Advice columns

by Rhett

On a recent thread it came up that many totebaggers love advice columns. They aren’t alone.

Terrible husbands and homicidal in-laws: why online advice columns are so addictive

Which of them would you recommend?

If this is indeed popular topic I was thinking we might try Advice Column Fridays where totebaggers post their favorite advice column of the week and we discuss.

139 thoughts on “Advice columns

  1. I’ll admit I love them. DD has become addicted to them as well, and DW also reads them. We enjoy making fun of a lot of the people who write in. The ones we read the most:

    Ask Amy
    Dear Abby
    Carolyn Hax
    Dear Prudence (the person doing it now is terrible but the questions are entertaining)
    Ask a Manager (just me)

    DD reads the advice subreddit as well.

  2. I saw one the other day that was interesting:

    I know some of this behavior is normal teenage behavior, but she’s always maintained she doesn’t like skiing. Her idea of a fun vacation is sitting in the sun on a beach somewhere, which makes my husband and me cringe (we can’t imagine anything more boring or miserable).

    It makes you wonder, are there really people out there so lacking in self awareness? The answer is of course!

  3. I love Hax. Sometimes my mom and I play the “how would we answer” game before reading the answer. I also liked the old Miss Manners; the new one is a little more unpredictable.

    I’ve enjoyed the AITA discussions (primarily for the reasons mentioned in the article), but I guess I’m old-school and prefer to have an official “answer,” at least to start the conversation.

  4. We still get a physical newspaper (the one that’s local to our town), and they print Dear Abby. DH and I both look forward to it every day.

    Scarlett — I adored Miss Manners as well.

  5. I like to read the Ethicist and Work Friend columns in the NY Times. Other favorites include housekeeping advice columns in magazines like Real Simple or Good Housekeeping.

    Scarlett, I agree about Miss Manners

  6. I just want to say that I did not write the Ski Vacation piece. As far as I know, my kids like our ski trips and prefer them to the beach. :)

  7. Cheryl Strayed annonymously wrote an advice column called Dear Sugar before Wild came out and she became Cheryl Freakin’ Strayed. The columns are collected in her book Tiny, Beautiful Things. DD, your daughter might enjoy that book.

  8. I used to like them when I was younger, but as I get older and crankier, the questions on them seem whiny so I have lost interest.

  9. When I was a kid the morning paper had Dear Abby and the afternoon paper had Ann Landers. I read both.

  10. The vacation post strikes a chord because it’s been hard to balance everyone’s interests. My kids like the beach but the grandparents don’t. We do compromise locations that have something for everyone. My preferred vacation is a solo trip.

    I don’t read advice columns specifically. I will come across them occasionally and they are a light read.

  11. “My preferred vacation is a solo trip.”

    Louise, you should seriously write novels. You are the absolute master of saying things without actually saying them.

  12. Our local paper carries Asking Amy and Dear Carolyn and I enjoy reading both. Sometimes I read AITA when I come across it on Twitter. Sometimes I read Work Friend.

    TCM – I recently read Cheryl Strayed’s book Tiny Beautiful Things and I LOVED it. I’m giving DD a copy for Christmas.

    Rhett – I love the idea of advice column Friday.

  13. Many years ago there was a period of time where I was driving several hours every Friday evening. Dr. Laura was on one of the AM stations and I always enjoyed listening. Her opinions were something else, but also the people calling in had the most crazy stories. It was very drama filled and captivating for a long car ride. I was always curious why people would call in, because you knew exactly where Dr. Laura stood and that she’d chew you out for life choices.

  14. Oops – that was HFN that mentioned Tiny Beautiful things – not TCM. Sorry about that!

  15. LT I found Dr. Laura compelling for basically the same reasons. I never understood why anyone would call in. In the same vein, I’m now listening to Dave Ramsey (thanks Milo) and it’s the exact same thing. Someone calls in to see if their particular situation is the exception to the rules that have been stated several times an episode for many years.

    Still, the stories are fun to listen to, and it makes me feel better about my life choices :)

    Rhett ~ I think the advice column Friday could be a lot of fun.

  16. Rhett – we had Ann Landers and Dear Abby in the same paper (IIRC on different days of the week?). I also read both. IIRC Dear Abby’s advice was more kind and Ann Landers tended to be more biting.

    I read Carolyn Hax and Dear Prudence, and Ask a Manager. Sometimes I will hate-read Ask Polly – her answers are always really long, will mention therapy at least once, and are totally unrelated to what the person asked!

  17. I read that one about the family ski trips. My interpretation of the letter was “our daughter has been telling us for years she doesn’t like skiing but I don’t believe her.”

  18. We look at a bunch of Reddits that are basically like advice columns. My favorite is probably Am I The Asshole. A recent post was from a woman whose boyfriend, who she lived with, had determined that ducklings he came across were orphaned, so he brought them home, covered the apartment in newspaper, and built ramps so they could get into bed or onto the couch. She was wondering if she might be unkind for wanting to be able to walk through her home barefoot. We both thought she should throw the ducks and the boyfriend out the window.

  19. “our daughter has been telling us for years she doesn’t like skiing but I don’t believe her.”

    Lol! My interpretation was, “How can someone not like what I like?”

  20. I am a fan of Hax, and particularly enjoyed the Holiday Hootenanny ones. People are hilarious

    Apparently my mom used to listen to a psychologist on the radio while making dinner when we were very young. My incredibly sweet, mild mannered mom had no idea how to deal with the obstinate two year old that I was, so would call in for advice. Fortunately, I grew into an absolute delight by my teen years. When I read some of the questions from young mothers that always come to mind.

  21. “Dear Prudence (the person doing it now is terrible but the questions are entertaining)”

    Totally agree!

  22. “I am a fan of Hax, and particularly enjoyed the Holiday Hootenanny ones.”

    Well, so much for getting anything done today.

  23. My interpretation was, “How can someone not like what I like?” That sounds like your comment on vacations spent doing anything by other than nothing, poolside, with drink service.

  24. I like reading the advice columns in the home country newspapers (online). The questions are universal – lots of questions about affairs, how to handle inappropriate attractions, money troubles etc. The answers are unpredictable because they reflect the changing mores yet try to take into account that not everyone or everything has changed.

  25. I also like to read AITA – but on Twitter where they cut out all the good parts rather than having to go through the actual reddit feed. Same with the subreddit relationships. “The Iranian Yogurt is not the issue here!!” is one of my favorite meme-generating AITA thread of all time.

    I’m sure some of them are fake, but I don’t care. It’s great entertainment.

    Ask a Manager is actually very good advice most of the time, and most of the people who ask questions are not crazy, so it’s not as much fun as others.

    I always used to read Savage Love in the alternative weekly, but I stopped when the print copy went out of vogue.

    I love the idea of Advice Column Friday.

  26. DD would like more activity filled vacations (like non-stop) – whereas DS, DH and I all like quite a bit of relaxation time. We compromise with a mix of both and it works out well.

    In high school, DD had mentioned wanting to travel to Europe. So for a family vacation after her high school graduation, I thought we could do a trip. I suggested Spain – everyone was on board. I start planning an itinerary, looking at airfare, etc. I was about to buy tickets and decided to check in with everyone one last time to confirm everyone was on board. DD says “would this involve a lot of walking around and looking at things? Because I really hate that.” I said yes – and we went to Hawaii instead where we could go hiking, swimming, snorkeling, boogie boarding, etc. And relax in the sun. I still laugh about this.

    I would love to do some more REI type vacations in the future – hiking but with someone else dealing with all the logistics, food, etc.

  27. The duck story is hilarious and falls into the common advice seeker category of “my boyfriend is awesome, but…(fill in the completely horrible dealbreaker obvious to everyone but the letter writer here)”.

    “My children are different from me and I want you to tell me I’m right” a la the ski family is another common advice seeker category.

    I’m going to have to look up AITA!

  28. About a year ago, I spent quite a bit of on Reddit’s Relationship Advice and AITA subreddits. I would read them when I was sitting in DS4’s room at bedtime waiting (so much waiting) for him to go to sleep. It was entertaining, but after a while my conscience started nagging at me that it probably wasn’t a good idea revel in other people’s troubles for entertainment purposes. A lot of them were probably exercises in creative writing, but some of these people were just complete messes.

  29. Slate’s gone all in on advice columns. In addition to Prudence (and I agree with Denver’s assessment that the writer is horrible), I think they’ve added “How To Do It” [how to have sex] and “Ask A Teacher.” There are probably more.

    Dave Ramsey is kind of like a radio advice columnist. I enjoy him, although I could easily fill in for him because I know exactly what he’s going to say to every caller. I think half the callers know, too. Suze Orman’s show was fun. I think she’s back, although I haven’t seen it.

    My two weeks of work hell are over. It’s a huge weight off. Now, because of COVID and canceled plans, I’m looking at just under four weeks worth of use/lose vacation for 2020 (assuming I carry one week into 2021). You start plotting that out on the Outlook calendar, as I’ve spent the past 30 minutes doing, and, holy hell, there aren’t a lot of workdays left between now and the new year.

  30. Milo, I also thought of audio advice “columnists” when I read this—Click ‘n’ Clack, the Tap it Brothers. I called into their show, Car Talk, with a question once—a friend called to say he’d heard me on the air. I eventually got annoyed that they had such a high schtick: advice ratio. These days I might perceive that differently.

  31. Ok, since it’s Advice Day, some advice: am I absolutely bonkers for considering driving out to Taos for a month?

    We were looking into our normal vacation, and there were no rentals available in our area and price range. I figured it was the NM quarantine rules. Nope: town of Taos has now banned all short-term rentals, ostensibly for Covid reasons, but that’s really just an expedient excuse to do something they’ve wanted for a long time. So minimum rental period is now 30 days.

    We have found a place that we could rent for 30 days, and the price is affordable. Of course, DD has exams, DS has school, and DH can’t take that long off. So current plan would be for me to drive out with DS (and a tuba) in early December, DD and DH to fly out when she’s done and he can take off and spend a week or so there over the holidays, then DH and DS fly home while DD and I finish out the month and then drive home (with a tuba). Note that it is not entirely a holiday, as I will have several VERY large work deadlines. But it’s the only way we could have our ski trip and visit our favorite town, and it would at least be a lovely change of scenery.

    And then I opened up the paper today and saw the Covid graph and thought: I am flat-out losing my mind to even think about this — everything is going to shut down, and if we actually get sick, I sure don’t want to be in Taos.

    So: what say you?

  32. I usually think the people who write in to AITA know full well that they are; the duck one got me because the writer was soooo not the asshole—her boyfriend was—but she thought she might be

  33. A month with a tuba in a vacation rental? You’re not the asshole—there isn’t one in this scenario—but I wonder if you’re ok, lol. Idk if it’s skiing you miss or the general feeling of being all cozy in the winter cabin, away from the world, but you can get both right next to home in West Virginia.

  34. I enjoy AITA but I just checked out Reddit Advice and that is mostly depressing. My favorite is The Moneyist. I like NextDoor advice requests, like the latest one asking if he should be concerned because he found four dead cats in his backyard.

    The vacation advice also struck a chord with me because our two kids have vastly different interests. It’s a challenge.

  35. “So: what say you?”

    I say that some of my favorite memories with my parents are of solo trips, and I did them with both of them at various times, even accompanying on some different work trips. It’s just such a different dynamic without the other parent, and/or without the sibling.

    So I’d say yes, absolutely, do it. I love a road trip.

    I need to find a way to do some of those on my own, but it’s not a normal thing to tell your spouse “I want to take a trip with Kid X, and without you.”

  36. LfB,

    Enterprise will rent you a Jetta for a month in Taos for $819. Google says it’s 27 hours each way so given your very comfortable circumstances using more than an entire work week of hours to save $819 seems like a poor use of your time.

    Can you just check the tuba or buy it its own seat?

  37. Milo, taking a solo trip with a kid is kind of normal around here. My husband has said that the solo trip he took with our oldest to drive out to college is a highlight of his life. I’ve taken my youngest and middlest on solo trips. It is a good thin.

    The words to your wife might be along the lines of:

    “Some of my favorite memories with my parents are of solo trips, and I did them with both of them at various times, even accompanying on some different work trips. It’s just such a different dynamic without the other parent, and/or without the sibling.

    I’d like to recreate that experience with our own children. What do you think about me taking oldest child with me on a solo trip before she is too old/too cool to go on an adventure with her dad?”

  38. LOL. I am highly amused at the tuba in its own seat. ;-)

    The driving is because (1) DD started off the whole discussion by proposing a road trip to NM this year (see: Milo’s comment); and (2) I’m still not sure about flying, particularly that distance, particularly with current numbers.

    IOW, the drive is a PITA, but it is also a feature rather than a bug. DH has even said we can take his swankmobile. ;-)

  39. Rhett,

    But the drive itself is also a form of adventure. On one of the trips taking DD1 to college, we decided to avoid freeways and stop at cool places. We found this one restaurant with a live blue grass band playing. We stopped at some tourist traps, stood on the corner of Winslow, Arizona.

    Sometimes it’s the journey as well as the destination.

  40. Rhett,

    It’s not 54 hours all at once. There is a lots of cool scenery to see between here and there. Lots of time to talk. Lots of stories to be made and retold.

  41. Milo, I’m trying to fit in 14 more days off. I have some specific things that need to get done for work, but I’m pretty committed to taking my days, so I’m sure o can make it work. There are worse problems to have!

  42. All this road trip talk has me remembering the time we did Lake Tahoe to Las Vegas via SF and LA and back to SF. We had a iPod (remember those?) full of comedy routines. Ron White, John Pinnet and others. And speaking of Ron White, he’s selling his house in LA.

  43. “I’m pretty committed to taking my days”

    yes, exactly. they could have an option where you can sell back unused vacation, but they don’t. they could let you carry more than a week forward, but they don’t. All this stuff to save them money, and I get it. But this is part of my compensation, and I’ve already given them a lot of free work this year.

    I’ll never be one of the people bragging about all the vacation I can’t take.

  44. Milo — Could you also suggest to your DW that she take an occasional solo trip with a kid, while you stay home with the others?

    Every summer for the past several years, DH has taken an individual kid camping with him for a few days. The other kid stays home with me. This works out fine, because I hate camping, and I enjoy being at home. DH gets a fun one-on-one camping adventure with a kid, and I get one-on-one home time with a kid, which is really nice, too. Win, win.

  45. “You start plotting that out on the Outlook calendar, as I’ve spent the past 30 minutes doing, and, holy hell, there aren’t a lot of workdays left between now and the new year.”

    I made this discovery yesterday as well. Looks like I’ll be working a bunch of half-days for the next 6 weeks, in addition to full vacation days around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    Like Becky, I have some specific things that need to get done for work, but I’m pretty committed to taking my days.

    In other news, pup is sick and still with the vet. I take back everything I ever said about people spending ridiculous sums of money on their pets. I totally get it now.

  46. I have 5 weeks of vacation/year (use it or lose it), and after taking all of last week off, I have now used every single day. I am proud of it!! We are closed for the entire week next week and also from Dec 24 – Jan 1, so I don’t need any days for the holidays. And it is quite shocking seeing how few working days are left in the year.

    I will be busy from now until the holiday break, so I strategically took most of that time in my slowest months.

    I will never be a person that proudly eats time off either.

  47. I’d go LfB. It’s your happy place, and if a change of scenery helps keep you from going dark, then go for it. I’m thinking about Risley and how she changed up her winter location and it is paying off.

  48. I’ll never be one of the people bragging about all the vacation I can’t take.

    I always figured that was another case of people wildly overestimating how much time other people spend thinking about them.

  49. Kim,

    I just took a quick look at The Moneyist. It’s A-MAZ-ING!

    You quitclaimed your home to your daughters before your divorce to shield it from any claims by your then-husband. That would not be looked upon kindly by the court, and your strategy (however flawed) speaks volumes about your cognitive abilities and motivations — if not your judgement — in doing so.

  50. My company just announced a 5 day vacation buy back. They had one in the summer too, so I can sell back 10 days total. I have almost 20 days left, and can carry over 10 days. I’ll be selling a few. The rest of my unaccounted days off this year will used under a different bank of days called “COVID Leave”, which I use for virtual school life.

  51. I remember when I was just getting out of college, my dad’s company (oil and gas) was having yet another round of layoffs. One of the men he worked with, who never took a vacation day and who used to give my dad a hassle about taking his, got laid off. My dad made sure o understood the company doesn’t care if you are so dedicated that you won’t even take a day off. When they need to cut, you get no loyalty in return. And I have also given a lot of free time this year, so am not inclined to give up more. I’m taking Monday, and a few upcoming Mondays, off. I decided I dislike Mondays more than Fridays.

  52. LfB – i’d say go for it. We are going to Palm Springs for 2 weeks in Feb. – one week school/work and one week vacation. I would have happily gone for a month.

  53. I’m also in the camp of using all of my vacation days. I have 5 weeks now because I took PTO in lieu of raises a couple of times and it’s use it or lose it. It resets on our anniversary date, which is mid July for me. My boss was flexible and let me carry over my balance this year so I wouldn’t have to take 8 days off and do nothing during covid.

    DW and I are going up to Fort Collins for the weekend for our 20th anniversary. We wanted to go to the restaurant at Keystone where we had our wedding, but they are closed. So we are going to go to a nice restaurant in Fort Collins that as of today is still open with limited capacity. Hopefully that doesn’t change before tomorrow night. I have two free nights at a Marriott to use, so if nothing else, we’ll have a nice break from everything. And hopefully they’ll have the pool and hot tub open.

  54. If spending (at least) 54 hours in the car is part of the adventure then great.

    Rhett, this is one of those “I can’t believe people don’t like the same things at me” things.

  55. Rhett, one of the comments to that column:

    Your daughter’s conduct is unethical. She learned it from you.


  56. DD,

    I meant what I said. The seats in the S90 are amazingly comfortable.

    It even has a thigh bolster.

  57. Laura, wait—DD proposed the road trip, but you’d be doing it with DS? Both ways? Cant you have her fly down with her dad and then drive back with you, while your son does the opposite and they both get some 1:1 time with each parent?

    Milo, if it helps kick-start the conversation, you could show DW an article from a parenting page/advice column (bonus points for working that in?) that says 1:1 time with parents is important. I know my favorite one says that a lot. Obviously, I don’t have the articles bookmarked, because it’s not exactly a problem for me. I also agree with NoB—you want to propose that you each do this, and let your wife have some control. You might want to establish it as a Family Tradition that you take each of them on a trip (maybe always to the same place, or maybe they get to choose) when they turn x years old, or that you take each of them on a trip each year. Your wife could do the same (although if you’re both doing the weekend trip, that adds up to two months of weekends apart each year!)

  58. SM — that’s what I’ve proposed to do. DD can’t go earlier because she has exams, and DS can’t stay later because his school starts back up.

  59. Laura, sorry—I was too lazy to scroll back and reread.

    Rhett, “Mr LfB”? Really? Seeing as that stands for Laura from Baltimore and “from”’is just the English word for “von”, don’t you think his name really should be “Mr von B”?

  60. SM,

    When I was in Germany I was once introduced as Rhett von Boston. I thought to myself, “Well that has a nice ring to it!”

    I think Herzog would be an appropriate title.

  61. Since I love useless information I had always known that the Penn family were once the world’s largest landowners on account of their ownership of Pennsylvania. What I didn’t know was that other similar grants were made. The Lords Baltimore at one time held almost feudal title to what is now Maryland.

    Frederick Calvert, 6th Baron Baltimore (6 February 1731 – 4 September 1771), styled The Hon. Frederick Calvert until 1751, was an English nobleman and last in line of the Barons Baltimore. Although he exercised almost feudal power in the Province of Maryland, he never once set foot in the colony, and unlike his father, he took little interest in politics, treating his estates, including Maryland, largely as sources of revenue to support his extravagant, often scandalous lifestyle.

  62. LfB – as someone had suggested earlier, go somewhere closer. It should still feel like a get away but not that much of a hassle to come back home fairly easily if you have to.

  63. Fortunately, I CAN carry over vacation. If I take 2 days at T-day (Weds before and Mon after) and Christmas eve through New Years off (5 days), I’ll carry almost 3 weeks into next year. So I’ll have almost 8 weeks to use in 2021. Hopefully I can use 6 in ways I feel are good. And, I’ll be able to carry time into 2022 also. 6 wks/yr in 2021, 22, 23 seems ok to me.

  64. Hahahhaha vacation – I never know how much I use any more! I took 2 weeks this year I know, because they were in the summer – I probably haven’t used any more than 3 weeks. I have both unlimited and no vacation since it’s all about dollars in the door. I’ll take some more time around Christmas and hope no one calls me wanting to make year-end gifts!

  65. I can only carry over five days and I have tried to carry over those instead of using everything up. It’s my emergency buffer. I had expected to have no carry over days this year since I took two weeks for a home country visit in Feb. I thought I would take more time over the summer but that didn’t happen. My workplace told us fairly early on that there would be no change to carry over days so people did take time off in the summer. Some have taken more time off in the fall around Columbus and Veterans Day than they would have. No one took time off for their normal Spring Break vacations.

  66. I’m waiting for DH to come back from his vacation. He and his BFF went hunting out of state They have been camping in frigid temperatures, dealt with howling winds that took down one of the tents. And when I’ve talked to them they’ve been giggling. Granted it was a manly, hunteresque giggle but definitely a giggle.

    I’m so glad DH can go do this with his BFF and I don’t have too.

    That’s all I can contribute to the topic of vacation right now.

  67. “some of my favorite memories with my parents are of solo trips”

    I had to read the post twice to figure out that those solo trips included more than one person. I initially thought the memories you referenced were with the parent who stayed home while the other was on a truly solo trip.

  68. OT, Hax is my favorite. She’s much more nuanced than most of the others.

    I really liked the earlier Prudence too.

  69. “I initially thought the memories you referenced were with the parent who stayed home while the other was on a truly solo trip.”

    As a kid, my friend’s dad always took solo vacation trips. Several weeks a year, just him taking vacation. Her parent’s divorced once all the kids graduated colleges. Turns out that he had a condo in Florida and would escape the family. He wasn’t much of a family man.

  70. I can mention it to DW in the future. I didn’t really think it would take a ton of convincing, just commenting tongue in cheek that it’s not something we’ve ever considered.

  71. Kerri,

    I hope your pup is ok. I’ve had to eat my words about spending ridiculous amounts of money at the vet. It’s never fun to have a sick pet and then realize how important the sick pet really is.

  72. I never noticed NYT’s Work Friend column before reading this blog post. Althouse raises an interesting question whether the “man-babies” problem is really an issue of men tending to eschew unnecessary TPS sheet type of work. I can relate to both sides in this case.

    … An underlying question is whether all the note-taking and meetings and regular check-ins really need to be done.

    You can look at this problem from different angles: 1. Women could be oppressing men by expecting work to be done with excessive meetings and documentation and bureaucracy. People who resist inefficiency are not necessarily babyish. 2. Men could end up coddling grown women if they get the message men violate gender equity norms when they don’t go along with the expectation that work be done with lots of stultifying meetings and note-taking…

    “I am quietly horrified by how fashionable it is to demean men in the academic setting and popular press. I heard a faculty colleague laughing about all the ‘mediocre white men’ in our shared course and it broke my heart, because even white men are people too.”

  73. Even white men are people too.

    I feel this. I completely get that the world has been skewed toward a certain demographic for a very long time, and that much needed change has come. At a macro level I’m fully on board. On a micro level, I have someone I love who has been told he’s virtually unemployable unless he teams with someone from an underrepresented group (who does not have any experience, because someone who already had experience would not need to team with him, but who will nonetheless get half the salary, because the “team” is filling one spot). It’s not an expanding pie where more people can all be successful. It’s a stagnant or shrinking pie, so the addition of some means the replacement of others.

    I have another someone I love who is applying to grad school but is not invited to any of the great hand-holding sessions to explain all the steps you need to follow to apply, with insider tips, etc. Those sessions are exclusively for certain groups. So again – I get it, I support it at a macro level and don’t need a lecture. But there are perfectly lovely white men who would also like to be able to pay rent and move forward in their careers. At least one is being told point blank that there’s just not a spot for his demographic now.

  74. In response to Kim s comment. The headline writers at the Times are the worst sort of click baiters. I did not care for Roxane Gays response to the letter as posted. She should have pointed the finger more at the writer that she should do her own work, and let his be left undone and the chips fall where it may, assuming it is not a life and death matter. I suspect that the full letter included more details, such as explicit refusal by a male team member to follow the group program on the basis that it was TPS or female BS and that the stupid rubric does not apply to him. I also take objection to the althouse rejoinder that a team member employee has a continuing right to resist actively inefficiency or other BS and expect to keep a job and advance. Workers, not just women, have for years completed work during normal work hours and the “team” or boss schedules meetings, or sets last minute deadlines, or obligatory social hours that have no direct project purpose, perhaps some development of collegiality, but disrupt the outside life or commute of some members. TPS reports or unneeded conf calls are an irritation, but part of corporate life.

  75. Thanks Cassandra. Pup was puking, had hemorrhagic diarrhea and was very dehydrated by the time we got him to the ER vet. With those symptoms in a 14 lb dog, things can go downhill quickly. He stayed there all yesterday and overnight for IV fluids and meds and to move him to oral meds and get him to eat. He’s doing much better and I get to pick him up today. I’m overjoyed – and haven’t looked at the final bill yet. ;)

    What a scary experience. It really brought home to me how much he is part of the family and how much we use him for comfort.

  76. For those with kids in college, what are off-campus rents like? Someone posted on the U of A FB group looking to sublet a room at one of the places that caters to students for the discounted price of $900 month for a room in a 2 bed 2 bath unit. The list price is $1360 per room, so $2720 total for a 730 sqft apt. It does have a private terrace and 55 inch TV and upgraded cabinets and storage. It sounds totally absurd to me even at $900 a month.

  77. For those with kids in college, what are off-campus rents like? Someone posted on the U of A FB group looking to sublet a room at one of the places that caters to students for the discounted price of $900 month for a room in a 2 bed 2 bath unit. The list price is $1360 per room, so $2720 total for a 730 sqft apt. It does have a private terrace and 55 inch TV and upgraded cabinets and storage. It sounds totally absurd to me even at $900 a month.

  78. I did a quick search and found plenty of places for $500-600 a month per person that still have amenities like pools and hot tubs.

  79. DD, it totally depends on the town. The cost of a similar place at DD2 undergrad town is 400-500 more per month than DD1s undergrad town.

  80. DD, it totally depends on the town.

    Obviously, that’s why I was asking what it is in different places.

  81. DD, despite DW’s and my serious misgivings, DD has been looking at options for moving near campus. It’s more like $1200/person/month for a 2BR/2Ba.

    Dorms through the school housing office run about $5k/semester, so same order of magnitude, although pre-pandemic there were also some higher density rooms for about $3100/semester.

    DD was definitely bummed about not being able to dorm this semester (which, BTW, ends next week). No word from the school yet on housing opening next semester (I think under current county restrictions, they won’t be able to open), so she’s extra bummed because she would’ve been in the Honors dorm, which is only for freshmen, and she was hoping to meet her crew their that she might live with for the next 3 years.

    DS is also waiting to hear about next semester. The school has said they’ll announce that by mid-December.

  82. Finn — I really hope your DS gets to go back to campus to finish his college experience.

  83. I’ve got a friend whose daughter is a freshman at Pepperdine. So she’s paying a gazillion dollars for her daughter to do remote schooling from her midwestern home. The daughter has found an apartment with a couple of other freshman girls and is moving out there in January. They fully expect California will leave the campus closed, but are itching to get out. She will be abroad for her sophomore year, so is weirdly expecting to not have a class on campus until her junior year.

  84. I also love advice columns, radio call in shows and think that’s partly why I like reality tv. It helps me feel better about myself that I’m not THAT much of a wreck. Funny, when I was a child, my family was kind of a wreck, so back then I watched tv and read advice columns to learn about so-called normal lives.

    I don’t read Dear Abby or Ann Landers anymore, but did when I was a kid and they were in the morning and evening paper. (Remember when it came twice a day?!). I liked to listen to Dave Ramsey, Dr. Laura, Clark Howard. I also like The Moneyist and Ask a Manager.

  85. Finn – lots of college students are living in the vicinity of their colleges even if classes are online. There is of course concern about their health and whether their room mates will bubble safely but at least they get to hang out with same age peers and capture a bit of the college experience.

  86. Cass, we don’t know yet. We’ve not yet heard from the school what the dorm situation will be for next semester, and TMK that’s not entirely up to the school They need to operate within whatever restrictions the County sets.

  87. Today’s Oxford comma example.

    “The highlights of his waning administration include encounters with Rudy Giuliani, a healthcare disaster and a dildo collector.”

  88. WCE – Benjamin Dryer knew exactly what he was typing, and not typing, to make a point. Check his twitter.

    (I really loved his book and have followed his twitter ever since. Very droll.)

  89. I can’t believe that no one has mentioned Social Qs and The Ethicist, both of the NYT. It used to be the highlight of our Sunday morning to see what troubles the silly people of the NYT had to cope with this week. For a long stretch, it seems like every ethical dilemma was actually, “Should I do what’s right or what’s easy?”. In family inside jokes, we will always aspire to be the kind of people who have to write to the ethicist about how we can approach our friends about the bedbugs in their chateau. Now that Kwame does the The Ethicist, the discussion is much higher quality and the dilemmas actually dilemmas.

    Social Q’s usually has a unifying theme (Thanksgiving invite problems), but is incredibly succinct and funny.

    Weirdly, both are somewhat buried if you read the online version.

  90. I’m going to have to bookmark some of these columns! Also, got a good gift idea, the DE calendar, for one of my kids. Thank you all!

  91. DD – in the town where a young relative of yours went the house my kid rents with 2 others is $2300/mo for a 3br.

  92. “Even white men are people too.”

    So this was a concern I had, not really for me at this point of my career*, but for DS2 as he was applying to med school(s). So many places had essay questions along the lines of “How will you contribute to making [Med school class at___________] more diverse?” Now that he has an acceptance, I’m less concerned for him, but I probably have feelings like that for my other two.

    *Now, for me, it might be a little of the diversity question but if anything it’s probably more ageism. Notes:
    1) there have not been many/any jobs internally at my level or one rung higher that I was actually interested in and even modestly qualified for this year. Either people staying in place or when folks leave the headcount has been (partially) captured.
    2) I haven’t pursued anything on the outside…no real need to because I like what I’m doing / people / comp … and I don’t feel like doing the virtual onboarding thing.

  93. Fred,

    You made a comment the other day about not being aware of any discrimination against white guys. I was surprised you couldn’t recount incidents where being a white guy was an advantage.

    Just picking random incidents from my past I was on a project where the manager would never listen to anything a women said. A female colleague would say, “I think we should break that task up into three parts.” On to the next topic. Rhett, what do you think about task A? Well, as Jenn said, I think we should break the task up into three parts. Great idea Rhett.

    Have you not come across a lot of incidents like that in your career?

  94. Well, as Jenn said, I’ve been fortunate to have had a few colleagues and advisors who did that regularly. Took me a while to understand how rare and necessary it is, and how many guys don’t even realize what’s going on.

  95. I noticed that behavior of men and women is changing in the office as there are more women at the table. Also, women managers are guilty of the same behavior when they are running teams or meetings. The same friends that are likely to cut you off while you are having lunch or coffee are probably going to do the same thing at work. Listening is a skill. Managing people is a skill. Knowing how to properly run a meeting is a skill.

  96. @Lauren – You are so right! All of that is a skill. And there are jerks of all genders. Company/Industry culture makes a difference too, but some of it is a general “jerks get ahead” culture vs a “no a-holes allowed” culture rather than explicitly being more female or diverse. I have definitely experienced sexism in my career, but it’s gotten much, much better than when I started working in the 90’s.

  97. Agreed. Sexists can be men or women; we’ve talked on here before about women bosses who had a horrible time coming up so expect others should suffer too. Also agree that being sexist is one of many ways to be a jerk. I still think the kind of polite counter-maneuvering Rhett mentioned is the best way a third party can help out with the conversational stuff. Men and women can jump in that way.

  98. I started reading the Dear Sugar book. The essay type answers are wonderful but some of the essays are a bit too long for me. Even so great examples of essay writing. I will buy DD the book.

  99. Interesting Louise — what age do you think the book is right for? I love the way Cheryl reframes so many questions – I think she is super talented at really understanding the meat of why a problem is a problem. I would love it for my DD, but think she might be too young.

  100. Ada – I too was trying to sort out whether it is appropriate for DD. She will be entering high school soon I want her to see examples of well written essays. I think this book does a good job of that. The advice too is great. It’s probably what I would have said but not so eloquently.

  101. “Have you not come across a lot of incidents like that in your career?”

    I don’t remember a lot of those types of incidents, even considering that I worked in male-dominated fields and I was on alert for such slights. What stands out more for me at least in my first career was not being considered as competent as my male colleagues because some coworkers thought I was an affirmative action hire. They didn’t take me seriously because they thought I had gotten special treatment along the way, especially since I was a double minority. I only learned about this later after I had become close friends with male coworkers. Clarence Thomas has written about his own experience with this and I’ve seen this play out all throughout my career.

  102. Interesting point-counterpoint on the articles, Kim. Like you, I see both sides, but with perhaps less sympathy for the man-babies.

    I have possibly the least tolerance for TPS-type work and note-taking of anyone in the firm. It’s not just that I don’t like it and am bad at it (which I don’t and I’m not). It’s more that at a very deep level, I resent the imposition of unnecessary busywork and CYA documetation that adds no value.

    OTOH, I don’t run the universe, and so I don’t get to decide what is necessary and reasonable. And when someone has decided what level of TPS-report-stapling is necessary for a particular project, you don’t just get to decide that you’re not going to do it and someone else can take care of it. That’s (a) completely passive-aggressive, and (b) a total dick move.

    By all means, push back on the need to do all the busywork — you will do the world a favor if you can knock even one TPS report off the must-do list. Talk to the people who make the decisions, make your case for why it’s a waste of time — and listen to the reasons they’re there, because you may not have all the context to understand why something may actually be needed.

    But if you’re still stuck with them, don’t be a princess. Suck it up and do your share.

  103. LfB,

    That sounds suspiciously like men tending to sneak out to go to some kid event while women tending to ask permission.

  104. Rhett — yep. Except in this case, it’s more like sneaking out to go to the kid’s game when you have a deadline that someone else needs to jump in and cover for you.

    Both involve a sense of entitlement. But the latter also involves a significant degree of dickishness, because you know someone else will have to pick up your slack.

    I do get it: when you have a power structure where you can’t fix things directly, then you can either comply or be passive-aggressive. And it’s much better to know your worth, do what you think is right, and ask forgiveness if you need to.

    But the problem with team projects is that the team always gets the same grade; the bosses just want the project, and they *really* don’t want to get into whininess about who did what. So if you refuse to do XYZ, that means someone else is going to have to do it for you, in addition to their other tasks. If they do, then you get praise you didn’t earn; if they don’t, then you bring them down with you. And that’s a dick move.

  105. because you know someone else will have to pick up your slack.

    I thought we were talking about the TPS reports that no one ever reads or does anything with?

  106. Rhett — the advice column addressed a team project. I agree it’s very different if what you’re doing affects only you.

  107. Rhett — the advice column addressed a team project.


    it falls to women to take notes, organize their colleagues and make sure work gets done with regular check-ins and meetings.

    Notice how the actual work is of secondary concern to her. The process is foremost in her mind. She’s concerned with taking notes and making sure…not with actually doing the work. Is it possible that if she dramatically reduces her note taking and organizing all these check-ins and meetings that the work will still get done? Sure. It’s certainly possible. It’s even possible that more work will get done with fewer check-ins and meetings.

  108. Oh and just a note that one of things I like about advice columns is to try and figure out what is really going on since we’re only getting half of the story. We have her half. What’s the other half?

  109. Rhett — you may be right — I read her reference to “teams” and “project teams” and inferred an actual (singular) project with an actual team to implement. But if it’s just one of those corporate “team” structures and she’s talking about how things go on an everyday basis, then that could be different. (Although it could also be the same, if it’s her manager who is setting the TPS expectations.)

    ITA about the half a story, and I had the same thought on that post as well. If she’s the one setting the expectations, and she’s micromanaging everything, then she needs to consider if the guy has a point.

    I also thought her implementation of the advice she was given demonstrated some managerial deficits. “I’ve done a few things to address this, including talking to a few senior (female) leaders. Their advice was (a) bring it up directly with group members not doing their fair share, or (b) let them fail. I tried both. When I had a direct conversation with a male colleague who is a particular offender, he simply did not agree and refused to acknowledge this might be happening.”

    Uhh, yeah. Your leaders didn’t tell you to accuse your male colleagues as a whole of playing passive-aggressive on the TPS reports (seriously, what conversation has ever ended well when it starts with “hey, I notice you and the other men aren’t pulling your weight and are leaving us women holding the bag”?). Your leaders told you to expect a male colleague to do his assignments the same way you do a female colleague, and to either talk to him directly when he doesn’t meet a particular deadline, or ignore him entirely and let him deal with the consequences.

  110. LfB,

    Is she a manager or is she just a co-worker who has taken it upon herself to manage the team?

    Within the project teams I’m a part of, it falls to women to take notes, organize their colleagues and make sure work gets done with regular check-ins and meetings.

    Organize their colleagues makes it sound like she’s the self appointed manager.

  111. Rhett — I’m assuming a colleague, which is why I agree with your two-sides-of-the-story comment. But at the same time, the way teams are set up, someone needs to step in to run the show. I.e., you have A, B, C, and D on your team; B-D are assigned to cover different aspects of the project, and A is assigned to put together the report. They are all colleagues, but A is reliant on the input of B-D to complete her task. So even if they are equivalent levels, A still has to create deadlines (so she has enough time to answer questions and prepare drafts for circulation), go back to B-D to fill in gaps in what they created and answer questions, and generally run the show.

    You’d hope management would do that, but usually management doesn’t understand all the details of what needs to be done with that degree of clarity to do so.

  112. LfB,

    In my world A can suggest courses of action and get the team to agree. An example, “B-D do you feel that next Friday is reasonable for your finishing X?” But the actual bossing around “B-D this needs to be done by Friday.” has to be done by management. You don’t ask employees to manage their fellow employees.

  113. “You don’t ask employees to manage their fellow employees.”

    Well of course you don’t. And yet it happens all the time. ;-)

  114. And yet it happens all the time. ;-)

    I’ve honestly never seen that. But maybe what you think of managing I think of as PMing. Managing implies control over promotions, raises, terminations, work at home and other flexibility, etc. PMs can just ask nicely.

Comments are closed.