comforter with a duvet. Or a comforter with a cover.

    That makes sense to me if you keep the sheet between you and the comforter. It is easier to wash a flat sheet than duvet, but much easier IME to wash a duvet than a comforter.

  38. Lark – my trick for new “does not spark joy” clothes is to put it back in the box, attach the label and seal the box, right away. This prevents me from keeping unsuitable items.

  39. I assume you meant a comforter with a duvet. Or a comforter with a cover.

    No. I mean I use a duvet with a cover, as I said. A duvet and a comforter are 2 different things. Quit correcting everyone, it’s super annoying.

  40. An artifact can be anything and will be different for each person. Some examples may be: trophy or medals, pictures, family heirlooms, a favorite book, a favorite toy from when you were little, jewelry, clothing, sports equipment, any other object that reminds you of something important.

  41. An obvious candidate would be a photo of my family.

    To a leadership program? I wouldn’t think a family photo is a good idea at all.

  42. Rhode, if I were you, I’d take something specific to your career that is nonobvious, like the anti-corrosion anode off an ocean research buoy. Unlike FInn, I would actively avoid anything family-related, but that’s because family stuff so dominates my work conversation generally that I like to be seen in other ways.

  43. Finn,

    It is a Whirlpool 5.3 cu. ft. Cabrio. Top loader with no agitator. It fits, but the material retains A LOT of water and the machine can’t seem to calibrate when these larger Sherpa or velvet blankets are in the tub. I have no problem washing all of her other comforters, but those are different materials.

    I like the artifact idea even though it requires more work because you usually do tend to get to know the people a little better during that type of exercise.

  44. The object that Rhode brings must somehow be memorable so that others in the program quickly recall Rhode + object. Should be something unique and interesting.

  45. On the subject of coffee, I had fasting bloodwork done this morning, so had to drink my coffee black, rare for me. Forgot how delicious that can be. Also, those of you that don’t eat until lunch time…I wish I could be like that. By 8:43 I was about to eat my own arm off. Happily was done by 8:45 and ate the peanut butter sandwich in my purse before I even left the office.

  46. Rocky – I found that same page, and had the exact same reaction. I think the answer is that all of the terms can be used interchangeably. A duvet can be the cover, or it can be the comforter-like thing inside.

  47. “Rhode, if I were you, I’d take something specific to your career that is nonobvious, like the anti-corrosion anode off an ocean research buoy.”

    :) I love this. Is the leadership conference a women’s thing? It seems less likely that men would be interested in this sort of thing. I could be completely off base, of course.

  48. The duvet is the insert. Sometimes also called a duvet insert. It’s unadorned and unfinished in appearance, like a pillow. The duvet cover is the finished, decorative exterior cover, like a pillow case.

    A comforter is finished and decorative.

    I agree people use the terms interchangeably, but don’t correct the person using them correctly…

  49. “Something we can share which tells a bit about ourselves, or has some sort of meaning.”

    A family photo would seem to be consistent with this, and it was the first such thing that came to mind, with very little thinking.

    My thought process would be to identify some possible artifacts, then select one from that list. That post reflected the initial part of that process.

  50. ” By 8:43 I was about to eat my own arm off.”

    Some days are harder than others, usually depending on how much I ate for dinner and dessert the previous night. Last night my dinner was only a big bowl of chicken tortilla soup, (albeit with cheese, sour cream, and chips) so I was feeling it by late morning.

    My internist and I agreed on a goal weight of 165, and I’m steadily getting there. My blood pressure is way down, and he told me to take the pill only every other day.

  51. “the material retains A LOT of water and the machine can’t seem to calibrate when these larger Sherpa or velvet blankets are in the tub.”

    Is the problem during the spin cycle?

    All the washing machines I can remember my mom having were top-load with agitator, which didn’t work well for washing things like sleeping bags. She used to wash them in a big bucket, then would put them into the washer to spin them, taking care to balance the rotational load, and stopping the machine and rebalancing as necessary.

  52. “drink my coffee black, rare for me. Forgot how delicious that can be”

    About 15mos ago I began drinking my coffee black after 40+ years of taking cream/1/2-1/2 with it.

    I definitely taste differences between coffees now whether its dunkin/tim hortons/starbucks or the specialty (or as DW says “coffee snob”) brews I use at home, or the free-but-you-get-what-you-pay-for office stuff. With 1/2 & 1/2 I didn’t discern much difference.

  53. Finn, no. The machine gets stuck during the rinse cycle and never gets to the spin cycle. It just keeps running water until I hit the power button to turn it off. In order to get it out of the machine, I put it on a special cycle of just spin. The water was clear so I don’t think there was any soap left in the water.

  54. If you don’t use a top sheet – what do you do with them? Or do you buy bedding separates (is that a thing??). I have always purchased a sheet set – top sheet, fitted sheet, 2 pillowcases. That all goes under the comforter (or the comforter in the cover).

    Personal artifact – WCE nailed it. I don’t want to bring anything family oriented. It’s a very diverse crowd (age and gender), but I am the only scientist in the crowd (or so I’m told). So I’d rather bring something to do with that. Current contenders are a necklace I wear (it’s a wave design created out of blue and white sapphires), a wave paperweight (which was created by a glass blower in RI). Sadly most of the “cool” stuff I had stayed in the lab. While not “lab” science, I spent a large portion of my grad career on the water.

    Finn – I’m gathering suggestions at this point. Family suggested family stuff (I wear a few heirloom pieces daily – like my wedding and engagement ring), work has suggested work stuff (like a copy of our huge technical report). So I want Totebag suggestions… I may carry my possessions in a totebag… :)

  55. Lauren, sounds like you did get the blankets clean.

    I’m curious as to whether that’s a problem specific to your washer, or more generally to top loaders. I regularly wash our fleece blankets in our front loader with no problems.

  56. “If you don’t use a top sheet – what do you do with them?”

    Ours are taking up space in a drawer (our house doesn’t have a linen closet).

    My mom would sometimes buy sheet sets and use the flat sheets to make pillowcases and, yes, comforter/duvet covers.

  57. what do you do with them?”

    We use them to line the “way back” of the car to deal with our sometimes carsick dog. We call it the puke sheet.

  58. ” Then grab the corners of the duvet then lift and shake and the cover falls over the duvet in the process turning right side out.”

    @Rhett – I bet this works better if you are >6 ft tall. :)

  59. In other open-thread news: Last winter, we had a discussion about hand creams. I have terribly, abnormally, dry hands in the winter, and I have tried countless creams with very limited success. But I very recently found one that is working better than the others for me: Eucerin “Advanced Repair Light Feel Hand Cream.” I tried it because it got the Good Housekeeping seal of approval (yes, I read Good Housekeeping). It’s not perfect — my hands are still dry. But at least they’re normal-dry, and not cracked-bleeding-raw-disgusting dry. Just wanted to share the recommendation in case anyone else is suffering from super dry hands.

  60. “The purpose of the duvet cover in my mind is more decorative, while the top sheet is the part you wash weekly.”

    Yes, exactly.

  61. “I bet this works better if you are >6 ft tall. :)”

    I just stand on the bed while I shake it.

  62. Finn – not yet. Though it’s on the docket as an avenue for us to start exploring and supporting. I know it’s a huge problem in HI. I also believe some of our sister programs in the Gulf of Mexico area are dealing with it too.

  63. You can get ones with zippers.

    Yes, but for the frequency I need to do the buttons it’s not worth buying a new one just for that.

  64. Rhode, the reason I asked is that a totebag or a water bottle could be artifacts that represent your lifestyle choices to reduce plastic use and thus reduce plastic pollution.

  65. “Also – congrats HFN if you’re reading on the Clemson win. ”
    Thanks, Lark! It was a fun evening and DS3 reports that the on campus shenanigans were very fun! I would say it is a one time thing he was lucky to experience, but goodness gracious, those freshmen! Could happen again while he’s there.

  66. Finn – that’s actually a good point. Thanks to my job I have made modifications in my daily life to reduce my footprint. I still drive large vehicles and I have 2 kids (one still in disposable diapers), but I do my best to not use single-use items if I can avoid it.

  67. so had to drink my coffee black, rare for me. Forgot how delicious that can be.

    I will never understand how anyone can like black coffee. It’s bad enough with a ton of cream and sugar and whatever else to flavor it up. I don’t know how anyone can drink it black.

  68. DD – I was right with you for decades. I would drink it black when there wasn’t any real (dairy) half/half, cream, whole milk around, but not gladly. I think there is something to taste buds changing as one ages. It seems like mine have…I am much more liking of salty snacks vs sweet/chocolate snacks in the past couple of years.

  69. Black? My goal is to ride off into the sunset having long since switched from half and half to Bailey’s.

  70. I do Rhett’s method exactly. And I am nowhere near 6 feet. I thought everybody did it that way. The European brand duvets that I have have holes in the top two corners so you can tug the inner corners nicely into place. Or reach in and get them if they move out of place.

    I was taught the duvet is the thing on the outside and comforter is on the inside. I am annoyed every time I have to say duvet cover.

    Life-changing bed stuff for us this year: I bought European twin duvet and European twin inserts. These are much thinner than American twin products. The American ones are meant to droop over the edges of a twin bed. The European ones are meant to fit exactly on top of the bed, so two of them fit exactly on our King. We have two separate duvets, with a bedspread over the top. It’s perfect. I try to do this with American ones, but they both fall off the edge when you try to give each person their own.

  71. “I don’t know how anyone can drink it black.”

    I drink coffee when I need caffeine. E.g., if I need to pick up DD after school and I know I’m tired, I’ll have a cup in the afternoon to make sure I don’t get sleepy while driving.

    For health reasons, I’m trying to limit my sugar intake, and I don’t have a good way to keep milk or cream on hand at my desk, so I’ll just make a cup of black instant coffee on those occasions and force myself to drink it.

    When I need caffeine and have access to milk, I’ll mix them about 50-50.

  72. “For health reasons, I’m trying to limit my sugar intake”

    For a Starbucks iced mocha, I ask them to use 1/3 of the syrup that they normally use. Typically, I buy these to split with DW, so I get the venti. Corporate instructions specify six pumps of chocolate syrup for this particular beverage, so it becomes a “venti two-pump iced mocha.”

    At McDonald’s, there is no reliable and consistent way to order very lightly sweetened iced latte drinks, so I simply order black coffee poured over ice, with two creams and one sugar packet on the side.

  73. “I’ve had a horrible cold for the past few days”

    I hope you feel better soon. The PA at the CVS clinic today (finally got my flu shot) was wearing a surgical mask because she is recovering from a cold and wanted to protect her patients. Do you all ever wear a mask, either to protect yourself or others? I’m really tempted to wear one on an upcoming flight, but I hate to attract attention to myself. I rarely see people wearing them, on planes or on mass transit. I know it’s more common in some Asian countries.

  74. Finn i have a new top loader Cabrio that has an automatic fill sensor with no override. They work on weight. sometimes with very absorbent material the sensor over or under estimates how much water is required. My issue this week was too little water fir a very full load that included one of those items. So i double rinsed. Setting it to bulky items and running a less than full load can help But a king sized plush blanket can be too much to handle without a workaround.

  75. “Do you all ever wear a mask, either to protect yourself or others?”


    I started doing this in my previous job, when masks were commonly worn when working with wafers to protect the wafers; I’d also wear them outside of those areas when I had a cold.

    I also wear them when flying. Protecting myself from others’ colds is one reason, but I also find that it helps limit the drying of my throat and sinuses

  76. I forced myself to wear a red cable knit sweater today that is not sparking any joy. I wore it at Christmas for the color, and did not feel good in it then. I wear it about once a year. Today I realized one reason I don’t like it. The cable pattern on my tummy protrudes a little and make me look like I am carrying around extra fat. I’ve kept it mainly because it’s one of the few red items I own, but I think it’s time to give it away. I have lots of other clothes that are similarly taking up space in my closet that need to be donated so other people can get joy from them.

  77. Today I took DD#1 to the airport. She is on her way back to college, where classes start this Thursday. She had roughly 16 days off, the shortest of any of her HS friends, who all had 20-30 days. She had a small group over last Friday and they all agreed they were ready to go back. They thought a longer break would be nice, but after they did all the things on the MUST DO list (including a lot of sleeping), they were getting bored and/or missing their new freedoms/routines.

    I enjoyed having her home. She will be back for Spring Break, and then gets out May 4. Hopefully, she will have a job lined up for summer by the time she gets back.

  78. when I had a confirmed flu case a couple years ago, but had to go into work for about an hour, I wore a mask.

    I don’t like the feeling of airflow restriction, or stale/dampness of it.

  79. “It is a Whirlpool 5.3 cu. ft. Cabrio. Top loader with no agitator.”

    I have the same or similar model. Sometimes when the load gets unbalanced it fixes itself, sometimes taking 30 minutes or more. But sometimes I have to manually move the load around and then resume the cycle. It’s usually a big comforter or pillows that cause the unbalance.

  80. I know it’s more common in some Asian countries.

    It’s not only for colds. It’s also for allergies – pollen, etc. And, I was surprised to find out, they are also for moisture.

    JAL’s ammenity kit comes with a “moisture mask” I guess the theory is by wearing it you sort of re-breath your own moist exhaust which reduces the rate of water loss from the body.

  81. Austin – Yeah, my two guys who are home both got 3.5+ weeks and I think they are now ready to go back. They did take a driving trip the Thurs-Mon before New Years to visit grandparents/aunt/uncle/cousins. DS2 has done more with friends here but he’s always been the most social of our kids and he does not have close friends at his school (it’s grad school, been there only a semester). DS3 is quite content to play PS4 for hours. I think he likes the downtime, but it truly drives DW crazy to have them staying up really late, sleeping in, sitting around gaming, watching TV/Netflix on their devices. I think she forgets what it was like to be in college and on break. DS2 drives back on Friday and DW & I are taking DS3 back on Sunday, both for Monday start of classes.

  82. “you sort of re-breath your own moist exhaust which reduces the rate of water loss from the body.”

    Yes, it does seem to do that, in addition to limiting the drying of my throat and sinuses. IME, the air in planes is typically quite dry.

  83. I would tend to avoid artifacts that relate to family unless it is farther back that my current family members. I would take a bookend that is a replica of the hinges on the doors at my state capitol building. It was a gift after a very long legislative session that crammed a decade’s worth of lessons into 140 days.

    I will say that I always remember the petite woman by name, whose “claim to fame” was jumping on and riding railroad box cars within about a 50 mile range of her home in the mid-1960s. She was only caught once and they had to call her grand-dad as her parents were on a trip. He took her out for a meal and reminisced with her about when he did that during the great depression.

  84. Austin, how did your DD end up dealing with staying warm while outdoors, but not roasting while indoors?

    I had a hard time with that while on the continent, but DD seemed to do OK with a mid-thigh length down jacket with a hood. That jacket is quite compressible, so stuff sack for it might make it work even better.

  85. Fred – Yes, a lot of sleeping, knitting, weird hours, binge watching tv and “comfort” food. Squeezed in a hair cut, pedicure, follow-up doctor visit, and handled a couple of personal finance issues that she feels better doing when I can hear the phone call. Got to visit most of the friends she wanted to see, though some were out of town on family trips.

  86. Finn – She took back a pair of thin moisture-wicking long johns to go under her pants and a pair of leggings that are supposed to block the wind, but not be “hot”. Will find out how they work once she has a chance to give them a try. She has classes that are further from the dorm this spring, so it will be a test. It may help when they get to the true winter where the weather is a bit more consistent.

  87. After traveling with him for almost 2 weeks, DS has been home a week, and will return to school in a bit more than 2 weeks. It’s great to have him home.

    He’s been spending a lot of time meeting his HS friends, especially last week; many of them have already returned to school. They’ve been going to a lot of their favorite beaches and local eating places.

    He’s also been working on applications for summer programs/interships, class selections for next semester, and reading the textbook for a class he won’t be able to fit into his schedule.

  88. What a day! I have a bad cold but had to go to campus to set up a Linux machine for our research project. The machine had been sitting in my office for way too long. An IT guy came by to help. It turned out the machine had no OS loaded at all, and Ubuntu would not recognize the RAID assembly because the controller was proprietary. So the IT guy opened up the machine, swapped the RAID controller for a SATA controller, and then the install went nice and quick. The poor IT guy had a cold as bad as mine, and then when my research collaborator stopped by to see how the install was going, she was sneezing and coughing too. So we started joking that between the three of us, we were going to create a superbug. Now I am home and exhausted, and DS1 is sick too.

  89. I use the bulky cycle, and try to rebalance it myself when I have issues too. I just think that this particular type of fabric might not work in this machine since the blanket is so large. Costco went overboard on the velvet and sherpa – so it is a lot of surface area too. I won’t wash the plush blanket often, and I won’t let her use it once allergy season starts in the Spring.

    I think I am cursed when it comes to home renovations – even simple ones. I posted a few weeks ago that we finally replaced the old windows in our bedroom. This place was built in the 80s, so imagine a large square picture window with two side windows and a large semi circle window over the picture window. It is four separate windows, but one frame. I am not sure why, or how, but the arch isn’t the exact same size as before we replaced it. It is an inch narrower, but it is higher, so now the diameter is not less than 1/2 of the circle. Why does this matter? ????? It matters because the Hunter Douglas shades for the arch no longer fit. We purchased four new window Duette window shades in 2015 and the contractor said they should fit since we were just replacing the windows with new models. We decided to suck it up and buy a new blind when we realized that the arch wasn’t the same size. The contractor claimed that this was the size from Andersen. Ok, well now I found out that is not true because Hunter Douglas will never make a shade for an arch if the height is not less than 1/2 of the diameter, and this is off by 1 inch. We’ve been living with the unshaded window arch for a few weeks, and it is actually ok. The problem is that it won’t be ok once it starts to get light in the mornings. I am so sick of stuff like this happening every time that I try to fix something in my home. It is expensive, and time consuming.

  90. Rhett – so I was going to write a screed against the MH lady, but those are pretty damn hilarious. I love the peppermint columns on Honorable Mention #4,and I LOVE how one of them did like six different types of front siding, and beige strips of chewing gum for the back.

  91. I don’t get the “spark joy” thing in general. I have several pairs of black cords, and black shirts that go over them. None of them spark joy, but paired with a unstructured cardigan in a contrasting color, I can dressed fast in what passes for a professorial outfit when have to teach. Same for underwear, socks and my raincoat. None of it sparks joy, but it is NEEDED.

  92. We only use the down comforter in the winter – in fact, it hasn’t been cold enough yet to haul it down. I like having a top sheet even with the comforter because it gives me more options – if it is warm that night, I can sleep without the comforter.

  93. As for coffee, I only drink it black. Coffee with milk gags me (remember how I said yesterday that milk gags me?) and I don’t really like the taste of sugary coffee, though I did gag it down in Greece.

  94. I enjoy hearing about how Totebag college aged kids are doing. My oldest is noisy, so there will definitely be quiet in the house and noise when he is back.

  95. AustinMom – my kid is here for 2 more weeks. I hate to say this, but I think it is going to be harder for me this time around. When he went in September, I didn’t really know what to expect and I was busy so I didn’t think about it. Having him home after being away all semester, I realized how much more fun it is to have him around. Dinner prep is fun because we work together seamlessly, conversations are more fun, and I just like his weird dry humor. Best part? We can now have computer science conversations – we discussed the horriblness of Javascript two days ago, and yesterday I was running ideas for implementing faceted search by him. And our cat is so happy with him home too.

  96. Rhode – To be memorable and funny I would something either “Joisey” or Ice hockey. An artifact with back story from the Devils hits both. I would never choose anything female – and family oriented is female. And some testament to your commitment to a smaller footprint sounds self righteous and preachy, especially in your line of work where everyone cares about the environment.

  97. Finn, my kid (and his younger brother) have a Discord server that all the HS friends are on (their friends overlap to some extent), They also continued their traditional D&D sessions all semester, just doing them online. So the meetup over Christmas was a bit anticlimatic – they just are doing D&D face to face until next week when one of them goes back.

  98. Milo,

    I think #4 is my favorite. It truely honors the land of the hideous addition. But it just sort of meanders. For first place the addition needs to be at least 150% of the size of the existing house and just stuck on at an odd angle.

  99. Rhode To clarify – Artifacts from your ancestors especially with a good story are great. Current family stuff is not, IMO, advisable.

  100. But Rhett, at the same time, I kind of wonder about the people who follow that blog religiously. It’s a lot of energy spent trying to feel superior to this group of people who they imagine to occupy these houses and are guilty of … what, exactly? They share a lot of the same traits as the die-hard MMM’ers: “Someone has different tastes and priorities than I do, they must be judging me so I’ll judge them first and point out how wrong they are!”

  101. Lauren, I sympathize.

    TMK, there’s no general standard for arches in construction, whether for windows or cabinet doors or any other arches. My guess is that your new windows are close enough in size to the old windows that they could fit into the rough opening, and the window flange, shims, and casing (did your contractor install new casing?) covered up what is likely an uneven gap between the window and the opening.

    Are the shades for the other windows inset? If so, one thought would be curtains over all four windows.

  102. “I have lots of other clothes that are similarly taking up space in my closet that need to be donated so other people can get joy from them.”

    There are three Goodwill stores within 10 miles of our house, plus at least one Salvation Army shop. The St. Vincent de Paul thrift stores closed because they were actually losing money operating them. I would love to spark joy with my donations, but perhaps all of this stuff is just heading for a landfill. New clothes at places like Wal-Mart and Meijer are just so damn cheap that thrift stores can’t compete.

  103. Scarlett – DH and FIL both express that I should be donating old used pieces of furniture. These were cheap pieces to begin with. It’s very efficient to call the city and get it taken away from the curb vs. hauling the piece to the far away Goodwill store or calling charities to ask if they want it.
    I told both DH and FIL that they were welcome to do the legwork if they truly wanted to donate the item.

  104. Scarlett, the only clothes in high demand seem to be boys size 3-12, at least in my area. (I am a volume donor of the smaller of those sizes, lately, and as far as I can tell, they get passed around until nothing is left.) I don’t think they spark joy, but they keep little boys clean and warm.

  105. Milo,

    In their defense, it’s a question of externalities. You’re creating an eyesore because you’re too cheap and/or tacky to do it right.

    It’s sort of like a lake community full of pontoon boats, cicadas and gentility and someone shows up in this:

  106. Well, there are a lot of factors. There are the builders, and there are the buyers. You could argue for blaming either over the other. I think that enough of the buyers must value certain indicators of mansion’ness that the builders find it profitable to design them.

    This article talks about many immigrants’ mentality where that look is the dream:

    So there’s tackiness, but a lot of people want a little tackiness. Still, I think that’s the most fair of the criticisms.

    The too cheap argument comes down to people optimizing unit space per dollar. It would surprise no one living in a McMansion that they *could* do all sides in real stone. We get it. It’s a cost saving measure. For how many years do we need to dwell on that? What penance should the inhabitants pay for their sin? Seriously. (And it’s not like every small or moderate house is built with only the finest traditional materials.)

    I imagine that woman makes a lot of money from her blog, and it can be entertaining. But it does seem like the devoted readers have some of their own insecurities that they’re trying to overcome.

  107. And pontoon boats are NOBODY’S idea of tasteful and subdued gentility.

    Talking about pontoon boating is one of my absolute best ways of establishing working/middle-class street cred when I want to do so in a professional setting. (Especially since I hate football.)

  108. Louise – we got a new couch delivered last week (huge sectional – yay! I love it). I had a hard time giving it away. Calling several charities Friday morning got me only to voicemail. One place that supposedly coordinates furniture donation pickups told me that they have no use for couches. Two people called back a couple days later and warned that it better be in pristine condition for them to consider [taking it for free].

    I had already asked the delivery guys if they would take it, and they agreed for a substantial tip, so it was already gone. They said one guy in the warehouse might find a use for it.

    Nobody wants old shit. And people like my in laws, who would never consider trying to sell shit on Craigslist because it would pose an unfathomable security risk, consequently will never, ever learn that Goodwill is probably just throwing away most of their donations that they’re convinced are so valuable.

  109. “I would love to spark joy with my donations, but perhaps all of this stuff is just heading for a landfill. “

    Sometimes I shudder to think of good stuff (like a worn-twice men’s suit or never-used WS serving pieces) going to landfills, but tbh I don’t take the time to search for charities that will actually distribute them to needy people. I just usually use the veterans’ organization because they are so convenient and take almost everything.

    Milo, was your old couch heavily worn and have stains? I’ve had quick (overwhelming, actually) responses with furniture by offering it for free on Craiglist. Leave it in the driveway and the person will pick it up.

    “And pontoon boats are NOBODY’S idea of tasteful and subdued gentility.”

    Even I know that!

  110. “Nobody wants old shit.”

    Not quite, but I agree that it can be very difficult to locate anyone who wants some of that old stuff.

    We used to have a local freecycle group that was pretty good at matching givers and receivers. When we were cleaning out stuff from IL’s home, I was able to get rid of a bunch of old furniture that way, and all I had to do was put it out where they could get it.

    We have a lot of military people here, and apparently many of them took advantage of that service to help furnish their homes here, then pass that furniture on to other families when they left.

  111. “Same for underwear, socks and my raincoat. None of it sparks joy, but it is NEEDED.”

    I’m picky about almost all my clothes because of fit, comfort, and style. Even socks and underwear – some are way more comfortable and feel better and are more flattering, so that “sparks joy”. Really, I can say that about almost all my possessions. Of course I NEED clothes and many other things, but I like the idea of paring possessions down to things that I LIKE. That may be easier when you’re old and retired. And rich.

  112. Milo – on the McMansions and immigrants from Asia, those are the BIL’s houses. Their houses are extremely comfortable and can fit the visiting families comfortably. I only thing I can think of is that it is too much space on a day to day basis for a family of four when most of the time is not spent in the house.
    OTOH we could use a new house with a better layout (tired of an old house) and more space to spread out. The result would be a McMansion because ideally it would be 3,500 sq. feet.

  113. It was a brown leather couch. The butt areas had gotten a little worn in the leather. Each end had a recliner, but the recline release handle had broken on one end, which was the impetus for us to replace it. I never tried to convince anyone of its merits, because the only person I talked to before sending it away with the delivery guys didn’t want ANY couches.

    I posted it briefly on Nextdoor, and got no hits. I’m not opposed to Craigslist, but just to give something away you end up dealing with a lot of flakes who take a lot of time and hassle, and for nothing. (I would have tipped the delivery guys, anyway.)

    I agree with what WCE said about kid stuff, because any kid stuff I post in Nextdoor (for sale or free) is gone immediately.

  114. A while back, I gave a couple of old TVs to a thrift shop that was located next to a Navy barracks. The workers there told me they’d have no problem selling the TVs for about $5 to $10 to people who’d just moved into the barracks, most of whom would give the TVs back to the thrift shop when they left, to be sold to someone else moving in.

  115. Canoes and kayaks are tasteful, not pontoon boats. When we lived in MA, we lived in a lake that crawled with pontoon boats and jet skis. I always coveted the pontoon boats. The people on them always looked so relaxed. But we had a cheap canoe, not even one of the genteel brands.

  116. “The result would be a McMansion because ideally it would be 3,500 sq. feet.”

    And also, because you’re not house- or architecture-obsessed, you would likely want to buy what’s already available on the market, which is significantly advantageous in terms of overall costs than hiring an architect and building authentic and custom all the way, sometimes from plans that don’t actually work in real life as well as the mass produced ones do.

    That’s why I think there’s such a disconnect between what the McMansion Hell readers imagine is the mentality of McMansion dwellers, and reality. They’re just normal middle class people. They don’t actually think they live in a chateau,

  117. Milo,

    That 5:47 video is just awesome. It’s so cool and positive and optimistic and fun. It’s like the complete opposite of the totebag which would say, “A boat? And how do expect me to pay my long term care insurance premiums?!?”

    It’s like whole cookies dialed up to 42.

  118. My understanding is that most donated clothes end up being shipped to Africa. The problem with that, according to development experts, is that this practice discourages local textile industries from being set up. Some countries want to ban them.

  119. And pontoon boats are NOBODY’S idea of tasteful and subdued gentility.

    I had been under the impression that pontoon boats are lake going minivans. Practical as all get out but totally dorky.

  120. That’s correct, imo. To some degree, tritoons with larger outboards have changed that because they’re fast and they’re decent towboats.

  121. Oh man, Milo, I would. I have always wanted to go out on one. I also have always wanted to go out on one of those party fishing boats

  122. We have good luck listing stuff on freecycle, FB marketplace, or let go for free, and then people come and take it away in their pickup trucks. :)

    On topic, I don’t like duvets with cover, too many steps. We use flat sheet, blanket, quilt. Then an extra blanket on top if I am cold. Similar to when I was a kid and we used bedspreads like these (always in off-white): https://www.vermontcountrystore.com/queen-victoria-bedspread/product/63434
    When I was in college, I used flat sheet + comforter.

  123. Also I haaaaaaaate McMansions. They offend my visual aesthetic sensibilities. IME, around here people who live in them are not appreciative of the arts (thinking of one of my co-workers here – big sports guy).

  124. I kind of hate my brother’s McMansion. He’s spent a fortune putting wood floors throughout main level and upstairs, he’s added a bunch of extra windows in a lot of rooms. It’s big and fancy, but I find nothing redeeming about it. I think part of it is that it’s all soooo vastly “open.”

    If you’re not going to have hardly any walls downstairs, it seems silly to designate spaces as the “dining room” and so on. It does work well for large parties, though.

    The ultimate irony, however, is that knowing what he liked, I’m the one who clued him into the neighborhood. He had no idea.

  125. I try to do this with American ones, but they both fall off the edge when you try to give each person their own.

    That’s a feature, not a bug. Blankets should hang over the edge – otherwise they aren’t long enough to keep you covered. When I was growing up, my mom bought us full size comforters for our twin beds, they hung almost to the floor. It was awesome. I thought that was the normal size, and I couldn’t understand why the blankets and comforters I bought weren’t that long. I don’t recall how it came up that she told me they were a larger size.

  126. Milo, we had a discussion at work today about class and stereotyping. It involved interacting with drunk people on Greyhound buses. The best story was from a guy who shared a seat with a drunk who was careless with his 0.22 rifle. The drunk was delivered to the police at the next stop. The guy that grew up disadvantaged explained to the mostly-advantaged new hires, “And that’s why I went to school and got a job here- so I could spend my days with people like you, instead of my former neighbors.”

  127. She had a small group over last Friday and they all agreed they were ready to go back. They thought a longer break would be nice, but after they did all the things on the MUST DO list (including a lot of sleeping), they were getting bored and/or missing their new freedoms/routines.

    Yeah, when I was in college I couldn’t wait to get back after breaks. I got so bored at home.

    I’m not opposed to Craigslist, but just to give something away you end up dealing with a lot of flakes who take a lot of time and hassle, and for nothing.

    People usually don’t flake on the free stuff. We’ve gotten rid of at least 7 or 8 pieces of furniture that way and only one person has flaked. I even got rid of a non-working TV very quickly on craigslist.

  128. Milo – we like our neighborhood and our lot is big enough for a larger house. My long term wish is to tear our current house down and build new. I don’t think we would go for completely custom. Decent quality of finishes would satisfy us.

  129. Lauren, I’m having a hard time visualizing the whole thing. There isn’t any way to get the old blind to fit?

  130. no, and I even asked the window treatment guy if they could put in wood/filler at the bottom to create a “fake ” bottom because that would decrease the height. They suggested a wood shutter in white so it would sort of fade in with walls since the room is white. we might just leave it open, or go with his suggestion.

  131. MM – I may have mentioned DD#1 had some health issues senior year that took us a while to figure out. By my visit in Oct to campus, it was clear to me how much better she was and how much her personality had returned. That was even more true this break. I agree it was harder to let her go because we were not so focused on all the moving “stuff”. Also, in August, she was feeling somewhat better, but was still anxious about some of her symptoms and them coming back.

  132. In other news, it looks like we will be getting new kitchen cabinets this spring and taking out the L shape on one side and going with a straight run. Technically, we are loosing about 3 inches in counter space, but the L currently makes about a foot of it unusable. The net gain should be almost 10 inches in usable space. Waiting to get the initial price.

  133. It seems that Rhett wants to be the Rodney Dangerfield of boat owners. :)

    When we remodeled we didn’t add any square footage to our 1950 cape cod. However we worked with a designer that specializes in remodeling midcentury homes. She knew exactly how to open the space up, maximize storage, and give the feel of a larger home without actually blowing it up. Also helped that we decluttered to the extreme. We had a hard time getting rid of good furniture. I eventually paid $75 for an organization to pick it all up (Ethan Allen chairs, ottoman, coffee table and a bunch of other stuff).

  134. “And that’s why I went to school and got a job here- so I could spend my days with people like you, instead of my former neighbors.” – that sounds like my DH. His vo-tech high school job in a tool and die shop had a lot of co-workers who were ex-cons.

    I watched the whole season of the Marie Kondo show on Netflix this weekend while de-cluttering. I had never read the book, but am a huge fan of getting rid of stuff. I sold a secretary desk a couple of weeks ago on a whim when I was moving furniture around for the Christmas tree, not thinking about what I would do with the 15 years worth of stuff that was in it, so I had a lot of junk to sort through. I am picking one small area at a time, but I am so enjoying getting rid of stuff.

  135. I think of pontoon boats as the watery equivalent of those tricycle motorcycles. Something for the couple who retired to the lake but has no experience with a motorboat. Seems like every retiree who moves to our local lake buys one as a matter of course.

    DS3 is so quiet that sometimes during break we would forget he was here and I would be surprised when he wandered into the kitchen at noon. It was great having him home and I agree that fall drop off was so fraught with anxiety that it was more of a relief to have it over with and this time I kind of miss him more.

    I think I’ve mentioned that we are moving from Nowhere now that we are empty nesters. The new house is smaller (although, yeah, it has a 3 car garage that juts out) but not hugely so, but we have to get rid of a lot of stuff. Our area has several “get former addicts or homeless back on their feet” organizations that are always willing to pick up furniture. I remember when we moved from Kansas City we couldn’t get any organization to pick up our couch.

  136. July said “Even socks and underwear – some are way more comfortable and feel better and are more flattering, so that “sparks joy”.”
    Yeah, I guess to me, fitting and not being itchy is the minimal standard of acceptability, not joyfulness. If it itches I just don’t buy it. Sparking joy on the other hand is something more. My Totoro socks spark joy.

  137. “Yeah, when I was in college I couldn’t wait to get back after breaks. I got so bored at home.”

    I never felt that way. I think it was because I went to school so far away and could only afford to go home at Christmas and summer. In the summer I always worked so I was busy, but the Christmas break was just magical. Just being able to go grocery shopping with my mom was great. Being in my house, with real rooms, and not having to use a vast common bathroom, was wonderful.

  138. Thinking of space use -At the BILs houses with the large open plan kitchen/dining/family room area, the space we didn’t venture into was the formal dining room. The formal living room got used. The fully done basement area entertainment area got little use as everyone wanted to be upstairs on the main level.
    I want to have a dedicated storage area instead of using the sides of the garage.

  139. Louise – If that’s what BIL’s house is like, how in the world did you end up stuck with the in-laws?

  140. HFN — I’m excited for your upcoming move and I hope you keep us posted. Some of us have contemplated downsizing after becoming empty nesters and would like to hear how it goes for you all.

    “If it itches I just don’t buy it.” My problem with many items is that it’s not until I’ve worn it a few times that I realize that it itches, or doesn’t fit quite right, or is not comfortable in some way. That is certainly true of shoes, but also many other types of clothing.

  141. “Current family stuff is not, IMO, advisable.”

    That was true back in my days of working, and it’s probably gotten better. But I guess it’s still true for women that de-emphasizing their commitment to family is the safer option.

  142. July and Meme – it’s still true. To be taken seriously, I’m not allowed to show that I’m a mom. It was very weird to write that application, where it asked about my family yet not. It asked about community involvement. I’m not involved in this community because, well, I have zero time at the end of the day. But as my boys age, I can get more involved and have found myself with more time to myself this year than last year.

    I’m also cynical and think the only reason I got in is because I’m the only scientist who applied. But then again, I was sorta banking on that niche because without that, I’m just like everyone else.

  143. I loved being home during college. Over Xmas break I got to see my few friends from HS and I would just waltz out of the house and take the car and go to someone’s house and not come back until 12 or 1. (My parents didn’t try to enforce my HS 10 pm curfew!)

    Since Christmas I have been doing a mixture of acquiring things and cleaning out. I got a bunch of stuff on sale (Xmas wrap at the container store, work clothes on super sale, quilt and sheets on sale at Garnet Hill, PJs for the kids) and then have gotten rid of some clothes (mine and the kids) and old boxes that used to hold the Xmas decorations but are mildewy. I also called a couple of closet places to get an estimate for redoing my closet.

  144. Milo – their houses are more recent acquisitions. They had smaller living situations in the past like rentals, condos (while one family was between houses for a couple of years ), smaller homes before they acquired the big houses. We had an adequate sized homes with more stability in our housing situation.

  145. My current workplace is good in that I don’t have to hide the fact that I have a home life apart from the office. It’s not front and center but the workplace is supportive especially when there are family emergencies.
    And this is true for everyone – single, empty nesters etc.

  146. “(My parents didn’t try to enforce my HS 10 pm curfew!)”
    See, this is the key. I bet Mooshi’s was the same. Whereas my mom woke me up at 7 AM for breakfast every day, just like in high school. We try not to impose a family schedule on our kids when they are home. We even let everyone sleep in on Christmas morning, even though, by 10:30 AM, DH was wandering around like a caged animal.

  147. Actually, my kid is still getting up every day at 7. His alarm is set to 7. And he hasn’t been out later than 10 yet, mainly because his friends don’t stay out that late.
    He has been mainly doing a lot of drawing and also learning a technology for building web front ends.

  148. Interesting article Milo. It does seem complicated to be a duel-military couple. I’m not sure what the answer is. It is problem that is also in the corporate world, but no where near to the extent of the military.

  149. I didn’t have any friends around when I went home on breaks, so even though my mom didn’t care if I went out late or anything, I didn’t have anything to do or anyplace to go. I stayed at school for the summers aside from after my freshman year and just went home for a week at the beginning and a week at the end. (I also went home at winter and spring breaks.) And I only lived in the dorms my freshman year so the lack of space/community bathrooms weren’t an issue.

  150. My current workplace is good in that I don’t have to hide the fact that I have a home life apart from the office.

    I’ve been very fortunate in working at places that are supportive of life outside the office. At my current job, our boss is a single mom, so I’m sure that helps. At one of my reviews, her first question was “how’s your work-life balance.” When I was still in IT at the bank, I had a director who was very involved in his family life even though he had a SAH wife. He would actually take off and work from home as best he could when she was sick and he needed to watch the kids.

  151. LT – He certainly hit on a lot of key points that we’ve talked about on here. I was surprised to read the arguments about assortative mating.

    I think there’s a lot of room for improvement, but, just like what people have said here for years about the corporate world, there’s a point where the required tradeoffs are insurmountable, and something’s always going to have to give.

    One remarkable aspect about the challenge that I think is specific to the military is why it’s set up so that everyone has to be so young, and that’s the only option for success. If you could break that mold, that alone would go a long way toward allowing the sort of life/career flexibility that is supposedly desired. In the Navy, as one example, by about the age of 38, you need to be commanding a significant unit (e.g. a destroyer). Otherwise, you’re basically on the back burner until retirement. All milestones have to be done in lockstep with your “‘year group” (college graduating year).

    I’m not sure if it will ever really change. Institutions are great at commissioning studies that go nowhere. And maybe it doesn’t actually need to change.

  152. Denver Dad, the reason I went home and worked in the summer was to save on rent. I really needed all the money I was making.

  153. Milo – in the military does your duty to country, unit, etc, come before your family? If so, it definitely complicates the matter.
    Maybe they should do studies on changing the mentality about age/rank first?

  154. ” come before your family?”

    In what sense, exactly? And I guess I’d say that it depends on specifics circumstances.

    For example, when we were deployed, there was another young guy in the wardroom, actually junior to me, whose wife was going to give birth about a month before we got home. So they sent him home early because they could manage. (And the expectation was that he had better be literally waiting on the pier when we got back to take one of the first inport duties — and he did. I remember because I was the ship’s duty officer that first night back, so he was working for me, and the four (actually five with the baby) had dinner in the wardroom that night. I was there because a couple weeks earlier, DW had flown out to Spain and I took a week of vacation and we went all over together, so I was in line to take that first night home).

    But, if he were at the department head level, I don’t think that getting him home would have been even a remote consideration. Obviously, this gets exponentially more complicated when the pregnant person is the one set to deploy. And that’s what he’s referring to about balancing operational obligations (which are also necessary career opportunities and milestones) with family life.

    You can make some changes, but it’s not feasible to think that an ambitious couple can have four kids and both be marching down their respective paths seeking command and senior leadership roles. The only way I could see to accommodate that is to say that you don’t need to have command by 38. Since it’s no longer 1850, there’s probably no legitimate reason why someone can’t command a destroyer at 48. Or 58. I mean, really. People are running marathons at that age, they can probably sit in a chair on the bridge and drink coffee.

  155. I have been open (up to a point) re: family at the office, but it was a hard slog for the first 5 years after #1 was born – specifically getting people at the office used to my schedule (the days I was at home vs. in the office, the day that was my ‘day off’, etc.). About 5 years ago there were an increasing number of laterals who also work from home frequently, not on a “scheduled” basis, and so now it is quite normal (woo hoo!). However, the other working moms still feel the need to not draw attention to any family needs/demands at all.

  156. Side note to that last sentence – I am trying to normalize by talking about scheduling struggles more at the office. :)

  157. I don’t know if its my workplace but I do think there is more openness. For example, if the step up the ladder requires you to move, you are told in advance instead of people assuming you will not because of your family. Men are taking allowable paternity leave, its not a show piece benefit any more.

  158. “I’m not involved in this community because, well, I have zero time at the end of the day.”

    You live in the community, pay local taxes, use the roads, water system, sewage system, and other infrastructure. You are involved in the community.

    You’ll get more involved when your DS1 starts school.

  159. Milo, good article on the military. One of my friends (chemical engineering/vocal performance double major) got married while her husband had two years left in the military because he’d make more money with a dependent. (She lived here, he lived in Nebraska.) And military requirements meant he had to stop being a computer programmer in Nebraska and go be a computer programmer somewhere else at some point

    The fact that everyone, even computer programmers, had to move around without regard to a spouse’s career seemed like a big negative to the military.

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