Do you like doing nothing?

by Kim

How to Embrace Doing Nothing
Absolute idleness is both harder and more rewarding than it seems.

What does “doing nothing” mean to you?  It can be hard to define, but it could be described as “activities that can gently hold your attention while also leaving you plenty of bandwidth to mentally meander”.  This may mean activities like watching the waves vs. watching TV.  Do you like doing nothing?  If you’d like to do more of nothing, here’s some advice:

1. Start small.

Most of us have absorbed since childhood the idea that idleness is a habit to avoid; in truth, it’s a habit we all need to adopt. Habits require conscious practice to take hold. Before trying to go sit on a beach doing nothing for a whole week, start with a few minutes each day. Sit quietly in a peaceful place for five minutes, ideally with a view of something pleasant. Banish all technology during this time—doing so will let your mind enter what neuroscientists call the “default network,” in which brain regions used for concentrated work can rest. When five minutes starts to feel easy and natural, increase your idle time by another five minutes; repeat until you can comfortably sit this way for 20 minutes each day.

2. Go on an unstructured vacation.

The University of Virginia engineer Leidy Klotz has argued that one of the most overlooked techniques for improving our lives is subtracting complication. He once led an experiment in which people were given a packed vacation itinerary but allowed to take activities out of it. Very few did so (perhaps because of a fear of missing out), despite the rushed schedule. Klotz has argued that this was the wrong choice, and I agree.

Once you have mastered the art of daily leisure, follow this principle to its extreme by taking a vacation where you can enjoy effectively unlimited idleness. You probably won’t just stare at the wall all day. But you will have the opportunity to get the deep refreshment that only true leisure can provide, and not turn your vacation into its own kind of work.

3. Choose soft fascination.

During your unstructured vacation, choose activities that can gently hold your attention while also leaving you plenty of bandwidth to mentally meander. This is what three University of Michigan psychologists call “soft fascination,” and you might find it by walking in nature, or watching the waves. In contrast, “hard fascination” (found by, say, watching television) occupies attention and rules out mind-wandering. Research has found that soft fascination is more restorative than hard fascination. For example, in a 2018 study, survey respondents said that walking in nature was 15 percent more effective at helping them “get away from it all” than watching television.

Can you imagine yourself going on an unstructured vacation?

152 thoughts on “Do you like doing nothing?

  1. “walking in nature” is just hiking. I’ve done a lot of hiking in my life and would not call it “doing nothing”. On the other hand, the two hours I spent in a inflatable going around and around the hotel lazy river probably does qualify

  2. ‘I’ve done a lot of hiking in my life and would not call it “doing nothing”. ‘

    I agree! Even walking in the neighborhood is not ‘doing nothing’ in my book.

    ‘I’m just so “type-a” I need to work on doing nothing.’

    Perhaps, but don’t we all know people who are ‘antsy’ and always have to be ‘doing something’ as opposed to just chilling out.

  3. We are heading up from the South. We will pick up DS1 in Princeton and spend two nights there so we can have one more day of vacation. We will probably head to the Jersey shore. On Sunday we will head home. DS2 is supposed to move into his dorm on Sunday which is really weird since classes don’t start until Friday. So we will stop on the way and he can do his check in, and move in for real later in the week.
    I am thinking of heading to Seaside Heights tomorrow for that Jersey shore feel. It is about an hour from Princeton. Any other shore recommendations? We aren’t looking to sunbath or swim, more to walk around and have fun.

  4. Is there a reason I am supposed to do nothing? Is it some kind of mental training? Does it prevent heart disease or tooth decay or something?
    It seems to me that life is really short and we spend much of it sleeping so why should I spend more time doing nothing? If I have free time I would rather read a good book or talk to a friend or family member

  5. I am definitely an antsy person – I absolutely have more energy than most people and I feel my best when I’m active. Most of the time it’s my super power, because I am also super focused (except with this site distracts me), so it translates to high productivity.

    Sometimes it defeats me. One of the reasons I struggled with Zoom so much is that I am a pacer when I’m on the phone, and I find it very hard to listen and think when I’m tied to a desk. I’ve stopped participating in almost all video calls for this reason – I just call in and continue with my pacing.

    I think telling someone like my they “should” enjoy doing nothing or try to get better at doing nothing is like telling an introvert they should be more extroverted.

    On the flip side, one of my kids is definitely a thinker, not a do-er, as teenager (despite how exhausting he was as a toddler). He will sit still for hours, staring off into space, thinking about various things. And when he does this I’m not all over him to get moving or be productive.

  6. ‘Is there a reason I am supposed to do nothing?’

    It may not apply to you, but apparently doing nothing can be restorative.

    Despite the difficulties, learning to do nothing is good for us. Letting the mind roam free during unstructured and undemanding tasks can make us better at creative problem-solving. Unconscious thought during idleness can produce ideas that are more original: Descartes reportedly invented his revolutionary coordinate system in bed, watching a fly on the ceiling; Einstein formulated his general theory of relativity while daydreaming. Being a little bored might also refresh us: A researcher writing in Frontiers in Psychology in 2014 argued that boredom can induce us to see our ordinary activities as meaningful and significant. And although no studies specifically show this, I strongly suspect that doing nothing, if we can do it well, makes us happier too.

  7. I dunno, it reminds me of all those other things we are supposed to be doing, like drinking 8 glasses of water every day or taking vitamin D or eating a hearty breakfast, that have little actual basis in research. I don’t want to have to spend my precious free time on yet another required activity that likely has no impact

  8. I’m sick of doing nothing, but as Rhett predicted ages ago, it is hard to get back to doing something, even when I feel restless & dissatisfied.

  9. MM – I’d suggest Point Pleasant Beach or Wildwood or Seaside Heights. All have a boardwalk and more ‘things’ to do than just sit on the beach. I prefer Point Pleasant.

    I’m a fan of doing nothing. Since kids, we do slow vacations – no packed schedules, lots of time for nothing or quiet activities. We all enjoy vacation more because of that. My brain needs a lot of time to process things, and I like to sleep a lot. So this doing nothing works for me.

    Today is my first full Friday at work all summer. And I’m sad. I can’t go to the beach this afternoon and swim… :(

  10. On vacations, I absolutely do not want forced marches or frenetic movement. No tours schlepping us from one place to the next or pre-scheduled fast past rides, tyvm. But that doesn’t mean I want to do nothing either. My favorite little break my son and I used to do was go to a certain hotel where he liked to hang out by the pool while they brought around chilled grapes or damp washclothes. I did the yoga on the beach at 7, dove into the waves for usually 45-90 min, ordered breakfast poolside, got into the hot tub and aimed jets at muscles, ate, chilled til around 10 or 11, had treatments in the spa, then more food and playing in the pool. Maybe this is in line with their second point, but it is not what I would call “nothing”. To me, that would be lounging at the pool, maybe scrolling social media, maybe not, waiting for them to come around with the grapes. Like the folks in Wall-e. Smaller scale, even when I am just sitting, I tend to be jiggling my foot as I am now, or shifting positions, or biting my lip. “Studies say” (for real but I don’t have them in front of me) that sort of thing burns measurable energy. I don’t do it as exercise, but did think it was interesting to learn that it does add up.

  11. I do agree with the mind wandering part – I definitely figure out solutions to problems or how to draft tricky emails when I’m walking the dogs or showering or puttering around the house. But giving space for your mind to wander isn’t the same as doing nothing.

    I also love meditation, I think it’s one of the best habits I’ve ever picked up. Maybe that is doing nothing.

  12. I’ve been trying to slow down for time with my 7yo. Lying on the grass/outdoor bench/sofa and staring up at the tree branches occasionally has been a nice break. We are fairly rural, so stargazing can be pretty good, too. Conversation is allowed :-) … but it tends to be more meandering, which is nice, too.

    Our recent vacations (resort based) have been pretty unstructured…they have been great! (There has been a general structure re:meals, when we like to go to the pool, etc., but we have a limited number of options, all of which we like, so it isn’t stressful)

  13. I consider sitting in my favorite chair doing puzzles or surfing the internet or playing online solo games or even much of the Totebag to be “doing nothing”. Or half watching a ball game on TV while cuddling a cat. Or mentally redesigning something in the house or composing diary entries or hypo conversations in my head (once I have formed the thoughts I have no need to write them down, it is the formulation that is the goal). If I am moving, even if it is cleaning or putting the design into action or taking a walk, I am not doing nothing. If I am engaged in meaningful conversation, even sometimes online, I am NOT doing nothing. With the exception of true beach reads almost all reading is NOT doing nothing. Eating a sit down meal with a placemat, etc. is NOT doing nothing.

    My version of leisure is to have the freedom to “single task”, not “multi task.” No requirement that the majority of tasks be noble. The other day I had lunch with a former work buddy first time in 5 years who is a couple of years younger than me and still working at Accounting Firm, albeit 3 days a week. He looked at me, after we had discussed DH’s passing, etc., and said do you regret retiring early. In context a ridiculous question, since spending those years with DH was one of the few absolutely no regrets decisions I have ever made. But the idea that I have been “idle” and “unstimulated” for so long was inconceivable to him.

  14. Doing puzzles is NOT doing nothing. Puzzles take focus and planning. If you are reading a novel on the beach, you are not doing nothing. if you are walking the beach hunting for shells, you are not doing nothing. Surfing the Internet is a good example of what the article terms “hard fascination” which they claim is inferior

  15. Minca and Meme, what a lovely pair of posts about the “somethingness”, the substantiveness, of connecting with another person, at both ends of life!

  16. My version of leisure is to have the freedom to “single task”, not “multi task.

    DH and I were just talking about this the other day. For both of us, it’s not making decisions. To be on vacation and not to have to make any decisions is what really rejuvenates us right now. I think that’s why our first Backroads trip we did was so revelatory – to do all the activities we like, with zero of the decision fatigue, was amazing.

  17. “I’m just so “type-a” I need to work on doing nothing.”

    I think this was Rhett’s takeaway from the author, that the author is almost humble-bragging about how type A they are. Because of course it’s better to be type A, and therefore best to be highly type A. /sarcasm

  18. I’m unclear on what doing nothing means aside from staring into space. Otherwise you are doing something.

    DD dropped me at the airport for my flight home. That’s a weird feeling.

  19. I think the author missed the mark by including the vacation topic. I don’t think the issue is preferring to take a bike riding tour through Italy. The issue is if you find yourself in the lobby a little early feeling the instant need to grab your phone.

    And it goes equally well with a resort vacation.

    Don’t automatically feel like you need your phone and your kindle and your iPad and…. You can just sit or float for a few minutes and just be. Facebook and TikTok and your texts and the news and the rest of the book you’re reading can wait.

    That seems more of an issue that the need to do actual physical things.

  20. The longest period I *felt* I did nothing was when I was in graduate school. That’s because I went from being responsible for my house and working an internship to having no responsibilities except for myself. After I completed my studies, I had to work at a job and all the stages of life and responsibilities that came after that. I think of doing nothing, a little bit differently – more a state of mind than activity or no activity.

  21. At my age, 74, doing nothing has become a problem, because once I start doing nothing I can’t return to doing something, or anything. I’m stuck on nothing. Just saying. . . My brain won’t reboot.

  22. One of my kids prefers a do nothing, or at least unplanned vacations. We were just in Toronto and had no expectations of what to see or do. We threw out a few ideas and let the kids determine what we did. That included two hours of back at the apartment doing nothing.

    Usually I have a list of things we are doing, and they usually require timed tickets and it is much more stressful. I do like being more spontaneous, but then you risk the chance of it being sold out or standing around.

  23. I’m wondering if Ada is affected by the flooding in New Zealand and hoping all is well with her family. Not sure what part of the country they live in.

  24. LT – my kids prefer downtimes built into vacations too. They don’t want every minute of a vacation filled with the next thing on the list. We’ll see plenty of sights but it’s fine with them, if they miss out on a few. We do change to unplanned simpler things if say tickets are sold out or if there is going to be a wait. I still buy guidebooks because you can quickly look up alternatives.

  25. I took the author to be praising intentionally doing nothing. Intentionality (one of the most cringeworthy of jargon words) turns it into something that one does.

  26. Meme, that was my take too. Intentionality, and making sure you are correctly doing it – “soft fascination” instead of “hard fascination”. In other words, some kind of Buddhist monk stuff.
    And if I am supposed to let my mind wander so I can see new solutions, well, that is just work, not leisure.
    I just spent 6 hours sitting in a car doing nothing, my idea of hell. I did listen to some history podcasts. But now I feel annoyed and a bit carsick,

  27. “do you expect Macs to go on sale at Costco this fall, enough to be worth waiting for? When?”

    Not sure what to expect at Costco, but TMK historically Apple has has had their best sales for Black Friday.

    I think Apple historically has introduced new products in fall, and reduces the prices on what had been their latest models.

  28. “Letting the mind roam free during unstructured and undemanding tasks can make us better at creative problem-solving.”

    I used to do that when biking home from work. The bike commute, including that aspect of it, are what I miss most about going to the office daily.

  29. “it’s not making decisions.”

    Yes, that’s one reason I enjoy ski vacations. Not much to think about– wake up, have breakfast, ski. Have lunch, ski some more. Have dinner, then one decision to make– what to do that night. Wander around the village? Go dancing/drinking? Hang out in the hot tub?

    “I think that’s why our first Backroads trip we did was so revelatory – to do all the activities we like, with zero of the decision fatigue, was amazing.”

    Also, the physical activity of a Backroads trip, or a ski trip, is very relaxing. Having done something like that during the day makes it easy, both physically and mentally, to just kick back in the evenings.

  30. “you find yourself in the lobby a little early feeling the instant need to grab your phone.”

    When I was a kid, and grabbing my phone wasn’t an option, I’d often have a book with me, so in those were opportunities to read. I trained my kids to also take books with them, so they rarely got restless while waiting.

    OTOH, when going to doctor’s offices, I didn’t need to take a book because they had magazines in their waiting areas. My dentist had a bunch of golf magazines, which I found boring, but also had Popular Science, which I really liked. My ophthalmologist had Reader’s Digest; I usually read the jokes first, and only read the condensed books if I was still waiting after reading all the jokes.

  31. Hm. The plan was to get a Mac (for me—current laptop is 8 years old, can’t update browsers & other software) before our trip, then get VAT refunded. It had the wrong keyboard; I can’t deal with an “international” or German keyboard. Ordering now gets it here while I’m gone—no refund. Ordering at the Apple store in Boston or Ky gets it there too late. Not sure what to do.

  32. Saac there is next day delivery on laptops for store pickup in Boston. What do you mean too late?

  33. So we’re not allowed to say “mindfulness”, “intentionality”, or “lived experience”.

    I guess it’s good to have rules.

  34. Meme, for M2 processors? That’s not what I’m seeing here, but maybe it’s an issue of regions for the computers

  35. I just checked again. What I’m seeing here is that the delivery date—in Boston, Lex, or Columbus—for the most basic MacBook Air with M2 chip is Sept 14.

  36. BITD – I would take vacation out of the country because my boss wouldn’t make an international call, but might make a long-distance call. I found it took me about 8-9 days completely away from work – 0 contact – to fully decompress. Then days 10-12+ were much easier to “do nothing”.

    The available by text/email makes setting the expectation that you aren’t available harder, IMO.

    I like cruises as unless you preplan an excursion, you can basically meander throughout the entire trip.

  37. SM, you might want to look into student deals. Often college students can get discounts on Macs through their bookstores.

  38. Finn, we’ve thought of that; my son will get a new one for starting college. Isn’t there a limit to how many times a student can use their discount in a year?

  39. “Isn’t there a limit to how many times a student can use their discount in a year?”

    IDK, but IMO it’s worth investigating.

    He may also quickly make friends, e.g., a roommate, who doesn’t need a new computer.

  40. Finn, thank you for that review! As I read it, I couldn’t tell whether they were saying not to get it, to get an upgraded model, or to wait. Then I got to the closing line You’ll probably want to upgrade to the better configurations or opt for the M1 MacBook Air. Hm. On the student deals page, I didn’t see anything about how many computers a student can use that for. But it is late & I don’t have my glasses on. I’ll look again in the morning. Thanks!

  41. Back closer to the topic for the thread, I wonder if it’s easier to do nothing with another person or something, anything. I’ve never understood movie dates, at least once you’re old enough to have your own private place to grope each other.

  42. I’ve never understood movie dates, at least once you’re old enough to have your own private place to grope each other.

    Maybe both people want to see the same movie and they find it enjoyable to go together.

  43. “I have no issues with intentionality, mindfulness, or other words that name a specific thing.”
    But they don’t. They are just made up words that showed up about 10 years ago. What is “mindfulness”? Paying attention? What is intentionality? Doing what you meant to do?

  44. ” Not much to think about– wake up, have breakfast, ski. Have lunch, ski some more”
    But don’t you have to hyperfocus while skiing so you don’t crash? That is why I didn’t like the notion that walking in nature is “doing nothing”. I just did several moderately hard hikes this week, and one of the things I quickly noticed was that I had to focus so much on my footing that there was no room for conversation or even thought. It is a very focused activity

  45. “When I was a kid, and grabbing my phone wasn’t an option, I’d often have a book with me, so in those were opportunities to read. I trained my kids to also take books with them, so they rarely got restless while waiting.”

    Same here! In fact, the teachers had to forbid me from bringing a book out at recess. Now, I slip my Kindle into my purse so I can read while in line

  46. “So we’re not allowed to say “mindfulness”, “intentionality”, or “lived experience”.”
    These are all terms that popped up in the last 10 years to show that we are new and trendy. Sort of like how the word “architecting a solution” was the buzzword of the 00’s.

  47. Is the M2 chip compatible with virtualization? We tell students on our website to not purchase Macs with the M1 chip because they can’t run virtualization software.

    Both my older two bought their college laptops via university discount programs

  48. “But don’t you have to hyperfocus while skiing so you don’t crash?”

    Not necessarily, e.g., not on easy, wide-open runs that aren’t crowded.

    But what I was referring to was not needing to make decisions, as mentioned by Lark.

  49. HFN -thanks for thinking about us, but we are distant from the floods and just having a lot of rain and difficulty getting this new spring garden in the ground.

    I don’t think they’re such thing as a vacation of “doing nothing“ if you’re responsible for other human beings. I suspect the author of the piece is a father who had somebody making sure the kids were clothed, fed and put to bed.

  50. Architecting a solution? Thank goodness I never heard that before!!

    Doing something with intentionality isn’t just doing it on purpose—it is intending to do it on purpose. Pedagogy isn’t just the steps you take to teach a thing—it is also the thinking that goes into deciding on those steps. “Lived experience”, like I said on the other page, is an attempt to emphasize that it’s the real world you’re talking about, the way everything was described as “messy” in the 90s. I agree that one’s clunky, but as a reader I’d like to have the graciousness to let the author slide.

    Mooshi, thanks for the heads up on the M1 for my son. What do you think of it for me? I usually get the newest model just because then it takes longer for it to become obsolete.

  51. The phrasing I hate is expressions that try to avoid saying what they’re saying. I get that “fat” is an insult. Fine. I don’t say that anyway, other than to describe how I looked during a certain period of my life, or how I felt about myself as a young woman. But “large” “big” and “plus-sized” are apparently off-limits now too. I wouldn’t want anyone, including himself, calling my son the N-word, but the endless wrangling over “person of color” “colored” “Black” “BIPOC” or “urban” misses the important reason such categories are salient. I recently saw a post eye-rolling about a conference speaker referring to “people who are neurotypically challenged”.

  52. I’ve never understood movie dates, at least once you’re old enough to have your own private place to grope each other.

    DH and myself saw many movies with each other by ourselves and at times with our friend group. It was a shared experience. It was like any other date/outing – going to a restaurant, going kayaking, to a concert. hiking, leaf peeping and camping.

  53. Louise, all of the activities you list are things I enjoy doing with another person, because we can share the experience and talk while doing it. We can talk about the thing itself—oh, look over there! Ahh, that feels good. I like this one—or use it as the backdrop to talk about something else. Even at a classical concert, you can say something between the numbers, and at a loud concert you can dance together even if you can’t talk. At a movie, you’re boxed into your own seat and can’t talk to the person next to you. You might dig into the popcorn at the same time and end up holding hands briefly, but that’s about the extent of it, assuming you’re not into the groping in public I joked about.

  54. We all have slightly different ideas of what doing nothing means. Doing a puzzle could involve intensely focusing on solutions or it could be casually perusing options while letting your mind wander a bit. Same with hiking and other activities.

    I like the idea of ‘intentionality’. I like to do things I intend to do. Otherwise I don’t get stuff done. It’s also nice sometimes not to plan and just do things as the opportunities present themselves. OTOH, ‘lived experience’ is a wasted extra word in most cases.

    I agree that making decisions can be tiring and it’s refreshing to take a break.

  55. Decision-making is the toughest part of parenting, imo. That’s where I most wanted a partner, and why I joined this blog.

  56. It isn’t necessary to talk every minute of every day via text, writing or spoken words. It can be a wonderful experience to sit side by side with someone in a movie theatre, Broadway show, ballet and have a shared experience. Watching something together and then discussing it after is part of the experience.

  57. Oh, here’s one that bugs me in the opposite direction: the word “research” has become essentially meaningless.

    On “lived experience” lol that not a single person who has gripes about it has come up with a different, better way to emphasize the connection to “authenticity”/ real life and the disjuncture from theory. Knocking the solution to a problem comes off better if you have your own solution to suggest.

  58. Decision-making is the toughest part of parenting, imo.

    My take on this, and I have told my kids this. is that I will try to do my best for you. It won’t be perfect or you may not agree/like it 100% of the time but jointly we can find a middle ground that works fine. I am human, not a superwoman and I have my flaws.

  59. Louise, can you explain the connection there? You quoted what I said on decision-making, then pivoted to making compromises with the kids. I don’t get it.

  60. SM – what I meant is that you should make what you think is the best decision for your kid given the circumstances at the time. There may be second guessing on your part or your kid may not fully like your decision but you can only do your best and only do so much.

  61. Thanks Louise. I see what you mean now. Decisions that I could discuss with him weren’t as hard for me as much as decisions I didn’t want him to know were decisions, or the decision over whether or not a given thing was up for discussion. I chose different philosophies than I was raised with. Making that choice was difficult and needed to be revisited throughout his growth. That’s what I would have liked to have someone to discuss with.

  62. Speaking of doing nothing/ relaxing. I started participating in the Totebag because I found it relaxing/entertaining/ informative. I just realized thinking about my relaxing activities, that I don’t think that anymore- hmmm… I’m not sure why. Maybe still kind of entertaining and informative, but no longer relaxing. Does anyone else have that feeling or is it just my stage of life relative to the group?

  63. How do you think most people are handling Covid exposure/illness nowadays? Guidelines have recently changed but I sense most people are not adhering strictly. Plus there are some gray areas.

    Consider this scenario of Jim and Jan:

    Jim was exposed to Covid at work on Tuesday but did not find out until Friday because of a delay in testing and symptoms of the original case. During Tuesday through Friday Jim did not mask as per guidelines. During that time Jim may have developed symptom-less Covid and infected Jan, his wife. Should Jan start to wear a mask even though she has no symptoms? Should Jan attend a baby shower masked up and disclose she may have been exposed, or just skip the event to be cautious and not create anxiety for the expectant mother? Should Jan go hiking with a group on Sunday and wear a mask? Or go but skip the mask because really what’s the risk?

    I think there are many ways that people are handling scenarios like this or similar ones. So many people, in offices, schools, stores, etc. have been exposed but don’t realize it.

  64. Mafalda, for me the totebag is as relaxing it ever was: Some days more relaxing and some days less. :)

  65. Kim – speaking for my family, we are long past even considering those types of questions.

  66. And now for some critically important news: Consumer Reports has a list of the best and worst laundry detergents.

  67. Kim, I assume that every time I leave the house I’m exposed to COVID. Of course DH and I had it this past week and a half, and I used Instacart for groceries and avoided indoor spaces. DH is testing negative now, I’m still generating a faint line, so I’m still avoiding people. It doesn’t help that since I’m elderly, all my friends are elderly, and one is pretty immunocompromised. But in a day or two I’ll test clear and it’ll be business as usual.

  68. I miss the powdered laundry detergent that Costco used to sell. The buckets they came in are very handy.

  69. Day 2 of face mask wearing seems to have gone well, in that I haven’t forgotten it once. There was another person in my lane at the pool, but when we were both at the wall, he was always way over to one side, facing his kid over there. My son has already recognized that I’m concerned enough that he won’t wear a mask to take care of this dude he’s never met that I will buy all his groceries for him. Harumph.

    Milo, if I get the chance, I’m bypassing all those things & getting straight to the real thing, tyvm.

  70. As with Milo, we are long past those COVID discussions For example, DH and I went to an indoor arena concert. The next day we drove 12 hours to see my elderly parents. A few days later we went to Canada, did all the tourist stuff. Then came back to see my parents, then went to gathering of several families. Never wore a mask, rarely saw people wearing them.

    School starts soon. I’ll be honest that I have not been paying attention to the COVID protocols.

  71. One thing that has made COVID in NZ so much less divisive and burdensome, in my opinion, is that the government messaging has been clear and accepted. Almost everyone follows the advice or quietly disregards. I don’t know anyone (medical or otherwise) agonizing about the right thing to do. I think when we look back on COVID, the cognitive burden placed on individuals to make “safe” choices will be recognized a one of the key factors that has made this hard for so many people. I’m in a Facebook group of several thousand doctors who initially gathered to share anecdotes about treatment and discuss new science and studies. It has basically morphed into “what would you do if….unvaccinated…work contact….paxlovid….kn95 in outdoor setting…”. I just get the sense that some people are still spending a lot of energy on navigating the “right thing” in a sea of random and sometime self-serving guidelines. (Which is not to stir up political debate or to hold up the pristine record of NZ – we’ve had a slow ongoing burn of heavy community transmission and low level
    deaths.).

    @Kim. Here is how I would handle it. I think the first question is “is Jim a close contact?” If he has spent more than 15 minutes unmasked less than two meters from someone with COVID, the answer is “yes”. If he is a close contact, he should isolate if symptomatic and test until either positive or symptoms resolve. If “no” then go on doing what you are doing. Jan is not a close contact of anyone with COVID and should therefore continue to live her life however she felt it was responsible to live before.

  72. I’m in Chicago this weekend. I’d say only about max 20% of people on the plane were masked. At the places we’ve gone, I’d say about the same percentage- it seems like more kids are masked than adults. Maybe because of a need to pass a Covid test for school?

    The University of Chicago campus is beautiful. We had brunch with cousins in the Fulton Market area and walked around there for a bit, stopped for ice cream then wine. The Blue Angels were practicing so got to see them flying unbelievably low overhead. We did the boat tour because one sibling hadn’t done it before. Went to dinner at a restaurant on the riverfront and walked around afterwards. The weather was great and it was so nice to see so many people out and about all day. We stuck around for the art installation projected on the side of the Merchandise building, and that was different. After our extra hot summer in Houston it was such a treat to spend 10+ hours outside.

    Today we went to a great brunch at Roux near UofC then saw my older nephew off to back to college. We hit the Art Institute (where I looked unsuccessfully for white haired lady docents) and more walking at millennial park.. It rained this morning but by the time we got out of the museum it was great. We are back home to change for dinner and will head out in a bit. I leave at 7am tomorrow but definitely feel like I had a weekend away. It’s so nice when the people you love are in a good place in their lives.

  73. Becky, sounds like a great trip!

    Re COVID precautions: I see very few people masked these days, even when flying. I think most people are thinking/behaving like Milo and LT. In the case of Jim and Jan, I don’t know what they should do, but most people I know in Jan’s situation would go hiking and to the shower and not mention she might have had a third-hand exposure.

    On detergent, I have been instructed by DW not to buy Tide because it is too hard on clothes. It has 3 of the top 4 spots on the CR list.

    It can be a wonderful experience to sit side by side with someone in a movie theatre, Broadway show, ballet and have a shared experience. Watching something together and then discussing it after is part of the experience.

    This.

  74. “I’ve never understood movie dates”

    Movies dates often make sense for couples getting to know each other. It gives them something to do in common, while spareing the often forced conversation of early courtship.

    IMD, it was common for movie dates to start with the movie, then go out somewhere after that, e.g., for dessert. Having seen the movie together gave the couples something to talk about.

  75. Finn, main thing is they’re not *sparring*.
    I do like going to live theater. I want to see this https://www.berlin.de/en/tickets/musical/ku-damm-56-the-musical/2022-08-21-ku-damm-56-das-musical-493e62bd-6755-417e-a2a7-f523ab597c94/ I absolutely like spending time with someone without talking, but somehow don’t feel “with” a person at a movie. Idk why. I’m not into viewing things on screens in general. If there’s one online that I ought to watch, I look for a transcript or show notes first. I’ll watch reels in social media, but that’s about it.

    On Covid and mask-wearing: masks are very rare here these days. I have no idea what’s going on with infection rates anywhere. I think the reason my son and I haven’t gotten it has to do with the way we live, and that I’m unlikely to pick it up and transmit it to my friend, even if I didn’t wear a mask. He thinks they’re important so I’m wearing them to be supportive. He didn’t ask me to; it’s my choice.

  76. Here’s the trailer for the show I want to see. The words are in German, but it’s a musical, so lots of music and dancing. The link I posted above goes to an English-language description.

  77. Re: Covid, we went to a wedding yesterday and didn’t wear our masks inside – it was the first inside unmasked* event we’ve been to since early 2020. However, we have some air travel coming up and will definitely be wearing our N95s the whole time.

    *We have been to several events where we were the only ones or among the only ones wearing masks.

  78. Milo – I only buy All free and clear. I even tried the Kirkland dupe and didn’t like it as much!

  79. I was in Cherokee NC, which is the reservation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee, this week,and was suprised to see several fast food outlets still mandating social distancing – the Waffle house had blocked off all counter seating and every other table, and the Wendys would not let anyone eat inside. I saw lots of masks among employees in stores there too. Also lots of masks in the visitor centers in the national park.
    However, not a mask to be seen in Pigeon Forge. Just lots of Trump regalia.

    And lest we think Trump regalia is a thing only of the South, at Seaside Heights yesterday, there was a small Trump rally going on at one end of the boardwalk. Lots of American flags and those bizarre pictures of Trump as a hunky bodybuilder (one of my kids commented that he sees a bit of male sexual fantasy going on there). At the other end of the boardwalk, there was a largish Falun Gong meditation event happening, also very political with literature and posters. I don’t think you would see that in Pigeon Forge

  80. At this point, we only wear masks when absolutely required, which is in some medical facilities. The eye doctor and dentist no longer require them; my dad’s doctor takes his off the moment he enters the exam room and invites us to do the same (because he knows our mask preferences). My dad’s senior facility required masks, then recommended them, and has required them again because of a surge in cases, but many residents are ignoring those rules. It makes for some unpleasant interactions in the hallways, but my dad tells me that the rule-breakers just pretend that they can’t hear the complaints….which in a senior facility, might not require pretense.
    The university has basically dropped all covid restrictions, and is not currently requiring regular testing or imposing further booster mandates. There are no isolation dorms or rooms; students with symptoms who test positive are supposed to isolate in their own rooms, wearing a mask, along with their roommates. We’ll see how it goes, but my guess is that many students will not bother with testing unless they are really sick. Or unless they have an exam scheduled.

  81. Becky, I love Chicago. So glad you had fun.

    I like doing jigsaw puzzles. I listen to a book on tape and kind of zone out. No time pressure. It’s just something relaxing to do. I am not solving the world’s problems, so I feel that I don’t need time “doing nothing”.

  82. Pingback: Doing Nothing | claudiajustsaying

  83. Mooshi, love hearing your impressions from your travels. I wonder how much of the mask-wearing in Cherokee is because of stats on cases there and how much of it is Native Americans taking a different perspective. I haven’t seen the male fantasy posters of trump as hunky body builder, thank goodness.
    Becky, your trip to Chicago sounds cool too.

  84. Becky- interesting to read your comments on University of Chicago campus. We visited there for DS1 college and thought it wasn’t in a great location. (He chose Northwestern) now DS 3 is thinking about it for law school and we gave him that feedback, but I’m now realizing that our visit was > 10 years ago!! Maybe it’s changed a lot?

  85. Sounds like a great trip Becky! We did the boat tour on Friday as well, but in the morning. We saw more of the practice for the air show (from our roof and from the boat tour) than we did on the actual day yesterday. I assume it was because of the rain. The rain held off for enough of the afternoon for the Cubs to get the game in, so I was able to take my parents to Wrigley Field for the first time, and I also got to quickly meet Swim in person which was so nice! It’s a Totebag Chicago weekend!

    Hyde Park and the U of C campus are in a nice area surrounded by much less nice areas. It’s a bit of an island that way. But I sent my 14yo there for a week of summer day camp, and I’d have no qualms about sending him to college there. The campus itself is beautiful as is that part of the Lakefront. But I suppose it depends on the kid – he’s lived here all his life & has lots of city awareness, I suppose.

  86. FYI – the U of C business school is not at the main campus – they have a great location in the Loop right on the river.

  87. I have an honest question about current Covid protocols/guidance. Let’s say that tomorrow, I wake up with a sore throat and a runny nose. If I take a Covid test and it’s positive, I’m supposed to isolate for five days, then wear a mask for at least another five days, and maybe more if I still keep testing positive (even if all my symptoms have resolved). But if I take a Covid test and it’s negative, then there is nothing at all in particular that I’m supposed to do (other than maybe test again, but unless and until I test positive, there are no constraints on me).

    My question is: Given the current Covid strains that are out there, plus the vaccinations and medications that are available, why are we advising vastly different courses of action for people who have the exact same symptoms, depending on whether their symptoms are caused by Covid or something else? If you are caring for or living with someone who is immunocompromised, I would think that you would have to be equally careful about exposing them to any illness. I am happy to be educated on this if I am missing something.

  88. And now to a topic that is sort of the polar opposite of a Covid discussion: New Orleans trip report!

    DS and I arrived on Wednesday afternoon. We spent a couple of hours wandering around the French Quarter. DS isn’t much of a shopper, but he did enjoy a bunch of the places we went into — a really cool art gallery, a place that sold antique weapons and currency, and an estate-jewelry shop (he has developed an interest in vintage Rolexes, of which this store had several). Relaxed for a bit in the hotel, then after dark did a “Voodoo and Vampire” tour that was great fun. (Thanks for that idea, Houston!) The tour guide was a young guy who was a great storyteller, and who didn’t hesitate to punctuate the stories with a lot of curse words. You probably wouldn’t get a tour like that along the Freedom Trail in Boston!

    On Thursday, we did an airboat swamp tour in the morning (after beignets at the Cafe du Monde). We were able to get up close and personal with a few alligators — the tour guide lured them in with chicken pieces and marshmallows. It was totally safe for us guests, but the guide was right up in the alligators’ faces. It was very fun, and again, like nothing we have in Massachusetts! After lunch, we rode the St. Charles Ave. streetcar to the Garden District, and wandered around that neighborhood. Hopped on the streetcar again and went up to Tulane. It was a move-in day, so there were lots of freshmen and parents around. DS was very jealous, as he cannot wait to get to college. After wandering around the campus for a while, we took the streetcar back and had a great dinner in the French Quarter.

    Friday, we spent the entire day at the WWII museum. DS has been very interested in WWII since he was a young boy, and he really enjoyed the museum. I liked it, too. Thank you, Mooshi, for the tip about the temperature — we were very glad we brought our sweatshirts. That evening, we got a streetside table at a restaurant just off Jackson Square. A busker came along and started playing the trumpet right outside, and damn he was good. Afterwards, we went to Preservation Hall to see a concert. As good as the busker was, the Preservation Hall band was a couple of orders of magnitude better. They were amazing. Saturday we traveled home after a really great breakfast at a little place on Decatur Street.

    It was a great trip, and the first time I’d ever traveled alone together with DS. It was sort of my send-off to him before he goes off to college.

    As for the flights, I have never had an easier flying experience. In Boston, they didn’t make us take off our shoes, or take out our liquids bag, or anything else; they just said to empty pockets. (This was in the regular line, not Clear or TSA Pre.) From the time we got to the airport to the time we were through Security was maybe 10 minutes. In New Orleans yesterday, we had to do the shoe/belt/liquids thing, but there was no line at all for Security, so it took even less time to get through. I guess we were really, really lucky.

  89. Great trip reports!

    I have not worn a mask for months except in doctors offices and when I was exposed. Even when technically required, such as NYC subways, I stopped wearing a mask and very few riders do. Today one of my fellow hikers complained she felt unsafe on the subway because of this. A handful of hikers wore masks part of the time while we were outside.

    Substantial numbers of people are still getting infected and I don’t know how schools are handling it. Are they really requiring students and staff who test positive or who were exposed to wear masks for ten days, even after a negative test? Anecdotally it appears many employers are not enforcing this.

  90. NoB, I think (with no research whatsoever) that the reason for so many more precautions for the same symptoms if a Covid test is positive is that Covid can be so much worse than other illnesses that caused the same symptoms. On exposing an immunocompromised person, I agree with you that many other ailments could also be harmful to them. Fortunately, masking reduces risk of transmission of those things too. I recall studies at the start of the pandemic that said cases of flu, colds, etc were coming down as a result of so many people wearing masks.

  91. Ivy- thanks for the comments on University of Chicago. I will pass that along.

    SM- IF you are reading, do you have any comments on the drought in Europe? We are going on a river cruise in a few weeks (Budapest to Munich) and I read somewhere that there was an issue with the rivers being too low. Viking says they have ways to deal with it. I’m not doing too much research because I know we are going no matter what…

  92. NOB- Great trip report. I have a sister in New Orleans and go almost once a year – I’ve never done that Voodoo and Vampire tour. My BIL’s large family is multigenerational New Orleans and they always fill our time with fantastic outings.

  93. Mafalda, sorry, but I don’t have any info for you. That is far South of me. The drought is all over Europe; Finn mentioned recently that France is having a hard time cooling off nuke reactors because of it. We are noticing it here too (in general ways like some leaves & lawns turning brown, nothing drastic). The Points Guy mentions the Danube specifically as having problems, and has this to say in general

    This year’s summer drought in Europe could affect your upcoming river cruise, but it’s highly unlikely your cruise will be canceled outright.

    At best, you’ll do a ship swap mid-cruise, a slight inconvenience that will allow you to follow your planned itinerary. Or, you might have a few port stops changed out for new ones, or spend more time than you prefer in busses or hotels, possibly with shorter visits to destinations that now require longer bus rides.

    You will, however, still get a vacation in Europe, even if it’s not the one you expected.
    https://thepointsguy.com/news/europe-drought-river-cruises/amp/

    They also describe reimbursement/credit towards future cruises if your itinerary is affected.

    Have fun & tell us about it!

  94. We did a Voodoo and Vsmpires-type tour in St Augustine with my parents. It was lots of fun. I think these are similar, had thought my son & I would do one, but I guess not. Maybe sometime when he’s home for break. https://www.thedungeons.com/

  95. NoB that sounds like a great trip! And yes, the WWII museum is really great but really cold.

  96. My friends are in Spain today and it is 106! I am glad that we delayed our trip to Italy to 2023 because it is too hot for me.

    Northwestern Law and Med schools are also in a different area vs the main campus in Evanston. They sit on prime real estate near the lake. I used to love visiting my college friends when they were in law school at Northwestern due to amazing location. It was not fun at all in the winter when the ropes appeared to help with walking on the streets.

    At this point, DD is still struggling with her own bronchitis and sinus infection after five days on an antibiotic. She said that a lot of kids have really had colds or respiratory infections that are not covid. Trust me that I took many precautions last week when she was home. We didn’t wear a mask except in the car when we were sort of trapped with that cough. I do not want what she has even if it is not Covid.

    Two of my girlfriends had covid in the Spring and they have no sense of taste or smell. One lives here and one lives in Florida. They go for therapy, but nothing yet. So, they are alive and healthy, but miserable. Imagine never being able to smell or taste your food. Covid sucks even if it doesn’t kill most people.

  97. Some fast casual and fast food restaurants don’t allow seating because they don’t have staff. They aren’t worried about getting covid because you eat inside, but they need people to clean bathrooms, dining room and manage an additional order line if they open. During the pandemic, some fast food/fast casual places realized they can significantly cut costs by sticking to drive thru only.

    NoB, sounds like a great trip and a wonderful experience with DS.

  98. “Northwestern Law and Med schools are also in a different area vs the main campus in Evanston. They sit on prime real estate near the lake. ”

    Yes! When my friend was at the medical school, she had a dorm room at 850 N Lakeshore Drive overlooking the lake. It was amazing! They are now luxury apartments that aren’t much bigger than when they were single dorm rooms. And there was always a rooftop area and an indoor pool, it’s just much fancier now that it’s rehabbed. I used to love to hang out at her dorm!

    https://850lakeshoredrive.com

    Sounds like a great trip NoB!

    @Lauren – DH lost his taste/smell for about 2 weeks, and he was miserable. I had a coworker who hadn’t recovered normal smell/taste a year out. She said it was horrible because so many foods tasted like literal rotten garbage to her.

  99. In college a friend of mine was at Loyola and had the most amazing student housing apartment right in the lake. I loved visiting her.

    I drove through Chicago yesterday and saw some of the airshow from the highway. Sometimes we skirt around the city, but this time we went Skyway to downtown because Google told us the time was the same. I always loved the skyscrapers of Chicago and sitting in traffic gave DH and I time to reminence about our prechildren days in the city. I’m glad to hear everyone had a great weekend.

    NoB’s recap has me itching to go to New Orleans. Years ago DH went and did a cementary & voodoo tour and a swamp tour. We also ate our way through that town.

  100. NoB so glad you enjoyed New Orleans! That is my DD’s favorite city, and she has subscribed to Zillow updates on Garden District homes so she can dream about her future place (which will apparently require a million dollar budget!)

    Mafalda, my sister has lived in the Hyde Park area for over 20 years now, and it has definitely gotten nicer recently. They have more and better shopping in the neighborhood, great restaurants, etc all within the last maybe 4-5 years. She can walk to Trader Joe’s and Target, which is convenient. But there is still crime, and it seems just a block or two in the wrong direction still lands you in a not great area. But we walked home from a restaurant right by a gorgeous dorm designed by Jeannie Gang (looked so nice!) to my sister’s place around 9-ish and felt safe. My nephew goes to the high school on UofC campus and BIL works on campus, and they both typically walk. My older nephew was mugged when he was out walking alone at 4am, but that is probably a risk in any city.

  101. Great to hear about the trip reports.

    I was very motivated to clean out DS’s room, the pantry, kitchen cabinets. OMG, inspite of purging things now and again there was still so much to throw out !

  102. Mafalda, the Danube cruises are usually of greater concern in drought than the Rhine. The simple boat swap doesnt work, and a lot of busses plus hotels and restaurants not cruise meals may be involved. But in a few weeks much can change with rain and all may go well. My friends who were on a Viking Danube cruise during the last low water period in 2018 had nothing good to say about how it was handled. If you booked the cruise through a travel agent, make sure to speak with them now and let them act on your behalf. They can perhaps draw up a land itinerary for you during those days so you can demand a refund and not be stuck with what Viking tries to pawn off on you.. If you booked it direct with Viking you may have to rely on them to keep you informed, but I would still have a travel agent on speed dial to help with alternatives if there is an outright cancellation or if you just decide to walk away after a day.

  103. @Mafalda, I was just talking to a friend who had just returned from a Viking cruise. They did a ship swap in Germany, and she said it was kinda crazy, because the new ship was a complete duplicate of their first ship. During that day while they were out doing excursions, they moved all their stuff to the new ship, and they returned to the new ship to exactly the same cabin number and everything.

    Her in-laws treated the three kids and spouses to the Viking cruise. She said they had a room with a little sitting area and a very small balcony. She did mention that she was washing and drying her Athleta skorts in the bathroom and their housekeeper told them their rooms included laundry service, fyi.

  104. @NOB – I think the most political answer to your questions is, “Because we have a lack of centralized communication and no rational descalation plan.” Another answer is that “people with active respiratory infections should segregate themselves and/or mask until they are no longer infectious” and home covid testing should be less relevant.

    It’s probably time to stop treating COVID as a special kind of virus. It probably still has a higher case-fatality rate that many cold viruses, but not by much. Actually, my experience with flu this season was a reminder that flu can be incredibly and unpredictably deadly, but people tend to stay home with it so not so widespread.

    Interesting graph that came out about burden of viral respiratory illness among various ethnicities in Auckland. Basically the amount of disease in the population ranged 5-fold between Asians (500/100k) to Whites to Maori to Pasificka (2500/100k). There is likely a contribution of poor housing and other social determinants of health that play in. But the take-home was that common colds put a lot of pressure on certain segments of society (and of course, all “common colds” have a risk of devastating illness).

  105. Mafalda, you are in a tough spot. Your cruise could go on as planned and be great. It could also be drastically different like Meme described. If you are okay with letting decisions be made beyond your control, and just enjoy what comes your way, it should be fine. We cruised in January and had a wonderful time, despite a complete change in ports, missing a port, constant worry about COVID quarantine, and a few other changes unique to the pandemic. My friend went on the same cruise line months later and didnt enjoy it as much. She likes to be in control, and have plans go as expected.

  106. Thanks guys, we booked directly with Viking and I think we are going to roll with it. I’ve read that their identical ship swap thing works well, just as Sunshine’s friends said. DH and I are getting more and more chill about travel disruptions. Probably because we travel so much each trip doesn’t feel so high stakes. Sometimes, disruptions lead to unexpected positives. (Fingers crossed for rain anyway!)

  107. One other observation about Tennessee – plastic bag bans do not seem to have hit that state. In the supermarkets, they were happily bagging away in plastic and seemed baffled when I tried to use a reusable bag

  108. MM,
    Most states don’t have plastic bag bans. And there was a real backlash against reusable bags during covid, with stores around here refusing to allow them. Maybe people just got out of that habit and checkout clerks don’t see reusable bags as much as BITD.

  109. It looks like 10 states have statewide bans, although in some cases, like California, it applies only to “large retailers.”

    Far more popular are bans, or per-bag taxes, implemented by city or locality.

  110. Mooshi – There was almost no mask wearing in Pigeon Forge way back in Aug 2020. It was also very packed, like a normal summer. Plastic bags are available in our grocery stores as well. So you can use your reusable bag or use plastic bags. We have gone back to store employees bagging for you, I prefer to bag things myself because it goes faster.

  111. Denver has a 10-cent fee per plastic bag, but most stores don’t seem to count too closely.

  112. In states that have plastic bag bans, how does it work at farmer’s markets? Does everyone just bring their own totebag? Yesterday I swung by the local farmer stand and got a 1/2 dozen ears of corn. I didn’t have a reusable bag with me, and I’m not about to carry the corn in my hands, as well as the strawberries and cantaloupe I decided to buy on the spot.

  113. Lemon Tree – in the home country which has a plastic bag ban, the fruit and vegetable vendors wrap your produce in newspaper. Plastic bags started there fairly recently, when I was growing up most people would carry Totebags for food shopping. In the U.K. there was a per bag charge. I paid for two very sturdy plastic carry bags from Marks & Spencer’s. I used those for my whole trip.

  114. The difference is that nobody was using reusable bags, and they weren’t even selling them in the groceries. In VA, I did see people using resuable bags and they had them for sale.

  115. Evidently, the stores in TN (and elsewhere) know their customers — if there were a demand for reusable bags, they would be supplying them. And presumably you visited only a few stores, catering to tourists, which may have a different customer mix than a large supermarket in suburban Nashville.

  116. We stopped at groceries outside of tourist areas, while on the road. But I agree that one might see something different around a university for example

  117. BTW, I consider the NY plastic bag ban to be an annoyance, and distraction from more important environmental concerns. But that is getting political.

  118. I’ve never heard of an outright ban, only requirements that people pay for them, usually a nickel or dime. That’s more than they cost but just enough of a barrier to get people to realize there’s a possibility of doing it differently.
    We’ve discussed the cultural divide between political parties before (Levi’s vs Wranglers, food & music preferences). I’m always surprised at how fine scale these things can be. The plastic bag detail would be a nice one for a screenwriter or novelist to slip in.

  119. Speaking of bags, I think Lauren mentioned the blue bags for college packing. I did those and I also did rolling plastic crates. The blue bags worked great, the rolling plastic crates are good for short distances, not so much if you have to roll too much. Also it’s good to discard the packaging of new items if you are carting them from home.

  120. “Denver has a 10-cent fee per plastic bag, but most stores don’t seem to count too closely.”

    Chicago’s is 7-cents, but – same. I do use reusable bags most of the time for my weekly shopping trips, but it’s nice not having to carry them around if you happen to pick something up. I also prefer plastic for potentially dirty items – the corn being a good example. Meat being another one.

    We did have a ban for awhile, but then stores got these really thick plastic bags and sold them for 5-cents or something. It was sort of ridiculous and counterproductive. So they went to the tax. The tax was suspended in the heart of the pandemic, but came back sometime last year I think.

    Lemon’s comment reminded me of when I was in Central NY last summer, and I didn’t realize that plastic bags were banned entirely. I was at CVS, and they ran out of paper bags, so I literally had to carry my sunscreen and snacks in my hands down the street back to where I was staying.

  121. Lemon Tree, there is no ban on the produce bags. The plastic bag ban is for all other type of plastic bags in any store. I noticed the same when I was in California as produce bags are still available. At the farmers market, I bring my own reusable Totebag and I put most things in my Totebag without a produce bag, but I do use the plastic produce bags for corn or other messy items. For stuff like cherries, cherry tomatoes or any small item – the vendors place a net around the green paper pint/quart container. You and recycle the paper containers at home or bring them back to some of the stands at the market. Most of the vendors have the larger size produce bags for corn.

    At first, I was sad when the plastic bags were banned and i was happy when they reappeared for about 18 months during the pandemic. I admit that I really don’t care now and I am totally used to the idea of always having some sort of Totebag. It isn’t that hard to manage or figure this out once it is part of your everyday routine. I know many of you are fans of Costco and there is no bag so obviously you can adapt.

  122. Last night DW was telling me about an acquaintance’s niece whose parents spent $3k on a sorority consultant at Auburn. Consultant guides the client through all aspects of rushing, from which houses to target, wardrobe selection, etc.

  123. The year my mom started at Stanford, 1940, the university banned all sororities (but not fraternities, I think) because too many girls were throwing themselves off Hoover Tower when they didn’t get the sorority they wanted. So they just ended the sororities and also, eventually, built railings around the viewing platform on Hoover Tower that are hard to climb over. In 1978 the university allowed sororities again. I haven’t heard about any suicides by girls who didn’t get accepted.

  124. A few of DD’s friends just completed the rush process at southern schools such as Georgia and South Carolina. It was intense, but all of her friends received bids and most received to their first choice. I think her girlfriend that is attending Alabama decided to skip the process because she couldn’t deal with what she was seeing in some of the Tok Toks. The kids from the north are limited to just a few sororities anyway. It is crazy, but not as crazy with consultants etc.

  125. My DD in a joking way says “Mom – sorority president demonstrates leadership”. DD is a brunette Legally Blonde character since she was little.

  126. I love the Bama rush tik toks. Definitely a world I have no first hand knowledge of – I wasn’t in a sorority, none of my close girlfriends were, and no daughters of good friends have joined one. Sort of surprising considering how prevalent it is in the South. But I choose my undergrad in part because Greek life – while present – was extremely low key and low % participation. Didn’t feel like my scene even as a teenager.

  127. I am glad that the rush process is different at many of the other schools in the US that are not located in the south. Rush doesn’t begin for many of the schools outside of the south until the spring semester when the kids will hopefully have a better idea if they even want to be a part of greek life.

  128. Rush doesn’t begin for many of the schools outside of the south until the spring semester when the kids will hopefully have a better idea if they even want to be a part of greek life.

    And some schools we looked at with DS – I forget which ones but I think Tufts was one – no rushing allowed until 2nd year, which I think is even better. I agree this was the trend at a lot of schools we looked at.

  129. I agree that delaying fraternity/sorority recruitment until Spring or sophomore year is a good idea. The start of college is so overwhelming anyway, it’s crazy to add more to it.

  130. Delaying rush is a great idea. At the university my sister & I went to, it was before the rest of the students moved in. My sister did it. She got bids, but decided Greek life wasn’t for her. Still, how could she not have a little fomo after a couple weeks where that was the center of everything? I didn’t rush, so arrived in my dorm to find half of it full of young women who seemed so savvy because they knew their was around campus and had started making friends. Frats rushed the following semester. I don’t think the process was as intense, maybe in part because the guys already had a place on campus.

  131. Mafalda, the low water levels in European rivers might make for an interesting cruise.

    I read that the low water levels have revealed a bunch of things that had previously been hidden underwater, e.g., a fleet of Nazi ships that sank in the Danube while retreating from the Black Sea.

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