Words of the year

by AustinMom

What do you think of the Words of the Year? Do you have a favorite? Is one missing?
My personal word of the year is flexibility. It is the trait I have had to stretch the most these past 9 months. While I am definitely a planner, I am also flexible in a number of ways. However, the inability to plan for things like when DD#2 will return for her Spring college semester 8 weeks out, does make me anxious.

See the Words of the Year here – The OED and then the NYT list.

** It may be behind a paywall, if so, LMK and I will copy and paste the word lists.

112 thoughts on “Words of the year

  1. My top vote would be “unprecedented”.
    Other words and phrases I saw too much of:
    hybrid learning
    in-person
    zoom
    dashboard (as in COVID dashboard or learning dashboard)
    pod
    chaos

  2. I can’t stand this phrase which our school district and some other places use all of the time now –

    Out of an abundance of caution, we …….

  3. My experience of this year was different from most people’s. The world slowed down to the speed I’ve been operating at for several years, and it feels like I might be able to power back up with everyone else. So maybe “return” or “rise” or “coming back” (although maybe “comeback is better for the new year).

    Lauren, was “cohort” used more this year than in other years? I must’ve missed it.

  4. SM, everything related to school is cohort. Cohort A, Cohort B, both Cohorts. I’m so over hearing it because it means my kids still are not in appropriate grade level learning environments. Prior to 2020 I never used that word.

  5. I was busy cleaning yesterday and didn’t read. So a delayed response adult peer group question. Generally, I believe strongly in the secret to happiness is low expectations, and I’ve done well by most measures. But I was just reading a list of the most highly paid public company employees in our region and got surprised seeing a friend. I thought we both did well, but omg. She’s 2-3x me.

  6. For some reason, it irritates me that “mask” and “distance” have become verbs — as in, we’re “masking” and “distancing.”

    Also, the word I hear all the time that really has no meaning is “quarantine.” Some people use it to describe isolation, some to describe staying home (but not isolating), some to describe just kinda sorta limiting some of your activities…I look forward to the day when we don’t have to hear that word all the time.

  7. s&m, yes!! Lemon tree is right. cohort is another annoying word.

    Any time some is positive, the only information we receive is the name of the cohort.

    My favorite new term is curbside pickup. You want to do the work for me and I never get out of my car – awesome! I hope curbside pick up is here forever.

  8. Thanks, LT and Lauren. That’s a new use of it for me. I was just the I king of the standard use of the term in sociology, of people who *are* (roughly) the same age.

  9. As a Jets fan, I was sick of hearing “Tank for Trevor” :) No longer an issue since they’ve won a couple of games.

    Update on DS: To answer the question someone asked, he picked environmental science because AP Environmental was the only academic class he took in HS that he liked. He has been doing more research into financial planning, he found some website about it where people in the field posted videos talking about what they do. And I emailed the CFP we use to see if she would be willing to talk to him about it as well.

    I saw the link on the other thread about the career conferences or such at high schools and I think we really need a lot more of that. We really need to help kids learn more about jobs and careers earlier instead of advising them to pick a major they are interested in without really knowing what kinds of jobs it leads to.

  10. There is a grocery store here, Cub Foods, that makes you do your own bagging, no matter how many items you have. The cashier scans it for you, sends it down, and you have bag it. I hate that store, and only go there if I’m desperate for an item or two. Since Covid, they rolled out Curbside Pick Up, and I find it hilarious that anyone would still go into that store, shop, and bag your groceries. They’ll now shop for you, bag it, and bring it out! But when I drive by (same plaza as the pet store) there are loads of people (lots of seniors) pushing their own carts through the slush of the parking lot.

  11. *thinking.

    Btw, individual fireworks started going off here a few hours ago. I don’t know where people got them, because they’re supposedly not permitted this year. The big displayed at midnight have been canceled. I’m not sure if we are going out of not. Last year we walked around for over an hour and were amazed at the ongoing activity wherever we went. I’m curious what will happen this year, can’t imagine the Polizei being able to muster enough cops to actually prevent the city from erupting, wonder how physical they wil get in stopping fireworks. Our general observation is that cops here use much less force, swagger and bravado than in the US.

  12. “ We really need to help kids learn more about jobs and careers earlier instead of advising them to pick a major they are interested in without really knowing what kinds of jobs it leads to.”

    Why? It takes both.

    A kid might get I to a major or even a few years into a career before realizing they really don’t like it and aren’t going to like it and then losing the time and expense that’s gone into getting as far as they’ve gotten.

    Starting with interests and then looking for a career that matches seems like a much better way to make sure they find something they are happy in and will stick with. That might mean not taking the most obvious route to use whatever it is they like to do.

    LOl at the Cubs food comment. It’s the norm here to pack your own groceries. Kids get plenty of time, men are cut some slack sometimes, but a grown-ass woman buying groceries is expected to keep up with the cashier sliding things through. The other night I couldn’t get it together, so I apologized to the couple behind me. I’d heard them speaking English to each other and knew they were American, so I said I felt I was failing as a German woman. The woman laughed and said she’s been there.

  13. We really need to help kids learn more about jobs and careers earlier instead of advising them to pick a major they are interested in without really knowing what kinds of jobs it leads to.

    And the day to day reality of that job. You want to be an architect? Is it because you think you’ll be Zaha Hadid designing the great works of civilization? The reality is you’ll be sitting in meetings with the developer, the engineer, the builder signing off on changes to the design the firm you work for originally proposed.

    Or you want to be a chef because you like to cook? Ok. Being a chef in a way that’s going to allow a middle class lifestyle means at most 20% will be cooking and 80% will be the day to day grind of running a business in a notoriously difficult industry.

  14. Rhett, yes, that’s exactly why I think it’s important to base career decisions on what you actually want to do. Neither of the architects I know irl, the neighbor who WFHed already a decade ago or the ex who now has an architecture/interior design company with his wife (and who happens to have become a chef before going to college, btw) and who also WFH have a day-to-day like you describe, but from what Kerri posted recently maybe her husband does. It’s important to know the different ways to have whatever kind of career. As much as you like to travel, I assume there are jobs for people with the same degree you have who don’t travel at all.

  15. “For some reason, it irritates me that “mask” and “distance” have become verbs — as in, we’re “masking” and “distancing.” “

    The improper use of nouns as verbs bothers me too, but in these two cases, TMK both words are also verbs. At least, their use as verbs goes back as far as I can remember.

    OTOH, often the use of nouns as verbs is quite concise, and I appreciate concision.

  16. DD, I was the one who asked. It seemed like such a leap from environmental science to financial planning.

    Is there an actual major in financial planning? I would think it might make more sense to get a degree in business or finance that punches the ticket for a bunch of jobs, and provides a base of knowledge that would allow a financial planner to understand changes in the financial industry and how they affect individuals.

    I’m also curious what it was about environmental science that he found interesting. If he can distill that, it could guide him in seeking other classes/fields to explore that he might find interesting.

    My kids, especially DS, had the opposite problem. They enjoyed most of their classes, which also makes picking a major difficult.

  17. S&M,

    The other issue in terms of careers is do you want to be one of 5 people competing for every job or do you want to have 5 employers competing for every candidate? You could be very interested in a tournament type career where the competition is very stiff. But if you were somewhat less interested in a career where you’d be the sought after commodity, that might be a better choice.

  18. S&M, that frenetic bagging scenario is found all over Europe. To make it even worse, the area to contain the groceries is really small, usually divided into two areas so that the cashier can start the next one as soon as he/she finishes ringing you up, but lordy if you are too slow and still have stuff in your area when it is time to switch back to your area. These are part of the many teeny reasons that Europeans don’t have big families.

  19. Rhett, I consider the question of stiff competition to be part of the day-to-day life in a career. If competition gets you fired up and energized, awesome, but if it stresses you out so you are drained and unable to do your best, then it’s best to find another way to use your talents.

    “ I’m also curious what it was about environmental science that he found interesting. If he can distill that, it could guide him in seeking other classes/fields to explore that he might find interesting.”. Yup. Lots of things could be included in a HS environmental sciences course. Maybe the thing that really interested him is a niche corner of that field. Maybe it is a thing that carries over to many different careers. Take the time to figure out what parts he enjoyed the most and did best on to come up with what to look for in a career/major.

  20. We finally eliminated plastic bags here about a month or two ago – they let it slide for a long time because of the pandemic. The paper bags are horrible, very similar to the ones I remember from being a small kid – undersized, prone to ripping, no handles. How I hated those bags as a kid because my mother didn’t drive and we would have to walk back from the grocery store holding those things. My arms would be aching. They are so pedestrian unfriendly. So you would think everyone would have their reusable bags with them at all times – but no. I go into our local stores and 2/3 of the shoppers just pay the 5 cents for the icky paper bags. One problem is that the cashiers in some stores make it clear they hate reusable bags and will stand there just staring until you start loading it yourself.
    I tried curbside pickup from the Shoprite a couple of months ago. It was not good. They dump all the groceries in a bin, and lay the bags on top (and still charge you). We had to stand in the rain and bag the groceries ourselves. Won’t be using that again. I like their delivery service but it is expensive so I have gone back to Stop and Shop’s delivery. Cheaper but they are often late.

  21. “ lordy if you are too slow and still have stuff in your area when it is time to switch back to your area.”

    Bwahaha yes! Here, they only use that divider rarely. They are much more likely to use a harsh stare to tell the middle-aged woman that she’d best get her act and her groceries together STAT. Storss are closed now, for three days, just as they were over Christmas. I can’t imagine having to drag home enough food for more than the two of us to get through three days!

  22. They do a career fair in our middle school. They always have a lawyer and someone who owns a business and maybe a accountant and a policeman. They rely on parent volunteers so several times I told them I could talk about careers in computing, but they never took me up on it

  23. “How I hated those bags as a kid because my mother didn’t drive and we would have to walk back from the grocery store holding those things.”

    And you never thought of a better way to do it?

  24. “Bubble” as in “so and so is in my bubble…” “we are expanding our bubble..”

    I like visualizing this one for some reason.

  25. We have gone from eliminating paper bags for reusable plastic bags and being shamed for forgetting to bring your own, to bringing your own is not allowed at all, to you can only use your own if you bag your own stuff from last March until now.

    I worked as a checker/bagger all through high school and college, I prefer to bag my own stuff so I can sort it by location in the house it is going.

  26. Rhett, I consider the question of stiff competition to be part of the day-to-day life in a career.

    Only in some careers. The career you chose probably has the stiffest competition/tournament model of any potential career.

  27. When I lived in Spain, I never had to bag my won groceries. The main large store I went to was a Carrefour, but I didn’t at any of the others either.

    The rules keep changing here in 2020. There is a city tax on each plastic bag. For a little while, that was waived because of the pandemic. Now reusable ones are kind of back, but only partially. Whole Foods is encouraging them again & giving the bag credit if you bring them. The local Kroger variant allows them but only if you then bag your own. And Target pick up all comes out in plastic bags & you get charged the tax for them – no choice.

  28. My old complaint about plastic bags was that they would always double bag because the bags were so thin. Now that they charge for bags the new ones are 5mm thick and apparently made of Kevlar. I swear they could literally stop a bullet. Talk about going from one extreme to the other.

  29. “And you never thought of a better way to do it?”

    Like in what sense? Even if my mother drove, we only had one car and it went with my father every day. He often worked on weekends so he wasn’t around for grocery shopping.
    Grocery stores back then were utterly set up for people who drove. The baggers had stacks of the paper bags. When I was really small, the bags actually came out on these rollers, and you drove your car up and loaded them. The stores stopped using them by the time I was in elementary school but some stores still had them set up. By that time, the baggers would put the bags into your cart, all stacked in a neat way. You would wheel it out to the curb, dad would go get the station wagon, and you would load them up. I never saw canvas or plastic bags with handles for shopping until we moved to Germany. I know you can’t imagine this, but it was a revelation to me. But now we are back to 1969 bag technology.

  30. Rhett, OK, so that should’ve been “the presence or absence of stiff competition”

    Fireworks are going strong from the neighborhood I expected would ignore the rules. Don’t hear many from other directions. The public TV station ZDF is apparently putting on a show at Brandenburg Gate as usual. The twitter tag “BrandenburgerTor” is full of people complaining about the misuse of funds, lack of safety, tonedeafness of having (& airing) such a big party. “Silvestershow” is the usual kind of comments for a tv special–nice act, how’d they do that, etc. There’s also a tag “Böller” (fireworks) of people complaining about them and rolling their eyes at the people who bought up pyrotechnics all year in prep for tonight.

  31. Mooshi, I was guessing that schlepping home with those bags must’ve been before you lived in Germany! Simple fabric backpacks or crossbody/totebags would’ve been a lot easier, but of course you know that now. Did your mom say anything about the revelation? I’m picturing her slapping her forehead, V8 style.

  32. I think the whole in store grocery shopping has to be reimagined. I get in and out of my grocery store quickly because I arrange my list to match the aisles, I don’t wander around, my cart I try to arrange for quick bagging The more times, I go there, the more I think it’s a hive of inefficient design and process.

  33. I get in and out of my grocery store quickly because I arrange my list to match the aisles

    Which works great until they shuffle the stock around to different aisles. Drives me crazy. I know they’re doing it to force you to linger and to look at more items.

  34. We tried a wagon for a while but there were no sidewalk cutouts back then and when you tried to get the wagon up over the curb, everything would fall out

  35. The better option would be those carts like a lot of New Yorkers use – the tallish wire mesh ones – but again, those did not exist in the suburban Midwest.

  36. “I arrange my list to match the aisles”

    My mom used to do this. When we used something up, we were supposed to write it on the list (w/c was on paper) but I could never figure out where to write things, because the list was in the order of the store. If it was a new one, there would be just a few words, scattered about apparently at random. I tried doing it in Tampa, but there were always several Publix and Targets where I shopped. I got to know how each was laid out, so I could find things quickly in any of them, but couldn’t write lists in that order, because I didn’t always know when I started the list which store I’d go to in a few days.

    BTW, I think I’m going to stop trying to chat with family, at least for a while. Forgive me if I’m extra-clingy or loquacious, and feel free to email saacnmama@hotmail.com

  37. RMS – they don’t do that too much at my store. They tend to do big changes and leave things as is for a while. They touch only the seasonal displays. I think they get pushback from customers when they move chocolate milk mix from the breakfast to the baking aisle.

  38. On the various Pulixes (Publixi?) and Targets–I did write lists grouped by category, like all the produce together, or all the breakfasty things. Even though they were placed differently in stores, those kind of units cohered.

  39. “Simple fabric backpacks or crossbody/totebags”
    S&M, showing my age now, those things did not exist in the American suburbs in 1969. Backpacks were aimed at backpackers and hitchhikers and were expensive and heavy. Backpacks as a normal means of transport really did not take off until I was in high school in the later 70’s.

  40. One of the things that I love about Super Stop n’ Shop is that they have never varied their basic layout since around 1988 when I first shopped in one. They can be left handed (produce on the left ) or right handed, but the layout remains the same. That isn’t true of the small ones like the one in our town, just the Supers. I always like to shop at them because I know exactly where to find everything.

  41. MM,
    Backpacks didn’t show up for students till I went to college. It was a revelation. But we didn’t have them in high school. Everyone just carried their books in a stack (Brady Bunch style). And yes the grocery store paper bags that were too small and thin and had no handles. My mom didn’t drive either but the grocery store was beyond walking distance so my dad had to drive us on evenings or Saturdays. He would drop her off and head to the driving range and until we were older and could stay home alone all of us kids would have to come too.
    We especially enjoyed the magic door that swung open when customers stepped on the rubber mat thingy.

  42. We tried a wagon for a while but there were no sidewalk cutouts back then and when you tried to get the wagon up over the curb, everything would fall out

  43. Mooshi, I’m guessing that there were no engineers, in the LfB sense of the word, in your family back then that would McGyver something better than the paper bags.

    I’m trying to remember back what we had back in the 60s. I agree that backpacks weren’t in common use back then, although we did have some for hiking that I might’ve used had I been in your situation. I recall that shoulder strap schoolbags were common back then, and likely would’ve provided some improvement. I’ve also mentioned that my mom had a literal totebag that she used a lot that would’ve also likely been an improvement over fragile paper bags, especially for anything cold.

    But it is interesting to reflect on how shopping bag technology has evolved and how much less regional we’ve become.

  44. “Backpacks as a normal means of transport really did not take off until I was in high school in the later 70’s.”

    One of my HS classmates was a trendsetter and was the only one in my HS using a backpack to carry books for a while. But by the time I got to college they were ubiquitous.

  45. I had no idea the wire carts were regional. In DC metro We used them to take the laundry down to the apt building laundry room or to take the groceries out of the car from the lot or garage to the the apt. Of course, when I was small and we didnt have a car we walked to the grocery, selected, paid at the register, and they bagged and delivered them.

  46. Mooshi, I’m guessing that there were no engineers, in the LfB sense of the word, in your family back then that would McGyver something better than the paper bags.

    It’s interesting to hear your thinking distilled down to that level. Engineering is fundamentally about making the world a better place.

  47. There is a grocery store here, Cub Foods, that makes you do your own bagging, no matter how many items you have

    I went there all the time when I lived in Chicago because they were so cheap. I’ve never minding bagging my own stuff. The King Soopers (Kroger) we go to doesn’t have a bagger most of the time, so you either bag it yourself while the cashier is scanning, or you wait for the cashier to bag for you after they finish scanning, which IMO is really rude. And now if you bring your own bags, you have to do your own bagging.

    And I much prefer going into the store for groceries because 1. I want to pick my own produce 2. I don’t always know what I want and like to browse, and 3. It’s much easier to compare prices in the store than on-line.

  48. We just had our NY Eve entertainment, since the Met Opera broadcast was from Augsburg. Two tenors two sopranos. Great voices, if a little heavy on greatest hits and pasta music. I enjoyed an unexpected holiday gift. DH remembered that when he met me years ago I liked Scotch, single malt, but since he cant really drink I stopped having it in the cabinet. With no knowledge of my preferences at all, he avoided the peaty ones and selected a 21 year Glenfiddich, right in my wheelhouse. It has to be more than 10 years since I had a taste.

  49. Starting with interests and then looking for a career that matches seems like a much better way to make sure they find something they are happy in and will stick with. That might mean not taking the most obvious route to use whatever it is they like to do.

    Yes, that’s what I said. Find a career that seems to be a good match and work back from there.

    And the day to day reality of that job

    Exactly. One of the nurses I work with asked me if her HS-aged daughter could shadow me one day because she was interested in becoming an NP. I must have really turned her off it because she enlisted in the Air Force when she graduated. :)

  50. “Of course, when I was small and we didnt have a car we walked to the grocery, selected, paid at the register, and they bagged and delivered them.”
    My mother remembered that but delivery had totally gone away by my childhood. Even milkmen were largely disappearing. I thought the idea of delivery sounded magical. And indeed, when I moved to Manhattan in the early 90’s, I did think delivery sushi was magical

  51. In the home country, we have come full circle. When I was growing up, people bought produce and fruit from
    the market stalls with many vendors or from street hawkers. You took a couple of canvas Totebags and they put things in those. Other than grains, flour and pulses, people shopped either daily or every other day. Then plastic bags became the norm. Now it’s back to Totebags. However, delivery is pretty efficient now, you can order online from supermarkets or call your local grocer with your order. Majority of people still don’t use supermarkets for food shopping.

  52. Until backpacks showed up around 78-79, we carried our books in our arms. Here is a funny detail that I always remembered – girls and boys held their books differently. Girls cradled them one arm in the front, like a baby, and boys held them at the side, arm dangling down, so the books where kind of at hip level. I wonder why?

    In Germany we had these uber nerdly leather satchels, which could be worn on the back but also fit into your rattrap carrier on the back of your bike. Since I always biked to school, that was how I carried my books. In school we had these massive wooden two person desks, set in an iron frame, like in Laura and Mary. On the sides were hooks for hanging your satchel.

  53. Is there an actual major in financial planning?

    Yes – https://cals.arizona.edu/fcs/pffp

    I would think it might make more sense to get a degree in business or finance that punches the ticket for a bunch of jobs, and provides a base of knowledge that would allow a financial planner to understand changes in the financial industry and how they affect individuals.

    This is why I want him to talk to people so they can give him guidance in regards to major and such if that’s what he decides to do.

    The other issue in terms of careers is do you want to be one of 5 people competing for every job or do you want to have 5 employers competing for every candidate?

    Yet another reason to talk to people in the field – they can tell you how difficult or easy it is to break into.

    They do a career fair in our middle school.

    I think that’s too early. I don’t think most kids that age can really put it all together. They need to do it in HS when kids are thinking about college and majors.

    Denver Dad, AZ has a good sports management program. Given what you’ve said about your son’s interests, it seems like that might be an enjoyable option with career potential.

    I will mention it to him, thanks!

    One of my HS classmates was a trendsetter and was the only one in my HS using a backpack to carry books for a while. But by the time I got to college they were ubiquitous.

    When I was in college, everyone wore them with just one strap. I have no idea why, but very few people used both straps.

  54. When I visited the home country this year, my cousin and myself forgot our Totebag and the store wouldn’t give us any bag, but they wrapped our purchase neatly in newspaper and we carried it home that way.

  55. Here is a funny detail that I always remembered – girls and boys held their books differently. Girls cradled them one arm in the front, like a baby, and boys held them at the side, arm dangling down, so the books where kind of at hip level. I wonder why?

    There’s actually been a ton of research. The leading theory is that girls’ wider hips make it more difficulty or uncomfortable for them to carry books on their sides under their arms. Here’s one study from back in 1978:

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272039852_Influences_of_anatomical_differences_on_gender-specific_book-carrying_behavior

  56. Other than grains, flour and pulses, people shopped either daily or every other day.

    “ A legume (/ˈlɛɡjuːm, ləˈɡjuːm/) is a plant in the family Fabaceae (or Leguminosae), or the fruit or seed of such a plant. The seed is also called a pulse.”

    Huh, you learn something new every day. I don’t think I’ve ever heard pulse used to refer to a legume.

  57. MM,
    I was actually going to mention the gender differences in book carrying but never realized that others had noticed it too.
    Amazing what you learn here.

  58. Enjoy Meme! Your story made me smile.

    Denver Dad, when I lived in Chicago I shopped at Cub Foods…and there was a bagger. For some reason the stores up here have never had them. The idea of a young parent with a baby and toddler trying to bag while getting the stink eye seems so not worth the struggle. If you want to have them bagged you shop at Target, Lunds, or Jerrys. Service is better all around at those places too.

  59. “I liked Scotch, single malt, but since he cant really drink I stopped having it in the cabinet. With no knowledge of my preferences at all, he avoided the peaty ones and selected a 21 year Glenfiddich, right in my wheelhouse.”

    RMS will probably get that this instantly reminded me of a scene early in The Big Sleep. 1:55 in this clip.

  60. “DD, so other people noticed it too!!”

    Absolutely. Guys who carried their books like girls, or vice versa, were likely to get teased or bullied about that.

  61. DD’s school announced a week of remote school. DS’s school says that they are going back in person. From social media, DD tells me that families have travelled to ski areas, while other kids are at parties. Let’s see what happens the first week and how many cases are reported.

  62. Finn said the magic word

    Officially, the tote bag was born in the forties in the shop of the emblematic outdoor brand L. L. Bean. The famous brand came up with the idea of an ice bag in 1944. … Back then, the L. L. Bean ice bag was exactly that: a large, sturdy, durable canvas bag to carry ice from the car to the freezer. ll bean totebag history

    My guess is that it isn’t that other things weren’t available—they just didn’t come to mind because the term “grocery bag” had such a fixed meaning. https://www.ebay.com/b/Hippy-1970s-Vintage-Bags-Handbags-Cases/74962/bn_19379512

  63. When I started, yes. My year, the 9th graders and the 10th graders both started at the high school. My junior high had been 7th-9th, high school had been 10th-12th, but that year they switched the junior high to middle school. 6th-8th. So it was controlled chaos my first year because we 10th graders came over with the 9th graders.

  64. “I had no idea the wire carts were regional. In DC metro We used them to take the laundry down to the apt building laundry room or to take the groceries out of the car from the lot or garage to the the apt. “

    In my little Midwestern town in the 70s and 80s, we had neither backpacks nor wire carts. When my sister started college in the early 80s, backpacks were a thing there and yes, they were always worn over just one shoulder.

    Denver, idk about women’s hips making it hard to hold books hanging down, but men lack the convenient shelf that a hip makes for holding books or babes. :)

    I’ve just come back from my New Year’s Eve stroll. Left home at midnight, smelled gun powder as soon as I stepped outside. I have been very curious how successful the verbot on celebrating New Years would be. Here’s what I saw.

    All through Kreuzberg, I came across only small groups of people, but the sound of firecrackers was constant, and there were usually some streaking across the sky or blossoming somewhere within view. We could hear the wall of sound for an hour or two before I left, and it was constant for over an hour while I walked. Back home now, I can still hear it, but it is more subdued. There was definitely a police presence. I saw them entering one apartment, there was a helicopter, and there were several fleets of vans. A guy I talked to said yes, they had been coming through and breaking things up all night.

    After more than an hour, I took a subway to Alexanderplatz. Last year when we were there, it was packed with revelers. Tonight I got off the train and was struck by the number of transit service security officers, some of them with Kevlar vests and handcuffs, etc. Up in the square, there was no one. I walked closer and saw that it had been fenced off, with signs explaining that it was closed and vans of cops stationed all the way around. Heading across the southern part of Alex, by the Fernsehturm, I chatted with a guy who told me he’d been on a bridge I’d walked across in Kreuzberg. On warm evenings, it is usually full of people hanging out, talking, drinking, smoking and just relaxing. Tonight I thought it odd that the bridge was empty but people were standing close by. He said that the police came through and moved people off repeatedly, and a few minutes later it was full again.

  65. DD, the dad of a MS friend of DS is a financial planner, and when our DSs were friends, he had just hired a friend of mine to work for him.

    He told me that for a financial planner starting out, the big challenge is getting clients, and that often involved a lot of cold calling. Once you have a client base, it is possible to grow your business without having to chase after new clients, if your existing clients’ accounts grow through a combination of continued deposits and your doing a good job of generating returns.

    He hired my friend because in addition to this type of growth, his client list continued to grow due to word of mouth advertising and clients assigned by his parent business. He also wanted to step back and enjoy life a little more.

    So another way into the business is like my friend, whose first FP job already came with a client base. The tradeoff was that those aren’t really his clients.

  66. I am mid-40s.

    We had a wire cart. When I was a little kid in a city, that was common, but we were the only ones with a folding wire cart in a small town in the 80’s. The thin, terrible paper bags were the norm when I was a kid – again, 80’s. I don’t remember plastic bags being common until the 90’s. And I definitely had a backpack even for kindergarten (early
    80’s). I organize my grocery lists by department (e.g., Produce).

    Happy New Year, Totebag friends!

  67. I shopped at Cub in college because it was cheap. I didn’t know that they even had that chain around here, but it looks like they are pretty much gone. And maybe were never near me.

  68. “The thin, terrible paper bags were the norm when I was a kid ”

    BITD, where I lived the paper bags for groceries were made from pretty thick paper. A lot of non-grocery stores used bags made of much thinner paper.

    I remember our teachers recommending that we use the thicker bags from grocery stores to cover our books, rather than the thinner bags.

  69. IDK why it took so long, but for backpacks to go from niche use to ubiquity took very little time. I thought at the time it might be a fad, but that didn’t turn out to be the case.

    I think the sheer practicality and adaptability of backpacks led to their ubiquity.

    BTW, I remember the first backpack I bought as a book bag. It was just after first moving into the dorm, a bunch of us went to the mall and we all bought backpacks. I still have mine, and last I looked, it’s still in good shape.

  70. We had a wire cart, too, that we used mainly for groceries. I had friends that didn’t have washers in their buildings and they had to use the wire cart to schlep the family laundry back & forth to the laundromat. My mother currently uses a smaller version with an insulated container on a wheeled cart. I’ve seen them in Europe.

    Enjoy your scotch, Meme!

  71. “I’ve seen them in Europe”.

    Yep, see these all the time (but I assume less expensive models)

  72. During my Catholic elementary school days we used book satchels like these, some soft side but also the heavy duty suitcase-like bags that 8th graders liked to use.


  73. I always had a backpack. In elementary it mainly just held my lunchbox. By middle school I carried a lot more books, but felt backpacks were lame and went with either a crossbody satchal or a big Totebag (or like a Vera Bradley bag, before there was Vera Bradley). My shoulders hurt from those bags, but I looked “cool”.

    I have no memory of grocery store bags, but I always went shopping with my mom. I can still remember the layout of the IGA and Kroger. Kroger was my preferred one, because they had a better selection of stickers, and my mom always let me get a pack of stickers.

  74. In my small town, because of where the grocery store was located, everyone drove to it. And the baggers wheeled the bags out to the car and put them in for you. I got a backpack for college and yes, carried it on one shoulder. It’s terrible on your back, but honestly it’s still a habit that I have to think about to not do now. I rarely carry a backpack now but have a tumi one I use when I travel.

  75. My current granny cart resembles the one SM posted, but holds a fullsized US bag of groceries or a 14 lb bag of kitty litter. . In warm weather I often do midweek shopping. Otherwise I bring a day backpack with me on my walks, enough to hold a few items, since I prefer walks with a errand attached and I can easily pick up some cat food or a carton of milk or baked goods.

  76. Meme – unexpected gifts that are on target are always a delight. Cheers to your DH.
    I’ve never developed a taste for hard alcohol on its own – which I’m a little wistful about as it seems so cool to order a scotch on the rocks or something like that.

    We wore backpacks in high school and college. I remember using only one-strap – I think I permanently tweaked my neck/shoulder from doing that. But using two straps was so uncool at the time. LL Bean backpacks were the norm for my high school and college. And that’s what I bought my kids for elementary/middle school (they switched to cooler brands when they were in high school). Side note – DD is now using the ginormous LL Bean duffle bag I used in college – it makes me smile to see it still being used.

    I handle grocery shopping similar to Louise. I keep a list to jot things down we need during the week – but when it comes time to my weekly grocery shop, I start a new list and write things down in the order of the aisles. I bring reusable bags with me. But if I forget, then the paper bags have handles and work well (plastic bags are banned in Seattle). Grocery stores here will now bag your groceries again (this just started up again in December – previsouly I had to bag them and I would group things by freezer, fridge and cupboard).

    Last Christmas, I asked for (and received) a cart to be able to tote my library books to the library. It hasn’t gotten much use this year while the libraries were closed – but thanks to this discussion, I just realized I could use it today (I have too many books to carry). Libraries have reopened (for pick-up/drop off only) – but I’ve gotten out of the habit of using my cart.

  77. I bought one of those wire carts when I moved to Manhattan. They are really convenient. I am sure they were common in NYC in the 60’s and before, but we weren’t living in cities when I was a kid

  78. S&M, I had never heard of LL Bean until I was in college. I don’t think they had much presence in the Midwest in the 70’s. When I went to grad school, I noticed that all the older women – grad students who were returning to school after raising kids, and faculty wives – carried them. They always had a a knitting project, a notebook, a copy of the NYTimes, and organic apples in them. They also all shopped at a local organic coop and wore turtlenecks. I started calling them the totebag ladies and I remember joking about them to my mother (who in turn liked to joke about what she called North Carolina prep which was ubiquitous in her area among middle aged women).

    I also remember seeing the LL Bean duck shoes and thinking “How bizarre”

  79. S&M, I love that cart with the kitty on it! I wonder if I could find one that cool here in the US. My DS2 badly needs a grocery cart. He would love that one

  80. MM, that picture just dragged me back decades! I had a bag like that, I know people who had them (though we never carried books to school in them) but I don’t think I have seen one or even thought about one for 40 years. I’ve had to do a fair amount of ‘cleaning out’ of homes from older people, and a bag like that hasn’t shown up. It seems as though I would have come across one at some point, since they seemed to be fairly common in my childhood. It’s as though they simply fell off the face of the earth. So strange.

  81. Mooshi, I don’t think I heard of LL Bean until the preppy handbook. I recall getting a pair of duck boots then and thinking they were weird and also cold. But if they had tote bags, others likely did as well, and that’s what the page at the link was about. I meant to link to a cool embroidered TB with fringe like I remember seeing in magazines and on the packages of dress patterns being carried by impossibly cool hippie chicks the likes of which didn’t exist in our town, but what the link actually goes to is the list of all the 70s bags in that eBay search. Still shows that yes, people did have other ways to carry things, even back then. I think it’s interesting the way a thing can get so embedded in our minds that we don’t realize there is another way.

    I remember the square brown paper bags. Ours were heavy paper, and stamped with a message about having been made in a prison. We carried them from the car to the house, and then our mother unpacked them, folded them neatly, and stored them in a drawer in the kitchen. I remember her laughing about having an entire drawer just for paper bags, realize looking back that she was probably saying she felt pretty happy with the kitchen and how much space it has.

    I had a couple lunchboxes. One was yellow. Another was Peanuts, might’ve been handed down from my sister.

    In grade school, we got book bags every fall. The only one I remember had flowers on it and was like a thin suitcase. They always fell apart by the end of the school year.
    The bookbag I had in Switzerland was the usual there—leather, with a handle on top. It opened to lie flat, and there was a pocket on each side, open towards the center. They were very easy to flip open to get your stuff out. People clamped them on the rack on the back of their bike either closed, or open with a pocket on each side. Idk how mud didn’t spatter the insides. Maybe we didn’t do that when it rained. I still have mine, find it makes a nice briefcase the few times one is needed. The pencil pocket on the outside is a good size for a phone.

  82. Mooshi, you were so much cooler and trendier than our family was! How big was that bag? It looks like the perfect thing to have a kid carry some groceries in, as long as they don’t mind a handle instead of a cross-body strap.

  83. Mooshi, I’d love to be your shopping agent and get that cart for your son. I would offer to buy it for him, but did you see the price? If you want me to mail/bring it to the US, email me and we’ll figure out how you can pay me back for it.

  84. In middle school, it was the height of cool at carry a Totebag like this. They were terrible to actually carry and flimsy, but I saved all my babysitting money for one. By HS we were back to backpacks, but worn on one shoulder like others have said.

    https://imgur.com/gallery/X2glFXs

  85. I have no memory of owning a backpack in high school. If I needed to bring a book home, I carried it in my right arm perched on my hip. No deviation. In college I preferred to just carry whatever book I needed, still on the hip, but if I did carry a backpack it was with one strap.

    I had duck shoes in high school and college and loved them for rainy days. I would wear them now if I still had some. I hate soggy feet. Mine were purple, so undoubtedly on clearance somewhere (consistent theme of my life).

  86. We always had LL Bean backpacks growing up. In middle school and HS I remember carrying them on one shoulder. In college and law school I had the “deluxe” size since I had to carry so many books back and forth. I remember asking my mom to send me some yarn right before the bar exam so I could put a yarn pompom on my backpack – we all had the black LL Bean giant backpacks so I wanted to be able to identify mine at lunch and after the exam!

  87. MM when I moved to Vermont in 6th grade, everyone wore duck boots. So ugly. I refused to wear them. Or any kind of boot. I wore docksiders instead. And I’d walk 1 1/2 miles to/from school in the snow in them. My unwillingness to wear weather-appropriate gear probably contributed to my dislike of winter. And looking back, docksiders were about as ugly as the duck boots.

  88. SM no. My left hand is purely decorative. It is there for symmetry only, and I rarely use it. There is no medical reason for this – I just developed a strong preference for my right hand

  89. “ My left hand is purely decorative”. Lol! Mine does all the scut work, holding stuff so the right can handle fancy stuff like dialing the locker combo.

  90. The groovy flower plastic totebags didn’t work for groceries because they didn’t expand. You couldn’t put things like cans or packs of chicken parts in them. The handles also cut into your hand if the load got too heavy. I mainly remember them from when I was in second and third grade, and back then we just carried slender notebooks, a pencil case, and maybe a Marguerite Henry horse novel from the school library.

  91. “unpacked them, folded them neatly, and stored them in a drawer in the kitchen. I remember her laughing about having an entire drawer just for paper bags “

    We used to do that too, so when I got my own place, I also started doing that. The problem was, I didn’t have things to use them for like we did when I was living at home, e.g., covering books. So when the local grocery store started encouraging people to re-use bags, I changed my habits to putting them in my car after folding them, so I’d always have some available when I went grocery shopping.

    That didn’t last too long. Once most grocery shopping shifted to Price Club, which later merged with Costco, there weren’t many paper bags to deal with.

  92. I carried my books in a rubber strap with a kind of latch during elementary school. ( at the international school in Venezuela I attended in the 70s) It worked quite well. When I got to my Massachusetts boarding school, all the girls had book bags – I think LL Bean heavy canvas tote bags with the school’s crest (is that what it’s called? The thing with the motto in Latin?) I found those very awkward to carry. It was relief to switch to a back pack in college once I discovered that my book bag was not the right “look” anymore.

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