Advice Column Friday – The Horror

by Ada

This Ethicist column has been a long-standing inside joke between my husband and I. Whenever we discuss some difficult decision or hear about someone grappling with and ethical dilemma, we say, “But at least it’s not as bad as bedbugs in the chateau!”

Last summer, I visited friends at their chateau in France — good company, excellent food, but a lumpy mattress full of bedbugs. Badly bitten, I said nothing, but I know I’ll be invited back. How can I politely tell them about their infestation? Or more politely, must I remain silent and simply decline the invitation? — JS, Fort Lauderdale, Fla

You’re waiting until now to tell them that their house is infested? What would you do if the chateau were on fire, mention it demurely in a few months? If this situation involved only your own comfort, you could keep silent, but because other people are at risk, you must speak up. Here’s how you tell them: You tell them — on the telephone, using a fake accent and a false name. No, no — openly, honestly, calmly. I can understand your desire not to embarrass your friends or imperil your relationship, but I hope they will value your candor and realize that having bedbugs is not a moral failing. 

This was during a dark period for the NYT Ethicist. They seemed to have forgotten that ethical dilemmas are complicated and instead published a bunch of letters that were really just “awkward problems” or “should I do what’s right or what’s easy?” problems. They have emerged from that now and occasionally quote a philosopher or two and tackle some complicated things. 

But for fun today, or maybe “fun” – let’s talk about the awkward horrors of travel with friends! I’ll start. You may recall we have a very tiny trailer (that came across an ocean to be with us.). It’s basically a queen bed in a 5x6ft box, though my claustrophobic mother and 6ft husband have both slept comfortably in it (after some initial reluctance). I think (somewhat irrationally, it appears), that it makes a very great guest room. We have now had a 6’6” friend stay, who feigned appreciation. A couple who required us to shuffle kids around and couldn’t sleep in the trailer because he needed a place to plug in the CPAP. A parent who worried that it was unsafe for our daughters to be unattended overnight in the backyard (though the girls found it magic). At this point, I should start renting it out on AirBnb so I can let the disappointments and hilarious awkwardness pile up!

98 thoughts on “Advice Column Friday – The Horror

  1. My most difficult issue when I stayed with a friend years ago in another country (hot and humid) was laundry soap. The first time I didn’t bring my own and the maid (their term even though it was a male) did the laundry. I was staying almost 2 weeks and the maid did laundry daily. As a child I found out I was allergic to Tide, but it didn’t occur to me to take soap or even ask. I broke out in a rash mainly in all the areas you underclothes touch. My friend’s parents were both doctors so I was able to get a quick and free diagnosis, but that was awkward as was trying to figure out what my clothes could be washed in. Next trip, I just brought my own laundry soap and asked that my laundry be done separately with my soap. I didn’t/don’t speak Spanish well enough to know what my friend actually told the maid.

  2. I don’t have any awkward stories of travel with friends. I hope to hell I am not the subject of awkward stories of travel with friends. I’ve had a lot of people stay at my house in California, but no one has complained about bedbugs, thank God. My long-term guests who were fleeing the fire in the mountains wound up buying a bunch more pillows, since there were only two on each bed and apparently all beds should have five or six pillows. That’s fine. Another guest suggested putting a bedside table and lamp on each side of the bed in the guest rooms, so I did that too.

    These stories are not entertaining.

  3. Travel-related: This is also from Axios.


    New restrictions on international border-crossings, combined with faltering COVID-19 immunization efforts, have dashed hopes for a significant rebound in air travel in 2021.

    Why it matters: For global aviation, which suffered its worst year in history in 2020, the misery is likely to continue, holding back a broader economic recovery.

    Forecasts that air travel would recover to 50% of pre-pandemic levels in 2021 now seem like a stretch, industry officials caution.
    “There’s a recovery, but it’s a much smaller recovery,” Brian Pearce, chief economist of the International Air Transport Association, told reporters this week.
    “What we’ve seen in recent weeks is governments taking a much, much tougher, more cautious approach.”
    His worst-case scenario: air travel in 2021 is just 38% of 2019 levels.
    The big picture: The world is more locked down today that at any point in the past 12 months.

    New, potentially more contagious strains of the coronavirus have triggered renewed limits on cross-border travel and a dizzying array of quarantine restrictions.
    While the arrival of new vaccines is good news for air travel, the slow rollout means herd immunity is still a long way off.

    An ominous sign: Bookings for future travel slowed significantly in January, IATA reported.

    “Things are going to become much harder before they get better,” warns aviation consultant Shashank Nigam, CEO of SimpliFlying.
    Even countries that are vaccinating quickly will keep their borders shut for some time, he predicts.
    Israel, for example, leads the world with 20% of the population fully vaccinated, but imposed a ban on international travel last week to combat rising cases from a fast-spreading U.K. variant.
    And regional travel bubbles such as those between Hong Kong and Singapore or Australia and New Zealand didn’t last.

    What they’re saying: “Last year was a catastrophe. There is no other way to describe it,” Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, said in a statement.

    “I don’t think that anyone foresees a world free from COVID-19 anytime soon. Certainly not in the next months or even within this year. But our ability to manage the risk is increasing as more people get vaccinated and testing capacity expands.”
    Airlines say widespread testing, not border restrictions, will allow international air travel to resume safely.

    Nigam’s company is rolling out a service called Fit 2 Fly that links airlines and testing laboratories so passengers can schedule a COVID-19 test as part of the booking process.
    New smartphone apps like CommonPass and IATA’s Travel Pass could help validate passengers’ health status so governments can safely reopen borders.
    Yes, but: When it comes to domestic flights, U.S. airlines are urging the Biden administration not to require pre-departure testing, saying it would limit travel access for low-income and rural communities.

    What to watch: For airlines, the outlook for the next year or two is uncertain, and will depend on how effectively vaccines and testing can head off the spread of new variants.

    The bottom line: Aviation isn’t likely to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023 or 2024.


  4. I’ve had bed bugs! Study abroad in college. It was horrible and I don’t see how this friend could not have said anything. Also, I don’t understand how the chataue owner doesn’t have bed bugs in their bed either.

    We haven’t travelled much with friends, and when we have it seems uneventful (from my perspective at least). Maybe I’ve blocked awkwardness from my memory.

  5. We haven’t traveled with friends, other than our UK trip when we brought our nanny and her DH and (older) child. Sometimes when we are in ME in the summer we meet up with friends who like to spend the summer in Acadia. We did notice when traveling with our nanny that our dinner preferences didn’t match up with theirs. :)

  6. For certain issues, you should let your host know immediately. Sometimes guest rooms and bathrooms are not used frequently enough for the host to know there is even an issue. Water leaks, severe issues with heating or cooling etc. The host can assign you to a different room if possible or do a fix, so that your stay will be comfortable

  7. I need to call our travel agent. DD#2 GS troop had a cruise scheduled for late June/early July. Needless to say – cancelled. As a group, they had to choose cruise credit or refund. The group vote was cruise credit. I think the original terms was that it had to be used in 2021, but then I read somewhere that it was being extended to 2022. Cruise credit is for DD#2 and me – so a hefty chunk of change.

  8. Oh — Not to hijack, but yesterday the high was 82 degrees and sunny. Today, the original forecast high was 61, but that was early this morning. Temps fell and won’t get out of the 50s today. This weekend the highs will be in the mid-70s. Talk about not knowing how to dress from day to day!

  9. I’m having flashbacks to my then late 60s year old mom sleeping on a blow up mattress in our hallway in our 1 bedroom apartment with 2 newborns. She was a trooper!

  10. Does anyone have travel plans for 2021? Or are folks pretty much waiting until vaccinations are widespread to even plan anything?

  11. Does anyone have travel plans for 2021? Or are folks pretty much waiting until vaccinations are widespread to even plan anything?

    I want to get to Boston to see the baby! DH and I just sagged at the prospect of driving three days in winter storms to get there, and flying would require us to quarantine for several days. If we get our vax by March we’re totally flying out, even though we’d still have to quarantine. With my DIL’s MS diagnosis we super-extra don’t want to give her COVID.

  12. I really, really, love that the OP had to mention the bedbugs were at their friend’s French chateau. Because writing to say “I stayed at my friend’s, and it turns out the guest room had bedbugs” just wasn’t chichi enough.

    Funniest travel stories were pretty much all the summer after my freshman year, when my mom and stepdad and sibs were in France and I went to meet them there. My favorite is the one where my freshman-year roommate came and stayed in the apartment for a few days and threw a red shirt into a load of laundry with all of my stepdad’s underwear. Then there was driving a big van way down into the Left Bank of Paris (literally a block off the river) because we missed the turnoff to the parking area where we planned to leave the van.

    The most uncomfortable one was when my junior-year roommate met me in Greece after my semester abroad there ended. We had a great couple of weeks, and then one afternoon we met this guy who wanted us to come out to the club with him that night. I told her I didn’t really want to go, she wanted to go but wouldn’t go without me, so I agreed to go if we could leave after like an hour. So of course after an hour or two, I said I’d like to leave, and she said no, she still wanted to stay. I kept asking, she kept saying no, and the guy kept saying we couldn’t leave, because it would make him look bad in front of his friends. I was *pissed* and ultimately just stood up and walked out. He was pissed because it made him look bad and he had to run after me and act like it was his idea to go, my roomie was pissed because she was having fun and I was being a total buzzkill, and I was pissed because I was really $%!&!@# tired and wanted to sleep* and had zero interest in the guy.** She left the next morning to go travel on her own, and we have literally never spoken since.

    *Turns out I was getting sick and ended up with a 103 temp and changing my flights to come home a week early because I felt so horrible. That was the same trip I had to overnight in Milan to get home, got caught in a 40-degree rain while walking a mile or so to find a B&B, had the B&B take almost all of my remaining money to cover my attempts to call home to tell my parents I was coming home early, had to take a cab to the airport with most of my remaining funds because the trains were on strike, went to the wrong airport (did not know there were two and so went back to the one I had flown in on), had to give literally my last Lira to the cab driver to get me to the other airport (extortion fares — it was like $110, and all I had was like $108, but he took me anyway, just leaving me no $$ for food), got in to JFK at like 8:00 only to find out that the answering machine my parents had bought just in case I called hadn’t taken the messages I had paid all that money to leave, and ended up taking Amtrak home and getting home about 11 that night. Worst two days of travel in my life!

    ** He didn’t even have a wingman for me to talk to. Just one guy and two girls. Which I suspect was the point.

  13. “Does anyone have travel plans for 2021? Or are folks pretty much waiting until vaccinations are widespread to even plan anything?”

    We have two more college trips planned. We are going to Montana for a wedding. We’ll also travel to drop DS off at whatever college he chooses.

    DH’s BFF likes to go on weekend getaways to try restaurants and see stuff, so we’ll probably do that a couple times.

  14. 2021: If we can get vaccinated and the travel works what with the airline issues and all, we’re going back to the Riesling wine festival for my mom’s 75th birthday. She is *extremely* anxious and has been looking forward to this for several years, so I hope it goes, but I’m not holding my breath.

    My dad also just said he wants to spend a week somewhere for my stepmom’s 70th this summer, but that will probably be within driving range. DH and I are also considering Porsche Sport Driving School in May for our anniversary, but that will also probably be a road trip, Covid or no, just because. ;-)

  15. LfB – that reminds me of when I went to choir camp in the UK when I was in HS and flew there and back by myself – I took the train to Heathrow and then when I got there I had the “wrong ticket” (how?) and they fined me 10 pounds so I only had like 50p left to eat something at the airport, and of course no credit card or anything (IIRC my mom had given me traveler’s checks and I had cashed them all in for regular pounds). I was so mad!

  16. If we get vaccinated, we’ll let the kids go to summer camp. The camp refunds deposits until July 1, so I’m hoping MA gets its act together before then!

  17. Ada,

    Yeh, I figure it’s some combination of eye watering upkeep costs and that it’s pretty much in the smack dab middle of nowhere.

  18. Until fairly recently, my parents house has the beds we grew up with, which are a couple of twins and a full. The house has one HVAC for the house, which means the upstairs is less comfortable than downstairs. It’s worse now that my parents are older, but decades ago, when this story took place, it was not that big a deal.

    My sister had a friend who was going to be in my parents’ town for a few days and I guess did not want to incur the expense of a hotel. Friend and SO asked to stay at my parents (my sister lived out of state by this time), and my parents welcomed them. The next morning, the couple got up and informed them they were moving to a hotel. No bed bugs – I guess they just didn’t enjoy the full-size bed. My parents were a little insulted, and my sister was a little embarrassed.

    We were staying at a couple’s house who got into a drunken spat and we heard a slap. We left.

  19. Lark — We’ve gone out on a limb and booked a week at a dude ranch in Montana for late June/early July. I would like to go irrespective of our vaccine status. There wasn’t a lot of risk in making the reservations — I can cancel the ranch reservation up to June 1 and only lose a deposit of a few hundred dollars; also, if we need to cancel our flights (Delta), we can apply what we paid toward different flights next year. I feel like I desperately, desperately need some time away, and something to look forward to in the meantime.

  20. In college, I stayed at my boyfriend’s parents’ house, the house where boyfriend grew up. The headboard consisted of glass aquariums with live rattlesnakes in them. It was not my most comfortable night.

  21. Also, we might do some college trips this summer. However, if DS has any idea where he might want to apply, he has not shared that information with us. So I don’t know whether we will do any such trips. If he decides to only look at schools in MA, college visits could easily be day trips. If I had to guess, my guess right now is that DS will only apply to places that are within a couple hours’ drive from home.

  22. 2021 travel plans – girls weekend (rescheduled from late 2019, then early 2020) next month) probably in Galveston because we are thinking less risky if we stick to outdoor dining and walking on the beach. Now that my parents are vaccinated I will go see them, maybe in April. DH and I will take a couple long weekends. We had originally planned to go to Ireland for DS’s graduation but that likely won’t happen. We are playing it by ear. My siblings and I may do a siblings weekend in Chicago in August if we can, and if the world is back to normal by fall, my cousins will have a memorial in Philadelphia for my aunt who died two weeks ago so the extended family can all get together in person. After this past year we will definitely attend.

  23. Does anyone have travel plans for 2021? Or are folks pretty much waiting until vaccinations are widespread to even plan anything?

    DD and I are going to Oregon next weekend to visit OSU. DW, DD and I are going to Arizona in March to visit DS. Nephew and his wife scheduled their wedding re-do for July 4th weekend in NJ, so we will go in for that. My sister is due in June so we are hoping to make a trip to see the baby at some point.

    Of course there will be a trip to Arizona in May to move DS out, and then one in August to move him back in. And a trip in August to Bozeman or Corvallis to move DD in. Then in the fall probably some trips to visit the kids at school.

  24. Rhett — Per our conversation the other day about re-watching movies, I might now have to re-watch The Sound of Music for the umpteenth time.

  25. Travel plans for 2021: DH keeps talking about going to the Netherlands in April to see the tulips. I just keep nodding and smiling, but in my head am thinking there is no way that will happen.

  26. Travel – Likely a mid-April trip to move DD#2 out of the dorm and into storage. IF, and its a big IF, DD#1’s school does an in-person graduation, we will attend. I have a hotel reservation, but will likely need to add more days at the beginning to allow for quarantine/testing. To get one with a kitchenette, it is a bit farther from school, but will be more comfortable if we have to be there a week. Then, expect two trips in August to move each DD back to school.

    I am building up a lot of leave and will have to use at least 1.5 weeks before August 31. If we do go to DD#1’s graduation and it requires a multi-day quarantine, I will take my work computer and should be able to work from the hotel.

    If all continues to go well, I’d like to be able to use our cruise credits at Christmas 2021.

  27. NoB – my DS has not expressed interest in going to see various colleges. He has seen some through school trips in before times and that seems to be enough !

  28. We have our vacation for this year blocked off, but no actual travel plans. As much as I love to travel, a big part of me would be content to spend all our time off at the beach for one more year.

  29. Louise — I have a gut feeling that my DS’ pragmatic streak will guide his college decision. My guess is that in his mind, he’s thinking, “Why would I travel half way across the country to take some classes in history or business or economics, when I can take the same classes right here?” I can also see him negotiating with us to go to a less expensive college, and have us give him the difference between that tuition and what we would have paid for a more expensive college. I am trying to talk up the college “experience,” but I’m not sure that really resonates with him, for better or worse.

    The wild card, though, is what his friends end up doing. Two of his best friends are academic high-flyers, and I can see them applying to “experience”-type selective schools in different locations. If DS sees his friends being willing to look further afield, he might start thinking about doing that as well.

  30. Travel – we are not planning anything, mostly because we don’t want to be disappointed. I think Spring Break is out, but maybe we will at least be able to see my vaccinated parents.

    I’m hoping we can do something for the 4th of July, but we’ll see. Our 15th anniversary is this year, and we talked about going to Seattle and Portland, but I don’t want to get my hopes up. DS’s Cooperstown little league tourney is late August, so I’m thinking we should be able to at least spend some time in NYS at the end of summer.

    And I am really in need of a girls’ weekend with my college friends. We discussed going to Moab and renting a lodge, but honestly, I’d be thrilled at this point with the Homewood Suites in St Louis Park, MN if it meant a night away with my friends.

  31. We have a weekend up north planned this months, a trip to Florida in April, and Montana in June. We’ll see how it all shakes out. Most of our vacations involve being outdoors so I wouldn’t call them high risk. Last year we had four big trips cancelled and we still managed to get some vacations in. I have seven weeks of PTO to use up.

    DD1 is supposed to go to Europe this year with her grandma. I’d be shocked if that happens, so we aren’t discussing that one.

  32. We talked about doing a driving trip to the beach this summer. Even if air travel is safer, I think the airlines will still be working things out in terms of process, so I don’t really want to book a non-essential trip for all of us to fly. I also want to see how the variants do in real life against the vaccines.

  33. NoB – my DS is pragmatic too. If the college has the major he wants, the price is right and they accept him, he’s good to go. Trying to get him to go to a grand college tour will be an unpleasant experience. I fully expect DD to want to go on a grand college tour. I am sure a good part of the college tours will be the “tour” part as in can we go to California or Boston ?

  34. Jeanne- Marie – The Netherlands is rather locked down and having problems with the vaccination rollout. April seems optimistic.

  35. “I am sure a good part of the college tours will be the “tour” part as in can we go to California or Boston ?”

    Louise, I am entirely confident that the only reason DD wanted to do the CA college visits was to go to CA. And it was a great trip and I’m SO glad I went with her — turns out that was my favorite part of the trip too! ;-)

  36. Totally off-topic, but anyone have an awesome recipe for scallion pancakes? We ordered some dumplings and scallion pancakes from Goldbelly, and the pancakes reminded us how much we absolutely loved those pancakes. I’ve found a couple of recipes online but would love one that has been tested by people I actually know (or “know,” as the case may be).

  37. Korean Pancake with Spinach and Green Onions:
    Green onions – 6, chopped into 2″ / 5 cm lengths, green and white parts combined
    Eggs – 1
    Water, cold – 3/4 cup + 1/4 cup
    Flour, all-purpose – 1 cup
    Cornstarch – 3 Tbsp
    Sesame seeds, white – 2 tsp
    Salt – 1/2 tsp
    Sugar – 1/4 tsp
    Oil, cooking – 1 Tbsp, plus more for cooking pancakes
    Baby spinach – 5 oz

    Make pancakes batter by whisking eggs with first portion of water. Add flour, cornstarch, sesame seeds, salt, and sugar and whisk until smooth. Add second portion of water a little at a time until the batter is thin and pours easily (you may not need all of the second portion of water). Set batter aside.
    Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat. Add cooking oil (portion for pancakes) and then spinach. Saute until spinach wilts and all moisture has cooked off, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with some salt. Set cooked spinach aside.
    Add a thin layer of oil to the griddle. Scatter about 1/8 of the green onions over the oil, then 1/8 of the cooked spinach, and then pour 1/8 of the pancake batter over top. The batter will spread out but you can cook several pancakes at a time if there is room. (Note: This is for 4 servings; adjust if customizing, making about 2 pancakes / serving.)
    Cook pancakes on one side until the bottom is crisp and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Use a spatula to flip and cook on the other side until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes more. Continue with remaining green onions, spinach, and batter, until all of the pancakes have been cooked.

  38. We are putting all our 2021 travel eggs into one basket, November in Austin for the first North .
    Amer Bridge Tournament in 2 years. It should be a big deal. One is still scheduled for Providence in July, but I dont see it coming together. We can drive to that anyway.

  39. We traveled in Europe with our very best and most beloved friends and Oy, we’ll never do that again. I love them but they take FOREVER to get up and get going, then we have to eat a whole breakfast and by the time we got anywhere it was afternoon. Paid $30pp to go to the top of a mountain only to have 15 mins up there because they were closing. In addition, they have to stop to get gelato, or a snack. They are my most favorite people but I won’t do that again. If I’m on a trip, I’m gonna see the stuff. No lunch, granola bar from my bag and big early dinner. I’m sure she would write a post saying “They were frenetic in their desire to see everything. Why can’t they relax and just enjoy the experience?”

    No upcoming travel planned. If I can get to see my parents that would be enough for me. My daughter didn’t get to visit but a few schools since we had planned to do so at spring break last year. After her acceptances roll in, we may have some choices to make. My amazing son who is a college sophomore offered to meet his sister wherever to do tours with her so we wouldn’t be at risk if she needs to see a school. Don’t know if we will take him up on that, but his concern and generosity made me really happy and is what I consider one of the gifts of the pandemic. He’s a really good person and a proper adult.

  40. Cass — they’re Chinese, sort of crispy on the outside and layered but soft on the inside, fairly bland dough with scallions and I think sesame oil, and fried for yumminess. Seems like you make them layered and flaky by doing the same thing you do to make croissants, just with a very basic dough and sesame oil or something similar, then just folding and rolling.

    LT — thanks! Very different from the recipes I saw, but sounds delicious and much easier to make.

  41. Lolly — I just saw your post on the Thursday thread about your DD’s acceptances. Congratulations! It’s also really nice that your DS is being so thoughtful about his family members.

  42. I find it interesting how many people keep moving their kids in and out of college lodging.

    We moved DS in, and after that, he’s been on his own. Due to the pandemic, DD will be on her own completely, as was the case when I went to college, which is a disappointment as DW and I had looked forward to that.

    Even in non-covid times, we just couldn’t see spending the time and money to move them in and out.

  43. Travel– Like Austin, we’re still holding hotel reservations in case there is an actual commencement ceremony to attend. Even if there’s no ceremony, depending on the covid situation, we might go there anyway to visit DS. Depending on what he’s going to do next, we might even help him move out.

    Austin, you make a good point about possibly needing lodging for quarantine before any commencement activities. As things stand now, DW and I wouldn’t need to quarantine, but that’s subject to change. And DD is more likely to need to quarantine, although if things stay like that, she might need to quarantine separate from us. I think I’ll look for an extended stay hotel with a kitchen; it can be in a less expensive location since we’d not be going anywhere. Perhaps I might return to the Residence Inn next to Costco.

  44. What are you all doing for the Super Bowl tomorrow? I’ll be just watching at home in my bubble.

    Especially for those of you who will be similarly situated, perhaps we can have some real time commentary/discussion of the commercials, or maybe even the game.

  45. I helped DS do his taxes today. The downside of getting twice as much from unemployment as he earned working is that he has to pay a few hundred bucks. But he still came out way ahead on the deal.

    For anyone’s kids who are filing taxes, I highly recommend Very easy to use and completely free for state and local filing.

    Finn, we’re just going to be hanging out at home for the game.

  46. @Finn – We are just hanging out at home too – DH is making pulled pork. I don’t much care who wins. I guess if pressed I will root for the Chiefs in regional solidarity.

  47. I am making a massive football food spread for the measly 3 of us. We actually went to the Super Bowl last year, and am making it a big deal since KC is back in the big game. (Memo, it had been 50 years since our last appearance.) Go Chiefs!

  48. Rooting interest is complex this year. Like most New Englanders I gave Brady the respect for his football greatness, was thrilled for what he did as our gladiator, but never warmed to him. Mahomes is the new king, the Chiefs are likeable. I guess I just want to see a high scoring game that comes down to the wire.

    Supposed to snow 3 times this week. As long as there isnt too much accumulation and we run out of places to pike the snow, we should be okay.

  49. As a lifelong Lions “fan”, I always have very little interest in the Super Bowl itself. It is a mythical place. Only one playoff win in the Super Bowl era. The four of us will watch commercials and snack on some some cheese and crackers. What else is there to do? Too cold to be outside. Dinner tonight is hors d’oeuvres, which is our tradition.

    Sunshine, how fun that you got to experience the fandom in person last year!

  50. I haven’t watched the Super Bowl in years but I will watch this year out of nostalgia. Brady won his first Super Bowl in 2002, at which time, I stood in the freezing cold with my colleagues to watch the victory parade. I can’t believe that was almost 20 years ago !

  51. Denver — DS did his taxes yesterday. At first he insisted on trying to do them by hand, but when he gave me his form to proofread, I pointed out that he’d missed the part on the form where you look at the Tax Table to figure out how much you owe. Oops! He then found one of the free online programs and filed that way. He is due to get a refund of almost $1,000, so he’s very excited about that.

    Re. the Super Bowl, I liked Tom Brady in his early days with the Pats, but I think he’s gotten weirder as he’s gotten older. So although I respect everything he’s managed to accomplish, I’m not a fan of his any more. I stopped watching football altogether about a decade ago — all the reports of CTE turned me off to the game. DH will be watching tonight, though. I’ll watch the National Anthem at the start, and the halftime show.

    DH is responsible for cooking on Sundays, so I’m off the hook. DH hates cooking, so he’ll probably just order a couple of pizzas.

  52. For me, picking the team I want to win is difficult. It’s hard for me to root for Brady to get his seventh ring, on the principle that everyone can hate a “dynasty” (yes, I realize it’s a different team) e.g. these teams in their heydays: Yankees, Canadiens, UCLA basketball, Alabama football. Also very hard to root for the Chiefs (sorry, Sunshine) because I grew up a Raiders fan, still am, and the Chiefs were the Raiders mortal enemies in the AFL. I do like Mahomes, Hardman, Hill. Fun to watch all that speed.

    Traditionally we do a big hors d’oeuvres spread. DW makes pepperoni bread, me chiles rellenos. Plus chips, salsa/dip, maybe popcorn chicken. For a healthy alternative (why? you may ask as I often do) baby carrots, olives. Beer, sparkling water, DW sometimes has prosecco.

    I second DD’s suggestion of Tax Act if you’re in the market for tax prep software. I’ve been using it for years.

  53. NoB – when I say “watch” the Super Bowl, I am pretty sure all I will be watching is the ads and half time. I was not a big football fan and I am concerned with CTE. I like the atmosphere of high school and college football but again head and other injuries to young players lurk in my mind.

  54. I also used Tax Act free version for years, but I’ve switched to Turbo Tax Deluxe as we have more taxable investment income to deal with now (but not enough to really need Premier). I share the disc with a bunch of family members, so I feel I am getting my $$ worth. Also, I have started paying the $20 to let them e-file my state return. I was going and retyping everything into the very annoying & time-consuming state online form myself for years. But it was things people said here that made me realize getting 30 minutes back was worth way more than $20 to me.

    @Fred – Pepperoni bread. Is that like a pizza without sauce and cheese? Or is it more like a pepperoni roll where there are just bits of pepperoni in the middle? Either way, sounds delicious.

    @Sunshine – How awesome that you were able to go last year!

    There will be quite a bit of discussion of the ads at work since I am in the industry, so that is another reason for me to pay attention to the Super Bowl. My group has a few ads running during the game, so there’s already been some discussion and preview with hype from our Creative team. It’s crazy to see the effort that goes into making those ads and monitoring the reaction on social media during the game. Most of the teams with ads running have “war rooms” going today.

  55. Ivy – Pepperoni Bread (it’s kind of like making cinnamon rolls)
    Rhodes frozen bread dough allowed to rise overnight then rolled out into as sqaure as possible.
    Sprinkle with 8oz shredded mozzarella and some romano cheeses
    Place one 5-6oz package of sliced pepperoni evenly all over
    Then roll it up into a long loaf
    Let rise for a while
    Bake according to bread package directions, but it’ll take ~25% longer than what they say.
    Some like jarred/canned pizza sauce for dipping, but we don’t use any.

  56. I was going and retyping everything into the very annoying & time-consuming state online form myself for years. But it was things people said here that made me realize getting 30 minutes back was worth way more than $20 to me.

    I always just printed the return from TurboTax and mailed it in. But this year I decided to pay the $20 since we are getting a ton back from the state due to significant 529 contributions.

    For those interested in behavioral economics, this is a great example of falling into the trap of looking at a price savings or cost based on the percentage rather than the actual dollar amount. People are much more likely to make an effort (driving to a farther store or spending more time searching online) to get an item for $10 instead of $15 than they are to get an item for $495 instead of $500 because saving 33% is worth the effort but saving only 1% isn’t. Paying $20 on a refund of several thousand bucks feels better to me than paying $20 on a refund on several hundred bucks.

  57. DD – absolutely.

    The thing I often think about if I decide I’m going to get gas I just get it if I’m not actually going to the part of town where my gym is, which is where it’s significantly ($0.20-$0.30/gallon) cheaper than ~8mi away near where I live. But at a cost of $0.50/mile all-in (I know the IRS # is more like $0.60/mile, but for complete simplicity), it’s not worth my money or my time to in theory save $5.00 on the price of gas but spend $8.00 on wear and tear. But so many people will go out of their way like that to spend less.

  58. We’re not big football fans, but we’ll be watching mostly for the commercials and halftime show. We’ll be having Doritos, wings and pizza for dinner.

  59. My parents are now 1 week past their second shot, so they are coming over to watch the super bowl with us. It’s very exciting to be able to have them over for a meal. We have seen them regularly outside over the past year, and we did inside Christmas Eve gathering with masks and distancing (when it was time to eat we took off masks and ate in separate rooms!), but this is the first ‘normal’ gathering. I’m making chili nachos and appetizers. It’s such a good feeling to be able to have them over.

  60. Fred, one of our favorite things about an electric car is not having to deal with filling gas and trying to figure out where/when to do it.

    OTOH, I’m regularly trying to optimize when to charge and at what rate to minimize environmental impact.

  61. “I stopped watching football altogether about a decade ago — all the reports of CTE turned me off to the game.”

    That didn’t stop me completely, but I’ve watched a lot less since then. Then when the NFL blackballed Kaepernick I cut back on NFL watching even further. But I still watch the playoffs.

  62. “very hard to root for the Chiefs…”

    In part, because they are the Chiefs. It’d be easier to root for the Kansas City Football Team.

  63. “Turbo Tax Deluxe … I share the disc with a bunch of family members, so I feel I am getting my $$ worth.”

    Back in my SV days, my work group would split the cost of a disk and pass it around.

    For a few years, my brother and I would share a disk.

    But they started putting limits on how many returns could be filed per disk, and when I was filing 4 returns every year (married filing separate), I stopped sharing.

  64. @DD – Yeah that makes sense. I’ve preferred e-file for the paper trail I guess? I hadn’t thought as much about the psychology of it. We owe the Fed more than I planned but we get $$ back from the state because of property tax credits and 529 contributions. I think next year I might need to make quarterly payments.

  65. @Fred – that is right up my alley. Might have to make that for the first week of March Madness (the next appetizer party!). Party = we eat appetizers and don’t sit down at the table. Not party as I’m having non family members over in Covid times.

  66. “I have started paying the $20 to let them e-file my state return. I was going and retyping everything into the very annoying & time-consuming state online form myself for years. But it was things people said here that made me realize getting 30 minutes back was worth way more than $20 to me.”

    Like DD, I just printed the filing copy from TurboTax and mailed it in. Having 3 or 4 returns to file also tipped the balance to snail mail filing, and I also did it on principal as well—I don’t get why our state doesn’t encourage more e-filing which I imagine costs less to process.

  67. NY prohibits e-file fees (state reurns) which definitely encourages me to e-file everyones’.

  68. My dad loves to drive around for a good deal on gas. He loves the hunt, and I would call it a hobby. When we visit he always tells us where the best deal is (and be sure to pay cash!). We nod our heads, and then procede to go to the station most convenient to where we are going.

    Today I got gas when it was -8. The wind is really wait gets ya.

  69. I e file, even if there is a cost, so that I don’t have to rely on the post office. The non profit tax return I have to file did not arrive this year and I had to reprint and resubmit. Probably not as big a risk for an instate delivery of a Hawaii state return.

    Covid has introduced me to delivery for all sorts of things. The tip seems more like a bit of local income redistribution than an expense. I would never have paid for it before.

    If the absolute savings is too small, it doesnt matter the percentage. That is why Most Prime Day or lightning deals dont inspire a purchase. As for gas, I drove 1500 miles last year.

  70. Finn, do you get a tax credit for having an exceptional tree?

    So far, I loved the Will Farrell GM commercial and the paralympics/adoption commercial, which I’m told was for Toyota.

  71. It did look on TV as though the stadium was full. On some level it felt like Before Times. It’s been years since I watched a full game, it felt great.

  72. The commercials that I liked: the M & M commercial, Cheetos, Toyota, Huggies, Tide with Jason Alexander, and GM with Will. DH was thrilled to see Bruce in a commercial, but it wasn’t my favorite. I was happy to have DD sitting next to me to share names of the stars in the commercials, but she didn’t know John Travolta. She did recognize “George” from Seinfeld, but those ads had some generation gaps unless you were sitting with someone that could translate.

    The song from the Tide commercial reminded me of HS because the song was from The Greatest American Hero. That theme song was played all of the time on the radio.

  73. DD and I went to bed early and then got up at 12:30 to watch the game (DH just stayed up). So we are all dragging today! I know a lot of people here don’t like sports, but for me watching sports is life giving. I had not watched any football since 2019 so to be able to sit on the couch, watch athletes at the pinnacle of their sport compete and listen to the joy in Tony Romo’s voice as he broke down coverage was nourishment for my soul.


    I thought I’d post this. It resonated with me. During the pandemic, sushi is the one thing, we have gotten as prepared food from the supermarket or have gotten take out. Mostly supermarket sushi though. Our grocery store sushi counter now employs more people, their quality has improved and with more demand, there is no sushi sitting for long.

  75. We watch only the Super Bowl for football at our house. Sometimes if we are at my parents’ house on a Sunday my dad will have it on, but otherwise we aren’t football people (DH would say any sport but I also watch figure skating and the Red Sox). This time we chromecasted it from DH’s phone, which was relatively painless. The kids really liked The Weeknd and our oldest kept saying “I didn’t know he wrote this song too!” DH and I root for Tom Brady since he is kind of our age ;) and since he played here for so long (although, NoB, I do agree that he is totally wacko about his food and schedule, etc.!). DH and I drove to our old favorite restaurant in the snow to pick up some provisions for the game, so that I didn’t have to cook (I did make chocolate chunk 64% cookies for dessert).

  76. Today was supposed to be the first day for DD to drive to school. There was no delay, but the roads were icy because it is so cold here. She reluctantly let me drive her, but she said there was no way that she could have done the drive this morning. My Town does a good job, but we have to drive through a neighboring village to get to the HS. They plowed the streets, but some of the their streets are narrow and these streets were icy vs. blacktop. I never had to drive in the snow or ice until I was 30+, but I am sure she will learn this year because there is so much snow in the forecast for the next ten days.

    My mom is freaking because her second dose is scheduled for tomorrow. I am supposed to drive her because it is in upper Manhattan. I hope there isn’t too much snow because I have to be able to safely drive to her apartment to get her to the pharmacy.

  77. JM, your schedule sounds painful because I love my sleep, but I might have done the same if I was living abroad. It feels good to be able to sit and have the same live experience as Americans at home. I was thinking of you because we finished Lupin and the first season of Call My Agent. We loved both of these shows even though they are very different. The shows are smart and funny, but I think he best part is that they were filmed in Paris before the pandemic. I can’t wait to go back when things are “normal”.

  78. The song from the Tide commercial reminded me of HS because the song was from The Greatest American Hero. That theme song was played all of the time on the radio.

    There was a Seinfeld episode where George’s answering machine was a spinoff of the song.

    “Believe it or not, George isn’t home…”

  79. Lauren: Well, I couldn’t do this everyday, but to have a few short hours of semi-normal in my life was worth it! I’ve only seen the first episode of Lupin, but really liked it. Season 2 comes out this summer. There are signs advertising it all over the city. I have Call My Agent in my cue, but never seem to get around to watching it. Seeing the way life was here in the before times is sometimes jarring. I felt the same when watching Emily in Paris. Our memories of this city are going to be so different than anything anyone else will experience.

  80. Well, as a Chiefs fan I thought the game was awful and the officiating scandalous.

    I liked having the ICU nurse to the coin toss. And Amanda Gorman again overwhelmed me with her poetry and her fabulous coat.

  81. The Tide Commercial really resonated. When I go into the kids rooms, I know some hoodies could do with a wash.

  82. Kerri, I am not concerned about the Bronx or Manhattan, but I have to get to my mom and I generally get much more snow than the city.

Comments are closed.